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Suicidal Policy of the Breckinridge Men.


September/October 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, October 3, 1860.

Suicidal Policy of the Breckinridge Men.

As the State elections, which generally govern the issue of the Presidential election, draw near, the panic-makers ply their task with renewed zeal.  The disunion gong is sounded again.  The harsh thunder is echoed and re-echoed on all sides by party organs merely for purposes of intimidation.  We do not deny there are disunionists in the South, but yet would affirm that their rash declarations would be suffered to pass unnoticed, if shallow, blind, demoralized party managers did not labor under the delusion that the people of the free States can be deterred from exercising the suffrage in accordance with their convictions.  Such men as Toombs and Wise are doing the cause of Breckinridge serious injury.  That gentleman has taken the pains to vindicate himself from the suspicion of being a disunionist.  So has his associate on the ticket.  Yet leading men who pretend to support that ticket, labor to undo or neutralize all the salutary effects which the declarations of both candidates were so well calculated to produce.  These partisans exhibit far more zeal than discretion, and are really strengthening Douglas in the free States and the border slave States.  He and his organs from the beginning have stigmatized the opposite faction of the Democracy as traitors; and Messrs. Wise and Toombs furnish him with evidence, that instead of a stigma he has used a correct definition.  Had Mr. Breckinridge spoken sooner he might have triumphed in Kentucky at the late election, and in consequence of such triumph been a formidable candidate to-day.  His defeat in that contest was a terrible blow to him.  But some of his adherents, insensible to the lesson which it taught, are doing all in their power to hurl him back into the false position in which he stood before the people prior to his Lexington speech—a position which he was unconscious of himself, for it is evident he had not the faintest notion that the people of his own State looked upon him as the confederate of the Disunionists.  We repeat, the Wises and Toombses are doing the work of Douglas and Bell.  Wittingly or unwittingly, they are struggling to reduce the vote of Breckinridge and Lane to the Disunionist vote, pure and simple; and to concentrate the whole Democratic Union vote, North and South, on Douglas.  Such tactics are unworthy of inexperienced politicians, much more of veteran leaders.  We are speaking, of course, on the assumption that the “States rights Democracy” are a Constitutional party, and not a desperate band of revolutionary fanatics.  The question of disunion in the guise in which it now presents itself, simply means rebellion against the principle of Constitutional Democracy.  Were that unconstitutional overt act, of which we hear so much and can learn so little, once committed, resistance would be justifiable and perhaps politic.  The Disunionists well know the overt act will never come.  Hence their extraordinary efforts to inflame the Southern mind with imaginary fears, and precipitate a catastrophe in the tumult of a false and premature alarm.

They also know that it will not be in the power of Lincoln to infringe on the rights of the South, even if he were disposed to do so; and they are not ignorant that he has no such disposition.  An eminently just and liberal minded man, whose patriotism is commensurate with the whole country, it is a mean, malignant slander to represent him as the enemy of either section.  Some two or three weeks ago, a South Carolina paper predicted that his administration will be a conservative one, and scrupulously just to the South; and it argued from these premises that if the secession movement should not be inaugurated previous to his inauguration, the opportunity so long and so ardently desired was gone forever.

We believe that every real Disunionist is a Monarchist at heart.  The Republicanism of such men is but the mask that disguises their inherent Toryism.  Were they to express the desire at the basis of their souls, they would cry out, like the people of Israel, for a King.  The in- intense [sic] aristocratic spirit which the social organizations and relations of the extreme South have begotten and transmitted, culminates at last in this aspiration.  Men who express themselves ready to rise in arms against the will of the majority, regularly expressed through the ballot box, are not and cannot be Republicans in principle.  Men who express themselves ready to overthrow the Constitution which they have sworn to support, cannot be loyal to the Constitution; and yet, among their mock professions, there is none more conspicuous than their profession of reverence for that instrument, as a sacred compact.  Their apprehension that others will violate it is the reason they give for declaring they will first violate it themselves!

The immediate effects of the armed resistance to the Federal Government are so forcibly and clearly expressed in the admirable letter of Judge Bates to the Republican Committee of Keokuk, which we published two days ago, that we cannot avoid copying a brief extract from it on this occasion:

“We all know that there are in the South a few self-conceited egots, who whenever they find the votes and the arguments all against them, appeal to our fears, by threats of indefinite mischief, hoping to win a triumph over justice, reason, and the public will, by sheer bullying.

“I tell you, my friends, that the Southern people are not guilty of that wicked crime and stupid folly; they know, as well as we can tell them that armed resistance to a lawfully chosen President is treason; they know that a government that has not the power and the will to protect itself and enforce the laws is a poor, contemptible government; and they, especially, need a government strong enough to protect all its people.  They know that armed resistance to a lawful President is but the beginning of civil war; and civil war as our people are now divided, would be sure to run into social war;  that is, a war in States, counties, neighborhoods, and then what human power could prevent the horrors of a servile war?  However much I may differ from many of our Southern brethren upon certain points of governmental policy, I rely upon their wisdom and patriotism to put down the few desperadoes among them, and thus prevent the initial crime which if allowed to be successfully committed, would imperil the world’s last hope of republican freedom, and would not fail to draw in its train the complicated horrors of civil, social and servile war.

“I rely, I say, confidently upon the virtue and patriotism of the Southern people; but even if these were wanting, I would still rely upon their plain reason and common sense, for none but mad men would teach their slaves, by their own bad examples, how to rise, in bloody rebellion against lawful authority.”

The author of these pregnant sentences, it will be observed, defends the Southern people from the accusation that they are guilty of the wicked crime and stupid folly of meditating disunion.  He knows the South, for he was born, and has lived all his life in it, and he is identified with it both in interest and feeling.  We may add that he has traveled through, and sojourned in, the cotton States this summer, and had the best opportunities of learning the real state of public feeling in that region.

But to recur to the party aspect of the disunion bluster, we venture to say that Douglas hears it with a keener relish than any other man in the nation.  Every blast on the bugle-horn of Wise, Toombs or Yancey, is worth a thousand votes to him.  These gentlemen, and their associates, are driving Breckinridge Democrats to his standard faster than the New York, New Jersey and Oregon fusions are thinning his own and reinforcing the Republican ranks.  Let the Breckinridge men in Missouri take cognizance of this danger in time.  Doubtless they outnumber the Douglas faction at present, but that preponderance will assuredly be lost the Sixth day of November, if they suffer their position as Union men to be compromised or impeached.