27 Series IV Volume I- Serial 127 - Correspondence, Orders, Reports and Returns of the Confederate Authorities, December 20, 1860 – June 30, 1862
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know this is so; every man knows it. Should we, then, accept any thing less than an amendment to the Constitution setting forth in the plainest terms the exact agreement entered into? I do not know that we should ask this by way of amendment, but rather as an explanation of the true meaning of the Constitution. We should also require a proper penalty of every State that has failed to comply in good faith with the Constitution and laws upon this subject. Each State that permits its citizens, in the way of armed mobs or otherwise, to obstruct the faithful execution of the fugitive slave law should be held responsible to the owner of the slave for al damages and costs in the case. It has occurred to my mind that we should demand this or something like it. I will not differ with friends in the matter of detail or mere form of the thing; so I get the substance I should feel satisfied.
Some of the Union savers and some of our more timorous friends are insisting that we must wait yet a while longer, until Lincoln shall commit some "overt act. " They tell us his election is no good cause for secession. I agree that the mere form or manner of Lincoln's election does not furnish good and sufficient grounds for secession; but when we consider that Lincoln is the representative man of the Black Republican party; that he was taken up by the Chicago convention, and afterward elected by his party, solely because he was the author of the declaration that "this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free," I ask if his election under these circumstances is not committing the "overt act. " Can we regard it as anything less than a declaration of war upon the whole slave property of all the Southern States? Is it not a moral dissolution o f the Union, a virtual di Government? For myself I cannot but regard the election of Lincoln as having brought to a focus all the threats and agitations of the last thirty years; as severing the political ties which have held together the people of the Northern and Southern States; as alienating their affections and placing them, to a great extent, in the position of two opposing armies, standing in hostile array to each other. But, my dear sir, do not understand me as undertaking to dictate what should be done. I simply took up my pen, on reading your call for a meeting, to say to you that you have my hearty approval and warmest sympathies in this movement. We shall hold a meeting in Saline on the 14th and would be glad to have you with us if it would not put you to too much trouble. This is all I intended to say in the outset, but as I have a little space I will add a word more. I think the people of each Southern States should hold conventions at once, and these conventions should appoint delegates to a general convention of all the Southern States, where they could all agree on what ought to be demanded, and that all might act in concert in carrying out the measures and policy agreed upon. Had I been acting Governor of the State I should have called the Legislature together before now, in order that they might consider the question of calling a convention, and at the same time, if thought proper, to dispatch a commissioner to South Carolina, Georgia, &c., asking them, as friends, not to go out of the Union by any hasty step, but remain with us and meet us in convention, and, if go we must, let us all go out together. Let us exhaust all the means in our power to maintain our rights in the Union; let us preserve the Government, if possibly in our power; but if, after having tried all the remedies within our grasp, these should fail, as I fear they will, then I say, let us dissolve the connection and maintain the rights which belong to us at all hazards and to the last extremity.
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