“Fighting for the Union”

As published in the Staunton Spectator, January 17, 1861 (courtesy of the Valley of the Shadow site, this page).

It is a matter of surprise that any serious apprehensions as to the stability of the Union should now be felt in any quarter. With the exception of the insignificant faction of ultra abolitionists at the North and a few equally insane gentlemen of the fire-eating stripe at the South, nobody seems disposed at the present to tolerate dissolution. On the contrary the prominent men of all the great parties, of both sections of the confederacy, are bold in the declaration that the “Union must and shall be preserved.” The Democratic party, it is gratifying to perceive, are taking the true ground here at the South, that dissolution is no remedy for the evils under which we have naturally become very restive, and we are waking up to an appreciation that the Union and the Constitution belong to the South as well as the North, and that the rights and privileges guaranteed to us by the Constitution, which is the bond of the Union, may and ought to be maintained within the Union and under the Constitution.–It seems now to be the general opinion that it is not only unwise and ridiculous, but absolutely cowardly, to think of abandoning our rights under the and retreating ingloriously from the glorious American Union, because some of the parties confederate are disposed to trample upon and abuse us; but that, on the contrary, the true and manly position to assume is, that we have rights in the Union, guaranteed by the Constitution, which we mean to assert and maintain “at all hazards and to the last extremity,” Gov. Wise placed his foot upon this solid ground first, in his speech to the medical students at Richmond, and following his lead many of the prominent men and presses of the Democratic party have taken the same sensible position. Mr. Pryor, well known to be a champion par excellence of Southern rights and interests, has made up his mind to save the Union, and declared in Congress that the South does not intend to abandon the Union, but will vindicate her rights in the Union, “peaceably if possibly, by force if necessary.” Heretofore, says the Baltimore American “Southern politicians seem never to have thought it possible for the South to do anything but run away from Seward and his fanatics– dissolution (in other words, backing out) being the only resource of the “despoiled nationalities” below Mason and Dixon’s line. But Mr. Pryor, for the first time in the history of Southern Eloquence, takes a more courageous stand. He thinks it just as easy for the South to whip the North as for the North to whip the South in.–At all events, the South, according to Mr. Pryor rather than secede under any provocation, is fully bent upon violence–“force if necessary.” Instead of backing out, it is going to fight to keep in.

While this strong position is taken by Southern Democrats, Mr. Hickman, of Pennsylvania, an anti-Lecompton Democrat who has been voting with the Republicans, and therefore a representative of both, is equally positive that the Union shall not be dissolved. “No matter what the antagonism between sections,” says that gentleman, “the Union must and shall be preserved.”

In addition to these developments of a determination to preserve the Union, on the part of two great parties, both of which have heretofore been inclined to its destruction, we find a movement in progress under the lead of such men as Crittenden and Broom and Stuart, having for its object the organization of another great national party, to aid Messrs. Pryor and Hickman in their patriotic intentions.

In view of all of these facts who can apprehend any danger to the Union? Who is to accomplish the work of dissolution. As the American remarks, if Mr. Hickman shall resort to arms to prevent the South from leaving the Confederacy, and Mr. Pryor is resolved that the South shall urge war to keep from leaving, it is pretty clear that the Union is tolerably safe–we confess to like the idea of the South’s fighting to keep in, while the North is fighting to make the South stay in.


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