No Risking Profits for Sectional Harmony
 
From: bernhard1848@gmail.com
 
It was the tariff issue which had driven South Carolina to nullification thirty years earlier, and ever since it was Southern pressure in Congress that kept the grasping Yankee at bay. With a tariff increase being one of the major planks in the Republican’s Chicago platform, the South was forced to recalculate the true value of political union with the North.
 
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
 
No Risking Profits for Sectional Harmony
 
“At the March

[1861] meeting of the New York Chamber of Commerce there was one item that hardly anyone noticed except the merchants. They were considering a proposal to repeal the Federal law giving American shippers a monopoly of the coasting trade and to open this lucrative business to the British on a reciprocal basis. Except to these commercial men the final disposition of the matter seemed to be of small importance during the dramatic weeks of the secession crisis.
 
And yet nothing illustrated more clearly the real essence of sectionalism and the tendency of Northern compromisers either innocently to deceive themselves or deliberately deceive others.
 
Conservative New York merchants had spent three months passing resolutions, circulating petitions, and visiting Washington to advance the cause of appeasing the secessionists. Repeatedly they had professed their friendship for the South and their eagerness to defend her rights in the Union.
 
Now they had an opportunity to give tangible proof of their sincerity, not by the sacrifice of some remote territory to slavery but at the cost of risking their own profits for the sake of sectional harmony. For many years Southerners had protested against the monopoly enjoyed by Northern ship owners in the coasting trade and had charged that it was one of the artificial devices by which the [Southern] States were subjected to Yankee exploitation.
 
The repeal of the law would reduce the freight charges levied upon the planters by exposing Northern traders to foreign competition. It would have removed one source of Southern complaint.
 
Nevertheless a special committee of the Chamber of Commerce reported against sharing with Britain “our great and rapidly increasing coasting trade.” Rather, the committee believed, “our interests demand we should cherish this trade, and establish our own system, irrespective of this or other nations.” Ultimately the whole subject was indefinitely postponed.
 
This decision of the New York merchants was no isolated phenomenon. Throughout the secession winter, the Northern compromisers generally showed great enthusiasm for concessions on matters that seemed to have no direct bearing upon their particular interests, but they displayed an unfeeling obduracy toward concessions on subjects that touched them closely.
 
In Congress nearly every type of sectional legislation came up for debate; and Northerners, whether radical or conservative, Republican or Democrat, refused to surrender any law which brought special benefits to their constituents. Southerners could cry out against discrimination and Northern tyranny, but Yankee congressmen were unmoved.
 
As a result, when Congress adjourned, the navigation laws which benefited eastern merchants were still on the statute books. So was the grant of Federal bounty to New England fishermen. Even though an Alabama congressman bitterly called the fishing bounty a device by which Northerners were “permitted to fleece” his constituents, a Southern proposal that it be repealed was defeated.”
 
(And the War Came, the North and the Secession Crisis of 1861, Kenneth M. Stampp, pp. 159-160)