“  break a lance to win the smile of her approval; and, quitting her free estate, it would be in her option to become the bride of the world, rather than, as now, the miserable mistress of the North.” This opinion seemed then almost absurd, but recent indications have rendered it the common opinion of the country; and as, therefore, they have no repugnance to slavery in accordance with their interests, so also can they have none to the extension of it. They will submit to any terms of intercourse with the Slave Republic in consideration of its markets and its products. An increase of slaves will increase the market and supply. they will pocket their philanthropy and the profits together. And so solicitude as to the feeling of foreign States upon this subject is gratuitous; and so it is that our suppression of the slave trade is warranted by no necessity to respect the sentiment of foreign States. We may abnegate ourselves if we will, defer to others if we will, but every such act is a confession of a weakness, the less excusable that it does not exist, and we but industriously provoke the contempt of States we are desirous to propitiate. Is it that we debase our great movement by letting it down to the end of getting slaves? We do not propose to reopen the salve trade; we merely propose to take no action on the subject. I truly think we want more slaves. We want them to the proper cultivation of our soil, to the just development of our resources, and to the proper constitution of society. Even in this State I think we want them; of 18,000,000 acres of land, less than 4,000,000 are in cultivation. We have no seamen for our commerce, if we had it, and no operatives for the arts; but it is not for that I now oppose restrictions on the slave trade. I oppose them from the wish to emancipate our institution. I regard the slave trade as the test of its integrity. If that be right, then slavery is right, but not without; and I have been too clear in my perceptions of the claims of that great institution — too assured of the failure of antagonist democracy, too convinced the one presents the conditions of social order, too convinced the other does not, and too convinced, therefore, that the one must stand while the other falls, to abate my efforts or pretermit the means by which it may be brought to recognition and establishment. Believing, then, that this is a test of slavery, and that the institution cannot be right if the trade be not, I regard the constitutional prohibition as a great calamity. If the trade be only wrong in policy, it would be enough to leave its exclusion to the several State that would feel the evils of that policy; but it is only upon the supposition that it is wrong in principle, wrong radically, and therefore never to be rendered proper by any change of circumstances which may make it to our interest, that it is becoming in the General Government to take organic action to arrest. The action of the Confederacy is, then, a declaration of that fact, and it were vain to sustain the institution in the face of such admissions to its prejudice. It will be said that at the outset of our career it were wise to exhibit deference to the moral sentiment of the world; the obligation is as perfect to respect the moral sentiment of the world against the institution. The world is just as instant to assert that slavery itself is wrong, and if we forego the slave trade in consideration of the moral feeling of the world, then why not slavery also! It were madness now to blink the question. We are entering at last upon a daring innovation upon the social constitutions of the world. We are erecting a nationality upon a union of races, where other nations have but one. We cannot dodge the issue; we cannot disguise the issue; we cannot safely change our front in the face of a vigilant adversary. Every attempt to do so, every refusal to assist ourselves, every intellectual or political evasion, is a point against us. We may postpone the crisis by disguises, but the slave republic must forego its nature and its destiny, or it must meet the issue, and our assertion of ourselves will not be easier for admissions made against us. And is it not in fact from a sense of weakness that there is such admission? Is there a man who votes for this measure but from misgivings as to slavery, and as to the propriety of its extension? Therefore is there not the feeling that the finger of scorn will be pointed at him without; and is he who doubts the institution, or he who has no higher standard of the right than what the world may say about it, the proper man to build the structure of a slave Republic? The members of that Convention are elected to important posts in the grand drama of human history. Such opportunity but seldom comes of moulding the destiny of men and nations. If they shall rise to the occasion, they shall realize their work and do it, they will leave a record that will never be effaced; but if they shall not — if they shall shrink from truth, for reason that it is unhonored; if they shall cling to error, for reason that it is approved, and so let down their character, and act some other part than that before them, they will leave a record which their successors will be anxious to efface — names which posterity will be delighted to honor. Opinions, when merely true, move slowly; but when approved, acquire proclivity. Those as to the right of slavery have been true, merely so far, but they came rapidly to culmination. I was the single advocate of the slave trade in 1853; it is now the question of the time. Many of us remember when we heard slavery first declared to be of the normal constitution of society; few now will dare to disaffirm it. Those opinions now roll on; they are now not only true but are coming to be trusted; they have moved the structure of the State, and men who will not take the impulse and advance, must perish in the track of their advancement. The members of your Convention may misdirect the movement — they may impede the movement--they
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Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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