« 上一頁繼續 »
enjoying all the advantages and privileges constitutionally guaranteed to both, were virtually the momentous, and to us humiliating, issues which the legislative branch of the central authority was engaged in considering for about nine of the ten months in which it was in session. The "compromise,” ultimately adopted, I consider another triumph over the South by the fell spirit of abolitionism.
Although the mind of our community has not been prepared by public discussion, or perhaps private interchange of views on the subject, yet it is my deliberate opinion that the period has arrived for the removal from the State of every free colored person who is not the owner of real estate or slave property. This population is not only a non-productive class, but it is, and always has been, essentially corrupt and corrupting. Their longer residence among us, if the warfare between the North and South is to continue, will eventually generate evils very difficult of eradication. Possessing in an unlimited degree the right of locomotion, they can, in person, bear intelligence in a day from one section of the State to another, or through the post-office mature their own plans of villainy, as well as execute orders emanating from foreign sources. There is, indeed, too much reason to believe that at this moment they are made to occupy the situation of spies in our camp and to disseminate through the entire body of our slave population the poison of insubordination prepared in the great laboratory of Northern fanaticism.
The aggressive course of our Federal rulers, and the States and people of the North, had at an earlier period assumed so alarming an aspect that by invitation of Mississippi to the slave-holding States nine of their number assembled at Nashville in May last for consultation concerning the means of saving the Union by preserving inviolate the principles and guaranties of the Constitution. Over the deliberations of that august council, composed largely of the talent and patriotism of the land, the spirit of harmony presided. In demanding the protection of rights, jeopardized by the unfraternal acts of their own countrymen, they appealed to their sense of justice and the endearments of family association, the plain terms of the bond that united them, the ennobling and proud recollections of the past, and the glorious anticipations of the future. The result has shown that the authorities and people whom they addressed are, in feeling and sentiment, alien to us their political allies, and that the North have resolved on possessing the unlimited and permanent control of our civil institutions.
To operate on the fears of the minority section, and expose the supposed hopelessness of its condition, the President had voluntarily promulgated, in advance, his fixed determination to settle by the sword a disputed question between the general government and a sovereign member of the Union. In following the inglorious precedent established by one of his predecessors, the principle was maintained that State re
sistance to a congressional edict would by him be classed among the unreflecting acts of a mob, or the more deliberate opposition of a band of organized individuals to admitted lawful authority.
It is foreign to my purpose to speak elaborately of matters that have of late been so painfully brought to your notice. California created a State by Congress, was admitted into the confederacy against all prece. dent, and in violation of the laws and Constitution of the country. It was a premeditated insult and injury to the slave-holding States, and a wanton assault upon their honor. In the act abolishing the slave trade in the District of Columbia, the right of punishing the owner by manumitting his slaves is prominent among its provisions. By this bold and successful attempt to engraft abolitionism on the principles of our political system, a power has been assumed, which, by expansion, may yet clothe the entire federal community in the habiliments of mourning. These and other willful perversions of a high trust have virtually abrogated the powers necessary to the safety of the sovereignty of the States. The whole authority of the Federal government, granted and usurped, which is now concentrated in the will of an absolute and interested majority, is hereafter to be wielded for the exclusive benefit of the Northern or stronger interests. To its ambition and cupidity fifteen members of the Constitutional compact, by whose wealth the government is supported and our confederates enriched, are to be compelled Ignominiously to minister. In a word, the Congress of the United States is no longer to be the executor of the will of co-sovereign States, but of a party banded together by the two-fold incentive of sectional aggrandizement and public plunder. If the fundamental objects of our federative system have been designedly perverted, there is no remedy in the ordinary checks on power. The ballot-box is ineffectual, and the press powerless in its appeals to an oppressor deaf to entreaty, to argument and the admonitions of humanity and patriotism. In Federal council it is certain that the voice of the minority will never again be heeded. By a slow, cautious, but regular process, the rights of the people and the sovereignty of the Southern States will be curtailed until their total extinguishment is effected. By multiplying the number of free States, resisting all attempts to enlarge the area of the slave-holding community, and discriminating between the rights of Northern and Southern persons and property, another decade will not have passed before the general government will enforce edicts, greater in their results on human liberty and the progress of political enlightenment, than ever emanated from the worst forms of despotism. Before that period arrives, the existence of South Carolina as co-partner in a great commonwealth will have ceased. Merged in the limits of contiguous provinces, the truthful momorials of her history will lie scattered over her hills and valleys. On the printed page the
tale of her origin and progress may be found, but the real causes and manner of her political extinction will never there be read.
The North and South differ fundamentally in institutions, and from the frame-work of their social organization, they need different laws. While a strong government with all the appliances of extensive patronage is necessary to the former, a mild and equal system of legal restraints is required by the latter. The restriction on foreign commerce is a policy of the one, free trade that of the other. The North is from necessity a commercial and manufacturing people, the South an agricultural community. While the former seeks an enlargement of the powers of the Federal government, in order to enable it to profit by the wealth of the producing States, the latter, impelled by the principle of self-preservation, strives to confine the common agent within well defined and narrow bounds.
In the one section capital and labor are theoretically equal, but from influences perhaps incapable of controlment, they are practically antagonistic; in the other, capital is superior to labor, and the relation between them is a moral one. The character and interests of each insure the harmonious action of both in all their operations. These discordant materials in our federal structure are mainly, if not exclusively, referable to the positions respectively assigned the parties by nature. Such is the adverse tendency of that position in relation to one of them-the larger section-that it seems to be an imperative duty on its part to promote, under the pretence of the general welfare, the success of measures purely sectional in their application.
This obstinately perverse proclivity is in reality in strict obedience to a political law, the offspring of the moral obliquity of the human heart. The lesser, numerically, and richer interests, has always been the subject of plunder by the greater and poorer interest. It is historically true, moreover, that in every confederacy where the principle of the concurrent majority is not practically recognized, the centripetral is stronger than the centrifugal tendency of the parties; further, that in the legislative branch of the government all usurpations generally commence and are ultimately acquiesced in by the other departments. In relation to our Federal institutions, the Constitution in its most important provisions, has in effect been so essentially changed, that the Union created by it no longer exists. Its guaranties from the revolution which has been practically accomplished over us have been overthrown, and a consolidated government having its discretion and will as the measure of its powers, is now the government of the Union. Every compromise too into which the South has entered, including the compromises incorporated in the great charter of the public liberties, has been utterly disregarded. By legislative devices, our people now, as heretofore, are not only in effect
despoiled of the profits of their industry, but their contributions to the public purse continue to be expended in unjust proportions, to further the interests of their revilers and sappers of their domestic altars. While by congressional enactments the North in the various branches of industry have been forced into a condition of unexampled wealth and power, the advancement of the South, so prodigally furnished by nature with all the elements of prosperity and greatness, has occupied a position far below that it would have reached had the confederation been composed of one people in interest and feeling. The North and South, in the palmy days of the Republic, both reverenced and loved the Union for the immeasurable blessings it insured. Unhappily it is now maintained by the former to effectuate its long-cherished designthe disfranchisement and degradation of the latter.
If asked for the evidence of these grave accusations against the gov ernments and people, whose support and friendship we once so dearly valued, I point with grief of heart to the often perpetrated or attempted encroachments by Congress on the reserved rights of the States; the incendiary resolutions of State legislatures; the sweeping denunciations emanating from different associations, formed for the special end of carrying throughout our borders the torch of insurrection; the bitter and vindictive feelings of the press, the bar, and, I may add, the pulpit; the inflammatory harangues at popular meetings; the actual robbery of millions of our slave property by emissaries, not only without an effort by the Northern State governments to enforce the provisions of the Constitution concerning fugitives "held to labor," but by the authority of law and the force of public opinion encouraging and sustaining these fanatical exhibitions of public sentiment; the annihilation, at a blow, of the principle of State equality, by the exclusion of one-half the citizens of the confederacy from all participation in the newly-acquired domain; the violation of a great sectional compromise by the dismemberment of a Southern member of the Union, in order, at a convenient season, to carve from its bosom a free and hostile State; in fine, the unceasing assaults upon the character of the slave-holder by all classes, in public and in private, as an enemy to God and man-as unworthy of a seat at the table of the Lord, or to enjoy as co-partners the noblest bequest ever inherited by freemen. The ultimate object of this consentaneous movement, in which governments and people are the actors, is the emancipation of the negro throughout the region in which he is constitutionally held as property, although its execution may consign to the same grave the master and the slave, and spread desolation over their common home.
While I rejoice in the conviction that a large number of individuals at the North do entertain conservative opinions on the matter of slave property, and whose voice is occasionally heard in the uproar of the
waters of strife, yet, overawed by the impetuosity of the torrent which is perhaps destined to overwhelm the land, they involuntarily shrink from the task of attempting to stay its progress. The instances are rare in which, where the effort has been made, deprivation of office, or other mark of displeasure and rebuke, did not quickly follow. This of itself, if proof were needed, proclaims the deep-seatedness and all-pervading character of the disease which affects the body politic of that extensive and populous region.
For about one-third of her political existence South Carolina has presented an almost uninterrupted scene of disquietude and excitement, under the provocation of contumelies and threats poured from a thousand tongues and in forms the most offensive. During that period it may with truth be affirmed that the public mind has not for a year been free from the most painful solicitude. Peace indeed has long fled from our borders, and discontent and alarm are everywhere present. Better, far better, it would have been, for the South to engage in deadly conflict with the North, than to have endured the torturing anxiety of an anomalous struggle, the consequences of which are beyond the ken of human prescience. An open war is limited by the causes which produce it, but the further continuance of such a war-political, religious, and social-as has been waged by one party against the other, and in which a strictly defensive attitude has unwaveringly been preserved by the weaker, would falsify and dishonor the history of the Anglo-Saxon race. Whatever may be said by the demagogue and the fanatic, it is our pride and high privilege to declare that the unexampled forbearance of the South is referable solely to its unaffected devotion to the compact of '89 and the principles of constitutional liberty.
As soon as the message of Governor Seabrook had been read to the House, Mr. Memminger offered the following resolutions, which were ordered to be considered immediately, and were agreed to:
Whereas, it becomes a Christian people at all times to look to the King of kings for guidance, but more especially in seasons of trial and difficulty; and, whereas, the enactments of the last Congress of the United States have destroyed the equal rights of the Southern States, have invaded the peace and security of our homes, and must lead to an overthrow of the existing order of things; therefore,
Resolved, That we recommend to the people of South Carolina to set apart Friday, the 6th of December, as a day of fasting and humiliation, and that the reverend clergy throughout the State be invited to assemble their respective congregations on that day to unite in prayer to Almighty God that He may direct and aid this General Assembly in