American Eloquence, Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 239 pages of information about American Eloquence, Volume 2.
The measure may be defeated.  I have been aware that its passage for many days was not absolutely certain.  From the first to the last, I hoped and believed it would pass, because from the first to the last I believed it was founded on the principles of just and righteous concession of mutual conciliation.  I believe that it deals unjustly by no part of the Republic; that it saves their honor, and, as far as it is dependent upon Congress, saves the interests of all quarters of the country.  But, sir, I have known that the decision of its fate depended upon four or five votes in the Senate of the United States, whose ultimate judgment we could not count upon the one side or the other with absolute certainty.  Its fate is now committed to the Senate, and to those five or six votes to which I have referred.  It may be defeated.  It is possible that, for the chastisement of our sins and transgressions, the rod of Providence may be still applied to us, may be still suspended over us.  But, if defeated, it will be a triumph of ultraism and impracticability—­a triumph of a most extraordinary conjunction of extremes; a victory won by abolitionism; a victory achieved by freesoilism; a victory of discord and agitation over peace and tranquillity; and I pray to Almighty God that it may not, in consequence of the inauspicious result, lead to the most unhappy and disastrous consequences to our beloved country.

MR. BARNWELL:—­It is not my intention to reply to the argument of the Senator from Kentucky, but there were expressions used by him not a little disrespectful to a friend whom I hold very dear. * * * It is true that his political opinions differ very widely from those of the Senator from Kentucky.  It may be true, that he, with many great statesmen, may believe that the Wilmot proviso is a grievance to be resisted “to the utmost extremity” by those whose rights it destroys and whose honor it degrades.  It is true that he may believe * * * that the admission of California will be the passing of the Wilmot proviso, when we here in Congress give vitality to an act otherwise totally dead, and by our legislation exclude slaveholders from that whole broad territory on the Pacific; and, entertaining this opinion, he may have declared that the contingency will then have occurred which will, in the judgment of most of the slave-holding States, as expressed by their resolutions, justify resistance as to an intolerable aggression.  If he does entertain and has expressed such sentiments, he is not to be held up as peculiarly a disunionist.  Allow me to say, in reference to this matter, I regret that you have brought it about, but it is true that this epithet “disunionist” is likely soon to have very little terror in it in the South.  Words do not make things.  “Rebel” was designed as a very odious term when applied by those who would have trampled on the rights of our ancestors, but I believe that the expression became not an ungrateful one to the ears of those who resisted them.  It was not the lowest term of abuse to call those who were conscious that they were struggling against oppression; and let me assure gentlemen that the term disunionist is rapidly assuming at the South the meaning which rebel took when it was baptized in the blood of Warren at Bunker Hill, and illustrated by the gallantry of Jasper at Fort Moultrie. * * *

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American Eloquence, Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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