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A Speech By Robert J. Walker On The War

A Speech By Robert J. Walker On The War image
Parent Issue
Day
31
Month
May
Year
1861
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The following speech was delivercd by Hon. It. 'J. Walker, at the late Union mass meeting on Staten Island, New York. Mr. Walker said : This is no gala occasion, no fourth of July, commemoraiing the birthday oí our country, but a meeting to prevent its death." This is indeed, a straggle for the lifo of the nation to decido il we have a country, or vvhether the llag of the republic waves over a mere organized anarchy, to be succeeded by military despotism. Our fathers believed they had founded a government - that they had made a Union which was indissoluble, and for eighty years our progresa was unexampled in the history of the world. The question now is, shall we sustain that government, or shall we substitute in its place the ñital doctrine of secossion. This word eecession was unknown to the founders of the Republic ; it was first interloped into our political vocabulary lary in 1830, when South Carolina attempted to destroy the Union. It was then condetnned by all the'other States, and especially by Mr. Madison, the then great surviving founder oí the constitution. No such word, or any of similar import, ia to be found in tliii constitution. That instrument was what its framers called it, " a constitution,'' " the 6upreme law," " a goverñment," and not a mere league, or compact. The languago was not that ot ment or treaty, but the majestic words announced by the people of the United States, we " ordain and establish" this consiitution. It was made supreme over State laws and State constitutions, and placed beyond State power byany State aetion whatsoever ; it was made of perpetual obligation pon every State, and, in the language of Washington, tcreated " an indissoluble Union." Of all -the great iramers of the I constitution, Washington, Franklin, MatKson, Hamilton, and thcir illustrious compeers, all condemned the doctrine of seceseion, and pronoünced the American Union ■' indissoluble." Indeed, even if the constitution was a compact to which the States only were parties, this pretended reserved right of any one of these parties to dewtroy the compact at pleasure would be in itself the climax of political absurdities. If this doctrine oí secession be founded in truth, we have never had " a government.," " a constitution," "a supreme law," but a mere voluntary as sociation, from whieh each State inight withdraw at pleasure, not in peace onlv but in war, and thus have provided in framing the government lor its destruction. To have inserted the right of secession in the constitution, would have been to inscribe its own deathwarrant on the face of that instrument. Yet the contest in wbich we are engaged is to establish or overthrow this anarehical doctrine of secession, and this contest can close only n the triumph or defeat of the government. If defeated on such a question as this, it will be in vain hereafter to speak of the American government. "We will. have no governmeut, and will have ac knowledged that we can never establish any hereafter. The great experiment of popular liberty will then have f ai led ; it will have faiíed here and everywhere, now and forever. We are asked to recognize the government of the so called Confedérate States. We have no such power; il is forbidden in the constituttion ; and if we had such a power, to acknowledge such a government would be to admit the right of secession, and thus tocomrnit political suicide. Let snch o disintegration be once established, and disorganization and secession will become our normal condition, the of our system. - When the South will have separated from the North, how soon will the States of the Pacific separate from those of the Atlantic; the West from the East, and the center from both sections, until we shall become separate and independent States, engaged in perpetual vvarfare at home, and the scorn and contempt of all the nations of the world ? When I look at the map of this great Republic, and behold it streaching in majestic grandeur frpm ocean to ocean, and from the northern lakes to the Griilf, I can never consent to its dismemberment, and, more especially, can I never agreo to leave the mouth of the Mississippt in the hands of any foreign Power. That stream is the great nrtery through which flows the life-blood of the nation, and to sever it is death. It we reeognizo this BO-called government, thev become to us a foreign and independent nation. They will make treaties first, and then alliances with foreign and with hostile Power. Do they uot now uk the aid of England and ot France ? Do they nol already otïer them favorable treaties ? And how &oon, in the certain collision of interests, will we not be called upon to contend with them in alliaoee with European mnoarchiesV Whut guaraniy have we that they will centinue the republicari system, and how soon may they inaugúrate a monarehy along our whole coterminou8 boundury r Already they have violated the great fundamental principie of popular liberty, and upon its ruins they may sojn eatablih a monarchy, or what is more probable a mil itary despotism, in dofiancts of that clause of the constitution whieh requires us to maintain in each State a ' re publican government." No we can never recognizo this socalled government without overthrowing our own. We can never admit their indopendence without destroying our own liberty. The struggle is indeed, for the life or death of the Kepublic, and we must fight it out to the last with a power and energy worthy the majosty of the American people, and coni mensúrate with the magnitude of the issues that are nvolved. We shall tight for our country, for our Union, and for the constitution. We shall fight under that sacred flag whioh floated over the army of Washington, and which is consecrated by a thousand memories of idndred glory and renown. And what flag have they ? They have none rightlully whatever; hut what they have is composod of seven stars which, with bloody hands, they have dared to attempt to snatch from the banner of ot the American Union. Nuver shall they tear any one of, those stars from that tmboer. SS'evay shall they divide an acre of the sóïl, or separate a drop ' of the watera oí this great llepublic, The fatal word secession is inscribedon their flag, treason nnd rebjllion aro writton there, and death to all popular libertv would soon be inscribed upon thöir liahner, and regard for their wel fare as vvoll as ourown fobids the separation. No ! we cannot surronder this Union without a base and cowardly abandonment of n oo'emn trust coinmitted to us by our iorefuthers, for the benefit oi our country and mankind. We are the sentinelt) that guard the last great citadel of humad libertv, and if we betray our trust we shall have written not only the epitaph of our own freedom, but have inscribed thereon ia letters never to be effaced the fatal words, " Man is incapablc oi selfgovernment." Ii we cannot perpetu ate this Union, and mnintain this government and this constitution, founded by Washington and sages and patriots of the Kevolution, how vain and idlo the hope of preserving any disintegrated fi'agmentary dismembered system whioh we inight substitute in its place ? No! it is this gover nment and this Union, all wholo and inviolatfe, or no government and no Union vvhatever. Who would respect our wretched flag with so rnany stars torn froin our banner ? Who would regard our government, thus fallen, dismembered, and disgraeud ? Methinks I hear the derision of Europe and the ncoffs oí tyrants exulting over the fall of the American Union, and the downfall ot the liberties of the world ! No ! my lellow-eitizena we cannot surrender this dag, or strike a single star from the great constellation. We must strangle, now and forever, the hydra of secession, or it will invoive us all in onc comtnon ruin. But let us now crush the monster, and although our lields may be crimson, even by fraternal blood, we will emerge from the h'ery ordeal - we will come out through the " VTalley of the Shadow of Death, and stand purified, redeemed, exaltcd by the struggle. The problem of öelf-governinent wiil have boen solved, and the great experiment will have proved successful. No citizen of our country, or of the world, will hercafter doubt the permanency of the American Union, or the capacity of man for self-government. Our triumphs, in sueh a struggle, will be Ihe jubilee of liberty thronguout the world. Who will falter in such a cause ? Who will, for a moment, doubt our success ? We sannot, will not, must not, shall not fail. Already the voice of party issilenced. We know no party but that of our sountry, and will know none until our Hag slrail tl at again, not only over the vvallsof Sumpter, but over everv other fort, and harbor, and State of the American Union. In all of these so-called seceded States there are thousands still detoted to the Union, who looks to us for sucsor, and who, with rejoieing thankfulness, will again behold untolded over them the flag oí the American Union. These loyal citizens we carfnot, must not, dare not abandon. And the exiles who have been driveri from their homes, because they loved the Union, must be restored and guarded by the proteeting power of this great government. Secession is revolution, it is rebellion, it is war, it is treason, and it must be suppressed ; or acknowledged that we have no government, and never can have one. Peaceable secession ! Why the verv seceders must laugh at the preposterous folly. Peaceable, indeed! Why, for months preceding the final development, they wero all arming and preparing for war, seizing our forts, our mints, our arsenals, our véasela, our treasure, tiring upon unarrned steamers or schooners, and tinally opening their batteries on one of our forti occupied only by a handlul of starving soldiers. Peaceatle, indeed ! Why, did they not have traitors in the Cubinet, plotting the overthrow of' the government of which they were members, and do we not all know that, but for the sudden ind majestic uprising of the American people, ihey would uow be by the force of arma ia possession of the capital ot of the Union ? For weeks and inonths the Amanean government forbore with an indulgente unexampled in the history of the world. We waited too long. We should havo reinlorced all the southern forts, as urged upon the President by the illustrious Scott, in üetober last. We should have provisioned Fort Sumpter immediarely aiter its ocsupatioo, in December, by the heroic Anderson. We never shouid have permitted that fort to have been encirclei in the cordon of lire and of hostile batleries with which it was surronnded, whilo patriots at hoitio looked on with [jrief and sorrow, and all of Europe, istonished at onr imbecility, exclainied that we had no government, and preparcd soon to acknowledge that of the Confedérate States, Uut the President who permitted these things has retired in disgrace and infamy. The past is gone ; it is irrevocable, even by Almighty power; but the future is ours, aud in the coming glory that nw duwns upon us, we must exünguish the memory of our humiliation and reproach. These disgraceful seenes must never be re-enac:ed. The curtam has risen upon an other act of the great drama. 'J'his rebellion will bo suppressed at once by the strong arm of' the governmeut and the people. There 2an be no more besitation, no more Lruce, with armed rebeilion. The Contederate States have made war upon us, und we must all rally as one man, wiih overwhelmnig force, around the Üug ol our countiy, aud unfold it wbere it waved a lew inonths since, from the Penobscot to ino Rio Grande, over evury fort and State oi' the American Union. Fcrt Sumpter is now historie, ■nd that tlag must float again over its walls. It was our lort - exclusively ours - by law, by cession, and the con stitution. The right ol property was ours, and yo was the ' exclusive juris diotion," aod tho noblo son of Ken tu;ky, uceoinpamed by all bis brave officers aud men, and sustained by Ihe mighty powers oi this government, must igain replace that tl-.ig over the walls of Sumpter, neeer to be surrendered until time shall bc no more. And now, f.l!ow-citi.ens, each day, eaofa hour, is nniUing tiistury, and as l unrol 1 the scroll ot coming evenis, we read the closing words of this year : Kebellion crushed - the goveniment maintained - the Union perpetuated - undivided and indivisit)le ie rests now and lorever on the eiernal basis ol the I attV'otions ot a fnee and mighty people. This spovdi was received out with frequent applause, and at the close the whole utidience gave three enthusisstio cheers for liobert J. Walker.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus