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.