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natural heat and to inflame; and let no prince measure the danger of them by this, whether they be just or unjust; for that were to imagine people to be too reasonable, who do often spurn at their own good; nor yet by this, whether the griefs whereupon they rise be, in fact, great or small; for they are the most dangerous discontentments where the fear is greater than the feeling. Dolendi modus, timendi non item; besides, in great oppressions the same things that provoke the patience, do withal mete the courage; but, in fears, it is not so. Neither let any prince or state be secure concerning discontentments, because they have been often, or have been long, and yet no peril hath ensued; for, as it is true, that every vapor or fume doth not turn into a storm, so it is nevertheless true, that storms, though they blow over divers times, yet may fall at last; and, as the Spanish proverb noteth well, “ The cord breaketh at last by the weakest pull.'”
Such deep sagacity as this convinces me, if I ever doubted, that the way to peace in times of disorder is not always found by refusing to listen to complaints. I differ, then, with some of my rigid friends on this point. I prefer to consider grievances, were it but to be sure that they have no just foundation; much more if they prove to merit attention for their reasonableness. My notion of the duty of a public man is to watch the growth of offences and not to neglect, still less to despise them. I have therefore faithfully labored in my humble way to comprehend the nature of the discontents actually prevailing and to judge of the extent to which they justify the resort to so violent a mode of relief as the overthrow of a government. After a full hearing of all that has been said in committee and elsewhere I easily embrace the topics of complaint under three heads, to wit:
1. The passage of laws in some of the free States operating to discourage
recovery of fugitive slaves. 2. The denial of equal rights in the Territories
3. The apprehension of such an increase of political power in the free States as to tempt an invasion, under new forms of the constitution, of the right of the slave States to manage their domestic affairs.
After a full and calm examination of the grounds fur nished to sustain these complaints I am ready to declare that if these are all that endanger the continuance of the present common bond of association between the States, in my opinion no similar sacrifice to mere abstractions was ever before made among reasoning men.
For the sake of these three causes of complaint, all of them utterly without practical result, the slaveholding States, unquestionably the weakest section of this great confederacy, are voluntarily and precipitately surrendering the realities of solid power woven into the very texture of a government that now keeps nineteen millions of freemen willing to tolerate, and in one sense to shelter, institutions which but for that would meet with no more sympathy among them than they now do in the remainder of the civilized world!
For my own part I must declare that, even supposing these alleged grievances to be more real than I represent them, I think the measures of the committee dispose of them effectue ally and forever. They contribute directly all that can be legitimately done by Congress, and they recommend it to the legislatures of the States to accomplish the remainder. Why then is it that harmony is not restored? The answer is, that you are not satisfied with this settlement, however complete. You must have more guarantees in the constitution. You must make the protection and extension of slavery in the Territories now existing and hereafter to be acquired a cardinal doctrine of our great charter. Without that you are determined to dissolve the Union. How stands the case then?
We offer to settle the question finally in all of the present territory that you claim by giving you every chance of establishing slavery that you have any right to require of us. You decline to take the offer because you fear it will do you no good. Slavery will not go there. But if that be true what is the use of asking for the protection anyhow, much less in the constitution?
Why require protection where you will have nothing to protect? All you appear to desire it for is New Mexico. Nothing else is left. Yet you will not accept New Mexico at once, because ten years of experience has proved to you that protection has been of no use thus far. But if so how can you expect that it will be of so much more use hereafter as to make it worth dissolving the Union about?
But if we pass to the other condition is it any more reasonable? Are we going to fight because we cannot agree upon the mode of disposing of our neighbor's lands? Are we to break up the union of these States, cemented by so many years of common sufferings and resplendent with so many years of common glory, because it is insisted that we should incorporate into what we regard as the charter of our freedom a proclamation to the civilized world that we intend to grasp the territory of other nations whenever we can do it, for the purpose of putting into it certain institutions which some of us disapprove, and that, too, whether the people inhabiting that territory themselves approve of it or not?
I am almost inclined to believe that they who first contrived this demand must have done so for the sake of presenting a condition which they knew beforehand must be rejected or which if accepted must humiliate us in the dust forever. In point of fact this proposal covers no question of immediate moment which may not be settled by another and less ob
noxious one. Why is it then persevered in and the other rejected ? The answer is obvious. You want the Union dissolved. You want to make it impossible for honorable men to become reconciled.
If it be indeed so then on you and you alone shall rest the responsibility of what may follow. If the Union be broken up the reason why it happened shall remain on record forever. It was because you rejected one form of settling a question which might be offered and accepted with honor in order to insist upon another which you knew we could not accept without disgrace. I answer for myself only when I say that, if the alternative to the salvation of the Union be only that the people of the United States shall before the Christian nations of the earth print in broad letters upon the front of their charter of republican government the dogma of slave propagandism over the remainder of the countries of the world, I will not consent to brand myself with what I deem such disgrace, let the consequences be what they may.
But it is said that this answer closes the door of reconciliation. The slaveholding States will secede, and what then?
This brings me to the last point which I desire to touch to-day, the proper course for the government to pursue in the face of these difficulties. Some of the friends with whom I act have not hesitated to express themselves in favor of coercion, and they have drawn very gloomy pictures of the fatal consequences to the prosperity and security of the whole Union that must ensue. For my own sake I am glad that I do not partake so largely in these fears. I see no obstacle to the regular continuance of the government, in not less than twenty States and perhaps more, the inhabitants of which have not in a moment been deprived of that peculiar practical
wisdom in the management of their affairs, which is the secret of their past success.
Several new States will before long be ready to take their places with us and make good in part the loss of the old ones. The mission of furnishing a great example of free govern ment to the nations of the earth will still be in our hands, im. paired I admit but not destroyed; and I doubt not our power to accomplish it yet in spite of the temporary drawback. Even the problem of coercion will go on to solve itself without our aid.
For if the sentiment of disunion become so far universal and permanent in the dissatisfied States as to show no prospect of good from resistance, and there be no acts of aggression attempted on their part, I will not say that I may not favor the idea of some arrangement of a peaceful character, though
I do not now see the authority under which it can be origi 'nated. The new confederacy can scarcely be other than a secondary power. It can never be a maritime State. It will begin with the necessity of keeping eight millions of its population to watch four millions and with the duty of guarding against the egress of the latter, several thousand miles of an exposed border, beyond which there will be no right of reclamation. Of the ultimate result of a similar experiment, I cannot in my own mind have a moment's doubt. At the last session I ventured to place on record in this House a prediction by which I must abide, let the effect of the future on my sagacity be what it may. I have not yet seen any reaBon to doubt its accuracy. I now repeat it. The experiment will ignominiously fail.
But there are exceptions to the adoption of this peaceful policy which it will not be wise to overlook. If there be violent and wanton attacks upon the persons or the property,