Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/84

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes." In view of these facts, and in the light of subsequent events, the conclusion is inevitable (even conceding the right) that secession was a great mistake, a stupendous political blunder. Secession could not effect or change geographical boundaries, it could not "bind the sweet influence of Pleiades or loose the bands of Orion." It could not remove sections from each other nor build impassable barriers between them or destroy propinquity.

When we come calmly to look at conditions that would have prevailed and confronted us had the Confederacy succeeded, we are brought face to face with the fact that it would have implied the perpetuation of the national blot, the crime against civilization – human slavery. To have maintained this institution would have required a cordon of forts along the borders of the frontier States bristling with artillery. There would have been standing armies with the menace of impending conflict – military rule; separate navies to protect our peaceful rivers and intervening waters with attendant costs of onerous taxation, jealousies, strife, friction, bloody conflicts with our neighbors.

Restrictions against interstate commerce espionage, a passport system. a lack of free communication that would have not only delayed the development of the South, but would have retarded progress and discouraged material growth. We would have had a confederation of petty principalities, with their rival interests, like those existing before the unification of the Teutonic races into the great Germanic empire. We would have had to concede to each of these States or petty kingdoms the right to secede or withdraw from the confederation whenever they considered themselves aggrieved.

When the border States ceased to be slave States, as they undoubtedly would have done in the course of time, they would have doubtless formed an alliance with the free States or set up separate governments of their own, with its attendant burdens and taxes, civic and military. The escape of slaves from the slave to the free States would have involved pursuit by their owners and repulse by their sympathizers, and war would have blazed all along the line. Such complications, border wars and