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it to the last gasp, let the cost be to us what it may. If you insist on it, you will compel us to vote as Catholics, as well as citizens, against you, for you then insist on a matter that our religion as Catholics condemns. You touch our consciences, and compel us for religion's sakė to cast our votes against you, and there is not a non-slaveholding State in the Union, without us, on whose vote you can count. You would make a Northern sectional party a duty as well as a necessity, and commit the honor of the country to the keeping of the North. This were moonlight madness, and we do not believe that the highminded and chivalric, the moral and Christian South will itself consent to it.
The project of re-opening the slave trade, advocated, we regret to see, by the Governor of South Carolina in his recent Message to the Legislature of that State, if seriously entertained, will give to the question of slavery a new face, as well as new and startling dimensions, and convert every Northern Union man into a decided antislavery man. Northern Union men do not love slavery, and they submit to it where it legally exists, only as they submit to a lesser in order to avoid a greater evil. Impose upon them the additional burden of bearing the infamy of the slave trade, and you will find them entirely unmanageable. They will, in their indignation, throw off that burden and the other too. Constitutional scruples will no longer restrain them, and they will pour down upon the South as
an army of veritable Northern Berserkirs, whose fury no earthly power can restrain or withstand. Is it prudent on the part of the friends of slavery to push us so far, to exact so much of us ? . Is it wise to take away from us all middle ground, and force us either to become propagandists of slavery or to join with the abolitionists? Can they not see that, if compelled to take sides, we shall deem it more Christian, more honorable, more chivalric even to make common cause with the abolition movement than with a movement for reviving and legalizing the African slave trade ? Cannot these so-called “ fire-eaters" understand that we at the North, especially we who have always stood by the Union and resisted all encroachments on the constitutional rights of the slave interest, have the principles of religion and of honor in as high a degree at least as they have ? Can they not understand that we have defended the South from loyalty to the Constitution, and not from any good will we have to slavery? Do they expect to convert us to their slavery worship, and to make us admirers of the concealed beauties of negro-slavery ? If they have so expected, it is time for them to be undeceived.
We know the enemies of the Union at the South and at the North labor with all their might to force the party whose candidate Mr. Buchanan was into one extreme or the other, and to compel it to be either an abolitionist or a pro-slavery party. They are determined that there shall be no Union men. The wider they can make the breach the better are they pleased. The abolitionists hope by so doing to compel all the Free States to take up their cause, and the pro-slavery men hope by the same means to combine all the Slave States, and through them either rule or split the Union, and form a grand Southern Republic in whicle slavery may be developed and expanded without the restraints necessarily imposed by their connections with the Free States. But if the South follows the lead of these "fire-eaters,” who look for a grand field for slavery espansion in yet unannexed Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies, the abolitionists will prove the successful party, for they will have the Federal government and the moral sympathy of the world on their side. Cotton, rice, and tobacco are very important, we own, in regulating our exchanges, but not so important as they were before the California gold discoveries, and California will not go with the Slavery Republic. The immense Republican vote in the Free States proves, among other things, that exchanges do not depend as exclusively on Southern products as they did a few years ago. The great West is opened, and its products are every day becoming a more and more important element in trade, domestic and foreign. The great agricultural Free States in the valley of the Mississippi, all Republican States, with two exceptions, not to be counted on, will never suffer the mouth of the Mississippi and the southern outlets of their trade to be held by a foreign State, though of kindred blood, especially if that foreign State depends on slave labor. The Southern Confederacy would find itself opposed not only by the North-east, but by the still more formidable North-west, and brave as are the Southern chivalry, and as handy as they are in using gutta-percha canes, they would be powerless before the two united, acting by authority of the Federal government, with the warcry of Freedom.
No; the interest of the South as well as of the North is in loyalty to the Union, and she should be as careful to avoid the issue the “fire-eaters” and abolitionists are forcing upon her as we of the North, and perhaps even more so. She must, then, for her own sake discountenance all movements towards reviving and legalizing the slave trade, and be contented with our fidelity to our constitutional engagements. If she finds the slave interest too weak for her ambition, it is a misfortune from which she has no right to expect the Free States to relieve her. She takes her chance with the rest, and must bear her share of her own burdens. We do not reproach her with her slavery, but we owe her no aid beyond letting it alone where it is. With that she must make up her mind to be satisfied, and so much the Free States are, in that case, bound to give her.
We have been discussing slavery merely as a political question, in relation to Federal politics, we have not felt called upon to consider it in its moral aspects. As a Catholic the moral question has long since been settled for us. We have no vague, floating, or uncertain doctrines on the subject. We do not agree with the abolitionists that slavery is malum in se, and that one cannot with a good conscience be a slaveholder. We do not any more believe that slavery is an unmixed evil, or that in private morals, or the Christian virtues, the Southern people are one whit inferior to their Northern brethren. As a general rule, we believe the slaves are treated with kindness and humanity, sufficiently fed and clothed, and not over-worked. We believe they are morally and phy-, sically better off, with individual exceptions, than they would be if emancipated ; and therefore we would not, as we have said, disturb the relation which exists between them and their masters, if we had the power and the constitutional right. Nevertheless, the more we have seen of slavery under its most favorable aspects, the more satis
fied are we that it is an evil to be borne, rather than a good to be sought, to be confined rather than extended.
We are not writing in a spirit hostile to Southern interests. We have dwelt indeed more on the danger of movements to strengthen and consolidate the slave power than on that of the Northern Abolition movements, because we have for years dwelt on the latter, and because we think it always the part of wisdom to guard first against the danger that is nearest and most pressing. The nearest and most pressing danger is that of converting the party which in the late election supported Colonel Fremont into a strictly anti-slavery party, and this can be guarded against by no efforts so to extend and strengthen the slave power as to secure to it the administration. All efforts of that sort will tend only to precipitate the danger, for it is precisely against such extending and strengthening of the slave power that that party is organized. The moment the United States Bank entered the arena of politics and attempted to obtain a power too strong for the government to resist, although apparently in self-defence, its doom was sealed, because the people, moved by an instinct of freedom, would not suffer the existence of a moneyed power outside of the government strong enough to control it. It will be the same with slavery. Its safety depends on its weakness, not in having or in appearing to have the power to shape the policy of the government. It has reached the extent of its power, and to seek to make it more powerful, is precisely to excite a more determined hostility to it, and a hostility that under no circumstances it will become strong enough to subdue. If slavery, where it exists, cannot find security without governing the Union, it will not be permitted to exist in the Union at all.
It must never be forgotten that slavery is repugnant to the moral sense of the civilized world. It belongs to a past age, to the heathen rather than the Christian republic, and no Free State will consent to place the interest of slave labor on a par with the interest of free labor. The thing is not to be thought of. To administer the government in the interest of the free laboring classes is wise and just, in harmony with the best and strongest spirit of modern times; to administer it solely in the interest of capital, especially when that capital consists of slaves, human beings, men like ourselves, descended from the same stock, and redeemed by the same God become man, is repugnant to that spirit, and to the uniform tendencies of our holy religion. Such is the fact, war against it as you will. It is, then, in vain that you brand as aggressive any constitutional action of the government intended to affect favorably the interests of free labor, or claim in the name of equal rights a like action in favor of slave labor. The equality in the case is not and will not be conceded, for freedom is the natural right of every man, and slavery its abridgment by positive law. In the case of free labor the law must be interpreted liberally in its favor ; in the case of slave labor it must be construed strictly, and favor as little as possible the owner of that labor.
The policy of the law is to favor freedom and to restrict slavery. This being the case, free labor may develope and expand itself any where and to any extent not prohibited ; slave labor only where and to the extent authorized by positive law. There is no aggression on the rights of slave labor in seeking to keep slavery out of all territory now free, while there is a direct aggression on free labor in seeking to subject that territory to the slave interest, for in all cases slavery is the abridgment of the natural rights of man. Hence the efforts of the South to expand her system of slave labor against free labor, where free labor has not been by law deprived of its natural freedom, will be counted a positive aggression and resisted as such. Therefore we maintain that the security of slave property consists in its not attempting to extend or strengthen itself beyond its present limits, and in submitting without resistance to the free and full development of free labor within its constitutional bounds. To do otherwise were to provoke a contest in which slave labor would be deprived of all its rights, even where it now has rights. Any man who knows the country and is capable of putting two ideas together cannot fail to see and admit this.
We, therefore, regret the policy shadowed forth in the Cinciunati Platform,
which, under pretence of non-intervention by Congress in the question of slavery, contemplates in reality the strengthening of slavery by the addi