On the notion that emancipation would eventually come in a free and independent Southern Confederacy

Posted on December 12, 2010 by


With the title of this post in mind… this editorial comes from the Staunton Vindicator, December 14, 1860 (courtesy the Valley of the Shadow site).

Now, I realize, as an editorial, it is, or may be, just one man’s opinion, but, there appear to be reflections of the attitudes of others. I’ve placed emphasis in a few key sections that should strike a chord.

The historical truth that the negro slave and the acquisition of Territory constitute the rock which will eventually break asunder the Union of the States, affords us a gleam of light as to the pat “Manifest Destiny,” marching before us like a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, is pointing out for the Southern Confederacy. We have ever believed that the genius of American liberty was destined to overspread the Mexican Republic, and thus pave the way for the triumph of Christianity over the religious superstition of that benighted and priest-ridden people–wresting one of the loveliest countries beneath the sun from the rule of ignorance, tyranny, and wickedness, and making her beautiful valleys to blossom as the rose, and her auriferous mountains to yield up their immense treasures, under the magic touch of Anglo-Saxon energy and industry.

The question presents itself, is this possible so long as the enemies of the expansion of negro slavery have the numerical power in our national councils? We think not, for it is a conclusion fortified by the most powerful arguments– adaptation of soil and climate–which can be adduced, that negro slavery is destined to be established in old Mexico, if ever that country passes from the ruse of the race that at present governs it, and becomes a part of the American domain. This being admitted, then it follows, the antipathy of the Northern mind to the expansion of slavery being greater than a desire for territorial acquisition, that no scheme, however plausible, could ever be carried into successful operation, the object of which would be the possession of Mexico, so long as the Union of these States continues.

But establish a Southern Confederacy, then the difficulty arising from division of sentiment on the negro question would be removed, for there would be but one opinion in common with all the component parts of such a government, and that, the dedication of all territory to slavery where it could be made profitable.

May it not be, then, an arrangement in the economy of Providence–an unfolding in the “Manifest Destiny” of our race–that from the rending asunder of the bonds that unite these States, is to be accomplished the peaceful religious and political regeneration of that land of beauty, mystery and romance, around whose history is thrown a charm and attraction unsurpassed by the most fascinating pictures of modern fiction? Under the auspices of a Southern Confederacy, this could be attained without the fear of violent controversies, sectional wars, and personal hatreds; while, if attempted by a Confederacy united in name, but divided in sentiment, a scene of strife and crimination would follow, shocking to the civilized world, and a libel upon the name of an enlightened patriotism. The history of Kansas, written in tears and blood, is a fearful warning against the acquisition of more territory as an united people.

We have implicit faith that it is the “Manifest Destiny” of this country, under Providence, to absorb the chaotic, torn and tattered powers of the North American Continent, and bring them under the genial sway of Republicanism and Christianity. If the union of these States lies in the way of the accomplishment of that end, then we believe there will be a peaceable and permanent separation, each Confederacy contributing its quota to carrying out the grand scheme of reformation.

It is very evident, too, that the moral and religious conviction of the South is better adopted to the dissemination and inculcation of the simple truths of free government regulated by law, and the Bible, than the North. There, the great substratum of society is corrupt and polluted, sending forth a stream of infidelity, heresy and blasphemy unparalleled in the history of the world.–With no permanent rule of moral action, but liable to break out in the assertion of some monstrous doctrine of religious and political fanaticism, such as Millerism, Foreurism, Woman’s Rightism, &c., the respect and confidence of an inferior people could not be commanded, for the example of immorality and radicalism would successfully estop the enforcement of virtuous precepts.

The social and moral status of Southern society is of more substantial character, and better adapted to the great work of implanting the living truths of free government and christian religion and virtue, in the minds of an inferior race. The steady political conservatism, the firm morality, and elevated conscientiousness of Southern character, would at once revolutionize, by the silent, yet potential agencies of precept and example, the social structure of that unhappy and misguided people.

There’s a great deal to digest in this quote (which is actually the tail-end of a larger quote found in the Vindicator, on page 2, column 3, under the title “Manifest Destiny”), ranging from the future of women’s suffrage in the Confederacy, to expansionism, and etc., etc., but I’m just focusing on the assumption that a free and independent Confederacy still permeates the mentality of many a contemporary Confederate celebrationist.

After reading this piece, I’m left wondering if there is evidence of mutual sentiment in other documents out there, generated from other Southerners, favoring many of the ideas brought out in this editorial. Was expansionism on the agenda of the Confederacy?  Indeed, not just territorial expansionism, but the expansion of slavery… as well as the expansion of a few other ideals.

Secede and be left alone in peace? Indeed…