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"Holden's Record!," 1861


"Holden's Record!," 1861


This is an 1861 leaflet circulated by the opposition of William Woods Holden when he was seeking a seat to vote in the North Carolina Secession Convention. It alleged that Holden's views had not been truthful over the last ten years. Holden ran North Carolina's most influential newspaper, The North Carolina Standard, and the leaflet’s authors included quotations from his paper. Most of the quotes had to do with Holden's attitude towards slavery and Republicans. Specifically, over the ten previous years Holden said that the South would have the right to secede if Fugitive Slave Laws were not rigorously enforced as a compromise for new states out west not being slave states, and if a Republican President was elected. After Lincoln was elected, Holden nevertheless denied the right to secede. This pamphlet shows that politicians have been accused of flip-flopping for quite some time.


The Office of the State Journal


"Holden's Record!," Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 135, Folder 11.




Graham Jewell




North Carolina

Original Format




Mr. Holden before he was a candidate, and Mr. Holden now.

The following extracts from the Raleigh Standard will show the position Mr. Holden has occupied for the last ten years, and the change which has come over him, now that he is desirous of holding a seat in the North-Carolina Convention:

[North-Carolina Standard, Nov. 27, 1850.]

"Our assailants of the free States have now arrived at a point where North-Carolina will stand and act, if act she finally must. The mind of her people, judging from the tone of her representatives, is made up. She will recede no further. We speak that we know. Let those who are assailing our institutions and trampling on the constitution beware!"

[North-Carolina Standard, Dec. 14, 1850.]

"We hope the two houses will act at the earliest practicable period on the slavery question. The eyes of the Union are now on North-Carolina, and the people of the State determined that their voice be expressed in unmistakable tones on this absorbing question. Action is the word.

[North-Carolina Standard, Dec. 18, 1850.]

"We hope the Senate will act this week, and that next week the House will follow the example of that body. We repeat again and again, in the name of the people, that action is the word."

Now, after waiting and submitting for ten years, neither House nor Senate nor people must act, but all must watch and wait.

[North-Carolina Standard, Dec. 11, 1850.]

"As the Raleigh Register and Star affect not to understand our position, on the slavery question, we take this occasion to define it again in the plainest language we can use. We cannot approve of the recent compromise as a whole. We believe it has inflicted a great wrong upon the South and upon the principles which hold this Union together; but as it is a law of the land, and as we love and cherish the Union in its true spirit, and desire its continuance, we are prepared to acquiesce in this compromise; provided the fugitive slave law be enforced. All we now ask of the free States is [???] to cease the agitation of the slave question in Congress and to carry out the fugitive slave law in its letter and spirit [???]. Let them do this and we march on together--let them refuse and we DISSOLVE! This is strong language, but we have weighed it and have given utterance to it with deliberation and solemnity. Here we stand. If this confederation of States must perish; if their common flag, radient with achievements as immortal as the stars that cluster on it, must be torn and trampled in the conflict, and if brothers must be converted into deadly foes over the very graves of their fathers who won these liberties, the Ruler of Nations who judges justly, and all posterity upon this continent, will hold the slaveholding States guiltless of this inexpiable crime."

The fugitive slave law has not been enforced, either in letter or spirit; the agitation of the slavery question by the free States in Congress has not ceased; and though the "Ruler of Nations" and all posterity upon this continent" will, in Mr. Holden's words, hold "the slaveholding States guiltless of the inexpiable crime" of dissolving the Union. Mr. Holden will not, but blames the slaveholding States of the far South almost if not quite as much as he does these northern agitators.

[North-Carolina Standard, March 5, 1851.]

"It behooves her (South-Carolina) to remember that Virginia, North-Carolina, Georgia, and the rest of the slave States possess interests and feelings identical with her own, and that the policy which threatens her overshadows them also with its baleful wing. Once taken, the step which dissolves this Union can never be retraced. The cause for such a step ought to be conclusive. Not that intolerable oppression ought to be waited for, for that is not within the range of probability in a government and among a people like ours, but all reasonable ground of hope for returning justice must depart, and dishonor and ruin must rise up before us inevitable, before any State can be justified in severing the bonds. It makes no difference to a people worthy of freedom, whether this dishonor and this ruin be near or be distant from them; if it be certain, the question is settled. Are these things, then, certain? We think not. There is still ground for hope. The free States may enforce the fugitive slave law--they may repeal their statutes intended to operate against us, and which were enacted in open disregard of the Constitution--they may cease as States and in the common Congress, to meddle with slavery or to agitate upon it. But in the language of Mr. Paulding, time was, time is, but time shall soon be no more!"

[North-Carolina Standard, March 19, 1851.]

"We will stand by the Union so long as the Constitution is executed in good faith and preserved inviolate, and no longer. In the language of the noble-hearted Dickinson, 'it cannot be denied that the South is the injured and aggrieved party; nor can it nor ought it to be expected that she will cherish the cold remains of a Union in name, when all its Constitutional life and vigor have departed.'"

[North-Carolina Standard, May 3, 1851.]

"The day the death warrant of the fugitive slave law is sealed, will also seal the fate of this Union. Repeal that law and millions of Southern men will go about dissolving the Union as in the performance of a sacred duty. As sure as God lives this is so! If this Union, then, is to be destroyed, the North and not the South will do it."

Fellow-citizens, that law has been virtually repealed!

[North-Carolina Standard, June 18, 1851.]

"If preserved at all,(the Union,) as we pray it may be, States Rights must do it, but if dissolution should overtake us, it will be owing to the conduct and opinions of such men as the Editor of the Register, and those who act with him. They are the Disunionists, for instead of standing up for the Constitution on which the Union is based, they tolerate encroachments upon it, apologize for wrongs, and invite by their language and their action a repetition of the very aggressions which must in the end result in its destruction.

[North-Carolina Standard, July 26, 1851.]

"The last Raleigh Register takes the ground that the Union of the States affords the best protection to slavery, and that an attempt by the slaveholding States in the last resort to shield and preserve their slave property will end in the abolition of slavery in the seceding States. If this be true the question is settled. Mr. Webster, Mr. Fillmore, John Van Buren, Charles Sumner and William H. Seward have already taken the ground that the area of slavery shall not be extended--that is, no more slave States shall be admitted into the Union. His position if made good will inevitably circumscribe the institution, as by hoops of iron, to its present field of operation. In less than fifteen years, perhaps in ten, the free States will increase to such an extent that, with the sympathy and assistance of such States as Delaware, Kentucky and Maryland, they will be able to propose amendments to the Constitution, and pass them, making it constitutional for Congress to exercise jurisdiction and control over slavery in the States, or if this result should not be reached in this time, agitation against slavery will grow with the increase of the free States as a preliminary step to its ultimate destruction by the Federal Government. * * * * Whigs of North-Carolina, is this your doctrine? If so, you might as well make up your mind to lose your slaves, for lose them you will if such views prevail, sooner or later."

Mr. Holden now takes the ground which he then denounced and declares that a dissolution of the Union will end in the abolition of slavery.

[North-Carolina Standard, Sept. 12, 1856.]

"The election of Fremont would inevitably lead to a separation of the States. Even if no overt or direct act of dissolution should take place, he could not carry on the government in the South. No true or decent Southern man could accept office under him, and our people would never submit to have their post offices, custom houses and the like filled with Fremont's Yankee Abolitionists. We could not expect nor ask the Northern people to submit in a similar case, and we will not submit. * * * * * * The Union can neither be administered nor can it exist on sectional grounds."

[North-Carolina Standard, Sept. 20, 1856.]

"Fremont and Dayton have no electoral ticket in the slaveholding States, nor will they have. They are utterly sectional in their character. They stand upon a platform which makes them and their supporters the mortal enemies of every man, woman and child in the Southern States. We regard them as personal mortal enemies. If they should succeed in this contest, as we do not believe they will, the result will be a separation of the States. No human power could prevent it, If some of the Southern States should be disposed to wait and see what the wolf would do with the lamb, or the hawk with the dove, others will not. South-Carolina, Alabama and Georgia, not to include Virginia, would place themselves in such an attitude as at once to sever existing political relations."

[North-Carolina Standard, Oct. 1, 1856.]

"We verily believe that next to the aggression of the abolitionists, such speeches as that of Gov. Morehead," (a strong Union shrieking speech)--"delivered by Southern men, are doing more than anything else to destroy the Union. We can neither obtain our rights or restore peace among the States, nor save the Union by such a course.--We must let the North know in unmistakable terms, that we stand on the Constitution, and that if they destroy that in its letter and spirit, they destroy the Union. We must let them know that we regard the Constitution and Union as now and forever one and inseparable. If they will not respect our rights we must make them do it. If we yield, they will trample upon us, if we beg, they will despise and seourge us. If the white people of the South should do what is impossible, if they should make up their minds to submit for the sake of the Union to the rule and to the measures of such men as Fremont, and Banks, and Giddings, and Burlingame, they will deserve all the deep and unspeakable degradation to which they will descend. Even the true Constitutional men of the North, who are now contending for us as men never contended before, and who are keeping the battle from our dwellings, will regard them with pity and scorn, and their very slaves will jeer them for their meanness, imbecility and cowardice."

[North-Carolina Standard, Oct. 11, 1856.]

It is for the North to decide this question. The South will aid the true men there to the extent of her electoral vote; put she can do no more. If the end should come, she will do her duty, it may be with a bleeding and broken heart, but she will do it, solemnly, finally and irrevocably before God and man."

[North-Carolina Standard, Nov. 5, 1856.]

"Mr. Rayner, a Southern man, says the South ought to submit to Fremont's election--Mr. Fillmore, a Northern man, has declared that the South ought not to submit, and that the triumph of Fremont would lead inevitably to the destruction of the Union. There are Know-nothings in North-Carolina who agree with Mr. Rayner--not many, thank God."

[North-Carolina Standard, Jan. 11, 1860.]

"If a Black Republican or sectional President shall be elected in 1860, we will go with the South--we will stand side by side with the sons of Virginia and South Carolina, as our ancestors did at Yorktown and the Cowpens, and we will do it, clinging to the constitution and despising the forms of a vicious, oppressive and usuriug Union. That will be its character under Black Republican rule, and for one we will never bow our head to its degrading yoke. We mean what we say. We have considered the whole subject calmly, and we are prepared for the consequences."

* * * * * * A dissolution is certainly probably, to say the least, in the event of the success of the Black Republicans in 1860, and their success we say is within the range of probability. Must we await an overt act? Why the very act of electing such a President would be a declaration of deadly hostility to the slaveowning States. Do hostile armies owait vert acts? Is a declaration of war nothing until arms are used on the field? Does a man who is told by his adversary that he is to be assailed, wait until his adversary is upon him, and has commenced to disarm him and cast him to the earth? Does a person who has taken arsenic by mistake wait to see whether arsenic will produce death? Does any one doubt that cold stell well sharpened, will sever the juglar vein? Must we wait to become weaker, or act and gather strength by our own stern resolves?"

[North-Carolina Standard, June 14, 1860.]

"If these States submit to, and acquiesce in, the election of a President pledged to put the Federal Government 'permanently on the side of freedom,' such submission and acquiescence will inevitably put the institution of slavery on the defensive within their borders, and the result will be its extinction at no very distant period in all the breadstuff States."

[North-Carolina Standard, June 2. 1860,]

"But it is said the Supreme Court may be in the future an unsafe tribunal for the South; that the Black Republicans will obtain control of it and turn its decisions against the slaveholding States. That may be so. At present it is certainly a safe tribunal for the South. It may be changed, and no doubt will be, if Black Republicans should obtain possession of the Government. But what of that? Must we wait until this change is made. Shall we permit Lincoln to pervert the whole power of the Government, and in additiod to turn the Supreme court against us? We are for meeting the enemy at the threshold--for vanquishing him or for being vanquished long before his law, his adjudications against us are made. If the people of the South are true to themselves, they will never be troubled by the decisions of Black Republican judges. But if they submit to the inauguration and rule of Black Republicans, they will bind themselves to submit likewise to the decisions of an abolition court. It will be too late to resist the court after having submitted to the President. That is our view of it.


[North-Carolina Standard, December 4, 1850.]

"We have heard the idea recently expressed that a State has no right to secede from the Union--that there is no help from oppression except by revolution. In other words, that the States are the creatures of, and dependants on, the Federal Government, and of course subject to physical coercion. Such an assumption we humbly submit is unsupported by any testimony derived from the Constitution itself or from any single circumstance attending its formation or adoption. It is moreover at war with all regular ideas of free republican government. * * * * We hold that as no state could originally have been forced into the Union, none can be forced to remain in, or rather be preven?ed from going out."

[North-Carolina Standard, Jan. 15, 1851.]

"It is sufficient for us to say that we hold to the right of secession as an orlginal preexisting reserved sovereign right. That whenever the constitution is palpably violated by Congress, * * * * or whenever that body fails to carry out the plain provisions of that instrument when required to protect Southern rights, the Union is dissolved and that by a sectional majority."

The editor of the Standard now publishes without comment a communication denying the right of secession.


[North-Carolina Standard, July 26, 1851.]

"How many speeches, by the way, has Mr. Senator Badger ever made in the cause of common schools? What public measure of importance and benefit to North-Carolina has he ever originated? And yet thousands of the people of this State delight to honor this gentleman, and he has been elevated by the Legislature to the highest office the State could bestow. Let the people think of these things."

[North-Carolina Standard, Oct. 24, 1860.]

"But if Mr. Badger can sin yesterday and repent to-day, what assurance can his followers have that he will not sin again to-morrow? Who can place confidence in such a politician? In 1850, he declared that the Union could not be preserved by force; but we expect to hear him announce before the expiration of the year 1860, that the force doctrine is indispensable to the preservation of the Union. and that Lincoln ought to be allowed to send troops over our soil to subjugate sovereign Southern States. Look out for regrets also on this subject. Mr. Badger mends his ways and keeps up with Boyden and others of that stamp, by a series of handsomely expressed regrets.

Mr. Holden expected this not four months ago, yet now "is proud to be on the ticket with Mr. Badger."

Fellow Citizens, is this the man to trust in convention--a man who declared we ought not to submit to the election of Fremont--that we ought not to submit to the election of Lincoln--that to do so was to give "the lamb to the wolf," the "dove to the hawk"--yet who now tells us to submit? Who declared that watching and waiting after Lincoln's election was as silly as waiting "to see if arsenic would kill," or cold steel sever the jugla vein--yet who now tells us to "watch and wait."--Who ten years ago said that the South should not retreat further, that she must "stand and act," but now says, do not act, "watch and wait." Who on the 27th of November, 1860, said, "{Omitted text, 1w} the people tell their representatives that no convention of the people of this State is necessary if it be their determination to remain in the Union and to give Lincoln a trial??" yet who now he is running for a convention which he warned the people not to call. Who warned you against Mr. Badger as a federalist of the deepest die, and asked if we could place any confidence in such a politicion--yet, who, now considers it an honor to be placed on the same ticket with him?

[???] Read, mark, and inwardly digest--and vo?e accordingly.



"Holden's Record!" Printed Ephemera Collection; Portfolio 135, Folder 11. Accessed at:


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Holden's Record


The Office of the State Journal, "Holden's Record!," 1861, Civil War Era NC, accessed June 20, 2024,