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Doc. 13.-speech of Reverdy Johnson, at Baltimore, Jan. 10, 1861.1

Mr. President and gentlemen of Baltimore:--For this cordial and warm salutation, you have my most sincere and grateful thanks. Although willing to refer it in some measure to feelings of personal kindness to myself, I prize it the more, infinitely the more, from the assurance it gives me that you believe I am, as I know you are, attached, devotedly attached, to the Union our fathers bequeathed to us as the crowning work of all their trials, struggles, perils, in the mighty war which, ending in our independence, animated and strengthened the hopes of human liberty in the bosoms of its votaries in all the nations of the earth. As long as they were spared to us, that work, under their superintending vigilance and patriotic wisdom, was preserved in its perfect integrity. No false local ambition was suffered to mar it; no unfounded, heretical doctrine of State rights was permitted to overturn it. No vandal hand dared to strike at it. No traitorous heart — if in those days there was one--ventured to breathe even its destruction. They died — and thank God that it was so — in the full belief that that priceless legacy would be valued by us as they had valued it, and forever transmitted in its entirety as complete and absolute as they left it. Their last moments were made happy in the conviction that the freedom they had won, and secured, and preserved, would be immortal. They no doubt too supposed, as well they might, that the faults of a frail nature, whatever these may have been, would in mercy be blotted out of the record of Heaven's chancery, in consideration of the mighty achievement of striking down tyranny, and establishing enlightened, constitutional freedom, by a form of government admirably adapted, if honestly administered, to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty” to themselves and their posterity.

Fearless as they were, boldly as they faced death in every battle-field, nobly as they defied the mighty power of England, then almost the. mistress of the world, and gloriously as they triumphed over it — philosophically as in the closet and at the council board they meditated on the future of their country — they could not bring themselves, they had not the heart — to look to that future which would be its condition if the Union, intended to be consolidated by that Constitution, should ever be destroyed. If in a moment of temporary despondency the thought flitted through the mind, the constant prayer was, that their eyes should be sealed in death before the happening of the dire catastrophe.

The immortal author of the Declaration of Independence, a States-rights man of the strictest sect, and as sincere and as zealous a friend of human freedom as ever blessed the world, whilst in such a moment indulging the apprehension, had for himself but the consolation of an antecedent grave. “My only comfort and confidence (said he in a letter to a friend, on the 13th of April, 1820) is that I shall not live to see it; and I envy not the present generation the glory of throwing away the fruits of their fathers' sacrifices of life and fortune, and of [133] rendering desperate the experiment which was to decide ultimately whether man is capable of self-government. The treason against human hope will signalize their epoch in future history as the counterpart of the medal of their predecessors.”

That “human hope” even now, before the entire generation is gone, whose noble deeds and consummate wisdom kindled it into ecstatic strength, is losing its fervor. Despair rather — sickening, frightful despair — is taking its place. The heart of the good and true men of the land, in every corner of this ocean-bound Republic, beats with trembling solicitude lest that hope is now and forever to be blasted. It fears, and it has reason to fear, that the fondly cherished experiment may now be ultimately decided; that it may now be proved that self-government is not within the capacity of man.

Let it be our purpose, as I know it is our ardent wish, to take counsel with our countrymen, our brothers, East, West, North and South, patriotism knows no latitudes, who, true to the teachings of a noble ancestry, cling as we do, with unfaltering attachment, to the Union they gave, and so commended to us, as the ark of our political safety. Who faithful to all, yes, to all the obligations which that Union imposes, or was intended to impose upon States and citizens, and to all the rights and the powers it confers on the united whole, are, with us, resolved, by prudent counsels, patriotic efforts, gratitude, reverence for the great dead, solicitude for the peace, happiness, honor of the living present, love for the countless generations that are to follow, and respect for the opinion of the world, already condemning us, even in anticipation, of our possible “treason against human hope,” are willing, anxious, resolved to sacrifice individual opinion, yield conflicting prejudices, frown down party plottings, stifle the grating voice of the demagogue, tread into nothingness the political partisan, drive into exile the designing traitor, and in an elevated and patriotic and fraternal spirit, resolve to amend what may be defective, define what may be, or esteemed to be doubtful, in the sacred charter of our liberty and the source of our present prosperity and power and worldwide fame, so as to extinguish the nations fears, electrify with delight unspeakable its patriotic heart, and place it upon a foundation so deep and impregnable that the most skeptical will pronounce the danger over, and the world see that this generation, like the last, is incapable of “treason against human hope,” and will never have a counterpart of the medal our ancestors left us, as their proudest boast, the emblem of their conviction that “man is capable of self-government,” and that with us it can only be successfully demonstrated, by preserving, in all its purity, “the unity of government which constitutes us one people,” and, with unsleeping vigilance, guarding it through all time as “a main pillar of the edifice of our real independence.”

And I have an abiding faith, if time is given for such a consultation, that all will be well, and American citizens everywhere, as in the days of our fathers, be brought to know and hail each other but as brothers — joint-heirs of a common inheritance of constitutional freedom, co-workers in the almost holy purpose of so using and maintaining it as to challenge the admiration and command the imitation of the world.

I have said, gentlemen, that its founders intended the Union to be perpetual. This is evident from the causes which induced it, and equally evident from the Constitution itself which accomplished it.

It is necessary, perhaps, to a just understanding of the difficulties which surround and embarrass us, that this should be clearly understood. And although the immediate occasion would not justify or admit of a full examination of the subject, you will, I hope, not think it amiss if I submit to you a few suggestions in regard to it. Before, and for nearly two years subsequent to the Declaration of Independence, the struggle was maintained by union alone. No Colony or State then dreamed of carrying it on, only by itself or for itself. Common danger — a common cause, and a common end, united them in that immortal conflict, as closely, practically, for a time, as the present Constitution unites us.

It was soon found, however, that that bond was not to be relied upon, and the articles of confederation, agreed upon by Congress in November, 1777, and ratified by every State in March, 1780, took its place.

The object of these was to render the Union. more secure, by vesting in the General Government the powers then deemed necessary to that end, and for its continuance forever. A few years' experience, however, demonstrated their defects. These, too, were found to be fatal to its wholesome operation and its perpetuity. What these were, your recollection will readily recall to you. The great, the leading one, you will remember, was that the principal powers were made to depend for their execution on the States as States. That this was destructive of the purpose, soon became evident. State pride, State policy, State prejudice, State rivalry, supposed conflicting interests, made some of the States oblivious to the obligations of their compact. It was but a compact. It was called in the third article a “league.” The thirteenth stipulated that it should “be inviolably observed by every State,” and that the Union “be perpetual.” But this was mere promise. No means were provided for its enforcement. Each State, as a State, retained its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right not expressly delegated.

The whole constituted but a compact, a treaty, between the States, as such. No authority was given the Government to act directly upon the people. They, in each State, could only be effected by and through State sovereignty. [134] The powers were in themselves apparently comprehensive and adequate. The vice was the absence of sufficient means to enforce them. For want of this instrumentality they failed. It was soon seen by the patriotic statesmen of the day that this defect was fatal to union. Experience hourly demonstrated it. Union, however, was not to be abandoned. Nor was that only hope of preserving our freedom and our happiness abandoned by them. They early took steps to avert it. The result was the present Constitution of the United States. Does that correct the chief, the ruinous defect of the confederation? That it was adopted with that view we know. Has it accomplished it? If it has not, the failure, until now, has not appeared. So far it has proved capable, by its own inherent energy, to execute its own powers, and protect itself by its own means.

The fancy, it is but a fancy — it is not entitled to the dignity of being called a theory — that this, like the former, is but a compact which can only be practically enforced under State assent, and at any time be legally terminated by State power, until recently has never seriously been maintained. Some years ago South Carolina, that gallant State of vast pretensions but little power, though apparently in her own conceit able to meet the world in arms, ventured to act upon the fancy. In that day, however, statesmen ruled over us, an iron and patriotic will wielded the Executive power, and the Senate chamber was filled with the counsels of Webster. There it ventured in January, 1830, to assert its soundness. A favored son of the State, with South Carolina's reckless, unreflecting daring, was bold enough to challenge the great expounder to the contest. Right nobly, too, did he conduct himself, but his cause was bad — his fate and the fate of his cause was known in advance — they were alike sure of the same destiny — signal, signal defeat. On the 26th of that month the great Northern statesman spoke as no man ever spake before, and the doctrine and its gallant champion fell together. That speech, too, did more than make the name of Webster immortal. It achieved more, much more, than a triumph over the Southerner and his fancy. It fired the patriotic heart of the country. It made it rejoice that that country was ours, then and forever. It planted deep, deep in “every true American heart” that sentiment so vital to our duty, our honor, our fame, our power, our happiness, our freedom, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.”

The fancy, however, is now revived. Gentlemen in the public councils, of rare ability, are perverting that ability to maintain it. The public mind of the South to an alarming extent is being deluded by it. Treason, under its supposed protection, is being perpetrated. The Union is attempted to be severed by it, and it is producing its natural results — solicitude, distress, agony inconceivable at home, and unexampled wonder, and our shame, degradation abroad.

The defences of the nation, erected at enormous expense out of a common treasure, for the protection of common rights, are being seized. Our glorious national airs hissed, derided, and execrated, under its authority. The flag, the glorious flag that never yielded to a foreign foe, is shamelessly being dishonored, torn to pieces, trodden to the earth by the very children of the fathers who adopted it, went as brothers together to battle — to death — or to victory under its inspiring, sacred folds; and bequeathed it as the emblem of a common brotherhood, a common destiny, and a common freedom. A doctrine leading to such consequences cannot be true. Our great patriotic dead never could have left such a doctrine to us. It was that very vice existing in the Confederation, and found to be leading to just such results, which they designed to correct and annihilate by the Constitution. Compact, league, power only to be exerted upon States,--was that vice? Is this, in spite of their purpose, and what they evidently supposed they had accomplished, still in the Constitution?

Wiser, greater men, more accomplished statesmen, have never lived before or since. How could such men have made such a failure? The question almost answers itself. The very supposition slanders their memory. But the work itself, in almost every line of it, demonstrates its injustice and absurdity. “A more perfect Union” is stated in its very first line, to be its object. “Justice” for all, “domestic tranquillity” for all, “the common defence,” “the general welfare,” are stated as the ends of such Union, and, as the means of securing it, it says, “we, the people of the United States,” not of any one State, but of all in the aggregate, “do ordain this Constitution for the United States of America,” not for the States separately, but for all as one; not a league or compact, but a Constitution, a Government.

And then mark its powers. By the first section, first article, “all legislative powers herein granted” are vested in Congress. The power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of all, with no distinction or limit as to the first, and no other as to the rest, but that they “be uniform throughout the United States,” is granted; the power to borrow on the credit of all, to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the States, and with the Indian tribes; to coin money and regulate its value, to punish certain crimes, treason included, against the United States; to declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to provide for calling the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection and repel invasion; for organizing, &c. the militia, and a variety of other powers, in their nature exclusive, and wholly independent of State power [135] or sovereignty, exerted in any mode, whether by State or people, are granted.

All executive power, too, is vested in the President with no limitations whatever any way dependent on State authority, and all judicial power in a judiciary, in and over every variety of case involving the authority of the United States, or the individual rights of person and property, and obligations of the United States intended to be secured or imposed by the Constitution, and finally these powers are all to be enforced, not on the citizen through his State, but upon the former directly.

It follows, consequently, that the offending citizen cannot rely as a defence on State power. His responsibility is to the United States alone. His allegiance, his paramount allegiance, out of which the responsibility springs, as to all these powers, is to that Government alone. His State cannot legally protect him or stand in his place. Her prior sovereignty as to this was extinguished by the act of the people in adopting the Constitution, never again to be resumed under that instrument. A State or the people of a State may attempt its overthrow, but the attempt is treason if made with force, it being a “levying war against the United States,” an act defined to be treason by the third section of the article.

But it has in these degenerate days, recently and even in Congress, and with great gravity and apparent confidence, been insisted in support of the right of secession, that as secession, in fact, places a State out of the Union, there is no power in the General Government to prevent it in advance, or redress it if done, because it has no powers that are not granted, and the power to make war upon a State is not granted.

Admitting for argument sake, that this is so, and that being so, no remedy exists, would this justify or excuse the act? That the State and her people are subject to all the obligations of the Constitution is clear. Its legislative and all its Executive and judicial officers are in express terms bound by oath to support the Constitution.

This oath is not fulfilled by secession. That intentionally, violates and destroys, instead of supporting. She has, too, incurred under it, liabilities in common with her sisters. These have been contracted by all and for all. Treaties are made, debts are contracted, fortifications, arsenals, a navy, navy yards, custom houses, a capitol, an executive mansion, court houses, and other public buildings, light houses, post offices, are constructed at enormous expense with the money of all for the benefit of all. Immense territory has been acquired in the same way, or by joint valor. Does the seceding State get clear by secession of these treaties and debts? Does she take with her any, and, if any, what interest in the public property? That which is within the limits of the States was acquired with the consent of each, and which, under the very language of the Constitution, not only makes it, thenceforth, the property of the United States, but clothes them with the right of exclusive legislation over it. Thenceforth such portions of her territory ceased to be hers, and as effectually as if it never had been within her limits, and became eo instanti--the cession — the sole territory of the United States, and liable to their exclusive legislative power. The State, after this, has no interest in it, except as she is a State of the Union, and only so long as she remains within the Union. An act attended with such results to her sisters and herself, absolving her from responsibility for joint contracts, and depriving her of all interest in property and joint acquisitions, and defences necessary to her protection, finds no warrant in the Constitution — none whatever. It is, therefore, wrong and illegal.

Admit then that the Constitution is so defective as to be forced to submit to it, does that prove the act right or legal? Its illegality, its gross violation of duty, its perjured violation on the part of those who are under an oath to “support” the Constitution, are not the less censurable and illegal because there may be no provision for its punishment. Is there no obligation in duty? Is morality not a virtue — immorality a crime? Is patriotism an empty phrase? Is treason the less treason because there is no law or tribunal competent to arrest or punish it? Let the world judge, as it will, the teachers of such a doctrine. Do you doubt its judgment? Good men may for a time lash themselves into passion, overwhelm reason, and give themselves up to the wildest license; but as Heaven is just and as opinion is enlightened, the victims of the madness of the hour will soon see the estimate which the civilized world will place upon their conduct, and shrink with remorse from its sentence.

But the Constitution is not thus fatally impotent. It is true that it contains no power to declare war against a State, but it has every power for the execution of the laws and the enforcement of their penalties. It goes against the individual offender. It makes no appeal to State power to protect it. For that end it is self-sustaining; it is its own protector. If the State places herself between the United States and the offending citizen, and attempts to shield him by force of arms, it is she who declares war upon the United States, not the United States upon her. In such a contingency, the force used by the latter, and which they have a clear right to use, is not in attack, but in defence; not war, but the rightful vindication of rights against unjustifiable and illegal assaults.

It is further maintained that the right to secede actually exists, because although it be wrong, it is one that cannot be punished through the only legal proceeding known to the Constitution, and for this the sixth amendment is seriously relied upon. That provides that “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, of the State and district [136] wherein the crime shall have been committed,” &c.; and it is said that, as in a seceding State, the Judiciary of the United States is abolished by State power, and her people are with her in feeling, or by their allegiance bound to follow her, whether approving her course or not, there can be no such trial as the Constitution secures to the offender.

If this is so, and is ever to remain so, does it divest the United States of the power admitted to exist before secession, of arresting the offender and holding him until he can be tried. The clause assumes, as is always the case, arrest, accusation first and trial afterwards. The first can be made peaceably, or, if necessary, by force. Suppose it done. Is it illegal because the right to a speedy trial cannot be enjoyed? If not, why not? The fault is not with the United States, but with the State under whose usurpation the party has offended. She, by her act, has deprived him of the right. Is he to be discharged on that account? Novel doctrine! The State commits treason against the United States; all her citizens participate in it; the Courts of the United States are closed; the Judges exiled. The people are prohibited by force from performing their duties. The offender cannot, and for that reason only, be tried. The act is clearly a revolt, and yet it is said that that very treason and revolt in which the party accused is an actor, entitles him to impunity, because the very crime itself deprives him of the right to a speedy trial in the State where he perpetrated it.

To such of my professional friends as may be present, I put it to answer, if they think a ground like that, in the judgment of the esteemed and able Chief Justice of the United States, would support an application for a habeas corpus. Would any of you, regardful as I know you are of your reputation, venture to make it? And yet, Senators have ventured to make it. Truly has it been said, with what little wisdom is the world governed.

Further, what is true of treason is equally true of any other crime, and is applicable alike to States and to the United States. Nearly all, if not all, the Constitutions of the former contain a provision that the offenders be tried only in the vicinage where the offences are charged to have been committed. Are they to go unpunished — to be perpetrated with impunity — if, from local partiality or prejudice, a fair trial cannot be had? Gambling-houses, cock-fighting, racing may be fashionable amusements, though prohibited by law. The law is violated — the offence of constant occurrence — the whole country sanctions it, deem the prohibition tyrannical and put it at defiance. Has the State no right to enforce it? No, says the perpetrator — no, says our modern jurist. The right to punish is gone, because the power to punish, from the very prevalence and fashion of the crime, does not exist. A trial can only be constitutionally had in the county or district where the offence is committed, and there it cannot be had, as there all are offenders, and they will not sanction or suffer its punishment.

What do we know has occurred? The United States, by the very letter of the Constitution, are authorized to prohibit, by punishment, the African slave trade. They are also empowered, in order to preserve the peace of the country, and maintain its honor, to restrain our citizens from warring upon other nations with whom we are at peace. Laws for both purposes have long existed, and their Constitutionality never questioned. The trade has, nevertheless, been carried on, and hostile enterprises set on foot. The parties have been arrested.

In some cases indictments could not be obtained, because an impartial, honest Grand Jury could not be found. In others such a petit jury, for the same cause, could not be had to convict. In others the offender has been rescued. The power to punish, therefore, in these instances, did not exist. The citizens of the only constitutional place for trial and punishment practically set at naught the laws. They acknowledged a higher law. They thought the slave trade moral — the breach of the neutrality acts, patriotism. The one extended the area of a favored institution, and in time would Christianize its victims — the other extended the area of freedom, and in time would make liberty universal.

But the acts, notwithstanding, were crimes, and should be punished. No, say our modern constitutional expounders. No, say Senators. They are not crimes, whatever may be the law on the statute-book, because there is no potential legal mode to try and punish them, the mere machinery of the law, in that particular, is defective, the whole vicinage being tainted, and participating or sympathizing with the offence and offender, impunity is secured, and impunity converts crime into virtue.

As well might the thief or murderer who so cunningly steals or kills as to escape detection, rely upon his cunning as a moral and legal justification. The whole theory shocks common sense. It is not punishment which makes the crime. It is the wrong, the illegality of its perpetration. The question. of punishment arises after the crime is committed, and exists wholly irrespective of subsequent detection and punishment. If, then, secession is a crime — is treason against the United States--it will remain so forever, whether the latter succeeds in dealing with it as the law requires or not.

Again, it is maintained that the right to secede exists, first, because it is reserved; secondly, because it is not prohibited.

It is said to be reserved. For this the ninth and tenth articles of the Constitution are relied upon.

The first is evidently designed to exclude the conclusion that the enumeration in the instrument of certain rights to the people, the citizens, as such, in their individual character, is to be held “to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” It has nothing to do with State sovereignty or power at all. [137]

The second, so far from sustaining the doctrine, clearly refutes it. It is read as if it reserved to the States, or the people, all rights not prohibited by it to the States. Such is not, however, its language or its purpose.

It certainly does not reserve rights prohibited, but it does more, and if it had not, the whole scheme of Government would have failed at once. Certain powers, with a view to the benefit of all, were found indispensable to be vested in the Government. For want of these, the whole were suffering great, and, as was believed, if not obviated, fatal mischief. These powers in their very nature were such as the States could not beneficially exercise. They were to be vested, therefore, if to exist at all, in the Government. To reserve them to the States, or the people of the States, would destroy the very object of placing them elsewhere. The amendment, therefore, does not do such a silly, suicidal act. The powers delegated are not reserved. On the contrary, these, by the very words of the amendment, are as clearly excluded as the power prohibited.

The language is “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution,” &c. are reserved. A delegated power consequently, like a prohibited power, is not within the reservation.

If, therefore, the Constitution delegates to the Government certain powers to be executed in a State, she has no right to resist them under this amendment. The fact of delegation, as well as the fact of express prohibition, is the exclusion of all State power.

If then the Constitution is in any sense a compact, it is a compact creating and establishing a Government, and its powers are as supreme and exclusive as if they had been vested and established by the whole people in the aggregate.

But it is in no sense a compact, except as every Government is a compact, implied in the correlative obligations of protection and allegiance. This is clear upon the authority of the great names that assisted in forming it.

The doctrine of compact in the days of South Carolina nullification, (she has been before restive and troublesome, perhaps from not having much else to do than to theorize and grumble and scold,) was relied upon in support of that heresy. Ever alive to the fame of a work in great measure his own, Mr. Madison, in a few masterly letters, rich with the perspicuity of his style, and with the patriotism which ever adorned him, exposed its fallacy to a demonstration. His motives were beyond suspicion, if unworthy motives could ever have been attached to his pure nature. His public career was run. He had greatly contributed to his country's prosperity and renown, in every high official station. He had seen the various defects of the Confederation, and to correct them, had successfully exerted his transcendent abilities in establishing for us the Constitution which he came from his honored retreat to defend. His years were many; his race on earth nearly at an end. But he loved his native land with all his original ardor, and seeing how sure the doctrine was to involve it in the calamities certain to have resulted from the Government which the Constitution displaced, and displaced in order to avoid, he exposed and denounced it as a fatal heresy, full of the very perils which it was the very purpose of the Convention to avert. I have not time to give you more than an extract or two from the correspondence. But these will be enough for my object. Writing to Mr. M. L. Hurlburt in May, 1830, who had sent him a pamphlet of his own on the subject, he says, in order to discover its true nature:

The facts of the case which must decide its true character, a character without a prototype, are that the Constitution was created by the people, but by the people as composing distinct States and acting by a majority of each; that, being derived from the same source as the Constitution of the States, it has within each State the same authority as the Constitution of the State, and is as much a Constitution, in the strict sense of the term, as the Constitution of the State; that, being a compact among the States in their highest sovereign capacity, and constituting the people thereof one people for certain purposes, it is not revocable or alterable at the will of these States individually, as the Constitution of a State is revocable and alterable at its individual will.

That the sovereign or supreme powers of Government are divided into the separate depositories of the Government of the United States and the Governments of the individual States.

That the Government of the United States is a Government, in as strict a sense of the term, as the Governments of the States; being, like them, organized into a legislative, executive, and judicial department, operating, like them, directly on persons and things, and having, like them, the command of a physical force for executing the powers committed to it.

He writes Mr. Rives, in December, 1828: “Were some of the Southern doctrines latterly advanced valid, our political system would not be a Government, but a mere league, in which the members have given up no part whatever of their sovereignty to a common Government, and retain, moreover, a right in each to dissolve the compact when it pleases. It seems to be forgotten, that in the case of a mere league there must be as much right on one side to assert and maintain its obligations as on the other to cancel it, and prudence ought to calculate the tendency of such a conflict. It is painful to observe so much real talent, and at bottom, doubtless, so much real patriotism, as prevail in the Southern quarter, so much misled by the sophistry of the passions.”

To Mr. N. P. Trist, February, 1830:

The Constitution of the United States divides the sovereignty, the portions surrendered [138] by the States composing the Federal sovereignty of each over specified subjects; the portions retained forming the sovereignty of each over the residuary subjects within its sphere. If sovereignty cannot be thus divided, the political system of the United States is a chimera; mocking the vain pretensions of human wisdom. If it can be so divided, the system ought to have a fair opportunity of fulfilling the wishes and expectations which cling to the experiment.

Nothing can be more clear than that the Constitution of the United States has created a Government, in as strict a sense of the term as the Governments of tile States created by their respective Constitutions. The Federal Government has, like the State Governments, its legislative, its executive, and its judiciary departments. It has, like them, acknowledged cases in which the powers of these departments are to operate. And the operation is to be directly on persons and things in the one Government as in the other.

In the same letter, he said, considering it but as a compact:

Applying a like view of the subject to the case of the United States, it results, that the compact being among individuals as embodied into States, no State can at pleasure release itself therefrom and set up for itself. The compact can only be dissolved by the consent of the other parties, or by usurpations or abuses of power justly having that effect. It will hardly be contended that there is any thing in the terms or nature of the compact authorizing a party to dissolve it at pleasure.

It is indeed inseparable from the nature of a compact that there is as much right on one side to expound it, and to insist on its fulfilment according to that exposition, as there is on the other, so to expound it as to furnish a release from it; and that an attempt to annul it by one of the parties may present to the other an option of acquiescing in the amendment or of preventing it, as the one or the other course may be deemed the lesser evil. This is a consideration which ought deeply to impress itself on every patriotic mind, as the strongest dissuasion from unnecessary approaches to such a crisis.

What would be the condition of the States attached to the Union and its Government, and regarding both as essential to their well-being, if a State placed in the midst of them were to renounce its Federal obligations, and erect itself into an independent and alien nation? Could the States north and south of Virginia, Pennsylvania, or New York, or of some other States, however small, remain associated and enjoy their present happiness, if geographically, politically, and practically thrown apart by such a breach of the chain which unites their interests and binds them together as neighbors and fellow-citizens? It could not be. The innovation would be fatal to the Federal Government, fatal to the Union, and fatal to the hopes of liberty and humanity, and presents a catastrophe at which all ought to shudder.

Without identifying the case of the United States with that of individual States, there is at least an instructive analogy between them. What would be the condition of the State of New York, of Massachusetts, or of Pennsylvania, for example, if portions containing their great commercial cities, invoking original rights as paramount to social and constitutional compacts, should elect themselves into distinct and absolute sovereignties? In so doing they would do no more, unless justified by an intolerable oppression, than would be done by an individual State as a portion of the Union, in separating itself without a like cause from the other portions. Nor would greater evils be inflicted by such a mutilation of a State on some of its parts than might be felt by some of the States from the separation of its neighbors into absolute and alien sovereignties.

And lastly, he writes Mr. Webster, in May, 1830, who had sent him his speech on Foot's resolution:

I had before received more than one copy from other sources, and had read the speech with a full sense of its powerful bearing on the subjects discussed, and particularly its over-whelming effect on the nullifying doctrine of South Carolina.

How clear, how convincing are all these to show the utter unsoundness of the doctrine, in the opinion of one so eminently fit to give us the true meaning of the Constitution from having largely assisted in framing it, in expounding it, in commending it to the adoption of the people, and administering it with unsurpassed ability in almost every department of the public service, including the very highest.

How pale do the small, feeble lights of the present day appear in the presence of such a luminary! How unreliable and unauthoritative our modern seiolists, compared with one who, deeply imbued with all the knowledge that makes the accomplished statesman, had converted it almost into a part of his very nature, from a daily application of it in the promotion of his country's welfare, and the maintenance and perpetuation of the noble form of Government which he had done so much to establish. Looking at it with the eye of a patriot and with a knowledge of the unparalleled blessings it had conferred on his country, he construed it so as to preserve it. He did not, with the acuteness of a special pleader, try to discover defects fatal to its continuance. His mind, though the law was his early study, had not been cabined within technical limits. Though astute, it was comprehensive.

The law he only knew as it was connected with the character and duties of the statesman. He never dreamed, who does who is competent to the task, of construing the Constitution of a great nation, as you would an indictment to rescue a culprit. His object was to preserve and enforce it, not to escape from it by little [139] technical subterfuges. He wished to perpetuate, not to destroy. He gave no countenance to a doctrine, an “innovation” which “would be fatal to the Federal Government, fatal to the Union, and fatal to the hopes of liberty and humanity, and present a catastrophe at which all ought to shudder.”

Mr. Webster and Mr. Adams, too, have been invoked to support the heresy. What desecration! If their spirits had been permitted to revisit the Senate Chamber, so often the theatre of their fame and glory, and to have heard the invocation, can you not imagine the sternness and indignation with which they would instantly have rebuked so unfounded an imputation on their wisdom and patriotism — Webster the advocate or the apologist of secession? His speech already referred to, of January, 1830, in almost every line of it, denounces the doctrine. Which of you has failed to read that speech, and to be convinced? It will remain forever a crushing answer to the heresy. And as it has ever since been, so it will ever continue to be, the brightest gem in the patriotic literature of the age.

Secession — peaceable, constitutional secession — asserted even in the Senate Chamber on the authority of Daniel Webster! Hear what he thought of it. In 1850, as in 1830, the country was threatened with destruction. The error again ventured to show itself. Its disciples once more rallied to its support. Do you remember his 7th of March speech? Let me recall a part of its lofty eloquence and its more lofty patriotism:

I hear, with pain and anguish and distress, the word secession, especially when it falls from the lips of those who are eminently patriotic, and known to the country and known all over the world for their political services. Secession! Peaceable secession! Sir, your eyes and mine are never destined to see that miracle. The dismemberment of this vast country without convulsion! The breaking up of the fountains of the great deep without ruffling its surface! Who is so foolish, I beg everybody's pardon, as to expect to see any such thing? Sir, he who sees these States, now revolving in harmony around a common centre, and expects to see them quit their places and fly off without convulsion, may look the next hour to see the heavenly bodies rush from their spheres and jostle against each other in the realms of space, without producing the crush of the universe.

There can be no such thing as a peaceable secession. Peaceable secession is an utter impossibility. Is the great Constitution under which we live here — covering this whole country — is it to be thawed and melted away by secession as the snows on the mountain melt under the influence of a vernal sun — disappear almost unobserved and die off? No, sir! no, sir! I will not state what might produce the disruption of the States; but, sir, I see it as plainly as I see the sun in heaven — I see that disruption must produce such a war as I will not describe, in its twofold characters.

Peaceable secession! peaceable secession! The concurrent agreement of all the members of this great Republic to separate! A voluntary separation with alimony on one side and on the other! Why, what would be the result? Where is the line to be drawn? What States are to secede? What is to remain American? What am I to be?--an American no longer? Where is the flag of the Republic to remain? Where is the eagle still to tower? or is he to cower, and shrink and fall to the ground?

Why, sir, our ancestors — our fathers and our grandfathers — those of them that are yet living among us with prolonged lives, would rebuke and reproach us; and our children and our grandchildren would cry out shame upon us! if we, of this generation, should dishonor these ensigns of the power of the Government and the harmony of the Union which is every day felt among us with so much joy and gratitude. What is to become of the army? What is to become of the navy? What is to become of the public lands? How is each of the thirty States to defend itself? I know, although the idea has not been stated distinctly, there is to be a Southern Confederacy.

I do not mean, when I allude to this statement, that any one seriously contemplates such a state of things. I do not mean that it is true, but I have heard it suggested elsewhere, that that idea has originated in a design to separate. I am sorry, sir, that it has ever been thought of, talked of, or dreamed of, in the wildest flights of human imagination. But the idea must be of a separation including the Slave States upon one side, and the Free States on the other.

Sir, there is not — I may express myself too strongly perhaps — but some things, some moral things, are almost as impossible as other natural or physical things; and I hold the idea of a separation of these States--those that are free to form one Government, and those that are slaveholding to form another, as a moral impossibility. We could not separate the States by any such line if we were to draw it. We could not sit down here to-day and draw a line of separation that would satisfy any five men in the country.

There are natural causes that would keep and tie us together, and there are social and domestic relations which we could not break, if we would, and which we should not break, if we could. Sir, nobody can look over the face of this country at the present moment — nobody can see where its population is most dense and growing — without being ready to admit, and compelled to admit, that ere long America will be in the valley of the Mississippi.

Well, now, sir, I beg to inquire what the wildest enthusiast has to say on the possibility of cutting off that river, and leaving Free States [140] at its source and its branches, and Slave States down near its mouth? Pray, sir; pray, sir, let me say to the people of this country, that these things are worthy of their pondering and of their consideration. Here, sir, are five millions of freemen in the Free States north of the river Ohio. Can anybody suppose that this population can be severed by a line that divides them from the territory of a foreign and alien Government, down somewhere, the Lord knows where, upon the lower banks of the Mississippi?

What will become of Missouri? Will she join the arrondissement of the Slave States? Shall the man from the Yellow Stone and the Platte be connected in the new republic with the man who lives on the southern extremity of the Cape of Florida? Sir, I am ashamed to pursue this line of remark. I dislike it — I have an utter disgust for it. I would rather hear of natural blasts and mildews, war, pestilence and famine, than to hear gentlemen talk of secession. To break up! to break up this great Government! to dismember this great country! to astonish Europe with an act of folly such as Europe, for two centuries, has never beheld in any Government! No, sir! no, sir! There will be no secession. Gentlemen are not serious when they talk of secession.

The Supreme Court, too, speaking through each of its great chiefs, Marshall and Taney, repels the doctrine.

In the case of McCulloch and Maryland, the first of these, as the organ of the whole Court, rejected it in clear terms. The very foundation, the only one on which it can for a moment stand, is, that the Constitution is a compact, and not in the usual and sovereign sense of the word, a government. Let me read you how he disposed of this:

In discussing this question, (the question of compact,) the counsel for the State of Maryland have deemed it of some importance, in the construction of the Constitution, to consider that instrument as not emanating from the people, but as the act of sovereign and independent States. The powers of the General Government, it has been said, are delegated by the States, who alone are truly sovereign; and must be exercised in subordination to the States, who alone possess supreme dominion.

It would be difficult to sustain this proposition. The Convention which framed the Constitution was indeed elected by the State Legislatures. But the instrument when it came from their hands was a mere proposal, without obligation, or pretensions to it. It was reported to the then existing Congress of the United States, with a request that it might ‘be submitted to a Convention of Delegates, chosen in each State by the people thereof, under the recommendation of its Legislature, for their assent and ratification.’ This mode of proceeding was adopted, and by the Convention, by Congress, and by the State Legislatures, the instrument was submitted to the people. They acted upon it in the only manner in which they can act safely, effectively, and wisely, on such a subject, by assembling in Convention. It is true, they assembled in their several States--and where else should they have assembled? No political dreamer was ever wild enough to think of breaking down the lines which separate the States, and of compounding the American people into one common mass. Of consequence, when they act, they act in their States. But the measures they adopt do not, on that account, cease to be the measures of the people themselves, or become the measures of the State Governments.

From these Conventions the Constitution derives its whole authority. The Government proceeds directly from the people; is ordained and established in the name of the people, and is declared to be ordained, ‘in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, and se<*>e the blessings of liberty to themselves and to their posterity.’ The assent of the States, in their sovereign capacity, is implied in calling a Convention, and thus submitting that instrument to the people. But the people were at perfect liberty to accept or reject it; and their act was final. It required not the affirmance, and could not be negatived by the State Governments. The Constitution, when thus adopted, was of complete obligation, and bound the State sovereignties.

It has been said that the people had already surrendered all their powers to the State sovereignties, and had nothing more to give. But, surely, the question whether they may resume and modify the powers granted to the Government, does not remain to be settled in this country. Much more might the legitimacy of the General Government be doubted, had it been created by the States. The powers delegated to the State sovereignties were to be exercised by themselves, not by a distinct and independent sovereignty, created by themselves to the formation of a league, such as was the confederation, the State sovereignties were certainly competent. But when, ‘in order to form a more perfect Union,’ it was deemed necessary to change this alliance into an effective Government, possessing great sovereign powers, and acting directly on the people, the necessity of referring it to the people, and of deriving its powers directly from them, was felt and acknowledged by all.

The Government of this Union, then, (whatever may be the influence of this fact on the case,) is emphatically and truly a Government of the people. In form and in substance it emanates from them. Its powers are granted by them, and are to be exercised directly on them, and for their benefit.

The principle here adjudged was over and over again, under the administration of the same great judge, maintained as the settled judgment of the Court, and without a dissenting voice.

It has, with equal clearness, uniformity, and [141] force, been upheld since Chief Justice Taney became the presiding ornament of that high tribunal. It was involved in the case of the United States and Booth in 21st Howard. In that instance the State of Wisconsin, through its courts, resisted the authority of the United States, and denied the validity of an act of Congress, constitutionally passed. It was the object of the writ of error to have the judgment reviewed. The supremacy of the General Government was again denied. The alleged inherent sovereignty of the State was again asserted, and the conduct of Wisconsin vindicated on those grounds. The Court unanimously, through the chief, said what I will read to you:

The Constitution was not formed merely to guard the States against danger from foreign nations, but mainly to secure union and harmony at home, for if this object could be attained, there would be but little danger from abroad; and to accomplish this purpose, it was felt by the statesmen who framed the Constitution, and by the people who adopted it, that it was necessary that many of the rights of sovereignty which the States then possessed should be ceded to the General Government; and that in the sphere of action assigned to it, it should be supreme, and strong enough to execute its own laws by its own tribunals, without interruption from a State or from State authorities. And it was evident that any tiling short of this would be inadequate to the main objects for which the Government was established, and that local interests, local passions or prejudices, incited and fostered by individuals for sinister purposes, would lead to acts of aggression and injustice by one State upon the rights of another, which would ultimately terminate in violence and force, unless there was a common arbiter between then, armed with power enough to protect and guard the rights of all, by appropriate laws, to be carried into execution peacefully by its judicial tribunals.

The language of the Constitution by which this power is granted, is too plain to admit of doubt or to need comment. It declares that ‘this Constitution, and laws of the United States which shall be passed in pursuance thereof, and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land, and tile judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.’

This tribunal, therefore, was erected, and the powers of which we have spoken conferred upon it, not by the Federal Government, but by the people of the States, who formed and adopted that Government, and conferred upon it all the powers, legislative, executive, and judicial, which it now possesses.

I will not detain you longer by referring further to the authority of our best and greatest men in opposition to the heresy.

I will but add this further suggestion:

The obligation of a State, whilst in the Union, to submit to the authority of the Union, is admitted by all. She is bound to this, not only because of the powers delegated to the Government of the Union, but because of the express restraints upon her own. This obligation, created with the consent of herself or of her people, and conceded to be in full force whilst she is in the Union, and to be then beyond her power, it is asserted, on the strength of the secession heresy, that she can, at any time, at her own good pleasure, in the exercise of her own exclusive discretion, and not only without but against the consent of all the other States and their citizens, and of the minority of her own citizens, honorably, legally, constitutionally escape from, by retiring from the Union.

As long as she is a member, the Constitution and the laws are binding on her, and may be legally enforced. The moment she ceases to be one, though the cause be only her own will, they are not binding and cannot be so enforced. How idle the careful provisions in the Constitution, to procure obedience to its rightful authority by the citizens individually of all the States, and by the States themselves, where that action is necessary to the continuance of the Government, if all can be avoided and nullified by the single act of State secession. The folly of the proposition is so gross, that it is difficult to see how a sound mind can entertain it, even for a moment. And yet it is entertained by men wise on all other subjects, and as patriotic as they are wise. It is but another illustration, to the many that history supplies, how the finest intellect and the purest heart at times fall even into mischievous absurdities.

But I leave the subject for another.

A few months since no people were happier than ours — none more prosperous or more respected by the world. In that short period what a sad reverse! all now is apprehension; solicitude fills the land; private enterprise is paralyzed; every industrious pursuit is suffering; individual credit, so vital to prosperity, is almost gone. National credit, yet more vital, almost totally lost; war — civil war, greatly imminent; bitter hostility of section disgracefully and dangerously prevailing; and our Government itself, the very citadel of our safety — the chief source of our past countless blessings, in certain quarters despised, reviled, and threatened with destruction.

To what is all this to be referred? Within that time no oppressive or unconstitutional act has been done by Congress or the Executive, or any other that even tends to injure States or people; and no act has been done by a single State having that tendency.

The Government of the United States, as such, has complied with all its obligations to the States and people. There is not on the statute book a single law affecting the peculiar institution of labor in the Southern States, except for its protection; a fugitive labor act is there, passed for that very purpose, drafted by a Southern Senator, supported, I believe, by [142] every Southern member of Congress, and apparently quite adequate to its end. The United States in every instance have exerted, when called upon, and effectually, their entire force for its faithful execution. The State laws conflicting with it, or designed or serving to defeat or embarrass it, were all passed long since. There is no present occasion for re-opening the Territorial controversy. The status of our existing Territories would seem to be ultimately fixed, even by nature's laws; and there is no present prospect of future acquisitions.

Tariff laws, incidentally protecting manufactures, are coeval with the Government, and have never actually interfered with the welfare of any State. The whole nation has, either by their aid, or in spite of them, prospered throughout its entire limits, as was never paralleled in any other that ever existed.

Why then, I again ask, the present dread of disunion?

Is it the election, in a perfectly constitutional mode, of a citizen as President, who is thought to hold principles fatal to Southern rights? Suppose he does; will he not be impotent for harm? His powers for any such purpose are subordinate to those of Congress, and the action of both, if illegal, can be revised and annulled by a patriotic judiciary, which has ever shown itself capable and willing to uphold, with even hand, the rights of all the States.

But is the President elect so hostile to Southern rights? I do not deem it necessary or advisable, in the present excited state of the South, to hunt up what he may have said in an electioneering canvass. One thing I know, the South did not always view him as specially dangerous, for certainly they did not pursue the course the best, if not the only one, even promising to defeat his election. A speech in the Senate, that became at once a Southern and a Northern campaign document, used to defeat in the one section Judge Douglas, and in the other to promote the cause of Mr. Lincoln, was made by Mr. Benjamin, in May, 1860, with his specious ability and pleasing eloquence. That gentleman on that occasion endeavored to show that Mr. Lincoln was more conservative and true to the South than Mr. Douglas.

Referring to the Senatorial contest which they had recently had in Illinois, he said what I read to you. “In that contest the two candidates for the Senate of the United States, in the State of Illinois, went before their people. They agreed to discuss the issues; they put questions to each other for answer ; and I must say here, for I must be just to all, that I have been surprised in the examination that I made again, within the last few days, of this discussion between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, to find that Mr. Lincoln is A far more conservative man, unless he has since changed his opinions, than I had supposed him to be. There was no dodging on his part. Mr. Douglas started with his questions. Here they are with Mr. Lincoln's answers:

Question 1.--I desire to know whether Lincoln to-day stands as he did in 1854, in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law?

Answer.--I do not now, nor ever did, stand in favor of the unconditional repeal of the Fugitive Slave law.

Question 2.--I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to-day, as he did in 1854, against the admission of any more slave States into the Union, even if the people want them?

Answer.--I do not now, nor ever did, stand pledged against the admission of any more slave States into the Union.

Question 3.--I want to know whether he stands pledged against the admission of a new State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make?

Answer.--I do not stand pledged against the admission of a State into the Union with such a Constitution as the people of that State may see fit to make.

Question 4.--I want to know whether he stands to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia?

Answer.--I do not stand to-day pledged to the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia.

Question 5.--I desire him to answer whether he stands pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the different States?

Answer.--I do not stand pledged to the prohibition of the slave trade between the different States.

Question 6.--I desire to know whether he stands pledged to prohibit slavery in all the Territories of the United States. North as well as South of the Missouri Compromise line?

Answer.--I am impliedly, if not expressly, pledged to a belief in the right and duty of Congress to prohibit slavery in all the United States' Territories.

Question 7.--I desire him to answer whether he is opposed to the acquisition of any new Territory unless slavery is first prohibited therein?

Answer.--I am not generally opposed to honest acquisition of Territory, and in any given case I would or would not oppose such acquisition, accordingly as I might think such acquisition would or would not aggravate the slave question among ourselves.

--Debates of Lincoln and Douglas, p. 88.

The distinguished Senator evidently did not then think, he certainly did not even intimate, that these opinions of the President elect were so unconstitutional and violative of Southern rights as to justify revolution on the contingency of his election. On the contrary, they were produced and relied upon to satisfy the South that he would be truer to her than Douglas. And yet, who supposes that if the latter had been the choice of the people, the present troubles could or would have been produced?

Nor, in truth, is there any thing in his opinions so clearly wrong as to cause alarm. They [143] are, in some particulars, in my judgment unsound and mischievous, but not so mischievous as to warrant serious apprehension, or — before he is even permitted to explain his actual policy — to justify or excuse revolution — the destruction of the Government. Singular idea, that because possibly he may advise and be able to carry measures calculated to destroy it, that the safety and duty of the South warrant them in destroying it themselves, in advance. How men, loyal to the Union and anxious for its preservation, can so reason, is incomprehensible. There are, no doubt, in some States enemies of the Government, life-long enemies, resolved at all hazards to effect its ruin, and who have been plotting it for years. But these are not to be found in Maryland. Here, thank God, such disloyalty never obtained even a foothold.

We may differ now as to the exact course to be pursued, but we differ only as to the best means of accomplishing a common purpose — the Union's safety. In this particular I have differed, and still perhaps differ, with friends whose fealty to the Union is as strong and abiding as it can be in any American heart. Let us, therefore, casting aside all prior differences, mere party controversies, unite together as a band of brothers, and in good faith and with unflinching firmness, rally around our noble State; noble in her institutions; noble in her Revolutionary history; noble in the great fame of her illustrious dead; and resolve by all just and honorable means, by any fair and equitable adjustment of sectional controversies, to assist her in efforts to terminate the sad, dreadful strife which now imperils all we hold dear. Finally, is all hope lost — all remedy gone? I think not. The danger that is upon us has its origin, I think, in part to wrongs, and to wrongs on all sides. The North is the most to blame, but the South is not blameless. It would be to no useful purpose to display the particulars. Criminations and recriminations, God knows, to the dishonor of all, have progressed far enough and produced results bad enough.

The violence of the press, the desecration of a part of the Northern pulpit, the scurrilous, insulting debates in Congress, the insidious and thieving interference with rights of property in the South, the libellous assaults upon the Supreme Court, for having been but faithful to Constitutional duty — the avowed purpose when the power should exist, to reconstruct it, for sectional ends degrading to the South and destructive of their rights, and finally the election of a President and Vice-President by an exclusive sectional vote, have, in fact, fastened upon the public mind of most, if not of all the Southern States, a conviction that they owe it to their own honor, their own interests, their own safety, to have now, and at once, such amendments of the Constitution or other measures as they think will forever terminate the strife by effectually securing to them the equality of rights which they fully believe the Constitution was intended to secure to them.

These principally relate to slave property, and an equal participation in the Territories. Is it possible that the North (by the North I mean the Free States) can be so wedded to theories, to philanthropical conceits, fanatical opinions, as to be willing to see the Union destroyed which has made them what they are, rather than to surrender their evidently abstract opinions for its preservation? Can it be that they would rather see the President of their choice presiding only over a shattered fragment of this great nation, than yield these impressions in a spirit of patriotic brotherhood? Can it be that rather than yield, they will be the instruments of committing “treason against human hope” ?

Can it be that rather than yield, they will subject to hazard of ruinous loss, if not certain ruin, every one of their industrial pursuits, and with them, in a great measure, the comfort and happiness of themselves and their children? Can it be that rather than yield, they would make strangers of friends, aliens of countrymen, common descendants of a boasted ancestry, bound together by every moral tie that the heart knows, enemies, instead of brothers? Can it be that they would rather deluge their native land in blood?

No, no, I do not believe that it is in human nature so to act, and hence I do not despair. But how is safety to be obtained? In my judgment by the adoption of some such amendments of the Constitution as are proposed by the patriotic Crittenden, or the equally patriotic Corwin and his committee. These would, I have the strongest reason for believing, satisfy the whole South, except South Carolina, whilst in her present frenzy, and perhaps one or two others of the Cotton States equally crazed from over-excitement. But the rest content, and the Union continuing with no abatement but of the few States, who doubts that ere long they will gladly come back within its sacred fold?

They at present believe, or seem to believe, that they could prosper outside of it. Sad delusion — deprived of the rest, they would soon realize the fact that in the estimation of the world they were nothing — too feeble to resist aggression, too limited, though left undisturbed, to attain even a partial prosperity.

This is eminently true of South Carolina--one of the smallest of the States. Without soldiers, without seamen, or the elements with which to make them, without material physical resources, with nothing but the individual gallantry of her small population to give her consequence, she would at an early day dwindle into total insignificance.

It is the Union which she now madly seeks to destroy that has given her all her past consequence. It is the Union that has conferred upon her all her past advantages, and given to her all her past protection. Custom houses, court houses, post offices, forts, light houses, buoys, have been hers through the [144] Union alone, and at an expense far greater than all the revenue received from her, directly or indirectly. Some of these she may, in defiance of gratitude and duty, seize, and in mercy be permitted to hold, but the disbursements for their further use must be hers. And these, in a short, a very short period, would make her a bankrupt. Already, if reports be true, is she sadly suffering. Can she much longer adhere to the reckless course which produces it? Will the wise, reflecting, loyal part of her people much longer submit to it? No. She will be with us again.

As Mr. Jefferson, on the 20th of October, 1820, when separation was then apprehended, wrote the late William Rush, “it (the separation) will be but for a short time--two or three years trial will bring them back like quarrelling lovers, to renewed embraces and increased affection.” Some of the sons of these States possibly look to a re-opening of the slave trade; some of them, we know, have often recommended it. Vain the hope! The horrid traffic is condemned by the judgment of the civilized world, and accursed of God. The feeling against it in England and France. is too strong to be disregarded by these Governments, if they were so disposed, as they certainly are not. They would not permit its revival by these few feeble States, and if persisted in by them, would prohibit and punish it, even by war.

Nor, unless the United States (for these would still remain) acknowledge their independence, would it be acknowledged by other nations. Their staples they could only ship in American or foreign vessels, sailing with the permission of the United States. Nor could they receive exports in any other mode. A more helpless isolation, or more degrading dependence, can hardly be conceived. It is impossible, therefore, but that these States will, sooner or later, be most happy to return, and be with us again. An early adjustment that will retain all the rest, and bind them even the closer together, would carry joy through the land.

Even Massachusetts, so much given of late to sentimental politics and mischievous philanthropy, will be glad to adjust on fair terms. Of this I feel satisfied. A reaction of opinion has evidently already begun there. And who is not desirous to retain Massachusetts? Who can, without pain, meditate her possible loss to the Union? The first blood in our first mighty conflict was shed on her soil, and the first blow there struck for and in the defence of the rights of all. In the Senate, and in the field, throughout that great period, her sons were among the foremost in stirring eloquence, cheerful sacrifices, and matchless daring. Their bones almost literally whitened the soil of every State, and the Stripes and Stars when in their hands were ever the certain pledge of victory or death. Who would surrender Concord, Lexington, Bunker Hill?

What American would give up the right to tread within the sacred precincts of Bunker Hill, and there to catch the patriotic Union spirit, which is the very genius of the place? She may have recently, no doubt she has, gone astray. But her error has been but the excess of her virtue. Her love of freedom has caused her to forget that, unless restrained, it soon runs into licentiousness. Her love of freedom has caused her to forget that with us, and as their fathers taught, and all history teaches, that our freedom can only be truly enjoyed and promoted by observing all the obligations of the Constitution.

And I doubt not that she sees the danger now, and is prepared to sanction any measure necessary and proper to arrest it and to make her in heart, as she is in interest and in duty, bound to observe in good faith all its engagements.

South Carolina, too. Who is willing to part with her? Her great names, during the same classic period, won for her and for all, an undying fame. Her Moultries, Pinckneys, Rutledges, Haynes, Marions, Lawrences, do not belong to her alone — they are as much ours as hers; as the fame of Washington is as much the property and pride of the world as of Virginia. She, too, is astray now, as she was once before. She now thinks herself out of the Union. But there is a common tie, however, for a moment imperceptible and inoperative, that still makes us hers, and hers ours. The tie of blood, of language, of religion, of love, of Constitutional freedom, of a common ancestry, who in battle and in council were ever a band of brothers — deliberating, fighting, dying, for our joint liberty and happiness.

Time, time, therefore, that great pacificator, can only be necessary to arouse all to duty — to unite us all — to bring us back to each other “to renewed embraces and increased affection.”

How is that time to be had? I think we should await awhile longer the action of Congress. The most experienced and wisest of its members are daily, hourly, laboring to restore our peace. Success, I believe, will reward their efforts. But this failing, there is still ground of hope. Let the Border States unite in council and announce to the extremes of either section what they think should be done, for their own protection and the general safety, and in no boasting or disparaging spirit, but with affection and firmness, recommend it as the ground on which they are resolved to stand.

I believe, yes, as firmly as I credit my own existence, that such a recommendation would be hailed everywhere with approval. That done the danger is over — peace restored — the Union, the glorious Union preserved, and all its countless blessings secured forever.

It cannot be that such a Union can be destroyed. It cannot be that it is not beyond the reach of folly or of crime.

If asked when I should be for a dissolution [145] of the Union? I answer as the patriotic Clay once answered, and as I know you will answer, “Never, never, never.”

Asked when I'd rend the scroll
     Our fathers' names are written o'er,
When I would see our flag unroll
     Its mingled Stars and Stripes no more
When, with worse than felon hand
     Or felon counsels, I would sever
The Union of this glorious land?
     I answer — never, never! never!!

Think ye that I could brook to see
     The banner I have loved so long
Borne piecemeal o'er the distant sea;
     Torn, trampled by a frenzied throng;
Divided, measured, parcelled out,
     Tamely surrendered up forever,
To gratify a soulless rout
     Of traitors? Never, never! never!!

Independent of the great recollections associated with it, the very country it embraces shows its necessity, and promises and secures its immortality. Its mighty mountains, ranging for hundreds of miles through continuous States; its noble bays, rivers, lakes, only to be prosperously or safely enjoyed under the protection of a common Government; commerce, with other nations, and among States, so vital to the welfare of all; differences of climate and soil and labor and productions, each best for itself, and all vital to the whole. The necessity of a power adequate to the protection of all, as well as of each — of a rank in the community of nations so high as to command respect, enforce rights and repel outrage, so important to all, demonstrates that God and nature intended us to be one.

But whilst these efforts are being made to preserve it, and citizens on all sides are being brought to a sense of reason and duty, what is to be done? Is civil war to commence? Certainly not, unless it be brought on by further outrages on the clearest constitutional rights. South Carolina has violently and most illegally, and, as loyalty says, traitorously, seized upon fortresses, the admitted property of the United States, bought and constructed with their money, and for their protection, and with her consent, and now threatens to seize the rest. But one other, Fort Sumter, is left. It stands protected by the national flag, and its defence, and the honor of the Nation, are, thank God, in the keeping of a faithful and gallant soldier.

The name of Anderson already enjoys an anticipated immortality. Is that fortress to be surrendered? Is he to be abandoned? Forbid it, patriotism! Is that flag that now floats so proudly over him and his command — the pledge of his country's confidence, support, and power, to succumb to the demands of an ungrateful, revolting State, or to be conquered by its superior accidental power? I say, no, no — a thousand times no. The fortress must at all hazards be defended — the power of the National Standard preserved, and the national fame maintained. This has been already sadly neglected, no doubt with good motives, but from misplaced confidence. It recently covered other spots that know it not now. Its place is supplied by one never known to the world, and never to be known.

The Stripes and the Stars have long achieved a glorious name. They have been significant of power wherever they have waved, and commanded the respect and wonder of the world. And yet, in a State that owes so much to it — whose sons have so nobly and so often fought under it — it has been torn down, and vainly sought to be disgraced and conquered. Vain thought! Hear how a native poet speaks of it:

Dread of the proud and beacon to the free,
A hope for other lands — shield of our own,
What hand profane has madly dared advance,
To your once sacred place, a banner strange,
Unknown at Bunker, Monmouth, Cowpens, York,
That Moultrie never reared, or Marion Saw?

If the cannon maintains the honor of our standard, and blood is shed in its defence, it will be because the United States cannot permit its surrender without indelible disgrace and foul abandonment of duty. I have now done, and in conclusion I ask you to do what I am sure you will cheerfully and devoutly do — fervently unite with me in invoking Heaven, in its mercy to us and our race, to interpose and keep us one people under the glorious Union our fathers gave us till time itself shall be no more.

1 from the author's copy.

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