Page images

or uttered a sentiment on the subject before. | it if the Republicans would propose it in good If that mode of compromise would not an- faith. swer, he declared himself willing to go for any other, consistent with honor or justice.

The appeals of Mr. Crittenden in behalf of the Union are said to have been sublime. He, too, was willing to embrace any other effective mode of adjustment.

Mr. Bigler, of Pennsylvania, preferred a division by a line across the country, because in that way the question of Slavery could be taken out of Congress and separated entirely from the popular elections in the North, without which we never could have permanent peace.

Messrs. Wade, Doolittle, Collamer and Grimes opposed the proposition with much earnestness. They maintained that the people, in the late election, decided the question of Slavery in Territories, and therefore they had no concessions to make or offer. They manifested great unwillingness to act in the absence of Mr. Seward, but as they could give no assurance of his immediate return, the Committee declined to defer action on account of his absence.

Messrs. Davis, Toombs and Hunter discussed the present unhappy condition of the country with real feeling and power, and, while manifesting a willingness to accept any measure of final settlement which would secure their just rights in the Union, insisted that propositions must come from the dominant party, the Republicans.

The second proposition submitted by Mr. Crittenden, denying the right of Congress to | abolish Slavery in the dockyards and arsenals, was voted against by Messrs. Collamer, Doolittle, Grimes and Wade. The remainder of the committee voted for the proposition, but as it had not a majority of the Republicans, it was defeated under the rules adopted by the Committee, that no proposition should be considered adopted and recommended to the Senate which did not receive a majority of the Republican votes, and also a majority of those opposed to the Republicans.

The third clause, denying the right of Congress to abolish Slavery in the District of Columbia was defeated by the same vote, the Republicans all voting against it, and the remainder of the Committee for it.

The fourth clause, establishing the right of transit, was defeated by the same vote.

The fifth, which is intended to perfect the Fugitive Slave law, by requiring the several States to pay for fugitives who might be rescued from the officers of the law, was lost by the same vote, the Republicans all voting in the negative.

Many other propositions were offered and voted upon, but none of leading importance, none that would meet the great exigencies of

the times.

Mr. Davis submitted a resolution expressly The vote on Mr. Crittenden's first resolu- recognizing property in slaves, but no vote tion was as follows:

For the proposition-Messrs. Bigler, Crittenden, Douglas, Rice and Powell-5.

was taken on it.

Mr. Toombs submitted a series of resolutions, embracing substantially the principles.

Against it-Messrs. Davis, Doolittle, Collamer, of the Breckenridge platform, but final action Wade, Toombs, Grimes and Hunter-7.

Messrs. Hunter, Toombs and Davis, nevertheless, intimated an inclination to go for

was not taken on them.

The Committee adjourned, to meet at ten o'clock on Monday morning.




[blocks in formation]

"It is now seventy-three years since the union between the United States was made by the Constitution of the United States. During this period their advance in wealth, prosperity, and power, has been with scarcely a parallel in the history of the world. The great object of their union was external defense from the aggressions of more powerful nations; now complete, from their mere progress in power, thirtyone millions of people, with a commerce and navigation which explores every sea, and of agricultural productions which are necessary to every civilized people, command the friendship of the world. But, anfortunately, our internal peace has not grown with our external prosperity. Discontent and contention have moved in the bosom of the Confederacy for the last thirty-five years. During this time South Carolina has twice called her people together in solemn convention, to take into consideration the aggressions and unconstitutional wrongs perpetrated by the people of the North on the people of the South. These wrongs were submitted to by the people of the South, under the hope and expectation that they would be final. But these hopes and expectations have proved to be void. Instead of being incentives to forbearance, our submission has only instigated to new forms of aggressions and outrage, and South Carolina, again assembling her people in convention, has this day dissolved her connection with the States constituting the United States.

"The one great evil, from which all other evils have flowed, is the overthrow of the Constitution of

Address to the Slaveholding states.

the United States. The Government of the United States is no longer the government of a confederate republic, but of a consolidated democracy. It is no longer a free government, but a despotism. It is, in fact, such a government as Great Britain attempted to set over our fathers, and which was resisted and defeated by a seven years' struggle for independence.

"The Revolution of 1776 turned upon one great principle-self-government; and self-taxation, the criterion of self-government. Where the interests of two people united together under one Government are different, each must have the power to protect its interests by the organization of the Government, or they cannot be free. The interests of Great Britain and of the colonies were different and antagonistic. Great Britain was desirous of carrying out the policy of all nations toward their colonies, of making them tributary to their wealth and power. She had vast and complicated relations with the whole world. Her policy toward her North American colonies was to identify them with her in all these complicated relations, and to make them bear, in common with the rest of the empire, the full bur den of her obligations and necessities. She had a vast public debt; she had a European policy and an Asiatic policy, which had occasioned the accumulation of her public debt, and which kept her in continual wars. The North American colonies saw their interests, political and commercial, sacrificed by such a policy. Their interests required that they should not be identified with the burdens and wars of the mother country. They had been settled under charters which gave them self-government, at least so far as their property was concerned. They had taxed themselves, and had never been taxed by the Government of Great Britain. To make them a part of a consolidated empire, the Parliament of Great Britain determined to assume the power of legislat ing for the colonies in all cases whatsoever. Our ancestors resisted the pretension. They refused to be a part of the consolidated Government of Great Britain.

Address to the Slaveholding states.

"The Southern States now stand exactly in the same position toward the Northern States that our ancestors in the colonies did toward Great Britain. The Northern States, having the majority in Congress, claim the same power of omnipotence in legislation as the British Parliament. The general welfare' is the only limit to the legislation of either; and the majority in Congress, as in the British Parliament, are the sole judges of the expediency of the legislation this 'general welfare' requires. Thus the Government of the United States has become a consolidated Government, and the people of the Southern States are compelled to meet the very despotism their fathers threw off in the Revolution of 1776.

Address to the Slave
holding States.

They were fully

the British Government, the
taxes collected from them
weuld have been expended on
other parts of the British Empire.
aware of the effect of such a policy in impoverishing
the people from whom taxes are collected, and in en
riching those who receive the benefit of their expen
diture. To prevent the evils of such a policy was one
of the motives which drove them on to revolution. Yet
this British policy has been fully realized toward the
Southern States by the Northern States. The peo-
ple of the Southern States are not only taxed for the
benefit of the Northern States, but after the taxes
are collected three-fourths of them are expended at
the North. This cause, with others connected with
the operation of the General Government, has prov.
incialized the cities of the South. Their growth is
paralyzed, while they are the mere suburbs of
Northern cities. The basis of the foreign commerce
of the United States are the agricultural productions
of the South; yet Southern cities do not carry it on.
Our foreign trade is almost annihilated. In 1740
there were five ship-yards in South Carolina to build
ships to carry on our direct trade with Europe. Be-
tween 1740 and 1779 there were built in these yards
twenty-five square-rigged vessels, besides a great
number of sloops and schooners, to carry on our
coast and West India trade. In the half century
immediately preceding the Revolution, from 1725 to
1775, the population of South Carolina increased

"The consolidation of the Government of Great Britain over the colonies was attempted to be carried out by the taxes. The British Parliament undertook to tax the colonies to promote British interests. Our fathers resisted this pretension. They claimed the right of self-taxation through their Colonial Legislatures. They were not represented in the British Parliament, and therefore could not rightfully be taxed by its Legislature. The British Government, however, offered them a representation in the British Parliament; but it was not sufficient to enable them to protect themselves from the majority, aud they refused it. Between taxation without any representation, and taxation without a representation adequate to protection, there was no difference. By neither would the colonies tax them-seven-fold. selves. Hence they refused to pay the taxes laid by the British Parliament.

"The Southern States now stand in the same relation toward the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation, that our ancestors stood toward the people of Great Britain. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress is useless to protect them against unjust taxation, and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British Parlisment for their benefit. For the last forty years the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports, not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue-to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.

"There is another evil in the condition of the Southern toward the Northern States, which our ancestors refused to bear toward Great Britain. Our ancestors not only taxed themselves, but all the taxes collected from them were expended among them. Had they submitted to the pretensions of

"No man can for a moment believe that our ancestors intended to establish over their posterity exactly the same sort of government they had overthrown. The great object of the Constitution of the United States, in its internal operation, was, doubtless, to secure the great end of the Revolution-a limited free government-a government limited to those matters only which were general and common to all portions of the United States. All sectional or local interests were to be left to the States. By no other arrangement would they obtain free government by a Constitution common to so vast a Confederacy. Yet by gradual and steady encroachments on the part of the North, and submission on the part of the South, the limitations in the Constitution have been swept away, and the Government of the United States has become consolidated, with a claim of limitless powers in its operations.

"It is not at all surprising, while such is the character of the Government of the United States, that it should assume to possess power over all the insti tutions of the country. The agitations on the subject of Slavery in the South are the natural results of the consolidation of the Government. Responsi bility follows power; and if the people of the North




Address to the Slaveholding States.

have the power by Congress to promote the general welfare of the United States' by any means they deem expedient, why should they not assail and overthrow the institution of Slavery in the South? They are responsible for its continuance or existence, in proportion to their power. A majority in Congress, according to their interested and perverted views, is omnipotent. The inducements to act upon the subject of Slavery, under such circumstances, were so imperious as to amount almost to a moral necessity. To make, however, their numerical power available to rule the Union, the North must consolidate their power. It would not be united on any matter common to the whole Unionin other words, on any constitutional subject--for on such subjects divisions are as likely to exist in the North as in the South. Slavery was strictly a sectional interest. If this could be made the criterion of parties at the North, the North could be united in its power, and thus carry out its measures of sectional ambition, encroachment, and aggrandizement. To build up their sectional predominance in the Union, the Constitution must be first abolished by constructions; but, that being done, the consolidation of the North to rule the South, by the tariff and Slavery issues, was in the obvious course of things.

"The Constitution of the United States was an experiment.

Address to the Slave holding States.

hend that seeming paradox, that
the more power is given to the
General Government the weaker
it becomes. Its strength consists in its generality and
limitations. To extend the scope of its power over
sectional or local interests, is to raise up against it
opposition and resistance. In all such matters the
General Government must necessarily be a despot-
ism, because all sectional or local interests must ever
be represented by a minority in the councils of the
General Government-having no power to protect
itself against the rule of the majority. The majority,
constituted from those who do not represent these
sectional or local interests, will control and govern
them. A free people cannot submit to such a gov
ernment; and the more it enlarges the sphere of its
power the greater must be the dissatisfaction it must
produce, and the weaker it must become. On the
contrary, the more it abstains from usurped powers,
and the more faithfully it adheres to the limitations
of the Constitutions, the stronger it is made. The
Northern people have had neither the wisdom nor
the faith to perceive that to observe the limitation
of the Constitution was the only way to its per-

[ocr errors]

"Under such a government there must, of course, be many and endless irrepressible conflicts,' between the two great sections of the Union. The same faithlessness which has abolished the Constitution of the United States, will not fail to carry out the sectional purposes for which it has been abolished. There must be conflict; and the weaker section of the Union can only find peace and liberty in an independence of the North. The repeated efforts made by South Carolina, in a wise conservatism, to arrest the progress of the General Government in its fatal progress to consolidation, have been unsupported and denounced as faithless to the obligations of the Constitution by the very men and States who were destroying it by their usurpations. It is now too late to reform or restore the Government of the United States. All confidence in the North is lost in the South. The faithlessness of half a century has opened a gulf of separation between them which no promises or engagements can fill.

The experiment consisted in uniting under one Government different peoples, living in different climates, and having different pursuits of industry and institutions. It matters not how carefully the limitations of such a government be laid down in the Constitution-its success must at least depend upon the good faith of the parties to the constitutional compact in enforcing them. It is not in the power of human language to exclude false inferences, constructions, and perversions, in any constitution; and when vast sectional interests are to be subserved, involving the appropriation of countless millions of money, it has not been the usual experience of mankind that words on parchment can arrest power. The Constitution of the United States, irrespective of the interposition of the States, rested on the assumption that power would yield to faith- "It cannot be believed that our ancestors would that integrity would be stronger than interest, and have assented to any union whatever with the peothat thus the limitations of the Constitution would ple of the North if the feelings and opinions now exbe observed. The experiment has been fairly made. isting among them had existed when the Constitution The Southern States, from the commencement of was framed. There was then no tariff-no Negro the Government, have striven to keep it within the fanaticism. It was the delegates from New England orbit prescribed by the Constitution. The experi- who proposed, in the Convention which framed the ment has failed. The whole Constitution, by the con- Constitution, to the delegates from South Carolina structions of the Northern people, has been swal- and Georgia, that if they would agree to give Conlowed up by a few words in its preamble. In their gress the power of regulating commerce by a majo reckless lust for power they seem unable to compre-rity, that they would support the extension of the

Address to the Slaveholding States.

African slave-trade for twenty years. African Slavery existed in all the States but one. The idea that they would be made to pay that tribute to their Northern Confederates which they had refused to pay to Great Britain, or that the institution of African Slavery would be made the grand basis of a sectional organization of the North to rule the South, never crossed their imaginations. The Union of the Constitution was a Union of Slaveholding States. It rests on Slavery, by prescribing a representation in Congress for three-fifths of our slaves. There is nothing in the proceedings of the Convention which framed the Constitution to show that the Southern States would have formed any other Union, and still less that they would have formed a Union with more powerful non-Slaveholding States, having a majority in both branches of the Legislature of the Government. They were guilty of no such folly. Time and the progress of things have totally altered the relations between the Northern and Southern States since the Union was first established. That identity of feeling, interests and institutions which once existed is gone. They are now divided between agriculture, and manufacturing, and commercial States-between Slaveholding and non-Slaveholding States. Their institutions and industrial pursuits have made them totally different peoples. That equality in the Government between the two sections of the Union which once existed no longer exists. We but imitate the policy of our fathers in dissolving a Union with non-Slaveholding Confederates, and seeking a Confederation with Slaveholding States.

"Experience has proved that Slaveholding States cannot be safe in subjection to non-Slaveholding States. Indeed, no people ever expect to preserve their rights and liberties unless they are in their own custody. To plunder and oppress where plunder and oppression can be practiced with impunity, seems to be the natural order of things. The fairest portions of the world have been turned into wildernesses, and the most civilized and prosperous communities have been impoverished and ruined by Anti-Slavery fanaticism. The people of the North have not left us in doubt as to their designs and policy. United as a section in the late Presidential election, they have elected as the exponent of their policy one who has openly declared that all the States of the United States must be made Free States or Slave States. It is true that among those who aided in this election there are various shades of Anti-Slavery hostility. But if African Slavery in the Southern States be the evil their political combinations affirm it to be, the requisitions of an inexorable .ogic must lead them to emancipation. If it is right

Address to the Slaveholding States.

to preclude or abolish Slavery in a Territory, why should it be allowed to remain in the States? The one is not at all more unconstitutional than the other, according to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. And when it is considered that the Northern States will soon have the power to make that Court what they please, and that the Constitution never has been any barrier whatever to their exercise of power, what.check can there be in the unrestrained counsels of the North to emancipation? There is sympathy in association, which carries men along without principle; but when there is principle, and that principle is fortified by long existing prejudices and feelings, as sociation is omnipotent in party influences. In spite of all disclaimers and professions, there can be but one end to the submission by the South to the rule of a sectional Anti-Slavery Government at Washington; and that end, directly or indirectly, must be the emancipation of the slaves of the South. The hypocrisy of thirty years—the faithlessness of their whole course from the commencement of our union with them-show that the people of the non-Slaveholding North, are not and cannot be safe associates of the Slaveholding South under a common Govern ment. Not only their fanaticism, but their erroneous views of the principles of free Governments, render it doubtful whether, separated from the South, they can maintain a free Government among themselves. Brute numbers with them is the great element of free Government. A majority is infallible and omnipotent. The right divine to rule in kings' is only transferred to their majority. The very object of all constitutions, in free, popular govern ments, is to restrain the majority. Constitutions, therefore, according to their theory, must be most unrighteous inventions, restricting liberty. None ought to exist, but the body politic ought simply to have a political organizatlon, to bring out and enforce the will of a majority. This theory may be harmless in a small community, having an indentity of interests and pursuits; but over a vast State-still more, over a vast Confederacy, having various and conflicting interests and pursuits-it is a remorseless despotism. In resisting it, as applicable to ourselves, we are vindicating the great cause of free government, more important, perhaps, to the world than the existence of the United States. Nor in resisting it, do we intend to depart from the safe instrumentality the system of government we have established with them requires. In separating from them we invade no rights-no interest of theirs. We violate no obligation of duty to them. As separate, independent States in Convention, we made the Constitution of the United States with them; and as sepa

« PreviousContinue »