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sion, but of revolution-aye, of rebellion, if you choose so to call our action--the right of every people to establish for itself that form of government which it may, even in its folly, if such you deem it, consider best calculated to secure its safety and promote its welfare. You may ignore the principles of tal Declaration of Independence; you may attempt to reduce us to subjection, or you may, under color of enforcing your laws or collecting your revenue, blockade our ports. This will be war, and we shall meet it, with different but equally efficient weapons. We will not permit the consumption or introduction of any of your manufactures; every sea will swarm with our volunteer militia of the ocean, with the striped bunting floating over their heads, for we do not mean to give up that flag without a bloody struggle—it is ours as much as yours; and although for a time more stars may shine on your banner, our children, if not we, will rally under a constellation more numerous and more resplendent than yours. You may smile at this as an impotent boast, at least for the present, if not for the future ; but if we need ships and men for privateering, we shall be amply supplied from the same sources as now almost exclusively furnish the means for carrying on with such unexampled vigor the African slave-trade-New York and New England. Your mercantile marine must either sail under foreign flags or rot at your wharves.
“But enough, perhaps somewhat too much, of this. We desire not to speak to you in terms of bravado or menace. treat each other as men, who, determined to break off unpleasant, incompatible, and unprofitable relations, cease to bandy words, and mutually leave each other to determine whether their differences shall be decided by blows or by the code, which some of us still recognize as that of honor. We shall do with you as the French Guards did with the English at the battle of Fontenoy. In a preliminary skirmish, the French and English Guards met face to face; the English Guards courteously saluted their adver
saries by taking off their hats; the French Guards returned the salute with equal courtesy. Lord Hay, of the English Guards, cried out, in a loud voice, 'Gentlemen of the French Guards, fire !' Count d'Auteroche replied in the same tone, ‘Gentlemen, we never fire first!' The English took them at their word, and did fire first. Being at close quarters, the effect was very destructive, and the French were for a time thrown into disorder; but the fortunes of the day were soon restored by the skill and courage of Marshal Saxe, and the English, under the Duke of Cumberland, suffered one of the most disastrous defeats which their military annals record. Gentlemen, we will not fire first.
“Senators, six States have now severed the links that bound them to a Union to which we were all attached, as well by many ties of material well-being as by the inheritance of common glories in the past, and the well-founded hopes of still more brilliant destinies in the future. Twelve seats are now vacant on this floor. The work is only yet begun. It requires no spirit of prophecy to point to many, many chairs around us that will soon, like ours, be unfilled ; and if the weird sisters of the great dramatic poet could here be conjured up, they would present to the affrighted vision of those on the other side of the chamber, who have so largely contributed to the deep damnation of this taking off,' a 'glass to show them many more.' They who have so foully murdered the Constitution and the Union will find, when too late, like the Scottish Thane, that 'for Banquo's issue they have filed their minds;' they have but placed upon their heads a fruitless crown, and put a barren sceptre in their gripe, no son of theirs succeeding.'
“In taking leave of the Senate, while we shall carry with us many agreeable recollections of intercourse, social and official, with gentlemen who have differed with us on this, the great question of the age, we would that we could, in fitting language, express the mingled feelings of admiration and regret with which
we look back to our associations on this floor with many of our Northern colleagues. They have, one after the other, fallen in their heroic struggle against a blind fanaticism, until now but few-alas! how few-remain to fight the battle of the Constitution. Several even of these will terminate their official career in one short month, and will give place to men holding opinions diametrically opposite, which have recommended them to the suffrages of their States. Had we remained here, the same fate would have awaited, at the next election, the four or five last survivors of that gallant band; but now we shall carry with us at least this one consoling reflection-our departure, realizing all their predictions of ill to the Republic, opens a new era of
riumph for the Democratic party of the North, and will, we firmly believe, re-establish its lost ascendency in most of the non-slaveholding States."
It is hard to believe that the author of these sentiments was born and lived to manhood in the North, and that all this hate and scorn should have been cherished by one who ought to have been filled with gratitude to a government that had so long protected and so frequently honored him. Yet these are very characteristic words. They describe the man like a photograph. He had really come to despise his native section, and the feeling finally so absorbed him that he would consort with none who did not agree with him about slavery. He made his own ideas the test in all cases, grading his likes and dislikes by the favor or disfavor with which these ideas were received. His animosity to Douglas, Broderick, and—while he was on the right side--to Andrew Johnson, was intense and unnatural; while to those who opposed Buchanan and his Lecompton treachery in 1858, he showed no mercy.
The curious part of the above extract is the unconscious trib. ute to the old flag and the promise “not to fire first;" and yet in a little more than two months the rebellion had not only adopted a new flag, but authoritatively began the war by firing
upon ours ! Not less mistaken was his idea that the withdrawal of the main body of the Democratic party from Congress would be the very best plan to give to that which was left the control of the North.
Mr. Slidell was a man of the world and a scheming politician, yet never a statesman. He had some reputation as a lawyer, but not as an advocate or pleader. Few men had more influence over James Buchanan, and none did so much to mislead that ill-starred President. His rule was implacable hostility to all who did not agree with him. He was faithful to those who followed him, but his prejudices always dominated his friendships. He had undoubted courage, but his mistake was a belief that the best way to adjust a dispute was by an appeal to the “code of honor.” Born in New York in 1793, he did not adopt Louisiana as his home till he had passed his majority; but he soon rose to leadership in the Democratic party. He was successively United States District Attorney, member of the State Legislature, Representative in Congress, Minister to Mexico, and United States Senator. It is easy to under. stand, upon reading his speech, how well qualified he was for the Confederate service. He had some diplomatic experience, spoke French fluently, had been much in foreign countries, and was perhaps the very man to make Louis Napoleon the ally of Jefferson Davis. But he made slow progress on his mission. He was constantly baffled—the prey of false promises and undying remorse. His capture by Captain Wilkes of the San Jacinto and his imprisonment in Fort Warren were not auguries of a fortunate career; and, doubtless, when he saw his proud predictions disappointed, his State captured by the despised Yankees, his associates beaten on land and sea, and the Democratic party every where utterly broken, he was not sorry to hear the last call. His associate commissioner, James M. Mason, of Virginia, preceded him to the final rest by a very few months. His colleague, J. P. Benjamin, who with him left the
Senate on the same 4th of February, 1861, is a barrister before the London courts, and is now a foreigner, as he was before he became naturalized under the laws of a country he sought to destroy. The man he most disliked in Louisiana, poor Pierre Soulé, the brilliant and superficial Frenchman, passed away after the saddest closing years. His friend Howell Cobb has gone. His confrère, Jesse D. Bright, has left Indiana to become a member of the Kentucky Legislature. And James Buchanan sleeps his last sleep in the Lancaster cemetery. It is certain that Mr. Slidell desired to lay his bones among his kindred in America. He tired of life in Paris, wealthy as he was in his own right and in the success of his connections; but for some reason the efforts of his friends to make his return easy were not persisted in, and in his seventy-eighth year he died in a strange land.
[August 13, 1871.)
BETWEEN December, 1860, and the 19th of April, 1861, was crowded a series of events which, carefully preserved, would have constituted many chapters of absorbing interest. But neither side believed entirely in the absolute certainty of hostilities ; few were sufficiently composed to keep a regular diary outside the daily printed reports, and these, at least at the immediate theatre of operations, the nation's capital, were relatively inferior to the full and exact reflections of the doings of the world in the newspapers of these times. Some persons did, perhaps, journalize their experience, but much that entered into the real history of the period can only be rescued from oblivion by utilizing unrecorded memories. I recollect that as early as December, 1860, I called upon the people of Pennsylvania to