The New England Threat of Secession

Colombian Centinel

January 13, 1813

North of the Delaware, there is among all who do not bask or expect to bask in the Executive sunshine but one voice for Peace. South of that river, the general cry is “Open war, O peers!” There are not two hostile nations upon earth whose views of the principles and polity of a perfect commonwealth, and of men and measures, are more discordant than those of these two great divisions. There is but little of congeniality or sympathy in our notions or feelings; and this small residuum will be extinguished by this withering war.

The sentiment is hourly extending, and in these Northern States will soon be universal, that we are in a condition no better in relation to the South than that of a conquered people. We have been compelled without the least necessity or occasion to renounce our habits, occupations, means of happiness, and subsistence. We are plunged into a war, without a sense of enmity, or a perception of sufficient provocation; and obliged to fight the battles of a Cabal which, under the sickening affectation of republican equality, aims at trampling into the dust the weight, influence, and power of Commerce and her dependencies. We, whose soil was the hotbed and whose ships were the nursery of Sailors, are insulted with the hypocrisy of a devotedness to Sailors’ rights, and the arrogance of a pretended skill in maritime jurisprudence, by those whose country furnishes no navigation beyond the size of a ferryboat or an Indian canoe. We have no more interest in waging this sort of war, at this period and under these circumstances, at the command of Virginia, than Holland in accelerating her ruin by uniting her destiny to France. We resemble Holland in another particulat. The officers and power of government are engrossed by executive minions, who are selected on account of their known infidelity to the interest of their fellow citizens, to foment divisions and to deceive and distract the people whom they cannot intimidate. The land is literally taken from its Old Possessors and given to strangers. The Cabinet has no confidence in those who enjoy the confidence of this people, and on the other hand the solid mass of the talents and property of this community is wholly unsusceptible of any favorable impressions or dispositions towards an Executive in whose choice they had no part, and by whom they feel that they shall be, as they always have been, degraded and marked as objects of oppression and resentment. The consequence of this state of things must then be, either that the Southern States must drag the Northern States farther into the war, or we must drag them out of it; or the chain will break. This will be the “imposing attitude” of the next year. We must no longer be deafened by senseless clamors about a separation of the States. It is an event we do not desire, not because we have derived advanages from the compact, but because we cannot foresee or limit the dangers or effects of revolution. But the States are separated in fact, when one section assumes an imposing attitude, and with high hand perseveres in measures fatal to the interests and repugnant to the opinions of another section, by dint of a geographical majority.

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