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[160] on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend, and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest crimes.

Nor was this declaration of the want of power or disposition to interfere with our social system confined to a state of peace. Both before and after the actual commencement of hostilities, the Executive of the United States repeated in formal official communications to the cabinets of Great Britain and France, that it was utterly without constitutional power to do the act which it subsequently committed, and that in no possible event, whether the secession of these states resulted in the establishment of a separate Confederacy or in the restoration of the Union, was there any authority by virtue of which it could either restore a disaffected state to the Union by force of arms, or make any change in any of its institutions. I refer especially for the verification of this assertion to the dispatches addressed by the Secretary of State of the United States, under direction of the President, to the ministers of the United States at London and Paris, under date of the 10th and 22d of April, 1861.

This proclamation was therefore received by the people of the Confederate States as the fullest vindication of their own sagacity in foreseeing the uses to which the dominant party in the United States intended from the beginning to apply their power.

For what honest purpose were these declarations made? They could deceive no one who was familiar with the powers and duties of the federal government; they were uttered in the season of invasion of the Southern states, to coerce them to obedience to the agent established by the compact between the states, for the purpose of securing domestic tranquillity and the blessings of liberty. The power to coerce states was not given, and the proposition to make that grant received no favor in the convention which formed the Constitution; and it is seen by the proceedings in the states, when the Constitution was submitted to each of them for their ratification or rejection as they might choose, that a proposition which would have enabled the general government, by force of arms, to control the will of a state, would have been fatal to any effort to make a more perfect union. Such declarations as those cited from the diplomatic correspondence, though devoid of credibility at home, might avail in foreign countries to conceal from their governments the real purpose of the action of the majority. Meanwhile, the people of the Confederacy plainly saw that the ideas and interests of the administration were to gain by war the empire that would enable it to trample on the Constitution which it professed to defend and maintain.

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