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 and said the Union was at stake; the Constitution, which was the compact of union, must stand aside. This was indeed a revolution. A constistutional government of limited powers derived from the people was transformed into a military despotism. The Northern people were docile as sheep under the change, reminding one of the words of the psalmist: ‘All we, like sheep, have gone astray.’ Posterity may ask with amazement, What cause could there have been for such acts by a government that was ordained ‘to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity?’ Posterity may further ask, Where could a government of limited powers, constructed only for certain general purposes—and on the principle that all power proceeds from the people, and that ‘the powers not delegated by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people’—find a grant of power, or an authority to perpetrate such injuries upon the states and the people? As to the first question, it may be said: There was no external cause for such acts. All foreign nations were at peace with the United States. No hostile fleets were hovering on her coasts, nor immense foreign armies threatening to invade her territory. The cause, if any plausible one existed, was entirely internal. It lay between it and its citizens. If it had treated them with injustice and oppression, and threatened so to continue, it had departed from the objects of its creation, and they had the resulting right to dissolve it. Who was to be the umpire in such a case? Not the United States government, for its was the creature of the states; it possessed no inherent, original sovereignty. The Constitution says, ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.’1 The umpireship is, therefore, expressly on the side of the states, or the people. When the state of South Carolina, through a sovereign convention, withdrew from the Union, she exercised the umpireship which rightly belonged to her, and which no other could exercise for her. This involved the dissolution of the Union, and the extinction of the government of the United States so far as she was concerned; but the officers of that government, instead of justly acquiescing in that which was constitutionally and legally inevitable, drew the sword, and resolved to maintain by might that which had no longer existence by right. A usurpation thus commenced in wrong was the mother of all the usurpations and wrongs which followed. The unhallowed attempt to establish the
1 Constitution of the United States, Article X.
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