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[173]

(2)What distinguished Northern statesmen have said of the right, both before and since the war?

Here we may properly add the clear statement of an able Northern writer, who declares his opinion (presently to be quoted in full) that at the time the Constitution was accepted by the States, there was not a man in the country who doubted the right of each and every State peaceably to withdraw, from the Union. In fact, we may at once answer our first inquiry by saying that the doctrine of secession originated in neither section, but was recognized at the first as underlying the Constitution and accepted by all parties. In confirmation of this view, but particularly with respect to the region of its earliest, most frequent, most emphatic and most threatening assertion, we proceed to show further that a recent Northern writer has used this language:

‘A popular notion is that the State-rights—secession or disunion doctrine—was originated by Calhoun, and was a South Carolina heresy. But that popular notion is wrong. According to the best information I have been able to acquire on the subject, the State-rights, or secession doctrine, was originated by Josiah Quincy, and was a Massachusetts heresy.’

This writer says Quincy first enunciated the doctrine in opposing the bill for the admission of what was then called the ‘Orleans Territory’ (now Louisiana) in 1811, when he declared, that ‘if the bill passed and that territory was admitted, the act would be subversive of the Union, and the several States would be freed from their federal bonds and obligations; and that, as it will be the right of all (the States), so it will be the duty of some, to prepare definitely for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must.’

Whilst this author may be right in characterizing the development of the doctrine, and fixing this right as a ‘Massachusetts heresy,’ he is wrong in fixing upon its first progenitor, and in saying that the date of its birth was as late as 1811; for in 1803, one Colonel Timothy Pickering, a Senator from Massachusetts, and Secretary of State in the Cabinet of John Adams, complaining of what he called ‘the oppressions of the aristocratic Democrats of the South,’ said, ‘I will not despair; I will rather anticipate a new Confederacy.’ * * * ‘That this can be accomplished without spilling one drop of blood I have little doubt.’ * * * ‘it must begin with Massachusetts. The proposition would be welcomed by Connecticut; and could we doubt of New Hampshire? But New York must be associated; and ’


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