State, who have little time to investigate matters of public concern, and will lead to general disquiet.
The adoption of the resolutions will be regarded as a sort of license to the wicked elements among us. Besides the mass of conscientious and honorable secessionists, there is in this State, as in all others, a class who desire revolution because they may be benefited and cannot be injured by change — that class so well described by the historian Sallust
as studiosi novarum rerum
--desirous of change — because, in the general upheaving of society, they might come to the surface, and be bettered in their condition.
This class long for collision and blood, because they know well that the first clash between the State
and Federal muskets — the first drop of blood that collision spills — will enkindle a flame that will light them on to the accomplishment of their foul, hellish purposes of blood and carnage.
This class would, in a mere spirit of adventure, fire the very temples of liberty, and dash into fragments that proudest and noblest monument of human wisdom — the union of these States--the handiwork of Washington
, and Franklin
, and Madison
, and Gerry
, and Morris
, and comrade conscript fathers — under which we have been the proudest, freest, happiest, greatest nation on the face of the earth.
This class does
exist in Virginia
It exists all over the civilized earth, and it is no detraction from Virginia
to say that it exists within her domain; she would be an exception to all human society, if she did not hold in her bosom such a class.
Now all this class will be stimulated by the passage of these revolutionary, and force-inviting, and lawless resolutions, to deeds of lawlessness, violence, and blood.
Let this legislature beware how it holds out the seductive bait.
It may encamp us on a mine, which a spark may explode, and the explosion of which may “deal damnation round the land,” and involve the fathers and mothers, and husbands and wives, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters, and innocent children of Virginia
in miseries and woes unnumbered, and the end whereof none of the present generation may live to see.
Lastly, there is nothing in the past political action of Virginia
, nor any thing in the past or present relations between her and the Federal Government
, to justify the extreme and revolutionary movement the secessionists propose for her, and which is plainly shadowed in the resolutions before us.
In 1798 she fixed her great general rule — that the Federal Government
should not be resisted until it had committed some “deliberate, palpable, and dangerous” infraction of the Constitution
What infraction of this sort has been committed by the Federal Government
What is it — where is it — when was it committed?
Has the present Administration per-petrated any such aggression?
And if the seceding States had remained in the Union
, could Congress, with twenty-one majority in one House
, and eight in the other, have committed any outrage upon the rights of Virginia
, or of the South
, then, on her own established principles of political action, ought not now to present the spectacle she does of extreme excitement, and ought not and cannot, consistently rush upon the violent and unconstitutional measures involved in these Senate resolutions, much less secede from the Union
She ought — it becomes her dignity and her ancient renown — to look calmly, even placidly, around her, and from the stand-point of that dignity and renown surveying the whole ground, consider and advise, and remonstrate and forbear, and forbear yet again, until every pacific and constitutional expedient for composition and safety shall have been exhausted.
And furthermore: these radical measures of seizing the United States
arms and seceding from the Union
, are totally unwarranted by the more recent political action of Virginia
In 1850, when the subject of the Wilmot Proviso
was up for consideration in her Legislature, she took a new position.
She declared that if any one of four things should be done by the Federal Government
, she would “resist at all hazards, and to the last extremity:” first, the application of the Wilmot Proviso
to the common territories; secondly, the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia; thirdly, interference with slavery in the States; and fourthly, interference with the slave trade between the States.
Has any one of these things been done?
Has the Wilmot Proviso
been applied to the Territories
No. On the contrary, at the late session of Congress, though it had, by the secession of the Gulf
States, a clear majority, that body, Black Republican as it is, passed three Territorial bills — from all of which the Wilmot Proviso
was excluded — no slavery prohibition whatsoever; and more than this, a provision was incorporated in each of them that all rights of property questions of personal freedom should be determined by the principles and proceedings of the common law, with the right of appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States
--provisions that open the Territories
to every citizen of the Union
who may choose to carry his slaves thither.
The Black Republicans, as my friend from Stafford
so delights, with peculiar emphasis, to call them, have themselves surrendered, given up, the Wilmot Proviso
And had the Cotton States
remained in the Union
, could this Black Republican party, with its minority of twenty-one in one house and eight in the other, have ever applied the Wilmot Proviso
to the Territories
that belong to us all, “share and share alike” ? No law, then, has been passed applying the Wilmot Proviso
Has any been enacted abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia?
No. Even Mr. Lincoln
assures us that he will approve no such law, except with the consent of the slaveholders of the District
, and then not without compensation to the owners.
Has any law been passed interfering with slavery in the States?
Not at all. Such a doctrine is