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FUTURE OF THE NORTH-WEST:
IN CONNECTION WITH
THE SCHEME OF RECONSTRUCTION
WITHOUT NEW ENGLAND.
ADDRESSED TO THE PEOPLE OF INDIANA.
MORE than a third of a century since, I found a home, Citizens of Indiana, among you. Kindly you received me. Largely have you bestowed on me your confidence. I owe to you honorable station and a debt of gratitude. Let me endeavor, now in your hour of danger, to repay, if in part I may, that debt.
On the future of our country clouds and darkness rest. We are engaged in a war as terrible as any which history records; an outrage on civilization, if it be not God's agency for a great purpose. All good citizens earnestly desire its termination. The fervent longing of every Christian man and woman is for the restoration of peace.
To this righteous desire there are addressed, especially here in our North-West, certain proposals of compromise and accommodation. Shall we take counsel as to what these are worth? Can we reason together on a subject of interest more vital to ourselves and to our children?
But before we scan the future, let us glance at the past. Ere we advance, let us determine where we stand, and ascertain how we came hither. Looking back on our steps throughout the last two years, let us, in a dispassionate spirit, by the aid of authentic and unimpeachable documents, very briefly examine the causes, underlying a stupendous national convulsion, which have resulted in the present condition of things.
The secession ordinance passed the Convention of South Carolina, December 20, 1860. The next day, December 21, the Convention adopted the "Declaration of Causes," justifying secession. In language plain as can be desired are these causes set forth. They all center in one complaint, Northern encroachment on slavery; there is no other cause alleged.
What proof of such encroachment is offered? First, the
allegation that "for years past" fourteen Northern States, among which Indiana is named, "have deliberately refused to fulfill their Constitutional obligations" (as regards the fugitive-slavelaw) by "enacting laws which either nullify the acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them." But if you have looked through our statute-book, you know that no such law then existed, or ever existed, there. That solemn Declaration, inaugurating a war as fearful as ever desolated a nation, is based, so far as regards our State, on a statement either ignorantly or wilfully false.
If, in regard to any of the other States named, there be truth in the allegation;-if, in any one or more of these, there existed then, a state law nullifying or rendering nugatory a Constitutional provision;-none knew better than these South Carolinians what their easy, peaceful, effectual remedy was :-an appeal to the Supreme Court. That Court has sovereign control over all unconstitutional laws. Had the South no chance of justiceof more than justice-before the Supreme Court of the United States? Be the Dred Scott decision the reply!
A thing, to be credited, must have some semblance of common sense. Will any man believe that the citizens of South Carolina-who would find it difficult to prove that by the unconstitu tionality of State laws at the North they had lost twenty slaves since their State first joined the Union-will any sane man believe that South Carolina sought to break up that Union for cause so utterly trivial as that?
No! far deeper must we search for the true cause. plainly set forth in the latter paragraphs of the Declaration, in which the Convention speaks, not of any special laws, but of "the action of the non-slaveholding States."
It declares that these States have "denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution;" that they "have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery;" that they "have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery;" who declares that "the Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that "the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction." And it winds up by this assertion: "All hope of remedy is rendered vain by the fact that the public opinion of the North has invested a great political error with the sanctions of a more erronious religious belief."
These South Carolinian sentiments, afterward endorsed by every seceding State, are doubtless, in substance, sincere. They may be received as the secession creed. Though loosely worded