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done, what contentedness and peace would have then pervaded our once happy country! Then, indeed, we could have rejoiced and started afresh in the career of national greatness and glory. But, sir, it was rejected, and the strange story is now told us, that it was anti-republican! Anti-republican to abide by the Missouri compromise! by the Oregon compromise ! by the Texas compromise! Take back the incredible charge. The last message of James K. Polk to his countrymen, just before he went down to the tomb, implored them to settle this question on the principles of the Missouri compromise. Take back the charge that he was no republican. When Texas was admitted on the compromise line of thirtysix degrees thirty minutes, Andrew Jackson was still living, and his heart rejoiced to see the noble work accomplished. Take back the charge that Andrew Jackson was no republi
Take back the charge against the hundreds, and thousands, and tens of thousands, who voted for thirty-six thirty in voting for her admission into the Union. Take it back, or strifle your shout for Polk and Dallas, and tear down from your banner the lone star of Texas.
It is sometimes declared to be unconstitutional. It was not proposed as an ordinary act of Congress but as a compromise
-a compromise of a disputed question of constitutional construction. Now, why cannot a disputed construction of the Constitution be compromised as well as any other ? Every other question, it seems, can be compromised. Even an omnibus-full of all sorts of compromises will do. Yet the Missouri compromise and the Texas compromise will not do at all. And why were they unconstitutional ? Because, it is said, they allowed of the intervention of Congress north of that line. No, that was not the compromise. The original demand of the north was, that Congress should intervene and exclude slavery from the whole country north and south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes. Now, the compromise was, that Congress should forbear that intervention or exclusion of slavery, and leave a part of it for the south-that part was south of thirty-six degrees thirty minutes : that was the true nature of all these compromises! Now, was it unconstitutional for us to save a part when we were otherwise to lose the whole country? Well, now, after all, let us look to results. Congress rejected our Missouri compromise, and passed its own bills in lieu of it. Which was best for the south?
Which was best for the south ? Ours would have saved one-third or more-your bills have lost all-every square acre of it. What equivalent, let me now demand, has the south received under these bills for the loss and surrender of these vast possessions ? For California, the key that commands all the amazing commerce of the Indies? The fugitive slave bill! For Utah and New Mexico ? The fugitive slave bill! What for the loss of nearly two States proposed to be carved out of Texas ? The fugitive slave bill! Truly this fugitive slave bill must be something new and miraculous. No. It is not new--for it is only the act of '93 a little amended and enlarged; and the act of '93 was nothing but a meagre compliance with an express provision of the Constitution. But, if not new, surely it must restore vast numbers of fugitive slaves to their masters, in compensation for the loss of so much land! Restoration! I believe it is rather the other way. Instead of coming home, I believe they are getting further off-scampering away in great droves to Canada! But to be serious, what a pass has the country come to, when one half of it has to bribe the other, simply to do its duty under the Constitution! The south to give up its half of the countries acquired from Mexico, in order to induce the north to surrender our fugitives from labor! What a commentary on the fraternal, Constitution-abiding spirit of the north! But, it seems that after giving up all our interest in the Mexican territories, even then, they are not willing to surrender our slaves. They seem determined to take our lands and keep our negroes too!
But, I admit these territories have not been lost by the instrumentality of the Wilmot proviso. That was one of her advanced or outer works which the north concluded to abandon, because the south, the whole south, had vowed they should be carried, at all hazards and to the last extremity. With an adroitness which has distinguished all her movements on these slavry questions, she retired from the Wilmot and entrenched herself behind the Mexican fortress; and the south either had not the courage to attack her there, or vainly imagined that she
had retreated from the field and given up the contest. No, sir, she has not retreated—there she stood undislodged, and there she yet stands, sole mistress of every province. California is hers-Utah is hers-New Mexico is hers:-all the flocks and herds in their teeming valleys—the gold that glitters in their rivers—the diamonds that sparkle in their mountains-must now be hers, and the poor deluded and defrauded south has nothing left but the sad rememberance that this mighty domain was subdued by the valor of her gallant but now rejected people. Even the graves of those who died in the conflict are no longer ours—they have passed over into the possession of those who felt no sympathy in their fall, and who will never deck the green sod that now covers them. Pardon me, sir, for go often referring to our exclusion. I wish that great fact to stand out in bold relief, like the summit of some lofty mountain overpeering all others, that the south has been excludeddriven out from it. The north said she should be, and she has been, and there is the end of it.
And is it for this that we have been called upon to rejoice! To kindle bonfires in the streets ! Was it for this that the booming of cannon has been heard amid the stillness of midnight! Sir, let others rejoice if they can; let them sound the trumpet and ring the bells; let them make the hoarse artillery to speak; but, for my single self, I cannot rejoice. My heart is too sad and sorrowful. It would break sooner than rejoice.
Mr. President, there is another thing this heart of mine will never do.
It will never grow cold towards those southern friends who may have felt it their duty to vote for any of those territorial bills, which I have disapproved. I know too well their devotion to the Constitution-to the Union-to the south. They have done what they believed to be best under all the trying circumstances of the case, and I hail and welcome them home, with unabated confidence and friendship. Compelled to cast their votes amid the fire, and smoke, and suffocation of a wild fanaticism on the one hand, and the most vehement threats to dissolve the Union if something was not done, on the other, what wonder were it if all their votes should not have been cast precisely right, in the emergency of the moment! We are now examining their measures after the smoke of the conflict has dispersed, and as no man knows what votes he might not have cast, in order to secure the unity of this great nation, when he believed it was in danger, so let no man yield himself up to the foul spirit of intolerance. Besides, sir, this fatal war on our rights has only just begun. The enemy has only carried our outposts. They have drawn a cordon of non-slaveholding States around us by the late bills, and are now only waiting for the new apportionment to give them an increase of strength, and for the arrival of their new levies from California, Utah and New Mexico, to make a fresh onslought upon us—on the abolition of slavery in the States-in the District of Columbia-in the forts, arsenals, &c. of the United States—the prohibition of the transfer of slaves from one State to another. When that time shall come, we shall need that there should be no estrangement among the men of the south. “Shoulder to shoulder, and with shield locked on shield,” we must then stand or fall together. Till then let no division of opinion make divisions in friendship.
There is yet another thing this heart of mine will not do. For nothing in the past, great as have been our wrongs, will it beat one pulse the less of ardent devotion to the Constitution and the Union. My motto now is, endurance of the past, resistance for the future. The past can be endured. Though it demand all the forgiveness of the Christian, and all the forbearance of the patriot, it nevertheless can be endured. The future, I awfully fear, cannot. When you shall hear that the most solemn covenants of the Constitution are broken by lawless mobs, and your fellow-citizens imprisoned for demanding the restoration of their property-demanding it too, with the late fugitive slave bill in the one hand, and the Constitution of the United States in the other—when you shall see the beacon fires blazing all along the mountain border of Maryland and Virginia-all along the shores of the Ohio-as signals for the flight and escape of your property-when military detachments shall have to be sent, night after night, to the protection of your homes and your families—when every fire-bell at night will make the mother clasp her infant closer to her bosom-how can you endure this, and more than this? In such
a future, who then can talk of a Constitution with its violated covenants, or of a Union with all its shattered fragments strewn around us! The great law of self-defence will then be all that is left us.
It is the law by which even the reptile resists the invader. Under that law, whether to be found in the reserved rights of the States under the Constitution, or in the admitted right of revolution, I care not
under that law of self-preservation, the States will have to fall back upon their full original sovereignty, and provide again “ for the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property.” God grant, however, that the dark future which I have portrayed may never come. On the contrary, may it come to us crowned with peace and fraternal concord; may it come with the Constitution still unbroken, and the Union, with adamantine strength, still bespanning the continent, from ocean to ocean, brighter and more glorious than
To such a Union I owe a perfect and perpetual obedience-to such a one I will adhere, and adhere to the last, like the gallant sailor, when about to be driven from the vessel which he had long defended, when he had been driven over the very side of his ship, he seized it with his right hand, when that had been cut off he seized it with the left, when that had been cut off he seized it with his teeth, and so went down with it to the bottom. Sir, I say this of that Union which now isof that Union which Washington, and Madison, and Pinckney, and the Rutledges gave us.
But to that Union which may be yet to come-to that Union which would deprive me of my property, which would beggar my children, which would fire my dwelling, and spread around me all the horrors of a servile war-to a Union which would deluge “my own, my native land” in one vast sea of blood-by Heavens, I owe it no allegiance !
Sir, it was upon this great principle that the Tennessee resolutions were constructed: That we will abide by the past-by the late legislation in Congress—with that fidelity which has always distinguished the south. But, at the same time, we solemnly affirm that our cup is full—we can drink no more. Will those who propose not to abide by the past, but to strike, and to strike now, will they hear from me one argument against this rash and perilous deed? Who are here? Call Mary