March 23, 1861: A rant from the Charleston Mercury

The New York Times reprinted an item from the Charleston Mercury on March 23, 1861:

The Charleston Mercury, of March 19, has a furious article headed, “Reap the Whirlwind.” These are its concluding paragraphs:

“To talk of attempting to ‘subjugate’ the Southern States, we regard as the very wildest gibberings of insanity. And we presume that every intelligent man upon the Continent is aware of the fact, whatever loose talk may emanate from political desperadoes, enraged fanatics and silly ignoramuses. Two hundred thousand men, and all the money that could be raised by a mortgage upon the entire real estate of the North, could not effect it. Blood and desolation it might make a plenty, and a plenty of it would be Northern blood and Northern desolation. And it would begin not far from Washington, and not stop short of Philadelphia, New-York and Boston. Nor would it be confined to the land. For Northern commerce has been lucrative, and the spoils of naval adventure are rich and tempting. Thousands of desperate men would be induced by patriotism, hate, and interest combined, to prey upon it under the seal of the Confederate States — letters of marque and reprisal. Nor would the nations of Europe deny themselves the privilege of taking our produce at fair prices, to please the pretensions of an arrogant and presumptuous people, whose occupation is rivalry with these very foreign nations. Blockade is ridiculous. And the idea, of coercing the South is folly.

In the meantime, however, we must be allowed to indulge in our little chuckle over the vastly changed tone of expressions at the North — their former silly vauntings — their present confusion and anxious dreads — the contrast is inexpressibly ludicrous, sufficiently so to be our excuse for a faint smile.”

The Mercury was quite right in saying that 200,000 men could not subdue the South. It took more like 2 million.

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