The globe. (Huntingdon, Pa.) 1856-1877, January 16, 1861, Image 5

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Fellow-Citizens of the Senate
and (louse of Representatives:
' •Throughont the year since our last meeting,
the country has been eminently prosperous in
all its material interests. The general health
has been excellent, our harvests have been
abundant and plenty smiles tiioroughout the
land. Our commerce end manufactures have
been prosecuted with energy and industry, and
have yielded fair and ample returns. In short,
uo nation inithe tide of time has ever presented
a spectacle' of greater material prosperity than
we have done until within a very recent period.
Why is it, then, that discontent now so ex
tensively prevails, and the Union of the States,
which is the•so❑rce of all these blessings. is
threatened with destruction? The long-con
linue'd • and intemperate interference of the
Northern people •with the question of slavery
in the Southern States' has at length produced•
its natural effects. • The different sections of
the Union are now arrayed against each other,
and the time has arrived, so much dreaded by
the Father of his Country; when hostile geo
graphical. parties have been formed. I have
long foreseen and often forewarned my coms
trymen•of .the now• impending danger. This
does. not proceed Alolely from the claim on• the
pert of Congress or the territorial legislature to
exclude slavery from the Territories, nor from
the efforts of different States to defeat the exe
cution of the fugitive-slave law. All or any of
these evils might have been endured by •the
South withoutolanger to the Union, as others
have been,) lic,:the hope that time and reflection'
might•apply the remedy. The immediate peril
arises not so much from these• causes as from
the fact that the incessant and violent agitation
of the slavery question throughout the North
for the last quarter of a century; has at length
produced its malign influence on the slaves,
and inspired them with vague notions of free
dom. •
Hence a settee of security no longer exists
around the family altar. This feeling of peace
at home has given place to apprehensions of
servile insurrection. Many a matron through
out the South retires at night in dread of what
may befall herself and her children before the
morning. Should this apprehension of domes
tic danger, whether real or imaginary, extend
and intensify itself until it shall pervade the
masses of the Southern people, then disunion
will become inevitable. Self-preservation is the
first law of nature, and has been implanted in
the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest
purpose; and no political union, however
fraught with blessings and benefits in all other
respects, can long continue, if the necessary
consequence be to render the homes and fire
sides of nearly half the parties to-it habitually
and hopelessly insecure. Sooner or later the
bonds of such a Union must be severed. It is
my conviction that this fatal period has not yet
arrived; and my prayer to God is-that Ile would
preserve the Constitution and the . Union
throughout all generations.
But let us take warning in time, and remove
the cause of danger. It cannot be denied that,
for five and twenty years, the agitation at the
North against slavery in the South has been
incessant. In =1835 pictorial hand-bills, and
inflammatory appeals, were ,circulated exten
sively throughout the South, of a character to
excite the passions of the slaves; and, in the
language of General Jackson, "to stimulate
them to insurrection, and produce all the hor
rors of a servile war." This agitation has ever
since been continued by the public press, by
the proceedings of State and county conven
tions, and by abolition sermons and lectures.—
The time of Congress has been occupied in vio
lent speeches ou this never-ending subject ,
and appeala in pamphlet aua other terms, en
dorsed by distinguished names, have been sent
forth from thisceutral point, and spread broad
cast over the Union.
How easy would it be for the American peo
ple to settle the slavery question forever, and
to restore peace and harmony, to this distracted
They, and they alone, can do it. All that is
necessary to accomplish the object, and all
for which the slave States have ever contended,
is to be letalone, and permitted to manage their
domestic institutions in their own way. As
sovereign States, they, and they alone, are re
sponsible before Gotrand the world for the
slavery existing among them. For this, the
people of the North are not more responsible,
and have no more right to interfere, than with
similer institutions in Russia or in Brazil.—
Upon their good sense and patriotic forbearance
I confess I still greatly rely. Without their
aid, it is beyond the power of fatty President,
no matter what may be his own political pro
clivities, to restore peace and harmony among
the States. Wisely. dimited and restrained as
is his power, under our Constitution and laws,
he alone can accomplish but, little, for good or
for evil, on such a momentous question.
And this brings me to observe that the elec
tion of any one of our fellow-citizens to the
office of President does not of itself afford just
cause for dissolving the Union. This is more
especially true if his election has been effected
by trmere plurality, and not a majority, of the
people, and has resulted from transient, and
temporary causes, which may probably never
again occur. In order to justify a resort to
revolutionary resistance, the Federal Govern
ment must be guilty of "a deliberate, palpable
and dangerous exercise" of powers not granted
by the Constitution. The late Presidential
election, how( Ter, has been held in strict con
formity with its express provisions. Ilow,
then, can the result justify a revolution to de
stroy this very Constitution ? Reason, justice,
a regard for the Constitution, all require that
we shall wait for some overt and dangerous act
on the part of the President elect before re
sorting to such a remedy.
It is said, however, that the antecedents of
the President elect have been sufficient to jus
tify the fears of the South that he will attempt
to invade their constitutional rights. But are
such apprehensions of contingent danger in the
future sufficient to justify the immediate des
truction of the noblest system of government
ever devised by mortals? From the very
nature of his office, and its high responsibili
ties, he must necessarily be conservative. The
stern duty of administering the vast and com
plicated cOncerns of this Government affords
in itself a guarantee that he will not attempt
any violation of a clear constitutional right.—
After all, he is no more than the chief execu
tive officer of the Government. Ills province
is not to make, but to execute, the laws ; and
it is a remarkable fact in our history, that, not
withstanding the repeated efforts of the anti
• slavery party, no single act has ever passed
Congress, unless we may possibly except the
Missouri Compromise, impairing, in the slight
est degree, the rights of the South to their
property in slaves. And it may also be ob
- served,'judging from present indications, that
'no probability exists of the passage of such an
act, by a majority of both Houses, either in
the present or the next Congress. Surely,
under these circumstances, we ought to be re
strained from present action by the precept of
Him who spoke as never man spoke, that "suf
ficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The
day of evil may never come, unless we shall
rashly bring it upon ourselves.
It is alleged as one cause for immediate se
session that the Southern States are denied
equal rights with the other States in the com
mon Territories. But by what authority are
these denied? Not by Congress, which has
never passed, and I believe never will pass,
any act to exclude slavery from these Territo
ries; and certainly not by the Supreme Court,
which has solemnly decided that slaves are
prori ty, anal, 10.41 all othe, prop e rly
lrti e n t ight to tglio I hem hec to
T., I tutee • hold thl.lll there 111/ ler the
proted tuff of (Ito l'unstilution.
So far, then, as Congress i. concerned, the
objection is not to anything they have .11ready
done, but to what they may do hereafter. It
will surely be admmitted that this a rprehen
sion of fdture danger is no gootireason for an
immediate dissolution of the Union. It is true
that the territorial legislature of Kansas, on
the 231.1 of February, MOO, passed in great
haste an act, over the veto of the Governor,
declaring that slavery " is, and shall he. for
ever prohibited in this Territory." Snell an
act, however, plainly violating the' rights of
properly, secured by the Constitution, will
surelpho declared void by the judiciary When
ever it shall be presented in a legal feral.
Only three days after my inauguration the
Supreme court, of the United States solemnly
adjudged that, this power did not exist in a ter
ritorial legislature. Yet such has been the fac
tious temper of the times that the Correctness
of this decision has been extensively impugned
before the people, and the question has given, angry political conflicts threnghout the
country. Those who have appealed from this
judgment of our highest constitutional tribunal
to popular ,assemblies would, if they could,
invest. a territorial legislature with, power to
annul the sacred rights of property. This
power Congress is expressly forbidden by the
Federal Constitution to exorcise. Every State
legislature in the Union is forbidden by its own
constitution to exercise it. It cannol be exer
cised in any State except by the people in their
highest sovereign capacity when framing or
amt.:ruling their State constitution. In like man
ner, it can only be exercised by the people of
a Territory represented in a convention of del
egates for the purpose of framing a constitution
preparatory to admission as a State into the
Union. Then, and not until then, a•o they
invested with power to decide the question
whether slavery shall or shall not exist within
their limits. This ikan act of sovereign au
thority, and not of subordinate territorial le
gislation. Were it otherwise, then indeed
would the equality of the States in the Terri
tories be destroyed, and the rights of property
.in slaves would depend, not upon the guaran
tees of the Constitution, but upon the shifting
majorities of an irresponsible territorial legis
lature. Such a doctrine, from its intrinsic
unsoundness, cannot long influence any con
siderable portion of ear people, much le.s can
it afford a good reason for a dissolution of the
• The most, palpable violations of constitu
tional duty which have yet been committed
consists in the acts of different Slate legisla
tures to defeat, the execution of the fugitive
slave law. It ought to be remembered, how
ever, that for these acts, neither Congress nor
any President can justly be held responsible.
Having been passed in violation of the Fed
eral Constitution, they are therefore null and
void. All the courts, both State and national,
before whom the question has arisen, have
from the beginning declared the fugitive-slave
law to be constitutional. The single exception
is that of a State court in Wisconsin ; and this
has not only been reversed by the proper ap
pellate tribunal, but has met with such univer
sal reprobation that there can be no danger
front it as a precedent. The validity of this
law has been established over and over again
by the Supreme Court of the United, States
with perfect unanimity. It is founded upon
an express provision of the Constitution, re
quiring that fugitive slaves who escape from
service in one State to another shall Ice 'ole
livered up" to their masters. Without this
provision it is a well known historical fact that
the Constitution itself could never have been
adopted by the Convention. In one form or
other under the acts of 1793 and 1850, both
being substantially the same, the fugitive-slave
law has been the law of the land from the days
of Washington until the present moment. Here
then, a clear case is presented, in which it
will be the duty of the next President, as it
has been_ my own, to _act .with xigordu,
outing Lain built clue IlLlV "el./4”1, "AV -
ing enactments of State legislatures. Should
he fail in the performance of this high duty,
he will then have manifested a disregard of
the Constitution and laws, to the great injury
of the people of nearly one-half of the States
of the Union. But are we to presume in ad
vance that he will thus violate his duty? This
would be at war with every principle of jus
tice and of Christian charity. Let its wait for
the overt act. The fugitive-slave law has been
carried into execution in every contested case
since the commencement of the present admin
istration; though often it is to be regretted,
with great loss and inconvenience to the master,
and with considerable expense to the govern
ment. Let us trust that the State legislatures
will repeal their unconstitutional and obnox
ious enactments. Unless this, shall he done
without unnecessary delay, it is impossible for
any human power to save the Union.
The Southern States, standing on the basis of
the Constitution, have a right to demand this act
of justice from the States of the North. Should
it be refused, then the Constitution, to which all
the States aro parties, will have been wilfully
violated by one portion of them in a provision
essential to the domestic security and happiness
of the remainder. In that event, the injured
States, after having first used ail peaceful and
constitutional means to obtain redress, would he
justified in revolutionary resistance to the Govern
ment of the Union.
I have purposely confined my remarks to revo
lutionary resistance, because it hai been claimed
within the last few years that any State, when
ever this shall be its sovereign will and pleasure,
may secede from the Union, in accordance with
the Constitution, and without any violation of the
Constitutional rights of the other members of the
Confederacy. That as each became parties to the
Union by the vote of its own people assembled in
convention, so any one of them may retire from
the Union in a similar manner by the vote of inch
a convention.
In order to justify secession as a constitutional
remedy, it must be on the principle that the Fed
eral Government is a mere voluntary association
of States, to be dissolved at pleasure by any ono
of the contracting parties. If this be so, the Con
federacy is a rope of sand, to be penetrated and
dissolved by the first adverse wave of public opin
ion in any of the States. In this manner our thir
ty-three States may resolve themselves into as
many petty, jarring and hostile republics, each
one retiring from the Union, without responsi
bility, whenever any sudden excitement might im
pel them to such a course. By this ',recess a Union
might be entirely broken into fragments in a few
weeks, which cost our forefathers many years of
toil, privation and blood to establish.
Such a principle is wholly inconsistent with
the history as well as the character of the
Federal Constitution. After it was framed,
with the greatest deliberation and care, it was
submitted to conventions of the people of the
several States for ratification. Its provisions
were discussed at length in these bodies, com
posed of the first men of the country. Its op
ponents contended that it conferred powers
upon the Federal Government dangerous to the
rights of the States, whilst its advocates main
tabled that under a fair construction of the in-
strument there was no foundation for such ap
prehensions. ln that mighty struggle between
the first intellects of this or any other country,
it never occurred to any individual, either
among its opponents or advocates, to assert, or
even to intimate, that their etforts were all vain
labor, because the moment that any State felt
herself aggrieved she might secede front the
Union. IVhat a crushing argument would this
have proved against those who dreaded that the
rights of the States would be endangered by
the Constitution. The truth is, that it was not
until many years after the origin of the Fede
ral Government that such a proposition was
first advanced. It was then met and refuted
by the conclusive arguments of General Jack
son, who in his message of pith January, 1833,
transmitting the nullifying ordinance of South
Carolina to Congress, employs the following
language:—" The right of the people of a sin
gle State to absolve themselves at will, and
without the consent of the other States, from
their most solemn obligations, and hazard th
liberty and Imprinet,, of tht milliuss color,
mug this Union csnitut. Ito achnouledged.-
tillen MallUl ay is belie:tett to be tuttrly -,cpug
nant both to the principles upon which ., the
General Government is constituted tud to the
Objects which it, was expressly formed to at
It is not pretended that any clause in the
Constitution gives countenance to mid a Cheery.
it is altogether founded upon infemnoe, not
from any language contained in the iistrume,at
itself, but from the sovereign charader of the
several States by which it was ratified. But it;
itbcyond the power of a State,like an individual,.
to yield a portion of its sovereign rights to
secure the remainder? In the languege of Mr
Madison, who has been called the father of the
Constitution; "It was formed by the States—
that is by the people in each of the .s,tates,act
ing in their highest sovereign capacity ; and
formed consequently by the same authority
which formed the State Constitutions"
"Nor is the Government of the United States,
created by the Constitution, lease Gievernment
in the strict sense of the term, within the
sphere of its powers, than the governments
created by the constitutions of the Rates are,
within their several spheres. It is, kite them,
organized into legislative, executive, and ju
diciary departments. It operates, like them,
directly on persons and things; and, Ike them,
it has at command a physical force Mr execu
ting the powers committed to it."
It was intended to be perpetual, aid not to
be annulled at the pleasure of any etc of the
contracting parties. The old article! of con
federation were entitled "Articles of Confede
eration and Perpetual Union betveen the,
States ;" and by the Blth article it is expressly
declared that "the articles of this Confederation
shall be inviolably observed by every State,
and the Union shall be perpetual." The pre
amble to the Constitution of the United States,
having express reference to the articles of Con
: federation, recites that it was establi Iteel
order to form amore perfect union." And yet
it is contended that this "more perfect intimp',
does not include the emend.; attribute of per-
But that the Union was designed to he per
petual appears conclusively from Um nature
and extent of thepowers conferred by the Con
ntittttion, on the Federal Government. These
?powers embrace the very highest attributes of
national sovereignty. They place both the
sword and purse under its control. Congress
has power to make war, and to make peace ; to
raise and support, armies and navils, and to
conclude treaties with foreign govertfments.—
It is invested with the power to coin money,
and to regulate the value thereof, awl to rep
' late oomnierce with foreign nations, and among
the several States. It is not necessary to enu
merate the other high powers which lave been
conferred upon the Federal Government. In
order to carry the enumerated powers into
effect, Congress possesses the exclusive right
to lay and collect' duties' on imports, and in
common with the States to lay and collect all
other taxes.
But the Constitution has not only conferred
these high powers upon Congress, ;but it has
'adopted effectual means to restrain the States
from interfezing, with their exercise. For that
purpose it has,in strong prohibitory language,
expressively declared that "uo State Shall enter
into any treaty, alliance or confederation; grant
letters of marque and reprisal; coin money: emit
bills of credit; make anything but , gold and
saver coin a tender in payment of debts ; pass
any hill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law
impairing the obligation ot' contracts,' More
over ]'without the consent of CongresS, no State
shall lay any imposts or duties on any imports
or exports, except what may be absolutely ne
cesseary Mr executing its inspection laws;"
and, if they exceed this amount, ihv excess
shall belong to the United States.
And " no State shall, without the eensentof
Congress lay any duty of tonnage: kerp troops
or ships of war,in thne of peace; enter into any
agreement or compact with another State, or
with a foreign power: or engage in war, unless
..ei.c„.4 1 11, • kIA.:I.
as ifiti v atircid i rdS l iTfa .
In order still further to secure the uninter
rupted exercise of these high powers against
State interposition, it is provided "that this
Constitution and the laws of the United States
which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and
all treaties made, or which shall be made, un
der the authority of the United States, shall
be the supreme law of the land and the judges
in every State shall be bound thereby, any
thing in the constitution or laws of any State
to the contrary notwithstanding.
The solemn sanction of religion has been
superadded to the obligations of official duty,
and all senators and representatives of the
United States, all members of State Legisla
tures, and all executive and judicial °dicers,
"both of the United States, and of the several
States shall be bound by oath or affirmation to
support this Constitution."
In order tq carry into effect these powers,
the Constitution has 'established a perfect Gov
ernment in all its forms, Legislative, Execu
tive, and Judicial; and this Government, to
the extent of its powers, acts directly upon the
individual citizens of every State, and executes
its own decrees by, the agency of its own offi
In this respect it differs entirely from the
overnmen t under the old Confederation, which
was confined to making requisitions on the
States in their sovereign character. This left
it. in the discretion of each whether to obey dr
to refuse, and they often declined to comply
with such requisitions. It tints became neces
sary, for the purpose of removing this barrier,
and "in order to form a more perfect Union,"
' to establish a Government which could act di
rectly upon the people, and execute its own
laws without the intermediate agency of the
States. This has been accomplished by the
' Constitution of the United States.
In short, the Government created by the
Constitution, and deriving its authority front
the sovereign people of each of the several
States, has precisely the same right to exercise
its power over the people of all these States,
in the enumerated cases, that each one of them
possesses over subjects not delegated to the
United States but “reserved to the States, re
spectively, or to the people."
To the extent of the delegated powers the
Constitution of the United States is as much a
part of the constitution of each State, and is as
binding upon its people, as though it had been
textually inserted therein.
This Government, therefore, is a great and pow
erful Government, invested with all the attributes
of sovereignty over the special subjects in which
its authority extends. Its framers never intended
to implant in its bosom the seeds of its own des
truction, nor were they at its Creation
,guilty of the
absurdity of providing for its own dissolution. It
waft not intended by its framers to be the baseless
fabric of a vision which, at the touch of the en
chanter, would vanish into thin air, but a substan
tial and mighty fabric, capable of resisting the
slow decay of time, and of defying the storms of
Indeed, well may the jealous patriots of that day
have indulged fears that a government of such
high powers might violate the reserved rights of
the States, and wisely did they adopt the rule of a
strict construction of these powers to prevent the
danger! But they did not fear, nor had they any
reason to imagine, that the Constitution would
ever be so interpreted as to enable any State, by
her own act, and without the consent of her sister
States. to discharge her people from all or any of
their Federal obligations.
It may be asked, then, are the people of the
States without redress against the tyranny and
oppression of the Federal Government? By no
means. The right of resistance on the part of the
governed against the oppression of their go
vernments cannot be denied. It exists indepen
dently of all constitutions, and has been exercised'
at all periods of the world's history. Under it'
old governments have been destroyed and new
ones hays taken their places. It is embodied in
strong :and express language in our own Declara
tion of Independence. But the distinction must
ever be observed, that this is revolution against
an established government, and not a voluntary
secession front it by virtue of an inherent COnnti
talinnal t fight. In shot', hrf lIA lho flanzar
lahly w the face. 6cmsian is neither 11101 . (1 tier
less than ravolution. it may or may not. be a
justifiable revolution, but still it is revolution.
What, in the meantime, is the responsibility
and position oC the Executive? He is bound by
solemn oath before God and the country "to take
care that the laws be faithfully executed," and
from this obligation ho cannot be absolved by any
human power. But what if the performance of
this duty, in whole or in part, has been rendered
impracticable by events over which ho could have
exercised no control? Such, at the present mo
ment, is the ease throughout the State of South
Carolina, so far as tho laws of the United States
to secure the administration of justice by means
of the Federal Judiciary aro concerned.
All the Federal officers within its limits,
through whose agency alone these laws can be
carried into execution, have already resigned.
We no longer have a district judge, a district
attorney, or a marshal in South Carolina. In
fact, the whole machinery of the Federal Gov
ernment, necessary for the distribution of re
medial justice among the people, has been de
molished ; and it would be difficult, if not
i mpossible to replace it.
The only acts of Congress on the stattite-hook,
binding upon this subject,'are those of the 28th
Pohruary, 1705, and fld March, 1507. Those
authorize the President, after be shall have as
ce.ctained that the marshal with his posse comi
tatms is unable to execute civil or criminal
process in any particular case, to call forth
the militia and employ the army and navy to
aid lint in performing this service, having first
by Proclamation commanded the insurgents
" to. iliSpersts and retire peaceably to their re
spective Abodes, within a limited time." This
duty cannot by possibility be performed in a
State where no judielal authority exists to issue
process, and where there is no marshal to exe
cute it, and where, even if there were such an
officer, the entire population would constitute
one solid combination to resist him.
The bare enumeration of those provisions proves
hot+ inadenuute they are without further legisla
tion tb overcome a united opposition in a single
State, not to speak of other States who muy place
themselves in a similar attitude. Congress alone
has power to decide whether the present laws can
or cannot be amended so as to carry out more ef
fectually the objects of the Constitution.
The same insuperable obstacles do not lie in the
way of executing the laws for the collection of the
customs. The revenue still continues to be col
lected, as heretofore, at the custom-house in
Charleston ; and should the collector unfortunately
resign, a successor may ha appointed to perform
this duty.
Then in regard to the property of the United
States in South Carolina. This has been purchased
for a fair equivaleat, "by the consent of the Legis
lature of the State," "for the erection of forts,
magazines, arsenals," .4e., and over these the au
thority "to exercise legislation" lion beet] expressly
granted by the Constitution to Congress. his not
believed that any attempt will be made to expel
the United States from this property by force; but
if in this I should prove to be mistaken, the officer
in eomiaand of the forti hae received orders to act
strictly on the defensive. In such a contingency,.
the responsibility for consequences would rightfully
rest upon the bends of the assailants.
Apart from the execution of the laws, so far
as this may be practicable, the Executive has
no authority to decide what shall be the rela
tions between the federal government and
South' Carolina. Ae has been invested with no
such discretion. Ire possesses no power to
change the relations heretofore existing be
tween them, much less to acknowledge the in
dependence of that State. This would be to
invest, n mere Executive officer with the power
of recognizing the dissolution of the Confed
eracy among our thirty-three sovereign States.
It bears no resemblance to the recognition of a
foreign de facto government, involving no such
Any attempt to do this would, on his part,
be a naked act of usurpation. It, is, therefore,
my duty to submit to Congress the whole ques
tion in all its bearings. The coarse of events
is so rapidly hastening forward that the emer
gency may soon arise, when you may he called
upon to decide the momentous question whether
ou tossess the )owe • b..f •ceoftutq;'._
myself recreant to my duty were I. not to ex
press an opinion on this important subject.
The question fairly stated is : Tins the Con
stitution delegated to Congress the power to
coerce a State into submission which is at
tempting to withdraw o• has actually with
drawn from the Confederacy ? If answered in
the affirmative, it must be on the prhmiple
that the power line been conferred upon Con
gress to declare and make war against a Sti.te.
After much serious reflection I have arrived at
the conclusion that no such power has been
delegatad to Congress or to any other depart
ment of the Federal Government. It is mani
fest, upon an inspection of the Constitution,
that this is not among the specific and enume
rated powers granted to Congress; and it is
equally apparent that its exercise is not "ne
cessary and proper fo• carrying into execution"
any one of these powers. So far front this
power having been delegated to Congress, it
was expressly refused by the Convention which
framed the Constitution.
It appears, from the proceedings of that
body, that on the :ilst May, 1187 the clause
"authorizing an exertion of the force of the
whole against a delinquent State" came up for
consideration:, Mr. Madison opposed it. in a
brief but powerful speech, from which I shall
extract but a single sentence. Ile observed:
"The use of force against a State would look
more like a declaration of war than an inflic
tion of punishment ; and would probably he
considered by the party attacked as a dissolu
tion of all previous compacts by which it
might be hound."
Upon his motion the clause was unanimously
postponed, and was never I believe again pre
sented. Soon afterwards, on the Bth of June,
1787, when incidentally adverting to the subject
he said: "Any Government for the United
States, formed on the supposed practicability
of using force against the unconstitutional pro
ceedings of the States, would prove as visionary
and fallacious as the government of Congress,"•
evidently meaning the then existing Congress
of the old Confederation.
'Without descending to particulars, it may be
safely asserted, that the power to make war
against a State is at variance with the whole
spirit and intent of the Constitution. Suppose
such a war should result in the conquest of 'a
State, how are we to govern it, afterwards ?
Shall we hold it as a province, and govern it
by despotic power? In the nature of things
we could not, by physical force, control the
will of the poople and compel them to elect
senators and representatives to Congress, and
to perform al! the other duties depending upon
their own volition, and required from the tree
citizens of a free State as a constituent member
of the Confederacy.
But, if possessed of this power, would it be
wieo to exercise it under existing circtitustan
ces ? The object would doubtless be to pre
serve the Union. War would not only present
the most effectual means of destroying it; but
would banish all hope of its peaceable recon
struction. Besides, in the fraternal conflict a
vast amount of blood and treasure would be
expended, rendering future reconciliation be
tween the States impossible. In the mean time,
who can foretell what would be the suffering
and privation of - the people during its exis
The fact is, that our Union rests upon pub
lic opinion, and can never be cemented by the
blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it
cannot live in the affections of the people, it
must one day perish. Congress possess many
means of preserving, it by conciliation; but
the sword wits, not placed in their hand to pre
serve it by force.
But may I be permitted solemnly to invoke
my countrymen to pause and deliberate before
'they determine to destroy this, the grandest
temple which has ever been dedicated to human
freedom since the world began? It has been
consecrated by the blood of our fathers, by the
glories of the past, and by the hopes of the
future. The Union has already made us the
most . prosperous, and' ere long will, if pre-
>w•ve , l, trr,drr ir, Ihr ts@-i pew ee m ualion on
the face of :he eat; In r,tcty foreign region
of the glottis the ti.tle of American citizen ha
held in high respoot, and when pronounced in
a for sign land it muses the hearts of our coun
trymen to swell 'with honest pride. Surely,
when we reach tip] Mink of the yawning abyz,
we shall recoil with horror front the last fatal
plunge. By such a, dread catastrophe the
hopes of the. friends of freedom throughout the
world would be dmtroyed, and n long sight of
laden despotism would enshroud the nation..
Our example for snore than eighty years would
not only be lost, hut it would be quoted as a
conclusive proof that man is unlit for self-gov
It is not very wrung—nay, it is not every grie-
YOU wrong—which eau justify a resort to ,ugh a
fearful alternative. This ought to be the last de. ,
perate remedy of a despairing people, after every
other constitutional moans of conciliation had been
exhausted. We should reflect that under this free
Government there is air incessant ebb and flow in
Public! opinion. The slavery question, like every
thing human, will hay, its day. I firmly believe
that it has already ruaebed and passed the cultai
noting point. But if, in the midst of the existing
excitement, the Union shall perish, the evil may
then become irreparable. Congress can contribute
much to avert it by pre posing and reeontmending
to the Legislatures of the several Stated the remedy
for existing evils, whiett the Constitution hue itself
provided for its own proservation. This has been
tried at different critical periods of our history, and
always with imminent success. It is to be found
in the .sth article providing for its own amendment.
Under this /wattle amendment:, have been proposed
by two-thirds of bathhouses of Congress, and hire
been "ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of
the several States," and consequently become parts
of the Constitution.
To this process the country is indebted for
the clause prohibiting, Congress front passing
anylawrespeeting an establishment of religion,
or abridging the freedom of bpeech or of the
press, or of the right of' petition. To this we
;we also indebted for the Bill of Rights which
scoures the people against any abuse of power
by the Federal Government. - Such were the
apprehensions justly entertained by the friends
of State•rights at that period as to have ren
dered 'it extremely doubtful whether the Con
stitution could have long survived without these
Again, the Constitution was amended by the
same process after the election of President
Jefferson by the House of Representatives, in
Februari, 1803. This amendment was ren
dered necessary to prevent a recurrence of the
dangers which had seriously threatened the
existence of the Government (lurk'g the pen
dency of that. election. The article for its own
amendment was intended to secure the amicable
adjustment of conflicting constitutional ques
tions like the present, witieh might: arise be
tween the governments of the States and that
of the United States. • This appears from con
temporaneous history.
In this connection, I shall merely call atten
tion to a few sentences in Mr. Madison's justly
celebrated report, in 1709, to The legislature of
Virginia. In this ho ably and conclusively
defended the resolutions of the preceding leg
islature against the strictures of several other
State legislatures. These were mainly founded
upon the protest, of the Virginia legislature
against the " Alien and Sedition Acts." as
"palpable and alarming infractions of the
Constitution." In pointing out the peaceful
and constitutional remedies. and he referred to
none other, to which the States were authorized
to resort, • on such occasions, he concludes by
saying '
" that the legislatures of the States
might. have made a direct representation to
Congress, with a view to obtain the rescinding
of the two offensive acts, or they might have
represented to their respective Senators in Con
gress their wish that two-thirds thereof would
gropose an explanatory amendment to the Con
stitution, or two•thirds of themselves, if such
Lad been their option, might, by an application
to Congress, have obtained a convention for the
same object."
This is the very course which I earnestly re
commend in order to obtain an "explatiVot•s r
, iitemattyttArdri.,N*44..n.-14,4,.
gress or the State legislatures, as may he I
deemed most advisable to attain the object.
The explanatory amendment might Le con-
fined to the final settlement of the true con
struction of the Constitution on three special
1. An express recognition of the right, of
properly in ,slaves in the States where it now
exist or may hereafter exist.
2. The duty of protecting this right, inAll
the common Territories throughout their terri
torial existence, and until they shall be ad
mitted as States into the Union, with or with
out slavery, as their constitutions may pre
3. A like recognition of the right of the
master to have his slave, who has escaped from
one State to another, restored and "delivered
lip" to him, and of the validity of the fngitive
slave law enacted for this purpose, together
with a declaration that all State laws impair
ing or defeating this right are violations of-the
Constitution, and are consequently null and
It may be objected that this construction of the
Constitution has already been settled by the Su
premo Court of the United States, and what more
ought to be required. The answer is, that a very
large proportion of the people'of the United States
still contest the correctness of this decision, and
never will cease from agitation, and admit its bind
ing force, until clearly established by the people of
the several States in their sovereign character.—
Such an explanatory amendment would, it is be
lieved, forever terminate the existing dissensions,
and restore peace and harmony among the States.
It ought not to be doubted that such an appeal
to the arbitrament established by the Constitu
tion itself would Le received with favor by all the
States of the Confederacy. ,In any event it ought
to be tried in a spirit of conciliation before any of
those States shall separate themselves from the
When I entered upon the duties of the Presi
dential office, the aspect neither of our foreign nor
domestic affairs was at all satisfactory. We were
involved in dangerous complications with several
nations, and two of our Territories were in a state
of revolution against the Government.
A restoration of the African slave trade had
numerous and powerful advocates. Unlawful
military expeditions were countenanced by
many of our citizens, and were suffered, in de
fiance of the efforts of the Government, to es
capefrom our shores, for the purpose of making
war upon thonnoffentling people of neighboring
republics with whom we were at peace.
In addition to these and other difficulties, we
experienced a revulsion in monetary affairs,
soon after my advent to power, of unexampled
severity and o f f ruinous consequences to all the
great interests of the country. When we take
a retrospect of what, was. then our condition,
and contrast this with its material prosperity
at the' time of the late presidential election, we
have abundant reason to return our grateful
thanks to that merciful Providence which has
never 'forsaken us as a nation in all our past
Our relations with Great Britain are of the
most 'friendly character. Since the commence
ment of my administration, the two dangerous
questions, arising from the Clayton and Bulwer
treaty and from the right of search claimed by
the British government, have been amicably
and honorably adjusted.
The discordant construction of the Clayton
Bulwer treaty between the two governments,
which at different periods of the discussion,
bore a threatening aspect, have resulted in a
final settlement entirely satisfactory to this
Government. In my annual message I infoffmed
Congress.thet 11.. British government with the
republics of Honduras and Nicaragua, in pur
suance of the understanding between the two
governments. It is nevertheless confidently
expected that this good work will ere long be ac
complished." This confident expectation has
since been fulfilled, Her Britanie Majesty
concluded a treaty with Honduras on the 2-Ith
November, 1859, and with Nicaragua on, the
:18th August,lBoo, relinquishing the Mosquito
pi 01 , Bale by the former, the I; ty
Hands ate recognized as IL part of (he republic,
of lloniliu•aO. It may th.t observed that the
stipulations of these treaties conform in every
p tieular to the amendments adopted by th e
senate of the United :hates to the treaty con
,lntlid at London on the 111th of lietober, lbTm,
bet wren the two governments. It Will be recta
lected that this tient.) , was reiamed by the Bit
/ tsh government because of its objet ion to the
,last and important amendment of the Seu•ue
to the article reitaing to Ruatan and the otter:
islands in the Bay of llonduras.
It mum be a source of sincere satisfaction to
all classes of our fellow citi7ens, and especittll
to tho , e engaged in foreign commerce, that the
claim oit the pant of Great. Britain,
lisit ~e at eh American merchant ve,eh..•it
the high seas in time of peace, has been aban
doned. This was by far the most dangerow.
question to the peace of the two conntrie ,
which has existed sincethe war of 1:412. Whilst
it remained open, they might at any nwm,, tt
have been precipilatt d into a war. Tlik see
rendered manifest by the e‘aspeiatQd st rlr 01
piddle feeling I hrotighout our entire country.
produced by the forcible search of Interican
merchant vessels by British cruise' , on the
coast, of Cuba, in the spring td
American people hailed will, gene t 1 1 m e w.
the orders of the Keel - moo( Of the to oar
naval force in the Gulf of Mexico, to prot ein
all ‘e , ..sels of the United States on the high
seas front search or detention l the ve, , el,-ot •
war ot• any other nation."
The.te orders might have 1,1,14111(A en ',vote-
Mate collision between the navel torces of Ibr
two countries. This WaS most fot Innately pre
vented by nu oppeel to the justice of Greet
Mifflin and to the law of nations its expounded
by her own most eminent jurists.
The only question of any importance witch still
contains open, is the disputed title byte, een the
two governments to the island of San Juan, in the
vicinity of Washington Territory. As this ques
tion is still under negotiation, it it not deemed
advisable at the present moment t make ttiy
other allusion to the :object,
The recent riot of the Prince of IV,des, in pi i
vato character, to the people of this
proved to he most auspicious event. In its con
sequences it cannot fad to increase toe kindred
and kindly feelings which I trust may ever actuate
the government and people, of both emintries in
their political and social in tercour.m w•:ih each
With France, our ancient and powerful ally, our
relations continue to ho of the most friendly char
acter. A decision has recently been made by a
French judicial tribunal, with the approbation of
the Imperial fioveraznent, which cannot foil to
foster the sentiments of mutual regard that have
so long existed between the two countries. Under
the Pronch,law no person can serve in tbo armies
of France unless he be a French niticen.
The law of France recognizing the natural
right of expatriation, it follows as a necessary
consequence that a Frenchman, by the fact of
having become a citizen of the United States.'
has changed his allegiance and has lost his na
tive character, Ile cannot, therefore, he com
pelled to serve in the French armies in mum he
should return to his native country. These
principles were announced in i 85.: by the
French Minister or War, and in two late cases
have been confirmed by the French judiciary.
In these, two natives of France have been dis
charged from the French army, bees use th ey
had become American citizens. To employ
the language of our present Minister to trance,
who has rendered good service on this occasion.
"I do not think our French naturalized fellow
citizens will hereafter experience much annoy
ance-on this subject. - 1 venture to Kedict that
the time is not tar distant when the other con
tinental powers will adopt the same wise and
just policy ichielt has done CO much honor to
the enlightened government of the Emperor.
In any event, our Government is hound to pro
tect the rights of our naturalized citizens ev
erywhere to the sante extent as though they
had drawn their first breath in this coun
try. We can recognize no distinction between
t our native-and naturediaedmitizenlk
..1•Ct• 1110 CUL ellAl/4.4 ti .I.‘ ilt•
United States the mutual friendship and reg,ard
which has so long egisted still continuos to
prevail, and if possible, to increase. Indeed,
OUP relation& with that empire are all that we
could desire.
Odt• relations with Spain are now or a more
complicated though less dangerous character
than they have been for many years. Our
citizens have long held, and continue to hold,.
numerous claims against the Spanish govern
ment. These had been ably urged for a se
ries of years by our successive diplomatic rep
resentatives at Madrid, hut without obtaining
redress. The Spanish government finally
agreed to institute a joint commission for the
adjustment of these claims, and on the sthilti3.-
of March, 1550, concluded a convention for
this purpose with our present minister at Mail -
rid. Under this convention, what have been
denominated the II Cuban claims," amounting
to $128,035.44, in which more than one linud
red of op •,.
fellow-citizens are interested, were.
recogaz , and the Spanish government agreed
to pay ~ 00,000 of this amount "within three.
months following the exchange of rati h eat ions.' '
The payment of the remaining 528,6a:i.-54 was
to await the decision of the commissioners Our
or against. the "Antistad claim:" hut in any
event, the balance was to be paid to the claim
ants either by Spain or the United Slates.—
These terms I have every reason to know are
highly satisfactory to the holders 4 the Cuban
claims. Indeed, they have made a formal offer
authorizing the State Department to settle
these claims, and to deduct the amount of the
Amistad claim from the sums which they are
entitled to receive from Spain. This offer.
of course, cannot be accepted.
All other claims of citizens of the United States
against Spain, or of subjects of the Queen of Spain
against the United States, including the "Amistad
claim," were by this convention referred to a board
of commissioners iu the usual form. Neither the
validity of the Amistad claim nor of any other
claim against either party, with the single excel.
tion of the Cuban claims, was recognized by the
convention. Indeed, the Spanish government did
not insist that the validity of the Amistad claim
-should he thus recognized, notwithstanding its
payment had been recommended to Congress by
two of my predecessors as well as by myself, and
an appropriation for that purpose bad been missed
by the Senate of the United States. They were
content that it should be submitted to theboard lor
examination and decision, like the other claims.—
Both governments were bound respectively to pay
the amounts awarded to the several claimants "at
such times sod places as may he fixed by and ar
cording to thv tenor of said awards."
I transmitted this convention to the Senate for
their cow:, itutional action on the :Id May, 1360, and
on the :2;111 of the sneeeedino , June, they deter
mined that they would "not advise' and consent" to
its ratilleation.
These proeeedingsplace our relations with Spain
in an awkward and. embarrassing position. It is
more than probahhithat the final adjustment of.
these claims will devolve upon my successor.
I reiterate the recommendation contained in
my Annual Message of December, 1858, and
repeated in that of December, 1819, in favor
of the acquisition of Cuba front Spain by fair
purchase. I firmly believe that such au acqui
sition would contribute essentially to the well
being and prosperity of both countries in alt
future time, as well as prove the certain means
of immediately abolishing tho African slave
trade throughout the world. I would not re
peat this recommendation upon the present
Occasion, if I believed that the transfer of Cube.
to the United States, upon conditions highly
favorable to Spain, could justly tarnish tho
national honor o r the proud. tut d ancient SpaniA.
Monarchy. Surely no person ever attributed
to the first Napoleon a disregard of the national
honor of France, for transferring Louisiana to
the United States for a fair equivalent both its,
money and commercial advantages.
With the Emperor of Austria, and the re
maining continental powers of Europe, includ
ing that of the Sultan, our relations continue ,
to be of the meet friendly character.