« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
GOVERNOR WALKER'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
compared with the perpetuity of the Union and the final successful establishment of the principles of state sovereignty and free government. If patriotism, if devotion to the constitution and love of the Union, should not induce the minority to yield to the majority on this question, let them reflect, that in no event can the minority successfully determine this question permanently, and that in no contingency will Congress admit Kansas as a slave or free state unless a majority of the people of Kansas shall first have fairly and freely decided this question for themselves by a direct vote on the adoption of the constitution, excluding all fraud or violence. The minority, in resisting the will of the majority, may involve Kansas again in civil war; they may bring upon her reproach and obloquy, and destroy her progress and prosperity; they may keep her for years out of the Union, and, in the whirlwind of agitation, sweep away the government itself; but Kansas never can be brought into the Union with or without slavery except by a previous solemn decision, fully, freely, and fairly made by a majority of her people in voting for or against the adoption of her state constitution. Why, then, should this just, peaceful, and constitutional mode of settlement meet with opposition from any quarter? Is Kansas willing to destroy her own hopes. of prosperity, merely that she may afford political capital to any party, and perpetuate the agitation of slavery throughout the Union? Is she to become a mere theme for agitators in other states, the theatre on which they shall perform the bloody drama of treason and disunion? Does she want to see the solemn acts of Congress, the decision of the people of the Union in the recent election, the legislative, executive, and judicial authorities of the country all overthrown, and revolution and civil war inaugurated throughout her limits? Does she want to be bleeding Kansas" for the benefit of political agitators, within or out of her limits; or does she prefer the peaceful and quiet arbitrament of this question for herself? What benefit will the great body of the people of Kansas derive from these agitations? They may, for a brief period, give consequence and power to political leaders and agitators, but it is at the expense of the happiness and welfare of the great body of the people of this territory.
Those who oppose slavery in Kansas do not base their opposition upon any philanthropic principles, or any sympathy for the African race; for in their so-called constitution, framed at Topeka, they deem that entire race so inferior and degraded
as to exclude them all for ever from Kansas, whether they be bond or free-thus depriving them of all rights here, and denying even that they can be citizens of the United States ; for, if they are citizens, they could not constitutionally be exiled or excluded from Kansas. Yet such a clause, inserted in the Topeka constitution, was submitted by that convention for the vote of the people, and ratified here by an overwhelming majority of the anti-slavery party. This party here, therefore, has, in the most positive manner, affirmed the constitutionality of that portion of the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States declaring that Africans are not citizens of the United States.
This is the more important, inasmuch as this Topeka constitution was ratified, with this clause inserted, by the entire Republican party in Congress-thus distinctly affirming the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the Union, that Africans are not citizens of the United States; for if citizens, they may be elected to all offices, state and national, including the presidency itself; they must be placed upon a basis of perfect equality with the whites, serve with them in the militia, on the bench, the legislature, the jury box, vote in all elections, meet us in social intercourse, and intermarry freely with the whites. This doctrine of the perfect equality of the white with the black, in all respects whatsoever, social and political, clearly follows from the position that Africans are citizens of the United States. Nor is the Supreme Court of the Union less clearly vindicated by the position now assumed here by the published creed of this party, that the people of Kansas, in forming their state constitution (and not Congress), must decide this question of slavery for themselves. Having thus sustained the court on both the controverted points decided by that tribunal, it is hoped they will not approve the anarchical and revolutionary proceedings in other states, expunging the Supreme Court from our system by depriving it of the great power for which it was created, of expounding the constitution. If that be done, we can have in fact no unity of government or fundamental law, but just as many ever-varying constitutions as passion, prejudice, and local interests may from time to time prescribe in the thirty-one states of the Union.
I have endeavored heretofore faintly to foreshadow the wonderful prosperity, which would follow at once in Kansas the peaceful and final settlement of this question. But, if it
GOVERNOR WALKER'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
should be in the power of agitators to prevent such a result, nothing but ruin will pervade our territory. Confidence will expire, and law and order will be subverted. Anarchy and civil war will be reinaugurated among us. All property will greatly depreciate in value. Even the best farms will become. almost worthless. Our towns and cities will sink into decay. Emigration into our territory will cease. A mournful train of returning settlers, with ruined hopes and blasted fortunes, will leave our borders. All who have purchased property at present prices will be sacrificed, and Kansas will be marked by universal ruin and desolation.
Nor will the mischief be arrested here. It will extend into every other state. Despots will exult over the failure here of the great principles of self-government, and the approaching downfall of our confederacy. The pillars of the Union will rock upon their base, and we may close the next presidential conflict amid the scattered fragments of the constitution of our once happy and united people. The banner of the stars and stripes, the emblem of our country's glory, will be rent by contending factions. We shall no longer have a country. The friends of human liberty in other realms will shrink despairing from the conflict. Despotic power will resume its sway throughout the world, and man will have tried in vain the last experiment of self-government. The architects of our country's ruin, the assassins of her peace and prosperity, will share the same common ruin of all our race. They will meet, whilst living, the bitter curses of a ruined people, whilst history will record as their only epitaph: These were the destroyers of the American Union, of the liberties of their country and of the world.
But I do not despair of the republic. My hope is in the patriotism and intelligence of the people; in their love of country, of liberty, and of the Union. Especially is my confidence unbounded in the hardy pioneers and settlers of the west. It was such settlers of a new state devoted to the constitution and the Union, whom I long represented in the Senate of the United States, and whose rights and interests it was my pride and pleasure there, as well as in the treasury department, to protect and advocate. It was men like these whose rifles drove back the invader from the plains of Orleans, and planted the stars and stripes upon the victorious field of Mexico. These are the men whom gold cannot corrupt nor foes intimidate. From their towns and villages, from their
farms and cottages, spread over the beautiful prairies of Kansas, they will come forward now in defence of the constitution and the Union. These are the glorious legacy they received from our fathers, and they will transmit to their children the priceless heritage. Before the peaceful power of their suffrage this dangerous sectional agitation will disappear, and peace and prosperity once more reign throughout our borders. In the hearts of this noble band of patriotic settlers the love of their country and of the Union is inextinguishable. It leaves them. not in death, but follows them into that higher realm, where, with Washington and Franklin, and their noble compatriots, they look down with undying affection upon their country, and offer up their fervent prayers that the Union and the constitution may be perpetual. For recollect, my fellow-citizens, that it is the constitution that makes the Union, and unless that immortal instrument, bearing the name of the Father of his Country, shall be maintained entire in all its wise provisions and sacred guarantees, our free institutions must perish.
My reliance also is unshaken upon the same overruling Providence which has carried us triumphantly through so many perils and conflicts, which has lifted us to a height of power and prosperity unexampled in history, and, if we shall maintain the constitution and the Union, points us to a future more glorious and sublime than mind can conceive or pen describe. The march of our country's destiny, like that of His first chosen people, is marked by the foot-prints of the steps of God. The constitution and the Union are "the cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night," which will carry us safely under his guidance, through the wilderness and bitter waters, into the promised and ever-extending fields of our country's glory. It is His hand which beckons us onward in the pathway of peaceful progress and expansion, of power and renown, until our continent, in the distant future, shall be covered by the folds of the American banner, and, instructed by our example, all the nations of the world, through many trials and sacrifices, shall establish the great principles of our constitutional confederacy of free and sovereign states. R. J. WALKER.