THE SPECTATOR AND THE "UNION PARTY." [To THE EDITOR OF
THE "SPECTATOR."] SIR,—In your Spectator of last week there is an article entitled "President Johnson and the Philadelphia Convention," with re- ferene3 to which I beg permission to ask you a few questions and make a few remarks. It is not upon matters of opinion, but solely of fact, that I venture to seek for explanation. It is impossible to doubt that your object is to discuss the present crisis in America in a fair and impartial spirit, and not to mislead your readers. You cannot have any interest, as some " politicians " in America have, in wilful perversion of the truth ; and feeling this, I ask leave to bring to your notice several points in which I think you are unjust to the President and his supporters.
You say that Mr. Johnson is in alliance with "all the warmest, partizans of slavery, both Southern and Northern," and that "he is doing all in his power to vindicate for the ex-slaveholders the full right to keep as much of the poison of slavery as is consistent with the mere abolition of the name." If this were true, it is natural to suppose that the partizans of slavery and ex-slaveholders would be enthusiastic in favour of Mr. Johnson and the Phila- delphia Convention. Now in this same article you quote a number of Southern papers to prove that Southern feeling is antagonistic to the President, you say yourself "the South cannot return can- didates to Congress capable of acting on the principles of the Phila- delphia Convention," but you do not tell us why not, having pre- viously stated that the Convention was "in alliance" with slavery. Again, you speak of the "hated authority" of the President in the South. Will you permit me so much freedom as to say that, your partizanship leads you into inconsistency in affirming (1) that President Johnson is in alliance with ex-slaveholders, and (2) that ex-slaveholders " hate " him ? I will not advert to the well known fact that the other men you stigmatize as the adherents of slavery —Mr. Weed, Mr. Seward, and Mr. Raymond—were the very men who did more than any other to elect your pet President, Mr. Lincoln, on the express ground that Mr. Lincoln would oppose the extension of slavery. Will you refer to the history of Mr. Lincoln's canvas in proof of this?
You say that Mr. Johnson is handing the negroes over, "bound hand and foot, to the very enemies against whom they fought, who are massacring them day after day, without any shadow of excuse but personal hatred, and the violence of the mean white class." And further on you speak of the "poor lynched and persecuted negro in the Southern States." Assertions so serious as these require to be supported by some proof. I challenge you to produce any proof whatever, even of the faintest kind. You speak as if the President had abolished the Freedmen's Bureau, yet you know as well as I do that it is still in existence and in operation. Have you read the report upon its mode of working which Generals Steadman and Fullerton—staunch, loyal, anti- slavery men—have sent in to the Government ? Are you aware that they condemn the whole machinery as setting up "slavery in another form," and that they declare officers of the Bureau have sold negroes at five dollars a head ? You complain of the " sup- pressions " practised by another journal ; why, Sir, have you totally suppressed this memorable report on another of your pet projects—the Freedmen's Bureau? Why have you refrained from giving us your opinion upon that?
Again, in referring to the Philadelphia Convention, you describe it as consisting of three sections, the Secessionist section, the Northern Disunionist or Copperhead section, and "that of the Unionists who wished to keep slavery as well as union as long as possible." This Convention was a historic event, and at least the -contemporary record of it should be truthful. If you would be fair, why did you not mention that hundreds of the most intense Union and anti-slavery men were present at that Convention, why did you so painstakingly avoid the mention of such names as those -of General Cast and General Rousseau, and a host of others? Do you say that those men desire to keep slavery ? Do you wish us to understand that your favourite State, Massachusetts, sent Copperhead or Secessionist representatives to the delegation, and that that explains their walking into the wigwam arm in arm with the representatives of South Carolina? Does it not cast a shade of suspicion upon your frankness that you insist so stren- uously on the significance of the selection of Copperheads who did not attend the Convention after all, and never make a single refer- ence to the unquestionably loyal men who did sit in it?
You affirm that the "only words uttered were uttered by the renegade Unionists." This is another question of fact which cannot be argued, but I will undertake to prove that the facts are all against you, and any one acquainted with American affairs and men who read the reports of the Convention will be able to prove it likewise.
You lay stress upon the circumstance that the Southern States are reluctant to go back into the Union. "Are they willing to do this ?" you ask ! No, Sir, but they are obliged—and that is much more to the purpose. They do it to escape greater evils. They do what is a very common thing in the world—they choose the 'lesser of two evils, one of which they must submit to. Is Hanover " willing " to be absorbed by Prussia—can it do more than pro- test ? I will not say that it is not generous, it is not magnani- mous, to exult, as you constantly do, over an utterly fallen or prostrate foe, but I ask you to speak the truth about them. At least be just. If you had seen their desolate homes and their fields heavy with the bodies of their children—if you knew how crushed and broken, past all remedy, they are—I think you would feel that it could do your arguments no injury to refrain from attempting to excite the old bitter animosity of party strife against them.
You tell us that the Union party wishes to let the South "do absolutely what they-please" with their negroes, "so long as they no longer call them slaves." Have you not always said that between slavery and any other state of life there is an immense gulf ?—do you intend to say-that the negro is in no better condition now than he was ? You know that the planter cannot sell his negro- -General Steadman has told you (if you come to read it), that only -your cherished Freedmen's Bureau has the power to do that. Negroes are no longer property—they may go where they list; and no one can stop them save the Freedmen's Bureau, which is exclusively administered by officers of the Northern army, and which you are always striving to preserve. How, then, can you assert that the South can do as they please with them ? Will you produce your instances? A grain of proof is worth pages of in- vective on such subjects as these. Produce your proofs—it is surely not too much to you to do that.
You assert that the Philadelphia Convention offered to bribe the Southern States by promising to leave them "uncontrolled by any laws except their own, to lynch and oppress the emanci- pated negroes as they please." I appeal to your candour, is this true? Can you quote anything in support of the statement ? I can give you twenty quotations from speeches and resolutions .against it.
You say that "there is no true Union possible till there is some moral -unity between North and South." May I respect- fully inquire what it is you mean by this moral unity," for the lack of which about ten millions of people are to be held under • martial law? Did William of Orange insist that the partizans of • the Stuarts should be denied all security of life and property until they were brought -into "moral unity" with the new re'gime ? What is it you want of the South ? The North can do exactly -what it pleases with their negroes the negroes themselves can go wherever they please—what do you ask for? Votes for them? Well, get the North to agree to it ; let them give their negroes votes, and set the example. You remember the example really set by Connecticut last year.
As-for the accusation you bring against the President of uttering a "violent-and fierce diatribe against Congress," suffer me to ask you—were there no fierce diatribes delivered against the Presi- dent in Congress ? Have you so soon forgotten- how all the
celestial and infernal powers were invoked against him, day after ,„ 2,he day, in the -House-and the Senate? - Do -you see -that one of your ■Belifley. Ifriends spoke of him the other day as "the perjured, usurping traitor?" Will you mention that in your next journal, I wonder? I repeat, Sir, the burden of my letter. Why do you not tell us the whole truth when you discuss American affairs? Why will you not give us your notion of the report on the Freedmen's Bureau? Finally, why have you suffered the powerful advocacy of a noble cause which distinguished your journal throughout four years to degenerate into a cry for vengeance upon an impotent antagonist, and into a struggle for the maintenance of a visionary sentiment? You had a cause once, and courageously you fought for it ; you cannot now re-enlist our sympathies by raising your banner with the negro upon it, for we all know that the chains have fallen from his hands, and that the world is as free to him as it is to you, Sir, or to your obedient servant,
[We reply to this letter (1) that the New Orleans massacre, and the spirit in which it has been treated by the President, exposed in another article, amply justifies all we have said of his present attitude ; (2) that his contemptuous treatment of the Civil Rights' Bill, which he vetoed himself, and now permits to be set at naught by Southern Courts, proves that he does wish to leave the negroes at the mercy of States which have re-enacted under the form of vagrant laws some of the worst provisions of the slavery codes ; (3) that we had never denied the services which Mr. Raymond and his friends did render to the Union cause, and by calling them renegade Unionists we recognize their former ser- vices; (4) that the report of-the mischiefs permitted and set afoot by the Freedmen's Bureau has nothing to do with- the matter. General Howard, the noblest, the clearest-headed friend the Union and the negro have ever had, recognizes those mischiefs as fully as General Steadman, and would have them reformed, not made--the excuse for the abolition of a Bureau which does infinitely more good than harm. What is the test of this? Do the coloured-Men themselves wish the Bureau abolished? Are they not unanimous in its favour ? Our correspondent knows as well as we do that Mr. Johnson now tolerates the Bureau only because he- can't help doing so, because Congress has reversed his decision. -- His Southern friends boast that he is now turning it into an ally of the ex-slaveholders ; (5) that theproof that the leaders of the Philadel- phia Convention intend to leave the negro completely at the mercy of the South is given by themselves. They are absolute for State rights, and for withdrawing the military interference ; they applaud the President's sneers at the Civil Rights' Bill and-the Freedmen's Bureau. There is no one shadow of material protec- tion for the Southern negro which they still contend for; (6) that there is no inconsistency in pointing out that the friends of slavery vote with those who are willing to tolerate it in all but name, in order to defeat those who are not willing to tolerate it at all, and yet loathe the concession which their poli- tical and physical weakness compels them to make ; (7) that we confessed and explicitly condemned the violence of Mr. Johnson's opponents. We contrasted him not with them, but withlis great predecessor, who, amid a far fiercer storm of invective, never once gave the reins to his own passions.—En. Spectator.]