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1863 June 20: Crittenden Speech on How to Cure a Great Evil

June 22, 2013

From The Prescott Journal of June 20, 1863.

How to Cure a Great Evil.

Mr. Crittenden [John J. Crittenden] in his recent patriotic speech, alluded to the peculiar difficulties of Kentucky as a “border state”—forming a part of the border line between freedom and slavery.  There is no doubt a hardspip [sic] in this situation, and it is already breeding trouble among the rebels :  the cotton planters regard the “border slave states” as valuable chiefly because they form a convenient fighting ground, while their people make good soldiers and are a safe barrier between “the North” and the cotton states.  This is the servile and mean use to which Davis [Jefferson Davis] and his cotton-planting fellow conspirators devoted the “border states” from the beginning of the rebellion.—Accomplish disunion and Virginia, Ky., Tennessee and Missouri would be thereafter, in war, the bloody battlefield of contending social systems ;  and in peace, territory where it would be impossible for residents to keep slaves, but where the cotton-planter would be free to hunt his runaway chattels with bloodhounds.

This is not a tempting prospect.  It is far less pleasant than the condition of these states in the Union.  But why should there be any unpleasantness!—Why should he have “border states in the centre of the Union !”  Why is it that the terms “North” and “South” have long had a significance so singular, a political meaning which East and West have never had!  Is there no cure for this !  Are we destined to perpetuate the absurdity of having a “border” in the middle of our country, as well as on its frontier !

All this riddiculous [sic] and mischievous cant of sectionalism is the fruit of the slave system.  Do away with slavery in Kentucky, and what will remain to mark that state and separate it from Ohio as a “border state” ?  Nothing.—No one ever thinks of calling Ohio, or Illinois, or Indiana, or Pennsylvania a “border state”—they are free ;  the moment Kentucky and Virginia are free they also will cease to be border states—and sectionalism will leave them out of its list.

Already, in these two years of war, the area included in the term “South” has been greatly diminished.  When men now speak of “the South” they no longer include Maryland, or Kentucky, or Missouri.  They scarcely mean to count in Tennessee or Virginia.  “The South” has lost, in the sight of the world, in these two years, territory as great as all France.  It is slowly receding [sic] ;  it must continue to fall back until it falls into the Gulf of Mexico—for that which called “the South”—those treacherous aristocrats who first rallied under this sectional title—will when we establish peace, have left forever the land they vexed with their crimes.

And so, too, of the term “border states” we hope before long to see this among the obsolete political phrases, for the meaning of which the rising generation will have to refer to old political text-books and addresses.  It is a hard lot, say Kentuckians, to be a border state.  Very true ;  we hope they will not long be in that condition ;  the moment Kentucky is rid of slavery, that moment she will cease to be a “border state”—that moment all the hardships of that condition will leave her.  At the word liberty, the devel [sic] who has too long vexed her will fly ;  and we shall no longer find a difference between cousins and brothers speaking the same language, eating bread grown in the same fields, holding to the same faith, divided in residence only by a stream which it takes two minutes to cross, and which in a dry season a full grown man can wade.

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