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Corwin's Speech.

to dissolve all political con- | find out what injury had,
actually, resulted to the ag-
grieved States from the Per-

nection with the Free States.
If a State passed a law un-

Corwin's Speech.

constitutional in character, was the proper ju-sonal Liberty laws and the Fugitive Slave law's dicature to determine the character of that law non-execution in consequence of these State placed in a sovereign State? If that were so, acts. This led him to consider the question of a State would have the right to absolve it- property. He looked upon that as property self from all allegiance, and absolve its citi- which, owing a man labor, could be converted zens from allegiance to the Government of into value in goods or money. That he the United States. Undeniably, if this were called property. He did not mean to say that the case, if this was sufficient cause for break- man had property in man, but there was a ing up the Union, they might have a thou- relationship existing between a slave and his sand reasons with as much propriety for owner, which was recognized by the Constibreaking up and dissolving the Union as now. tution of the United States, in this, to witThe judicial reports of the Courts over all the that every State recognizes the right of a country were full of decisions which had de- master to establish his claim to his runaway clared that such and such a law of the United slave. That relationship which existed be States was unconstitutional, and that such tween a man who owns labor and him to and such a law was null and void; whom it was due was called Slavery. He believed that the word "slave" had been strangely perverted from its original meaning. The word "slave" was formerly applied to white men-the blue-eyed, fair-skinned man

It was to meet such cases that the correcting tribunal of the United States Supreme Court was established. It was the arbiter and judge, and all State laws declared by it to be unconstitutional were, by the nature of the powers vested in that Court, null and void. It, therefore, was the judge of the propriety of Congressional and State enactments -not the States themselves. The law for the recapture and surrender of fugitive slaves was passed in 1850, and was sustained by the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, and the State Courts had no more to do with it than they had with the act of 1793. The deduction, as a legal consequence inevitable, that the Supreme Court of the United States, if it deem the law of 1850, or the law of 1790, as amended by that of 1850, as within the Constitution and province of Congress, it must follow that it will execute that law; and therefore every law coming in contact with any portion of the constitutional law, interposing aught to its execution, must be deemed by them totally void and of no effect. When he asserted this he presumed no man, whether a lawyer or a layman, would disagree with him. If, then, any of those laws passed in the North, entered into conflict with the laws of the United States which were declared to be constitutional by the courts of the Federal Government, they were simply null and of no possible effect. The Committee had been anxious, however, to

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the slaves who had raised the great Russian empire to its present stupendous and brilliant height. He confessed, therefore, that in law a slave was property, and the Fugitive Slave law having been passed by the highest judicial authority, must be acknowledged by States, and must be strictly enforced so long as it was the law. It was futile for any State Legislature to lift its puny arm against the strong, gigantic arm of the glorious Constitution, which declares that all its laws, made in pursuance of that instrument, must be regarded as paramount to all State laws and State Constitutions.

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The speaker then adverted to the freedom of the press, and, though he might be called an Old Federalist" for his opinion, he be lieved that every society had the right to protect its own interests and welfare, when those interests became menaced by danger. He wished to say that every man who had anything to do with the concerns of the Government, whether he be a newspaper editor, or other individual, who goes abroad through the States, circulating publications, with intent to excite domestic insurrections, should be seized and punished; and it was in the power of every State Government to punish that intent according to the constitutional

Corwin's Speech.


definition of treason. He was the last man in the world who would interfere with the institution of the Press; but the man who went about the country circulating documents, with intent of exciting domestic insurrection against the law-any man who would thus raise his suicidal arm against the Southern bosom, and raise his fratricidal arm against his brother's heart-he would have him duly and commensurately punished.


Corwin's Speech.

to show how impossible it
was for the Freesoil party
to obtain the requisite two-
thirds majority, in both Houses, to subvert
the institutions of the South, even if such a
mad and irrational desire should exist in the
future-for exist now it did not. Their
rights in their slaves were safe, nor would
they ever be infringed by the North.

The clamor of rights in the Territories he would settle by giving the South, for its "pe culiar institution," all the territory South of the meridian 36 deg. 30 min. But, what did the Slaveowners want of more territory? They had not slave labor enough at the present moment to develop the resources of their own States. There were three hundred millions of acres in Texas on which cotton could be cultivated, and he was told that one good hand was equal to the production of five bales of cotton. Calculations would show that instead of wanting room for expansion, instead of choking for breathing room, they had as much productive soil within their own States as would give employment to forty-five millions of negroes, and their whole negro population was only four millions.

He closed by repeating that the North had no desire to interfere with Slavery in the States, and any guarantees to further assure them of that fact it was ready to grant. He hoped to see this mighty Republic bound together by closer ties in the future than any that had yet bound them in the past.

As to the policy and spirit of the Republican party, the South had made a great bugbear, without just cause or propriety. It had been sedulously and zealously attempted, by a certain set of politicians, to induce the people of the South to believe that the party, when it should have attained command of Congress when it should have command of the Executive and the Judiciary, that one of its first acts would be, by some means never explained, to seize the power of the Federal Government, and then, interfering with the Slave States, seize and deprive you of your property. The newspapers of the South had zealously fostered this idea, and kept the Southern mind excited upon this bugbear of the predominancy of Black Republicanism—not from anything that the party had ever avowed-not from any principles ever put forth by them, but from the ravings of the Abolition party, greatly magnified. The Constitution of the United States gave to Congress and the President no more power over Slavery in the States where Mr. Millson, (Dem.,) of it exists than it gave them power to regulate Virginia, followed, repreover the people of England, the affairs of senting one of the Minority Ireland or Scotland. This they had not the Reports submitted from the Committee. He power to do, nor could it be for a moment spoke of the priceless nature of the Union, supposed that they would attempt to over- and considered one of the worst signs of the leap all constitutional bounds. If any of the times to be the levity with which Disunion States should continue in their secession, was regarded. He did not expect statesmen from such vain and improbable causes as of the present day to attain to the wisdom of these, it was plain and obvious that the fu- the authors of the Constitution, but he did ture historian, looking at the events of these expect that they would at least aspire to the times, would come to the conclusion that the capacity of comprehending the results which great experiment which this continent was must follow from their action at this time. intended to demonstrate, that man was ca- He had been asked, shall Virginia submit to pable of self-government, had entirely failed Lincoln ? Certainly! What though the peo -that it failed from the insanity of the ple of Virginia gave their vote against Linpeople, exhibited in this question now before coln; what though Virginia, through her the country. He, at some length, proceeded Representatives here, may give her vote

Millson's Speech.

Millson's Speech.

Millson's Speech

settled by the Constitution-settled by the Supreme Court-and settled, too, in favor of the South! He, therefore, saw nothing which would justify them in abandoning their present securities, and rushing hastily into disunion. Neophytes in States Rights' views addressed him, veteran States-Rights' men, with the argument that they must vindicate the rights of the States. What were they? It would seem that some gentlemen supposed there were no other rights of a State than those which involved her destruction-the right to sacrifice her interest, the right to lay

against the passage of a law | the Territorial question was enacted by Congress, it is already settled-settled by still Virginia that says the the existing law of the land laws shall be obeyed. It is still Virginia that says her will is potential, and that whoever receives a majority of the Electoral votes shall be the President. Submitting to Lincoln is but submitting to the sovereign will of Virginia. He had seen no other cause assigned for secession than the passage of Personal Liberty bills. He stood there a States' rights man of the strictest sect, and regarded the Constitution as a compact between States. He even believed that a violation of the Constitution, by some of the parties to it, justified the other parties in refusing to comply with its remaining obligations; but, he denied that the Le-heavy burdens on her people, the right to exgislature of a State was one of the parties to the compact; and if the assumption of unconstitutional power on the part of a Legislature was to be regarded as an infraction of the Constitution, discharging any of the parties from their reciprocal obligations, then the like assumption of unconstitutional power by a President, a Governor, a State or Federal Judge, a Postmaster, or a Collector of Customs, should also be so regarded. But when the people, after remonstrance, sanctioned the unconstitutional act of their Legislature, that made it an infraction of the compact, and it was then the privilege, not the duty, of any other State to avail herself of that broken faith. It could not be considered her duty to do so, for then Massachusetts might be compelled to secede because Connecticut passed a Personal Liberty bill. He held that among the most valuable State rights belong-show her right to do so. ing to Virginia, were those which belonged to her as a member of the Union. She was not bound to choose the alternative of submitting to Personal Liberty bills or breaking up the Union. He would refuse to submit to unconstitutional law, and he would not throw away his precious stake in the Union either. He did not see anything in the passage of Personal Liberty bills which justified the dissolution of the Union, particularly as evidence had been given by Northern Legislatures of a purpose to repeal such laws.

The Territorial rights question he disposed of in a brief but effective manner. It seemed, he said, to be strangely overlooked that

pose herself to extreme peril, the right to throw away all her rights. He would defend all those rights of his State if she chose to exercise them. He would defend her right to commit suicide if she was tired of prosperity, and renown, and life itself. But the rights of Virginia, which he was most eager to maintain, were those connected with the welfare of her safety, her commerce, her industry, her peace, her consideration at home and abroad, the comfort and happiness and lives of her citizens—in short, all those inestimable blessings and benefits which the Constitution secured her, and of which she was now or had lately been in the actual enjoyment. These were the rights of his State which he would have her maintain against all comers. These were the rights which some men wanted her to throw away, only to

Mr. Millson regretted that he could not share in Mr. Corwin's conclusions respecting future aggressions. He could not conscientiously accept the declarations of his political opponents against aggressions, present and prospective, and preferred that the Constitution should have such an interpretation given it as would forbid any future misconstructions. The men of the South required no new guarantees for their States-required no surrender either of consistency, or power, or advantages, on the part of the Northern States The Territorial constitutional law had been settled by the decision of the Supreme Court. Upon that decision they rested, and upon it




Millson's Speech.

Millson's Speech.

they relied for the whole | asked now was already in settlement of that question. the Constitution; but they He referred with great wanted some stipulation logical force to the secession of the State made to end forever the controversy. They of South Carolina as an impossibility. She did not ask this as suppliants. There was nohad not withdrawn from Congress, for she thing practical to contend for. If the North never had been a member of Congress. She did not want Slavery in the Territories it was had not dissolved her connection with the not there, and could not be got there. No Federal Government, for she never was a Southern man would bring his slaves into part of the Federal Government. The peo- Territory either south or north of New ple only were represented in Congress Mexico. But no one could tell what would the people only were a part of the Federal be the temper and spirit of the majority in Government—they had ordained the Con- some future time. They might exercise their federacy, they had accepted the Constitu- power insultingly, for the purpose of tramption, and not the State; and they alone, in ling on the sensibilities of the Southern National Convention represented, could adju- people. The South had a right to be prodicate upon the question-South Carolina tected against that danger. He could not must withdraw from them. They had no offi- conceive what just ground could be urged cial information that South Carolina had against the insertion of such plain stipulations withdrawn from the Union, but yet they had in the Constitution as would forever put to such accumulated knowledge of the fact that rest this agitated question. they must act in the matter as if they knew officially that she had withdrawn. But having withdrawn, she must not be coerced. While he had no sympathy with the mode adopted by South Carolina for leaving the Union, while he had little sympathy with her with reference to the cause of her seceding from the Union, while he thought he saw that there was a purpose in her so acting, so that she might compel the other States to give a reluctant acquiescence in her course; yet not only for the sake of South Carolina, not only for the sake of the other States, but for his own State, which desired to remain in the Union, he protested against the application of coercion in any form for the purpose of subjecting a State. No; call a Convention of the States; submit the question to them. Let the States meet on equal terms, as when they formed the present Constitution, and let them determine what shall be done in this grave emergency.

He again adverted to the necessity for such constitutional amendments as would put the Southern mind at rest. Beyond the present the Republicans of to-day could not answer -they could not answer for their successors; and, therefore, there should be some definite, satisfactory adjustment of the controversy. He did not see that the Constitution should be altered, for he maintained that what was

Who could penetrate the dismal future? Whether this great Government was to be preserved or destroyed-whether this Union was to be maintained or dissolved-whether Peace was again to spread her wings over the nation, or whether it was to be exposed to all the horrors of a desolating civil war, he could not divine.

He knew how strong


were the inducements to peace. He knew that the interests of the North, as well as of the South, demanded peace, continued peace. Even if the Government was to be overthrown and the Union dissolved, there might be a General Convention of the States, and if they could not live peaceably together they might determine peaceably to separate. He looked upon the waging of war, not only as a violation of the Constitution, but as a crime against humanity. Still, there might be war. He feared there would be war. mortal man rarely died without strong convulsions and paroxysms, and it was not to be supposed that a first-class power of the earth -a Republic of thirty millions-would exhale its breath classically and tranquilly. But, though his fears were active, he did not permit himself altogether to despond. The Union might yet be reconstructed and preserved, and the historian, in referring to this crisis in our national history, might date from this point the time when the

Republic really began its career of greatness of Secession. Mr. Colfax could not accept the and glory.

This eminently candid and conservative speech greatly exercised the Southern side of the House. In it they beheld their schemes daguerreotyped but too clearly, and felt its force all the more keenly, because coming from a Southern man, true to Southern interests.


In the House, Tuesday, Harris, of Maryland, gave notice that he would move the resolutions of the Border State Committee as an amendment to the propositions reported from the Committee of Thirty-three. then presented memorials from seventeen thousand citizens of Maryland, representing every district and county in the State, in favor of the adoption of the Border resolutions.

Bill to Abolish Mails

in the South.

substitute. Mr. Dawes, (Rep.,) of Massachusetts, inquired whether it was his (Colfax's) intention to move the passage of the bill under the operation of the previous question. Mr Colfax replied in the affirmative. Mr. Dawes thought that the bill was of too much importance to be thus forced through the House. Mr. John Cochrane, (Dem.,) of New York, raised the question as to whether the laws could thus be constitutionally suspended. This was a grave inquiry. Was this, as Mr. Colfax stated, a measure of peace or the piece of a measure? [Laughter.] Mr. Colfax repeated that in view of the existing revolution the Postal laws could not be execu ted. No coercion was proposed.

Mr. Stevens, (Rep.,) of Pennsylvania, proposed a substitute, authorizing and emMr. Colfax, from the Post-office Committee, powering the President, when he shall reported back the bill to abolish the mail deem it necessary, to suspend all laws and service in the Seceded States [see page 262.] parts of laws establishing ports of entry He said, in extenuation of this action, that and collection districts in South Carolina, he would not have intro- Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, or any other duced the bill if the Fede-State that has now or may hereafter seral Courts had remained cede, or be in rebellion against the United intact. But now persons may open the mails States, and to continue such suspension and rifle them, and there is no means by until such States shall return to their loywhich they may be brought to justice. If alty to the United States. The President the Postmaster refuses to pay the drafts given shall give notice of such suspension by proclato contractors, the latter can hold Congress mation, and such suspension shall commence responsible. Therefore, it became the imper- ten days thereafter. During the suspension ative duty of the Government to discontinue it shall not be lawful for any vessel, except the postal service where there is no means such as belong to the United States, to enter of protecting it. or leave any such ports of the United States for foreign ports or coastwise. If any vessel shall be found violating the provisions of this act, such vessel or cargo shall be forfeited, one-half to the captors and the other half to the United States, and those on board any such captured vessel shall be tried before any Admiralty Court having jurisdiction. The President shall also have power to suspend all laws establishing Post-offices and Postroutes in any of the Seceding States, and the mails shall be carried only to the lines of such States, except where it is necessary to pass through them to reach a loyal State. The mails shall not be opened in a rebellious State. And it is further provided, that the President have power to use the Army and

Mr. Branch, (Dem.) of North Carolina, desired to offer a substitute, covering more ground than was proposed by the bill before the House. The President has communicated to Congress that, owing to the existing condition of affairs, the laws cannot be enforced in South Carolina. That message was now before the Select Committee. Mr. Branch's substitute was then read, namely: "To the end of removing all causes for using force and to prevent the breaking out of civil war, pending the deliberations of Congress in the existing crisis of public affairs, all laws of the United States be and they are hereby suspended until the 1st of January, 1862, in and over those States which have heretofore or may previous to said time, adopt Ordinances | Navy for the execution of the laws.

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