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MR. SEWARD'S SPEECH.
war among a people so Mr. Seward's Speech, brave, so skilled in arms, so earnest in conviction, and so intent in purpose, as we are? Is it a mere chimera which suggests an aggravation of those horrors beyond endurance when, on either side, there shall occur the intervention of an uprising ferocious African slave population of four, or six, or perhaps twenty millions?""
the inflexible Adams, Henry,
He discoursed, with great feeling, upon the shattered prosperity which must result from a dismemberment of the Confederacy. Everywhere a dark hand would be laid upon enterprise to smother it. The pioneer would draw back from the plains of the West, while the savage Red Man would once more rise in his vengeance to drive back the hated invader of his land. Our ships-of-war, now commanding the respect and admiration of the civilized world, as types of our commercial and political greatness, would sail hither and thither, scarcely observed. Public liberty— our own peculiar liberty, would languish and then cease to live. Over all would rise the hateful forms of a military despotism.
He reviewed the great change in the public sentiment of the world in regard to Slavery, during the last century. One hundred years ago all commercial European States were engaged in transferring slaves from Africa to America. Now, all these States were inimical even to the holding of slaves. Opposition to it has assumed two forms;-one, Eu- | ropean, which is simple, direct abolition, effected, if need be, by compulsion; the other, American, which seeks to arrest the African slave trade and to resist the entrance of the institution of Slavery into the Territories, while it leaves the disposition of existing Slavery to the considerate action of the States by which it is retained. It is the Union He then proceeded to examine into the which restricts the oppositon to Slavery, in causes of this sudden and eternal sacrifice of this country, within these limits. If dissolu- so much safety, greatness, happiness and freetion prevail what guarantee shall there be dom. Have foreign nations combined for against the full development, here, of the our overthrow and subjugation? No! They fearful and uncompromising hostility to Slave- are all interested and admiring friends. Has ry which elsewhere pervades the world, and the Federal Government become tyrannical of which the recent invasion of Virginia, or oppressive, or even rigorous or unsound? (John Brown's attempt) was an illustration? Has the Constitution lost its spirit, and all at Dissolution, indeed, he assumed, would once collapsed into a lifeless letter? not only arrest, but would extinguish the the Federal Government smiles more beniggreatness of this country. "Dissolution nantly, and works to-day more benignly would signalize its triumph by acts of than ever. The Constitution is even the chowantonness which would shock and astound sen model for the organization of the newly the world. It would provincialize Mount rising confederacies! What, then, can exVernon and give this Capitol over to desola-cuse the mighty crime of disunion and its tion at the very moment when the dome is train of anarchy, of wrong, of incalculable inrising over our heads that was to be crowned jury to society, to intelligence, to liberty, to with the statue of Liberty. After this there happiness? would remain for disunion no act of stupendous infamy to be committed. No petty confederacy that shall follow the United States can prolong, or even renew, the majestic drama of National progress. Perhaps it is to be arrested because its sublimity is incapable of continuance. Let it be so, if we have indeed become degenerate. After Washington, and
"The justification it assigned was that Abraham Lincoln had been elected, while the success of either one of three other candidates would have been acquiesced in. Was the election illegal? No; it is unimpeachable. Is the candidate personally offensive? No; he is a man of unblemished virtue and amiable manners. Is an election of President an unfrequent or extraordinary transaction? No; we never had a Chief Magistrate otherwise desig.
nated than by such election,
Mr. Seward's Speech.
discontents arising from de-
In all the Slave States there is, he remark
newed every four years. Does any one even propose to change the mode of appointing the Chief Magistrate? No; election by universal suffrage, as modified by the Constitution, is the one crowning franchise of the American people. To save it they would defy the world. Is it apprehended that the new President will` usurp despoticed, a restiveness under the resistance offered powers? No; while he is of all men the most unambitious, he is, by the partial success of those who opposed his election, subjected to such restraints that he cannot, without their consent, appoint a minister or even a police agent, negotiate a treaty, or procure the passage of a law, and can hardly draw a musket from the public arsenals to defend his own person."
by the Free States to the extension of Slavery in the common Territories of the United States. The Republican party, which has offered this resistance, and which elected its candidate for President on that policy, has been allowed, practically, no representation, no utterance, by speech or through the press, in the Slave States; while its policy, princiThe ground of real discontent, he said, lies ples, and sentiments, and even its temper in the fact that the disunionists did not ac- have been so misrepresented as to excite apcept as conclusive the arguments which were prehensions that it denies important constiurged in behalf of the successful candidate tutional obligations, and aims even at interin the late canvass-this is all! Does the ference with Slavery, and its overthrow by Constitution, in letter or spirit, imply that State authorities, or intervention by the Fedthe arguments of one party shall be satisfac-eral Government. Considerable masses, even tory to the other? No, that is impossible. in the Free States, interested in the success What is the constitutional remedy for this inevitable dissatisfaction? Renewed debate and ultimate rehearing in a subsequent election. Have the now successful majority perverted power to the purposes of oppression? No, they have never before held power. Alas! how prone we are to undervalue privileges and blessings? How gladly, how proudly, would the people of any nation in Europe accept, on such terms as we enjoy it, the boon of electing a Chief Magistrate every four years by free, equal, and universal suffrage! How thankfully would they cast aside all their own systems of government, and accept this Republic of ours, with all its shortcomings and its disappointments, maintain it with their arms, and cherish it in their hearts! Is it not the very boon for which they supplicate God without ceasing, and even wage war, with intermissions only resulting from exhaustion?
The spirit of disunion, he averred, sprung from a class of citizens living in the States bordering the delta of the Mississippi. They have, for thirty years or more, believed that the Union was less conducive to their welfare than would be a smaller confederacy of Slave States. Availing themselves of the
of these misrepresentations as a means of partisan strategy, have lent their sympathy to the party aggrieved. While the result of the election brings the Republican party necessarily into the foreground in resisting Disunion, the prejudices against them have deprived them of the cooperation of many good and patriotic citizens. On a complex issue between the Republican party and the Disunionists, although it involves the direst national calamities, the result might be doubtful; for the Republican party is weak in a large part of the Union. But on a direct issue, with all who cherish the Union on one side, and all who desire its dissolution by force on the other, the verdict would be prompt and almost unanimous.
But everything, he averred, is subordinate to the Union; Republicanism, Democracy, and every other political name and thing ought to disappear before the great question of Union or dissolution. He said :—
"If others shall invoke that form of action to op
pose and overthrow Government, they shall not, so far as it depends on me, have the excuse that I-obstinately left myself to be misunderstood. In such a case I can afford to meet prejudice with concilia tion, exaction with concession which surrenders no
MR. SEWARD'S SPEECH.
principle, and violence with the Mr Beward's Speech. right hand of peace. Therefore, Sir, so far as the abstract question whether, by the Constitution of the United States, the bondsman, who is made such by the laws of a State, is still a man or only property, I answer that, within that State, its laws on that subject are supreme; that when he has escaped from that State into another, the Constitution regards him as a bondsman who may not, by any law or regulation of that State, be discharged from his service, but shall be delivered up, on claim, to the party to whom his service is due. While prudence and justice would combine in persuading you to modify the acts of Congress on that smbject, so as not to oblige private persons to assist in their execution, and to protect freemen from being, by abuse of the laws, carried into Slavery, I agree that all laws of the States, whether Free States or Slave States, which relate to this class of persons, or any others recently coming from or resident in other States, and which laws contravene the Constitution of the United States, or any law of Congress passed in conformity thereto, ought to be repealed.
46 Secondly: Experience in public affairs has confirmed my opinion that domestic Slavery, existing in any State, is wisely left by the Constitution of the United States exclusively to the care, management and disposition of that State; and if it were in my power, I would not alter the Constitution in that respect. If misapprehension of my position needs so strong a remedy, I am willing to vote for an amendment of the Constitution, declaring that it shall not, by any future amendment, be so altered as to confer on Congress a power to abolish or interfere with Slavery in any State.
“ Thirdly: While I think that Congress has exclu
sive and sovereign authority to legislate on all
subjects whatever in the common Territories of the United States, and while I certainly shall never, directly or indirectly, give my vote to sanction or establish Slavery in such Territories, or anywhere else in the world, yet the question what constitutional laws shall at any time be passed, in regard to the Territories is, like every other question, to be determined on practical grounds. I voted for enabling acts in the cases of Oregon, Minnesota and Kansas, without being able to secure in them such provisions as I would have preferred-and yet I voted wisely. So now, I am well satisfied that, under existing circumstances, a happy and satisfactory solution of the difficulties in the remaining Territories would be obtained by similar laws, providing for their organization, if such organization were otherwise practicable. * I hold and cherish, as I have always done, the principle that this Government exists in its present form only by the consent of the governed, and that it is as
Mr. Seward's Speech.
necessary as it is wise, to resort to the people for revisions of the organic law, when the troubles and dangers of the State certainly transcend the pow ers delegated by it to the public authorities. Nor ought the suggestion to excite surprise. Government, in any form, is a machine; this is the most complex one that mind of man has ever invented, or the hand of man has ever framed. Perfect as it is, it ought to be expected that it will, at least as often as once in a century, require some modification to adapt it to the changes of society and alternations of empire. "Fourthly: I hold myself ready now, as always heretofore, to vote for any properly guarded laws which shall be deemed necessary to prevent mutual invasions of States by citizens of other States, and punish those who shall aid and abet them.
I learned early from Jefferson that, in political affairs, we cannot always do what seems to be absolutely best. Those with whom we must necessarily act, entertaining different views, have the power and the right of carrying them into practice. We must be content to lead when we can, and to follow when we cannot lead; and if we cannot at any time do for our country all the good that we would wish, we must be satisfied with doing for her all the good that we can.
'Having submitted my own opinions on this great crisis, it remains only to say that I shall cheerfully lend to the Government my best support in whatever prudent yet energetic efforts it shall make to preserve the public peace, and to maintain and preserve the Union; advising only that it practice, as far as possible, the utmost moderation, forbearance and conciliation."
His closing words created much enthusiasm in the galleries. The entire speech was canvassed, in and out of Congress, with freedom and feeling; but, as we have remarked, it appeared, as a general thing, to satisfy. Looking at it in a historic sense, we now perceive that its spirit and meaning were as much for the future as for the hour. It was as subtle as eloquent-as politic as profound -as deliberate as earnest; and, though it may detract from its candor, it will add to its wisdom, to aver that the statesman was compassing his ultimate ends, in declarations for conciliation--- in his pleas for the blending of all political parties—in that of devotion to the Union. Throughout all the Free States public sentiment was taking an unmistakeable direction; the people were ripe for the rallying cry, "The Union !" In it Mr. Seward, with a quick apprehension of the perils
The Army and Navy appropriation bills were then considered in Committee of the Whole. Burnett, of Kentucky, wished to
awaiting the new Administration, beheld the only instrument of its salvation-the tower of its strength. Therefore, apparently casting aside even his Republicanism-apparently know whether it would be in order to make repudiating the policy of the Republican a speech showing that these appropriations leaders and of Mr. Lincoln, he struck the should not be made. He believed from the chord which afterward, and soon, became the present movements of the Army and Navy, Nation's rallying call. Mr. Lincoln went into they were to be used against a portion of the office as a Unionist, rather than as a Repub- States recently belonging to the Confederacy. lican; and Mr. Seward, like a Jove control- The Chair decided against general debate, ling the thunderbolts, directed all the terri- and was sustained by the House. This decible thunders and lightnings of the people, sion greatly displeased and disconcerted subtly but surely, against the enemies of the Southern members, who, generally, had reExecutive. solved to "ventilate " the question of the future use of the Army and Navy. Pryor, of Virginia, determined, notwithstanding the decision against debate, to "indulge" himself with a few remarks," which proved of so violent a character as to compel his colleague, Mr. Clemens, to call him to order. Among other things he said :
Withdrawal of South
The Saturday's proceedings in the House of Representatives assumed a peculiar face. The Speaker laid before the House a communication from the Mississippi delegation stating that they had received official information that their State had passed an ordinance through a Convention representing the sovreignty of the people, by which the State has withdrawn from the Federal Government all powers heretofore delegated to it, and that they thought it their duty to lay the fact before the House, and withdraw themselves from the further deliberations of that body. While they regret the necessity for this action, they approbate it, and will return to her bosom to share her fortunes through all their phases.
Mr. Jones, of Georgia, moved that the names of the Representatives of South Carolina and Mississippi be stricken from the roll of the House, and not called by the Clerk hereafter. Republicans objected; and demanded the yeas and nays on the motion. Burnett, of Kentucky, assumed that these gentlemen have withdrawn from the House, and that it cannot be assumed that they are now members of the House. Being asked if he considered that they had resigned their seats he answered:-"I do; and not only this, but that they are out of the Union by the action of their respective States." The Speaker cut off further remarks by ruling that the objection to the motion excluded it from consideration.
was for this country alone, with all its maxims of re publican liberty to banish those principles from the councils of a most detestable and wicked administra tion. [Ironical laughter from the Republican benches.] Confining myself within the limits of debate, before I conclude, I must, on this occasion, avail myself of the opportunity to give warning to the people of Virginia, that the Government is making every warlike preparation to subject them to the tyranny of Federal oppression by means of compulconsideration of safety and honor, to prepare for sion and force. I would implore them, by every the contest that is rapidly approaching. For my. self, I will discharge my duties here by opposing every appropriation for an Army and Navy to be em ployed in this most nefarious and tyrannous warfare."
After an understanding that the Army Appropriation bill should have three days allotted for its discussion, the Navy Appropriation bill passed, when the House adjourned to Monday.
PROGRESS OF THE REVOLUTION. THE SECESSION OF MISSISSIPPI,
THE Mississippi State | eral Union, and shall henceforth be a free, sovereign, Convention assembled at and independent State." The scond section abrogates the Article in Jackson, Monday, January 7th. Prior to organization a majority of the the State Constitution requiring all public officers to swear to support the Constitution delegates assembled in caucus, and adopted & resolution requesting the President of the of the United States. The third section conConvention, when elected, to appoint a com- tinues in force all State and Federal laws not mittee to draft the Ordinance of Secession. inconsistent with the ordinance. The fourth This early expression indicated the senti-section relates to the formation of a Southern ments of the Convention. The Convention Confederacy, to be composed of the Seceded assembled at noon, and, after a brief ballotting, organized permanently by electing A. J. Barry, of Lowndes, President. A resolution soon passed that a Committee of Fifteen be appointed by the President with instructions to prepare and report, as speedily as possible, an Ordinance of Secession, providing for the immediate withdrawal of Mississippi from the Federal Union, with a view of establishing a new Confederacy, to be composed of the Seceding States.
This Committee, chosen Tuesday, reported Wednesday, in secret session, the Ordinance of Secession, which was adopted, on that day, by a vote of 84 to 15. It was as follows:
"The people of Mississippi, in Convention assembled, do ordain and declare, and it is hereby ordained and declared, as follows, to wit:
The Commissioner from South Carolina
addressed the Convention, Friday. The Governor issued, on Friday, a call to the military of the State to be in readiness at a moment's warning. The Convention formally recognized (January 11th) South Carolina as sovereign and independent.
The action of the Convention created great enthusiasm among the people. There were those, however, who viewed the act as revolutionary and unconstitutional under the organic law of the State. The Convention assumed supreme authority in the matteradopting the ordinance, and instituting a new order of things without any reference to the people. This most undemocratic proceeding awakened much determined opposition; but, this opposition had to give way before the violent tone and imperative spirit of the unconditional secessionists. The Natchez Courier, of January 10th, thus adverted to the illegality of the Convention's proceedings:
"That all the laws and ordinances by which the said State of Mississippi became a member of the Federal Union of the United States of America be, and the same are hereby repealed; and that all obligations on the part of said State or the people thereof to observe the same be withdrawn, and that "The Constitution of the State is what we are the said State shall hereby resume the rights, func- sworn to obey. It prescribes the method of its own tions, and powers which by any of said laws and ordi- alteration. That method has not been followed, and nances were conveyed to the Government of the said yet the Constitution will be essentially altered. UnUnited States, and is dissolved from all the obliga- questionably the people of the State can revolutiontions, restraints, and duties incurred to the said Fed-ize. A majority of them can call a Convention to