[Footnote B: These provisory and imperfect regulations appear none the less admirable when compared, not only with the systems of legislation of other nations of antiquity, but with those which prevail to-day even in the Southern States. According to the law of Moses, the Jewish slave always becomes free in seven years; the foreign slave also becomes free when his master wounds him in chastising him; he has the right to testify in law; he has the right to acquire and to possess.]
THE PRESENT CRISIS.
We now possess the principal elements of our solution; we can approach the problem just propounded by the present crisis, and, confining ourselves no longer to the appreciation of the past, can glance at the future. Not, indeed, that I make any pretensions to prophecy; political predictions, suspected with reason in all times, should be still more so at our epoch, which is that of the unforeseen. But I have a right to prove that the work which is being pursued in America is, as I have affirmed, a work of elevation, not of destruction. The dangers which the nation is advancing to meet are nothing, compared with those towards which it was lately progressing; the election of Mr. Lincoln, and the secession of the cotton States have introduced a new position which at last affords a glimpse of real chances of salvation.
I have named secession: what are we to think of the principle on which it rests? For this question another may be substituted: what is a Confederation? If we reduce it, which is inadmissible, to a simple league of States, it still remains none the less binding on each of them, so long as the end of the league remains intact. Never yet existed on earth, a federal compact conceived in this wise: “The States which form a part of this league will remain in it only till it pleases them to leave it.” Such, notwithstanding, is the formula on which the Southern theorists make a stand. Among the anarchical doctrines that our age has seen hatched, (and they are numerous,) this seems to me worthy of occupying the place of honor. This right of separation is simply the liberum veto resuscitated for the benefit of federal institutions. As in the horseback diets of Poland, a single opposing vote could put a stop to every thing, so that it only remained to vote by sabre-strokes, so Confederations, recognizing the right of separation, would have no other resort than brute force, for no great nation can allow itself to be killed without defending itself.