Southern History Series: Gov. John Jones Pettus on Black Republicanism and Mississippi Secession

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.”

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Hunter Wallace
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent

4 Comments on "Southern History Series: Gov. John Jones Pettus on Black Republicanism and Mississippi Secession"

  1. James Owen | June 17, 2019 at 11:05 am |

    “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.”

    This attitude is ingrained in the collective thinking of the Northern People, to this day. Many of them regard this treatment of the Southern People as subordinate subjects, and the regulation of the Southern states, as part of their rightful entitlement and inheritance as “Americans®.”

    It’s most manifest in the large numbers of Northern SJWs, who turn up in Southern States to protest legislation, or influence, or overthrow the outcome of state elections.

    It’s also manifest in the cries of “treason,” “insurrection,” “unAmerican,” “unpatriotic,” whenever it’s suggested that Southrons might actually be Human beings entitled to the same legal, political and Constitutional rights as New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians and Ohioans, etc.

    • Esoteric Du30ist | June 17, 2019 at 11:55 am |

      My favorite (least favorite) moment was when a Missourian pastor – who was raised a Roman Catholic but then converted for his wife and became with the passage of time an important mover and shaker in my local Southern Baptist convention – visited my church, and, in his sermon, decried the apparent racism of people in Alabama, Mississippi and north Florida, where he had served in various capacities in the past. This man had the temerity to say to a crowd of almost exclusively white people (there are perhaps 6 blacks and maybe 10 others of various different races in a congregation of several hundred) that Christian gentlemen like Lee, Jackson and so forth were “traitors” and “deserved a traitor’s justice” for defying Washington DC, all because he had received treatment as an outsider in the aforementioned states which were just a little too Southern and Anglo normative for him, being as he was from the big city of St. Louis. I walked out, much to the chagrin of several friends and older folks at the church who thought that was poor form.

  2. Afterthought | June 17, 2019 at 4:04 pm |

    Gov Pettus 1860 “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”

    The “alt right” 2019 “Somehow we gotta make America work”

    Yikes.

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