Digital History>eXplorations>John Brown: Hero or Terrorist?>The Public Response>Edmund Ruffin

Edmund Ruffin, “Resolution of the Central Southern Rights Association”

Source: DeBow's Review, 28 (March, 1860), 356.

Resolved, That the late outbreak at Harper's Ferry, of a long concocted and wide-spread Northern conspiracy, for the destruction by armed violence and bloodshed of all that is valuable for the welfare, safety, and even existence of Virginia and the other Southern States, was, in the prompt and complete suppression of the attempt, and in all its direct results, a failure no less abortive and contemptible than the design and means employed, and objects aimed at, were malignant, atrocious, and devilish.

Resolved, That, nevertheless, the indirect results of this Northern conspiracy, and attempted deadly assault and warfare on Virginia, are all important for the consideration and instruction of the Southern people, and especially in these respects, to wit: 1st, As proving to the world the actual condition of entire submission, obedience, and general loyalty of our negro slaves, in the fact that all the previous and scarcely impeded efforts of Northern abolitionists and their emissaries, aided by all that falsehood and deception could effect, did not operate to seduce a single negro in Virginia to rebel, or even to evince the least spirit of insubordination. 2d, As showing, in the general expression of opinion in the Northern States, through the press and from the pulpit, from prominent or leading public men, and also in the only public meetings yet held, and generally by the great popular voice of the North, that the majority, or at least the far greater number of all whose opinions have yet been expressed, either excuse, or desire to have pardoned, or sympathise with, or openly and heartily applaud the actors in this conspiracy and attack, which could have been made successful only by the means of laying waste the South and extinguishing its institutions and their defenders by fire and sword, and with outrages more horrible than merely general massacre while the Northern friends of the South, and of the cause of right and law, are too few, or too timid to speak openly in our support, or even to make their dissent heard, and too weak to contend with the more numerous and violent assaults of the South.

Resolved, That the time has come when every State and every man of the South should determine to act promptly and effectively for the defence of our institutions and dearest rights, as well as for other important, though less vital interests; and we earnestly appeal, especially to the legislature of Virginia, and also to the legislatures of all others of the slaveholding States, that they will hasten to consult and to deliberate, arid will maturely consider and discuss the condition of the Southern States, under all past aggressions and wrongs, especially this last and crowning aggression of Northern usurpation and hatred, and devise suitable and efficient measures for the defense of the Southern people and their institutions, from the unceasing hostility and unscrupulous assaults of Northern enemies, fanatics and conspirators.


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