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THE DOCTRINE OF STATE SOVEREIGNTY.
by many great and rare virtues. His election to the Presidency at once capped the climax of that long train of unspeakable wrongs and outrages which the chivalrous South had suffered with such exemplary patience during so many years, from the Northern portion of the Union! There was an extreme and an excess of injury, however, which transcended the limits of even Southern patriotism and endurance, and that extreme had at last been perpetrated!
III. We stated at the beginning, that the third cause which led to the Southern Rebellion, was the assertion of the supremacy of State Rights in opposition to the policy of Federal Centralization. Before concluding this Introduction, it may be proper to dwell briefly on that point.
The seceding States affirmed their privilege to withdraw from the Union on the ground that each individual State possesses the right to take back and recall from the National Government those powers which it delegated to it when the Union was formed, thus resuming its own isolated position and sovereign functions; and that each State possesses this right, separately, at any time when it may think itself aggrieved. Never was a greater absurdity uttered. If indeed the separate States possessed any such right, then each State would in reality be paramount to the Federal Government, and the idea of Federal consolidation becomes an impalpable phantom and a visionary myth. But that no State which once formed a part of this Union possesses, or can possibly possess, any such prerogative, is evident from the following considerations:
The Federal Government was established, not by the States as such, individually, but by the people of the whole collection of States. The Constitution was framed and adopted by those who expressly called themselves "The People." Therefore it is the people of the entire Union only who possess the right to dissolve the Federal Government, if, in any case, they feel disposed, for good and sufficient reasons, so to do. This cardinal doctrine was plainly acknowledged by the very men who adopted the Federal Constitution. Among other declarations of a similar character, we may cite the language of Virginia, uttered when she gave her adhesion to the General Government. She then declared that "the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them, whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression." In this statement no allusion is made to the reserved and sovereign right of the individual States to withdraw. When the people of the seceding States became integral portions of the Federal Government, they bound themselves, as a part of the grand aggregate of the people, to support it, unless, as a grand aggregate, they should become convinced that their interests would be promoted by its dissolution.
The Federal Government was established on this basis, not only for those who framed it, but with the express understanding and covenant
that its provisions should benefit and should bind with equal force those who came after them. The makers of it declared that they established it "for themselves and their posterity." Whatever obligation, therefore, bound the party of the first part attached inevitably to the party of the second part. Both live under the same conditions, and are controlled by the same duties. If the separate States which established the National Government could not as States secede, neither could their descendants. or legal representatives secede; for the latter could inherit and possess no prerogatives which the former did not possess. That those who framed. the Constitution never intended that any individual State as such should claim the right to withdraw from the Union is evident from the signifi cant fact that they made no provision in the Constitution itself for such a process. There is no clause in that instrument which designates the way in which a State shall secede. If those who framed the Federal Government intended that either themselves or their descendants should possess the right, as separate States, to withdraw, they would undoubtedly have provided for the exercise of so important and so fundamental a function.
Those who established the Federal Government expressly condemned this doctrine of State supremacy. They say, "This Constitution shall be the supreme law of the land, any thing in the constitution or laws of a State to the contrary notwithstanding." No assertion could possibly be plainer. This clause declares in substance that the people who estab lished the Federal Government organized it for themselves and for their posterity; that they went into the Union for the purpose of forming component parts of one grand organic political structure, intended for permanent and perpetual duration; and they teach that, should any State undertake to pass laws, or even to adopt a constitution, which shall in any way conflict with the provisions already contained in the Federal Constitution, and in opposition to this purpose, they shall be null and void. Thus, therefore, if any State, as a State, or the people of a single State, shall pass a law in favor of secession, and against the supremacy of the National Government, that law is ipso facto null and void. Now, those States which seceded approved of this clause in the Federal Constitution by their own Representatives in Congress assembled at that time. It therefore binds them and their descendants forever; and the act of secession by any State is, by their own provisions and solemn stipulations, a fraud and a violation of the law which they themselves had sanctioned.
Those who asserted that the Southern States, or any other portion of the Union, have a right to secede on the ground that the Union is a mere compact or partnership between the several States, may be answered and condemned out of their own mouths. Let us admit, for the sake of argument, that the Federal Government is a mere partnership, what then? It necessarily follows that, in order to dissolve it legally and rightfully,
STATE SOVEREIGNTY-DISCUSSION OF THE SUBJECT.
the process must be accomplished precisely as all other partnerships are dissolved. According to the established principles of municipal law there are four processes by which a partnership may be dissolved. The first is by the death of one of the contracting parties. The second is by the expiration of the time for which the partnership was entered into. The third, where no definite period was specified, during which the partnership should continue, by the mutual consent of all the parties to the contract. The fourth is, where such general consent has not been obtained, by giving previous notice to all the parties in interest of an intention to withdraw, and by making a full and final settlement of all the accounts existing between those involved in the partnership.
Now, in the present instance, none of these essential conditions were complied with. No one of the parties who formed the alleged partnership of the Federal Government was extinct. The period of time for which the alleged partnership was entered into had not expired, because no particular period had ever been specified. There remained, therefore, the third condition-the unanimous consent of all the parties to the compact. But that consent was not given; it was refused pertinaciously and clamorously by twenty-three partners out of thirty-four, and those twentythree were the parties who had furnished nine-tenths of the capital, who had borne three-fourths of the expense of the concern, and who had always derived the least profit from its operations. Lastly, no previous legal notice had been given of an intention to withdraw; nor had any provision been made for a full and final adjustment of the accounts and interests existing between the various members of the alleged partnership. If then the Federal Government were a mere compact, where was the right of the Rebel States to secede as they did? By their own showing, their act was illegal; it was a public and national fraud; it was a violation of law and order. It was as unjustifiable as their subsequent repudiation of the debts which they owed the citizens of the North, for almost every commodity which promotes the comfort, refinement, and civilization of human society.
The secession of one or more States from the Union, in this illegal manner, was unjustifiable in another point of view. When the people who established the Federal Government ceded certain sovereign powers to it, which they would otherwise have enjoyed and exercised under their separate State governments, they did it with the implied pledge that they should receive in exchange therefor the benefits of a permanent nationality, which would result from the greater power and influence invested in and exercised by a General Government. That nationality is destroyed, and the benefits once conferred by it are lost, by the secession. of a single State. Therefore the State which thus secedes inflicts an incalculable injury on the rest of the community. What nation was more respected throughout the world, what flag was more honored as it floated
majestically in every clime under heaven, than that of the "United States of North America ?" There was a grandeur and glory associated with that name; bright recollections of the past, glowing visions of the future, inspiring thoughts of freedom, prosperity, enterprise, clustered around it, which invested it with deathless interest. Despots trembled in the recesses of their palaces, the people everywhere shouted with exultation and joy, when they heard it repeated. What was the cause of this? It was because the nation was then a unit. L'union fait la force. But now, because the nation was divided, its glory departed; it became a laughing stock to tyrants; and the friends of humanity and rational freedom in every land sighed with regret at the lamentable spectacle. This result was produced by the act of secession, which inflicted an incalcula ble injury upon those who were entitled to benefits. But the seceding "States had also themselves enjoyed advantages from the same source in a preeminent degree; they were bound, therefore, both by gratitude and by interest, to preserve the Union intact and perpetual.
There was but one answer to these arguments, and that answer is an absurdity. It was asserted by the advocates of secession that, having no longer the majority in Congress, they could no longer mould the laws so as thereby to promote their own interests; and especially that they could not obtain the admission of new Territories into the Union with slavery expressly protected and allowed in them. People from the free States, they said, could convey their various kinds of property, to those new Territories, and could have their titles thereto protected; but emigrants from Southern States could not remove their slaves thither and retain possession of them; hence, it was high time to secede. The answer is: that the Southern States themselves assisted in establishing those very laws by which a certain definite majority rules in the National Legislature. They approved of those laws and obeyed them, as long as they operated to their own benefit and promoted their own aggrandizement. But if, in the course of time the South lost the majority which the Constitution requires and with that majority the controlling power, were they justified in repudiating the government which they had helped to construct, and had sworn to support? On the contrary they were obligated, as men of honor, honesty and veracity, to accept the legitimate consequences of their own free and deliberate acts.
POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA, ETC.
EFFECT OF MR LINCOLN'S ELECTION IN THE
SOUTH-POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN SOUTH
CAROLINA AND GEORGIA-EXCITEMENT IN CHARLESTON-PRELIMINARY ACTS AND EVENTS—
On the 6th of November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was chosen President of the United States, receiving the votes of seventeen States, or of one hundred and eighty electors out of three hundred and three. As soon as the unwelcome intelligence was conveyed by telegraphic flashes to South Carolina and Georgia, an ebullition of intense indignation and disgust instantly burst forth throughout the length and breadth of those ancient communities. How quickly and promptly they were prepared to assume the attitude of rebels against the Federal Government, was demonstrated by the significant fact, that, on the very day after the one on which the general election was held, resolutions were adopted by both branches of the Legislature of South Carolina, then assembled at Columbia, in favor of calling a convention of the people of the State to act upon the question of secession, to re-organize the militia, and to prepare for military operations. There seemed to be so settled a determination among the politicians and representatives of that State to assume the part which they afterward enacted, that very little preliminary deliberation was necessary to fit them for decisive measures.
Nor were the leaders of popular opinion in South Carolina much in advance of their confederates in the neighboring State of Georgia. On the 8th of November a large meeting of the prominent citizens of Savannah was held in that city, who adopted resolutions admitting the necessity and commending the policy of secession. Great enthusiasm prevailed in the assembly, which passed, without a dissenting voice, a series of resolutions which set forth, that the election of Lincoln and Hamlin was an outrage which "ought not and will not be submitted to;" that a petition. be sent to the Legislature, then in session at Milledgeville, desiring them to co-operate with the Governor of the State in calling a convention of the people to determine on measures of redress; that the Legislature be requested to pass laws to meet the commercial crisis which impended, and