The Iron Furnace; or Slavery & Secession

The Iron Furnace; or Slavery & Secession

The Iron Furnace, or Slavery & Secession Rev John H Augey, Refugee from Mississippi / 1863

From the Preface

This work was written while suffering intensely from maladies induced by the rigours of the Iron Furnace of Secession, whose sevenfold heat is reserved for the loyal citizens of[Pg 6] the South. Let this fact be a palliation for whatever imperfections the reader may meet with in its perusal.

There are many loyal men in the southern States, who to avoid martyrdom, conceal their opinions. They are to be pitied—not severely censured. All those southern ministers and professors of religion who were eminent for piety, opposed secession till the States passed the secession ordinance. They then advocated reconstruction as long as it comported with their safety. They then, in the face of danger and death, became quiescent—not acquiescent, by any means—and they now “bide their time,” in prayerful trust that God will, in his own good time, subvert rebellion, and overthrow anarchy, by a restoration of the supremacy of constitutional law. By these, and their name is legion, my book will be warmly approved. My fellow-prisoners in the dungeon at Tupelo, who may have survived its horrors, and my fellow-sufferers in the Union cause throughout the South, will read in my narrative a transcript of their own sufferings. The loyal citizens of the whole country will be interested in learning the views of one who has been conversant with the rise and progress of secession, from its incipiency to its culmination in rebellion[Pg 7] and treason. It will also doubtless be of general interest to learn something of the workings of the “peculiar institution,” and the various phases which it assumes in different sections of the slave States.

Compelled to leave Dixie in haste, I had no time to collect materials for my work. I was therefore under the necessity of writing without those aids which would have secured greater accuracy. I have done the best that I could under the circumstances; and any errors that may have crept into my statements of facts, or reports of addresses, will be cheerfully rectified as soon as ascertained.

Beginning of First Chapter

At the breaking out of the present rebellion, I was engaged in the work of an Evangelist in the counties of Choctaw and Attala in Central Mississippi. My congregations were large, and my duties onerous. Being constantly employed in ministerial labours, I had no time to intermeddle with politics, leaving all such questions[Pg 14] to statesmen, giving the complex issues of the day only sufficient attention to enable me to vote intelligently. Thus was I engaged when the great political campaign of 1860 commenced—a campaign conducted with greater virulence and asperity than any I have ever witnessed. During my casual detention at a store, Colonel Drane arrived, according to appointment, to address the people of Choctaw. He was a member of one of my congregations, and as he had been long a leading statesman in Mississippi, having for many years presided over the State Senate, I expected to hear a speech of marked ability, unfolding the true issues before the people, with all the dignity, suavity, and earnestness of a gentleman and patriot; but I found his whole speech to be a tirade of abuse against the North, commingled with the bold avowal of treasonable sentiments. The Colonel thus addressed the people:

“My Fellow-Citizens—I appear before you to urge anew resistance against the encroachments and aggressions of the Yankees. If the[Pg 15] Black Republicans carry their ticket, and Old Abe is elected, our right to carry our slaves into the territories will be denied us; and who dare say that he would be a base, craven submissionist, when our God-given and constitutional right to carry slavery into the common domain is wickedly taken from the South. The Yankees cheated us out of Kansas by their infernal Emigrant Aid Societies. They cheated us out of California, which our blood-treasure purchased, for the South sent ten men to one that was sent by the North to the Mexican war, and thus we have no foothold on the Pacific coast; and even now we pay five dollars for the support of the general Government where the North pays one. We help to pay bounties to the Yankee fishermen in New England; indeed we are always paying, paying, paying, and yet the North is always crying, Give, give, give. The South has made the North rich, and what thanks do we receive? Our rights are trampled on, our slaves are spirited by thousands over their underground railroad to Canada, our citizens are insulted while travelling in the[Pg 16] North, and their servants are tampered with, and by false representations, and often by mob violence, forced from them. Douglas, knowing the power of the Emigrant Aid Societies, proposes squatter sovereignty, with the positive certainty that the scum of Europe and the mudsills of Yankeedom can be shipped in in numbers sufficient to control the destiny of the embryo State. Since the admission of Texas in 1845, there has not been a single foot of slave territory secured to the South, while the North has added to their list the extensive States of California, Minnesota, and Oregon, and Kansas is as good as theirs; while, if Lincoln is elected, the Wilmot proviso will be extended over all the common territories, debarring the South for ever from her right to share the public domain.

“The hypocrites of the North tell us that slaveholding is sinful. Well, suppose it is. Upon us and our children let the guilt of this sin rest; we are willing to bear it, and it is none of their business. We are a more moral people than they are. Who originated [Pg 17]Mormonism, Millerism, Spirit-rappings, Abolitionism, Free-loveism, and all the other abominable isms which curse the world? The reply is, the North. Their puritanical fanaticism and hypocrisy is patent to all. Talk to us of the sin of slavery, when the only difference between us is that our slaves are black and theirs white. They treat their white slaves, the Irish and Dutch, in a cruel manner, giving them during health just enough to purchase coarse clothing, and when they become sick, they are turned off to starve, as they do by hundreds every year. A female servant in the North must have a testimonial of good character before she will be employed; those with whom she is labouring will not give her this so long as they desire her services; she therefore cannot leave them, whatever may be her treatment, so that she is as much compelled to remain with her employer as the slave with his master.

“Their servants hate them; our’s love us. My niggers would fight for me and my family. They have been treated well, and they know it. [Pg 18]And I don’t treat my slaves any better than my neighbours. If ever there comes a war between the North and the South, let us do as Abraham did—arm our trained servants, and go forth with them to the battle. They hate the Yankees as intensely as we do, and nothing could please our slaves better than to fight them. Ah, the perfidious Yankees! I cordially hate a Yankee. We have all suffered much at their hands; they will not keep faith with us. Have they complied with the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law? The thousands and tens of thousands of slaves aided in their escape to Canada, is a sufficient answer. We have lost millions, and are losing millions every year, by the operations of the underground railroad. How deep the perfidy of a people, thus to violate every article of compromise we have made with them! The Yankees are an inferior race, descended from the old Puritan stock, who enacted the Blue Laws. They are desirous of compelling us to submit to laws more iniquitous than ever were the Blue Laws. I have travelled in the North, and have seen the depth [Pg 19]of their depravity. Now, my fellow-citizens, what shall we do to resist Northern aggression? Why simply this: if Lincoln or Douglas are elected, (as to the Bell-Everett ticket, it stands no sort of chance,) let us secede. This remedy will be effectual. I am in favour of no more compromises. Let us have Breckinridge, or immediate, complete, and eternal separation.”

The speaker then retired amid the cheers of his audience.

Soon after this there came a day of rejoicing to many in Mississippi. The booming of cannon, the joyous greeting, the soul-stirring music, indicated that no ordinary intelligence had been received. The lightnings had brought the tidings that Abraham Lincoln was President elect of the United States, and the South was wild with excitement. Those who had been long desirous of a pretext for secession, now boldly advocated their sentiments, and joyfully hailed the election of Mr. Lincoln as affording that pretext. The conservative men were filled with gloom. They regarded the[Pg 20] election of Mr. Lincoln, by the majority of the people of the United States, in a constitutional way, as affording no cause for secession. Secession they regarded as fraught with all the evils of Pandora’s box, and that war, famine, pestilence, and moral and physical desolation would follow in its train. A call was made by Governor Pettus for a convention to assemble early in January, at Jackson, to determine what course Mississippi should pursue, whether her policy should be submission or secession.

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