When, therefore, the election of 1860 gave notice that the North
proposed to force the struggle against all of our institutions with all the power of all the States, thirteen of those States, exercising the right of self-defence—of resistance to wrong—acting as States, took up arms for the protection of their institutions, secured by the struggles of their ancestors with so much blood on so many battle-fields.
I do not care to argue the question of the right of secession.
I justify the action of the Southern States
on the higher ground of the right of self-defence, which can never be surrendered nor bartered by any man or any people.
But it seems too clear for demonstration that if they came into the Union
as States they had the right to leave it as States.
Rebellion has no terrors for us. Our ancestors have been rebels time, time and again for a thousand years. George Washington
was a rebel; John Hampden
was a rebel; Algernon Sydney
was a rebel; Kosciusko
was a rebel; William Tell
was a rebel.