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[139] technical subterfuges. He wished to perpetuate, not to destroy. He gave no countenance to a doctrine, an “innovation” which “would be fatal to the Federal Government, fatal to the Union, and fatal to the hopes of liberty and humanity, and present a catastrophe at which all ought to shudder.”

Mr. Webster and Mr. Adams, too, have been invoked to support the heresy. What desecration! If their spirits had been permitted to revisit the Senate Chamber, so often the theatre of their fame and glory, and to have heard the invocation, can you not imagine the sternness and indignation with which they would instantly have rebuked so unfounded an imputation on their wisdom and patriotism — Webster the advocate or the apologist of secession? His speech already referred to, of January, 1830, in almost every line of it, denounces the doctrine. Which of you has failed to read that speech, and to be convinced? It will remain forever a crushing answer to the heresy. And as it has ever since been, so it will ever continue to be, the brightest gem in the patriotic literature of the age.

Secession — peaceable, constitutional secession — asserted even in the Senate Chamber on the authority of Daniel Webster! Hear what he thought of it. In 1850, as in 1830, the country was threatened with destruction. The error again ventured to show itself. Its disciples once more rallied to its support. Do you remember his 7th of March speech? Let me recall a part of its lofty eloquence and its more lofty patriotism:

I hear, with pain and anguish and distress, the word secession, especially when it falls from the lips of those who are eminently patriotic, and known to the country and known all over the world for their political services. Secession! Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion! The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling its surface! Who is so foolish, I beg everybody's pardon, as to expect to see any such thing? Sir, he who sees these States, now revolving in harmony around a common centre, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion, may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without producing the crush of the universe.

There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is the great Constitution under which we live here — covering this whole country — is it to be thawed and melted away by secession as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun — disappear almost unobserved and die off? No, sir! no, sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the States; but, sir, I see it as plainly as I see the sun in heaven — I see that disruption must produce such a war as I will not describe, in its twofold characters.

Peaceable secession! peaceable secession! The concurrent agreement of all the members of this great Republic to separate! A voluntary separation with alimony on one side and on the other! Why, what would be the result? Where is the line to be drawn? What States are to secede? What is to remain American? What am I to be?--an American no longer? Where is the flag of the Republic to remain? Where is the eagle still to tower? or is he to cower, and shrink and fall to the ground?

Why, sir, our ancestors — our fathers and our grandfathers — those of them that are yet living among us with prolonged lives, would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us! if we, of this generation, should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the Government and the harmony of the Union which is every day felt among us with so much joy and gratitude. What is to become of the army? What is to become of the navy? What is to become of the public lands? How is each of the thirty States to defend itself? I know, although the idea has not been stated distinctly, there is to be a Southern Confederacy.

I do not mean, when I allude to this statement, that any one seriously contemplates such a state of things. I do not mean that it is true, but I have heard it suggested elsewhere, that that idea has originated in a design to separate. I am sorry, sir, that it has ever been thought of, talked of, or dreamed of, in the wildest flights of human imagination. But the idea must be of a separation including the Slave States upon one side, and the Free States on the other.

Sir, there is not — I may express myself too strongly perhaps — but some things, some moral things, are almost as impossible as other natural or physical things; and I hold the idea of a separation of these States--those that are free to form one Government, and those that are slaveholding to form another, as a moral impossibility. We could not separate the States by any such line if we were to draw it. We could not sit down here to-day and draw a line of separation that would satisfy any five men in the country.

There are natural causes that would keep and tie us together, and there are social and domestic relations which we could not break, if we would, and which we should not break, if we could. Sir, nobody can look over the face of this country at the present moment — nobody can see where its population is most dense and growing — without being ready to admit, and compelled to admit, that ere long America will be in the valley of the Mississippi.

Well, now, sir, I beg to inquire what the wildest enthusiast has to say on the possibility of cutting off that river, and leaving Free States

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