If it be true that war cannot be declared, nor a system of general hostilities carried on, by the Central Government against a State, then it seems to follow that an attempt to do so would be ipso facto an expulsion of such State from the Union. Being treated as an alien and an enemy, she would be compelled to act accordingly. And, if Congress shall break up the present Union by unconstitutionally putting strife, and enmity, and armed hostility, between different sections of the country, instead of the “domestic tranquillity” which the Constitution was meant to insure, will not all the States be absolved from their Federal obligations? Is any portion of the people bound to contribute their money or their blood to carry on a contest like that? The right of the General Government to preserve itself in its whole constitutional vigor, by repelling a direct and positive aggression upon its property or its officers, cannot be denied. But this is a totally different thing from an offensive war to punish the people for the political misdeeds of State Governments, or to prevent a threatened violation of the Constitution,or to enforce an acknowledgment that the Government of the United States is supreme. The States are colleagues of one another; and, if some of them should conquer the rest and hold them as subjugated provinces, it would totally destroy the whole theory upon which they are now connected. If this view of the subject be as correct as I think it is, then the Union must utterly perish at the moment when Congress shall arm one part of the people against another, for any purpose beyond that of merely protecting the General Government in the exercise of its proper constitutional functions.Strange as it must now seem, this assertion. of the radical impotence of the Government, this avowal of a fixed purpose to “let the Union slide,” on the part of the President and his legal adviser, were received in Congress with general and concerted taciturnity on the part of the upholders, and with a bounteous display of indignation on that of the banded assailants, of the National life. Mr. A. R. Boteler,1 of Virginia, moved a reference of so much of the Message as related to our National perils to a Select Committee of one from each State; which in due time prevailed, and a very fair Committee was appointed — Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, Chairman ; with a large preponderance of the more moderate ‘Republicans’ and pro-Slavery men in its composition. Mr. Speaker Pennington, who framed the Committee, was strongly inclined to “ conciliation,” if that could be effected on terms not disgraceful to the North; and at least six of the sixteen Republicans placed on the Committee desired and hoped that an adjustment might yet be achieved. No member of extreme anti-Slavery views was associated with them. But it was soon evident that no “concession” or “ conciliation” was desired by a large portion of the pro-Slavery
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