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But I wish to advance a step further in the argument, and inquire:

(1) Where the doctrine of secession originated? and

(2) What distinguished Northern statesmen have said of the right, both before and since the war?

Here we may properly add the clear statement of an able Northern writer, who declares his opinion (presently to be quoted in full) that at the time the Constitution was accepted by the States, there was not a man in the country who doubted the right of each and every State peaceably to withdraw from the Union. In fact, we may at once answer our first inquiry by saying that the doctrine of secession originated in neither section, but was recognized at the first as underlying the Constitution and accepted by all parties. In confirmation of this view, but particularly with respect to the region of its earliest, most frequent, most emphatic and most threatening assertion, we proceed to show further, that a recent Northern writer has used this language:

"A popular notion is that the State-rights-secession or disunion doctrine was originated by Calhoun, and was a South Carolina heresy. But that popular notion is wrong. According to the best information I have been able to acquire on the subject, the Staterights, or secession doctrine, was originated by Josiah Quincy, and was a Massachusetts heresy."

This writer says Quincy first enunciated the doctrine in opposing the bill for the admission of what was then called the "Orleans Territory" (now Louisiana) in 1811, when he declared that “if the bill passed and that territory was submitted, the act would be subversive of the Union, and the several States would be freed from their federal bonds and obligations; and that, as it will be the right of all (the States), so it will be the duty of some to prepare definitely for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must."

Whilst this author may be right in characterizing the development of the doctrine, and fixing this right as a "Massachusetts

heresy," he is wrong in fixing upon its first progenitor, and in saying that the date of its birth was as late as 1811; for in 1803, one Colonel Timothy Pickering, a senator from Massachusetts, and Secretary of State in the Cabinet of John Adams, complaining of what he called "the oppression of the aristocratic Democrats of the South," said, "I will not despair; I will rather anticipate a new confederacy." "That this can be accomplished without spilling one drop of blood I have little doubt." ... "It must begin with Massachusetts. The proposition would be welcomed by Connecticut; and could we doubt of New Hampshire? But New York must be associated; and how is her concurrence to be obtained? She must be made the center of the confederacy. Vermont and New Jersey would follow, of course; and Rhode Island of necessity."


In 1814, the Hartford Convention was called and met in consequence of the opposition of New England to the war then pending with Great Britain. Delegates were sent to this Convention by the Legislatures of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and several counties and towns from other Northern States also sent representatives. This Convention, after deliberating with closed doors on the propriety of withdrawing the States represented in it from the Union, published an address, in which it said, among other things:

"If the Union be destined to dissolution . . ... it should, if possible, be the work of peaceable times and deliberate consent. Whenever it shall appear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nominal friends, but real enemies."

In 1839, Ex-President John Quincy Adams, in an address delivered by him in New York, said:

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The indissoluble link of union between the people of 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, the bonds of political association will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of consolidated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship with each other than to be held together by constraint."

This same man presented to Congress the first petition ever presented in that body for a dissolution of the Union.

Mr. William Rawle, a distinguished lawyer and jurist of Pennsylvania, in his work on the Constitution, says:

"It depends on the State itself to retain or abolish the principle of representation, because it depends on itself whether it will continue a member of the Union. To deny this right would be inconsistent with the principles on which all our political systems are founded, which is that the people have in all cases a right to determine how they will be governed."

In the case of the Bank of Augusta against Earle, 13 Peters, 590-592, it was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States the same year in which Mr. John Quincy Adams made his speech above quoted from that

"They are sovereign States. . . . We think it well settled (says the Court) that by the law of comity among nations a corporation created by one sovereign is permitted to make contracts in another, and to sue in its courts, and that the same law of comity prevails among the several sovereignties of this Union."

Shortly after the nomination of General Taylor, a petition was actually presented in the Senate of the United States, "asking Congress to devise means for the dissolution of the Union." And the votes of Messrs. Seward, Chase and Hale were recorded in favor of its reception.

In 1844, the Legislature of Massachusetts attempted to coerce the President and Congress by the use of this language:

"The project of the annexation of Texas, unless arrested on the threshold, may tend to drive these States (New England) into a dissolution of the Union."

Daniel Webster (the great "expounder of the Constitution," as

he is called), notwithstanding his famous reply to Mr. Hayne, delivered in 1830, in which he so ingeniously denied the right of a State to determine for itself when its constitutional powers were infringed, and also that the Constitution was a compact between sovereign States, and contended that the power to determine the constitutionality of the laws of Congress was lodged only in the Federal Government, in a speech delivered at Capon Springs, Virginia, in 1851, used this language:

"If the South were to violate any part of the Constitution intentionally and systematically, and persist in so doing from year to year, and no remedy could be had, would the North be any longer bound by the rest of it; and if the North were deliberately, habitually and of fixed purpose to disregard one part of it, would the South be bound any longer to observe its other obligations? . . . How absurd is it to suppose that when different parties enter into a compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any one provision and expect nevertheless the other to observe the rest! A bargain cannot be broken on one side and still bind the other." He said, in a speech delivered at Buffalo, N. Y., during the same year:

"The question, fellow-citizens, (and I put it to you as the real question)-the question is, Whether you and the rest of the people of the great State of New York and of all the States, will so adhere to the Union-will so enact and maintain laws to preserve that instrument that you will not only remain in the Union yourselves, but permit your Southern brethren to remain in it and help to perpetuate it."

How different is the language above quoted from Mr. Webster in his Capon Springs speech from the proposition as stated by Mr. Lincoln in his first inaugural, when he says:

"One party to a contract may violate it-break it, so to speakbut does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?"

But, what more could be expected of Mr. Lincoln, when it is well known that he held that the relation of the States to the Union was the same as that which the counties bear to the States of which they respectively form a part?


Those who deny the right of secession are fond of quoting as their authority extracts from Mr. Webster's reply to Mr. Hayne, made in 1830. It is worthy of note that the Capon Springs and Buffalo speeches were made in 1851; and these last are the product of his riper thinking-his profounder reflections. He had evidently learned much about the Constitution in the twenty-one years that had intervened, and in his maturer years, was indeed speaking as a statesman, and not only as an advocate, as he did in 1830.

But it is all-important to remember that Mr. Webster nowhere in this whole speech refers to the right of secession. His whole argument in this connection, is against the right of nullification, another and very different thing; but one which, as we will presently show, was actually being exercised by fourteen out of the sixteen Free States in 1861.

In 1855, Senator Benjamin F. Wade, of Ohio (afterwards, as we know, one of the most notorious South-haters), said in a speech delivered in the United States Senate:

"Who is the judge in the last resort of the violation of the Constitution of the United States by the enactment of a law? Who is the final arbiter, the General Government or the States in their sovereignty? Why, sir, to yield that point is to yield up all the rights of the States to protect their own citizens, and to consolidate this government into a miserable despotism."

And he further said on the 18th of December, 1860:

"I do not so much blame the people of the South, because I think they have been led to believe that we to-day, the dominant party, who are about to take the reins of government, are their mortal foes, and stand ready to trample their institutions under foot."

And notwithstanding the expression of these sentiments, we know, as we say, that this man became one of the most ardent supporters of the "miserable despotism" established by Abraham Lincoln, and became the second officer in that "despotism" on the assassination of Mr. Lincoln.

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