in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction?”
This is the position I took, with 313,000 voters in the State of New York, on the 6th of November last.
I shall not recede from it; having admitted that, in a certain contingency, the Slave States would have just and adequate causes for a separation.
Now that the contingency has happened, I shall not withdraw that admission, because they have been unwise or unreasonable in the “ time, mode, and measure of redress.”
Aside from particular acts that do not admit of any justification, those who imagine that the Southern States do not well know what they are about, forget that they have been for fifteen years looking at this thing with all its importance to their largest interest, as well as to their safety, and mistake the deep and deliberate movement of a revolution for the mere accidents and incidents which always accompany it. [Applause.] There are some Democrats and Union men who, when the fever for a fight has subsided, will wake up and wonder that they mistook the madness of passion for the glow of patriotism.
Again: we should consider that, whatever may be our construction of the Constitution under which we live, as to any right under it for one or more States to go out of the Union, when six States, by the deliberate, formal, authoritative action of their people, dissolve their connection with the government, and nine others say that that dissolution shall be final if the seceding members so choose, announcing to the North, “No interference; we stand between you and them.”
Can you bring them back?
No! Enforcement of the laws in six States is a war with fifteen.
And, after all, to speak plainly on this subject, and reveal the true secret of the utter repugnance of the people to resort to any coercive measures, it is within their plain judgment and practical common sense, that the very moment you go outside the narrow circle of the written letter and provisions of the Constitution of the United States, you are confronted with the great world of facts, and find this is not a consolidated government; not a government of the whole people in the sense and meaning now attached to it. [Applause.]
proceeded to speak of “coercion” in terms which go far to elucidate the outcry since made against alleged usurpations and disregard of personal rights in dealing with partisans of the Rebellion
It is announced that the Republican Administration will enforce the laws against and in all the seceding States.
A nice discrimination must be exercised in the performance of this duty: not a hair's breadth outside the mark.
You remember the story of William Tell, who, when the condition was imposed upon him to shoot an apple from the head of his own child, after he had performed the task, he let fall an arrow.
“For what is that?”
“To kill thee, tyrant, had I slain my boy!”
[Cheers.] Let one arrow winged by the Federal bow strike the heart of an American citizen, and who can number the avenging darts that will cloud the heavens in the conflict that will ensue?
[Prolonged applause.] What, then, is the duty of the State of New York?
What shall we say to our people when we come to meet this state of facts?
That the Union must be preserved.
But if that cannot be, what then?
Peaceable separation. [Applause.] Painful and humiliating as it is, let us temper it with all we can of love and kindness, so that we may yet be left in a comparatively prosperous condition, in friendly relations with another Confederacy.
The Committee on Resolutions having reported, the venerable ex-Chancellor, Reuben H. Walworth
, appeared on the platform in support of the second, which earnestly deprecated civil war; saying:
Civil War will not restore the Union, but will defeat, forever, its reconstruction.
Said the ex-Chancellor
It would be as brutal, in my opinion, to send men to butcher our own brothers of the Southern States, as it would be to massacre them in the Northern States.
We are told, however, that it is our duty to, and we must, enforce the laws.
But why — and what laws are to be enforced?
There were laws that were to be enforced in the time of the American Revolution, and the British Parliament and Lord North sent armies here to enforce them.
But what did Washington say in regard to the enforcement of those laws.? That man — honored at home and abroad more than any other man on earth ever was honored-did he go for enforcing the laws?
No, he went to resist laws that were oppressive against a free people, and against the injustice of which they rebelled.
Did Lord Chatham go for enforcing the laws?
No, he gloried in defence of the liberties