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This, sir, is not the first time, even during my little experience here, that the same claim has been made on this floor; and this seems more astonishing, because the archives of the country furnish such ample and undoubted materials for its refutation. The question of the comparative contributions of men by different States and sections of the country in the war of the Revolution, was brought forward as early as 1790, in the first Congress under the Constitution, in the animated and protracted debate on the assumption of State debts by the Union. On this occasion Fisher Ames, a Representative from Massachusetts, memorable for his classic eloquence, moved a call upon the War Department for the number of men furnished by each State to the Revolutionary armies. This motion, though vehemently opposed, was carried by a small [239] majority. Shortly afterwards, the answer to the call was received from the Department, at that time under the charge of General Knox. This answer, which is one of the documents of our history, places beyond cavil or criticism the exact contributions in arms of each State. Here it is—copied from the first volume of the American Archives. Statement of the number of troops and militia furnished by the several States, for the support of the Revolutionary war, from 1775 to 1783, inclusive.

Number of continental troops.Number of militia.Total militia & continental troops.Conjectural estimate of militia.
Northern States.
New Hampshire12,4962,09314,5987,300
Massachusetts67,93715,15583,092 9,500
Rhode Island5,9084,28410,192 1,500
Connecticut32,0397,79239,831 3,000
New York17,7813,31221,093 8,750
Pennsylvania25,6087,35732,965 2,000
New Jersey10,7276,05516,782 2,500
Total172,49646,048218,553 30,950
Southern States.
North Carolina7,2632,7169,96912,000
South Carolina5,508——5,50828,000

It should be understood that, at this time, there was but little difference in numbers between the population of the Southern States and that of the Northern States. By the census of 1790, the Southern had a population of 1,956,354; the Northern had a population of 1,968,455. But, notwithstanding this comparative equality of population in the two sections, the North furnished vastly more men than the South.

Of continental troops, the Southern States furnished 58,421; the Northern furnished 172,496; making about three men furnished to the continental army by the Northern States to one from the Southern.

Of militia, whose services are authenticated by the War Office, the Southern States furnished 12,719; the Northern furnished 46,048; making nearly four men furnished to the militia by the Northern States to one from the Southern. [240]

Of militia, whose services were not authenticated by the War Office, but are set down in the return as conjectural only, we have 76,810 furnished by the Southern States and 30,950 furnished by the Northern; making, under this head, more than two men furnished by the Southern to one from the Northern. The chief services of the Southern States—for which the venerable Senator now claims so much—it will be observed with a smile, were conjectural only!

Looking, however, at the sum total of continental troops, authenticated militia and conjectural militia, we have 147,940 furnished by the Southern States, while 249,503 were furnished by the Northern; making 100,000 men furnished to the war by the Northern more than the Southern.

But the disparity swells when we directly compare South Carolina and Massachusetts. Of continental troops, and authenticated militia, and conjectural militia, South Carolina furnished 33,508, while Massachusetts furnished 92,592; making in the latter sum nearly three men for one furnished by South Carolina. Look, however, at the continental troops and the authenticated militia furnished by the two States, and here you will find only 5,508 furnished by South Carolina, while 83,092 were furnished by Massachusettsbeing sixteen times more than by South Carolina, and much more than by all the Southern States together. Here are facts and figures of which the Senator ought not to be ignorant.

Did the occasion require, I might go further, and minutely portray the imbecility of the Southern States, and particularly of South Carolina, in the war of the Revolution, as compared with the Northern States. This is a sad chapter of history, upon which I unwillingly dwell. Faithful annals record that, as early as 1778, the six South Carolina regiments, composing, with the Georgia regiment, the regular force of the Southern Department, did not, in the whole, muster above eight hundred men; nor was it possible to fill up their ranks. During the succeeding year, the Governor of South Carolina, pressed by the British forces, offered to stipulate the neutrality of his State during the war, leaving it to be decided at the peace to whom it should belong—a premonitory symptom of the secession proposed in our own day! At last, after the fatal field of Camden, no organized American force was left in this region. The three Southern States—animis opibusque parati, according to the vaunt of the Senator—had not a single battalion in the field! During all this period the men of Massachusetts were serving their country, not at home, but away from their own borders; for, from the time of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts never saw the smoke of an enemy's camp. [241]

At last, by the military genius and remarkable exertions of General Greene, a Northern man, who assumed the command of the Southern army, South Carolina was rescued from the British power. But the trials of this successful leader reveal, in a striking manner, the weakness of the ‘slaveholding’ State which he saved. Some of these are graphically presented in his letters. Writing to Governor Reed, of Pennsylvania, under date of 3d May, 1781, he says:—

‘Those whose true interest it was to have informed Congress and the people to the northward of the real state of things, have joined in the deception, and magnified the strength and resources of this country infinitely above their ability. Many of those, who adhere to our party, are so fond of pleasure, that they cannot think of making the necessary sacrifices to support the Revolution. There are many good and virtuous people to the southward; but they cannot animate the inhabitants in general, as you can to the northward.’—Gordon's History of American Revolution, vol. IV. p. 87.

Writing to Colonel Davies, under date of 23d May, 1781, he exposes the actual condition of the country:—

‘The animosity between the Whigs and Tories of this State renders their situation truly deplorable. There is not a day passes but there are more or less who fall a sacrifice to this savage disposition. The Whigs seem determined to extirpate the Tories, and the Tories the Whigs. Some thousands have fallen in this way in this quarter, and the evil rages with more violence than ever. If a stop cannot be soon put to these massacres, the country will be depopulated in a few months more, as neither Whig nor Tory can live.’

To Lafayette, General Greene, under date of 29th December, 1780, describes the weakness of his troops:

‘It is now within a few days of the time you mentioned of being with me. Were you to arrive, you would find a few ragged, half-starved troops in the wilderness, destitute of everything necessary for either the comfort or convenience of soldiers.’ * * * ‘The country is almost laid waste, and the inhabitants plunder one another with little less than savage fury. We live from hand to mouth, and have nothing to subsist on but what we collect with armed parties. In this situation, I believe you will agree with me, there is nothing inviting this way, especially when I assure you our whole force fit for duty, that are properly clothed and properly equipped, does not amount to eight hundred men.’—Johnson's life of Greene, vol. i. p. 340.

Writing to Mr. Varnum, a member of Congress, he says:—

‘There is a great spirit of enterprise prevailing among the militia of these Southern States, especially with the volunteers. But their mode of going to war is so destructive, that it is the greatest folly in the [242] world to trust the liberties of a people to such a precarious defence.’— Johnson's Life of Greene, vol. i. p. 397.

Nothing can be more authentic or complete than this testimony. Here, also, is what is said by David Ramsay, an estimable citizen of South Carolina, in his History of the Revolution in that State, published in 1785, only a short time after the scenes which he describes:—

‘While the American soldiers lay encamped (in the low country near Charleston), their tattered rags were so completely worn out, that seven hundred of them were as naked as they were born, excepting a small strip of cloth about their waists, and they were nearly as destitute of meat as of clothing.’—Vol. i. p. 258.

The military weakness of this ‘slaveholding community’ is too apparent. Earn now its occasion: and then join with me in amazement that a Senator from South Carolina should attribute our independence to anything ‘slaveholding.’ The records of the country, and various voices, all disown his brag for Slavery. The State of South Carolina, by authentic history, disowns it. Listen, if you please, to peculiar and decisive testimony, under date of 29th March, 1779, from the Secret Journal of the Continental Congress:—

‘The Committee appointed to take into consideration the circumstances of the Southern States, and the ways and means for their safety and defence, report, that the State of South Carolina (as represented by the Delegates of the said State, and by Mr. Huger, who has come here at the request of the Governor of the said State, on purpose to explain the circumstances thereof) is Unable to make any effectual efforts with militia, by reason of the great proportion of citizens necessary to remain at home, to prevent insurrection among the negroes, and to prevent the desertion of them to the enemy. That the state of the country, and the great number of these people among them, expose the inhabitants to great danger, from the endeavors of the enemy to excite them to revolt or desert.’—Vol. i. p. 105.

Here is South Carolina secretly disclosing her military weakness, and its ignoble occasion; thus repudiating, in advance, the vaunt of her Senator, who finds strength and gratulation in Slavery rather than in Freedom. It was during the war that she thus shrived herself, on bended knees, in the confessional of the Continental Congress. But the same ignominious confession was made, some time after the war, in open debate, on the floor of Congress, by Mr. Burke, a Representative from South Carolina:—

‘There is not a gentleman on the floor who is a stranger to the feeble situation of our State, when we entered into the war to oppose the British power. We were not only without money, without an army [243] or military stores, but we were few in number, and likely to be entangled with our domestics, in case the enemy invaded us.’—Annals of Congress, 1789, 1791, vol. II. p. 1484.

Similar testimony to the weakness engendered by Slavery was also borne by Mr. Madison, in open debate in Congress:

‘Every addition they (Georgia and South Carolina) receive to their number of slaves, tends to weaken them, and render them less capable of self-defence.’—Annals of Congress, vol. i. p. 340.

The historian of South Carolina, Dr. Ramsay, a contemporary observer of the very scenes which he describes, also exposes this weakness:—

‘The forces under the command of General Provost marched through the richest settlements of the State, where are the fewest white inhabitants in proportion to the number of slaves. The hapless Africans, allured with the hope of Freedom, forsook their owners, and repaired in great numbers to the royal army. They endeavored to recommend themselves to their new masters by discovering where their owners had concealed their property, and were assisting in carrying it off.’— History of South Carolina, vol. i. p. 312.

And the same candid historian, describing the invasion of the next year, says:—

‘The slaves a second time flocked to the British army.’—Vol. i. p. 336.

And at a still later day, Mr. Justice Johnson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, and a citizen of South Carolina, in his elaborate Life of General Greene, speaking of negro slaves, makes the same unhappy admission. He says:—

‘But the number dispersed through these (Southern) States was very great; so great, as to render it impossible for the citizens to muster freemen enough to withstand the pressure of the British arms.’—Vol. II. p. 472.

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