This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 power, I am sure you will all agree that they are not such as to furnish a sufficient justification for the States which seek to renounce and annul the national compact. Our constitution makes ample provisions for the redress of grievances, and who shall say that the people, on a direct appeal to their patriotism and sense of justice, would not be found faithful to its principles and true to its spirit and design? Instead of revolution or secession we have at least the right to demand that an honest effort should be made to settle differences within the Union, and according to the principles of the constitution. This is the only mode consistent with reason or compatible with the public safety. Amid the present distractions and dangers I cannot but feel that it is the duty of every true citizen to uphold and maintain the Government of the United States. Come what may, we must stand by our country and support the Union in its integrity. You and I, Mr. President, have sworn more than once to support the Constitution of the United States. I consider that oath perpetually binding; but if it were blotted out, the obligations of loyalty and patriotic fidelity to the Government under which we live would demand our best efforts for its preservation. Why should we not support the constitution? It has made us a great and powerful people — prosperous at home, respected abroad, and conferring upon our citizens everywhere a larger share of liberty and happiness than has fallen to the lot of any other nation on earth. While the country is convulsed by violence and dissension, it is not pretended that the Government, in its action, had invaded the constitutional rights of any of its members, or given any adequate cause for resistance to its rightful authority. Yet so rapid has been the progress of disaffection that the national capital is in danger of armed invasion and seizure. Sir, the capital of this Union must be defended at all hazards; and I hope to see the preparations for that purpose on a scale fully commensurate with the magnitude of the danger. Let the force be sufficient, if not to prevent, then to repel any assault on the seat of Government. I cannot even yet believe that the attempt will be made. The men of the South ought to know that the men of the North will not permit the capital to be wrested from the legitimate national functionaries without a struggle such as this continent has never seen. If the time has not gone by, I would make a last appeal to Virginia not to permit any hostile invasion of the federal district. Can she forget that it bears the august name of her own Washington, and that it was he who dedicated its soil to the national Union, to be held as a sacred trust by the United States? It is consecrated ground. It is guarded by the most sacred and venerable recollections. Let no impious hand be laid upon the temple of American liberty and nationality. Any attempt to make the city of Washington the theatre of bloody civil conflict would be alike treasonable, fratricidal, and sacrilegious, and could not fail to arouse a spirit of intense, unappeasable vengeance. Whatever else may come, I pray to Heaven that this land may be spared the woes which are inevitable if the possession of the capital is to be determined by the arbitrament of the sword. I yet indulge the hope that this Union is to be perpetual. That hope is dearer to me than life, and I will be found among the last to relinquish it. We may well pause before admitting the idea that the people of the North and South have become so incurably alienated, or that there is such incompatibility of interest and feeling that they can no more dwell together in peace, under a common government. If we should ever be forced to the conclusion that a separation is inevitable or desirable, there are regular and pacific methods in which the question may be submitted to the people, in whom the sovereign power resides, for their solemn deliberation and verdict, in view of their obligations to themselves and their posterity. We are bound to make every effort which wisdom can devise or patriotism suggest to avert the calamities of a final dissolution of the Union. If a national convention could be invoked in a constitutional mode and enabled to deliberate in peace, undisturbed by the clash of arms, is it too much to hope that it might result in a satisfactory solution of our present troubles? I feel, Mr. President, that I have some right to appeal to the Union men of the South, and to invoke them to join hands with us in one more patriotic effort to preserve our common nationality. In these unhappy dissensions I have been an humble advocate.of moderation and forbearance; in my love of country, discarding all geographical distinctions, and contending for a faithful observance of the constitutional rights of both sections. Knowing full well that a large portion of the Southern people were earnestly devoted to the national constitution in all their efforts to uphold it from the assaults of its enemies, the warmest affections of my heart have been with them. While abhorring the spirit of disunion and secession, I have cherished and still feel an ardent attachment for the loyal Union men of the Southern States. I have loved them as brethren, and am not willing to be disjoined from them, now or hereafter. Overborne as they are in many of the States by the resistless torrent of popular frenzy and delusion, may they still stand firm in their loyalty, and be prepared to aid in the noble work of pacification. Let them not believe that the mass of the Northern people are their enemies or desire their subjugation; nor should it be assumed that the Federal Government intends to reduce them to dishonorable submission by force of arms. Notwithstanding the irritations engendered by past controversies, the national heart of the North is still sound, and its prevailing desire at the present moment is that our Union may be preserved and perpetuated, in the spirit of the fathers, as a bond of peace and affection between the people of all the States, for the common benefit and security of both sections. It is this sentiment of nationality, now thoroughly aroused, which prompts our people to step forth with.patriotic ardor and enthusiasm to pledge their lives and fortunes for the support and defence of the Federal Government in all its constitutional vigor. While they feel themselves bound by the highest considerations of patriotism to sustain the executive arm in defence of the national supremacy, they are not actuated by a spirit of aggression towards their fellow-citizens of the South. They look to the Government to act with firmness in defence of its just rights and prerogatives, yet with kindness and moderation towards the people of every State; and if compelled to draw the sword with one hand for the preservation of its authority, it should ever be ready to tender with the other the olive branch of peace and conciliation. I believe these are the sentiments which animate you all on the present occasion, and which this impressive
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.