investigation, whether rel eating to science or human conduct, is natural.
Hence, in free governments parties will arise.
But a free people should express their different opinions with liberality and charity, with no acrimony toward those of their fellows, when honestly and sincerely given.
These are my feelings to-night.
Let us, therefore, reason together.
It is not my purpose to say aught to wound the feelings of any individual who may be present; and if in the ardency with which I shall express my opinions, I shall say any thing which may be deemed too strong, let it be set down to the zeal with which I advocate my own convictions.
There is with me no intention to irritate or offend.
The first question that presents itself is, shall the people of the South
secede from the Union
in consequence of the election of Mr. Lincoln
to the presidency of the United States
My countrymen, I tell you frankly, candidly, and earnestly, that I do not think that they ought
. In my judgment, the election of no man, constitutionally chosen to that high office, is sufficient cause for any State to separate from the Union
It ought to stand by and aid still in maintaining the constitution of the country.
To make a point of resistance to the Government
, to withdraw from it because a man has been constitutionally elected, puts us in the wrong.
We are pledged to maintain the Constitution
Many of us have sworn to support it. Can we, therefore, for the mere election of a man to the Presidency, and that too in accordance with the prescribed forms of the Constitution
, make a point of resistance to the Government
without becoming the breakers of that sacred instrument ourselves, withdraw ourselves from it?
Would we not be in the wrong?
Whatever fate is to befall this country, let it never be laid to the charge of the people of the South
, and especially to the people of Georgia
, that we were untrue to our national engagements.
Let the fault and the wrong rest upon others.
If all our hopes are to be blasted, if the Republic
is to go down, let us be found to the last moment standing on the deck, with the Constitution of the United States
waving over our heads.
(Applause.) Let the fanatics of the North
break the Constitution
, if such is their fell purpose.
Let the responsibility be upon them.
I shall speak presently more of their acts; but let not the South
, let us not be the ones to commit the aggression.
We went into the election with this people.
The result was different from what we wished; but the election has been constitutionally held.
Were we to make a point of resistance to the Government
and go out of the Union
on that account, the record would be made up hereafter against us.
But it is said Mr. Lincoln
's policy and principles are against the Constitution
, and that if he carried them out it will be destructive of our rights.
Let us not anticipate a threatened evil.
If he violates the Constitution
then will come our time to act. Do not let us break it because, forsooth, he may. If he does, that is the time for us to strike.
(Applause.) I think it would be injudicious and unwise to do this sooner.
I do not anticipate that Mr. Lincoln
will do any thing to jeopard our safety or security, whatever may be his spirit to do it; for he is bound by the constitutional checks which are thrown around him, which at this time renders him powerless to do any great mischief.
This shows the wisdom of our system.
The President of the United States
is no emperor, no dictator — he is clothed with no absolute power.
He can do nothing unless he is backed by power in Congress.
The House of Representatives is largely in the majority against him.
In the Senate he will also be powerless.
There will be a majority of four against him. This, after the loss of Bigler
, and others, by the unfortunate dissensions of the National
Democratic party in their States.
cannot appoint an officer without the consent of the Senate — he cannot form a Cabinet without the same consent.
He will be in the condition of George III., (the embodiment of Toryism,) who had to ask the Whigs
to appoint his ministers, and was compelled to receive a cabinet utterly opposed to his views; and so Mr. Lincoln
will be compelled to ask of the Senate to choose for him a cabinet, if the Democracy of that body choose to put him on such terms.
He will be compelled to do this or let the Government
stop, if the National Democratic
men — for that is their name at the North
--the conservative men in the Senate, should so determine.
Then, how can Mr. Lincoln
obtain a cabinet which would aid him, or allow him to violate the Constitution
Why then, I say, should we disrupt the ties of this Union when his hands are tied, when he can do nothing against us?
I have heard it mooted that no man in the State of Georgia
, who is true to her interests, could hold office under Mr. Lincoln
But, I ask, who appoints to office?
Not the President
alone; the Senate has to concur.
No man can be appointed without the consent of the Senate.
Should any man then refuse to hold office that was given to him by a Democratic Senate?
interrupted and said if the Senate was democratic it was for Mr. Breckinridge
.] Well, then, continued Mr. S., I apprehend no man could be justly considered untrue to the interests of Georgia
, or incur any disgrace, if the interests of Georgia
required it, to hold an office which a Breckinridge Senate had given him, even though Mr. Lincoln
should be President
(Prolonged applause, mingled with interruptions.)
I trust, my countrymen, you will be still and silent.
I am addressing your good sense.
I am giving you my views in a calm and dispassionate manner, and if any of you differ with me, you can, on any other occasion, give your views as I am doing now, and let reason and