Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Incurable Malignants

In another column we print an interesting letter from Central Kentucky. The writer is a woman, and a determined Unionist, and she gives a very clear impression of the condition of public sentiment in the part of the State in which she lives. It is sad to read of the division of families and the alienation of friendships caused by the lawless rebellion into which the demamogues [sic] of the South have enticed so many people. That the conduct of the secessionists in Kentucky is as perfidious as she describes it to be does not surprise us. The experience of the past year has shown that when men cast of their allegiance they throw away with it, too often, most of the sentiments of honor by which society is upheld. They deny their debts, break their oaths, malign their opponents, and, indeed, seem indifferent to all the usual impulses of manly feeling

It is frequently asked, What is to become of these determined malignants? They are found in St. Louis, in Nashville, in Baltimore, and more or less in all those parts of the slave States which our armies have re-occupied. As we get further South, moreover, the number will increase; and though they will form but a wretched minority, even in South Carolina, their unquiet spirits will try to keep the country in turmoil. Yet we do not see much cause for apprehension on this head. A free people know how to protect themselves against disorganizers. Wherever the rebels are subdued and the supremacy of the laws is re-established, the common sense of the great majority will uphold the government. So long as the rebels hope to succeed, their friends in the loyal States will stand ready to join them, and will – because they peril noting by doing so – openly talk and secretly act in a disloyal manner. But where their cause is made hopeless, as it has been in Maryland and Missouri, they will themselves quiet down, and their sympathetic friends will disappear.

No doubt there will remain in all the southern States a number of implacable natures which it will be difficult if not impossible to reconcile to the defeat of their treasonable schemes. In their infatuation they have taught themselves and their neighbors to hate the Union and the Government; they have long cherished the hope of destroying both, both for personal and political ends, and they will never again be able to resume their former feelings towards their fellow-citizens. The animosity engendered by war will add to the virulence of their passion. How could they live with any comfort under a government they have tried to overturn, obey laws they have spurned, pay taxes for their enforcement, or remain, in short, in a society which, if not antagonistic to them, would be suspicious of them. But such has been the fate of many men, in all ages of the world. It is a melancholy fact that no government ever framed could suit all its subjects. There have been grumblers and malcontents under despotisms, and now under the freest and best government in the world. – Fortunately, however, there has been a way of escape open to such persons. The Puritans were a dissatisfied class; they emigrated, first to Holland, and not finding themselves comfortable there, next to America. – After the act of Union was passed thousands of Irishmen were dissatisfied, and they departed for distant shores. In Germany there has long been a numerous body of unsatisfied people, who have found their relief in migrating, some to Brazil, some to Chili, and other to the United States. Emigration, indeed, has been a kind of safety-valve for nearly all the older nations – for Norway, Sweden, Demark, England and Scotland – and the descendants of these classes make up almost the whole of our population. They all removed when they found themselves no longer comfortable under the established government of their native country. Parts of South Carolina and Georgia were settled by French Protestants who were likely to suffer from the repeal of the Edict of Nantes. In a word, if we look back through history we shall find that ever since the days when the Children of Israel got tired of making bricks without straw, and returned to Palestine, emigration has been the outlet and cure for all sorts of dissatisfactions.

Even in our own country the process is not at all unknown. Many of the free States of the West are populated in great part by the emigrants from slave States. In Indiana whole counties are composed of Kentuckians and their children, poor non-slaveholders, who fled from stagnation imposed on free labor by the presence of slaves. Every eastern slave State has been drained by these filtrations of men and women wearied of the bitter struggle with poverty and ignorance, and anxious to secure for their children the benefit of the superior civilization of a free society.

But if such has been the resort of innocent persons in different circumstances, we see no harm in suggesting to those who cannot content themselves in our old Union, as good Uncle Toby said to the fly, “the world is wide enough for me and thee, go in peace.” We shall not, like many of the despotic governments of Europe, interpose difficulties in the way. We shall not require passports or demand of the young man a term of military service before he leaves the government which no longer satisfies him. Go in peace; take your goods with you; seek more congenial climes – sail to Cuba or Brazil, if you will, where you will find even slavery existing to please you; or, if you wo’d revel in that species of barbarism, the whole continent of Africa is open to you, excepting Sierra Leone and Liberia.

It is unreasonable counsel, this? Suppose that of our thirty millions twenty-eight were for Davis and slavery, and two millions for the Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws, would not the same advice be offered to the minority – even though they were morally right? And justly, we think. It is necessary to have a government under which peace, law, and order are supreme. Those who are strong must maintain those; those who are week must succumb; must obey while they remain; must emigrate when the can or will no longer obey. – {N. Y. Post.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 3, 1862, p. 1

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