Monday, May 2, 2011

Optimistic Report: France and England Swinging Towards the South

From the Covington Journal, April 27, 1861 comes this overly optimistic article.

There can be no longer any doubt that France, England, and all the leading European powers will promptly acknowledge the independence of the Southern Confederacy. In addition to the utterances of Le Pays, the Moniteur, Napoleon's chief organ, has come out in an article that looks boldly to that end, and says plainly that the interests of France, under the two tariffs are with the Southern States. We have always predicted that England, notwithstanding her Abolitionism, would be compelled by her interest to take the same position; but certainly we had not anticipated that, at this early period, we should see leading English journals catering with ardor into the defense of the Southern character, and criticizing with bitter scorn and irony Mr. Lincoln's inaugural. Thus, for example, the London Athenaeum, the great critic king of the English world of letters, which, a few years ago pitched into Prof. Bledsoe's great article on slavery with such ferocity, has a long review of American affairs, from which we make the following extracts:

"And nothing is more likely to goad the South into an obstinate perseverance, in their present position, than a mere reiteration of the charge that they are mere wordy braggarts. A more foolish calumny than this was never uttered in the heat of political warfare. That which is grandest in the history of the American Confederacy is to be found in the biographies of Southern men. The South has her faults; but cowardice and trickery are not amongst them. The author of "A Memoir of Abraham Lincoln" whose scanty and barren pages have no strength save that of acrimonious partizanship (sic), sneers at the 'bluster' of the hot-blooded South. He may be assured that the English, to whom he especially addresses himself, by no means attribute a preponderance of trans-Atlantic 'bluster' to the South."

And who would ever have expected to find in a London journal such an intelligent and conclusive criticism as that of the Athenaeum upon Lincoln's anti-secession speech at Indianapolis. In fact, we have scarcely seen anywhere a clearer, more concise and comprehensive statement: 

"We must express our astonishment at the use of such language by a lawyer. The American Union is a combination of independent States, leagued for the accomplishment of definite objects, and free to retire on the condition of their Union being violated. What right can a State have to secede? Why, the same right the colonies had to revolt, and a much stronger right - that enjoyed by every partner in a joint stock company. What, asks the President of the United States, is the difference between a State and a county?  Surely no one who needs to be informed ought to be in Mr. Lincoln's place. - What is the difference between the relations of a State to the Union, and that of a county to a State? Why just this - a county has no existence apart from the State. The State was the primary institution, and the county acquired from it only a conditional individuality; whereas, the Union, instead of giving birth to the States was their creation. Far from being the parent power, it is their offspring. Apart from them it ceases to be;whereas apart from it the States continue to be separate communities with distinct constitutions, as they were long before they created that impersonal power - the Union. Indeed, the analogy breaks down at every point. "

The world moves! But yesterday the South had not a hearing in all Europe. Already the leading journals in France and England are vieing with each other in vindicating  her character and principles.

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