Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History


Mr. Wendell Phillips

Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]

(5 November 1859)

Mr. PHILLIPS and the writer in the New York Tribune on the South and Southern Slavery, have certainly keen, caustic and telling wits. We always read all that falls from them; and although the South, Southern men and Southern institutions, are the butts of their furious ridicule and invective, our interest in their productions is not the least tamed on that account. As long as the South chooses to stand in the pillory, we have no right to complain of rotten eggs. Wit and intelligence are admirable everywhere, and often never so admirable as when they cross our self-complacency. We are then more alive to their stings. A false position also often renders us more ready to laugh at ourselves than others. Whether for these or any other reasons, we always read WENDELL PHILLIPS, and the Tribune. Mr. PHILLIPS has just delivered a speech on BROWN'S emeute in Virginia. It is full of his characteristic paradoxes and sophistries and venom towards the South; but with all his false views of things, we believe Mr. PHILLIPS to be a man of truth himself. Speaking of the public opinion of the North as to BROWN'S invasion, he says:

In Boston, when the news came here, whether walking in the street, riding in the cars, wherever you met any one who spoke about Harper's Ferry, the first expression used by all was, what a pity it did not succeed. This was the sentiment of republican and democrat alike on the first impulse. This was the sentiment which indicated the true feeling of every one who spoke in Boston, or throughout the northern States. No man spoke of his guilt though the trial came, but every man seemed to give vent to all his indignation at the farce of a trial.

Now, if the above statements are true of the public opinion and feeling of the people of the North, what a state of things does it disclose to the South? Although largely dependent on the South for their daily increasing prosperity and wonderful expansion and enrichment, at heart we are hated and despised. Avarice alone keeps them in association with us -- avarice gratified at our submission to their policy of plunder and [sic] aggrandisement. For ourselves, we do not believe that there is the least sympathy or fraternity on the part of the great body of the northern people of the South. If they could be sure that they would not be injured by the conflagration, they would rejoice to see the whole South wrapped in the flames of servile insurrection. All professions to the contrary are nothing but the suggestions of a selfish policy.

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