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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!
The time for Missouri to risk her destiny upon the dark sea of revolution has not, and God grant that it may never, come. In this whole secession movement there has been most marked precipitancy. The men engaged in it seemed to shun deliberate action, and were not willing to trust the settlement of these matters to the people themselves. For just in proportion as men of sense contemplate the effect of Disunion just so will they shrink from it. We hear much talk about the Northern and Southern Confederacy, but no man can conjecture even what will be the state of things which Disunion, actually accomplished, will bring about; for an hundred questions involving a conflict of interest and a diversity of views, and leading almost certainly to civil war, must be settled before the fact of Disunion will be recognized. What about our national debt; who is to pay it?
What about the free navigation of the Mississippi River—our "inland sea"; who is to control it?
What about a division of the Territories, the common property of the people of all the States ?
What about the national capital, and all the public property and archives connected with it, belonging now to us all? Who is to own them? What about the army of the United States? And our navy, whose canvas whitens every sea? Can these, think you, be amicably divided? What about the Washington monument? Who's to complete it, and after completion who's to own it?
What about Mount Vernon -the home and resting place of Washington? Are any portion of the American people ready to give up their part of this precious inheritance?
What about the military defenses of the country, our dockyards, forts, and arsenals?
What about a railroad to the Pacific? Is this great work to be abandoned?
What about the American flag? Is it to be given up, dishonored, and disgraced, its stars obscured and its stripes erased ?
What about the other thousand charming and delightful associations connected with our country's brief history, which cluster around every patriotic heart, and which will be mainly valuable to us and to our children as incentives to nobler efforts in the cause of our country, and of liberty and humanity? Are the people ready to run all these risks, to suppress all these emotions, to sacrifice all that is dear to them on the altar of prejudice and of passion, without a full trial, exhausting every argument which reason and honor and patriotism may furnish towards the settlement of all surrounding difficulties? I think I may answer for the people of the State of Missouri, No! And whenever the question is put to them, asking when they will favor a dissolution of the Union, if they do not respond in the language of
the great patriot of Ashland, " Never, never, never," they will at least say, not until every effort at compromise which the wisest heads and hearts of her most patriotic statesmen can devise is finally given up. They will answer that for the sake of peace they will yield much; but if questions come which extort the arbitrament of the sword we will fight it out in that Union which our fathers gave us― this priceless jewel we will never willingly give up, and, if sink we must, we shall be proud to go down with a cause which embraces all the hopes of progress, of civilization, and human liberty.
At the same time I speak so warmly for the Union and its preservation allow me to say, now that the "fight is up," the people should be content with nothing less than such a settlement of all pending questions of difficulty between the North and the South as will hush forever this eternal sectional strife and sectional wrangling. For if this be not done it will be but a short time before we shall hear again of secession, revolution, disunion! The Crittenden proposition - the Border State Compromise- the plan proposed in the report of the Committee of Thirty-three-any of these will do as a basis. of settlement; and if all these are likely to fail, let us urge the course suggested by the Legislature of "Old Kentucky," the birthplace of many of us, to call a Convention of all the States and endeavor to have the Federal Constitution satisfactorily amended, and in the mode provided for in the instrument itself. But let us not in Missouri stake our all upon any ultimatum of our own before first consulting with other States similarly situated.
I have great hope of the action of the Convention suggested by Virginia, and which assembles on the 4th inst. Above all let the border States stick together until all hope of adjustment has failed; for their interests are identical, or nearly so, and they must share a common destiny.
In the meantime the States which have passed ordinances of secession will have time for serious reflection, and they will have experienced, too, in some small degree, some of the evils of separation, and I have every hope that they will return and embrace any compromise that may be agreed upon by the border slave States. The occasion calls for deliberation it is not a season for fiery invective and denunciation; let us pursue the one and avoid the other.
I hear the question frequently asked, Are you in favor of coercion ? I answer promptly that I am not at present, for the very attempt at coercion destroys at once all hope of a peaceful settlement of the questions. I would oppose the sending of armed men into any of the seceding States now for the purpose of forcing them back into the Union, or of compelling subjection. And whilst I do not favor coercion on the part of the general Government now, I am just as far from favoring the coercion of the general Government by South Carolina! We all know that too much of this thing has been practised already by that State, and if persisted in it may become
in self-defense the duty of the general Government to protect its property, its soldiery, and its flag without regard to consequences. I am, nevertheless, in favor of the "Union, the Constitution, and the enforcement of the laws." I have been too recent and too earnest an advocate of this excellent platform to abandon now either of its planks. I stand upon them all; and whilst compromise fair and honorable, preservation and not " ruin first and reconstruction afterwards "should be the watchwords, as they were with the fathers of the Republic in framing the Government, and have been time and again since, and whilst in times like these when there is such a conflict of passion and of interest and opinion, it is the duty of patriotic men to yield their opinions on questions of mere public policy, and their abstract ideas of right for the good of our common country- there are some matters in my view which no man can yield, the integrity of the Government itself, its existence, its permanency. These are questions that can only be yielded at the close of peaceful separation or a successful revolution! Until one of these things occurs the Constitution must be obeyed, and the laws passed in pursuance of it must be enforced North and South, not at the point of the bayonet, or with the sword, but by those civil processes to which we are all accustomed in the execution of those laws to which we all appeal to enforce our rights and remedy our wrongs. To act upon any other theory would be at once destructive of all government, and turn us over to the wild fury of a lawless mob. Anarchy would usurp the throne where the law should reign, and there would be no security for life, liberty, or property save in the strongest
If civil officers cannot be found to execute the laws as they are, in some of the States, then the laws must remain, of necessity, a "dead letter " until repealed, or until reason assumes its wonted sway over the public mind.
But with you I pray for a return of peace, for the restoration of kind feeling, for the salvation of the Union; and when the storm which now rages with so much fury shall have passed by, I trust we may all gaze upon a brighter sun and clearer sky, and that we shall see the "old ship" with her priceless cargo and her happy crew gliding over a smooth and tranquil sea with every sail unfurled, and floating from her mast-head that same bright and beautiful banner, inscribed with the motto as it kisses each passing breeze: The United States of America: One Union-One Constitution -One Destiny! Most faithfully your friend,
JAS. S. ROLLINS.