Gentlemen, I feel very sensibly the honor you have done me in calling me to preside over your deliberations. Such a manifestation of confidence and respect by the assembled sovereignty of my State, called together in such a crisis to consult together for the general safety, deeply affects my feelings, and in return I offer all that is in my power to give—the homage of a grateful heart. The occasion on which we are called together is one of the most solemn and important that ever assembled a people. Our government, the inheritance from a noble ancestry—the greatest achievement of human wisdom, made to secure to their posterity the rights and liberties purchased with their blood, is crumbling into ruins. Every day and almost every hour brings intelligence confirming the opinion that its dissolution is at hand. One State, one of the time-honored thirteen, has withdrawn the powers granted in the Constitution which constituted her a member of the Union, under the political power of the government. All our sister States immediately adjacent to us are at this moment moving in the same direction, under circumstances that render their action as certain as anything in the future. And as we look farther and beyond we see the same swell of public sentiment that a sense of wrong always inspires, agitating
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