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[136] and destroy our citizens, the willing aid of an impatient, enraged Congress was invoked to usurp new powers, to legislate the subversion of our social institutions, and to give the form of legality to the plunder of a frenzied soldiery.

That body had no sooner assembled than it brought forward the doctrine that the government of the United States was engaged in a struggle for its existence, and could therefore resort to any measure which a case of self-defense would justify. It pretended not to know that the only self-defense authorized in the Constitution for the government created by it was by the peaceful method of the ballot box; that, so long as the government fulfilled the objects of its creation (see preamble of the Constitution), and exercised its delegated powers within their prescribed limits, its surest and strongest defense was to be found in that ballot box.

The Congress next declared that our institution of slavery was the cause of all the troubles of the country, and therefore the whole power of the government must be so directed as to remove it. If this had really been the cause of the troubles, how easily wise and patriotic statesmen might have furnished a relief. Nearly all the slaveholding states had withdrawn from the Union, therefore those who had been suffering vicariously might have welcomed their departure, as the removal of the cause which disturbed the Union, and have tried the experiment of separation. Should the trial have brought more wisdom and a spirit of conciliation to either or both, there might have arisen, as a result of the experiment, a reconstructed fraternal Union such as our fathers designed.

The people of the seceded states had loved the Union. Shoulder to shoulder with the people of the other states, they had bled for its liberties and it honor. Their sacrifices in peace had not been less than those in war, and their attachment had not diminished by what they had given, nor were they less ready to give in the future. The concessions they had made for many years and the propositions which followed secession proved their desire to preserve the peace.

The authors of the aggressions which had disturbed the harmony of the Union had lately acquired power on a sectional basis, and were eager for the spoils of their sectional victory. To conceal their real motive, and artfully to appeal to the prejudice of foreigners, they declared that slavery was the cause of the troubles of the country, and of the ‘rebellion’ which they were engaged in suppressing. In his inaugural address in March, 1861, President Lincoln said: ‘I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I ’

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