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Letter From Amos Kendall

Letter From Amos Kendall image
Parent Issue
Day
2
Month
November
Year
1860
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

Your paper a few day past has forcibly reminded me of the days of President Jackstfn, wheii Amos Kindall was the theme of a thousand scribblers. Circurnstances, however, have somewhat cbanged. Then he was abused by the enemies of the Old Hero acid of liis administratioD, now by the organ of an adminiatration which cluims to ba his friends. Who has changed ? Is it Amos Kendall who has not uttered a sentiment which is not aD echo of those avowed and acted upon by that purest of patriota ? Or is it oertain men who claim nis mantie while they repudíate his moet dearly cherished principies ? When he heard dis union foreshadowed in dinner-table npeeches, he rebuked it in his celebrated toast, " The Federal Union - It must bc preserved ;" and when he saw the sentinibnt bout to bü reduced to praotice, by hl eloquent and patriotic appeal he cn]]ed into existence one hundred and fift}' thousand volunteers to preserve it. Büciiuce I ulludwd to the fact and espressed the opinión that, should a similar ernergency arise, two hundre.i thousand would reapond to a similar cali, you denounce me as a bloody monster, ready to slaughter "women and children." Yet, no eulogy is too strong for you to bestow on General Jackson. You are right in the caption with which you head your cornmenton my letter to Col. Orr - " Threats toill ntver bring peace." For months past, the papers controlled by Ihe enemie9 of the Union in the Soutb have teemed with threats of disunion in the event of Mr. Lincoln's eleut'on, and my lstter was iu response to a startling threat of that de scription. There will not be peace until these threats cease, or until southrn Union men cut loose from the enemies of the Union and cordially unite with the friends of the constitution in the North to put down black republicanism on the on hand and disuniou on the other. I mad no thrsat; you have misapplied the sentiment oí yourcapiion. Your strictures upon myself need no reply. If I have not, during a life of seventy-one years, a large portion of whioh has been spentin public positions, established a private and political character which no name you can give me can mar, and no association in which you naay placo me can taint, it is uselessior me to care lor the future. It is a higher aim than self-dafense or selfdistinction which induces au to reïume my pen. Sir, it is a sad sight to see the organ of a democratie administration attempting to establiüh the doctrine that it would in any event be a crime in the President to defend the constitution and eniorce the laws of the United States constitutionally enacted. Disguiee it as you will, your doctrine amounts to this.and nothingle&B. Already the peculiar organ of nullification in the South is reeommending cession whilo Mr. Buchanan is still in office, upon the assumption that he may not enforce the laws and deiend the constitution, which, by his official oatb, he is bound to do. Doubtless the assumption it) unwarranted, though justified by the tone of his acknowledged organ. Let it be rememberud that tho quo.stion g not now what the South ought to do in oase of an actual and irremediable outrage upon her right and iDstitutions. The threat is to setecede 1 Mr. Lintoln be eiected. Will his mere election absolve the people of the South from their allegiance to the constitution and the laws of the United States, or relieve the President from the duty of defending the one and executing the ofher? This ie the real queation uuder discuesion. You talk about eoercing States. - States are not the subjects upon whieh the coustitution and laws of the United btates opérate. They cannot commit treason or be hanged as traitors. Uut neither can they, by any act of theirs, absolve their citizons from their al!giance to the United States. The constitution contains the foilow ing provisi n, viz. : "This constitutien and the laws of the United States which ehall be rnade íd pursuance thereof, thallbethe suprcme lato of the land, and the judges in evory Btate shall bo boun4 thoreby, thing in the constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding " The same constitutioa declares tha "Treason agniii&t the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies givingthem aid and comfort." It also declares th t the President "shall take oare that the laws be faithfully exeeuted," and prescribes to him the follovving oath, viz. : " 1 do solemnly swear that 1 wilt faithfully execute the office of President, and wiïï, to the best of my abihty, preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United Satet-" Now, suppose Lincoln wer elected, and a citizen of Oharleston, aoting with or without the sanotion of the State authorities, having a cargo of su gar entering the port, should refuse to pay the legal duries, and with an armed party should rasist the offioers attempting to collect them, thus levying war against the United States, do you think tha President would be faithful to his duty and true to his oath if he did not, if necessary, use the militia, the army and navy, in "taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and in preserving, protect ng, and defendins; the const.ilutun of the United Stat V' Could he, without officiül perjury and becoming a truitor himself, fold his arrns and say this would be coercing a State and under 8uch a plea suffer the constitution and laws to be subvorted ? If bloodshed ensued, who would be responsible - the Presideat, who would be "to the best of kis ability" utte.npting to perforna his sworn duty,or the traitors who were attemptbg to subvert the government f Your doctrine. I suppose, is that the State authoriiies or a State convention may declare a State out of tha Union, and thus absolve all its citizens Irom allegiance to the United State. Now, each State, by a conveution elected by the people, agreed with ry other State, by the adoptiouof the constitution, that ali its provisions, and the laws passed in pursuance thereoi, should be "the tupremt law of the land" They al! agreed to take a portion of the poirers theretofore possessed by their respective State government and vest thern in a common government (based on preecisoly the saue authority as their State governments), vvho.se constitution, and the laws passed in pursuance thereof, should be above the reacb of al! State authority. How, than, can any act of a State absolveits eitizens frotn obedience to tnis "supreme lato of the and," declared by its highast authority, a oonvention eleoted by the people, to be binding, 'anything in the constitution, and laws f any State to the contrary notwitJustandivg V To me it is a wonder that any man can entertain an idea to my raind so absurd. Tho theory "f our government obviously u, that the citizen owes allegiance to nis State govwnroMtf to the exttnt of its retened powert, and to the (ftuieral government tolheextent of its grantcd poteer, and tb at no act of the general goveniu.ent can relieve hirn irom allegiüiice te h.s State, and no uot of his State can relieve him írom his allegiance to the LTtiited States. Let me not bd misunderstood. I do not deny the right of rebellion in the people of any State when uneonstitutional outragea ghall be committed on their rights and ïn.stitutions, and all hope for redress by peaceful means has vanished. But i" deny thjt the language of aspiring d#emigogues, or the electiun of one of tbetn to tha Presidency, would constitute such an outrage, though ajust causa of alarm. I also deny that, in such an event the South would be without hope of redress It is not to be fbund, however, in personal denunciations of eminent democrats, ia attempting to lorce on the democratie party nevv and useless is 8ue6, or in threat of dieunion. Lei all this cease, now and lorever. Be justtothe northsrn democracy ; in de votion to the Union emulate W&shing ton and Jackson, and you will rally an irresistible forcé, who, by tbe aid of the ballot-box only will rescue your institutions from danger and firmly maiutain every constitutional right. You say thai soutliei-n men are demanding only thir tonstitutional rights Do you think they have a "constitutional right" to destroy the constilution'? Suoh. indeed, is the claim of the right to secede Irom the Union, if based, upon any other ground than a right of rebellion for gros3 aud irremeiable vvrongs. You 8iy that the Soitb Oarolinians "wül even suspect that be (meining me) is governed by disappointment and the reveng consequent thereon," and that, "undr other circumstances, he entertained another sort of gemirnents " ï plead guilty to the charge of disappointment, though it has filled me wich eorrow rather than revenge. My disappointment was in the apparent factthat the present administrador) had not the sagacity to perceive that their policy would inevitably destroy the democratie party, and minister to the designs of ihose whoee ultímate object is the destruction of the Union. As evidence of my inoonsistency you quote certain sayings of Senator Bouglas! I might witb propriety, dernur to this testimony; but I adopt those quotations as in the main my sentimeuts, then and now, unohanged and unchangeable. I believe that fidnlity to the constitution in the North and in the South ia the only raeans by which the Uniou can be long preserved. I do nnt doubt that when the theory of Senator Seward, false in fact and treasonablein effect, that elave labor and free labor cannot exist in the same community, becomes the settled rule of action in the general government, the Union will oorna to an end. But my faith is equally stroug that it is in the power of the frieuds of tha consti tution in the South, by a cordial unon with its frienda in the North, to avert this catastrophe and all its consequent calarnities. In conclusión, I implore you, and those who act with you, to abandon your denunciations of men with whom you must ultimately act in preserving the constitation and State institutions, if they are to be preserved at all. Do not further rerify tho old maxim that " Whom God intendt te destroy he fint maket mad." That the cordial ooopsration of the supporters of Breckinridge, Douglas, and Bel) migbt havo prevented the triumph of black 1 lioanism, and may hereafter rendar its triumph transieDt and inuocuous, no observing man can doubt. Wliv, then, not labor to bring them together instead of thrusting them further apart? Is the new-fangled dogma on whieh the Charleston convention split, or any theoretical claim to a right of secession, of more importance than ihe preservation of the Union, the constitution, the peaoe, the happiness, the prosperity, and the glory of our country, hithrto uoequalod by those of any other people on the face of the oarth ? or shall black repubhcanism iu the North and secessionism in the South be allowod to cut asunder our bond of unión and divido us into hostilo States, occasionally drenuhing our now joyous fields ia the blood of their eultivators? Any man who thinka this Union can be peacefullv broken up, or, if it could, that peace could always be maintaioed between its fragmenta, ehuts his eyes to th events of our own age and is deaf to the lessons of history.

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Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus