I almost forgot to wish everyone a Happy Treason-in-Defense-of-Slavery Day. December 20 marks the anniversary of South Carolina’s 1860 decision to leave the Union, in whose newly elected Republican leaders the state’s propertied elites spied a grievous threat to the principle of perpetual black servitude. I’ve got a post on the secession ordinance itself over at the Axis, but for now, let’s hear from someone else.
This fellow, for example, is unambiguously joy-stricken by the occasion:
[T]oday should be a holiday, and is known to some as Secession Day.
South Carolina was soon followed by other states in January, but spent nearly a month standing alone. While many have debated that this was an example of South Carolinians sun-baked brains, South Carolinians still know that it was an example of their stubborn spirit of independence — a spirit that big government types never have and never will put up with.
Exactly. One thing “big government types” didn’t realize at the time is that the proper response to a perceived threat is for a state legislature to rally behind a baseless theory of sovereignty in order to rationalize treason. By contrast, “small government” conservatives understood that the salve to electoral disappointment was create a radical new system — the Confederate States of America — that was in every respect less democratic than the one they thought they were leaving behind. And of course, as the legislature of the “Palmetto Republic” declared four days after the passage of the ordinance, “independence” means . . . um . . . you know . . .
A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.
This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.
On the 4th day of March next, this party will take possession of the Government. It has announced that the South shall be excluded from the common territory, that the judicial tribunals shall be made sectional, and that a war must be waged against slavery until it shall cease throughout the United States.
The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.
As for “Secession Hall” in Charleston, where the ordinance was ratified 147 years ago today, here’s what it looked like in 1865: