A word more, sir, and I have done. With reference to the great question of slavery—that terrible question—the only one on which the North and South of this great Republic differ irreconcilably—I have not, on this occasion, a word to say. My humble career is drawing near its close, and I shall end it as I began, with using no other words on that subject than those of moderation, conciliation, and harmony between the two great sections of the country. I blame no one who differs from me in this respect. I allot to others, what I claim for myself, the credit of honesty and purity of motive. But for my own part, the rule of my life, as far as circumstances have enabled me to act up to it, has been, to say nothing that would tend to kindle unkind feeling on this subject. I have never known men on this, or any other subject, to be convinced by harsh epithets or denunciation.
I believe the union of these States is the greatest possible blessing—that it comprises within itself all other blessings, political, national, and social; and I trust that my eyes may close long before the day shall come—if it ever shall come—when that Union shall be at an end. Sir, I share the opinions and the sentiments of the part of the country where I was born and educated, where my ashes will be laid, and where my children will succeed me. But in relation to my fellow-citizens in other parts of the country, I will treat their constitutional and their legal rights with respect, and their characters and their feelings with tenderness. I believe them to be as good Christians, as good patriots, as good men, as we are, and I claim that we, in our turn, are as good as they.
I rejoiced to hear my friend from Kentucky, (Mr. Dixon), if he will allow me to call him so—I concur most heartily in the sentiment—utter the opinion that a wise and gracious Providence, in his own good time, will find the ways and the channels to remove from the land what I consider this great evil, but I do not expect that what has been done in three centuries and a half is to be undone in a day or a year, or a few years; and I believe that, in the mean time, the desired end will be retarded rather than promoted by passionate sectional agitation. I believe, further, that the fate of the great and interesting continent in the elder world, Africa, is closely intertwined and wrapped up with the fortunes of her children in all the parts of the earth to which they have been dispersed, and that at some future time, which is already in fact beginning, they will go back to the land of their fathers, the voluntary missionaries of Civilization and Christianity; and finally, sir, I doubt not that in His own good time the Ruler of all will vindicate the most glorious of His prerogatives, “From seeming evil still educing good.”
OF ILLINOIS. (BORN 1813, DIED 1861.)
On the Kansas-Nebraska bill;