CONCLUSION OF THE ARGUMENT IS A CONFEDERATED GOVERNMENT TOO WEAK TO SECURE ITS OBJECTS ON THE CONTRARY, IS IT NOT THE STRONGEST OF ALL GOVERNMENTS THE OPINIONS OF MR JOHN QUINCY ADAMS AND MR. JEFFERSON IN SECESSION WAS INVOLVED THIS GREAT RIGHT, WHICH LIES AT THE FOUNDATION OF THE FEDERATIVE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT IT WAS OF INFINITELY MORE IMPORTANCE TO THE SOUTHERN STATES THAN SLAVERY, SO-CALLED, WITH ITS TWO THOUSAND MILLIONS OF CAPITAL INVESTED IN THAT INSTITUTION.
JUDGE BYNUM. Before proceeding further, I wish briefly to say, at this point, that we have no disposition, or at least I have none, to pronounce judgment in the matter under consideration, so far as it relates to your course, or that of others. It was with no such views or feelings, the subject was at first introduced. We all know full well, that whatever opinion we entertain, or might be inclined to express upon it, if expressed, would have but little weight with that great arbiter, by whom the future judgment to which you refer will be rendered.
But you will allow me to say, that I do not see how you, with your ideas of its nature, could consider the Government of the United States "the best the world ever saw." To me it seems very much, as it did to Judge Story, that such an association of States, bound by nothing stronger than their own will and pleasure, would be no Government at all. It would have no adhesive quality between its parts or members. It would have no stability, no durability, no strength; the bonds of union, in that view, it does seem to me, would be no better, as is often said, than a rope of sand. A Government, to be worth any thing, must be strong; it must be held together by force. It must be clothed with power, not only to pass laws, but to command obedience. What would become of the public faith, of the public credit, of the public property? What Nation would put any confidence in such a Government, if its nature and organic structure were so understood abroad? Who would treat with such a country, or enter into any agreements, or conventions, with a Government so constructed, upon any matters of trade, commerce, finance, or any thing else? It would be virtually treating with an ideal power that had no real existence! The solemn agreements entered into one day, by what you call the bare agent of a number of separate Sovereignties, might be annulled the next, by any one of these Sovereigns. Such a Government, it seems to me, you will excuse me for saying it, so far from being entitled to the respect even, of any one, would deserve and receive nothing but the contempt of mankind!
MR. STEPHENS. Do not be so quick and broad in your conclusion. Just such Governments, founded upon just such principles, have existed, and have received, you must upon reflection admit, not the contempt but the admiration of mankind! What think you of the Confederations of Greece? They were just such Governments. To whom is the world so much indebted for European civilization at this time, as to the little Republics upon the Archipelago, held together by no other bonds than their own consent? By whom were the battles of Marathon, and Salamis, and Platæa, fought? By whom was tie progress of Asiatic Empire stayed in its westward march, but by States so united? What people on earth have left more enduring monuments of their greatness in the defence and maintenance of liberty, or the development of art, science, eloquence, or song, than these same small Hellenic States, confederated upon precisely the principles which you consider of so little worth? When did their greatness and glory depart? Not until these principles were departed from.
What think you of the United Netherlands? In maintaining successfully, as they did, the great principles of civil and religious liberty, in the dawn of modern political reformation, did they deserve nothing but the contempt of mankind? On the contrary, will not their glorious achievements live in history amongst the grandest of any age or country? These States were united by no bonds but their own voluntary consent. Passing over many other instances, what think you of our own old Confederation? Did it not carry these States, then thus united, successfully through the War of Independence? A war against one of the greatest powers then existing? A war of seven years' duration? A war jointly waged to establish this very principle? Did not France, Sweden and Prussia, treat with them? Did not England treat with them upon boundary, upon trade, upon commerce, upon matters of public right, upon all matters of public faith, when she knew that the sanction and co-operation of each State was necessary to give absolute validity to some articles of the treaty? Though the public credit was not so well sustained under the machinery of that Confederation as it has been under the new one, yet was it not sufficient to carry them through the most perilous struggle that any States ever passed successfully through? Have we, or mankind, no feelings towards that Confederacy, so constituted, which effected such grand results, but contempt?
Now all these Governments, the Grecian, the Germanic, as well as our own first Confederation, were founded, as such a principle as you speak of the principle of voluntary consent. This is the principle upon which are founded all Confederations. Just such Governments are all Confederated Republics. And these are the only kinds of Governments, as Montesquieu informs us, which have saved the human race from universal monarchical rule. Low as your estimate of them may be, they are the only escape yet discovered by man for free institutions, among bordering States or Nations. Governments which have done so much for mankind certainly do not deserve, nor have they received from them, such sentiments as you imagine.
But we have seen that our present system is a great improvement upon all former models of this kind of Confederation. While it is founded upon the same basis of consent and voluntary agreement, as I hope I have clearly shown, yet it has several new and important features in its organization, unknown before, and to which we are mainly indebted for its unparalleled success in the past. It is because of these new features, all resting upon the same basis as all other Confederations, placing it far above all other systems, that I considered it the best Government the world ever saw.
The same view was entertained by John Hancock, when, in his message to the Legislature of Massachusetts, as we have seen, he said, that if the proposed amendments, which he had himself offered in the State Convention, should be adopted, the chief one of which was the expressly declared reservation of the Sovereignty of the States, he should "consider it the most perfect system of Government as to the objects it embraces that has been known amongst mankind."
A Government, to be worth any thing, as you say, must be strong. Its parts and members must be held together by force of some sort. This I cordially admit. We do not differ as to the force or its extent; we differ only as to its nature and character. Should it be a physical or moral force? In my judgment, the strongest force that can hold the parts or constituent elements of any Government together is the affection of the people towards it. The Universe is held together by force the, greatest of all forces, by Omnipotence itself! This force in the material world, which binds and holds together in indissoluble union all its parts in their respective and most distant orbits throughout the illimitable regions of space, is the simple law of attraction! So should it be with all Governments, especially with those formed by distinct States United or Confederated upon any sort of Compact, Agreement, or Constitution, as ours was, with a view, and a sole view, to their mutual convenience and reciprocal advantage.
These, also, evidently, were the views of Mr. John Quincy Adams. In his celebrated address before the Historical Society of New York, in 1839, in speaking of the Union of these States, he says:
"With these qualifications we may admit the same right as vested in the people of every State in the Union, with reference to the General Government, which was exercised by the people of the United Colonies with reference to the supreme head of the British Empire, of which they formed a part; and under these limitations have the people of each State in the Union a right to secede from the Confederated Union itself. Here stands the right! But the indissoluble union between the several States of this Confederated Nation is, after all, not in the right, but in the heart! If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it), when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political asseveration will not long hold together parties no longer attached by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of' the dis-United States, to part in friendship from each other, than to be held together by constraint; then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect Union by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be re-united by the law of political gravitation to the centre!"
The strength of the Union, in the opinion of Mr. Adams, was not in the right to hold it together by physical force, but in the moral power which springs from the heart of the people, and which prompts them to sustain it by their own voluntary action. This was also doubtless the opinion of Mr. Jefferson, when he declared the Government of the United States in his judgment, to be the strongest in the world. In his first inaugural, soon after his election, upon the principles of his own Resolutions touching the nature of the Government and the principles upon which it was founded, he said:
"I know, indeed, that some honest men fear that a Republican Government cannot be strong; that THIS Government is not strong enough. But would the honest patriot, in the full tide of successful experiment, abandon a Government which has so far kept us free and firm, on the theoretic and visionary fear that this Government, the World's best hope, may by possibility want energy to preserve itself? I trust not. I believe this, on the contrary, the strongest Government on the Earth!"*
* Statesman's Manual, vol. i, p. 150.
Its strength, in his opinion, lay not in physical force, but in moral power, in the hearts and affections of its constituent elements. He fully believed in the right of any State to withdraw when the terms of the Compact were broken by the other parties to it, and he believed in the perfect and absolute right of each party for itself to judge as well of infractions of the Compact as the mode and measure of redress.
Indeed, this is the self-adjusting principle of the system. It is the only principle upon which the safety, security and existence even of the separate members can be maintained and preserved, which is the chief object of all Federal Republics.
Your arguments are but a repetition of the views expressed by the advocates of one great consolidated Government, when the new Constitution was under consideration in the Philadelphia Convention. The same that caused Hamilton to look upon the new Constitution which continued the Federal System as "a frail and worthless fabric," though he gave this plan, when he could not get his own, a zealous and patriotic support as an experiment. It was indeed an experiment, a wonderful experiment, and most wonderfully was it performing its high mission. to his utter astonishment as well as that of all others of his class, so long as the primary law of its existence was recognized in its administration.
In illustration of my views of the normal action of the system in its practical workings, with its new features differing, as we have seen, from all former Federal Republics, you will excuse me for calling your attention to what I said on this subject in the House of Representatives on the 12th day of February, 1859.
The views then expressed I still entertain. They were given in a speech made on the admission of Oregon. In that speech, after going at some length into those agitating questions which were then culminating in that crisis which ended in the war which we are now considering, and after speaking of the nature of the Government and urging "a strict conformity to the laws of its existence," as essential not only "for the safety and prosperity of all its members," but for its own preservation, I went on further to speak not only of what it had accomplished, but of the still greater results that might be expected, if it should continue to be administered upon the principles and for the objects upon which and for which it was formed. Here is what was then added:
"Such is the machinery of our theory of self-government by the people. This is the great novelty of our peculiar system, involving a principle unknown to the ancients, an idea never dreamed of by Aristotle or Plato. The union of several distinct, independent communities upon this basis (the Federal machinery acting directly upon the citizens of the several States within the sphere of its limited powers), is a new principle in human Governments. It is now a problem in experiment for the people of the nineteenth century, upon this continent, to solve. As I behold its workings in the past and at the present, while I am not sanguine, yet I am hopeful of its successful solution. The most joyous feeling of my heart is the earnest hope that it will, for the future, move on as peacefully, prosperously, and brilliantly, as it has in the past. If so, then we shall exhibit a moral and political spectacle to the world something like the prophetic vision of Ezekiel, when he saw a number of distinct beings or living creatures, each with a separate and distinct organism, having the functions of life within itself, all of one external likeness, and all, at the same time, mysteriously connected, with one common animating spirit pervading the whole, so that when the common spirit moved they all moved; their appearance and their work being, as it were, a wheel in the middle of a wheel; and whithersoever the common spirit went, thither the others went, all going together; and when they went, he heard the noise of their motion like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty! Should our experiment succeed, such will be our exhibition a machinery of Government so intricate, so complicated, with so many separate and distinct parts, so many independent States. each perfect in the attributes, and functions of Sovereignty, within its own jurisdiction, all, nevertheless, united under the control of a common directing power for external objects and purposes, may naturally enough seem novel, strange, and inexplicable to the philosophers and crowned heads of the world!
"It is for us, and those who shall come after us, to determine whether this grand experimental problem shall be worked out; not by quarrelling amongst ourselves; not by doing injustice to any; not by keeping out any particular class of States; but by each State remaining a separate and distinct political organism within itself all bound together, for general objects, under a common Federal head; as it were, a wheel within a wheel. Then the number may be multiplied without limit; and then, indeed, may the nations of the earth look on in wonder at our career; and when they hear the noise of the wheels of our progress in achievement, in development, in expansion, in glory, and renown, it may well appear to them not unlike the noise of great waters; the very voice of the Almighty Vox populi! Vox Dei!"*
* Congressional Globe, 2d Session, 35th Congress, p. 124, Appendix.
Such was the spectacle presented to my mind by the harmonious workings of our "glorious institutions," (as Mr. Webster styled them, in 1839,) under the Constitution of the United States, as I understood its nature and character! That Constitution which sets forth the terms of Union between Free, Sovereign, and Independent States each retaining its separate Sovereignty, and only delegating such powers to all the rest as are most conducive, by their joint exercise, to its own safety, security, happiness, and prosperity, as well as most conducive to the like safety, security, happiness and prosperity of all the other members of the great American Federal Republic the work of their own voluntary creation!
The chief strength of the system, in its proper administration, lay,
according to my view, in that moral power which brought the several members
into Confederation. It lay in the hearts of the people of the several States,
and in no right or power of keeping them together by coercion. The right of any
member to withdraw, which you consider an element of weakness, was really, in
my judgment, one of the greatest elements of strength, looking in its practical
workings to the attainment of the objects for which the Union was formed. This
right is not only the basis upon which all Confederated Republics must
necessarily be formed, but without it there is, and can be, in such systems, no
check, no real barrier, nothing, indeed, that can be successfully relied upon
to prevent their running, sooner or later, into centralized despotic Empire, to
escape from which, the Federative principle was resorted to in the institution
of Government for neighboring States. This right is essential to avoid that
final and inevitable result which, without it, must necessarily ensue. Its full
recognition, as I have said, becomes the self-adjusting principle of the system
by which all its temporary perturbations and irregularities of motion will
correct and rectify themselves. No system of Government, as yet discovered, is
perfect. All have their defects, their
irregularities, their eccentricities of action. The Federate principle resorted to is only an approximation to the hitherto unattained standard. But it is the nearest approximation, up to this time, reached by the wisdom of man. Ours was a long stride nearer the desired goal, by an improvement on this principle, than any that ever existed before.
All Governments of this character are formed upon the assumption that it is for the best interest of all the members of the Confederation to be united on such terms as nay be agreed upon, each faithfully performing all its duties and obligations under the Compact. Ours was, certainly, formed on this assumption, sand in this belief.
No State, therefore, would withdraw, or be inclined to withdraw, without a real or supposed breach of faith, on the part of her Confederates, or some of them. If the complaint were real, the derelict States would right the wrong, rather than incur the loss attending the failure to do so. For the maintenance of the Union, so long as the objects for which it was formed alone are looked to, is of equal interest to all. If the complaint were imaginary, and a State should withdraw, without a real and substantial cause, the withdrawal would be but for a very brief period of time. It would be but a temporary aberration. For such State would soon find that she had lost more than she had gained in her new position. New burthens would devolve on her. New responsibilities, as well as her just proportion of those resting on her in common with her former Confederates, would have to be assumed; or, in a word, all the disadvantages of isolation, which impelled the Union at first, would be encountered. Under these circumstances and necessary consequences, no Federal Union would remain long dissevered, where this principle was left to its full normal action, which was really for the benefit and interest of all its members. It is true that none would stand long that was inherently and permanently injurious to any, and none such ought to stand. For it would be in opposition to the very principles and objects upon which, and for which, all such unions are formed.
In what you consider, then, the weakness of our Government, according to my idea of its nature, I repeat, its chief strength, its great beauty, its complete symmetry, its ultimate harmony, and, indeed, its very perfection, mainly consist; certainly, so long as the objects aimed at in its formation are the objects aimed at in its administration. And, on this principle, on the full recognition of the absolute ultimate Sovereignty of the several States, I did consider it the best, and the strongest, and the grandest Government on earth! My whole heart and soul were devoted to the Constitution, and the Union under it, with this understanding of its nature, character, objects, and functions!
When, therefore, the State of Georgia seceded, against my judgment, viewing the measure in the light of policy, only, and not of right (for the causes, as we have seen, and shall see more fully, hereafter, were more than ample to justify the act, as a matter of right), I felt it to be my duty to go with her, not only from a sense of the obligations of allegiance, but from other high considerations of patriotism of not much less weight and influence. These considerations pressed upon the mind the importance of maintaining this principle, which lies at the foundation of all Federal systems; and to which we were mainly indebted, in ours, for all the great achievements of the past. It was under this construction of the nature of our system that all these achievements had been attained. This was the essential and vital principle of the system, to which I was so thoroughly devoted. It was that which secured all the advantages of Confederation, without the risk of Centralism and Absolutism; and on its preservation depended, not only the safety and welfare, and even existence, of my own State, but the safety, welfare, and ultimate existence of all the other States of the Union! The States were older than the Union! They made it! It was but their own creation! Their preservation was of infinitely more importance than its continuance! The Union might cease to exist, and yet the States continue to exist, as before! Not so with the Union, in case of the destruction or annihilation of the States! With their extinction, the Union necessarily becomes extinct also! They may survive it, and form another, more perfect, if the lapse of time and changes of events show it to be necessary, for the same objects had in view when it was formed; but it can never survive them! What may be called a Union may spring from the common ruins, but it would not be the Union of the Constitution! the Union of States! By whatever name it might be called, whether Union, Nation, Kingdom, or any thing else, according to the taste of its dupes or its devotees, it would, in reality, be nothing but that deformed and hideous Monster which rises from the decomposing elements of dead States, the world over, and which is well known by the friends of Constitutional Liberty, everywhere, as the Demon of Centralism, Absolutism, Despotism! This is the necessary reality of that result, whether the Imperial Powers be seized and wielded by the hands of many, of few, or of one!
The question, therefore, with me, assumed a magnitude and importance far above the welfare and destiny of my own State, it embraced the welfare and ultimate destiny of all the States, North as well as South; nay, more, it embraced, in its range, the general interest of mankind, so far, at least, as the oppressed of all other lands and climes were looking to this country, not only for a present asylum against the evils of misrule in their own, but were anxiously and earnestly looking forward to the Federative principles here established, as "the World's best hope," in the great future, for the regeneration, the renaisance, of the Nations of the Earth! Such, in my judgment, were the scope and bearing of the question and the principles involved.
Had this foundation principle of the system then been generally acknowledged had no military force been called out to prevent the exercise of this right of withdrawal on the part of the seceding States had no war been waged against Georgia and the other States, for their assertion and maintenance of this right, had not this primary law of our entire system of Government been violated in the war so waged, I cannot permit myself to entertain the shadow of a doubt, that the whole controversy, between the States and Sections, would, at no distant day, have been satisfactorily and harmoniously adjusted, under the peaceful and beneficent operation of this very law itself. Just as all perturbations and irregularities are adjusted in the solar system, by the simple law of gravitation, from which alone it sprung in the beginning, and on which alone its continuance, with its wonderfully harmonious workings, depends!
A brief illustration will more clearly unfold this view. Had the right of withdrawal not been denied or resisted, those States, which had openly, confessedly, and avowedly disregarded their obligations, under the Compact, in the matter of the rendition of fugitives from service, and fugitives from justice, appealing, as they did, to "a higher Law" than the Constitution, would have reconsidered their acts, and renewed their covenants under the bonds of Union, and the Federal administration would have abandoned its policy of taking charge of subjects not within the limits of its delegated powers.' The first aberrations in the system; that is the disregard of plighted faith, which had caused the second, that is the secession movement, would themselves have been rectified by that very movement! This rectification on the one side would have been attended by a corresponding rectification on the other. This would have been a necessary and inevitable result, whatever parties, under the influence of passion at the time, may have thought of the nature and permanency of the separation. That is, it would necessarily and inevitably have been the result, if the assumption on which the Union was founded be correct, namely, that it was for the best interest of all the States to be united upon the terms set forth in the Constitution each State faithfully performing all its obligations, and the Federal Head confining its action strictly to the subjects with which it was charged. On this point, that the Union was best for all, my own convictions were strong and thorough for many reasons, that may be given hereafter. If this postulate was correct, then the ultimate result of this action and re-action in the operation of the system in bringing about a re-adjustment of the parts to their original places, would have been as inevitable as the continued harmonious re-adjustment of continual disturbances in the material world is being produced by like action and counter-action continually going on throughout its entire organization, and the whole resulting from the same all-pervading and all-controlling law, the same law continuing the organization which brought it at first into existence.
But if, on the contrary, the whole assumption on Which the Union was formed was wrong, if it were not for the true and best interests of all the States, constituted as they were, to be so united, if it were true, as asserted by the controlling spirits of the derelict States, that the Constitution itself as to them, was but a "covenant with death and an agreement with Hell," then, of course, the re-adjustment would not have taken place, and ought not to have taken place. But I did not believe that the masses of the people in these States entertained any such sentiments towards the work of their Fathers!
My opinion was, that it only required those masses to see, feel, and appreciate the great advantages of that Union to them; and to realize the fact that a Compact, broken by them, could not longer be binding upon others, as Mr. Webster had said, to cause them to compel their officials to comply with the terms of an engagement, which, upon the whole, was of so great importance to their best interests. My convictions were equally strong that, when this was done, the masses of the people at the South, influenced by like considerations, would have controlled all opposition to their cheerful and cordial return to their proper places.
There would have been no war, no bloodshed, no sacking of towns and cities, no desolation, no billions of treasure expended, on either side, and no million of lives sacrificed in the unnatural and fratricidal strife; there would have been none of the present troubles about restoration, or reconstruction; but, instead of these lamentable scenes, a new spectacle of wonder would have been presented for the guide and instruction of the astonished Nations of the earth, greater than that exhibited after the Nullification pacification, of the matchless workings of our American Institutions of Self-Government by the people!
You readily perceive, therefore, how thoroughly, looking to the grand results, my entire feelings, heart, and soul, with every energy of mind and body, became enlisted in the success of this cause, when force was invoked, when war was waged to put it down. It was the cause, not only of the Seceding States, but the cause of all the States, and in this view it became, to a great extent, the cause of Constitutional Liberty everywhere. It was the cause of the Federative principle of Government, against the principle of Empire! The cause of the Grecian type of Civilization against the Asiatic! So, at least, I viewed it, with all the earnestness of the profoundest convictions.
The matter of Slavery, so-called, which was the proximate cause of these irregular movements on both sides, and which ended in the general collision of war, as we have seen, was of infinitely less importance to the Seceding States, than the recognition of this great principle. I say Slavery, so-called, because there was with us no such thing as Slavery in the full and proper sense of that word. No people ever lived more devoted to the principles of liberty, secured by free democratic institutions, than were the people of the South. None had ever given stronger proofs of this than they had done, from the day that Virginia moved in behalf of the assailed rights of Massachusetts, in 1774, to the firing of the first gun in Charleston Harbor, in 1861. What was called Slavery amongst us, was but a legal subordination of the African to the Caucasian race. This relation was so regulated by law as to promote, according to the intent and design of the system, the best interests of both races, the Black as well as the White, the Inferior, as well as the Superior. Both had rights secured, and both had duties imposed. It was a system of reciprocal service, and mutual bonds. But even the two thousand million dollars invested in the relation thus established, between private capital and the labor of this class of population, under the system, was bet as the dust in the balance, compared with the vital attributes of the rights of Independence and Sovereignty on the part of the several States. For with these whatever changes and modifications, or improvements in this domestic institution, founded itself upon laws of nature, time, and experience, might have shown to be proper in the advancing progress of civilization, for the promotion of the great ends of society in all good Governments that is the best interest of all classes, without wrong or injury to any could, and would have been made by the superior race in these States, under the guidance of that reason, justice, philanthropy, and statesmanship, which had ever marked their course, without the violent disruption of the entire social fabric, with all its attendant ills, and inconceivable wrongs, mischiefs, and sufferings; and especially without those terrible evils and consequences which must almost necessarily result from such disruptions and reorganizations as make a sudden and complete transfer of political power from the hands of the superior to the inferior race, in their present condition, intellectually and morally, in at least six States of the Union!
The system, as it existed, it is true, was not perfect. All admit this. No human systems are perfect. Put great changes had been made in it, as this class of persons were gradually rising from their original barbarism, in their subordinate sphere, under the operation of the system, and from their contact, in this way, with the civilization of the superior race. Other changes would certainly have been made, even to the extinction of the system, if time, with its changes, and the progress of attainments on the part of these people had shown it to be proper that is, best for both races. For if the system, as designed, was not really the best, or could not have been made the best for both races, or whenever it should have ceased to be so, it could and would have been thoroughly and radically changed, in due time, by the only proper and competent authority to act in the premises.
The erroneous dogma of the greatest good to the greatest number, was not the basis on which this Institution rested. Much less was it founded upon the dogma or principle of the sole interest or benefit of the white race to the exclusion of considerations embracing the interests and welfare of the other. It was erected upon no such idea as that might, barely, gives right, but it was organized and defended upon the immutable principles of justice to all, which is the foundation of all good Governments. This requires that society be so organized as to secure the greatest good possible, morally, intellectually, and politically, to all classes of persons within their jurisdictional control, without necessary wrong or detriment to any. This was the foundation principle on which this institution in these States was established and defended.*
* See Appendix F.
These questions are not now, however, before us. We are at present considering the workings of the Federal system, and not the wisdom or policy of the social systems of the several States, or the propriety of the status of their constituent elements respectively.
This whole question of Slavery, so-called, was but one relating to the proper status of the African as an element of a society composed of the Caucasian and African races, and the status which was best, not for the one race or the other, but best, upon the whole, for both.
Over these questions, the Federal Government had no rightful control whatever.* They were expressly excluded, in the Compact of Union, from its jurisdiction or authority. Any such assumed control was a palpable violation of the Compact, which released all the parties to the Compact, affected by such action, from their obligations under the Compact. On this point there can be no shadow of doubt.
* See Appendix G.
Waiving these questions, therefore, for the present. I repeat that this whole subject of Slavery, so-called, in any and every view of it, was, to the Seceding States, but a drop in the ocean compared with those other considerations involved in the issue. Hence, during the whole war, being thoroughly enlisted in it from these other and higher considerations, but being, at the same time, ever an earnest advocate for its speediest termination by an appeal from the arena of arms to the forum of reason, justice, and right, I was wedded to no idea as a basis of peace, but that of the recognition of the ultimate absolute Sovereignty of all the States as the essential basis of any permanent union between them, or any of them, consistent with the preservation of their ultimate existence and liberties. And I wanted, at no time, any recognition of Independence on the part of the Confederate States, but that of George III., of England. That is, the recognition of the Sovereignty and Independence of each, by name.
The Confederate States had made common cause for this great principle, as the original thirteen States had done in 1776. The recognition of this I regarded as essential to the future well-being, happiness, and prosperity of all the States, in existence and to be formed, as well as the countless millions of people who are hereafter to inhabit this half of the Western Hemisphere.
With this simple recognition I saw no formidable difficulty likely to arise in the future, from controversies between States or Sections. Whenever the passions of the day passed off, whatever Union or Unions were, or might be, really beneficial to all the States, would have resulted sooner or later, as inevitably as natural laws produce their natural effects. This they do in the moral and political world, if left to their proper and legitimate action, with as much certainty as they do in the material.
With this principle recognized, I looked upon it hereafter, and at no distant day, to become, by the natural law of political affinity "mutual convenience and reciprocal advantage" the great Continental Regulator of the Grand Federal Republic of "the United States of America," to whatever limits their boundaries might go, or to whatever extent their number might swell.
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