Speech of Representative John H. Reagan of Texas, January 15, 1861
|The bulk of this speech can be found in Kenneth Stampp's The Causes of the Civil War, page 89. My thanks to Justin Sanders for filling in a crucial section omitted by Stampp, and to Dave Smith for providing the image. Reagan became Postmaster General of the Confederacy. For more background on Reagan, see the other document written by him; click here.|
You are not content with the vast millions of tribute we pay you annually under the operation of our revenue law, our navigation laws, your fishing bounties, and by making your people our manufacturers, our merchants, our shippers. You are not satisfied with the vast tribute we pay you to build up your great cities, your railroads, your canals. You are not satisfied with the millions of tribute we have been paying you on account of the balance of exchange which you hold against us. You are not satisfied that we of the South are almost reduced to the condition of overseers for northern capitalists. You are not satisfied with all this; but you must wage a relentless crusade against our rights and institutions. And now you tender us the inhuman alternative of unconditional submission to Republican rule on abolition principles, and ultimately to free negro equality and a government of mongrels or a war of races on the one hand, and on the other secession and a bloody and desolating civil war, waged in an attempt by the Federal Government to reduce us to submission to these wrongs. It was the misfortune of Mexico and Central and South America, that they attempted to establish governments of mongrels, to enfranchise Indians and free negroes with all the rights of freemen, and invest them, so far as their numbers go, with the control of those governments. It was a failure there; it would be a failure here. It has given them an uninterrupted reign of revolutions and anarchy there; it would do the same thing here. Our own Government succeeded because none but the white race, who were capable of self-government, were enfranchised with the rights of freemen. The irrepressible conflict propounded by abolitionism has produced now its legitimate fruits-- disunion. Free negro equality, which is its ultimate object, would make us re-enact the scenes of revolution and anarchy we have so long witnessed and deplored in the American governments to the south of us.
We do not intend that you shall reduce us to such a condition. But I can tell you what your folly and injustice will compel us to do. It will compel us to be free from your domination, and more self-reliant than we have been. It will compel us to assert and maintain our separate independence. It will compel us to manufacture for ourselves, to build up our own commerce, our own great cities, our own railroads and canals; and to use the tribute money we now pay you for these things for the support of a government which will be friendly to all our interests, hostile to none of them.