of twenty out of the twenty-one new States, which have been added to the original thirteen.
Every one of them was composed of people previously subject to the National Government
; people who were unable to take position as States without the consent of that Government; who were admitted into the Union
only in virtue of an act of Congress, and who, when admitted as States, voluntarily took the subordinate position assigned them by the National Constitution
, and which the original States had previously, of their own volition, taken.
The South itself does not believe in a reserved sovereign eight of secession.
But so far as this doctrine of State Sovereignty is used to sustain the right of secession, it is to my mind apparent that its supporters in the South
do not themselves believe in it. If there is a reserved right of secession, paramount to the Constitution
, it must have existed when the Union
was formed; for it has not been acquired or granted since.
If it did exist then, the Union
was entered into with a tacit understanding that there was such a right.
If entered into with such an understanding, then a State seceding would be guilty of no legal wrong towards the other States; it would do only what it had a right to do. So doing, it would have no reason to regard itself as an enemy to the remaining States, or the National Government
as an enemy to it; and would have just cause of complaint against either, for taking a hostile attitude to it for seceding.
But what do we find in the seceded States?
Instantly upon passing their ordinances of secession, and in some instances in advance of it, they, by their acts, proclaim themselves the enemies of the United States
, in every way which could signalize them as such.
They proceed to organize a Confederate Government, to raise armies, to provide for their support, to create a navy, and to seize the armories, forts, navy-yards, docks, custom-houses, mints, money, and all other property of the United States
within their reach; they overpower and capture the United States troops, wherever they find them in detached bodies too small for resistance, and hold them as prisoners of war; they fire upon a vessel under the National
flag, and in the Government
service; they beleaguer, and finally bombard, and reduce a National fort, held by a brave half-starved garrison, one-hundredth part as strong as the assailing host; and all for what reason?
They were not assailed by the Government
on account of their secession.
No troops were marched against them, no navy closed their ports, no mails were stopped within their borders; they were, for months after their secession, as they asked to be, “let alone ;
” --let alone to commit every form of aggression upon the Nation, without retaliation or resistance: why did they take the attitude of enemies?
If, in seceding, they exercised only a reserved right, they did a lawful act, and had no occasion to wage war upon the Government
they had renounced; nor had the Government
occasion, for the act of secession, to attack them.
Why, then, did they wage the war?
Without the least doubt, because they knew that their claim of a reserved right in a State to dissolve its connection with the Union
at its will, was a flimsy and false pretence, which they themselves had not the slightest faith in; and because, veil it however they might from their people, under the guise of State sovereignty, the leaders knew that secession was rebellion, and that, sooner or later, rebellion must be met by force.
In their own consciousness, therefore, as exhibited in their acts, the pretext of a constitutional right of secession is a fallacy and a falsehood.
As such the on-looking world regards it, and the intelligence of mankind scouts and condemns it.
National and State allegiance.
Having shown that the Nation, as the aggregate of the united people — not the States as corporate bodies leagued together — is the source of National sovereignty, and that the organ of that sovereignty is the government established by the Nation, through a Constitution which declares itself, and the laws of the United States
which shall be made in pursuance thereof, to be the supreme law of the land; it is proper that we should devote a portion of our time to the consideration of that great, but almost forgotten principle, which pervades all the relations between government and citizen, and is condensed in the single but most comprehensive word — allegiance.
Every individual of every nation, barbarian or civilized, is bound by allegiance to the supreme authority which presides over that nation, whether it be King
, Grand Duke
, Sultan, Tycoon, Chief, or Constitutional Republican Government.
Society without allegiance is anarchy; government without allegiance is a mockery; people without allegiance are a mob. It is the principle which gives all force to law, for it is the principle of obedience to law. It is impossible to conceive of a supreme government which does not claim the allegiance of its subjects, or of a people acknowledging a supreme government to which they do not yield allegiance.
It is not obedience only, but something above and beyond that; and has been rightly defined to be the tie, or ligamen
, which binds the citizen to his government.
The breach of this tie is
treason — the highest crime known to the laws of man, and which falls under the special condemnation of the Word of God, but which, in this day, Americans
, and, I grieve to say, those who claim to be Christians, rush into, as if it were a merit and a glory to destroy the best government that ever wielded the destinies of a people.
The events of this year of wrath have disclosed astounding facts in regard to the allegiance of the American
people to their National Government.
Over an entire section of the Union
they seem, almost in a mass, to have