The question of treason is distinct from that of slavery; and is the same that
it would have been, if free States, instead of slave States, had seceded.
On the part of the North, the war was carried on, not to liberate the slaves,
but by a government that had always perverted and violated the Constitution,
to keep the slaves in bondage; and was still willing to do so, if the
slaveholders could be thereby induced to stay in the Union.
The principle, on which the war was waged by the North, was simply this:
that men may rightfully be compelled to submit to, and support, a government
that they do not want; and that resistance, on their part, makes them
traitors and criminals.
No principle, that is possible to be named, can be more self-evidently false
than this; or more self-evidently fatal to all political freedom. Yet it triumphed
in the field, and is now assumed to be established. If it be really
established, the number of slaves, instead of having been diminished by the
war, has been greatly increased; for a man, thus subjected to a government
that he does not want, is a slave. And there is no difference, in principle---but
only in degree---between political and chattel slavery. The former, no
less than the latter, denies a man's ownership of himself and the products of
his labor; and asserts that other men may own him, and dispose of him and
his property, for their uses, and at their pleasure.
Previous to the war, there were some grounds for saying that---in theory, at
least, if not in practice---our government was a free one; that it rested upon
consent. But nothing of that kind can be said now, if the principle on which
the war was carried on by the North, is irrevocably established.
If that principle be not the principle of the Constitution, the fact should be
known. If it be the principle of the Constitution, the Constitution itself
should be at once overthrown.