1861 January 30: States Secede
This is another editorial from The Hudson North Star. Here Elwell and Starr commend the Union men who are standing firm in the South and implore the Northerners in Congress to meet the Union men of the South in compromise. In the American Civil War, it is easy to see North and South, Blue and Gray, but in reality there were supporters of the Confederacy in the northern states and supporters of the Union in southern states. This editorial gives some insight on this matter.
South Carolina seceded by ordinance of the State Convention, December 20th: Mississippi, January 9th: Florida, January 11th: Alabama, January 11th: Georgia, January 19th, and Louisiana, January 26th. Thus goes on the secession movement. Six of 33 States composing this great Union have absolved and renounced all allegiance to the general government as established by the Fathers of the Republic. Our telegraphic news from Texas up to the 26th [next word illegible] indicates an overwhelming majority in that State for immediate secession.
It would seem that a majority of the Republicans in Congress are so much attached to the Chicago Platform and so violently opposed to the Crittenden amendment,1 or any similar compromise, that they refuse to allow the people of the United States to vote on it as is proposed by Messrs. Crittenden,1 Douglas,2 Bigler,3 and others. We honestly believe that four-fifths of the people would vote for the plan submitted by Senator Crittenden, and that many, many Republicans stand ready and willing to drop a party platform when the salvation of the Union is in the scale. Unless this is done we have no hopes of saving the border States, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and gallant [next word is illegible] Delaware from joining with the States already seceded, but adopt it at once or something similar and we are firm in the belief that the Union can and will be saved. May God in his mercy and wisdom imbue our Northern members in Congress assembled with fraternal and patriotic feeling and sentiment, sufficiently to meet the noble Union men of the South half way and then save our glorious country and her institutions, and avert the untold horrors of civil war.
Thurlow Weed4 with the most commendable service, continues his labors to preserve the Union by compromise and conciliation. From the Albany Journal of a late date we commend to our Republican friends the following article:
“Throughout Tennessee, North Carolina, Louisiana, and several other Southern States, are thousands of Union men standing up firmly and nobly against the madness which seeks to involve the whole South in the treason of South Carolina. Treason into which Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi have rushed. These men are true patriots, and they have out highest regard and warmest sympathy. Their devotion to the Union is real and praiseworthy. They peril their fortunes, and perhaps their lives. Our patriotism costs us nothing. We are merely promoting our interests by doing our duty.
To sustain such men as Senator Johnson5 and Mr. Ethridge [sic],6 Messrs. Stephens,7 Johnson,8 and Hill9 of Georgia, Mr. Gilmer10 of North Carolina, Gov. Hicks11 and Mr. Davis12 of Maryland, we would go just as far in conciliation as the Constitution permits. To save this Union and avert the horrors of Civil War we implore members of congress to meet the reasonable propositions of the Union men of the South. We know how little consideration our previous suggestions have attracted. We know, too, with how much more favor our friends in Congress listen to journals whose columns abound in appeals to “Black Bone,” “Puck,” &c. &c. &c. These things are very well in their place, but very mischievous out of place. In discussing a question upon which the Union hangs, and upon which the welfare of thirty millions of people depends, we will [next word illegible] dismiss the hope that there are Union men in Congress from the North who can meet Union men of the South with fraternal feelings, and in the discharge of a common duty, agree upon terms of adjustment which will hold border slave States from disunion.
The cheapest and thinnest kind of patriotism is that which costs nothing. So, too, with that species of courage which, out of danger vapors and swaggers. Of this army of Abolitionists who have for so many years been teaching war and [next word illegible], on paper, not one of them ever faced their enemy.”
1. Proposed amendments to the Constitution by Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden (see the Cast of Characters). It addressed the concerns of the seceded slave states in areas such as the fugitive slave laws, as well as recognizing the Missouri Compromise. Abraham Lincoln quickly rejected the Crittenden Compromise.
2. Stephen A. Douglas (1813-1861) was a U.S. Senator from Illinois from 1847 to June 3, 1861, and Lincoln’s opponent for the Republican nomination for president.
3. William Bigler (1814-1880) was a U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania from 1856 until March 3, 1861.
4. Thurlow Weed (1797-1882) was a newspaper publisher, politician, and political advisor to William H. Seward. He was instrumental in the presidential nomination of Abraham Lincoln.
5. Robert Ward Johnson (1814-1879) was a U.S. Senator from Arkansas from 1853 to March 3, 1861, and a Confederate Senator from Arkansas from February 18, 1862 to May 10, 1865.
6. Emerson Etheridge (1819-1902) was a U.S. Representative from Tennesseefrom 1853-1857 and again from 1859-March 3, 1861, and serves as the Clerk of the House from 1861-1863. He spoke eloquently in Congress in opposition to secession and remains loyal to the Union.
7. Alexander Hamilton Stephens (1812-1883) was a U.S. Representative from Georgia, both before the Civil War and after Reconstruction. He was a political ally and personal friend of Robert Toombs. Stephens was elected as a delegate to the Georgia secession convention and during the convention, as well as during the 1860 presidential campaign, Stephens called for the South to remain loyal to the Union. He voted against secession in the convention, but asserted the right to secede if the federal government continued allowing northern states to nullify the Fugitive Slave Law. He was elected to the Confederate Congress, and was chosen Vice President of the provisional government. He was then elected Vice President of the Confederate States of America. He took the oath of office on February 11, 1861, and served until May 11, 1865.
8. James Johnson (1811-1891) was a U.S. Representative from Georgia from 1851-1853. He is a Unionist and opposes secession. After the Civil War he is appointed the 43rd Governor of Georgia by President Andrew Johnson (no relation) and serves from June to December 1865.
9. Benjamin Harvey Hill (1823-1882) was active in Georgia state politics as a member of the Know Northing Party. Hill is the only non-Democratic member of the Georgia secession convention in January of 1861. He, along with Alexander Stephens, spoke publicly against the dissolution of the Union. Ultimately, Hill votes for secession, becomes a political ally of Jefferson Davis, is a member of the Confederate Provisional Congress, and is elected to the Confederate States Senate, a term which he held throughout its existence.
10. John Adams Gilmer (1805-1868) was a U.S. Representative from North Carolina from 1857-March 3, 1861. He serves as a member of the 2nd Confederate Congress in 1864.
11. Thomas Holliday Hicks (1798-1865) was the 31st Governor of Maryland, 1858-1862, and then U.S. Senator from Maryland, 1862 until his death in 1865. despite his early sympathies for the South, Hicks helps prevent Maryland from seceding, which would have put Washington, D.C., in Confederate territory.
12. Henry Winter Davis (1817-1865) was a U.S. Representative from Maryland. Like Hicks, he was a member of the Know Northing Party. He held strong anti-slavery views and became a Radical Republican.