Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"the very case arises for which the constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to bear arms...."

How the Radicals have Abased Returning Loyalty-General Wade Hampton*.

   The leading editorial in yesterday's Times was devoted to animadversions upon General Wade Hampton. We do not feel called upon to repel personal assaults upon the character of this distinguished Southerner; but his case supplies a pertinent illustration of the effect of the Radical policy upon the temper of the Southern people. When the war closed, General Hampton was among the first to accept its consequences, and to recognize the great changes it had wrought in the politics of the country. He was a conspicuous representative of the intelligence, the honor, the candor, the liberality, the chivalry, in short, all the best elements of the Southern character. He, and men like him, were the natural leaders of the Southern poeple; and it was of the utmost consequence that their influence should have had free scope in the restoration of good feeling. General Hampton's course was so upright and magnanimous, so superior to sectional feeling and vulgar prejudices, as to extort warm encomiums even from tbe Radical press. But, according to the representations of the Times, he has now become so embittered that he volunteers to second General Blair in procuring redress by military force.

   That his feelings and the feelings of the whole Southern people have undergone a change within the last three years, cannot be disputed. This change is the natural revolt of the human mind against illiberality and injustice. We arraign the Republican party for having blighted the returning kindness of the South in its spring time. It concerned the public welfare that the wounds of the war should be speedily healed. The admirable temper of the South rendered this an easy task, if that section had received just and considerate treatment. The change wrought in the temper and sentiments of wade Hampton is a specimen of the changes wrought in the minds of the whole Southern people by the flagrant, scandalous, and persistent violations of the constitution by the Republican partv. To prove the magnanimous loyalty of the South in the summer and autumn which followed the war, we can cite testimony which the Republicans ought to regard as unexceptionable, namely, that of General Grant. We will pass over his written report to the President made after a tour of inspection in the Southern States, and. quote a single decisive sentence from his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, about a year ago. "At the close of the war," said General Grant, "lhere was a very fine feeling manifested in the Soth, and I thought we ought to take advantage of it as soon as possible." Had this submissive and magnanimous loyalty been net in a corresponding spirit, the country would have been immediately tranquillized, and have entered at once upon an era of harmony. But a partisan Congress flung in ingredients which changed the wine into vinegar. Fearing that the restored South would act with the Democratic party, the Republicans determined to keep the Union dissevered. We have had three years of rancor and turmoil because the Republicans were willing to sacrifice the Union and the public tranquillity to the hope of party success.

   The passage in General Wade Hampton's speech at the Union square ratification meeting, which the Times holds up to reprobation, is the following :

   We can have no relief unless this great Democratic party will come out and pledge itself that we shall have a fair election--that the white people of the South shall vote: and I want you all to register an oath that when they do vote that these votes shall be counted, and if there is a majority of white votes, that you will place Seymour and Blair in the White House, in spite of all the bayonets that shall be brought against them. I only want to see the election fair, and if they do that, even with the incubus of black rule, we can carry the Southern States.

   We can find nothing in this to disapprove. We should deprecate the necessity of a resort to force, but we pour scorn upon the craven, the pusillanimous notion that freemen may not vindicate their rights by arms. Courage to resist oppression is the ultimate security for good government. This, at least, was the opinion of our brave forefathers when they took care to provide in the constitution that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." The right to bear arms implies the right, on a sufficient provocation, to use them. The only debatable question relates to the sufficiency of the provocation.

   If the Democratic party should fairly elect the next President, and the Republican Congress, by miscounting or throwing out votes, should declare General Grant elected, nothing could be plainer than the right of the people to vindicate their actual choice. Suppose, to illustrate the principle, that the result of the election should depend upon the electoral votes of the newly admitted State of Florida; that the three votes of Florida should be Democratic; and that Congress should throw them out and declare General Grant elected. Now, on the supposition of a fair election in Florida, ought the Democratic party submit ? The question answers itself; only a negative answer is possible. That the Democratic party would resist, and make its resistance effectual, we have no manner of doubt. We should have on our side the two main elements of success--right and numbers. The superiority of our numbers would be the foundation of our right; for if the Republican party fairly outvoted us, it would be our duty to submit. But if the election shall show that the Democratic party are a majority, and Congress shall, nevertheless, declare the Republican candidate elected, our right to resist will be unquestionable, and our power to resist successfully will depend upon the same superiority in numbers which made us a majority.

   The chief advantage of republican institutions is, that they keep the preponderance of physical force always on the side of the government. If the minority grows into a majority, they have only to await the next election to come peaceably into power; and for this reason a resort to force is always inexcusable under republican institutions, so long as the elections are fairly conducted. But if, by a change in public sentiment, the minority have control of the government at the time of an election, and keep themselves in power by refusing to count the votes by which they are defeated, the very case arises for which the constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to bear arms. The power of forcible resistance by a swindled majority is, in the last resort, the only security of republican institutions. Deny the right and you give full license to any unscrupulous minority, which happens to be in power, to render its authority perpetual.

   It is quite true that the Republicans will lave the counting of the electoral votes in the coming Presidential election, and that if they dishonestly exclude those given to Mr. Seymour, the constitution provides no peaceable method of redress. It is all in vain to say that we may wait four years and try the result of another election; for if we submit to the dishonest precedent we have no security that we shall not be again cheated and our electoral votes again thrown out. This is an evil that must be met on the frontier. It is not in the power of Congress to prevent the Democratic party from ascertaining, in November, whether it is a majority. The votes which they refuse to recognize officially they cannot prevent us from counting unofficially. No political swindling can prevent our knowing by the middle of November whether the preponderance of physical strength is on our side, or on their side. If they are in a majority we shall submit like good citizens, and swallow our chagrin as best we may. But if we fairly carry the election and are cheated out of our victory by a dishonest counting of the votes, we shall find some other way to make the demonstrated superiority of our numbers recognized.--New York World, July 15.

[The Charleston Daily News, Charleston, S.C., Saturday Morning, July 18, 1868. Volume VI.--Number 900. Pg. 4]
* - General Wade Hampton, (Wade Hampton III), March 28, 1818 – April 11, 1902, was a Confederate cavalry leader during the Civil War. Afterward becoming a U.S. Senator from South Carolina, and serving as the 77th Governor of that state.)

No comments: