The Coercion of States.
The Secessionists and their aiders and abetters, North and South, are making a desperate effort to create the impression that the Republican party, with ABRAHAM LINCOLN at its head, is in favor of whipping the seceding States back into the traces of duty by fire and sword. They pretend that we are going to send armies into the Seceding States to lay desolate their cities, towns and villages, murder their men, women and children, and bring upon that fair portion of earth all the horrors of war! Is any body silly enough to believe such stuff as that? The Republican party is not in favor of coercing of States. If those States which pretend to have gone out of the Union do not want to be represented in Congress, no one will compel them to send representatives there. If they do not want Post Offices they need not have them. If they desire to dispense with Judges, Marshals, and all other Federal officers, no force will be interposed to thwart their wishes. Those offices are created and filled almost solely for the accommodation and benefit of the people among whom they are placed. If those people do not desire such accommodation or benefit we assure them that neither Mr. LINCOLN nor the Republican party will ever interfere to compel them to accept either. No hostile demonstration will ever be made against seceding States by the Federal Government, nor will national troops ever march through such States, except to recover or protect Federal property within their limits.
It is the duty of this Government to retake its stolen Forts and other property wrongfully withheld. In the performance of it no more force will be used than is necessary. Forcible resistance will be met, and, if possible, overcome. This government will never make war upon any portion of its people until such people make war upon the Government — and then it will be a war for defense, not of aggression, and will cease the moment those who are fighting against the Government lay down their arms. The Government will collect its revenues, using just so much force as may be necessary for that purpose.
We assume that this will be the action of the Government, because it is the duty of the Government, and because an Administration is just going into power that will fearlessly and faithfully perform its whole duty.
Is there anything wrong in this? Is this coercion of a State? If individuals attack the Government in the discharge of its duty, and lose their lives thereby, can it be charged that the Government has wantonly shed "fraternal blood?" Will any one pretend that the Government can do less than this? When the President takes a solemn oath to support the Constitution, and the Constitution declares that he shall see that the laws are faithfully executed, can he disregard that oath, and suffer the laws to be trampled under foot? If treason and rebellion make it necessary to use force to execute those laws, is he not justified in using it? It is silly to talk about coercing a State. No one dreams of such a thing. Is it coercing South Carolina to defend Fort Sumter against the attacks of a mob collected from South Carolina, Georgia and other States? Is it coercing Florida to hold Fort Pickens against the mob collected to steal it? Is it coercing any of the States of this Union for the Government to take and hold possession of all it property within them? Is coercing a State to enforce the national revenue laws? Will it be coercing South Carolina to take possession of the United States Custom House, Armory and other property belonging to the Federal Government? Is it coercing a State to abolish post offices where men cannot be found who are willing to hold them, or who will not honestly account to the Government for postage received? COERCION OF A STATE! He who invented this expression did a good work for traitors. He raised a screen behind which sympathizers with treason might have a temporary hiding place. Republicans, favor no such doctrine.