If it (the Declaration of Independence) justified the secession from the British Empire of three million of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of five millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not some one attempt to show wherein and why?Again, on February the 23rd, 1861, five days after the inauguration of President Davis at Montgomery, he said:
We have repeatedly said, and we once more insist, that the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of American Independence—that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed—is sound and just, and that if the Slave States. the Cotton States or the Gulf States only, choose to form an independent nation, they have a clear moral right to do so.And we know that this man was one of the foremost of our oppressors during the war, although his kindness to Mr. Davis and others after the war, we think, showed that he knew he had done wrong. And yet, he had the audacity (and may we not justly add mendacity, too?) to say, after the war, that he never at any moment of his life had ‘imagined that a single State, or a dozen States, could rightfully dissolve the Union.’ Comment is surely unnecessary. On November the 9th, 1860, the New York Herald said:
Each State is organized as a complete government, holding the purse and wielding the sword; possessing the right to break the tie of the confederation as a nation might break a treaty, and to repel coercion as a nation might repel invasion. * * * Coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question.Both President Buchanan and his Attorney-General, the afterwards famous Edwin M. Stanton, decided at the same time that there was no power under the Constitution to coerce a seceding State.