I rely with equal confidence on your undivided support in my determination to execute the laws — to preserve the Union by all constitutional means — to arrest, if possible, by moderate, but firm measures, the necessity of a recourse to force.
And if it be the will of Heaven that the recurrence of its primeval curse on man for the shedding of a brother's blood should fall upon our land, that it be not called down by any offensive act of the United States.
the momentous case is before you. On your undivided support of your Government depends the decision of the great question it involves, whether your sacred Union will be preserved, and tile blessing it secures to us as one people shall be perpetuated.
No one can doubt that the unanimity with which that decision will be expressed will be such as to inspire new confidence in republican institutions, and that the prudence, the wisdom, and the courage which it will bring to their defense, will transmit them unimpaired and invigorated to our children.
May the great Ruler of nations grant, that the signal blessings with which He has favored ours may not, by the madness of party, or personal ambition, be disregarded and lost: and may His wise providence bring those who have produced this crisis to see the folly, before they feel the misery, of civil strife; and inspire a returning veneration for that Union, which, if we may dare to penetrate His designs, He Has chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies to which we may reasonably aspire.
's Special Message against Nullification1
is equally decided and thorough in its hostility to the Calhoun
heresy, under all its aspects, and dissects the Ordinance of Nullification, and the legislative acts based thereon, with signal ability and cogency.
A single extract, bearing directly upon the alleged right of Secession, will here be given:
The right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will, and without the consent of the other States, from their most solemn obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the millions composing this Union, cannot be acknowledged.
Such authority is believed to be utterly repugnant both to the principles upon which the General Government is constituted, and to the objects which it was expressly formed to attain.
Against all acts which may be alleged to transcend the constitutional power of Government, or which may be inconvenient or oppressive in their operation, the Constitution itself has prescribed the modes of redress.
It is the attribute of free institutions that, under them, the empire of reason and law is substituted for the power of the sword.
To no other source can appeals for supposed wrongs be made, consistently with the obligations of South Carolina ; to no other can such appeals be made with safety at any time; and to their decisions, when constitutionally pronounced, it becomes the duty, no less of the public authorities than of the people, in every case to yield a patriotic submission.
That a State, or any other great portion of the people, suffering under long and intolerable oppressions, and having tried all constitutional remedies without the hope of redress, may have a natural right, when their happiness can be no otherwise secured, and when they can do so without greater injury to others, to absolve themselves from their obligations to the Government, and appeal to the last resort, need not, on the present occasion, be denied.
The existence of this right, however, must depend on the causes which justify its exercise.
It is the ultima ratio, which presupposes that the proper appeals to all other means of redress have been made in good faith, and which can never be rightfully resorted to unless it be unavoidable.
It is not the right of the State, but of the individual, and of all the individuals in the State.
It is the right of mankind generally to secure, by all means in their power, the blessings of liberty and happiness; but when for these purposes any body of men have voluntarily associated themselves under any particular form of government, no portion of them can dissolve the association without acknowledging the correlative right in the remainder to decide whether that dissolution can be permitted consistently with the general happiness.
In this view, it is a right dependent upon the power to enforce it. Such a right, though it may be admitted to preexist, and cannot be wholly surrendered, is necessarily subjected to limitations in all free governments, and in compacts of all kinds, freely and voluntarily entered into, and in which the interest and welfare of the individual become identified with those of the community of which he is a member.
In compacts between individuals, however deeply they may affect their relations, these principles are acknowledged to create a