, and gentlemen:--The object which brings us together, even if it had not been so satisfactorily stated and so persuasively enforced by the gentlemen who have preceded me, sufficiently explains itself.
At the call of the President
, seconded with the most praiseworthy and almost unexampled energy by the Governor
, a numerous force of volunteers has patriotically hastened to the defence of the Capital
of the United States
, threatened with invasion.
The war, for a long time, though in profound peace secretly prepared for, has been openly commenced by the South
, by the seizure of the undefended forts.
arsenals, dockyards, mints, and custom houses of the United States
, and the plunder of the public property contained in them, in flagrant violation of the law of the land, if the South
is still in the Union
, and equally flagrant violation of every principle, of international law, if she is out of the Union
But even these acts of treason and rebellion, for such they are, are thrown in the shade by that last unutterable outrage upon the flag of the Union
, at Fort Sumter
, (a fort which no more belongs to South Carolina
than it does to New York or Massachusetts
,) which has rallied twenty millions of freemen as one man to its defence.
Following up the unprovoked and unrighteous war thus inaugurated, a formidable military force, portions of which have been long organized and trained, is now supposed to be advancing on Washington
, under a most able and energetic leader, who has the oath of God upon his conscience to support the Constitution
, as a Senator of the United States
, an office which he has not resigned.
Of the nature of this war, in a constitutional point of view, I shall presently say a word.
I will now only remark, that, if accounts from the South
can be trusted, larger military forces than were ever before arrayed on the soil of America
, are now on their march northward or concentrating in Virginia
, to assault, and if possible, capture, and failing that, to lay in ashes, the city baptized with the sacred name of the Father
of his country, the Capital
of the Union
, the seat of its government, the depository of its archives, and, as such, the heart, if I may so say, of the body politic.
While this formidable movement is in progress in front, the Government
has been assailed in the rear, between the Capital
of the Union
and the loyal States of the North
(from which alone, the Constitution
, I grieve to say, in this hour of its extreme peril, is receiving support against open hostility, and treacherous neutrality, not less dangerous than open hostility,) by a ferocious and bloodthirsty mob, audaciously warring against the Government
and its defenders with brickbats, paving-stones, and all the other cowardly weapons of the assassin, by burning bridges and tearing up railroads and cutting telegraph wires, as if it was not enough to commit murder and treason, unless war is waged at the same time against the noblest works of civilization and the most beneficent structures of peace.
In this unexampled warfare, Providence
, as in 1775, has accorded to Massachusetts
the tearful glory of furnishing the first martyrs in the cause of the country, and, what would before have been thought impossible, has crowned even the 19th of April with new wreaths of immortal fame.
In this state of things the President
of the United States
has called upon the people to rally to the rescue of the national Capital, and to the defence of the Government
of the country.
Wide as the summons has gone forth, it has been obeyed, with an alacrity and unanimity that knows no parallel in our history; and the volunteers of Massachusetts
have been the first in the field.
Unwarlike in their habits and tastes, a full proportion of them in our recent keen but already forgotten party divisions, entertaining, as I have ever done, the kindliest feelings toward the South
, they have hurried from the lawyer's office, from the counting-room, from the artist's studio, in instances not a few from the pulpit; they have left the fisher's line upon the reel, the plough in the furrow, the plane upon the work-bench, the hammer on the anvil, the form upon the printing press
,--there is not a mechanical art nor a useful handicraft that has not its experts in these patriotic ranks,--some at a moment's notice, all with unhesitating promptitude, and they have left their families behind them
. These last words, fellow-citizens, tell the whole story; these words are the warrant under which this meeting is held.
They have left behind them their wives, their children, their aged parents, their dependent relatives of every degree; in many cases, no doubt, those whose only reliable resource for their daily bread was in the stout arms, which have been called away to the defence of the menaced Union.
Well, my friends, these families must not suffer in the absence of their heads and supporters.
The Government will no doubt compensate its defenders as liberally as the nature of the case admits.
But every one knows that the soldier's pay is no adequate substitute for the earnings of a prosperous livelihood, even in the humblest branches of industry.
The deficiency must be made up by the towns of which these brave volunteers are citizens, acting in their corporate capacity, and by efforts like that which you initiate this evening.
In a word, it is absolutely necessary, that in one way or another, by public and private liberality, the means of liberal assistance for the families that need it, should be provided by those that remain at home.
This is a duty in which all of every age and condition, and of either sex, must cooperate; and I rejoice to see, that the gentler sex is, as usual, setting us the example of industry and zeal, in this patriotic work.
The rich must contribute of their abundance, and those of moderate means from their competence, till our brethren, who take their lives in their hands, in this righteous cause, are strengthened and cheered by the assurance, that those dearer to them than their lives will be cared for at home.
If any arguments were necessary to urge us to the performance of this duty, they would be found, and that of the most powerful and persuasive character, in the nature and character of the war which the South
is waging upon us. And here a state of things presents itself which posterity will be slow to credit.
On the last anniversary of our national independence, at the invitation of my fellow-citizens of Boston
, I had occasion to undertake a defence of the United States Government, in its practical operation, against an attack made upon it, with considerable ability, in the British
House of Lords.
In this effort I claimed — honestly and conscientiously claimed, and, as I have reason to think, with the concurrence of my fellow-citizens, of all parties, throughout the country,
that, under our constitution and laws, we had enjoyed a prosperity and made a progress, not merely in the utilitarian, but in the intellectual and refined arts of life, without an example in the world.
I said nothing of the unhappy sectional controversy that was raging the country, not because I was insensible to its dangerous character, but because nothing was said about it in the speech to which I undertook to reply.
The general truth of my description of the prosperity of the country, and the genial and fostering influence of our Constitution and Laws, was as generally admitted at the South
as at the North
No longer ago than the 14th of last November, Mr. Stephens
, of Georgia
, now Vice-President
of the Southern Confederacy, and a gentleman of first rate intelligence, in a public speech at Milledgeville
, declared it as his “settled conviction,” that the present Government of the United States
, though not without its defects, “comes nearer the objects of all good government than any other on the face of the earth.”
He pronounced it “a model republic, the best that the history of the world gives us any account of;” and he asked in triumph, “Where will you go, following the sun in his circuit round the globe, to find a government that better protects the liberties of the people, and secures to them the blessings which we enjoy?”
This, you will observe again, was the language of a very leading Southern statesman, the second officer.of the new Confederacy, no longer ago than last November; and, in truth, the South
had and has greater cause than any other part of the Union
, to be satisfied with the Government
under which she lives and on which she is making war. Respected abroad as an integral portion of one of the greatest powers of the earth, mainly in virtue of the navy of the Union
, of which the strength resides at the North
, the South
, almost exclusively agricultural in her pursuits, derives from her climate a profitable monopoly of four great staple products--one of them the most important single article in the commerce of the world; while, in consequence, chiefly of the political sympathy with each other which pervades the slaveholding States, she has ever enjoyed a monopoly scarcely less complete of the Government
of the country.
At this moment, and though numbering but a third part of the free population of the Union
, if she had not most unjustifiably withdrawn her members of Congress, she would have had in her interest a majority in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, and in the Judiciary.
For fifty-six out of the seventy-two years, the Presidents
of the United States
have been either Southern men or Northern men in whom the South
For the first time, last November, a President was chosen who received no electoral votes from the South
, but that President
has given the most distinct assurances that he contemplated no encroachments on the constitutional rights of the South
, as, indeed, lacking a majority of both houses, it is impossible that he should make any such encroachments, had he ever so ardently desired it. Such is the Government
in its relations with the South
; such the circumstances under which she thinks herself justified in revolting against it.
I say “revolting against it,” although Mr. Jefferson Davis
, in his inaugural address, declares it an abuse of language to call it a “revolution.”
I cannot go into that argument at this late hour, nor would it be appropriate to the occasion to do so; but I believe it to be as demonstrable as any proposition of Euclid, that this doctrine of “secession,” that is, the constitutional right of a State to sever at will her connection with the Union
, is, if possible, still more unfounded, still more fallacious, than that of its ill-omened and now universally discredited predecessor, “Nullification,” which was crushed, never to rise again, thirty years ago, by the iron mace of Webster
, in the Senate of the United States.
I will only say at present, that this monstrous pretended right of “secession,” though called a “reserved right,” is notoriously nowhere expressly
reserved in the Constitution
, although every one feels that nothing but an express reservation, in the plainest terms, would be a sufficient ground for claiming such a stupendous power.
What is maintained by the politicians of the secession school is, that the right may be inferred from one of the amendments to the Constitution
, by which it is provided that “the powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution
, or prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people.”
It is to maintain a subtile and sophistical, and utterly unwarrantable inference from this amendment, that the South
is now striving to break up the Government
, and if resisted in that unhallowed attempt, to drench the country in blood.
But I am willing to stake the great issue on this amendment.
The Constitution does expressly delegate to the United States
all the powers of a sovereign State, with respect to international and interstate affairs; the whole war power; the whole admiralty power; the whole commercial power; the whole financial power; the power to regulate and dispose of the public territory; the power over the Indians, over the post-office and post-roads; over the army, the navy, the dockyards, the arsenals.
All these powers and many others are expressly delegated to the United States
, and as expressly prohibited to the individual States.
The Constitution of the United States
(to which the people of South Carolina
assented on the 2d of May, 1788, as much as they ever assented to their State constitution) distinctly provides that no State shall keep troops or ships of war, or issue letters of marque and reprisal, or enter
into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;
and yet in the face of this express delegation of powers to the United States
, and their express prohibition to the States, the seceding States have undertaken to exercise them all; have entered into a “confederation,” raised an army, issued letters of marque and reprisal, and plunged into a war against the government, which every magistrate and officer among them was under oath to support, and all in virtue of having first uttered the magic words, “we secede.”
The history of the world does not furnish another such monstrous usurpation!
Such is the nature and foundation of the war in which we are engaged.
As you perceive, it is for the very existence of the Government
, it is a contest in which no good citizen can remain neutral.
I am often asked how long I think it will last; but that is a question the South
alone can answer.
She makes the war; she has seized by surprise such of the strongholds of the country as she was able; she has possessed herself of the Navy-Yard
, which guards the entrance to Chesapeake Bay
; of Harper's Ferry
, which commands one of the great highways from the Ohio River
to the Atlantic Ocean
; and, above all, of the mouth of the Mississippi
, the outlet of the most extensive system of internal communication on the face of the globe.
There will, in my judgment, never be peace, till the flag of the Union
again floats from every stronghold from which it has been stricken down.
Do you think, fellow-citizens, that Ohio, Indiana
, and Illinois
will allow their most direct communication with the seaboard to be obstructed, at the pleasure of an alien State, at Harper's Ferry
Do you imagine that Eastern Pennsylvania
and Southern New York, whose tributary waters flow through the Susquehanna
into Chesapeake Bay
, to say nothing of the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal
, will tolerate a foreign master in Hampton Roads
Above all, do you believe that the Giant of the West
will accept his pathway to the Gulf of Mexico
as a privilege granted by this mushroom Confederacy?
Yes, they will submit to this degrading yoke, they will acknowledge this galling usurpation; but it will be when the Alleghanies
shall bow their imperial heads to the level of the sea, and the current of the Mississippi
and the Missouri
shall flow backward to the Rocky Mountains
My friends, I deprecate war,--no man more so; and, of all wars, I most deprecate a civil war. And this, if prosecuted by the South
in the spirit in which she has commenced it, will be what the stern poet of the civil wars of Rome
called a bellum plusquam civille
,--a more than civil war. I deprecate, more than I can express, a war with the South
You know my political course.
, the Indian
chief, mournfully exclaimed, “Such was my love for the whites, that my countrymen pointed at me as I passed, and said, ‘Logan
is the friend of the white men!’
” I have been pointed at for years as the friend of the South
For maintaining what I deemed her constitutional rights, I have suffered no small portion of obloquy, and sacrificed the favor of a large portion of the community in which I was born, and which, from my youth up, I have endeavored to serve laboriously, dutifully, and affectionately.
I was willing, while this ill-starred movement was confined to the States of the extreme South
, and they abstained from further aggression, that they should go in peace.
This course, I thought, would retain the border States, and bring back the seceders in a year or two, wearied and disgusted with their burdensome and perilous experiment.
Such I understand to have been, in substance, the programme of the Administration.
But the South
has willed it otherwise.
She has struck a parricidal blow at the heart of the Union
; and to sustain her in this unnatural and unrighteous war is what my conscience forbids.
Neither will I remain silent, and see this majestic framework of government, the noblest political fabric ever reared by human wisdom, prostrated in the dust to gratify the disappointed ambition of a few aspiring men, (for that Mr. Vice-President Stephens
bravely told his fellow-citizens last November was the cause of “a great part of our troubles,” ) and this under cover of a sophistical interpretation of the Constitution
, at war alike with common sense, with contemporary history, and the traditions of the Government
; unsupported by a single authority among the framers of the Constitution
, and emphatically denounced by Mr. Madison
their leader and chief.
What then remains, fellow-citizens, but that we should without unchristian bitterness toward our misguided countrymen, meet calmly and resolutely the demands of the crisis; that we should perform the duty of good citizens with resolution and steadiness; that we should cordially support the Government
of the country in the difficult position in which it is placed; that we should cheer and encourage the brave men who have obeyed its call by a generous care of their families; and to sum it all in one word, come weal or woo, that we should stand by the flag of the Union
, May 9.