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faint-hearted men that they despond; the Democratic party, they say, is unconquerable, and the dominion of slavery is consequently inevitable. I reply to them that the complete and universal dominion of slavery would be intolerable enough when it should have come after the last possible effort to escape should have been made. There would, in that case, be left to us the consoling reflection of fidelity to duty.
But I reply, further, that I know-few, I think, know better than I-the resources and energies of the Democratic party, which is identical with the slave power. I do ample justice to its traditional popularity. I know further-few, I think, know better than I-the difficulties and disadvantages of organizing a new political force like the Republican party, and the obstacles it must encounter in laboring without prestige and without patronage. But, notwithstanding all this, I know that the Democratic party must go down and that the Republican party must rise into its place. The Democratic party derived its strength, originally, from its adoption of the principles of equal and exact justice to all men. So long as it practiced this principle faithfully, it was invulnerable. It became vulnerable when it renounced the principle, and since that time it has maintained itself, not by virtue of its own strength, or even of its traditional merits, but because there as yet had appeared in the political field no other party that had the conscience and the courage to take up, and avow, and practice the lifeinspiring principles which the Democratic party had surrendered. At last the Republican party has appeared. It avows now, as the Republican party of 1800 did, in one word, its faith and its works: "Equal and exact justice to all men." Even when it first entered the field, only half organized, it struck a blow which only just failed to secure complete and triumphant victory. In this, its second campaign, it has already won advantages which render that triumph now both easy and certain.
The secret of its assured success lies in that very characteristic which, in the mouth of scoffers, constitutes its great and lasting imbecility and reproach. It lies in the fact that it is a party of one idea; but that idea is a noble one-an idea that fills and expands all generous souls; the idea of equality, the equality of all men before human tribunals and human laws, as they are all equal before the Divine tribunal and Divine laws.
I know, and you know, that a revolution has begun. I know, and all the world knows, that revolutions never go backward. Twenty Senators and a hundred Representatives proclaim boldly in Congress to-day sentiments and opinions and principles of
THE IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT''
[The Republican party throwing Seward overboard]
From the collection of the New York Public Library
freedom which hardly so many men, even in this free State, dared to utter in their own homes twenty years ago. While the Government of the United States, under the conduct of the Democratic party, has been all that time surrendering one plain and castle after another to slavery, the people of the United States have been no less steadily and perseveringly gathering together the forces with which to recover back again all the fields and all the castles which have been lost, and to confound and overthrow, by one decisive blow, the betrayers of the Constitution and freedom forever.
The question of constructing a railroad to the Pacific Ocean exclusively through the Northern States came up during the next session of Congress, and, in opposing this project as a sectional one, Senator Alfred Iverson [Ga.] on January 6, 1859, referred to the "irrepressible conflict" between the North and South as certain to lead to the dissolution of the Union and the formation of a Southern Confederacy.
THE INEVITABLE DISSOLUTION OF THE UNION
Speaking of the Union, sir, I take occasion to say that there is another reason connected with it which makes me object to any bill, the provisions of which will secure the Government aid in the construction of a railroad to the Pacific, exclusively confined to the Northern States. Sir, I believe that the time will come when the slave States will be compelled, in vindication of their rights, interests, and honor, to separate from the free States, and erect an independent confederacy; and I am not sure, sir, that the time is not near at hand when that event will occur. At all events, I am satisfied that one of two things is inevitable; either that the slave States must surrender their peculiar institutions or separate from the North. I do not intend, on this occasion, to enter into an elaborate or prolonged discussion of this proposition. I content myself with expressing my firm belief and a brief allusion to the foundation of that opinion. It is unnecessary to look back to the commencement of the anti-slavery agitation in the Northern States and to trace its regular and rapid growth to its present monstrous proportions.
I remember twenty-five years ago, when petitions were first
presented to Congress for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia; it was the beginning of the agitation and was limited to a few deluded religious fanatics among the men and some of the weaker sex of the New England States. It nevertheless aroused the fears and excited the angry feelings of many of the Southern people; it produced much discussion in Congress and among the newspaper press of the Southern States. Many expressed their belief that it was the beginning of a storm which was to sweep over the free States, carrying everything before it; but they were met with the siren song which the distinguished Senator from South Carolina [James H. Hammond] has recently so eloquently poured forth, "there is no danger; slavery is too strong to be overturned; let the sound, conservative mind and heart of the North be appealed to, and all will be right; our friends there will protect us." Behold the result in the late elections! With the bold, undisguised declaration of hostility to slavery at the South, as enunciated by the great leader of its enemes at Rochester, with his loudsounding pronunciamento of "down with the accursed thing"; with the bloody flag of anti-slavery unfurled, and "war to the knife" written upon its folds, there is not at this day a majority of true, conservative friends of the rights of the South in a single free State of this Union this side of the Rocky Mountains. The demon of abolition, in his most hideous shape, has covered them all over with the footprints of his onward and remorseless march to power.
Sir, he knows but little of the workings of human nature who supposes that the spirit of anti-slavery fanaticism which now pervades the Northern heart will stop short of its favorite and final end and aim-the universal emancipation of slavery in the United States by the operation and action of the Federal Government. When Mr. Wilberforce began the agitation of his scheme of emancipation in the British West India Islands there was not a corporal's guard in both Houses of the British Parliament who sympathized with him or approved the movement; and yet, in less than a quarter of a century, all England became abolitionized, and perpetrated, by a decree in Parliament, one of the most arbitrary and outrageous violations of private rights which was ever inflicted by despotic power upon peaceful and loyal subjects. And so it will be in this country. The same spirit which brought about emancipation in the British islands will produce it here whenever the power is obtained to pass and to enforce its decrees. When the present Republican party, or its legitimate successors in some other name, shall get
possession of the Government; when it has the President, both Houses of Congress, and the judiciary, what will stay its hand? It cannot stand still; if it does, it dies. To live and reign, it must go on. Step by step it will be driven onward in its mad career until either slavery is abolished or the Union is dissolved. One of these two things is as inevitable as death.
I know that there are men even in the South who, like the distinguished Senator from South Carolina, argue that slavery is stronger and safer now in the Union than it ever has beenthat the South, by unity and concert, can always combine with a party at the North sufficiently strong to carry the elections and control the action of the Federal Government. In my opinion, there never was a greater mistake. Suppose the election of President were to come off at this time, and all the Southern States, including even Maryland, were united upon a candidate: how many free States would he carry? Perhaps California, and Oregon if she is admitted; but not another State. The recent elections show clearly that the Abolitionists have not only a decided but an overwhelming majority in every free State on the Atlantic slope. In all the late elections, conservative and sound Democracy, the only element sympathizing with the South, has not carried a single free State. I do not consider the triumph of the distinguished Senator from Illinois [Mr. Douglas] as a victory of sound Democracy. It was a victory of FreeSoil Democracy over Abolition Whiggery, and no more; and I would not give a copper for the difference. So far as the South and her constitutional rights are concerned, it was a victory over her and over them. I would not turn on my heel for choice between the Wilmot proviso and the squatter-sovereignty doctrine and policy of the Senator from Illinois. Indeed, sir, if I was driven to select between them, I would take the former. It is open, manly, and decisive; it settles the question at once by debarring the Southern people, in terms, from entering the Territories with their slave property; it is an open and undisguised denial of right to the South, which the South could resist or submit to, as her sense of honor or her policy might dictate, while the squatter-sovereignty doctrine and practice, as defined by its distinguished advocate, is plausible, delusive, deceptive, and fatal. No man of common sense can suppose that under it the South will ever obtain another foot of territory or add another slave State to this Union. Both are political heresies, finding no authority in the Constitution; equally violative of the rights of the Southern people, subversive of their equality