The New Heresy
Southern Punch was a satirical publication based on the original English Punch. The editor was John Wilford Overall, a prominent Richmond journalist, and it began publication in August, 1863. Overall published many satirical cartoons of Lincoln, along with war news and commentary. This article appeared in the September 19, 1864 issue. Paper shortages caused publication to cease in early 1865.
"The people of the South," says a contemporary, "are not fighting for slavery, but for independence."
Let us look into this matter. It is an easy task, we think, to show up this new fangled heresy --- a heresy calculated to do us no good, for it cannot deceive foreign statesmen nor peoples, nor mislead any one here nor in Yankeeland.
If we have read aright, the slavery agitation commenced in Philadelphia in the infancy of the United States. The members of Congress from the Southern States were much "pestered by the Quakers with petitions to free their slaves." This pestering was one, among other reasons, why the Southern members desired that the seat of government should be removed from Philadelphia.
New England with her fanatical Puritan element, finding slavery unprofitable on a soil naturally rocky and barren, transplanted the seeds sown by the Quakers of Pennsylvania, and nursed the abolition growth until she became universally and notoriously anti-slavery. Her leaders were foremost in the troubles which took place on the admission of Missouri into the Federal Union. So disgusted was John Randolph on that occasion and so prophetic of coming sectional difficulties, that, although not on speaking terms with Mr. Clay, he proposed that the Southern members of Congress should go home and declared if Mr. Clay would leave the Speaker's chair, he would follow him to Kentucky or to any part of the world.
Every reader knows by heart the history of that incessant slavery agitation in the Federal Congress afterwards. Every discerning man saw the cloud, at first no bigger than the hand of Elijah, swell into overshadowing proportions. The abolitionists stole our negroes by hundreds of thousands, flooded Congress with petitions for the emancipation of the rest, and kept up a perpetual agitation both inside and outside of the Federal capital on the subject.
At last the devilish aggressions of the North culminated in the election of Lincoln, a radical abolitionist who had made public declaration that, "the Union could not remain half white, half black" --- that slavery must give way to free labor.
Need we repeat what followed? Does not every one know this war was inaugurated because the Southern people felt that more silly compromises, more bartering away of principles, more concessions on our part, would lead to still greater aggressions on the part of the Yankees? Does not everybody know that the first gun fired at Sumter was a States' Rights gun which thundered forth the doctrine that each State was a sovereignty and as such had a right to set up or pull down any institution within its limits, and that the Federal Congress had nothing in the world to do with the domestic institutions of a State? And did not that gun vindicate the right of separate State secession, and did not secession take place because we all felt that if we remained in the Union an abolition President and an abolition Congress would, before the end of four years, jeopardize our great institution slavery?
"The people of the South are not fighting for slavery, but for independence." Why this is tantamount to saying that the South is fighting for independence at the expense of slavery. It is an acknowledgement that slavery is either an evil or unimportant --- a doctrine which we hold to be opposed to the experience of ethnologists and of every agriculturalist of the South.
If the new heresy is intended to conciliate European nations it will fail for it does not tally with our history as the Southern people know. The first are not to be hoodwinked by so transparent a fallacy; the second cannot agree to hold our great industrial institution at so low a figure. Is the new heresy intended to conciliate the Yankees? If so, worse still, as we should never consent to eat our words and our principles face to face with that negro stealing race.
Our doctrine is this: WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED, and for the preservation of other institutions of which slavery is the ground work.