The following excerpt comes a speech given by Gov. John Jones Pettus of Mississippi to the Mississippi state legislature on November 26, 1860:
“It is with deep regret that I am constrained to forego the usual congratulations of peace, prosperity, and bright hopes for the future, which have formed so marked a feature of the Executive Communications to the Legislative Departments of the sovereign States of this once happy Confederacy. In performance of what I deemed an imperative duty, I have convened you in extraordinary session, to take into consideration the greatest and most solemn question that ever engaged the attention of any Legislative body on this Continent. One involving more human happiness or human misery than any political question of the age in which we live. One the solution of which hangs the destiny, for weal or woe, not only of this generation and this age, but of all generations which come after us, for an indefinite term of centuries, the end of which no prophet can foretell.
The existence or abolition of African slavery in the Southern states is now up for a final settlement before a tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction – the people of the Southern States where it exists. It is true that the forms of a trial have been had, before the people of the non-slaveholding States. The institutions of the South have been dragged before that tribunal, in violation of every principle of the Constitution, and of common sense, and tried before a Court having no jurisdiction, and a jury ignorant of the law and the facts; and the verdict thus obtained is, that slavery is sinful and must be destroyed. We are told that this verdict will be executed, that the Northern mind will never rest satisfied until slavery is placed in such a condition as will ensure its ultimate extinction, and that all the power of the Southern States now have in the final settlement of this matter, is to choose whether it will be a peaceable and gradual abolition, or speedy and violent. These are hard terms offered to fifteen states of this Confederacy – as if they were conquered and not coequal states – as if the superior numbers of the Northern States gave them the constitutional right to regulate the domestic affairs of the Southern States, without consulting their wishes, and against their consent. Submission to such a rule establishes a despotism under which the dearest rights of the Southern States are held at the sufferance of a people ignorant of their wants, and hostile to their rights. If they were honest and just, they are so utterly ignorant of the capacities and necessities of the two races which inhabit the Southern section of this Confederacy, as to render it impossible for them to rule it with success or manage it without ruin. It would be as reasonable to expect the steamship to make a successful voyage across the Atlantic with crazy men for engineers, as to hope for a prosperous future for the South under Black Republican rule. Can the lives, liberty and property of the people of Mississippi be safely entrusted to the keeping of that sectional majority which must hereafter administer the Federal Government?
I think they cannot, for the following reasons …
I have always loved the Mississippians.
Unlike the Rainbow Confederates, they are plain spoken and don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. The Black Republicans were threatening to abolish slavery.
“Permit me, in conclusion, again to refer to the great danger to the State which has brought you from your homes, and to exhort my countrymen not to be “caught by the fatal bait of temporary ease and quiet,” not to submit to the great, disgraceful and certain evils, from a dread of others which may prove to be imaginary. If we falter now, we and our sons must pay the penalty in future years, of bloody, if not fruitless efforts to retrieve the fallen fortunes of the State, which if finally successful must leave our fair land blighted – cursed with Black Republican politics and free negro morals, to become a cesspool of vice, crime and infamy.
Can we hesistate! when one bold resolve, bravely executed, makes powerless the aggressor, and one united effort makes safe our homes? May the God of our fathers put into the hearts of the people to make it.”
John J. Pettus
If slavery were abolished in black majority Mississippi by a sectional majority of Northerners in Congress inflamed by the abolitionists, what would be the result? The result of the triumph of the free labor system and the doctrine of racial equality would be that Mississippi would sink into poverty and become a blighted land whose culture would be degraded by free negro morals. According to Gov. John Jones Pettus, whether this should be allowed to happen and curse all posterity for centuries was “the most solemn question that ever engaged the attention of any Legislative body on this Continent.”