Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History


The Harper's Ferry Insurrection.

Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]

(19 October 1859)

The telegraph has informed us that this bloody outbreak is, by confession of its northern ringleaders, a concerted movement of abolitionists and their black victims in southern States, and has its ramifications in Washington, Alexandria, and in Baltimore. It is stated that apprehension and excitement exist. We are satisfied there is exaggeration. While we can see no cause for present alarm, none can blind their eyes to the audacity of the attempt, or fail to regard it as a pregnant sign of the times--a prelude to what must and will recur again and again, as the progress of sectional hate and Black Republican success advances to their consummation. And what will be the effect? Are occurrences like these calculated to strengthen the institution of slavery in the border States, by adding to its advantages and value in the appreciation of the public there? Is not the condition of things to which we submit inevitably tending to render slave property in the neighborhood of Mason and Dixon's line a dangerous and troublesome nuisance? Slaves can neither be kept nor managed. By our tame and passive policy, the Cotton States, which are vitally interested in the institution, are actually allowing slavery to be carried out of the Border States. The continuance of this policy will slowly but surely build up an abolition party in States that now are strongly pro-slavery, and ready to back us in resistance to the ever-recurring aggressions of the North and of her people. The march of events is onwards. Let the signs of the times be read and interpreted aright.

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