Editor’s Note: I feel like taking a look back at the antebellum era this morning. What caused the War Between the States?
The following excerpt comes from Sen. John C. Calhoun’s Southern Address of 1849:
“Very different would be the circumstances under which emancipation would take place with us. If it should ever be effected, it will be through the agency of the Federal Government, controlled by the dominant power of the Northern States of the Confederacy, against the resistance and struggle of the Southern.
It can then only be effected by the prostration of the white race; and that would necessarily engender the bitterest feelings of hostility between them and the North. But the reverse would be the case between the blacks of the South and the people of the North. Owing their emancipation to them, they would regard them as friends, guardians, and patrons, and centre, accordingly, all their sympathy in them. The people of the North would not fail to reciprocate and to favor them, instead of the whites.
Under the influence of such feelings, and impelled by fanaticism and love of power, they would not stop at emancipation. Another step would be taken – to raise them to a political and social equality with their former owners, by giving them the right of voting and holding public offices under the Federal Government. We see the first step toward it in the bill already alluded to – to vest the free blacks and slaves with the right to vote on the question of emancipation in this District.
But when once raised to an equality, they would become the fast political associates of the North, and acting and voting with them on all questions, and by this political union between them, holding the white race at the south in complete subjection. The blacks, and the profligate whites that might unite with them, would become the principal recipients of federal offices and patronage, and would, in consequence, be raised above the whites of the South in the political and social scale. We would, in a word, change conditions with them – a degradation greater than has ever yet fallen to the lot of a free and enlightened people, and one from which we could not escape, should emancipation take place, (which it certainly will if not prevented), but by fleeing the homes of ourselves and our ancestors, and by abandoning our country to our former slaves, to become the permanent abode of disorder, anarchy, poverty, misery and wretchedness.
With such a prospect before us, the gravest and most solemn question that ever claimed the attention of a people is presented for your consideration: what is to be done to prevent it? It is a question belonging to you to decide.”
John C. Calhoun “The Southern Address,” The Works of John C. Calhoun, vol. VI, pp. 290-313.