Digital History>eXplorations>John Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The Public Response>George Ftizhugh

George Fitzhugh, “Disunion Within the Union”

Source: DeBow's Review, 28 (January, 1860), 1 5, 7.


The Harper's Ferry affair, with its extensive Northern ramifications, gives a new interest to the question of disunion. The most conservative must see, and if honest will admit, that the settlement of Northerners among us is fraught with danger. Not one in twenty of such settlers might tamper with our slaves and incite them to insurrection, but one man can fire a magazine, and no on can foresee where the match will be applied, or what will be the extent and consequences of the explosion. Our wives and our daughters will see in every new Yankee face an abolition missionary. We, the men of the South, may feel for their fears, and go about to remove the cause that excites them, without being amenable to the charge of cowardice or of over cautiousness . . . .

To effect this, two measures are necessary. The one, State legislation that shall require all New England emigrants to give security for their good behavior. The other, the renewal of the African slavetrade, to fill up that vacuum in our population which will be filled up by abolitionists if not by negroes. The Constitution of the United States stands in the way of neither measure. It is wonderfully comprehensive and elastic, and gives an adaptability and plasticity to our institutions which constitute their chief merit.


New Englanders coming to the South, according to the most rigid construction of the common law, are quoad ons, persons of ill favor, suspicious persons (far more so than idle eaves droppers), who may and should be required to give security for their good behavior....

Each State for itself may pass laws entirely prohibiting all trade or intercourse between its citizens and the citizens of one or more of the Northern States. Each Southern State may enact that all "Yankee notions," goods, wares, and merchandise, shall be forfeited when brought South, as fully and completely as negro slaves are when carried North. White Yankees are more dangerous to our peace than English or Northern free negroes; and South Carolina has established the right to prohibit the introduction of the latter. Under the law of nations, we may, and should, exclude people whose general character is that of hostility to our institutions. It is an inalienable right, for it is the right of self defense and self preservation . . . .

. . . this is no dispute between Northerners and Southerners; but between conservatives and revolutionists; between Christians and infidels;.between law and order men and no government men, between the friends of private property and socialists and agrarians; between the chaste and the libidinous; between marriage and free lovers; between those who believe in the past, in history, in human experience, in the Bible, in human nature, and those who, foolishly, rashly, and profanely, attempt to "expel human nature," to bring about a millennium, and inaugurate a future wholly unlike anything that has preceded it. The great Christian and conservative party throughout the world is now with us. If we scorn and repudiate their alliance, if we arrogantly set up for ourselves, we thereby admit and assert that our cause and our institutions are at war with the common, moral, and religious notions of mankind. Let us rather prove to the virtuous, the religious, and conservative, that our cause is their cause, our institutions those which God has ordained, and human experience ratified and confirmed; and that to war against us, is to incite the socialists to war against everything sacred, valuable, or venerable in free society. Let us show them that every abolitionist of distinction is an agrarian, infidel, no government man, a free love man -more angerous at home than to us . . . .

. . . If the South be true to herself, if she have one tittle of self-appreciation, if she can possibly be made to comprehend her own position, the post of honor is hers, and she will become the pattern, the exemplar, the leader of Christendom. She, alone, has retained that great institution, which philosophy and history, God and nature, proclaim to be necessary to man's well being. She, alone, has made adequate provision for the laboring man. She, alone, has a contented, moral, religious society, undisturbed by infidelity, socialism, riots, revolutions, and famine. She, alone, can say to the world, we present the model which you must imitate in reforming your institutions.

Copyright Digital History 2016