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[284] fatal position, I cannot, even with the encouragement of her late vote before me, look upon the political future of our native State without a painful solicitude. Never have the safety and honor of her people required the exercise of so much vigilance and of so much courage on their part. If true to themselves, the Stars and Stripes, which like angels' wings, have so long guarded their homes from every oppression, will still be theirs; but if, chasing the dreams of men's ambition, they shall prove false, the blackness of darkness can but faintly predict the gloom that awaits them. The Legislature, it seems, has determined by resolution that the State, pending the present unhappy war, shall occupy neutral ground. I must say, in all frankness and without designing to reflect upon the course or sentiments of any, that in this struggle for the existence of our Government, I can neither practise, nor profess, nor feel neutrality. I would as soon think of being neutral in a contest between an officer of justice and an incendiary arrested in an attempt to fire the dwelling over my head; for the Government whose overthrow is sought, is for me the shelter not only of home, kindred, and friends, but of every earthly blessing which I can hope to enjoy on this side of the grave. If, however, from a natural horror of fratricidal strife, or from her intimate social and business relations with the South, Kentucky shall determine to maintain the neutral attitude assumed for her by her Legislature, her position will still be an honorable one, though falling far short of that full measure of loyalty which her history has so constantly illustrated. Her Executive, ignoring, as I am happy to believe, alike the popular and legislative sentiment of the State, has, by proclamation, forbidden the Government of the United States from marching troops across her territory. This is, in no sense, a neutral step, but one of aggressive hostility. The troops of the Federal Government have as clear a constitutional right to pass over the soil of Kentucky as they have to march along the streets of Washington, and could this prohibition be effective it would not only be a violation of the fundamental law, but would, in all its tendencies, be directly in advancement of the revolution, and might, in an emergency easily imagined, compromise the highest national interests. I was rejoiced that the Legislature so promptly refused to endorse this proclamation as expressive of the true policy of the State. But I turn away from even this to the ballot-box, and find an abounding consolation in the conviction it inspires, that the popular heart of Kentucky, in its devotion to the Union, is far in advance alike of legislative resolve and of Executive proclamation.

But as it is well understood that the late popular demonstration has rather scotched than killed rebellion in Kentucky, I propose inquiring, as briefly as practicable, whether, in the recent action or present declared policy of the Administration, or in the history of the pending revolution, or in the objects it seeks to accomplish, or in the results which must follow from it if successful, there can be discovered any reasons why that State should sever the ties that unite her with a Confederacy in whose councils and upon whose battle-fields she has won so much fame, and under whose protection she has enjoyed so much prosperity.

For more than a month after the inauguration of President Lincoln the manifestation seemed unequivocal that his Administration would seek a peaceful solution of our unhappy political troubles, and would look to time and amendments to the Federal Constitution, adopted in accordance with its provisions, to bring back the revolted States to their allegiance. So marked was the effect of these manifestations in tranquillizing the Border States and reassuring their loyalty, that the conspirators who had set this revolution on foot took the alarm. While affecting to despise these States as not sufficiently intensified in their devotion to African servitude, they knew they could never succeed in their treasonable enterprise without their support. Hence it was resolved to precipitate a collision of arms with the Federal authorities, in the hope that, under the panic and exasperation incident to the commencement of civil war, the Border States, following the natural bent of their sympathies, would array themselves against the Government. Fort Sumter, occupied by a feeble garrison, and girdled by powerful if not impregnable batteries, afforded convenient means for accomplishing their purpose, and for testing also their favorite theory that blood was needed to cement the new Confederacy. Its provisions were exhausted, and the request made by the President in the interests of peace and humanity, for the privilege of replenishing its stores, had been refused. The Confederate authorities were aware — for so the gallant commander of the fort had declared to them — that in two days a capitulation from starvation must take place. A peaceful surrender, however, would not have subserved their aims. They sought the clash of arms and the effusion of blood as an instrumentality for impressing the Border States, and they sought the humiliation of the Government and the dishonor of its flag as a means of giving prestige to their own cause. The result is known. Without the slightest provocation a heavy cannonade was opened upon the fort, and borne by its helpless garrison for hours without reply, and when, in the progress of the bombardment, the fortification become wrapped in flames, the besieging batteries in violation of the usages of civilized warfare, instead of relaxing or suspending, redoubled their fires. A more wanton or wicked war was never commenced on any Government whose history has been written. Contemporary with and following the fall of Sumter, the siege of Fort Pickens was and still is actively pressed; the property of the United States Government continued to be seized wherever

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