Farewell to the Senate.
On the 20th of January he rose in the Senate to announce that fact, and that ‘of course his functions there were terminated.’
In language characterized by dignity and moderation, in terms as decorous and in sentiments as noble as became a solemn crisis and a high presence, he bade farewell to the Senate.
In the course of my service here,
he said, ‘associated at different times with a great variety of Senators
, I see now around me some with whom I have served long.
There may have been points of collision, but whatever of offense there has been to me I leave here.
I carry with me no hostile remembrance.
Whatever offense I have given which has not been redressed, or for which satisfaction has not been demanded, I have, Senators
, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my apology for any pain which in the heat of discussion I have inflicted.
I go hence unincumbered of the remembrance of any injury received, and I have discharged the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury offered.’
In clear statement he summarized his political principles.
It is known to you, Senators, who have served with me here, that I have for many years advocated, as an essential attribute of State sovereignty, the right of a State to secede from the Union
; but he hoped none would ‘confound the expression with the advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union
and to disregard the constitutional obligation by the nullification of the law. Such is not my theory.
Secession belongs to a different class of remedies.
It is to be justified upon the basis of State sovereignty.
There was a time when none denied it.’
He pointed out that the position lie then assumed was the same that he had occupied when Massachusetts
had been arraigned at the bar of the Senate, and when the doctrine of coercion was ripe and to be applied against her because of the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston
‘My opinion then was the same as it is now. I then said that if Massachusetts
chose to take the last step which separates her from the Union
, it is her right to go, and I will neither vote one dollar nor one man to force her back, but will say to her God-speed, in memory of the kind associations which once existed between her and the other States.’
In concluding, he said:
I find in myself, perhaps, a type of the general feeling of my constituents towards yours.
I am sure I feel no hostility toward you Senators from the North.
I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussions there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well, and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people whom I represent towards those whom you represent.
I therefore feel that I but express their desire when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceable relations with you, though we must part.
They may be mutually beneficial to us in the future, as they have been in the past, if you so will it.
The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of our country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers who delivered them from the power of the Lion to protect us from the ravages of the Bear, and thus putting our trust in God, and in our firm hearts and strong arms we will vindicate the right as best we may.