previous next
[390] constitute a more radical revolution in our form of government than even secession, certainly mistake not only the age in which we live, but the people whom they represent, and who sympathize in no desire to take a bloody revenge on those who think they can live more peacefully and prosperously alone, than in a Union with those who have, for years, irritated them almost to madness, by denouncing them as a reproach and a disgrace.

Mr. Johnson concluded in these words:

But we are asked, rather triumphantly, “ Have we a government?” The question is intended to imply, that the government must be strong enough for self-preservation, whatever may become a necessary means. The answer is, that the government is as strong as its founders could agree to make it. Its weakness in emergencies like the present was foreseen by the men that framed the Constitution; but they soon perceived that they must take the Constitution as it now stands, or no confederation could be formed. If, therefore, we now attempt to strengthen the government by coercive action, which all men know its founders would have rejected with scorn, we are the revolutionists, and not the South; so jealous, indeed, were the States of Federal interference, that its protection of them against domestic violence was prohibited, till the disturbed State applied for protection by its legislature, or by its chief executive when the legislature could not be convened. If, then, the States would not accept protection from the general government till it was demanded, how much less would they have accepted coercion against their own actions! The government was strong enough while cemented by mutual good fellowship; but no government, and ours the least of all, is sufficiently strong to resist incessant aggravations. Finally, if Congress and our States cannot, or will not, win back our Southern brethren, let us, at least, part as friends; and then possibly, if experience shall, as we suppose it will, show the departed States that, in leaving the Union, they have only deserted a happy home, they may be willing to sue us to readmit them; or, if they shall find a permanent separation more desirable than Union, we may still exist together as useful and profitable neighbors, assisting each other when either is threatened by injustice from the nations of Europe; and the two sections, instead of wasting their time and energies in quarreling with each other about Slavery, will at least have more time to severally employ all their energies in seeking their own prosperity in their own way.

Gov. Horatio Seymour followed, berating the Republicans generally, but especially those in Congress, as the responsible authors of the perils now darkening the National sky. Referring to the refusal of the Republicans in Congress to cooperate in the legalization of Slavery in the territories, he asked:

What spectacle do we present to-day? Already six States have withdrawn from this confederacy. Revolution has actually begun. The term “secession” divests it of none of its terrors, nor do arguments to prove secession inconsistent with our Constitution stay its progress, or mitigate its evils. All virtue, patriotism, and intelligence, seem to have fled from our National Capitol; it las been well likened to the conflagration of an asylum for madmen — some look on with idiotic imbecility; some in sullen silence; and some scatter the firebrands which consume the fabric above then, and bring upon all a common destruction. Is there one revolting aspect in this scene which has not its parallel at the Capitol of your country? Do you not see there the senseless imbecility, the garrulous idiocy, the maddened rage, displayed with regard to petty personal passions and party purposes, while the glory, the honor, and the safety of the country are all forgotten? Tile same pervading fanaticism has brought evil upon all the institutions of our land. Our churches are torn asunder and desecrated to partisan purposes. Tho wrongs of our local legislation, the growing burdens of debt and taxation, the gradual destruction of the African in the Free States, which is marked by each recurring census, are all due to the neglect of our own duties, caused by the complete absorption of the public mind by a senseless, unreasoning fanaticism. The agitation of the question of Slavery has thus far brought greater social, moral, and legislative evils upon the people of the free States than it has upon the institutions of those against whom it has been excited. The wisdom of Franklin stamped upon the first coin issued by our government, the wise motto, “ Mind your business!” The violation of this homely proverb, which lies at the foundation of the doctrines of local rights, has, thus far, proved more hurtful to the meddlers in the affairs of others than to those against whom this pragmatic action is directed.

Gov. Seymour proceeded to argue that the North had. thus far. had

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Europe (1)
Capitol (Utah, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Horatio Seymour (2)
Alexander B. Johnson (1)
T. E. Franklin (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: