Send an E-Postcard of:
"Union and Liberty"
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
Contact us for information about using this image.
This speech was given in February, 1860, just before the presidential campaign for that year began to be fully engaged. But the rumblings of what was to come were already being heard. The preceding fifteen years had been full of struggle over the character of slavery and whether it should be restricted or allowed to expand. Just five months before this speech, in October, 1859, John Brown raided the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, hoping to spark a slave insurrection. Even though he had failed completely, southerners saw him as representative of almost all northern opinion. In the south talk of secession was in the air. This opinion piece from the Greenfield, Massachusetts, Gazette & Courier debates whether the south should be allowed to secede. It argues that the slaveowning states already had drifted far from the ideals of American democracy and that their societies were suffering from "Austrian liberty," state repression and a loss of freedom. Consequently it argues that they should be allowed to leave the Union, that the Union would be better off without them. This opinion was not at all uncommon in the north but it was not a majority opinion. For many northerners though, the question of whether to go to war with the south was settled when troops in South Carolina fired on the federal Fort Sumter in April, 1861.
top of page