Northern Gain at the Expense of the Great Mass
Once again, William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama could see through the smokescreen his Northern colleagues used to advance their section at the expense of the rest of the country, and a sectional postal bill in early 1845 caught his attention.  His prophecy of a people regulated only by their State legislatures proved erroneous; the 17th Amendment would strip States of their autonomy in Congress – primarily a populist reaction to the North’s postwar Gilded Age excesses and corporation-controlled federal government.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute  
Northern Gain at the Expense of the Great Mass:
A proposal to restructure postal rates alarmed him. A bill came to the House that proposed changing from a graduated rate based on weight to a set rate of five cents per letter. The Treasury Department would make up the shortfall, up to four and a half million dollars. Proponents rushed the bill through the House in two hours. Yancey objected that he and his colleague, Georgia’s Howell Cobb, knew of no public outcry for this change in the postal service. “Few questions…involved more important principles” than this bill, announced Yancey. He believed he knew who wanted it, and why.
The cities of the North stood to gain “at the expense of the great mass of the country.” Yancey argued that protective tariffs already favored the Northeast by creating more jobs there, and that the postal bill would have the same effect. Tariffs forced the South to pay more for their iron, woolens and cotton textiles, and other consumer goods, and now the northeastern States wanted the South to subsidize the correspondence of their brokers, merchants, and investors. Despite his efforts and his vote, the postal bill passed.
Yancey prophesied that the United States would one day spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. In this vast territory, Yancey insisted, states’ rights would remain supreme. The people of the Union would find themselves regulated only by their State legislatures, with the federal government concerned only with foreign policy.”
(William Lowndes Yancey, The Coming of the Civil War, Eric H. Walther, UNC Press, 2006, pp. 82-83)