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Diary Of the War For Separation: A Daily Chronicle by H. C. Clarke

Diary Of the War For Separation: A Daily Chronicle 
H. C. Clarke

The movement that threw off the rule of the mother country began in the New England Colonies. These were settled by those Puritans who effected the revolution of 1620, and decapitated Charles I. The Southern colonies were occupied by a more loyal class. To the noble family of Baltimore was granted, by Royal Charter, the province of Maryland. To other staunch adherents of the crown were accorded grants and privileges in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia.

"With antecedents so opposite, both North and South joined heartily in the War of Independence, making equal sacrifices and dividing fairly its triumphs. In 1781, the struggling States formed a Confederation, and essayed self government. The written Charter of 1789 followed the form and usages of the British Constitution. Supreme power was divided between the executive and legislative branches; but all were elective. The executive power was vested in one person for a term of four years, with special duties assigned. The Legislature was divided into two Houses, with separate prerogatives. All power not positively delegated to the Federal Government was reserved to the States.

George "Washington was the first Federal magistrate, chosen from a list of twelve candidates.

Up to this period, the politicians of the country had, first, contended in a body against the supremacy of the mother country ; and, next, had united their energies in the structure of a Republican Constitution.

During President "Washington's term, they divided into two hostile parties, each striving for office through the profession of opposite principles. The New England States, led by John Adams, advocated the power of the Federal Government, even to straining the Constitution. This was the Federal party. The Southern States, led by Thomas  Jefferson, maintained State rights against Federal encroachment. This was the Democratic party.

In 1797, John Adams, of Massachusetts, was elected President of the Confederacy. During his term the Alien and Sedition laws were passed by the Federal Congress. These enactments were opposed by the statesmen of the South, since, in their opinion, they invested the Executive with powers not conferred by the Constitution and inimical to popular rights. The creation of a National bank was also a subject of keen controversy. The public men of the North sustained it with energy, while those of the South opposed it as unconstitutional and of doubtful expediency.

In 1801, Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was elected President. During this term, the New England States displayed a bitter animosity to the South, which arose, chiefly, from the South having put a limit to the slave-trade, in which these States were profitably engaged. When, therefore, President Jefferson proposed the purchase of Louisiana from France, the Eastern States violently resisted, because it increased the territory and power of the South. Congress empowered the purchase, April, 1803.

In 1805, Thomas Jefferson was re-elected to the Presidency. His second term was troubled by the war between England and France. "The Berlin and Milan decrees of Napoleon, and the Orders in Council of the British Government, equally assailed American interests. Our vessels, bound either to English or French ports, incurred capture and confiscation. This left but one alternative, either to abandon our trade with Europe, or go to .war to protect it. To escape the latter, President Jefferson recommended an Embargo Act, to put a temporary stop to all our foreign trade. This was vehemently opposed by the New England States, because their interests, being chiefly commercial, were seriously damaged. The Embargo Act was passed by Congress in December, 1807; whereupon the Eastern States threatened to secede from the Union, and form a Northern Confederacy.

In 1809, James Madison, of Virginia, was elected President. Soon after his accession, March, 1809, the Embargo Act was repealed, to appease the New England States; and a less stringent law, the Non-intercourse Act, was passed by Congress, May, 1809, which prohibited trade with England and France. New England, however, carried on an indirect trade with Europe, through Canada. In spite of all these precautions by the Government, our interests and dignity were incessantly outraged by England. Finally, the indignation of the country compelled Congress to declare war, May, 1812.

In 1813, James Madison was re-elected President. During the war, the Government was supported by direct taxes and requisitions upon the States; but the New England States refused for the most part, to contribute. The war closed, January, 1815. To rescusitate the Federal treasury, a new financial policy was inaugurated. A tariff of high duties was passed by Congress, April, 1816. New England advocated this law, because, during the war, she had transferred her capital from commerce to manufactures, for which she desired protection. The South was injured by the tariff, but she supported it from patriotic motives. John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, went so far as to introduce a minimum rate for ad valorem duties, that is, a rate below which the duties should not fall. A new National Bank act was also passed, April, 1816; the old one having expired in 1811.

In 1817, James Monroe, of Virginia, was elected President. During this term, the interests of the country prospered. So struggle occurred between the politicians of New England and the South, till 1820, when Missouri applied for admission into the Union as a slave State. The Eastern States opposed it violently, on the ground of extending slavery. The Union was in danger of dissolution, when, finally, Missouri was admitted by Congress as a Slave State, on the compromise that thereafter no Slave States should be created north of 36° 30' parallel of latitude.

In 1821, James Monroe was re-elected President. During this term, a new conflict arose between the politicians of New England and those of the South, on the subject of the Tariff policy inaugurated at the peace. New England demanded more protection for her manufactures. This the South opposed, on the ground that her manufactures had protection enough, and next, because an increase of the Tariff was seriously detrimental to the interests of the South.

In 1825, John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, was elected President. During this term, a heated  contest was carried on between New England and the South, on the Tariff policy. In 1828, a new act was passed by Congress, which raised the duties to an almost prohibitory standard. The average was 40 per cent, on ' imports. The South designated this act as the "Black Tariff."

In 1829, Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, became President. During this term, the extreme Tariff policy of New England led to violent remonstrance in South Carolina, whose interests were seriously injured. She alleged that a policy to enrich one section of the country at the expense of another was unjust and unconstitutional. She threatened to resist this policy by force. A compromise was effected, March, 1833, by which the obnoxious Tariff was modified by Congress.

In 1833, Andrew Jackson was re-elected President. During this term an acrimonious struggle was carried on between the politicians of the North and South, on the National Bank, created at the peace. The former maintained it was necessary to their trade and commerce; the latter, while denying its constitutionality and expediency, also avowed their fears of its becoming a political machine, that might, in the hands of unscrupulous politicians, do much harm. The charter was allowed to expire in 1836. A policy known under the name of "Internal Improvements," was also discussed in this term. It had the support of the North, but the South opposed it, as favoring one section at the cost of the others.

In 1837, Martin Van Buren, of New York, was elected President. During this term, great financial disorder prevailed in the country. The Northern politicians proposed, as a panacea, a new National Bank, a higher Tariff, and a Bankrupt Law. The South opposed them all, as unnecessary and sectional in their tendency.

In 1841, William Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was elected President. He died soon after his accession to office. The Presidency was then administered by the Vice-President, John Tyler, of Virginia, as provided by the Constitution. During this term, Northern policy mostly prevailed. The Tariff was augmented, September, 1841, and August, 1842. A Bankrupt Law was passed, August, 1841. A law was carried through Congress, July, 1841, dividing the public domain to the respective States, in proportion to their population. The effect of this was favorable to the manufacturing States of New England; for, by cutting off from the Federal Treasury the receipts from the public lands, it made a higher Tariff imperative, to insure a sufficient revenue. The new bank charter failed. At the end of eighteen months, the Bankrupt. Act was repealed 1843. A new slave State, Texas, was admitted to the Union, March 3, 1845. The act for dividing the public lands was repealed, January, 1842, as it was found necessary to retain them as security for Federal loans.

In 1845, James K. Polk, of Tennessee, was inaugurated President. During his term, the Tariff, which was pressing heavily on the interests of the South, was modified July, 1846. The President, in a special message to Congress, May, 1846, announced that the Government of Mexico had committed an act of war against the Confederacy. On this occasion, all sections of the country, North and South and West, united in declaring war against Mexico. The war closed February, 1848. The treaty of Guadalupe- Hidalgo, which followed, ceded California and New Mexico to the United States.

In 1849, Zachary Taylor, of Louisiana, became President. During this term, the old issues between the politicians of the North and South were abandoned, to wit: the Tariff policy, a National Bank, a system of Internal Improvements, a Division of the Public Lands. The recent acquisitions of territory, however, afforded the public men of both sections a fertile field of discussion. The North contended against admitting slavery into the new territory.

The South declared that its right to joint occupation was incontestible, both in law and equity, and proposed that the compromise of 1820 should be renewed, by extending the Missouri line of 36° 30' to the Pacific Ocean. This the politicians of the North refused. The controversy became so violent that a separation of the North and South seemed imminent. A compromise, however, took place in 1850, which stopped the discussion, but did not settle the main point in dispute, namely: the right of the South to joint occupation of all new territory.

In 1853, Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, became President. During this term, the discussion on slavery was renewed. A portion of western territory, named Nebraska, was divided into two territories. One of these was called Kansas, and the other Nebraska, The compromise line of 36° 30' ran to the south of these territories, which would have given Kansas as well as Nebraska, the largest, to the North. On the proposition of the Senator from Illinois, Stephen A Douglas, the compromise line was repealed by Congress. Emigrant societies were established in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in 1854, to furnish pecuniary aid to settlers in Kansas. In consequence, a hostile population from the North poured into Kansas. Bands of armed men from the North paraded the territory. The Federal Government, whose jurisdiction extended over this distant country, was finally forced to interfere. The leaders of the anti-slavery propaganda, having violated the Federal prerogative by passing a Constitution and electing a Governor, were indicted for treason, and obliged to take flight.

In 1857, James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was inaugurated President. The whole of this term was disturbed by a heated contest between the politicians of the North, on the subject of slavery in the territories. Towards the close of this Presidency, the prolonged strife between the politicians, on the topic of slavery, was taken up by the people of the two sections, in an election for ' a new President, November, 1860. The Northern States, being in the majority, pronounced in favor of Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, the exponent of their sectional views. Under these circumstances, the Southern States have dissolved their connection with the Union. The civil compact they made with the Northern States, in 1789, guaranteeing equal rights to both, and equal protection to all, had been violated. Being in a minority in the Confederacy, they could oppose no legal barrier to the anti-slavery sentiments of the North, which, carried into legislation, would confiscate their property, and even involve their lives.

H. C. Clarke, Diary Of the War For Separation: A Daily Chronicle  (Augusta, Georgia: Team Press of Chronicle & Sentinel, 1862), 5-12.


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