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[370] shall never have another but through the ignoble surrender of the loyal men of the South. Even indeed now, the perpetuation of such a party is an impossibility in the North. The excitement and storm of this day — if it has, for a season, unseated the prosperity of the nation — is worth all its privations, in the good it has already accomplished. It has forever put an end to that pestilent agitation of slavery which, for thirty years, has disturbed the repose of the country; it has forever put an end to sectional Presidents and parties; it has revealed a great truth to this nation — that the Union is above all party, and that peaceful brotherhood is the most beneficent of all our blessings.

Let us bring our minds to a calm estimate of our own duty in this great crisis. There is but one issue before us, Union or Disunion. Every man in Maryland must meet that issue.

Union, on the one side, is loyalty, faith in the traditions of our ancestors, devotion to our historical renown, brave support of our country in its adversity.

Disunion — let us not evade the conclusion — is rebellion, desertion of our duty, dishonor to our flag; voluntary disgrace cast upon the names of the heroes and sages who have made our country illustrious in human annals. It is prompted by the assertion of a principle of anarchy, which makes all government impossible; a false dogma which affirms a right of disintegration that may pervade every division of society.

This assumed right of secession is scouted by the judgment of the world. No jurist, no statesman, no man of honest judgment ever affirmed it until, in these later days, it was found to be the convenient pretext for a party design. Every President who has heard it uttered, every Cabinet, every State, every party, at one period or another of our progress, has disowned it. If Washington or Jackson were alive they would account it only as rank rebellion, and would so treat it.

We may not shelter ourselves under the plea of revolution. Maryland has no cause for revolution. No man in Maryland can lay his hand upon his heart and say that this Government of ours has ever done him wrong; has ever stinted its bounty to him in the full enjoyment of his life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. We cannot answer to God or man, therefore, for plunging into the great crime of rebellion and treason. Our honor, our faith, our religion will rise up in judgment against us, to convict ius of the greatest wickedness man can commit, if, on such a pretence, we lifted a bloody hand against the blessed parent of our political life. Is loyalty nothing? Submission to law nothing? Fidelity to duty nothing? Gentlemen of Maryland, do these things no longer touch your honor? Will you listen to the sordid arguments of gain, to the mean persuasions of interest, to the fear of danger; to the wretched slanders of fanatics, to the dread of that vulgar obloquy which brands you with the name of “Submissionists,” to seduce you from your allegiance to the Government you have inherited from brave ancestors? Has the cavalier blood become so diluted in your veins that you can for such motives abandon your country in her distress? We mistake you, and have long misunderstood you, if that be the spirit in which you meet this crisis. No, no. Stand by your ancient flag. Be true to Maryland, and keep her where your fathers placed her, and when the time comes redeem your country.

For what does Secession now rear a mutilated banner?

For what cause does it invite us to take up arms?

We hear different answers to these questions.

Some, who think a sectional patriotism to be their greatest duty, answer, “For Southern rights.”

Others, who think worldly profit a higher motive, say, “For Southern trade.”

Others again, who seem to be swayed by a kind of fatalism, say, “We have no choice — we must go as Virginia goes.”

We have not yet heard the first man on that side say any thing about Maryland rights, Maryland honor, or Maryland independence.

Is it not strange that they forget Maryland has any duty to perform to herself and for herself?

Let us weigh these answers.

What are Southern rights? Everybody speaks of them, nobody defines them. So vague, so misty, so variable, they escape every attempt to grasp them.

Do they comprise, as a chief demand — as many say they do — the right to maintain the institution of slavery unmolested and unimpaired in the States that possess it?

If so, no one now disputes that right. It is affirmed and offered to be made perpetual, even by the late Republican Congress, by the enactment of an irrepealable amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees it forever.

Do they assert the right to take slaves into all the territory of the United States south of the Missouri line, as proposed by the Crittenden resolutions?

If that be the demand, that right now exists to its fullest extent, and slavery is at this day by law protected in every foot of territory south of 36° 80′; and even the three new territories north of that line are open to the admission of slaves without restriction.

Do they mean the right to recover fugitive slaves from the Free States?

If so, all impediment to that right is virtually withdrawn. The Administration affirms a purpose to execute the law, and, in point of fact, the law is now executed with more efficiency and less obstruction than it has been for thirty years past.

Are these the Southern rights for which we are invited to get up revolution and war, and will war be likely to secure them in more full enjoyment than we have them now?

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