South comes in, and in the most earnest manner represents to you, that this measure, which we are told “is of no value to the East or the West,” is “utterly destructive of our interests.” We represent to you, that it has spread ruin and devastation through the land, and prostrated our hopes in the dust. We solemnly declare that we believe the system to be wholly unconstitutional, and a violation of the compact between the States and the Union, and our brethren turn a deaf ear to our complaints, and refuse to relieve us from a system “which not enriches them, but makes us poor indeed.” Good God! has it come to this? Do gentlemen hold the feelings and wishes of their brethren at so cheap a rate, that they refuse to gratify them at so small a price? Do gentlemen value so lightly the peace and harmony of the country, that they will not yield a measure of this description to the affectionate entreaties and earnest remonstrances of their friends? Do gentlemen estimate the value of the Union at so low a price, that they will not even make one effort to bind the States together with the cords of affection? And has it come to this? Is this the spirit in which this Government is to be administered? If so, let me tell gentlemen the seeds of dissolution are already sown, and our children will reap the bitter fruit.
The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Webster] while he exonerates me personally from the charge, intimates that there is a party in the country who are looking to disunion. Sir, if the gentleman had stopped there, the accusation would “have passed by me as the idle wind which I regard not.” But, when he goes on to give to his accusation a local habitation and a name, by quoting the expression of a distinguished citizen of South Carolina, [Dr. Cooper] “that it was time for the South to calculate the value of the Union,” and, in the language of the bitterest sarcasm, adds, “surely then the Union cannot last longer than July, 1831,’’ it is impossible to mistake either the allusion or the object of the gentleman. Now I call upon every one who hears me to bear witness that this controversy is not of my seeking. The Senate will do me the justice to remember, that, at the time this unprovoked and uncalled for attack was made upon the South, not one word had been uttered by me in disparagement of New England, nor had I made the most distant allusion, either to the Senator from Massachusetts, or the State he represents. But, sir, that gentleman has thought proper, for purposes best known to himself, to strike the South through me, the most unworthy of her servants. He has crossed the border, he has invaded the State of South Carolina, is making war upon her citizens, and endeavoring to overthrow her principles and her institutions. Sir, when the gentleman provokes me to such a conflict, I meet him at the threshold. I will struggle while I have life, for our altars and our fire sides, and if God gives me strength, I will drive back the invader discomfited. Nor shall I stop there. If the gentleman provokes the war, he shall have war. Sir, I will not stop at the border; I will carry the war into the enemy’s territory, and not consent to lay down my arms, until I shall have obtained “indemnity for the past, and security for the future.” It is with unfeigned reluctance that I enter upon the performance of this part of my duty. I shrink almost instinctively from a course, however necessary, which may have a tendency to excite sectional feelings, and sectional jealousies. But, sir, the task has been forced upon me, and I proceed right onward to the performance of my duty; be the consequences what they may, the responsibility is with those who have imposed upon me this necessity. The Senator from Massachusetts has thought proper to cast the first stone, and if he shall find, according to a homely adage, “that he lives in a glass house,” on his head be the consequences. The gentleman has made a great flourish about his fidelity to Massachusetts. I shall make no professions of zeal for the interests and honor of South Carolina—of that my constituents shall judge. If there be one State in this Union (and I say it not in a boastful spirit) that may challenge comparison with any other for an uniform, zealous, ardent, and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that State is South Carolina. Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, however great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform. She has adhered to you in your prosperity, but in your adversity she has clung to you with more than filial affection. No matter what was the condition of her domestic affairs, though deprived of her resources, divided by parties, or surrounded by difficulties, the call of the country has been to her as the voice of God. Domestic discord ceased at the sound—every man became at once reconciled to his brethren, and the sons of Carolina were all seen crowding together to the temple, bringing their gifts to the altar of their common country. What, sir, was the conduct of the South during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in that glorious struggle. But great as is the praise which belongs to her, I think at least equal honor is due to the South. They espoused the quarrel of their brethren with a generous zeal, which did not suffer them to stop to calculate their interest in the dispute. Favorites of the mother country, possessed of neither ships nor seamen to create commercial rivalship, they might have found in their situation a guarantee that their trade would be forever fostered and protected by Great Britain. But trampling on all considerations, either of interest or of safety, they rushed into the conflict, and, fighting for principle, periled all in the sacred cause of freedom. Never was there exhibited, in the history of the world, higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering, and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during that Revolution. The whole State, from the mountains to the sea, was overrun by an overwhelming force of the enemy. The fruits of industry perished on the spot where they were produced, or were consumed by the foe. The “plains of Carolina” drank up the most precious blood of her citizens! Black and smoking ruins marked the places which had been the habitations of her children! Driven from their homes, into the gloomy and almost impenetrable swamps, even there the spirit of liberty survived, and South Carolina (sustained by the example of her Sumpters and her Marions) proved by her conduct, that, though her soil might be overrun, the spirit of her people was invincible.
But, sir, our country was soon called upon to engage in another revolutionary struggle, and that too was a struggle for principle—I mean the political revolution which dates back to ’ 98, and which, if it had not been successfully achieved, would have left us none of the fruits of the Revolution of ’ 76. The revolution of ’ 98 restored the constitution, rescued the liberty of the citizen from the grasp of those who were aiming at its life, and in the emphatic language of Mr. Jefferson, “saved the constitution at its last gasp.” And by whom was it achieved? By the South, sir, aided only by the democracy of the North and West.
I come now to the war of 1812—a war which I well remember was called, in derision, (while its event was doubtful) the Southern war, and sometimes the Carolina war; but which is now universally acknowledged to have done more for the honor and prosperity of the country, than all other events in our history put together. What, sir, were the objects of that war? “Free trade and sailors’ rights!” It was for the protection of Northern shipping and New England seamen that the country flew to arms. What interest had the South in that contest? If they had sat down coldly to calculate the value of their interests involved in it, they would have found that they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But, sir, with that generous devotion