Secession Era Editorials Project
SUPREME COURT vs. THE ABOLITIONISTS.
Virginia, Enquirer [Democratic]
(13 March 1857)
Abolitionism, from its earliest inception to this
passing hour, in all its efforts and alms, has ever been based upon assumptions
of an authority paramount to the the Constitution, advocated with
arguments teeming with treason, and enforced by means regardless of recognized
rights and the laws of the land.
-- It has, however, always clamored loudly for liberty
and equality, and justice among men.
Uplifting their hand in holy horror, its designing demagogues have been
wont to shriek and wail, rave and storm, and impiously appeal to Heaven by
turns, as they impose upon the popular mind of the North with their
perverted portraitures of Southern slavery, contemptible caricatures of Southern
society, and harrowing calumnies upon Southern character.
But with all their trickery and treason, their Tyrian-tongued professions
of fidelity to freedom, and their indignation and sorrow over the enormities of
negro slavery, it has heretofore been the peculiar policy -- at least of those
of the schools more moderate than the maligners of Washington and
repudiators of the
Bible -- to claim for the federal government the right of
prescribing the bounds of slavery, prohibiting its extension, and all other
latitudinarian legislation on the subject, not in conflict with the most liberal
construction of the Constitution.
And, now, that the Supreme Court of the United States -- the
accredited interpreter of the Constitution and arbiter of
disagreements between the several States -- after the most profound research,
thorough investigation of facts and analysis of principle, after deep
deliberation, impartially and without prejudice; now, that this august tribunal
has declared a calm conviction, sustained with irrefragable reasoning, which not
only annihilates the superstructure but also destroys the
foundation of the theory upon which their warfare has been waged against
the institutions of the South, they are completely taken aback,
nonplused and bewildered, confounded and confused.
Even the federal government, the favorite upon which they have fawned,
refuses to abet them.
But though they have been brought to a stand-still as suddenly as the
laborers on the tower of Babel, they will not long remain inactive, paralyzed by
the unexpected blow in the hey day of hope, and gazing vacantly upon the wreck
before them and behind them.
Effectually foiled in an effort they had been making for years, defeated in
the field of their own choice, driven from the ground they have so often and so
defiantly disputed, their centre has been broken and the army put to rout.
-- But they will rally again with renovated vigor and with the determination
of despair; reckless of wrong or right, regardless of the laws of God or man,
they will rush to the ?, determined to
"rule or ruin," to arrest the extension of slavery or to destroy the
Constitution and the Union.
Obliged to abandon their principle point of operations they will re-
organize on another.
Sebastopol is taken but the war is not
For the future, we predict the Abolition party will not be divided into wings and
factions, and schools of different measures, but with the same primary
The moderate man of the North, who admits the right of the
slave States to exclusive control over their own institutions, but who is
opposed to the extension of slavery into the territories, and in favor of the
exercise of Federal power to prevent it, will hereafter be found marching
shoulder to shoulder in the ranks, with the furious, foolish fanatic, who would
burn the Bible for a bonfire in honor of an emute in Virginia or South Carolina, and boast of having hung
Washington in effigy because he was an owner of slaves.
Every class and character, and type of abolitionism will be merged into an
indistinguishable army of implacable assailants of the South.
The fanatic will not be brought to sense and reason, and therefore to the
level of the moderate man, who agrees with him in principle, but differs as to
means and measures; but the moderate man, with the single stone upon which he
stood, knocked from under him by the Supreme Court, will readily
become a fanatic.
They have both been educated in the same sectional school, and are both
imbued with the same ideas on the subject of slavery -- except -- as the
Irishman would say -- that one is a little more so than the other.
They both hate the South, but the one has so far
confined his emnity to an opposition to the extension of slavery, with the
belief that it would thus soon stifle itself in the narrowness of the compass,
while the other has always rallied against its existence anywhere.
and everywhere, as a curse, a scourge and abomination upon mankind, to be
overthrown and eradicated at any cost, and by any means.
The moderate man has always counseled caution and prudence with
perserverance; holding that Congress had arbitrary authority over
the territories in relation to slavery, and that the obnoxious institution
would be obliterated ere long from the face of the earth, if it could be kept
out of the territories and confined to its existent limits.
But now, that it is decided that Congress has not the
authority to impose restrictions upon it -- to interpose obstacles in its
pathway, and forbid a full and free exercise of the elective franchise of the
sovereign people in regard to its adoption or rejection -- it is not reasonable
to suppose that the inbred hatred will be quietly quelled into indifference or
calmed down into acquiescence by a judicial decision in opposition to the
instinct, and in contradistinction to the education of him whose forbearance and
moderation of animosity towards the South, are attributable to his
belief in the authority of the Federal government to say to the
Southern people, that their institutions may go so far, but that they shall go
The man who can concede such rights to Congress, is already
prepared to become the most unscrupulous, unreasoning, insane fanatic on the
subject of slavery -- to denounce the Constitution as a counterfeit
of freedom, and to look upon the Union as an experiment
To contend now that the General Government has jurisdiction over the
domestic affairs of the States, that Congress has the right to mark
out the limits or to interfere with its expansion into the territories, North or
South, East or West, is to defy the Constitution, to repudiate the
decrees of the highest judicial tribunal of the nation, to inculcate treason, to
defame the guardian genius of liberty, to despoil our
household gods with unholy hands, and to strike with parricidal poniard at the
heart of the country.
-- That all these outrages upon patriotism, liberty and law, will be
perpetrated, we have indubitable evidence, in the defiance, the indignant
denunciations, the anathemas and opprobrium hurled at and heaped upon the
Supreme Court of the United States, by the anti-slavery press.
Since its decision in the Dred Scott case, with the exception
of the two dissenting Judges, that body has been assailed with the venom of
vipers, and abused with all the balderdash of Billingsgate.
In the insanity of their anger and agony, the Abolitionists are uttering curses deep and loud, tearing
their hair, indulging in all sorts of grimaces and throwing themselves into
every imaginable attitude of contortion.
We are really apprehensive that there will be an epidemic of apoplexy
amongst them, unless they find in a few days, some safety-valve for their pent-
up mortification and rage.
The decision of the Dred Scott case has alarmingly aggravated
the effects of "negrophobia." Some means must be devised to cool the of those who are affected with it, or
there will either be a tremendous bursting of blood vessels, or all the insane
asylums in Yankeedom will be inadequate for the accommodation of its
For our contemporary, the
New York Evening Post, we feel an especial, a painful,
It seems to be sadly afflicted with this sudden sort of St. Vitus'
dance, under the influence of which the abolitionists are leaping and weeping, kneeling and
swearing, foaming and and fuming, yelling and gesticulating, like so many
Post, however, is "working off its steam" at the rate of forty
knots an hour, which we trust will soon reduce it within the limit allowed by
the law, according to the capacity of the boiler, and thus relieve us of all
anxiety in regard to the danger of explosion.
One puff from its pipe as it passed, containing at least twenty pounds, may
be found in another column, not rarefied, but in its original condensed
Keep the valves open, and let the steam escape.
The decision in the Dred Scott case must be a
finality, so far as the federal legislation on the institution of
slavery is concerned.
The fact has gone forth, the Constitution has been construed,
and Congress must conform.
Abolitionism must now unmask, and wage its
warfare openly and above board against the government per
se or bow to its behests and pass off the stage.
Which alternative it will adopt, it needs no seer to say.
This document was produced as part of a document analysis project
by Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University.
(Proofing info: Entered and proofed by Lloyd Benson.)
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