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elected R. W. Barnwell, Langdon Cheves, Wade Hampton, and John P. Richardson, all of whom, at the time, were supposed to be opposed to separate secession, and three of whom still maintain the same opinions.
While we have before us these same records of the action and pledges of our State, let us examine another of the statements by which the secession party have misled the people. Those who oppose secession are continually traduced as insincere in their professions of resistance; the people are told everywhere that the Co-operation party are mere timeservers, disguised submissionists, and that Secessionists alone are the real active movers of resistance. Let us test the professions of both parties by their practice, and we shall arrive at more just conclusions. At the last session of the Legislature three practical measures were brought forward which were deemed necessary to resistance in any form. The first of these was the raising of money by increase of the taxes; the second, the formation of a board for judiciously expending the money; and, the third, the building of steam-packets for creating a direct trade with Europe, and providing the State with armed steamers to assist in defending her coast.
You are, of course, prepared to expect that these measures were introduced and urged by the secession leaders; what will be your surprise to learn that they were all introduced by co-operation men, and two of them were actually opposed by several of the most prominent secession men; and if this opposition had been successful, the third would have failed, because it depended upon one of the others.
The increase of taxes was proposed by myself, and in and out of the House it was urged as incumbent on South Carolina, where alone the resistance party had possession of the government, to provide arms and munitions of war, not only for herself, but for the confederates which we expected soon to have from the South. It had been urged by the Union party in several of our sister States that in case of conflict with the general government, there was not powder enough in the whole South to supply a single engagement. Nay, some of you may remember that even in South Carolina the Governor had replied to a company at Walterborough that he was unable to supply them with arms. To meet these exigencies, to encourage our friends in the South, and to exhibit to our enemies at the North a spirit of determination which could not be put down, we urged an increase of the taxes. Let the record speak what followed. I have copied the following from the Journal (page 221):
"Mr. Harrison moved to reduce the tax on lands from fifty-three to twenty-five cents. Mr. Memminger moved to lay the amendment on the table-yeas 74, nays 38. Among the nays are the following namesMessrs. Abney, Easley, Evins, Harrison, Hutson, Ingram, Lyles, Moorman," etc. Those acquainted with the names will recognize among the nays the active legislative leaders of the secession party.
You will see still further into these matters by examining the legislative action upon another practical measure of the last session. This was the bill for aiding in establishing a direct trade by steam-packets with Europe, in which was a clause giving the aid of the State to this enterprise on condition that the steamers should be so built as to be available to the State for war purposes, and should be sold to the State in case they were required. This measure was introduced by Colonel Chesnut, of Camden, who is now the Co-operation candidate for the Southern Congress from the Third Congressional District. It was reported by the committee of which I have the honor to be chairman; and when it came before the House the following proceedings took place.
House Journal, p. 163: "B. F. Perry moved to strike out the nineteenth clause and those following (which granted the aid of the State and required the steamers to be so constructed as to be made available for war purposes). Yeas 41, nays 60. Among the yeas are the following -Messrs. Abney, Hutson, Keitt, Moorman, Sullivan," etc.
Now when it is considered that these were the practical measures which clearly exhibited to all the world our determination to provide for our defense, and that the establishment of a direct trade with Europe by steamers was in every aspect an effective measure of resistance, it is not surprising that Mr. Perry, of Greenville, should have opposed it, but to find the secession leaders joining with him to oppose the first nucleus of maritime defense, the first beginnings of practical resistance, will doubtless surprise you as much as it did us.'
I have thus laid before you, fellow-citizens, the highest evidence possible; and if any one shall again speak to you of the pledges of the State, or of the submissive temper of the Co-operation men, you can reply that the State is indeed pledged, but that the pledge is to co-operation and against separate action; and as to the comparison between the active zeal of the two parties, you can safely appeal to the acts of those who represent your views; the record will speak for them, and will
1 NOTE.-The other practical measure, appointing a Board of Ordnance, was introduced by Mr. Torre, of Charleston, one of the firmest advocates of co-operation, and opposed to secession. The yeas and nays not appearing on this measure in the Journal, I made no note of it, and it thus escaped my attention in my speech. I also omitted to notice that I had myself submitted to the House the following resolutions to indicate my view of the course to be pursued by the State:
"In the House of Representatives, December 10, 1850, Mr. Memminger submitted the following resolutions:
"1. Resolved, That the proposal of the Nashville Convention that the slave-holding States shall meet in a Southern Congress, is accepted by South Carolina, and this General Assembly will forthwith provide for the appointment of deputies to the same.
"2. Resolved, That two hundred thousand dollars be appropriated for the purpose of arming and defending the State.
"3. Resolved, That a police system be established for protecting our people, bond and free, from the evil designs of Northern emissaries and abolitionists."
relieve you from the necessity of being heralds of your own achievements.
While engaged in this task of clearing away cobwebs, allow me to ask your attention for a moment to a matter personal to myself. I am sorry to detain you upon so humble a subject, while matters of so much more moment await our consideration; but as the opposite party have thought it worthy of their attention, it becomes needful to set it right. I observe that the Secession party have done me the honor to publish my speech delivered at Pendleton last fall, as one of their tracts, and thereby inferentially to claim my sanction to their measures. I presume this honor to have been procured by the last short paragraph of the speech, in which it is declared that if all the South shall refuse to unite with us, and we be left to choose between submission and resistance, I, for one, would prefer to secede from the Union.
Let it be borne in mind that I was speaking of the action of States in whose history years are but as days to individuals-that the whole drift of the speech is to commend resistance, and to show that a Southern Confederacy is the true and practicable and desirable mode. The example of the revolution is then held up for imitation, in which, be it remembered, that more than ten years were consumed in procuring concert of action; and then it is declared that if such concert cannot be had, I would prefer martyrdom to self-destruction. By what reasonable interpretation could this justify an abandonment of the effort at co-operation in a single year, and that too when the Secessionists have themselves prevented the steps necessary to procure it.
You yourselves know, fellow-citizens, that in a speech delivered before you upon hearing of the death of Mr. Calhoun, I urged you to accept the legacy which he had left us of resistance according to his views, and strongly urged upon you the example and measures of the American Revolution. If in my speech at Pendleton I was unguarded in not including the element of time, it was because I spoke as many of our friends, the Secessionists, still do, under the impulse of deep-felt wrongs. I was urging on the mountain population to resist injustice, the pressure of which was less realized where few slaves existed; and under these feelings words were not carefully weighed, nor possible misconstructions guarded against. But now that the matter is under sober consideration, now that I am told what use is made of the language, I unhesitatingly declare that be the language what it may, my deliberate judgment is against the separate secession of South Carolina. I have an abiding confidence that the slave-holding States will co-operate with each other, and that a union of the South will be formed in spite of every obstacle; and these views I urged upon the last Legislature when I opposed the call of a convention. I have no sympathy with that consistency which adheres to an opinion merely because it has been once expressed; the only consistency which I aim at, is that of right
Be all this, therefore, as it may, the true inquiry now to be made, is as to the fitness and expediency of the policy to be pursued by the people of South Carolina. Shall we secede alone from the Union and set up as an independent nation, or shall we adopt measures to bring about a union of the South?
To determine this question we must examine what are the existing evils for which these measures are proposed as remedies. It is agreed on all hands that the true evil pressing against us, is—that the Federal government has been perverted from its original foundation to become an engine of attack upon African slavery, and thus threatens destruction to the civilization and social institutions of the South. The first blow has been struck in despoiling us of our equal share of the territory conquered by our united arms and purchased by our common funds; and the object intended by the Wilmot proviso of hemming in slavery and preventing any increase of the slave power, has been in fact consummated in California. It has been long foreseen by our wisest statesmen, and by none more clearly than by that great and faithful champion of the South whose ashes repose in our city and whose counsels should be engraven on our memories, that there exists an irreconcilable difference between the North and the South, which soon or late must come to issue. The area upon which their respective institutions should be developed, has hitherto been the field of battle. New States were formed from this area, and upon their introduction on one side the other endeavored immediately to bring forward a counterpoise. In this way the issue has been postponed as it were by repeated truces, and it was hoped by many that the Missouri compromise would form a line of permanent peace. And so it would have done with the South. The North would not abide by it. But power and fanaticism are always aggressive; and the Wilmot proviso was devised as a means of finally overpowering the South. It simply provided that slavery should be excluded from all newly acquired territory; and the result must follow that every new State would belong to the North. Thus they would acquire the entire control of the government, and according to their views of the Constitution, over the destinies and fortunes of the South.
The stupendous fraud by which the whole Pacific coast was included in a single State, was compensated to the North by a second fraud, whereby slavery was excluded from all this region, and California was admitted into the Union with precisely the same result as would have followed had the Wilmot proviso been originally adopted. Of course the North was content; they can divide it at their leisure into other States, and with the aid of new votes in the Senate, can dispose of the remaining territories of the United States at their pleasure. The evil is accomplished-it is indeed of fearful magnitude. But where is the remedy?
The Secessionists say leave the Union and set up for ourselves the independent nation of South Carolina. How will this give us back our right in California? How will it give us our portion of Utah, or New Mexico, or any new territory to be acquired? How will it enable us to expand in Texas and send our surplus population or our slave institutions to increase the area and power of slavery? And more than all this, how will it give peace and security in future to the institutions and civilization of the South?
On the other hand, the Co-operationists propose to unite the South in a common cause, and to demand for themselves equality in the Union or independence out of it. They propose to demand a restoration of their equal share of California, a participation in the remaining territory of the Union, and security from their co-States for the peaceful enjoyment of their rights; and if these be refused, as they have reason to fear they will be, then that the whole South should form an independent confederacy and protect and defend themselves as best they can.
The mere statement of these two plans so completely determines the mind in favor of the latter that the Secession party itself is forced to defend secession as being the best means of producing a union and cooperation of the South. Therefore, the first inquiry we shall make is, whether this be so? Will the separate secession of South Carolina conduce to the union and co-operation of the South?
What is secession from the Union? It is departing from the Union; leaving the company of the States which compose that Union; and as the Southern States form part of that company, we abandon them in common with the rest. Secession is, therefore, the opposite of co-operation, and yet we are told that to leave a society is the best mode of producing concert with those who are thus abandoned. The mere statement of such a proposition seems to decide it.
But let us examine it more in detail. Secession must either be peaceful or attended with war. Suppose it peaceful. Suppose the general government to withdraw all objection and South Carolina to be peacefully established as a separate nation. How will that conduce to the union of the South? I will hereafter consider how such a condition will affect South Carolina herself. Our present inquiry is limited to its effect upon the other Southern States.
Each one of the Southern States has definitely evinced its determination not to leave the Union for existing grievances. Although some of them are deeply discontent, yet have they all determined to remain in the Union in preference to leaving it now and establishing a new confederacy. What is to change this determination? Are we to suppose that they entertain so high a sense of the wisdom of South Carolina that her judgment will over-rule their own? Let any man cross the Savannah river, and if he ever entertained so high a conceit of his own State,