ON THE ADMISSION OF KANSAS, UNDER THE LECOMPTON CONSTITUTION. DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, MARCH 4, 1858.
The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, having under consideration the bill for the admission of the State of Kansas in the Union — Mr. Hammond said:
Mr. President: In the debate which occurred in the early part of the last month, I understood the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Douglas) to say that the question of the reception of the Lecompton Constitution was narrowed down to a single point. That point was, whether that constitution embodied the will of the people of Kansas. Am I correct?
Mr. Douglas. The Senator is correct, with this qualification: I could waive the irregularity and agree to the reception of Kansas into the Union under the Lecompton Constitution, provided I was satisfied that it was the act and deed of that people, and embodied their will. There are other objections; but the others I could overcome, if this point were disposed of.
Mr. Hammond. I so understood the Senator. I understood that if he could be satisfied that this Constitution embodied the will of the people of Kansas, all other defects and irregularities could be cured by the act of Congress, and that he himself would be willing to permit such an act to be passed.
Now, sir, the only question is, how is that will to be ascertained, and upon that point, and that only, shall we differ. In my opinion the will of the people of Kansas is to be sought in the act of her lawful convention elected to form a Constitution, and no where else; and that it is unconstitutional and dangerous to seek it elsewhere. I think that the Senator fell into a fundamental error in his report dissenting from the report of the majority of the territorial committee, when he said that the convention which framed this Constitution was “the creature of the Territorial Legislature;” and from that one error has probably arisen all his subsequent errors on this subject.
How can it be possible that a convention should be the creature of a Territorial Legislature? The convention was an assembly of the people in their highest sovereign capacity, about to perform their highest possible act of sovereignty. The Territorial Legislature is a mere provisional government; a petty corporation, appointed and paid by the Congress of the United States, without a particle of sovereign power. Shall such a body interefere with a sovereignty — inchoate, but still a sovereignty? Why, Congress cannot interfere; Congress cannot confer on the Territorial Legislature the power to interfere. Congress itself is not sovereign. Congress has sovereign powers, but no sovereignty. Congress has no power to act outside of the limitations of the Constitution; no right to carry into effect the Supreme Will of any people, and, therefore, Congress is not sovereign. Nor does Congress hold the sovereignty of Kansas. The sovereignty of Kansas resides, if it resides anywhere, with the sovereign States of this Union. They have conferred upon Congress, among other powers, that to administer such sovereignty to their satisfaction. They have given Congress the power to make needful rules and regulations regarding the Territories, and they have given it power to admit a State — “admit” not create. Under these two powers, Congress may first establish a provisional territorial government merely for municipal purposes; and when a State has grown into rightful sovereignty, when that sovereignty which has been kept in abeyance demands recognition, when a community is formed there, a social compact established, a sovereignty born as it were on the soil, then to Congress is granted the power to acknowledge it, and the Legislature, only by mere usage, sometimes neglected, assists at the birth of it by passing a precedent resolution assembling a convention.
But when that convention assembles to form a Constitution, it assembles in the highest known capacity of a people, and has no superior in this Government but a State sovereignty; or rather only the State sovereignties of all the States, acting by their established Constitutional agent the General Government, can do anything with the act of that convention. Then if that convention was lawful, if there is no objection to the convention itself, there can be no objection to the action of the convention; and there is no power on earth that has a right to inquire, outside of its acts, whether the convention represented the will of the people of Kansas or not, for a convention of the people is, according to the theory of our Government, for all the purposes for which the people elected it, the people, bona fide, being the only way in which all the people can assemble and act together. I do not doubt that there might be some cases of such gross and palpable frauds committed in the formation of a convention, as might authorize Congress to investigate them, but I can scarcely conceive of any. And when a State knocks at the door for admission, Congress can with propriety do little more than inquire if her Constitution is republican. That it embodies the will of her people must necessarily be taken for granted, if it is their lawful act. I am assuming, of course, that her boundaries are settled, and her population sufficient.
If what I have said be correct, then the will of the people of Kansas is to be found in the action of her constitutional convention. It is immaterial whether it is the will of a majority of the people of Kansas now, or not. The convention was, or might have been, elected by a majority of the people of Kansas. A convention, elected in June, might well frame a Constitution that would not be agreeable to a majority of the people of a new State, rapidly filling up, in the succeeding January; and if Legislatures are to be allowed to put to vote the acts of a convention, and have them annulled by a subsequent influx of immigrants, there is no finality. If you were to send back the Lecompton Constitution, and another was to be framed, in the slow way in which we do public business in this country, before it would reach Congress and be accepted, perhaps the majority would be turned the other way. Whenever you go outside of the regular forms of law and constitutions to seek for the will of the people you are wandering in a wilderness — a wilderness of thorns.
If this was a minority constitution I do not know that that would be an objection to it. Constitutions are made for minorities. Perhaps minorities ought to have the right to make constitutions, for they are administered by majorities. The Constitution of this Government was made by a minority, and as late as 1840 a minority had it in their hands, and could have altered or abolished it; for, in 1840, six out of the twenty-six States of the Union held the numerical majority.
The Senator from Illinois has, upon his view of the Lecompton Constitution and the present situation of affairs in Kansas, raised a cry of “popular sovereignty.” The Senator from New York (Mr. Seward) yesterday made himself facetious about it, and called it, “squatter sovereignty.” There is a popular sovereignty which is the basis of our Government, and I am unwilling that the Senator should have the advantage of confounding it with “squatter sovereignty.” In all countries and in all time, it is well understood that the numerical majority of the people could, if they chose, exercise the sovereignty of the country; but for want of intelligence, and for want of leaders, they have never yet been able successfully to combine and form a stable, popular government. They have often attempted it, but it has always turned out, instead of a popular sovereignty, a populace sovereignty; and demagogues, placing themselves upon the movement, have invariably led them into military despotism.
I think that the popular sovereignty which the Senator from Illinois would derive from the acts of his Territorial Legislature, and from the information received from partisans and partisan presses, would lead us directly into populace, and not popular sovereignty. Genuine popular sovereignty never existed on a firm basis except in this country. The first gun of the Revolution announced a new organization of it which was embodied in the Declaration of Independence, developed, elaborated, and inaugurated forever in the Constitution of the United States. The two pillars of it were Representation and the Ballot-box. In distributing their sovereign powers among various Departments of the Government, the people retained for themselves the single power of the ballot-box; and a great power it was. Through that they were able to control all the Departments of the Government. It was not for the people to exercise political power in detail; it was not for them to be annoyed with the cares of Government; but, from time to time, through the ballot-box, it was for them — enough — to exert their sovereign power and control the whole organization. This is popular sovereignty, the popular sovereignty of a legal constitutional ballot-box; and when spoken through that box, the “voice of the people,” which for all political purposes, “is the voice of God;” but when it is heard outside of that, it is the voice of a demon, the tocsin of a reign of terror.
In passing I omitted to answer a question that the Senator from Illinois has, I believe, repeatedly asked; and that is, what were the legal powers of the Territorial Legislature after the formation and adoption of the Lecompton Constitution? The Kansas Convention had nothing to do with the Territorial Legislature, which was a provisional government almost without power, appointed and paid by this Government. The Lecompton Constituton was the act of a people, and the sovereign act of a people legally assembled in convention. The two bodies moved in different spheres and on different planes, and could not come in contact at all without usurpation on the one part or the other. It was not competent for the Lecompton Constitution to overturn the territorial government and set up a government in place of it, because that Constitution, until acknowledged by Congress, was nothing; it was not in force anywhere. It could well require the people of Kansas to pass upon it or any portion of it; it could do whatever was necessary to perfect that Constitution, but nothing beyond that, until Congress had agreed to accept it. In the mean time the territorial government, always a government ad interim, was entitled to exercise all the sway over the Territory that it ever had been entitled to. The error of assuming, as the Senator did, that the convention was the creature of the territorial government, has led him into the difficulty and confusion resulting from connecting these two governments together. There was no power to govern in the convention until after the adoption by Congress of its Constitution, and then it was of course defunct.
As the Senator from Illinois, whom I regard as the Ajax Telamon of this debate, does not press the question of frauds, I shall have little or nothing to say about them. The whole history of Kansas is a disgusting one, from the beginning to the end. I have avoided reading it as much as I could. Had I been a Senator before, I should have felt it my duty, perhaps, to have done so; but not expecting to be one, I am ignorant, fortunately, in a great measure, of details; and I was glad to hear the acknowledgement of the Senator from Illinois, since it excuses me from the duty of examining them.
I hear, on the other side of the Chamber, a great deal said about “gigantic and stupendous frauds;” and the Senator from New York, in portraying the character of his party and the opposite one, laid the whole of those frauds upon the pro-slavery party. To listen to him, you would have supposed that the regiments of immigrants recruited in the purlieus of the great cities of the North, and sent out, armed and equipped with Sharpe's rifles and bowie knives and revolvers, to conquer freedom for Kansas, stood by, meek saints, innocent as doves, and harmless as lambs brought up to the sacrifice. General Lane's lambs! They remind one of the famous “lambs” of Colonel Kirke, to whom they have a strong family resemblance. I presume that there were frauds; and that if there were frauds, they were equally great on all sides; and that any investigation into them on this floor, or by a commission, would end in nothing but disgrace to the United States.
But, sir, the true object of the discussion on the other side of the Chamber, is to agitate the question of slavery. I have very great doubts whether the leaders on the other side really wish to defeat this bill. I think they would consider it a vastly greater victory to crush out the Democratic party in the North, and destroy the authors of the Kansas-Nebraska bill; and I am not sure that they have not brought about this imbroglio for the very purpose. They tell us that year after year the majority in Kansas was beaten at the polls! They have always had a majority, but they always get beaten! How could that be? It does seem, from the most reliable sources of information, that they have a majority, and have had a majority for some time. Why has not this majority come forward and taken possession of the government, and made a free-State constitution and brought it here? We should all have voted for its admission cheerfully. There can be but one reason: if they had brought, as was generally supposed at the time the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed would be the case, a free-State constitution here, there would have been no difficulty among the northern Democrats; they would have been sustained by their people. The statement made by some of them, as I understood, that that act was a good free-State act, would have been verified, and the northern Democratic party would have been sustained. But Kansas coming here a slave State, it is hoped will kill that party, and that is the reason they have refrained from going to the polls; that is the reason they have refrained from making it a free State when they had the power. They intend to make it a free State as soon as they have effected their purpose of destroying by it the Democratic party at the North, and now their chief object here is, to agitate slavery. For one, I am not disposed to discuss that question here in any abstract form. I think the time has gone by for that. Our minds are all made up. I may be willing to discuss it—and that is the way it should be and must be discussed—as a practical thing, as a thing that is, and is to be; and to discuss its effect upon our political institutions, and ascertain how long those institutions will hold together with slavery ineradicable.
The Senator from New York entered very fairly into this field yesterday. I was surprised, the other day, when he so openly said “the battle had been fought and won.” Although I knew, and had long known it to be true, I was surprised to hear him say so. I thought that he had been entrapped into a hasty expression by the sharp rebukes of the Senator from New Hampshire; and I was glad to learn yesterday that his words had been well considered — that they meant all that I thought they meant; that they meant that the South is a conquered province, and that the North intends to rule it. He said that it was their intention “to take this Government from unjust and unfaithful hands, and place it in just and faithful hands;” that it was their intention to consecrate all the Territories of the Union to free labor; end that, to effect their purposes, they intended to reconstruct the Supreme Court.
The Senator said, suppose we admit Kansas with the Lecompton constitution — what guarantees are there that Congress will not again interfere with the affairs of Kansas? meaning, I suppose, that if she abolished slavery, what guarantee there was that Congress would not force it upon her again. So far as we of the South are concerned, you have, at least, the guarantee of good faith that never has been violated. But what guarantee have we, when you have this Government in your possession, in all its departments, even if we submit quietly to what the Senator exhorts us to submit to — the limitation of slavery to its present territory, and even to the reconstruction of the Supreme Court — that you will not plunder us with tariffs; that you will not bankrupt us with internal improvements and bounties on your exports; that you will not cramp us with navigation laws, and other laws impeding the facilities of transportation to southern produce? What guarantee have we that you will not create a new bank, and concentrate all the finances of this country at the North, where already, for the want of direct trade and a proper system of banking in the South, they are ruinously concentrated? Nay, what guarantee have we that you will not emancipate our slaves, or, at least, make the attempt? We cannot rely on your faith when you have the power. It has been always broken whenever pledged.
As I am disposed to see this question settled as soon as possible, and am perfectly willing to have a final and conclusive settlement now, after what the Senator from New York has said, I think it not improper that I should attempt to bring the North and South face to face, and see what resources each of us might have in the contingency of separate organizations.
If we never acquire another foot of territory for the South, look at her. Eight hundred and fifty thousand square miles. As large as Great Britian, France, Austria, Prussia and Spain. Is not that territory enough to make an empire that shall rule the world? With the finest soil, the most delightful climate, whose staple productions none of those great countries can grow, we have three thousand miles of continental sea-shore line so indented with bays and crowded with islands, that, when their shore lines are added, we have twelve thousand miles. Through the heart of our country runs the great Mississippi, the father of waters, into whose bosom are poured thirty-six thousand miles of tributary rivers; and beyond we have the desert prairie wastes to protect us in our rear. Can you hem in such a territory as that? You talk of putting up a wall of fire around eight hundred and fifty thousand square miles so situated! How absurd.
But, in this territory lies the great valley of the Mississippi, now the real, and soon to be the acknowlIedged seat of the empire of the world. The sway of that valley will be as great as ever the Nile knew in the earlier ages of mankind. We own the most of it. The most valuable part of it belongs to us now; and although those who have settled above us are now opposed to us, another generation will tell a different tale. They are ours by all the laws of nature; slave-labor will go over every foot of this great valley where it will be found profitable to use it, and some of those who may not use it are soon to be united with us by such ties as will make us one and inseparable. The iron horse will soon be clattering over the sunny plains of the South to bear the products of its upper tributaries of the valley to our Atlantic ports, as it now does through the ice-bound North. And there is the great Mississippi, a bond of union made by Nature herself. She will maintain it forever.
On this fine territory we have a population four times as large as that with which these colonies separated from the mother country, and a hundred, I might say a thousand fold stronger. Our population is now sixty per cent. greater than that of the whole United States when we entered into the second war of independence. It is as large as the whole population of the United States was ten years after the conclusion of that war, and our own exports are three times as great as those of the whole United States then. Upon our muster-rolls we have a million of men. In a defensive war, upon an emergency, every one of them would be available. At any time, the South can raise, equip, and maintain in the field, a larger army than any Power of the earth can send against her, and an army of soldiers — men brought up on horseback, with guns in their hands. If we take the North, even when the two large States of Kansas and Minnesota shall be admitted, her territory will be one hundred thousand square miles less than ours. I do not speak of California and Oregon; there is no antagonism between the South and those countries, and never will be. The population of the North is fifty per cent. greater than ours. I have nothing to say in disparagement either of the soil of the North, or the people of the North, who are a brave and energetic race, full of intellect. But they produce no great staple that the South does not produce; while we produce two or three, and these the very greatest, that she can never produce. As to her men, I may be allowed to say, they have never proved themselves to be superior to those of the South, either in the field or in the Senate.
But the strength of a nation depends in a great measure upon its wealth, and the wealth of a nation, like that of a man, is to be estimated by its surplus production. You may go to your trashy census books, full of falsehood and nonsense — they tell you, for example, that in the State of Tennessee, the whole number of house-servants is not equal to that of those in my own house, and such things as that. You may estimate what is made throughout the country from these census books, but it is no matter how much is made if it is all consumed. If a man possess millions of dollars and consumes his income, is he rich? Is he competent to embark in any new enterprise? Can he long build ships or railroads? And could a people in that condition build ships and roads or go to war without a fatal strain on capital? All the enterprises of peace and war depend upon the surplus productions of a people. They may be happy, they may be comfortable, they may enjoy themselves in consuming what they make; but they are not rich, they are not strong. It appears, by going to the reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, which are authentic, that last year the United States exported in round numbers $279,000,000 worth of domestic produce, excluding gold and foreign merchandise re-exported. Of this amount $158,000,000 worth is the clear produce of the South; articles that are not and cannot be made at the North. There are then $80,000,000 worth of exports of products of the forest, provisions and breadstuff. If we assume that the South made but one third of these, and I think that is a low calculation, our exports were $185,000,000, leaving to the North less than $95,000,000.
In addition to this, we sent to the North $30,000,000 worth of cotton, which is not counted in the exports. We sent to her $7 or $8,000,000 worth of tobacco, which is not counted in the exports. We sent naval stores, lumber, rice, and many other minor articles. There is no doubt that we sent to the North $40,000,000 in addition ; but suppose the amount to be $35,000,000, it will give us a surplus production of $220,000,000. But the recorded exports of the South now are greater than the whole exports of the United States in any year before 1856. They are greater than the whole average exports of the United States for the last twelve years, including the two extraordinary years of 1856 and 1857. They are nearly double the amount of the average exports of the twelve preceding years. If I am right in my calculations as to $220,000,000 of surplus produce, there is not a nation on the face of the earth, with any numerous population, that can compete with us in produce per capita. It amounts to $16.66 per head, supposing that we have twelve millions of people. England with all her accumulated wealth, with her concentrated and educated energy, makes but sixteen and a half dollars of surplus production per head. I have not made a calculation as to the North, with her $95,000,000 surplus; admitting that she exports as much as we do, with her eighteen millions of population it would be but little over twelve dollars a head. But she cannot export to us and abroad exceeding ten dollars a head against our sixteen dollars. I know well enough that the North sends to the South a vast amount of the productions of her industry. I take it for granted that she, at least, pays us in that way for the thirty or forty million dollars worth of cotton and other articles we send her. I am willing to admit that she sends us considerably more; but to bring her up to our amount of surplus production — to bring her up to $220,000,000 a year, the South must take from her $125,000,000; and this, in addition to our share of the consumption of the $333,000,000 worth introduced into the country from abroad, and paid for chiefly by our own exports. The thing is absurd; it is impossible; it can never appear anywhere but in a book of statistics, or a Congress speech.
With an export of $220,000,000 under the present tariff, the South organized separately would have $40,000,000 of revenue. With one-fourth the present tariff, she would have a revenue with the present tariff adequate to all her wants, for the South would never go to war; she would never need an army or a navy, beyond a few garrisons on the frontiers and a few revenue cutters. It is commerce that breeds war. It is manufactures that require to be hawked about the world, and that give rise to navies and commerce. But we have nothing to do but to take off restrictions on foreign merchandise and open our ports, and the whole world will come to us to trade. They will be too glad to bring and carry us, and we never shall dream of a war. Why the South has never yet had a just cause of war except with the North. Every time she has drawn her sword it has been on the point of honor, and that point of honor has been mainly loyalty to her sister colonies and sister States, who have ever since plundered and calumniated her. But if there were no other reason why we should never have war, would any sane nation make war on cotton? Without firing a gun, without drawing a sword, should they make war on us we could bring the whole world to our feet. The South is perfectly competent to go on, one, two, or three years without planting a seed of cotton. I believe that if she was to plant but half her cotton, for three years to come, it would be an immense advantage to her. I am not so sure but that after three years' entire abstinence she would come out stronger than ever she was before, and better prepared to enter afresh upon her great career of enterprise. What would happen if no cotton was furnished for three years? I will not stop to depict what every one can imagine, but this is certain: England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her save the South. No, you dare not make war on cotton. No power on earth dares to make war upon it. Cotton is King. Until lately the Bank of England was king; but she tried to put her screws as usual, the fall before the last, upon the cotton crop, and was utterly vanquished. The last power has been conquered. Who can doubt, that has looked at recent events, that cotton is supreme? When the abuse of credit had destroyed credit and annihilated confidence; when thousands of the strongest commercial houses in the world were coming down, and hundreds of millions of dollars of supposed property evaporating in thin air; when you came to a dead lock, and revolutions were threatened, what brought you up? Fortunately for you it was the commencement of the cotton season, and we have poured in upon you one million six hundred thousand bales of cotton just at the crisis to save you from destruction. That cotton, but for the bursting of your speculative bubbles in the North, which produced the whole of this convulsion, would have brought us $100,000,000. We have sold it for $65,000,000, and saved you. Thirty-five million dollars we, the slaveholders of the South, have put into the charity box for your magnificent financiers, your “cotton lords,” your “merchant princes.”
But, sir, the greatest strength of the South arises from the harmony of her political and social institutions. This harmony gives her a frame of society, the best in the world, and an extent of political freedom, combined with entire security, such as no other people ever enjoyed upon the face of the earth. Society precedes government; creates it, and ought to control it; but as far as we can look back in historic times we find the case different; for government is no sooner created than it becomes too strong for society, and shapes and moulds, as well as controls it. In later centuries the progress of civilization and of intelligence has made the divergence so great as to produce civil wars and revolutions; and it is nothing now but the want of harmony between governments and societies which occasions all the uneasiness and trouble and terror that we see abroad. It was this that brought on the American Revolution. We threw off a Government not adapted to our social system, and made one for ourselves. The question is, how far have we succeeded? The South, so far as that is concerned, is satisfied, harmonious, and prosperous, but demands to be let alone.
In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our purpose, and call them slaves. We found them slaves by the common “consent of mankind,” which, according to Cicero, “lex naturœ est.” The highest proof of what is Nature's law. We are old-fashioned at the South yet; slave is a word discarded now by “ears polite;” I will not characterize that class at the North by that term; but you have it; it is there; it is everywhere; it is eternal. The Senator from New York said yesterday that the whole world had abolished slavery. Aye, the name, but not the thing; all the powers of the earth cannot abolish that. God only can do it when he repeals the fiat, “the poor ye always have with you;” for the man who lives by daily labor, and scarcely lives at that, and who has to put out his labor in the market, and take the best he can get for it; in short, your whole hireling class of manual laborers and “operatives,” as you call them, are essentially slaves. The difference between us is, that our slaves are hired for life and well compensated; there is no starvation, no begging, no want of employment among our people, and not too much employment either. Yours are hired by the day, not cared for, and scantily compensated, which may be proved in the most painful manner, at any hour in any street in any of your large towns. Why, you meet more beggars in one day, in any single street of the city of New York, than you would meet in a lifetime in the whole South. We do not think that whites should be slaves either by law or necessity. Our slaves are black, of another and inferior race. The status in which we have placed them is an elevation. They are elevated from the condition in which God first created them, by being made our slaves. None of that race on the whole face of the globe can be compared with the slaves of the South. They are happy, content, unaspiring, and utterly incapable, from intellectual weakness, ever to give us any trouble by their aspirations. Yours are white, of your own race; you are brothers of one blood. They are your equals in natural endowment of intellect, and they feel galled by their degradation. Our slaves do not vote. We give them no political power. Yours do vote, and, being the majority, they are the depositaries of all your political power. If they knew the tremendous secret, that the ballot-box is stronger than “an army with banners,” and could combine, where would you be? Your society would be reconstructed, your government overthrown, your property divided, not as they have mistakenly attempted to initiate such proceedings by meeting in parks, with arms in their hands, but by the quiet process of the ballot-box. You have been making war upon us to our very hearthstones. How would you like for us to send lecturers and agitators North, to teach these people this, to aid in combining, and to lead them?
Mr. Wilson and others. Send them along.
Mr. Hammond. You say send them along. There is no need of that. Your people are awaking. They are coming here. They are thundering at our doors for homesteads, one hundred and sixty acres of land for nothing, and Southern Senators are supporting them. Nay, they are assembling, as I have said, with arms in their hands, and demanding work at $1,000 a year for six hours a day. Have you heard that the ghosts of Mendoza and Torquemada are stalking in the streets of your great cities? That the inquisition is at hand? There is afloat a fearful rumor that there have been consultations for Vigilance Committees. You know what that means.
Transient and temporary causes have thus far been your preservation. The great West has been open to your surplus population, and your hordes of semi-barbarian immigrants, who are crowding in year by year. They make a great movement, and you call it progress. Whither? It is progress; but it is progress towards Vigilance Committees. The South have sustained you in a great measure. You are our factors. You fetch and carry for us. One hundred and fifty million dollars of our money passes annually through your hands. Much of it sticks; all of it assists to keep your machinery together and in motion. Suppose we were to discharge you; suppose we were to take our business out of your hands; — we should consign you to anarchy and poverty. You complain of the rule of the South; that has been another cause that has preserved you. We have kept the Government conservative to the great purposes of the Constitution. We have placed it, and kept it, upon the Constitution; and that has been the cause of your peace and prosperity. The Senator from New York says that that is about to be at an end; that you intend to take the Government from us; that it will pass from our hands into yours. Perhaps what he says is true; it may be; but do not forget — it can never be forgotten — it is written on the brightest page of human history — that we, the slaveholders of the South, took our country in her infancy, and, after ruling her for sixty out of the seventy years of her existence, we surrendered her to you without a stain upon her honor, boundless in prosperity, incalculable in her strength, the wonder and the admiration of the world. Time will show what you will make of her; but no time can diminish our glory or your responsibility.
SOURCE: John F. Trow & Co., New York, New York, Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond of South Carolina, p. 301-22