The Present Distractions

Charleston Mercury, Oct. 15, 1860

(I would like to thank Tonia Jane Smith of the Rufus Baringer CWRT in Pinehurst, North Carolina, for providing me with the text of this editorial.)

The great leader of the Northern hosts which are now mustering and advancing to seize upon the strongholds of the Government, for our destruction, proclaims that the battle of the sections has already been fought, the victory won, and that the inauguration of LINCOLN, on the 4th of March, '61, seals the doom of the vital institutions of the South. It has been stated that this SEWARD was thrust aside in the nominating Convention, because he was disposed to temporize with the South, and lacked the necessary nerve to carry through measures of Southern subjugation. LINCOLN was believed to possess the decision of character and earnestness required, and to be fully equal to any emergency originating in Southern attempts at resistence. Nor will any one who has examined the lineaments of his countenance, as depicted in the engravings of his admirers, doubt his being a proper tool to accomplish the purposes of our enemies. The beau ideal of a relentless, dogged, freesoil border-ruffian --- a Southerner by birth, and a Northerner in feeling and association --- a fanatic in philanthropy, and a vulgar mobocrat and a Southern hater in political opinions --- he is the very man for the occasion. If ever in possession of the executive powers of the Government, he will neither turn back from his work, nor do it by halves --- fit chieftain of those who selected him --- the author who first gave expression to the doctrine of the "irrepressible conflict," now chose to be the finisher of that faith.

In the face of the grave difficulties before us, it is discouraging to observe the petty policies and insignificant motives which absorb a portion of the people of the South. It is distressing to see men who should appreciate the dangers by which we are encompassed, and who should be united in seeking safety, wrangling over the dead ideas of the past. Democrat and anti-Democrat, with the small prejudices and jealousies of a bygone time --- party success, and party spoils and offices, which will never be reached --- consume the mortal energies, and quench the flow of patriotism in the Southern heart, in many places. It is a melancholy sight; and there are men who, perceiving the impending ruin, and the miserable divisions and distractions prevalent in sections of the South, and paralyzing to any thing like prompt and efficient resistence, despair of the South and of her deliverance. To us, such persons appear unphilosophic, and lacking in experience. Men must be taken as they are. Not all are wise --- not all are pure, or patriotic. The small games of personal advantage and the little interests that concern each in his narrow circle, are too apt to fill the thoughts of all, to the displacement of nobler objects and higher aims. This is the dark side of the picture., but it is one that is very commonly seen. It stands forth in a strong light now. But we are of those who believe that there are better traits which may be developed by events, and that without difficulty. The dangers of our position are sufficiently manifest, and an adequate proportion of the people of the South are alive to their existence to leaven the whole lump, and bring us into measures of resistence and security against the North.