Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the sectional difficulties. In his own language, “taken together in combination, they propose an amicable arrangement of all questions in controversy between the free and the slave States.” Mr. CALHoun, in a speech prepared by him with great care, but owing to his feeble health read by Mr. MASON, March 4, 1850, asserted that “The agitation has been permitted to proceed, with almost no attempts to resist it, until it has reached a period when it is no longer to be disguised or denied, that the Union is in danger.” “What is it that has endangered the Union ? To this question there can be but one answer: that the immediate cause is the almost universal discontent which pervades all the States composing the Southern section of the Union. This widely-extended discontent is not of recent origin.

It commenced with the agitation of the slavery question, and .

has been increasing ever since.” He goes on to ask, “What has caused this widely-diffused and almost universal discontent?” He then proceeds to show that it was not originated by demagogues; that all the great political influences were arrayed against excitement; that the Southern Whigs wished to keep the peace with their brother Whigs at the North; that the Southern Democrats wished to keep the peace with their brother Democrats at the North. “One of the causes is found in the long-continued agitation of the slave question on the part of the North, and the many aggressions made on the rights of the South during that time.” “There is another cause lying back of it, with which this is so intimately connected that it may be regarded as the great and primary cause; that is to be found in the fact that the equilibrium between the two sections of the Government, as it stood when the Constitution was ratified, and the Government put in action, is destroyed. At that time there was nearly a perfect equilibrium between the two, which afforded ample means, to each to protect itself against the aggressions of the other; but as it now stands, one section has the exclusive power of controlling the Government, which leaves the other without any adequate means of protecting itself against its encroachment and oppression.” The change arising from the increase of States and the increase of population, gives to the North a majority in the House of 50, and in the electoral college of 52.

“The great increase of Senators, added to the great increase of numbers in the House of Representatives and in the electoral college, on the part of the North, which must take place under the next decade, will effectually and irretrievably destroy the equilibrium which existed when the Government commenced. - -“Had this destruction been the operation of time, without the interference of Government, the South would have had no reason to complain; but such was not the fact. It was caused by the legislation of this Government, which was appointed as the common agent of all, and charged with the protection of the interests and security of all. The legislation by which it has been effected may be classed under three heads: The first is that series of acts by which the South had been excluded from the common territory belonging to all of the States, as the members of the Federal Union, and which soon had the effect of extending vastly the portion allotted to the Northern section, and restricting within narrow limits the portion left to the South. The next consists in adopting a system of revenue and disbursements, by which an undue portion of the burden of taxation has been imposed on the South, and an undue proportion of the proceeds appropriated to the North. And the last is a system of political measures, by which the original character of the Government has been radically changed. “The first of the series of acts by which the South was deprived of its due share of the Territories, originated with the Confederacy, which preceded the existence of this Government. . It is to be found in the ordinance of 1787. Its effect was to ex-X clude the South entirely from that vast and fertile region which lies between the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers, now embracing five States and one Territory. The next of the series is the Missouri Compromise, which excluded the South from that ". large portion of Louisiana which lies north of 36° 30', except what is included in the State of Missouri. The last in the series, excluded the South from the whole Oregon Territory. All these, in the slang of the day, were what is called slave Territories, and not free soil; that is, Territories belonging to slaveholding powers, and open to the emigration of masters with their slaves. By these several acts the South was excluded

from 1,238,025 square miles. To the South was left the portion of the Territory of Louisiana lying south of 36° 30', and the portion north of it included in the State of Missouri; the portion lying south of 36° 30', including the States of Louisiana and Arkansas; and the Territory lying west of the latter and south of 36° 30', called the Indian country. These, with the Territory of Florida, now the State, makes in the whole 283,503 square miles. To this must be added the territory acquired with Texas. If the whole should be added to the Southern section, it would make an increase of 325,520, which would make the whole left to the South 609,023. But a large part of Texas is still in contest between the two sections, which leaves it uncertain what will be the real extent of the portion of territory that may be left to the South. “I have not included the territory recently acquired by the treaty with Mexico. The North is making the most strenuous efforts to appropriate the whole to herself, by excluding the South from every foot of it. If she should succeed, it will add to that from which the South has already been excluded, 526,078 square miles, and would increase the whole which the North has appropriated to herself to 1,764,023, not including the portion that she may succeed in excluding us from in Texas. To sum up the whole, the United States, since they declared their independence, have acquired 2,373,046 square miles of territory, from which the North will have excluded the South, if she should succeed in monopolizing the newly acquired territories, from about three-fourths of the whole, leaving to the South but about one-fourth. “Such is the first and great cause that has destroyed the equilibrium between the two sections in the Government. “The next is the system of revenue and disbursements, which has been adopted by the Government. It is well known that the Government has derived its revenue mainly from duties on imports. I shall not undertake to show that such duties must necessarily fall mainly on the exporting States, and that the South, as the great exporting portion of the Union, has in reality paid vastly more than her due proportion of the revenue; because I deem it unnecessary, as the subject has on so many occasions been fully discussed. Nor shall I, for the same

reason, undertake to show that a far greater portion of the revenue has been disbursed at the North than its due share, and that the joint effect of these causes has been to transfer a vast amount from South to North, which, under an equal system of revenue and disbursements, would not have been lost to her. If to this be added, that many of the duties were imposed, not for revenue, but for protection; that is, intended to put money, not in the treasury, but directly into the pockets of the manufacturers, some conception may be formed of the immense amount which, in the long course of sixty years, has been transferred from South to North. There are no data by which it can be estimated with any certainty ; but it is safe to say that it amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars. Under the most moderate estimate, it would be sufficient to add greatly to the wealth of the North, and thus greatly increase her population by attracting emigration from all quarters to that section. “This, combined with the great primary cause, amply explains why the North has acquired a preponderance over every department of the Government by its disproportionate increase of population and States. The former, as has been shown, has increased in fifty years 2,400,000 over that of the South. This increase of population during so long a period, is satisfactorily accounted for by the number of emigrants, and the increase of their descendants, which have been attracted to the Northern section from Europe and the South, in consequence of the advantages derived from the causes assigned. If they had not existed; if the South had retained all the capital which has been extracted from her by the fiscal action of the Government; and, if it had not been excluded by the ordinance of ’87 and the Missouri Compromise from the region lying between the Ohio and the Mississippi Rivers, and between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains north of 36° 30', it scarcely admits of a doubt that it would have divided the emigration with the North, and by retaining her own people, would have at least equalled the North in population under the census of 1840, and probably under that about to be taken. She would also, if she had retained her equal rights in those territories, have maintained an equality in the number of States with the North, and have preserved the equilibrium between the two sections that

existed at the commencement of the Government. The loss, then, of the equilibrium is to be attributed to the action of this Government. But while these measures were destroying the equilibrium between the two sections, the action of the Government was leading to a radical change in its character, by concentrating all the power of the system in itself. The occasion will not permit me to trace the measures by which this great change has been consummated. If it did, it would not be difficult to show that the process commenced at an early period of the Government; that it proceeded almost without interruption, step by step, until it absorbed virtually its entire powers. But without going through the whole. process to establish the fact, it may be done satisfactorily by a very short statement. That the Government claims, and practically maintains, the right to decide, in the last resort, as to the extent of its powers, will scarcely be denied by any one conversant with the political history of the country. That it also claims the right to resort to force, to maintain whatever power she claims against all opposition, is equally certain. Indeed it is apparent, from what we daily hear, that this has become the prevailing and fixed opinion of a great majority of the community. Now, I ask, what limitation can possibly be placed upon the powers of a Government claiming and exercising such rights? And, if none can be, how can the separate Governments of the States maintain and protect the powers reserved to them by the Constitution, or the people of the several States maintain those which are reserved to them, and among others, the sovereign powers by which they ordained and established, not only their separate State Constitutions and Governments, but also the Constitution and Government of the United States? But, if they have no constitutional means of maintaining them against the right claimed by this Government, it necessarily follows that they hold them at its pleasure and discretion, and that all the powers of the system are in reality concentrated in it. It also follows that the character of the Government has been changed, in consequence, from a Federal Republic, as it originally came from the hands of its framers, and that it has been changed into a great national consolidated Democracy. It has indeed, at present, all the characteristics of the latter, and not one of the former, although it

« ZurückWeiter »