no man shall wear a chain.
In the whole of this conflict, I have looked only at Liberty — only at the slave.
entered the battle of the Lakes
with “don't give up the ship,” floating from the masthead of the Lawrence
When with his fighting flag he left her crippled, heading north, and mounting the deck of the Niagara
, turned her bows due west, he did all for one purpose to rake the decks of the foe. Acknowledge secession, or cannonade it, I care not which; but “proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
I said, civil war needs momentous and solemn justification.
, the world, may claim of us, that before we blot the nineteenth century by an appeal to arms, we shall exhaust every means to keep the peace; otherwise, an appeal to the God of Battles is an insult to the civilization of our age; it is a confession that our culture and our religion are superficial, if not a failure.
I think that the history of the nation and of the Government
both, is an ample justification to our own times and to history for this appeal to arms.
I think the South
is all wrong, and the Administration is all right.
(Prolonged cheering.) Let me tell you why. For thirty years, the North
has exhausted conciliation and compromise.
They have tried every expedient, they have relinquished every right, they have sacrificed every interest, they have smothered keen sensibility to national honor, and Northern weight and supremacy in the Union
; have forgotten they were the majority in numbers and in wealth, in education and strength; have left the helm of the Government
and the dictation of policy to the Southern States
For all this, the conflict waxed closer and hotter.
The Administration that preceded this was full of traitors and thieves.
It allowed the arms, ships, money, military stores of the North
to be stolen with impunity.
took office robbed of all the means to defend the constitutional rights of the Government
He offered to withdraw from the walls of Sumter
every thing but the flag.
He allowed secession to surround it with the strongest forts which military science could build.
offered to meet in convention her sister States, and arrange the terms of peaceful separation.
Strength and right yielded every thing — they folded their hands-waited the returning reason of the mad insurgents.
Week after week elapsed, month after month went by, waiting for the sober second-thought of two millions and a half of people.
The world saw the sublime sight of nineteen millions of wealthy, powerful, united citizens allowing their flag to be insulted, their rights assailed, their sovereignty defied and broken in pieces, and yet waiting with patient, brotherly, magnanimous kindness, until insurrection, having spent its fury, should reach out its hand for a peaceful arrangement.
Men began to call it cowardice, on the one hand; and we, who watched closely the crisis, feared that this effort to be magnanimous would demoralize the conscience and the courage of the North
We were afraid that, as the hour went by, the virtue of the people, white-heat as it stood on the 4th day of March, would be cooled by the temptations, by the suspense, by the want and suffering, that were stalking from the Atlantic
to the Valley of the Mississippi
We were afraid the Government
would wait too long, and find, at last, that instead of a united people, they ere deserted, and left alone to meet the foe.
At this time, the South
knew, recognized, by her own knowledge of constitutional questions, that the Government
could not advance one inch towards acknowledging secession; that when Abraham Lincoln
swore to support the Constitution
and laws of the United States
, he was bound to die under the flag of Fort Sumter
, if necessary.
(Loud applause.) They knew therefore, that the call on the Administration to acknowledge the Commissioners
of the Confederacy
was a delusion and a swindle.
I know the whole argument for secession.
Up to a certain extent, I accede to it. But no Administration that is not a traitor, can ever acknowledge secession.
(Cheers.) The right of a State to secede, under the Constitution of the United States
--it is an absurdity; and Abraham Lincoln
knows nothing, has a right to know nothing, but the Constitution of the United States
(Loud cheers.) The right of a State to secede, as a revolutionary right, is undeniable; but it is the nation that is to recognize that; and the nation offered, in broad convention, at the suggestion of Kentucky
, to meet the question.
The offer was declined.
The Government and the nation, therefore, are all right.
(Applause.) They are right on Constitutional law; they are right on the principles of the Declaration of Independence
Let me explain this more fully, for this reason: because — and I thank God for it, every American should be proud of it — you cannot maintain a war in the United States of America
against a constitutional or a revolutionary right.
The people of these States have too large brains and too many ideas to fight blindly — to lock horns like a couple of beasts, in the sight of the world.
(Applause.) Cannon think in this Nineteenth Century; and you must put the North
in the right — wholly, undeniably, inside of the Constitution
and out of it — before you can justify her in the face of the world; before you can pour Massachusetts
like an avalanche through the streets of Baltimore
, (great cheering,) and carry Lexington
and the 19th of April south of Mason
and Dixon's Line.
(Renewed cheering.) Let us take an honest pride in the fact that our Sixth Regiment made a way for itself through Baltimore
, and were the first to reach the threatened capital.
In the war of opinions, Massachusetts
has a right to be the first in the field.
I said I knew the whole argument for secession.
Very briefly let me state the points.