Speech to the Mississippi State Democratic Convention

Speech to the Mississippi State Democratic Convention
by Jefferson Davis

Delivered 1859.

3118885Speech to the Mississippi State Democratic ConventionJefferson Davis

New-York Daily Tribune.

A Mississippi View of Politics.

Slavery and the Slave-Trade Defended.

The Black Man Severely Handled.

Cuba a Necessity.

Address of the Hon. Jefferson Davis before the
Democratic State Convention in the City of
Jackson, July 6, 1859.

My Friends: Again it has been granted to me to mingle with you in the periodical reunion of our political family; again to look upon the well-remembered faces associated with the memory of so many struggles for the cause of Democracy, sacred to use as to the cause of truth and of our country.

Accustomed, as a Representative of the State, and frequently to address those who listen with purpose to controvert, if not to misinterpret, it is a grateful privilege to exchange opinions with those who have a common sympathy and from whose opposition one can but expect the correction of error, until final agreement is reached by the establishment of truth.

The occasion, the circumstances, and the heady greeting with which you welcome me home, bring to me such joy as the mariner may feel, when, his trials ended, his doubts and fears are resolved by seeing the smoke of his own cottage and the shadows of the trees which speak to his heart of affection and rest.

The purpose for which we were assembled has been achieved, and we are about to disperse each and all in their appropriate sphere to labor for the common good. You have chosen our standard bearers not for their own, but for the public interest—for Democracy regards Government as the property of the people, and recognizes no proscriptive right to office. You have met the issues of the day as becomes a party whose characteristics are stability and progress. While the world is changing, and new relations, material and moral, are the result, you cannot stereotype a form of expression for your opinions; neither can the principles which are eternal and of universal application, be too often reasserted. To stand still, or to walk with retroverted eyes, would ill become the genius of our age, and still less the condition of our country. It is ours to deal with the present, and look to the future, and it is only by walking out from the shadows of the past that its lights become available to our onward course. By the bold encounter of power and the arraignment of precedent, all the great victories have been won. The history of our predecessors furnishes both incentive and a chart. Had they listened to the counsel of “conservatism,” and in view of the hazards of expansion and the mingling of different nations and languages in our Confederacy, Louisiana, and Florida, and California, had not been of us. Had they shrunk from the conflict with which monarchy threatened republicanism, the time-honored policy of “no entangling alliances” had not remained to us, but in lieu of it, we should have been under treaty stipulation forbidding us in any event to acquire the Island of Cuba. Your duty is twofold—your responsibility is immeasurable. It is yours to maintain the Constitution, and to adapt it to the changes of time and of circumstance, that the purposes for which it was ordained may be realized by ourselves and posterity; it is yours to develop the institutions we inherited, to their greatest capacity; and your responsibility embraces all the hopes which depend upon the demonstration of man’s capacity for self government.

For more than fifty years have Democratic principles prevailed in the administration of our Government. The fame, the prosperity, the growth and happiness of our country, attest the adaptation of our theory to a confederation of Free and Sovereign States. We have pride in the past, we have zeal for the present; may we not have hope for the future?

If I may use the form of interrogation, is it not because I am prone to despair of the Republic, but because we are necessarily cognizant of the fact that the unity of the people of the States is disturbed by a sectional, fanatical hostility, as irrational as it is vicious. However well it may serve to fan the flame of local excitement, and to promote the personal ambition of an aspirant, the idea of incompatibility for the purposes of our Union because of different systems of labor in the States, is palpably absurd, and would be suicidal if the purpose avowed were attainable. Thought the defense of African Slavery (thus is it commonly called) is left to the South, the North are jointly benefited by it. Deduct from their trade and manufactures all which is dependent upon the products of slave labor, their prosperity would fade, and poverty would come upon them “as one that traveleth.” Our fathers wisely saw harmony in diversity, and mutuality in the opposite character of the climate, population, and pursuits of the people in the different States. But to them the proposition was far less apparent than it is to us. A vast expansion of territory, and the addition to the list of its productions of the great staples of our country’s exports, have given to free trade between the States a value which could not have been fully anticipated. All of the necessities, and nearly all of the luxuries of life, are now produced within the limits of the United States, and exchanged for each other without other charge than the cost of transportation. The day, I hope, is not distant, when by the acquisition of tropical territory, we shall complete the circle of products.

What but fatuity could cause a commercial manufacturing people to overlook their advantage in such a relation as that which exists between the North and the South? Ours is an agricultural people, blessed with a fruitful soil and genial climate; the elements unite with man to render his labor profitable. We have, under these circumstances, no inducement to engage in a general competition with those who, for want of land and by rigor of climate find in the workshops their only industrial employment. Stimulated by class legislation, and aided by taxes indirectly wrung from other pursuits, it has had a further extension that this—but I speak of its just and normal condition—such as will exist when, under the operation of equal laws, no other Federal tax shall be imposed upon the citizen than that which is necessary to enable the General Government to perform its delegated functions. That errors of theory and practice should occur in the administration of a system of government as novel and complex as ours, should not excite surprise; and the facility with which reform has from time to time been introduced, proves how complete are the compensating advantages of our new system. Errors of judgment, or from want of information, cannot destroy the principles of our Government, and of such it was truly said “they are never dangerous while reason is left free to combat them.”

It is, however, otherwise when division is made on a geographical basis; and it has been our fortune to witness this last worst phase of political division. A party too powerful to be unheeded, and marked, as nations are distinguished, by territorial limits, is now organized for the destruction of the labor system of the South, and seeks to obtain possession of the General Government that its machinery may be used in and of their war upon our existence as a sovereign State.

Such would be the consequence of success in the nefarious object the pursuit of which they avow. Their movement has no longer the character of speculative philosophy. It is not the political division of a people because of different opinions upon matters of joint interest; but it is in the nature of foreign war waged for conquest and dominion.

So far as the abstract to hold the African in bondage is concerned, we have cause to congratulate ourselves on the progress which within the last ten years truth and sound philosophy have made.

Anterior to that time it had been the habit of Southern men to refuse to discuss a question of strictly domestic concernment with those who assumed to invade it. Thus, for a long period, error scattered her seeds broadcast over the land, while reason, in over confidence, stood passive. The recent free discussion by the press, and on the forum, have dispelled delusions which had obscured the mind of a generation until even among ourselves it was more easy to find the apologist than the defender. The case is now so far reversed, that many Northern men have addressed themselves to the task of defending our constitutional rights, on the ground of their justice; and there is not probably an intelligent mind among our own citizens who doubts either the moral or the legal right of the institution of African Slavery as it exists in our country.

It is not a little curious to note the fluctuations of English and American, of Northern and of Southern opinion, upon this subject.

During the colonial condition, Great Britain not only protected the slave-trade, but denied to the Colonies the right to prohibit the importation of negro slaves into their respective territory. Now she is the source of an agitation against the United States, because the descendants of the negroes so imported are held in bondage.

The Northern States once held slaves, and their acts of emancipation generally followed the transfer of the property to the Southern States; their people engaged in the importation of African slaves, and now persecute the South, though holding by purchase from them; and the sons of those who conducted the trade would throw upon us the task of defending their fathers from the charge of having been pirates and man-stealers.

It is not unfrequently asserted, and it has been effective in creating a prejudice against us, that slave-holders exercised an undue influence in the affairs of the General Government, as shown by the fact that their property had been specially favored by legislation. If the statement be innocently made it is surely erroneous, as a glance at our history will show it has been the subject of peculiar inhibition and obstruction, and has received less than the ordinary amount of protection by Government. In 1787, when Virginia, in a spirit of generosity, and to promote the formation of the Union, had ceded to the north-west, territory sufficient in extent and natural capacity for an empire, the Congress of the Confederation assumed to set the seal of its disapprobation on the institution of Slavery by excluding it from all of that vast domain.

In the Convention which formed the Constitution, the opponents of African servitude, after having vainly sought for the General Government the power to prohibit the importation of slaves, succeeded in inserting a clause which has been construed as declaring such prohibition after 1808. In 1818, the Congress enacted a law which fixed penalties upon the importation of negro slaves, of such magnitude as exhibits not the purpose to exercise the power of commercial regulation, but to prohibit it as a species of commerce which should be destroyed. In 1820, the Congress, as the condition of admitting a slaveholding State, carved out of territory to which by treaty were secured all the rights of person and property, prohibited the continuance of involuntary servitude in all that portion of the territory which lay exterior to and north of the State then admitted.

Call they it favor when the price demanded and paid for the enjoyment of an indisputable political right was the surrender of a right of property equally unquestionable, both resting on the basis of the Constitution, and fortified by the specific obligations of the treaty with France for the acquisition of the territory?

In the same year, a period prolific of departures from the principles of our Government, the Congress, by legislative act, declared the slave trade to be piracy, thus not only withholding from an American citizen who should engage in this trade the protection of his Government, but withdrawing from him the right to be tried under the laws and by the courts of his own land; pronounced him the enemy of mankind, and abandoned him to the mercy of whomsoever should capture him.

This law is not to be confounded with that of 1818. They differ essentially in their effect; their policy, and the authority which must be relied on to maintain their validity. From the power to regulate commerce, to conduct foreign intercourse, and to establish rules of naturalization, much may be drawn in relation to the migration or importation of persons. I am not prepared to deny that it may not extend to exclusion, yet as a general rule it would be more consonant with the genius of our Government and the rights of the States to leave the subject to the control of the several States, as a domestic interest, which each community can best decide for itself. There are few, if any, among us, who would admit that the General Government possesses that power to authorize the importation into a State of persons to whom admission was forbidden by the laws of that State. In this connection it deserves to be remembered that upon this point arose the early controversy between the State of Virginia and the General Government, and it will also be remembered that if viewed simply as a question of commerce, the Congress have no greater power over the foreign, than over the inter-State trade.

But how stands the case in relation to the act of 1820, declaring the slave trade to be piracy! From what clause of the Constitution is the authority for that act derived? It is commonly assigned, and I know of no other source, to the grant of power “to define and punish piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations.” To “define” is not to create or to give a new meaning; and to punish offenses against the law of nations is not authority to introduce a new article into the code. Conceding the power for justifiable reasons to exclude the importation of a particular class of persons, authority surely cannot be thence deduced to assume control over the trade of other nations, and by a police of the seas to destroy & trade between two foreign nations which is recognized by the laws of both; or to brand as nefarious a traffic which has existed from the earliest period of human history, and been conducted by nations which have most illustrated the annals of man. So great a departure from well-established policy and obvious principle suggests the inquiry by whom and for what purpose was it made? I have been satisfied that it was one of those departures which result from substituting a temporary expediency for immutable truth.

After the termination of the general wars which prevailed in the early part of this century, roving and adventurous men, accustomed to the hazards of military life, were thrown out of employment, and every sea on which there was the temptation of commerce became infested with pirates. Expelled elsewhere, they at last made a lodgment in the West Indies. About the time the treaty for the transfer of Florida to the United States, an organized band seized the Island of Fernandina, and assumed to exercise dominion over it. They were understood to be pirates generally, and to be engaged in the slave-trade particularly. President Madison sent an expedition of naval and land forces to take possession of the island, and the Congress of the next year (1820) passed the act which declares the slave-trade to be piracy. There is reason to believe that this was done, not in hostility to slave property, but to the pirates who had engaged in the trade. The previous law had interdicted the importation into the United States, and there was no doubt also a purpose by the act of 1820 to render the prohibition of 1818 more effectual.

If considerations of public safety or interest warranted the termination of the trade, they could not justify the Government in branding as infamous the source from which the chief part of our laboring population was derived.

It is this feature of the law which makes it offensive to us, and stimulates us to strive for its repeal. What, let me ask, has been its result? It has magnified the horrors of the middle passage; it has led us to an alliance with Great Britain, by which we are bound to keep a naval squadron on the deadly coast of Africa, where American sailors are sacrificed to a foreign policy, urged under the false plea of humanity; it has destroyed a lucrative trade for ivory, oil, and gold-dust, which our merchants had long conducted with the inhabitante of the coast, and transferred it to our commercial rivals, the British. Truly have we gone “out a shearing to come home shorn.” The manner, as I have been informed, in which our trade has been destroyed, is generally this: An American vessel of the character which engages in that trade, when boarded by a British cruiser on the coast of Africa, if she shows the flag and papers of an American trader, will be turned over to a vessel of our squadron, and probably be sent home for trial as pirates, but if her flag and papers are thrown overboard, then, the slave-trade not being piracy by the law of nations (notwithstanding our statute), the vessel is held as the prize of her captors, and the officers and crew are discharged. A recent instance has occurred in which a vessel sent home for trial was discharged on the ground that the circumstances did not warrant the conclusion that she visited the coast of Africa to engage in the slave-trade.

My friend Senator Clay of Alabama (his services entitle him to the friendship of the South), as Chairman of the Committee of Commerce, instituted, at the last session of Congress, au inquiry into the facts connected with the maintenance of our squadron on the coast of Africa, and I hope his energy and ability may lead to the annulment of a treaty which has been productive only of evil.

Before leaving this question it may be proper to notice the fact that the argument drawn from the language of the Constitution, that its framers understood be Government to have power to prohibit the trade and only restricted for a time its exercise, is subject to all the deductions made by the amendments to the instrument, and the mode of its exercise to all the restrictions contained in it. The broad and earliest distinction between the Federalists and the Republicans, was that the former were for the Constitution as formed, and the latter for the Constitution as amended. Indeed, we have reason to believe that but for the assurance that amendments would be adopted, the Republicans would have rejected the Constitution. One of these amendments declared that the powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the States, were reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. It is under this clause that we have claimed the duty of the General Government to show a specific grant for every power it assumes to exercise, and have required that laws should be needful and proper to the performance of the function, such being the defined purpose of the grant of legislative power. Another of those amendments restrains the General Government from imposing excessive fines or inflicting cruel and unusual punishments.

If I have succeeded in showing that the set of 1820 was not authorized by any express grant of the Constitution, the first amendment cited is sufficient; but if I have failed in this, then does not the second amendment stand in bar of that enactment? A decision on this question by the Supreme Court, might, if possible, render doubly absurd the rant of those who term an infraction of that statute treason, and thus commit, no piracy, but “murder of the king’s English.”

Regarding the slave trade as sanctioned by the immemorial usage of mankind, as a commerce recognized by the Constitution, but which, from motives of internal policy, it was thought proper to prohibit, and conceding that sufficient power for that purpose existed in the General Government, it may well be asked whether the fine of the act of 1818 is not excessive—whether the penalty of both fine and imprisonment does not so far exceed the offense as, at least, to be impolitic. In our land of liberty and jury trials, laws, to be efficient, must not violate the settled, well-considered public opinion, nor go so far between the legitimate object at to wear the semblance of vindictive pursuit, lest they thus excite the heart of a generous people to sympathy with the offender. It will be a sad day for our Government, and for the public morals, when unwise legislation shall drive Juries to the practical nullification of laws.

I have said that I would prefer to leave the subject of the importation of African slaves to the States respectively; but, viewing it as utterly impracticable to obtain the repeal of the act of 1818, so as to reopen the African slave trade, it is perhaps needless to speak of the case which would arise in each contingency. Yet, as my purpose is the freest interchange of opinions, I will say that in such event, the State being left free from any Congressional intervention on the subject, my policy would be to maintain the existing law of Mississippi, which was designed, and would no doubt be effective, to prevent the importation of Africans into the limits of our State. Let no one, however, suppose that this indicates any coincidence of opinion with those who prate of the inhumanity and sinfulness of the trade. No consequence which would justify such denunciation can flow from the transfer of a slave from a savage to a Christian master. It is not the interest of the African, but of Mississippi, which dictates my conclusion. Her place in history, her rank among the States, her power to maintain constitutional and natural rights, depend upon her people—the free, intelligent, high-minded sons of the governing race.

Her arm is no doubt strengthened by the presence of a due proportion of the servile caste, but it might be paralyzed by such an influx as would probably follow if the gates of the African slave-market were thrown open to the present wealth, enterprise and staple stimulants of the State. I would prefer a policy which would promote the more equal distribution of those we now have.

This conclusion in relation to Mississippi, is based upon my view of her present condition, not upon any general theory. For instance, it is not supposed to be applicable to Texas, to New-Mexico, or to any future acquisitions to be made south of the Rio Grande.

All of these countries which can only be developed by slave labor in some of its forms, and which, with a sufficient supply of African slaves, would be made tributary to the great mission of the United States, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, and to establish peace and free trade with all mankind.

The demand for cotton increases more rapidly than the supply. A freer trade with China, adding the consumption of which her three hundred millions of people are capable, will, in a few years, require an increase of production, which can only be met by an additional supply of laborers. Where are they to be obtained? If Negropholism seeks to substitute the China or India man for the African, it will but neglect the lessons of experience, and uselessly repeat the cruelties for the suppression of which the African was originally imporced into America. I am stating on this subject facts familiar to you, conclusions confirmed by your everyday observation, but which are denied by those who are not practically acquainted with the cultivation of our staples, the influences of the climate suited to their growth, or the characteristics of the negro race, and continue to assert that our system of labor is unnecessary, because those crops could as well be produced by white and free negro laborers. What can better show their unfitness to legislate on this subject of domestic interest? What more fully justify the propriety of leaving the importation of laborers to be regulated by State legislation, according to a policy to be determined by those who can best understand it, and on whom its consequences must fall?

With this general indication of my view, I leave this branch of the subject to the time when, if ever, it may become a practical question, and then will discuss it with those true friends of the South who differ from me, with the respect which I have for their judgment, the confidence I have in their honorable motives, and the diffidence with which I would on any occasion oppose my opinion to theirs.

It was said of the members of a once powerful family which gave kings to Europe, that they “learned nothing and forgot nothing.” If we credit the anti-slavery agitators with sincerity, such would seem to be their condition. Though investigation and experiment have disproved the assertions and refuted the theories on which their movement commenced, they neither learn the correction nor forget exploded errors unsubstantially founded upon the popular phrases which they have brought into disrepute by constant misapplication. A declaration of rights made by bodies politic is construed as an essay upon the individual relations of man to man. Arguing to their own satisfaction for the unity in origin of the races of man, they draw thence the conclusion of his present equality. If the premises be correct, the conclusion is surely a non sequitur, and the student of facts as they exist in our time will not be disturbed in his inquiries. As to him, it matters not whether Almighty power and wisdom stamped diversity on the races of men at the period of the creation, or decreed it after the subsidence of the flood. It is enough for us that the Creator, speaking through the inspired lips of Noah, declared the destiny of the three races of men. Around and about us is the remarkable fulfilment of the prophecy, the execution of the decree, and the justification of our literal construction of the text.

The judgments of God are not as those of man. To the former all things are accommodated, and the fate of the subject is thereby his nature, but the victim of man’s decree rebels and struggles against his condition.

When the Spaniards discovered this continent and reduced the sons of Shem to bondage, unsuited to that condition they pined and rapidly wasted away in unproductive labor. The good Bishop Las Casas with philosophical humanity inaugurated the importation of the race of Ham; they came to relieve from an unnatural state the dwellers in tents, and to fulfil their own destiny, that of being the “servant of servants.” In their normal condition, they thrived and by their labor the land was subdued and made fruitful. The West India Islands became marvels for their productiveness and so continued until man assuming to reverse the working of nature’s laws gave to the black a boon he could utilize or estimate save as it brought to him slothful or vicious indulgence, and thus remanding him to barbarism robbed him of the plenty, the comfort and the civilization with which in servitude he was blessed. Reckless, indeed, must that man be who in the face of the results which have followed negro emancipation in the West Indies and Hispano America would seek under similar circumstances to repeat the experiment.

It is a common and natural mistake to attribute to others the sentiments and feelings which move ourselves, but this is only excusable as the basis of political action, in the absence of more reliable data. The history of man traced back to the period which has left none other than pictorial records, exhibits the negro in all times as the subservient race. No where has be shown capacity to found civil government. At no time has he asserted his equality by separating himself from the master race, to establish an independent community of his own. In the Northern States, where a false sentiment has prevailed, and the greatest efforts have been made by enthusiasts to raise the negro to social equality, he is still subjected to such odious discriminations, as persons fit to be free would not for a day voluntarily endure. For far less cause the Puritans embarked for the inhospitable shores of New England, and the Huguenots penetrated the swamps of Carolina, with no sustaining hand to aid and to guide them. The world bears witness to the triumphs which both have achieved.

How stands the case of the negro, in the non-slave-holding States? Free to go in advance of settlement, into the wilderness of the West, and there to found a colony of their own, exempt from the inferiority they must ever experience while in contact with the white man, they have continued to hang about the towns and cities, and generally to gain their subsistence by menial service to the white race.

But speculative philanthropy imagined that if a colony were established in the land of his forefathers, the African would there exhibit his capacity for self-government. With this view, in 1816, a Colonization Society was formed. Its purpose was the transfer of the free blacks from the United States to the coast of Africa, and the benign promise was the diffusion among their barbarian brethren of the civilization and Christianity which these colorists had acquired through servitude in America.

The experiment was made under the most favorable circumstances. The colonists had been trained to industry and order, and were, it must be inferred from the circumstances, of the best class of their race. The Society embraced in its lists of members many of the first men of our country, and the zeal with which their purpose was pursued would have won success if it had been attainable. Munificent donations by individuals, liberal aid by the churches, heavy expenditures by the general Government have buoyed this colony up from its infancy to the present day. What have been the results? Upon the authority of a seemingly friendly and fair writer giving an account of Liberia as he found it, it appears that in 1838, thirty-eight years after its first settlement, the whole population was less than the number of emigrants by thirty-three per cent. That they have few domestic animals; that the great body of the Liberians do not obtain a supply of animal food sufficient for daily use, that in a country well suited to agriculture more than half of the inhabitants are living on quarter-acre lots; that the natives or wild Africans do the work of beasts of burden; that the colonists import a large part of their subsistence which is paid for by trade with the natives, toward whom no feeling of common brotherhood is evinced; that Liberia called in all gravity a Republic “may be said to live by the labor (and on the alms) of foreigners.”

Is it kindness, is it charity, is it sound policy, to transfer a useful and happy body of laborers from the protection of our laws, and the benefit of our civilization, that they may possess a liberty they cannot enjoy, suffer a privation for which to them no political privilege is an adequate compensation, and finally when left to themselves lapse into the barbarism of their ancestors? If to this view, it is objected that the reasoning does not embrace the condition of those who have a worthless population of free negroes among them, I can only reply that the difference of view depends upon the stand-point, and that such answer to my argument vindicates our institution of African bondage from the assaults which have been made upon it, by proving that the good of society requires that the negro should be kept in he normal condition.

A British Minister to the United States, when some years since writing to an agent in Central America, said that Slavery constituted the only question in the politics of the United States. It was and is, most unfortunately, near to the truth. The seed sent out from Exeter Hall found congenial soil in the Northern States, and has produced embarrassments and controversies more fatal to the peace and progress of the United States than would have been a quadrennial war with a foreign power.

In your resolutions you have asserted the right to protection by the General Government, for the property of citizens of the several States who may settle on the common domain, the territory of the United States. As a consequence of the equality of the States, and the correlation of allegiance and protection, your proposition would seem to clear for argument.

Nor, indeed, has it been denied, except in view of the performance of the duty toward one kind of property, and it is hazarding little to foretell that your resolution, though general in its terms, will be construed ae having a single application to property in slaves.

Thus a like proposition was treated in the Congressional debate of 1850 on the so-called compromise measures. It is not my purpose to review generally the objections heretofore stated to that legislation. Mississippi decided to acquiesce in it, and her judgment was final on her citizens to the extent of all which was a matter of volition. Opinion is not the creature of will, and mine remains unchanged, though my action has conformed to my allegiance.

I will merely refer to that part of the legislation which specially bears upon the subject now under consideration.

In the bill reported for the organization of the Territory of New-Mexico, there was a general grant of legislative power, with a reservation that no law should be passed “in respect to African Slavery.” Believing that this was an inhibition against the enactment by the Territorial Legislature of any law for the protection of that species of property, and but too fully apprized that the reservation was not made with intent to afford such protection by Congressional enactment, I proposed to amend the bill by striking out the restraint against legislation “in respect to African Slavery,” and inserting a prohibition against the enactment of any law which would interfere “with those rights of property growing out of the institution of African Slavery as it exists in any of the States of this Union.” In conformity to the views and wishes of some Southern Senators, the amendment was several times modified so as finally to present the general proposition that the Territorial Legislature should not be prevented from passing the laws necessary for the protection of the rights of property of every kind which might be legally and constitutionally held in that Territory. In this general form the proposition was brought to a vote, and defeated. Was it veneration for the decree of a Mexican Dictator which withheld an acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Constitution, or was it hate of the South, which caused a majority thus tenaciously to preserve the decree of a Government which obstructed the equal enjoyment by all citizens of the United States of the property held by joint tenure, and won by their common toil, blood, and treasure?

At a subsequent period, the bill was amended, on the motion of Mr. Berrien of Georgia, by striking out the words “in respect to African Slavery,” and inserting a provision to restrain the Territorial Legislature from “establishing or prohibiting African Slavery.” In that dark period for Southern rights, we should not probably have gained even that much, but for the conviction on the part of the majority that slave property was sufficiently excluded by the “lex loci” of Mexico, and would require legislation to establish it.

Though defeated on that occasion, Southern rights gained much by the discussion. The victory of error is but for a day; the vigor of truth is eternal.

When the same question arose again in 1854, on the bill for the organization of Kansas and Nebraska, the original draft was modified so as to declare that the Constitution should have the same force and effect in these Territories as elsewhere in the United States, and the obstruction to the enjoyment in that Territory of equal rights by the citizens of the Southern States, known as the Missouri Compromise, was swept from the statute book, which was the legitimate consequence of the refusal to extend that line to the Pacific through the Territories acquired from Mexico. What were our constitutional rights in the Territories, remained an open question, being designedly left for judicial decision.

Thanks to the care of our fathers for the rights of minorities, an umpire was provided for such controversies, which, removed from the influence of popular excitement, and the power of political parties, was left free to discriminate between truth and error, and, without fear or favor, to do justice. That umpire has decided the issue in our favor; and, though placemen may evade, and fanatics rail, the judgment stands the rule of right, and claims the respect and obedience of every citizen of the United States.

But now, when the matter in controversy which has so long impeded and prevented the action of Congress has been finally decided according to the provisions of our fundamental law, there are those who seek to revive the controversy by indirection and deny the obligation of the General Government to give efficacy to constitutional rights which have been established beyond the limits of legitimate denial. What could be meaner than the reply to our demand for adequate protection—though you have gained the suit in the issue we joined and in the manner agreed upon, yet we cannot consent that you should have whatever remedies are needful to secure the future enjoyment of the right you have established!

The Government which withholds all practicable and rightful protection to its citizens forfeits its claim to allegiance and support. To establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and provide for the common defense, were the great purposes for which our Union was formed. It was in the discharge of these great duties, which he who swears to defend the Constitution may find declared in its preamble, that we waged the war of 1812. To protect our merchantmen from detention and search upon the high seas, and to defend our citizens, native and naturalized, from impressment, we inscribed on our banner “Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights,” and all unprepared as we were, threw the wager of battle to the mistress of the seas.

In your resolutions, you have well denied that we are estopped from demanding protection by acquiescence in the doctrine of non-intervention with the instituion of Slavery in the States, Territories, or District of Columbia. I will not undertake to define the new doctrine of “non-intervention;” shadowy and variable, it may be classed with what a preacher termed the third division of his subject, that of which he knew nothing, and which his hearers could not possibly understand. It may be assumed that if the interpretation which you now deny had been sent with the proposition to the people of Mississippi, they never would have acquiesced in it.

The doctrine had its orign in worthy motives, and was used for a good purpose, to check the fanaticism which strove for hostile legislation—what is commonly called the “Wilmot Proviso.” Though a feeble barrier, it was, perhaps, not wholly useless, and may have served to gain the time necessary for the people to reflect, and to rally. But he stultifies himself who appeals to the legislation of 1850 to sustain this modern construction, which denies the right of Congress to do anything in relation slave property, either in the Territories, States, or District of Columbia. Among those measures, called the Compromise, there was one which, on the plea of an unsettled question of boundary, transferred territory from the slaveholding laws of Texas to those of New-Mexico; another to give to the Supreme Court of New-Mexico an appeal in all cases involving titles to slaves, though the amount should not be equal to that which was required in other cases; another to give a more efficacious remedy for the recovery of fugitive slaves found within the limits of the States; another which affixed emancipation of the slave as a penalty upon the owner who should bring him into the District of Columbia, and there keep him, with intent to tell him at some future time, and at some other place. It needed not this recent evasion to make me feel the offense of the last-cited act. In other times and places I have said hard and thought harder things of these who thus outraged our equality in the neutral territory ceded for the seat of a common Government. From such non-intervention we might pray to be delivered.

If the question were fairly submitted to the intelligent minds in any portion of our country, Shall the General Government have the meats which will enable it to give adequate protection to person and property of American citizens on the high seas, and wherever on land it has jurisdiction, I will not doubt what the answer would be. And this confidence is felt even by those who adopt delusive phrases to excite to prejudice; such as the adoption “of a slave code by Congress,” “to force Slavery on an unwilling people;” and others as unfounded in fact.

Our assertion of a right to protection does not necessarily involve the enactment of additional laws, nor would any laws give security, unless they were honestly administered.

The position so long held by the South, that the Constitution, as the supreme law of the land, extended to the Territories, and as it recognized property in slaves, so authorized their introduction into the Territories—the common domain of the United States, has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. The decree or public—not municipal—law which inhibited Slavery in all the territory acquired from Mexico was therefore repealed by its transfer to the jurisdiction of the United States: but, if the rules of proceeding remain unchanged, then all the remedies of the civil law would be available for the protection of property in slaves, or if the language of the organic act, by specifying chancery and common law jurisdiction, denies to us the more ample remedies of the civil law, then those known to the common law are certainly in force; and there, I have been assured by the highest authority, will be found sufficient. If this be so, then we are content. If it should prove otherwise, then we but ask what justice cannot deny, the legislation needful to enable the General Government to perform its legitimate functions; and in the mean time we deny the power of Congress to abridge or destroy our constitutional rights; or of the Territorial Legislature to obstruct the common law of the United States.

If this be the position which it is sought to render odious by charging as with a wish to obtain from Congress the enactment of “a slave code,” the abuse of language is palpable; but if be intended by the use of that phrase to ascribe to us a purpose to ask of Congress the formation of police regulations for slaves in the Territories; by general law to regulate patrols, passes, treatment and general discipline of slaves, you know it to be utterly unfounded and must deem it absurd.

It has been so long the habit to speak of African Slavery as an evil only to be excused because forced upon us, and now irremediable—so many well-meaning persons have confounded the policy of other times and circumstances with the obligations of morality, that it has come to pass that our property in the labor of Africans is regarded as an exception to the general obligation of the Government to protect; and hence the laws which have been enacted to restrain within prescribed limits a property which, by recognition of the Constitution, was placed upon the same footing throughout the United States as other property, the right to hold which is everywhere recognized by the common usage of mankind. We have been sometimes reminded that the word “Slavery” is not to be found in the Constitution, and it has been assumed to be evidence of hostility to that tenure of labor which is so denominated. A most illogical conclusion, in view of the fact that the Constitution treats of that condition not only as an existing right of property, but as an element in the future basis of representation in the General Government. A more rational deduction, from the avoidance of the term in an instrument so remarkable for the accuracy of the language employed, would be that the word was considered a misnomer. If to restrain the vagrant, the vicious, and the incompetent, the possession of liberty by whom would be dangerous to society and injurious to themselves, be Slavery, then all civil government might be arraigned for having established that condition, and from the work-houses, the penitentiaries, the reform-schools, and the asylums, a cloud of degraded and unfortunate witnesses could be brought to sustain the arraignment. But if it be said these were incarcerated after being adjudged to be lunatics, or for crimes whereof they had been duly convicted, may we not ask if it be philanthropy to expose a race, known to be unfit to take care of themselves, to trials beneath which they must generally sink, that in the fullness of time, and after being duly adjudged, they may end their days in the prison or the mad-house.

In each case the good of society is the object, and the justification is to be found in the adaptation of the means to the end. The difference of rule results from the different capacities of the races; the exceptions in the one being those who are unfit for self-government; the exceptions in the other being those who are fit to be free.

It would be easy to show that our system for the control of an incompetent caste is in every respect better than would be a system of work-houses, public-labor farms or reform-schools, as the permanent connection and interest of the master must induce to a discipline more parental than would be that of the constable or superintendent having but a temporary and official relation.

But I have already dwelt so long upon this subject that it may be asked why thus fully discuss questions on which there can be no difference in conclusion between myself and those whom I address? To such inquiry my answer would be, we have need not only to be assured to be justified, and it is a duty we owe to our ancestors, to ourselves and to posterity to vindicate our institutions from unjust reproach. To be right both in conscience and in the estimation of others is to be strong. From the time when, in vain reliance on the strength which unity of people and of language gave, impious man attempted on the plain of Shinar to defy the power of his Creator and was confounded and dispersed, never has there been any permanent prosperity which did not rest on the basis of virtue. What then is more be fitting a fraternal conference like this, than the freest examination of the truths on which we rest our defense before the tribunal of posterity, and claim the alliance of the patriotic and the just of our own generation?

In the maintenance of our rights and the vindication of our institutions the most unequal contests are in the United States House of Representatives, and we have cause to congratulate ourselves on the ability, the fidelity and harmonious cooperation of our members.

Undaunted by numbers, unmoved by the personal considerations so productive of defection, they have met every issue as became Mississippians. Could I say more?

Your resolution in favor of the acquisition of Cuba is a gratifying indorsement of the position which your delegation in Congress has taken. It is placed on the ground of a commercial and political necessity, which in the event of its transfer to any foreign power would become absolute—a consideration as broad as the Union, a motive as free from sectional or partisan taint as the spirit in which the Constitution was ordained and established. Untruly it has been argued that the annexation of Cuba is sought for the exclusive benefit of the South; but if it were so, and it could not be shown that our advantage would be the injury of other portions of the Union, how could the fact justify opposition, if we remain what our fathers left us—people united for the common welfare.

Before proceeding to the consideration of the subject in the national aspect in which you have presented it, permit me briefly to notice it in its sectional relation. And here let me say I have no word of unkind criticism for those Southern men who oppose the acquisition from the belief that it would be injurious to our section. There is much force in the objection that the abolition of the slave-trade as the consequence of annexation, and the greater profits from slave labor in the island than in the more northern of the slave-holding States, would lead to such sale and transfer to the island as would soon render those States non slave-holding, and that thus our political power in the Union would be diminished.

The question of acquisition has to us three phases. The first belongs to the condition of harmony among the States and the people, which would insure a fair administration by the General Government of all its delegated powers, and a due regard for all our constitutional rights; to that case the balance-of-power argument would not apply, as it presupposes a case in which a sectional division could not exist. The second is that of continuance in bickering and sectional strife, so that the Government shall be rendered unable to perform its proper functions and be driven onward by an aggressive majority to interference in things with which it has no rightful connection. In that case any loss of political power which would serve to restrain from usurpation must surely be deprecated. But the end, regret it as we may, the inevitable end of continuance in such hostility between the States must be their separation. This brings me to the third and last phase of the question—the importance of the Island of Cuba to the Southern States if formed into a separate confederacy. The commercial considerations in this would probably be less important than in the first phase of the question, but the political necessity would be paramount, and the possession would be indispensable.

Viewed in its various relations to our section, I reach the conclusion that from the acquisition of Cuba the South has no injury to apprehend which should deter her from using all proper means for its accomplishment. What means may be proper will depend upon circumstances as they arise. But here let me say no acquisition, however desirable, could induce me to consent to see the bright escutcheon of the United States tarnished by one act of rapice. What American does not feel proud of his ability to point to the record of our national existence as not containing a page on which is recorded a war waged for aggrandizement, a town sacked or given to pillage, or of all our vast acquisition of territory one acre which is held by the title of conquest? Whatever our future necessities may exact, or coming eventualities justify, posterity cannot fail to approve the forbearance of the United States in leaving so long and under so many provocations a weak and distant Government in possession of the gate which commands the great Valley of the Mississippi, destined to be, if it has not already become, the center of agricultural empire, and the source of our most valuable exports.

It will be remembered that at the last session of Congress the President recommended the acquisition of Cuba, and a bill was introduced into the Senate to appropriate thirty millions of dollars in aid of that object. It is to be regretted that the vote was not taken on the bill: there is little doubt that after some amendment it would have passed the Senate, and though it should not have been acted on in the House, the moral effect of its passage by the treaty ratifying body would greatly have fortified the executive power of negotiation.

The Opposition as usual inveighed against Slavery, and assumed that its extension was the object of the proposed acquisition. Seldom have the advantages of a great measure been so general and so equally balanced between the sections, the pecuniary benefits being almost exclusively to the North.

That the presence of slaves in the island made it more desirable to me, I will not deny. The cultvation of the island requires African labor, and the African as a rule will only work in the condition of servitude. Thus the presence of slaves increases the value of the island, and so much the more as the number in the United States would not enable us to supply the requisite amount of labor. It was also true as one of the minority section that I desired to increase the number of slaveholding constituencies; but so far from its being the only object, the measure rested on other and distinct grounds.

Some also objected to the incorporation of people different in race and different in religion; a position which rested upon two fallacies; one, that because speaking a different language they were of a different race; and the other that an established religion in the United States made it objectionable to add a population holding another creed.

Much horror was also manifested lest the President should use the appropriation to corrupt the Government of Spain. How practicable that may be I will not pretend to judge, but granting the functionaries to be so pure and simple minded as to require the guardianship of our Congress, the long and distiguished service, the high position and character of the President, and the no less eminent and worthy Secretary of State, might have shielded them from such suspicion.

But there is a class of men skillful to a proverb as detectives, and the arraignment of others is a cheap coin in which to pay the debt of integrity.

Were there no uses other than those of bribery to which the money could be applied; were there no contingencies which might make it available; no circumstances in our own government which rendered it needful to give some assurance that a treaty if made would be ratified?

If the war now waged in Italy should involve the rest of Europe, and Spain, as the ally of France, should be brought into contact with England, as the ally of Austria, would there be to power to obtain the sinews of war for a distant colony, which even Spanish pride and obstinacy could not expect under such circumstances to hold? At home we should have an acquisition to make, one which might wake the spirit of the day when the knights of Spain were the noblest of Europe, and their highest prowess was displayed in efforts to free their native land from the yoke of the infidel, a possession the loss of which shades the memory of the brightest achievements of her ancient renown. Gibraltar, one of the pillars of Hercules to the gate of the Mediterranean, was forcibly wrested from Spain more than a century and a half ago. Vainly has she attempted to retake it; and to the mortification of her pride, the detriment of her revenue, and the injury of her commerce and maritime power, the British flag still floats over it. Might she not give an Island the value of which can be measured by money, to obtain the means which would enable her to recover & possession which must be to her priceless!

I have mentioned one, but there are other contingencies and inducements fully set forth in the Ostend Conference. Suffice it to say, I am not of those who consider negotiation hopeless as a means to acquire the island, and of all which can be contemplated, it is, in my judgment, the most proper, both in relation to our own reparation among the nations, and to the future condition of Cuba.

I have said that we did not found our policy as this acquisition, on considerations of mere sectional advantage, We could not ask the North to aid us in the accomplishment of the measure for such purpose. We would not listen to a counter proposition to acquire Canada, with a view to augment the power of the Northern States; and we should not expect or claim more than, under like circumstances, we would grant. Neither would our consciences sanction, or the civilized world approve of the seizure of the island merely because we wanted it. Higher motives, stronger reasons must be adduced in the forum of conscience, and before the tribunal of nations. I will not weary you by a recapitulation of the long list, which is familiar to you, of precedents and provocations, but will only refer to the general basis on which the justice of our policy may be defended. To repel invasion, to secure intercourse between the States, and to protect their commerce on the high seas, are duties of the General Government so universally admitted, that the right to employ all lawful means for their fulfillment requires no argument.

It remains, then, but to show that the occupation of Cuba is a necessary measure, and the right to employ for that purpose any of the delegated powers of the General Government follows as a consequence.

The channel of oceanic intercourse between the States of the Atlantic and those of the Gulf of Mexico, flows by and near to the Island of Cuba; and that between these States and those on the Pacific flows close to its Western end. From the Havana and Cape San Antonio, a few gunboats might keep watch and ward over all the vast and increasing commerce which pursues these channels. From the capacious and safe harbor of Havana, a hostile fleet might sail after the sun had set, and ere it rose be upon our coast. To guard against this imminent danger, the massive works of the Tortugas and Key West are now under construction. It is to forget the lessons of experience to hold that the weakness of Spain makes this an idle apprehension. Her weakness is the greatest source of our danger, because it makes her ports assailable to any powerful foe who may choose to use them in violation of the laws of neutrality. To prove this it is only requisite to mention the cases of Fayal and Valparaiso, and the seizure by French cruisers of American vessels in the neutral ports of Spain prior to the year 1800. If it were necessary to demonstrate by past events the importance, indeed the necessity, of the proximate ports of Cuba to a European fleet, making a hostile expedition against us, the descent upon Louisiana, and the more recent bombardment of Vera Cruz would furnish such testimony. It is clear that under such circumstances the neutrality of the ports of Cuba would be the condition most advantageous to the enemy, or, to express it otherwise, injurious to us.

But there is another view in which the weakness of Spain, instead of being an argument to satisfy us with its present condition, is the reverse. It has exposed her to the intrusion of British reformers, threatening not merely to make it like their own Jamaica, unproductive, but to render it a dangerous neighbor to us. In 1841 it was proposed by convention between Great Britain and Spain, to institute a British Commission to inquire into the titles by which the slaves of Cuba were held. In 1843, 1851, and 1853, the proposition was further and regularly pressed upon Spain. In the Spring of the last named year, an agreement was made satisfactory to Great Britain, but with the exact terms of which we have not been made acquainted. It will, however, be remembered that about that time the tripartite treaty between England, France and Spain was entered into, and that upon the rejection by the Administration of President Pierce of the offer to make our Government a party to it, the British Minister to the United States was instructed by his Government to inform ours that Great Britain would thenceforth consider herself at entire liberty to act on any future occasion as to her might seem fit. If, as some have contended, there was a moral obligation resulting from an understanding between the United States and Great Britain, that they should mutually refrain from seeking to acquire Cuba, that obligation was dissolved by the notice given.

There is still another element in the moral question which remains to be considered. Though it should be shown ever so clearly to be the interest of the United States, and that no obstacle, either of domestic or foreign compact restrained us, still it would devolve upon us, in the absence of an absolute necessity, to show that injury would not be inflicted upon the inhabitants of the island, the other party about to be permanently and immediately affected. Any doubt on that point, it would seem, should have been solved by the standing threat to turn loose the slaves upon the people, by the frequent efforts at revolution, and the admitted necessity for force to maintain the Government, which is contained in the large military establishment, the rigid police regulations of the island, and the extraordinary provisions of the Governor, being at all times those which usually belong only to a state of siege. The natives of the island have no political power, are unrepresented in the Cortes, are excluded from the army and navy, not allowed to bear arms for their own defense, or peaceably to assemble for any purpose. Shut out from the avenues to distinction, the lofty aspiration of the youth must be smothered, as it is the fate of the patriot to stand between expatriation and the garrote, or in secret “o’er the ruin of his country to sigh.”

When the world is banded to sustain prescriptive power against popular privilege, shall not we of the model republic be permitted to sympathize with our neighbors in their struggles for constitutional liberty, which, by our example, we have been accused of inciting? Shall we not, when the commerce of the world, the interest of the United States, and that of Cuba, combine to recommend it, be justified in seeking to carry out the most settled policy of the United States, that of expansion! Growth is the attendant of vigorous existence. In nations as in organic bodies, the suspension of that law is the unfailing evidence of decline.

There need be nothing wounding to the pride of Spain in our negotiation. The considerations to be offered would not necessarily be restricted to those of a pecuniary character. We have retaliatory statutes which discriminate against her mercantile marine; these could be abrogated. The trade of her colonies is relied on to sustain her naval power. For one, I would be willing to make her trade with all the ports of the United States as free as the winds and the waves which bear it.

But if all peaceful means should prove unavailing, then, whenever her island is about to become, in the hand of an enemy, dangerous to the United States, or whenever just cause for war shall be given by Spain, I say we should take possession of Cuba, using for that purpose a force so large as to admit of simultaneous debarkation at every important port, that resistance should be crushed by a single blow, and the fiendish threat to renew in Cuba the scenes of San Domingo be put to rest before its execution could be attempted.

That Great Britain, having by an ill-judged emancipation of her slaves, ruined her West India colonies, has sought to involve other slaveholding countries in the same fate, the acts of her statesmen sufficiently demonstrate. That her movements in relation to Cuba and other portions of tropical America have been prompted by hostility to the United States does not admit of a doubt. That wiser counsels and better feelings have recently prevailed there is reason to believe. What result will follow the recent change of Ministry remains to be seen.

In the mean time, the greatest evil which could have been inflicted upon us has been wrought the perversion of the Northern mind, and, to no small extent, the alienation of the Northern people, from the fraternity due to the South.

To this there are many exceptions, and I believe they are daily becoming more numerous. It would be impolitic, ungenerous, and unjust to include all our Northern brethren in a common censure, or with old lie tribute due to the gallant minority who, foot to foot and eye to eye, have, against overwhelming numbers, defended and upheld our character, our conduct, and our rights. I said our character, for the vocabulary a Billingsgate has been enlarged to furnish epithets of abuse of the South, and the council-house of the nation has been used as a rostrum from which to scatter them.

Land of the South, the home and birth-place of Washington, and Jefferson, and Henry, and Madison, and Jackson, and Clay, and Calhoun, can pigmies look down upon your colossal sons? When writings defame you should it excite more than the smile of derision or the feeling of contempt? Faithful in sunshine and in storm, through good and through evil report, your sons have sat at the temple builded by their fathers; and if it shall ever be possessed by an unclean presence, from which they cannot expurgate it, then it will devolve upon them to construct another which shall not shame the example they emulate.

Our countrymen have two paths before them, either of which the majority of the States and of the people are free to choose. The one leads by the way of usurpation and tortuous construction, through discord and civil strife, to the destruction of this best hope of republican government. The other through peace and prosperity, by the perpetuity of the institutions we inherited, mounts to an eminence which looks down on a continent of equal, sovereign, confederated States. We are near, I believe, to the point at which that selection is to be made. Our fathers feared the convulsion which the election of a President would produce. The next generation regarded the apprehension as unfounded; to us, its realization may be appointed, because to us it has been reserved to witness the organization of a party seeking the possession of the Government not for the common good, not for their own particular benefit, but as the means of executing a hostile purpose toward a portion of the States.

The success of such a party would indeed produce an “irrepressible conflict.” To you would be presented the question, will you allow the constitutional Union to be changed into the despotism of a majority, will you become the subjects of a hostile Government, or will you, outside of the Union, assert the equality, the liberty and sovereignty to which you were born? For myself, I say, as I said on a former occasion, in the contingency of the election of a President on the platform of Mr. Seward’s Rochester speech, let the Union be dissolved. Let the “great, but not the greatest of evils” come. For as did the great and good Calhoun, from whom is drawn that expression of value, I love and venerate the union of these States—but I love liberty and Mississippi more.

In this we but assert what we would expect the North to declare and maintain if the case were reversed. But could the converse of the proposition exist? Is there one of you who would support a Southern candidate for the Presidency, who avowed his purpose if elected to use the power of his office to crush or to assail a domestic institution of the Northern States? I pause not for an answer; the patriotism you have exhibited on every trying occasion renders a reply unnecessary. The question was but another form of stating an unquestionable fact. We claim nothing which can be rightfully withheld, and are willing to grant as much as we would demand.

Considering the next Presidential election, because of the circumstances, and the distinctness of the issues as the line of breakers, which, if passed, would place us out of all immediate and prospective danger, how very small become all questions of personal preference? And this reminds me that the declaration made by me last Fall, and which was substantially the same as that made on this occasion, has been misrepresented as an announcement on my part, and with your approbation, of a desire to dissolve the Union if a Northern man should be next chosen for the Presidency! When have we ever drawn such narrow sectionality? Whose votes elected Pierce? Who came en masse to the more dubious contest of Buchanan? It is not for office we strive, but for principle and the ends of justice. Let our standard bearer be he who can carry it to victory; above all, let him be one who will conceal no part of its inscription, but throw its folds most freely to the wind when the storm blows hardest.

Future peace is our object, and this is only to be gained by the unequivocal decision of the issues fairly and distinctly joined.

We have nothing to retract, no new position to assume. Your attitude is the same as that taken in the central meeting and subsequent joint-party convention of 1849. You then asserted that the constitutional recognition and guaranty to slave property placed it beyond the power of Congress, and that the power to legislate for the Territories was to protect the citizen and his property, not to declare what should be property; you then, as did the Legislature of the succeeding year, declared your devoted and cherished attachment to the Union, with the reservation that it should not be changed into an engine of oppression.

Misrepresentation has busily pursued you; but sooner or later, more speedily or slower, I have an abiding faith that truth will yet be vindicated in whole, as it has already been in part.

Sincerely do I pray that your sentiment of nationality may never have occasion to be less—that the national pride in being the citizen of a great country, whose flag is known and respected on every sea and on every land, may increase with increasing years, and grow with growing strength.

I trust that a sanguine temperament does not mislead me to the belief that the mists of sectional prejudice are steadily though slowly floating away, and that a sad experience will not prove to have been delusive, the hope which now shows to me the breaking of a brighter dawn, when promises to our country a happier day than this. But it is the first ray in the east which bids us be up and doing, and the fate of the sluggard will be ours if the promise of success does not wake us to additional preparation, energy and effort.

My friends, I have detained you long, much longer than was intended, but permit me to add a few words in relation to the nominations which have been made. That they are all capable and well deserving even their opponents must admit. That which endears them to us must be the only objection which any fair opponent can make to either of them, their unwavering and efficient advocacy of Democratic principles. The controversy for the nominations was of that painful character where defeat must create regret but victory could bring no triumph. All which can be said is favor of the successful candidates, may be equally said of the defeated. To me they are friends whose services are gratefully remembered, all, all dear to me for many and signal acts of kindness, which it can never be in my power to repay, or sufficiently to acknowledge. Of these, among the defeated, who were most ardently supported by their advocates, I venture to say they have already endorsed the nominations, and shoulder to shoulder with their Democratic brethren, will cordially, cheerfully move on in their support.

With the confidence, the affection and gratitude I feel but cannot express, I offer you my best wishes and bid you farewell.

This work was published before January 1, 1929, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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