of one of the Southern States, and her example was rapidly followed by others, that it had by no means been the intention of those States to abide by the result of the election, except on the one condition, of the choice of their candidate. The reference of the great sectional controversy to the peaceful arbitrament of the ballot box, the great safety valve of republican institutions, though made with every appearance of good faith, on the part of our brethren at the South, meant but this: if we succeed in this election, as we have in fifteen that have preceded it, well and good; we will consent to govern the country for four years more, as we have already governed it for sixty years; but we have no intention of acquiescing in any other result. We do not mean to abide by the election, although we participate in it, unless our candidate is chosen. If he fails we intend to prostrate the Government and break up the Union; peaceably, if the States composing the majority are willing that it should be broken up peaceably; otherwise, at the point of the sword.
South Carolina Secedes from the Union.The election took place on the 6th of November, and in pursuance of the extraordinary programme just described, the State of South Carolina, acting by a Convention chosen for the purpose, assembled on the 17th of December, and on the 20th, passed unanimously what was styled “an ordinance to dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and other States united with her, under the compact entitled the Constitution, of the United States of America.” It is not my purpose on this occasion to make a documentary speech, but as this so-called “Ordinance” is very short, and affords matter for deep reflection, I beg leave to recite it in full:
We, the People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by us in Convention on the 23d day of May, in the year of our Lord 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and also all acts and parts of acts of the general assembly of this State, ratifying the amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed, and that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America, is dissolved.This remarkable document is called an “Ordinance,” and no doubt some special virtue is supposed to reside in the name. But names are nothing except as they truly represent things. An ordinance, if it is any thing clothed with binding force, is a Law, and nothing but a Law, and as such this ordinance, being in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, is a mere nullity. The Constitution contains the following express provision: “This Constitution and the Laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.” Such being the express provision of the Constitution of the United States, which the people of South Carolina adopted in 1788, just as much as they ever adopted either of their State Constitutions, is it not trifling with serious things to claim that, by the simple expedient of passing a law under the name of an ordinance, this; provision and