February 17, 1863: The North is doomed

The Levee at Memphis

The Richmond Daily Dispatch explains how the North is fighting for its survival, because it can’t make it without the South. The South, says the Dispatch, produces everything the North depends on, and they can buy stuff from other manufacturers. I think this is the “Cotton is King” argument again, though they don’t mention cotton explicitly.


Tuesday morning…Feb. 17, 1863.
What the North is fighting for.

The North is fighting for self-preservation as much as for Southern subjugation, the latter of which is now chiefly desired because it involves the former. The time when, possessed of devils, is sought to exterminate the South, in a fit of foaming, diabolic phrensy, has long since passed, and, in spite of Lincoln’s proclamation, the clear, distinct object of the great mass of that nation in the further prosecution of this war is to save themselves from the overhanging avalanche of ruin which the success of the Southern cause m ust precipitate upon their heads.

They have learned a good deal since this war commenced. They were going to wipe us out in sixty days! The Seventh Regiment alone, in the opinion of the magnificent James Watson Webb, would be sufficient for our subjugation! But seven hundred regiments have not accomplished the feet. Two years of war, and they have not even taken Richmond, which lies on the margin of our territory, and is accessible by fine, navigable waterways. Wipe us out in sixty days! And now, after two years, they are engaged in a death struggle to keep themselves from being “wiped out” from the map of nations!

The final defeat of the North in this struggle involves its total bankruptcy — commercial, financial, and political. No lobster, divested of its shell, was ever more at the mercy of the rest of the animal creation. It produces nothing of its own which cannot be produced elsewhere in greater perfection. Its manufactories would tumble into ruins: for the South, their principal customer even if it could ever defile its hands again with Yankee actions, could buy cheaper and better elsewhere. Its ships would rot at the wharves; for the South would carry its staples in its own vessels, and the monopoly of the coasting trades the fishing bounties, &c., would be dreams of the past. The cities which have rivalled the fame of Tyre and Babylon would be forsaken for the new marts of commerce that would spring up in the Southern States. The fountains of public revenue, mainly derived under the Union from the great staples of the South, would be dried up.–There would be neither means to pay the enormous national debt, nor to carry on the Government after the war. Repudiation, which will be the inevitable recourse of the North to pay its existing liabilities, will not improve its credit, and enable it to raise the wind hereafter. Direct taxation heavy enough to meet its wants, would produce another revolution. In any event, the process of disintegration successfully inaugurated would proceed with irresistible power. The Northwest would set up for itself. The Middle States would shake themselves clear of New England, which might humbly petition to be once more received as a British colony. These are some of the inevitable calamities which the North is now fighting to escape, but which, in all probability, no effort she can make will be sufficient to avert. Her doom is written, and, what is worse for her, it has been written by her own hand, and she will be her own executioner.

Without placing an invading foot upon her soil, without burning one Northern homestead, or bombarding one Northern town, the South has only to stand by and see the retribution which Providence permits these wretches, whose hands are stained with the innocent blood of our people, to inflict upon themselves.

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