previous next

[209] of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world.

Now, my friends, upon the principles of that Declaration, and in such an exigency as it portrays, I would be a revolutionist: he who would resort to revolution on any other principles is an anarchist, a social Ishmaelite, whose hand is against every man; and every man's hand ought to be against him. And yet, one of the latent elements of mischief at the present time in this State, is the wide-spread assumption among intelligent men, of the right of forcible revolution, whenever the impulse, well or ill-directed, may seize any portion of the people.

Against a doctrine so destructive of every form of sound and stable government, I appeal to the wisdom, the conscience, and the hopes of the people. I protest against it, as the unpardonable sin against human liberty, throwing wide open the flood-gates of beastly license, and sweeping away in indiscriminate destruction all that we have ever loved or valued, and all that could make us, or our children after us, good or great, or even decent in the eyes of mankind.

As, in a republic, the source of power is the People, the very first principle of every such government is, that public opinion, not revolutionary violence, shall be invoked to rectify errors and redress grievances. Our whole system rests upon the popular will, and if that be perverted, the remedy is in restoring it to rectitude, not in destroying the system. There is no evil connected with the existence of the Union, (if, indeed, there are any,) for which the National Constitution, laws, and tribunals do not afford adequate, certain, and efficient, if not speedy remedy. Every State becomes a part of the Union under a solemn pledge — not, to be sure, written down, but none the less binding because implied — to look to that Constitution and those laws and tribunals for the redress of every wrong and the support of every right. Conflicts of interest and opinion were inevitable; but every part of the Nation agreed that the will of the majority, constitutionally expressed, should govern; for an appeal to the people was ever open, and the majority of to-day might — as it has done a thousand times — dwindle into a minority to-morrow. The assertion, therefore, of a right of armed revolution against the decision of the majority, is a violation so fearful of the vital principle of a republic, and a blow so deadly at the peace of the nation, the integrity of the Constitution, and the perpetuity of popular government, as almost to crush the heart of the patriot under an infinite weight of dismay and despair.

When, therefore, within fifteen days after the vote of the Electoral Colleges was cast for Mr. Lincoln, and two months and a half before he could be inaugurated, and while he was yet as powerless as a child for harm, even though he had been as full of evil intent as Satan himself, the State of South Carolina raised the war-cry of rebellion, and announced her rejection of the authority of the Constitution and her separation from the Union, an offence was registered in Heaven's chancery, before which all preceding outbreaks of popular wickedness fall into immeasurable insignificance. And when, from time to time, ten other States followed her lead, and raised the standard of revolt against a Government so mild, so paternal, so beneficent, that their people hardly knew there was such a Government, except by its blessings, the world could only gaze in blank amazement at a sacrilege, which threatened to extinguish the great beacon light of human freedom forever, and to consign America to boundless and hopeless ruin.

And the world asks — What justification is pleaded for this incredible outrage against the Nation, and, indeed, against the human race? And the world will have the question answered. It is in vain to reply that it is not worth while to inquire who is in the wrong.--it is worth while. When a son kills his father, all men inquire the cause; and they inquire on until they know it; for every individual is concerned to understand the motive for such a deed. And so, when a stupendous rebellion arrays itself against the Government, which the world knows to be the least exacting and the least burdensome of all the governments existing on the earth, mankind demands, why? and mankind will be answered. Let us do our part towards giving the reply.

The South Carolina Declaration of causes for secession, reviewed.

When the South Carolina Convention passed their Ordinance of Secession, they put forth “A Declaration of causes which induced the secession;” --the only instance of the kind, within my knowledge, in the eleven seceded States. And as the other States followed the lead of South Carolina, it is fair to assume that the “causes” which impelled her impelled them, and that they are willing to be judged by the sufficiency of her “Declaration.” Let us, then, examine it.

After a feeble and futile defence of the right of secession, they present the “Personal Liberty Laws” of some of the Northern States as a justification; concerning which they say:

We assert that fourteen of the States have deliberately refused for years past to fulfil their constitutional obligations, and we refer to their own statutes for the proof. * * * The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa have enacted laws which either nullify the acts of Congress, or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from the service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution. The State of New Jersey, at an early day, passed a

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 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.
Abe Lincoln (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: