Page images
PDF
EPUB

first victims. Its first magistrate can not, if he would, avoid the performance of his duty. The consequence must be fearful for you, distressing to your fellow-citizens here, and to the friends of good government throughout the world.

Snatch from the archives of your state the disorganizing edict of its Convention; bid the members to reassemble and promulgate the decided expressions of your will to remain in the faith which alone can conduct you to safety, prosperity, and honor. Tell them that, compared to disunion, all other evils are light, because that brings with it an accumulation of ills. Declare that you will never take the field unless the star-spangled banner of your country shall float over you; that you will not be stigmatized when dead, and dishonored and scorned while you live, as the authors of the first attack on the Constitution of your country. Its destroyers you can not be. You may disturb its peace; you may interrupt the course of its prosperity; you may cloud its reputation for stability, but its tranquillity will be restored, its prosperity will return, and the stain upon its national character will be transferred, and remain an eternal blot on the memory of those who caused the disorder.”

This was the language held by this son of South Carolina when his own state was in a condition of revolt against the Union. By the masses of unselfish, honest, patriotic people every where, this proclamation was received with enthusiastic shouts of admiration, while by the selfish, profligate, and corrupt politicians, it was received with murmurs of discontent; yet none ventured or dared to stigmatize Jackson as a traitor. The harshest term any Democratic orator or writer applied to him was that he was an “old Federalist.” Yet Jackson, twelve years after, went down to his grave the idol of his party. Now contrast all this with the disgusting and nauseating denunciations we daily read of General Scott for not binding himself to the treasonable designs of the reckless and profligate politicians of this his native state.

a

PASSAGE OF THE FORCE BILL BY CONGRESS. General Jackson at the same time appealed to Congress to confer upon him additional powers to crush this rebellious movement on the part of South Carolina; whereupon Congress, without hesitation or delay, passed what has been known as the “Force Bill,by which his power over the whole land and naval forces of the United States was greatly enlarged; and this bill was passed by such overwhelming majorities in both branches of Congress, as to furnish, in the most unmistakable manner, the conclusive fact that the public sentiment was every where in vehement opposition to the ridiculous pretension that the Union, as formed by our fathers, was constructed on the principle of a bombshell (as is this Southern Confederacy), containing the elements of its own destruction in its midst, which would sooner or later explode and leave a wreck behind, by recognizing the right of any one or more states, in a fit of passion, excitement, interest, or caprice, to retire from the obligations they had voluntarily entered into, one with the other, and each with all the rest, for their common welfare and general security; but that it was, as it was intended to be, and was declared in express terms by the old Articles of Confederation to be, a permanent and “perpetual Union.” The good sense of the country at that day laughed to scorn the preposterous idea that when the framers of the Constitution declared that the object of that instrument was to form "a more perfect Union" than that which was already declared to be "perpetual,they were actually engaged in a work the object of which was to pull down and destroy the fruits

[ocr errors]

of their own labor, instead of fortifying and strengthening what was then universally cherished as an imperishable monument of greatness, achieved by the wisdom and patriotism, the toil and suffering of our never-to-be-forgotten Revolutionary sires.

AN ARGUMENT AGAINST DISUNION. And, in this connection, you will excuse me for giving a short extract from my own speech delivered in Lynchburg in the campaign of 1860. I then said, if all other authority should prove inconclusive, “I still appeal to the Constitution of my country to show that there is no such right as the right of secession. This Constitution declares that

“This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laros of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.'

“Who adopted this Constitution of the United States ? We, the people of Virginia, through our representatives in Convention, are just as much parties to the Constitution of the United States as to our own State Constitution. But let us go back a little. Let us go back to the Articles of Confederation under which we lived before the Constitution was adopted, and see what we did there.

“My purpose is to show you that this is a perpetual Union, which there is no power to destroy. Under the old Articles of Confederation it is provided that no two states shall enter into any alliance whatever between them without the consent of Congress, specifying accurately the purpose for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.' Again, Article 13th:

“Every state shall abide by the determination of the

United States, in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this Confederation are submitted to them: and the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every state, AND THE UNION SHALL BE PERPETUAL: “And the concluding Article reads:

And we do farther solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determination of the United States, in Congress assenbled, on all questions which by the said Confederation are submitted to them. And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the states we respectively represent, and that the UNION SHALL BE PERPETUAL.'

“There was the compact between the states—there was the marriage ceremony solemnly performed in the face of the world, by which we bound ourselves together for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health,

, in prosperity and in adversity, through good and evil report, till death do us part. And under this Constitution of the United States it is declared that we the people of the United States, in order to form A MORE PERFECT UNION, establish justice, INSURE DOMESTIC TRANQUILLITY, etc., etc., etc., do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'

“To make this a more perfect Union. And in what respect did they make it more perfect? They provided for its perpetuity by giving to the government the power to enforce its laws and protect its own existence.

“Yes, but gentlemen say it is a reserved right! Dovo was it reserved ?

When was it reserved ? There was it reserved ?. It is a reserved right in their own imaginations, and theirs only. What a calumny and libel upon the name and fame of the great and good men who made the Constitution to say, that when they declared that the Constitution of the United States, and all laws made under it, should be the supreme law of the land, and that the judges of the courts in the several states should be bound thereby; when they prohibited you from the right, even in your organic law, in the adoption of your state Constitution, to say or do any thing that would, to any extent, conflict with any law made under it, that they reserved the right to permit the destruction of the ConsTITUTION and all law at any moment it suited their pleasure to do so! Why, when did that right begin? Here I have shown you it was a perpetual contract, that it was never intended to be dissolved; and yet, after they had done their work, one state, on the very next day, had the right to withdraw and break up the whole! with or without cause — they being made judges of the cause."

The tenth Article of the Amendment to the Constitution reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” It is under this reservation that the secession leaders claim the constitutional right to break up the government at their pleasure; and it will be perceived that the article contains two provisions; one relating to the prohibitions to the states, and the other reservations to the states. It is well, then, to inquirc, what are the powers reserved, and what prohibited ? The power reserved is to legislate on all legitimate subjects of state legislation with which there can be no interference; such, for example, as our own domestic institutions — slavery, for one; the solemnization of marriages; the laws of descent; the regulation of suffrage; the duties and powers to be assigned to the executive, legislative, and judicial departments of the government, and all

« PreviousContinue »