he is bound by the constitutional checks which are thrown around him, which, at this time, render him powerless to do any great mischief.
This shows the wisdom of our system.
The President of the United States is no Emperor, no Dictator — he is clothed with no absolute power.
He can do nothing unless he is backed by power in Congress.
The House of Representatives is largely in the majority against him. In the Senate, he will also be powerless.
There will be a majority of four against him: This, After the loss of Bigler, Fitch, and others, by the unfortunate dissensions of the Democratic party in their States.
Mr. Lincoln cannot appoint an officer without the consent of the Senate — he cannot form a Cabinet without the same consent.
He will be in the condition of George III.
(the embodiment of Toryism), who had to ask the Whigs to appoint his Ministers, and was compelled to receive a Cabinet utterly opposed to his views; and so Mr. Lincoln will be compelled to ask of the Senate to choose for him a Cabinet, if the Democracy of that body choose to put him on such terms.
He will be compelled to do this, or let the Government stop, if the National Democratic men — for that is their name at the North--the conservative men in the Senate — should so determine.
Then, how can Mr. Lincoln obtain a Cabinet which would aid him, or allow him, to violate the Constitution?
Why, then, I say, should we disrupt the bonds of this Union, when his hands are tied — when he can do nothing against us?
Warming with his argument, Mr. Stephens
did not hesitate, before concluding his speech, to say:
I believe in the power of the people to govern themselves when wisdom prevails, and passion is silent.
Look at what has already been done by them for their advancement in all that ennobles man. There is nothing like it in the history of the world.
Look abroad, from one extent of the country to the other; contemplate our greatness: we are now among the first nations of the earth.
Shall it, then, be said that our institutions, founded upon principles of self-government, are a failure?
Thus far it is a noble example, worthy of imitation.
The gentleman (Mr. Cobb), the other night, said it had proven a failure.
A failure in what?
Look at our expanse in National power!
Look at our population and increase in all that makes a people great!
Why, we are the admiration of the civilized world, and present the brightest hopes of mankind.
Some of our public men have failed in their aspirations; that is true; and from that comes a great part of our troubles. (Prolonged applause.)
No! there is no failure of this Government yet. We have made great advancement under the Constitution; and I cannot but hope that we shall advance still higher.
Let us be true to our cause.
This was frank and noble; yet there was a dead fly in the ointment, which sadly marred its perfume.
That was a distinct avowal of the right of the State
to overrule his personal convictions, and plunge him into treason to the Nation.
Years before, Henry Clay
, when catechised by Jefferson Davis
in the Senate, set forth the true American doctrine on this point, as follows:
Mr. President, I have heard with pain and regret a confirmation of the remark I made, that the sentiment of Disunion has become familiar.
I hope it is confined to South Carolina.
I do not regard as my duty what the honorable Senator seems to regard as his. If Kentucky to-morrow unfurls the banner of resistance, I never will fight under that banner.
I owe a paramount allegiance to the whole Union--a subordinate one to my own State.1