the first time in our history are unrebuked traitors seen in the high places of the nation, where, with undaunted front, they awe into treasonable inaction the hand the people have solemnly deputed to hold the scales of justice, and wield her imperial sword. To what points this ignominious crisis may compel our legislative attention, cannot now be stated; nor is it for the Chair to allude to particular measures of legislation. But it is to be remembered, that Massachusetts sacrificed much to establish the Union, and to defend and perpetuate it. She is ready to sacrifice more, provided it touch not her honor or the principles of free government,—principles interwoven with her whole history, and never dearer to the hearts of her people of all classes and parties than they are to-day. Let us approach this portion of our duties with coolness and deliberation, and with a generous patriotism.Not since the days of the Revolution had a legislature assembled at a time of more imminent peril, when wise counsels, firm resolution, and patriotic devotion to the Constitution and the Union, were imperatively demanded. James Buchanan was still President of the United States; Floyd was Secretary of War; Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury; Thompson, Secretary of the Interior; and Toucey, who, although a New-England man, was believed to sympathize with the South, Secretary of the Navy. John C. Breckenridge was Vice-President of the United States, and presided over the deliberations of the Senate, of which Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin, John Slidell, James M. Mason, and Robert Toombs were members; all of whom proved traitors to the Government, were plotting daily and nightly to effect its overthrow, and to prevent the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on the fourth of March. South Carolina had already voted itself out of the Union, and had assumed a hostile front to the Union garrison in Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor. Other Southern States had called conventions to consider what steps they should take in the emergency which had been precipitated upon them by the South-Carolina secession ordinance. Our navy was scattered over far-off seas, the United-States arsenals were stripped of arms by orders from the Secretary of War, and the treasury of the General Government was well-nigh depleted by the Secretary of the Treasury. The debates in Congress were warm and exciting. The speeches of the disunionists were rank with treason. The power
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