A Separate Nation in 1861
March 28, 2011
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This is a neat discussion of the days leading up to Sumter.
“I have no hesitation in reporting as unquestionable,’’ he wrote to Lincoln, “that Separate Nationality is a fixed fact — that there is an unanimity of sentiment which is to my mind astonishing — that there is no attachment to the Union — that almost every one of those very men who in 1832 . . . were in fact ready to draw the sword in civil war for the Nation, are now as ready to take arms if necessary for the Southern Confederacy.’’ Lest the president harbor any illusions, Hurlbut was firm. “There is positively nothing to appeal to,’’ he said. “The Sentiment of National Patriotism, always feeble in Carolina, has been Extinguished . . . . Merchants and businessmen act upon the belief that great growth of trade and expansion of material prosperity will follow the Establishment of a Southern Republic. They expect a golden era, when Charleston shall be a great commercial emporium, and control the South as New York does the North.’’
Hurlbut said that he managed to find one staunch unionist still in Charleston, Mr. James Petigru, the 71-year-old former South Carolina attorney general who opposed John Calhoun and the nullificationists in the 1830s…and who stands by the Stars and Stripes even now. The secessionists tolerate him, partially out of respect for his intelligence and integrity and age, and partially in appreciation of his stinging wit. After all, it was Petigru who, after South Carolina voted to secede last December, famously quipped, “South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” Alas, this time Petigru offered no bon mots, just the sad news that he is the last union man in Charleston.