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"Disunion for Existing Causes," North Carolina Standard, December 1, 1860


"Disunion for Existing Causes," North Carolina Standard, December 1, 1860


The editor of the North Carolina Standard, a Democratic paper, begins the article by going over a scenario that might likely happen if the Confederate States lasted. The author argues that what was currently happening between the North and South would likely happen again between the Border South and the Deep South. The author continues to attack the idea of secession by stating that the states of the Confederacy might become subjected to militaristic despotism or a militaristic state. The author defends the US Constitution, comparing it to great honor, and that it would be horrible if anyone was to loose that right. If by chance the Union would break constitutional rights, then the southern states would have a right to secede.


North Carolina Standard


“Disunion For Existing Causes,” North Carolina Standard, December 1, 1860, in Southern Editorials on Secession, ed. Dwight Lowell Dumond (New York: The Century Co., 1931), 284-286.






Raleigh, North Carolina
Wake County, North Carolina

Original Format

Newspaper Article


A Confederacy or Union composed of the fifteen slaveholding States would, after a while, encounter some of the same difficulties which now beset the existing Union. The States south of us would produce and export cotton, while the middle or bread-stuff States would become deeply interested in manufactures. Foreigners from Europe and the North would pour into the latter, and push the slave population farther south. Manufacturers would demand and obtain protection, and free labor would contend with and root out slave labor in the middle States, until at length the latter could commence to agitate against the cotton States as the North is now agitating against us. As new regions towards the tropics should be acquired by the Southern Confederacy, and as the demand for cotton increased, the policy of re-opening the African slave trade would gain ground, and ultimately that trade would be established, and would be carried on openly under the Southern flag. This would be a death-blow to slavery in the middle States. It would at once reduce the price of our best slaves from twelve hundred to four hundred dollars, for the Southern planter would much prefer a barbarian at two hundred dollars to a civilized negro at five hundred. In addition to this, such a policy would expose the Southern Confederacy to the hazards of war with the Northern Confederacy and with European powers.

The two Confederacies, the Northern and the Southern, would meet as rivals at foreign courts and in foreign markets. Their ministers and merchants would partake of the spirit of the people at home, and they would cripple each other and involve themselves in endless and most injurious complications in their intercourse with foreign powers.—These foreign powers, stimulated by the hope of gain, and disliking us for our popular forms of government, would insinuate themselves into the very heart of our system—would foment jealousies between the two Confederacies, and lay one or the other under obligations to them for aid or mediation in the midst of strifes and wars; and the end would be foreign influence in all our councils, foreign manners in all our social walks, and foreign gold in the hands of unscrupulous demagogues as the price of some portion of their country’s liberties.

In case of separation party spirit, the excesses of which are now so obvious and injurious, would rage with tenfold heat. There would be parties in each Confederacy against each; there would be parties opposed to and in favor of foreign influence; there would be parties advocating dictatorial powers in the central governments and parties advocating the largest liberty or least restraint; there would be parties advocating and parties opposing the acquisition of more territory; there would be parties siding with the great body of people, and parties endeavoring to grasp exclusive privileges for the few at the expense of the many. In the midst of all this war would most probably be waged along the lines of the two Confederacies—war interrupted only by hollow truces, or by compromises made but never intended to be observed, or by mediations at the hands of foreign powers. Of course as the result of all this industry would languish, trade would be obstructed, education would be neglected, internal improvements of all kinds would be arrested, and the morals of society would be injured. War would raise up standing armies, which would obstruct civil rule and eat out the substance of the people. This would be the case especially in the Southern States, where large armies would be necessary not only for defensive operations against the foreign Northern States, but to keep the slave population in subjection. The result would be military despotism. The Legislatures of the Southern States would have to sit perpetually or clothe their Governors with large discretionary powers. These powers would be abused, and the voice of law and the claims of justice would be unheard amid the alarms of war.—Constitutional liberty would no longer be the birthright of our people, but instead thereof we would have discretionary powers, martial law, military rule, oppressive taxation, perpetual contentions, and civil and servile war.

Such are some of the evils which would most probably result from disunion for existing causes. Disunion at this time will certainly occasion war. If a peaceful separation in the last resort could be effected, the two Confederacies, or any number of Confederacies might tread their respective paths without engaging in mortal conflict. They might at length re-unite in a new union on foundations more lasting than the present; but if any one State shall secede, with the expectation of drawing other States after her, and if blood shall be shed, the beginning, the middle, and the end will be civil war. The States thus forced out, though they will sympathize with the State which committed them to disunion against their will, and though they may stand by her and defend her in her extremity, yet they will dislike her and watch her as an evil star in the new constellation. A violent separation would, therefore, sow the seeds of discord in the new Confederacy. It would commence its career with growing antagonisms in its members. It would be a forced union which time would dissolve or passion fret to pieces.

There is only one evil greater than disunion, and that is the loss of honor and Constitutional right. That evil the people of the South will never submit to. Sooner than submit to it they would put their shoulders to the pillars, as Samson did, and tear down the temple, though they themselves should perish in the ruins. But our honor as a people is still untarnished—our Constitutional rights, so far as the federal government is concerned, are still untouched. If the federal government should attempt even to tarnish the one or to deprive us of the other, we for one would be ready to resist, and ready to dissolve the Union without regard to consequences. But not now!—the non-slaveholder says not now!—the slaveholder, whose property civil war would involve in imminent peril, says not now!—millions of our friends in the free States say not now! If we must dissolve the Union, let us do it as one people, and not by a bare majority. Let us wait until the people of the State are more united on the subject than they are now. Depend upon it our people are not submissionists. If their rights should be assailled they will defend them. But if they should not be assailed, and if we can preserve the government with safety and honor to ourselves, in the name of all that is sacred let us do so.


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North Carolina Standard, "Disunion for Existing Causes," North Carolina Standard, December 1, 1860, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 17, 2024,