« PreviousContinue »
yoke, and establish a government better adapted to our condition and the promotion of our peace and happiness.
I hold, however, that no such causes as yet exist with us to justify the revolution of which I speak. It is an extreme remedy to meet an extreme case, and only to be resorted to when all other efforts have failed to accomplish the desired end.
But referring more particularly to the causes of complaint which exist in the Southern States, I entertain the opinion that Disunion is not a remedy for any of the evils complained of. So far from it, and I speak especially in regard to our own State, it occurs to me that Disunion will be an aggravation of all these difficulties. Will the breaking up of Government insure the repeal of the personal-liberty bills of the Northern States? What becomes of the fugitive-slave law with a broken Confederacy? Have we any longer any claim whatever on the Northern States to restore back to us our fugitive slaves? Will we not by this act bring to our very doors a Canadian frontier of eight hundred miles, inviting the escape of all the slaves in the State, and without any power whatever to reclaim them? Will not Disunion bring upon us the necessity of a standing army to protect this extended frontier, involving us in a heavy and ruinous taxation, and all the dangers of constant collision with the people of Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas? In short, is not Disunion to us at once an act to emancipate all the slaves of the State and under circumstances to keep up a constant warfare between the people of our own and neighboring free States? Will the rights of the South be better secured in the Territories out of the Union than in it ? As matters now stand, there is not a Territory belonging to the United States to which the slave-owner has not the right to carry his slaves. In the Territory north of the line 36° 30' this right is claimed under the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.
By an act of Congress Arizona has been attached to New Mexico; and by an act of the Territorial Legislature of New Mexico slavery is established there. And these embrace all the territories of the United States save the Indian Territory, west of Arkansas, held by the Indians under treaty stipulations with the general Government, and even in this Territory I am informed that slavery actually exists. In what respects, then, are the rights of the South in the Territories likely to be better guaranteed out of the Union than in it?
Is it mere apprehension that the present laws will be repealed, and decisions overturned, and no other sufficient concessions made? But must not every man know and feel that dissolution not only cuts off the South from most of the Territories now owned by us, but most probably, even if the Southern States desire it, puts an effective check on the extension of slavery for all time to come? And this is the light in which the extreme Abolition
ists of the Northern States view the question. Not only so, but they look upon Disunion as the death-knell of slavery in the States! Being no longer upheld and protected by the strong arm of the national Government; with the prejudices of the people of the Northern States arrayed against it, without a single obligation left upon them in any way to sustain it, and, besides this, encountering a still sterner opposition than heretofore from all the governments of the world, how else than prejudicially can Disunion operate upon this institution of the Southern States? In a speech delivered a few days since at Boston, Mr. Wendell Phillips, the most able and perhaps the most zealous of all the Northern Abolitionists, rejoicing at the prospect of Disunion, said:
"The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." "The Covenant with Death is annulled; the Agreement with Hell is broken to pieces." The chain which has held the slave system since 1787 is parted. Thirty years ago Northern leaders, sixteen years ago Northern Abolitionists announced their purpose to seek the dissolution of the American Union. Who deemed that success would come so soon? South Carolina, bankrupt, alone, with thousands more slaves than whites, four blacks to three whites within her border, flings her gauntlet at the feet of twenty-five millions of people in defense of an idea. I would New England could count one State as fearless among her six. Call it not madness of an engineer who places himself in front of his cannon at the moment of discharge; call it rather the forlorn hope of the mariner seizing a plank or spar in the fury of the storm. The mistake of South Carolina is, she fancies there is more chance of saving slavery outside of the Union than inside. Three States have followed her example. Probably the rest of the slave States, or many of them, will find themselves unable to resist the infection, and then the whole merciless conspiracy of 1787 is ended, and timid men will dare to hate slavery without trembling for bread or life.
Disunion is Abolition!
That is all the value Disunion has for me. I care nothing for forms of Government. No foreign State dare touch us, united or disunited. It matters not to me whether Massachusetts is worth one thousand millions, as now, or two thousand, as she might be if she had no Carolina to feed, protect, and carry the mail for. The music of Disunion to me is, that at its touch the slave breaks into voice, shouting his jubilee.
Hear also the language of Lloyd Garrison, another noted Abolitionist: At last the covenant with death is annulled and the agreement with hell broken by the action of South Carolina herself, and ere long by all the slaveholding States, for their doom is one. Hail the approaching jubilee, ye millions who are wearing the galling chains of slavery, for assuredly the day of your redemption draws nigh, bringing liberty to you and salvation to the whole land. Justice and liberty, God and man demand the dissolution of this slaveholding Union, and the formation of a Northern confederacy in which slaveholders will stand before the laws as felons and be treated as pirates.
But again, will a dissolution of the Union change in any respect the opinions and moral sentiments or alter the conduct of the people of the Northern States? I think not; and hence I am for standing by the Union as our fathers transmitted it to us, and fighting in it, with all the weapons of argument, persuasion, and truth, and if need be with all other kinds of weapons, for those rights which are fairly guaranteed to us in the common bond of Union, the Constitution of the United States.
I am opposed to sectionalism whether it comes from the North or the South. Washington, whilst he advised the children of the Republic to love and stick to the Union, at the same time warned them against the danger of forming parties upon geographical lines. I quote from his farewell address, a document that ought to be placed now in the hands of every voter in the land:
In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it occurs as a matter of serious concern that any ground should have been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discriminations-Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western; whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to acquire influence within particular districts is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourself too much from the jealousies and heart-burnings which spring from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal affections.
From what I have said you will readily conclude that I am opposed to the action of those States which have seceded. I deny that there is any such constitutional right as secession! The framers of that inimitable instrument provided the manner of admitting new States into the Union, but they were careful not to provide how any State once admitted could get out of it, except by an amendment of the Constitution. And the very object of this omission was to give permanency to the Government which they were founding. Surely it was never contemplated by them that any State upon its own motion, and for the most trivial cause, could have the power to break up the Government by withdrawing from it. Certainly it was their design to give some sort of efficiency to the national machine. Suppose insurrection were to happen, or any of the States be attacked by a foreign foe, can the United States Government be absolved from its constitutional duty to suppress the one or repel the other? And is not the allegiance of every State in the Union, to the general Government, just as obligatory as is the duty of the general Government to protect and defend the States? These duties and obligations, it occurs to me, are reciprocal, and cannot under the Constitution be disregarded by either party.
The founders of our Government did not deny the doctrine of the right of revolution for sufficient cause, for the very Government which they were establishing was the result of a revolution which they themselves had started; and if those who favor secession would call it by its right name, they would be better understood. The question would then be whether there was sufficient or justifiable cause for putting on foot this revolution, and, further, whether those who are engaged in it will be able to maintain it. And to the nations of the world they might appeal for an answer to these questions.
I repeat, every man who loves his country is most anxious to see peace restored, and I have an abiding faith that it will be, and our glorious Union made stronger than ever in the hearts and affections of the people. And I view with gratitude and admiration the sublime efforts of those noble patriots all over the land who are lending their aid in the work of pacification. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!" Although several States have passed ordinances of secession, and others may yet do the same thing, I cannot bring myself to believe that they intend to relinquish for ever their respective positions in the Union! They must intend to come back. They surely will not take the risk which a final separation will involve. And rather than to allow the danger which an appeal to the " ultima ratio regum" must initiate, the North will yield and guarantee every Constitutional right which the South ought to demand. This is my hope this is my faith. The people are attached to the Union; they love it for the great blessings which it secures to them; and they hate Disunion because of the unspeakable horrors, the loss of liberty, the destruction of happiness, the constant war, the prostration of all trade and commerce, the taxation, the bankruptcy and ruin, and the final despotism which it will inevitably entail upon them and their posterity! The people love the Union because of the glorious memories connected with it, and though demagogues and madmen may shatter it to pieces their hearts will still yearn towards it.
You may break, you may shatter the vase if you will,
Until every effort to save it is exhausted, how is it possible for an intelligent people to give up a Government a Constitution-like ours, standing out as it does upon the records of humanity as the noblest monument of human wisdom, and next to the miracles wrought by our Saviour when he wandered upon earth?
Suppose you that the South Carolinians feel no farther interest in the names of Lexington, of Concord, and of Bunker Hill? And that in the heart of the Massachusetts man no proud emotions swell at the mention of Yorktown, and Camden, and Eutaw Springs? Why, sir, in this very Congres
sional District whose kind and patriotic voters have honored me as their humble Representative, we have in two counties the names of Warren and Marion, linked inseparably together, favored sons of Massachusetts and South Carolina, the one first to pour out the warm current of his heart in the cause of American liberty upon the field of Bunker Hill, and the other sealing his devotion to the same sacred cause by fighting through our entire Revolutionary conflict.
It has been well, and I have no doubt truthfully, said that there is to-day many a man in Charleston and in the piney woods of South Carolina wearing the blue cockade upon his hat but the Stars and Stripes in his heart. The patriotism of the American people is a living thing; and it is not so sectional as to confine itself within the narrow precincts of a single State; it is as broad as the continent, and as deep seated as their love of liberty, and as the very faith within them and upon which they stake their hopes of immortality.
In the language of that noble old Kentucky patriot Crittenden, "The dissolution of this Union would be the greatest shock which could be given to civilization. In it we risk the danger of not only destroying our own. happiness and liberty, but we crush out the sentiment and take away from struggling and almost triumphant humanity in the Old World the only example of free government based upon written constitutions and the will and affections of the people. Destroy it, and their hopes sink within them; they will feel that the sun of liberty has gone down, to shine upon them no more forever! Talk not to me about a reconstruction. If we cannot uphold and save the beautiful temple in all its grand and majestic proportions, it is not probable that we shall be enabled to gather up its broken fragments, and replace them again in all their strength and beauty and magnificence."
A combination of circumstances - a combination of wonderful men, the like of whom the world had never before, and will never probably behold again, were united in that great Revolution out of which was born the State and Federal Governments which now compose our glorious Union. Let us be cautious how we try experiments on this their almost perfect work. For one, and as an humble citizen of the Republic, I am not prepared to give up the Stars and Stripes, that banner of beauty and glory, the ensign of the nation now known and honored throughout the whole earth, and substitute instead some miserable local or Pelican Palmetto flag. I rather embrace and hold to the significant motto, emblazoned with the "coat of arms" of our own proud commonwealth, "United we stand, divided we fall." All these questions of party advantage should be lost sight of; all questions of public policy, State and national, should yield and be held subordinate to the one grand idea of the restoration of peace, fraternity, union!