Page images

term was out?” Sir, there is no such immunity. There is no way by which this can be done that I can conceive of, except it is standing upon the Constitution of the United States, demanding equal justice for all, and vindicating the old flag of the Union. We must maintain it, unless we are cloven down by superior force. Well, sir, it may happen that you can make your way out of the Union, and that, by levying war upon the government, you may vindicate your right to independence. If you should do so, I have a policy in my mind. No man would regret more than myself that any portion of the people of these United States should think themselves impelled, by grievances or anything else, to depart out of this Union, and raise a foreign flag and a hand against the general government. If there was any just cause on God's earth that I could see that was within my reach of honor. able release from any such pretended grievance, they should have it; but they set forth none; I can see none. It is all a matter of prejudice, superinduced unfortunately, I believe, as I intimated before, more because you have listened to the enemies of the Republican party and what they said of us, while, from your intolerance, you have shut out all light as to what our real principles are. We have been called and branded in the North and in the South and everywhere else, as John Brown men, as men hostile to your institutions, as meditating an attack upon your institutions in your own States—a thing that no Republican ever dreamed of or ever thought of, but has protested against as often as the question has been up; but your people believe it. No doubt they believe it because of the terrible excitement and reign of terror that prevails there. No doubt they think so, but it arises from false information, or the want of information—that is all. Their prejudices have been appealed to until they have become uncontrolled and uncontrollable. Well, sir, if it shall be so; if that “glorious Union,” as we call it, under which the government has so long lived and prospered, is now about to come to a final end, as perhaps it may, I have been looking around to see what policy we should adopt; and through that gloom which has been mentioned on the other side, if you will have it so, I still see a glorious future for those who stand by the old flag of the nation. . . . But, sir, I am for maintaining the Union of these States. I will sacrifice everything but honor to maintain it. That glorious old flag of ours, by any act of mine, shall never cease to wave over the integrity of this Union as it is. But if they will not have it so, in this new, renovated government of which I have spoken, the 4th of July, with all its glorious memories, will never be repealed. The old flag of 1776 will be in our hands, and shall float over this nation forever; and this capital, that some gentlemen said would be reserved for the Southern republic, shall still be the capital. It was laid out by Washington, it was consecrated by him; and the old flag that he vindicated in the Revolution shall still float from the Capitol. I say, sir, I stand by the Union of these States. Washington and his compatriots fought for that good old flag. It shall never be hauled down, but shall be the glory of the government to which I belong, as long as my life shall continue. To maintain it, Washington and his compatriots fought for liberty and the rights of man. And here 1 will add that my own father, although but a humble soldier, fought in the same great cause, and went through hardships and privations sevenfold worse than death, in order to bequeath it to his children. It is my inheritance. It was my protector in infancy, and the pride and glory of my riper years; and, Mr. President, although it may be assailed by traitors on every side, by the grace of God, under its shadows I will die.


Johnson DAVIS was born in Christian County, Kentucky, in 1808. He received a classical education at Translyvania University, graduated at West Point in 1828, and served as Lieutenant of Infantry and of Dragoons until 1835, when he engaged in cotton planting in Mississippi. He was a Presidential elector on the Polk and Dallas ticket in 1844; served in Congress from December, 1845, to June, 1846, when he resigned to command a regiment in the Mexican War, wherein he distinguished himself at Monterey and Buena Vista. He declined the appointment of Brigadier-General in the regular army in May, 1847, was sent in the same year from Mississippi to the United States Senate, and kept his seat there until 1851. In the year last named he was defeated for Governor of Mississippi, but two years later became Secretary of War under President Pierce. In 1857 he was again chosen United States Senator, and served until January 21, 1861. He was inaugurated President of the Confederate States on February 18 of the year just named, and remained at the head of the Confederacy until the close of the Rebellion. Captured by Federal troops in Georgia, in May, 1865, he was imprisoned for two years at Fortress Monroe, and then released on $100,000 bail. Though indicted for treason in May, 1866, he was never brought to trial. The last years of his life were spent on a plantation at Beauvoir, Mississippi, and he died in New Orleans in 1889.



RISE, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under these circumstances, of

course my functions are terminated here. It has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in the Senate to announce that fact to my associates, and I will say but very little more. The occasion does not invite me to go into argument, and my physical condition would not permit me to do so if it were otherwise; and yet it seems to become me to say something on the part of the State I here represent, on an occasion so solemn as this. It is known to Senators who have served with me here, that I have for many years advocated, as an essential attribute of State sovereignty, the right of a State to secede from the Union. Therefore, if I had not believed there was justifiable cause; if I had thought that Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation, or without an existing necessity, I should still, under my theory of the government, because of my allegiance to the State of which I am a citizen, have been bound by her action. I, however, may be permitted to say that I do think that she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred with her people before that act was taken, counselled them then that if the state of things which they apprehended should exist when the convention met, they should take the action which they have now adopted. I hope none who hear me will confound this expression of mine with the advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union, and to disregard its constitutional obligations by the nullification of the law. Such is not my theory. Nullification and secession, so often confounded, are indeed antagonistic principles. Nullification is a remedy which it is sought to apply within the Union, and against the agent of the States. It is only to be justified when the agent has violated his constitutional obligation, and a State, assuming to judge for itself, denies the right of the agent thus to act,

« PreviousContinue »