of the State
, and a thorough disruption of the Union
Outside pressure they know to be indispensable to the accomplishment of their unholy purpose; and this matter of the Bellona
guns is too tempting a theme for sensation to be passed over without an effort to turn it to account.
Secondly, this General Assembly, with all its powers, has no right to pass these resolutions.
The guns are the property of the United States Government--that all admit.
, to which locality they were to have been transported, is also the property of the United States
, by solemn act of Assembly, and by formal deed, duly recorded in the Clerk
's office of my County, (and which I have often read,) ceded and transferred “all her right, title, and interest of, in, and to the lands at Old Point
Comfort to the United States
, for purposes of fortification and national defence.”
Then, if the guns are the property of the United States
, and Old Point
Comfort is also the property of the United States
, what right, moral or legal, has Virginia
to lay her hands upon the guns, or to hinder the transfer of them to the lands of the United States
A man takes and carries away for his own use my horse, and the law pronounces it larceny — in plainer language, stealing.
Now, what difference, I beg to know, is there, either in morals or in law, between the act of an individual illegally taking and carrying away another's property, and that of a State doing the same thing?
Do we make the matter better by paying for the guns after they have been seized?
Not at all; for the wrong is in the seizure and appropriation.
If a man steals my cow, does he, by tendering payment after the stealing, escape the moral infamy or legal penalty of the act?
Sir, I shall regard the passage of these resolutions as a foul stigma upon the good name of our State.
It will blot her escutcheon dark and deep forever.
God forbid she should do the dishonorable and dishonoring deed!
I trust she is quite too proud — too mindful of her past renown — to imitate the example of those of her erring sisters who have not scrupled to lay violent hands on the forts, and dock-yards, and ships, and cannon, and muskets, and balls, and powder, and even the mints and money of the United States
. Mr. Speaker
, these guns are not ours — let us not take them.
I presume the extremest secessionist will scarcely contend that the United States
must first obtain the consent of the State
before transporting guns over her territory.
No such consent can be required.
The Government of the Union
has the power to declare war, and to raise and maintain armies and navies.
It has, in other words, and has exclusively, the war-making power; and from this power results, by irresistible deduction and necessity, the right to transport all implements and materials of war, to march troops through the territories of any and all the States, to navigate, with the national ships, all the navigable waters within them, and to anchor its shipping in any port or harbor within their territorial limits, and without asking leave of the State
I shall not undertake to say that there can be no circumstances under which the State
might properly take possession of the cannon.
If she were at war with the Federal Government
on account of palpable and insufferable oppression, and if by a revolution inaugurated to break the shackles of that oppression, she had dissolved all connection with that Government, (as did our fathers in the Revolution,) the principles of self-defence and the inexorable necessities of the case might justify the act. But we are not
at war with the Federal Government
; our connection with it is yet undissolved; Virginia
is still in the Union
, and being yet a member of the Confederacy
, she is bound by all the duties and responsibilities of that membership.
Observing those duties and responsibilities, she cannot seize and appropriate to herself property that is held for national purposes — for the common defence — that, in other words, belongs to the Union
, or the common Government.
Thirdly, the seizure of the guns by the State
would be an act of war against the Federal Government
The taking of the property of one nation by another has always been regarded just cause of war. If I go into the port of Liverpool
with my vessel, and the British Government
seize it, it is an act which would justify war upon Great Britain
, and would lead to it if the wrong should not .be redressed.
Will it not, then, be an act of war on the part of Virginia
if she should seize and appropriate to herself the property of the United States
And in this view, is not the act an unconstitutional act?
Congress (as already said) alone can raise and maintain armies and navies, and declare war — do acts of war. Can Virginia
, while she remains in the Union
, declare war or do any act of war?
I solemnly think the passage of the resolutions will involve an unconstitutional act, but trust the State
will not tarnish her fair fame by its perpetration.
Let not her honor be thus sullied.
Let the jewel of that honor sparkle, and sparkle on, now as heretofore, lustrous, and more lustrous yet, now, henceforth, and forever!
And the inconsistency of the thing, is it not apparent?
We profess to desire peace, to avoid a collision with the Federal Government
The secessionists themselves all the time avow that such is their desire.
And yet, while we all profess to desire peace, to avoid collision, we propose to do, ourselves, acts decidedly warlike — acts that invite collision and the destruction of peace.
Another objection I may here take to the passage of the resolutions, that it will much increase the excitement and panic already existing through the State
, and so existing more by misapprehension and the ceaseless efforts of a sensation press, than for any just and sufficient cause.
It will alarm unnecessarily the innocent women and the plain yeomanry of the