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Of course, having decided not to perform his sworn duty, the President proceeded to lecture the people whom he thus betrayed on the duty of buying off the banded traitors by new concessions and guarantees; saying:

The fact is, that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it cannot live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possess many means of preserving it by conciliation; but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force.

But, if it cannot be “cemented,” can it be uncemented, dissolved, and destroyed, “by the blood of its citizens, shed in civil war?” If it can, then is it the most stupendous mockery and sham which ever duped and deluded mankind.

His panacea for the ills experienced or imminently impending was an “explanatory amendment” of the Constitution, which should operate as a “final settlement” of the true construction of the Federal pact on three special points:

1. An express recognition of the right of property in slaves in the States where it now exists or may hereafter exist.

2. The duty of protecting this right in all the common territories throughout their territorial existence, and until they shall be admitted as States into the Union, with or without Slavery, as their Constitution may prescribe.

3. A like recognition of the right of the master to have his slave, who has escaped from one State to another, restored and “delivered up” to him, and of the validity of the Fugitive Slave law enacted for this purpose, together with a declaration that all State laws impairing or defeating this right are violations of the Constitution, and are consequently null and void.

Behind this pitiable exhibition was an elaborate opinion1 from Hon. Jeremiah S. Black, of Pennsylvania, Mr. Buchanan's Attorney-General, sustaining and elaborating the President's most fatal errors. After setting forth, in a most grudging and technical fashion, the occasions in which the President is authorized to use force in support of the violated laws of the land, Mr. Black proceeds as follows:

But what if the feeling in any State against the United States should become so universal that the Federal officers themselves (including Judges, District Attorneys, and Marshals) would be reached by the same influence, and resign their places? Of course, the first step would be to appoint others in their stead, if others could be got to serve. But, in such event, it is more than probable that great difficulty would be found in filling the offices. We can easily conceive how it might become altogether impossible. We are, therefore, obliged to consider what can be done in case we have no Courts to issue judicial process, and no ministerial officers to execute it. In that event, troops would certainly be out of place, and their use wholly illegal. If they are sent to aid the Courts and Marshals, there must be Courts and Marshals to be aided. Without the exercise of these functions, which belong exclusively to the civil service, the laws cannot be executed in any event, no matter what may be the physical strength which the Government has at its command. Under such circumstances, to send a military force into any State, with orders to act against the people, would be simply making war upon them.

That is to say: A little rebellion may be legally and constitutionally repressed; but a great one cannot be.

‘If we have no Courts’ where they are needed, we should constitute them; and, “if we have no ministerial officers,” we should appoint them. The President is expressly clothed with the requisite power, and has no right to refrain from exercising it. If no man now living in South Carolina dare serve as District Judge or Marshal, then one should be sent thither who has no repugnance and

1 Dated November 20, 1860.

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Jeremiah S. Black (2)
James Buchanan (1)
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