As to the proper division, or partition, of powers between the Federal
and the State
governments, he says:
Whatever concerns the whole should be confided to the whole — to the General Government; while whatever concerns only the State should be left exclusively to the State.
This is all there is of original principle about it. Whether the National Constitution, in defining boundaries between the two, has applied the principle with exact accuracy, is not to be questioned.
We are all bound by that defining, without question.
As to the abstract justice and rightfulness of Secession, he says:
What is now combated is the principle that Secession is consistent with the Constitution — is lawful and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing should ever be implied as law which leads to unjust or absurd consequences.
The nation purchased, with money, the countries out of which several of these States were formed.
Is it just that they shall go off without leave, and without refunding?
The nation paid very large sums (in tile aggregate, I believe, nearly a hundred millions) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes.
Is it just that she shall now be off without consent, or without making any return?
The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding States, in common with the rest.
Is it just, either that creditors shall go unpaid, or the remaining States pay the whole?
A part of the present National debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas.
Is it just that she shall leave, and pay no part of this herself?
Again: If one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded, none is left to pay the debts.
Is this quite just to creditors?
Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money?
If we now recognize this doctrine, by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.
The following illustration of the essential unreasonableness of Secession is ingenious and striking:
If all the States, save one, should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon State Rights.
But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called “driving the one out,” should be called “the seceding of the others from that one:” it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do; unless, indeed, they make the point, that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do.
No mention of Slavery as the grand, inciting cause of the Rebellion
occurs in this Message; yet there is significance in the fact, stated by the President
, that, while all the Free States
had been, beyond exception, firm, hearty, and zealous in responding to his calls for troops:
None of the States commonly called Slave States, except Delaware, gave a regiment through regular State organization.
A few regiments have been organized within some others of those States, by individual enterprise, and received into the Government service.
But that this is essentially a contest between aristocratic assumption and popular liberty the President
perceives, and does not hesitate to declare.
Our adversaries have adopted some declarations of independence, in which, unlike the good old one penned by Jefferson, they omit the words “all men are created equal.”
Why? They have adopted a temporary National Constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one signed by Washington, they omit, “We, the people,” and substitute “We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States.”
Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view the rights of men and the authority of the people?
This is essentially a people's contest.
On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men — to lift artificial weights from all shoulders — to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all — to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.
Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the Government for whose existence we contend.
I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this.
It is worthy of note that while, in this the Government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the Army and Navy who have been favored with the offices have resigned, and proved false to the hand that pampered