Imagens das páginas

excluded from the Territories by law of Congress, and no State can lawfully complain of such action with any more show of reason than in case of Congressional action upon any other subject. Nor is there any power in the National Government to dismember itself. No power, but that of the people in their ultimate sovereignty, can do that. We are one nation, and our people indivisible, with a common government, and common interests. South Carolina is still a State of the Union in spite of her ordinance, and her people cannot be absolved from their obligation to obey the Constitution and laws of our common country.

If there is no right of secession, still, it is said, there is a right of revolution against unbearable oppression. Grant it-this is not the country in which to deny that; but it ought to be a revolution against, and not in favor of, oppression. It must be justified by such clear and undeniable acts of usurpation as will justify rebellion before the civilized world. Of what acts do the slaveholding States complain? In what have they been oppressed? What right has been denied to them? We have had abundance of eloquent speech from them, and endless general complaint of aggressions upon them and their rights. But the charge still lacks specification. I deny the whole indictment. There have been no such aggressions. No right of theirs has been denied or refused to them by us. Our personal liberty laws furnish an example of no such denial. They were enacted for the protection and safety of free citizens of the State against kidnappers, and with no view to defeating the reclamation of actual fugitive slaves, under the law of Congress. That law is so entirely wanting in the usual safeguards against abuse of its provisions, that there is constant danger of its being used as a cover for the most nefarious practices. Michigan is a sovereign and independent State, and her first and highest duty is to guard the rights and liberties of her people. This she has sought to do by the laws in question. It is altogether her own affair, and with all due respect to the States of the South, she does not hold herself under obligation to justify

her conduct in this regard to them. If they think these laws are unconstitutional, then the Courts of the United States are open to them, to have them so declared; and they may be assured that neither mob violence, nor any other power, will be resorted to to prevent the full measure of redress to which they may be entitled. As a law abiding people, we invite judicial scrutiny into the legislation of the State, and we are ready to abide its results. We ask nothing which we are not willing to grant to others. The State only seeks to maintain her rights under the constitution and laws of Congress. Less than that she cannot do.

There seems, however, no intention in the Southern States to resort to this peaceful method of trial, provided by the Constitution and the laws ; but we are told, we must immediately repeal these laws, or the government will be broken up, and the Constitution destroyed. I cannot advise you to listen to this appeal to your fears. I am not willing that the State should be humiliated by compliance with this demand, accompanied by threats of violence and war. For myself, I will wait until the Cotton States repeal their unjust and unconstitutional laws, which consign to imprisonment citizens of the free States visiting their parts on business, and guilty of no crime, and by which such citizens are sold into hopeless slavery. I will wait until they cease to murder and maltreat innocent citizens from the North, without even the forms of a trial ; until the freedom of speech and of the press, guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the country, is restored in the Southern half of the Un. ion, and until the reign of terror and mob violence is over.

When the madness which rules the hour is past, and treason has been rebuked and crushed ; when the Southern States, now threatening rebellion shall have returned to their loyalty, to the national constitution and government, and to obedience to the laws, then no doubt the State will be willing to do towards them, not only all that is just, but also all that is generous. I know very well it is said by eminent men in the free States, that we must repeal these laws, not because the South threatens us, nor becaase we wish to appease their wrath, but because the laws themselves are wrong. Yet it must be admitted, that even if we were to confess the wrong, which, on the contrary we deny, our conscientiousness would seem to have been quickened at a very peculiar season. Whatever we may claim about it, if the Personal Liberty laws are now repealed, the judgment of the country will be that it is done under the smarting of the Southern lash, and that judgment will be correct. Instead of such a course tending to restore peace in the country, its effect will be exactly the contrary. It is not concession that is needed now; it is patriotic firmness and decision. All the present evils either arise from, or are greatly aggravated, by the weak and compromising policy of timid men, in the past. Treason has been abetted and encouraged by humiliating expedients, until the mal-contents of the present, feel secure in the temporizing precedents of the past. Let us have an end of compromises, and appeal only for constitutional rights. Besides it is not claimed or even pretended that the Personal Liberty laws have in fact had the effect to prevent the execution of the Fugitive Slave law in a single instance. They have stood as a mere protest on the statute book. And whenever an appeal has been made to the courts to enforce that law, it has been uniformly done in good faith, though some of its provisions are extremely distasteful to the people.

It is not at the personal liberty laws that the secessionists aim. They openly scout at the notion that their repeal will satisfy them. Their war is upon the Constitution of the United States. That instrument does not answer their purposes, and they demand its amendment or its overthrow. Its great doctrine of government by majorities stands in the way of the establishment of the great slave Empire which they have set themselves to erect, with the infamous African slave trade for one of its pillars, and one way or another it must be destroyed. Governor Pettus, of Mississippi, in his late message to the Legislature of that State, sums up his reasons for secession with this pregnant question: "Can the lives, liberty and property of the people of Mississippi be safely entrusted to the keeping of that sectional majority which must hereafter administer the Federal Government?” That is the real question, and the only one. Shall the Government continue as our fathers made it ? Shall it be administered by majorities or shall a new one be constructed to be ruled by minorities. The people have, in a constitutional and legal manner, chosen an eminent citizen of the State of Illinois, President of the United States, and the South demand that we shall repent of it.

That act has been accomplished by a wilful majority, and it is demanded that we give up the great principle of free government—the rule of the majority. We can do neither the one nor the other, We are satisfied with the Constitution of our country, and will obey the laws enacted under it, and we must demand that the people of all the other States do the same. Safety lies in this path alone. The Union must be preserved and the laws must be enforced in all parts of it at whatever cost. The President is bound to this by his oath, and no power can discharge him from it. Secession is revolution, and revolution, in the overt act, is treason, and must be treated as such. The Federal Government nas the power to defend itself and I do not doubt that that power will be exercised to the utmost. It is a question of war that the secoling States have to look in the face. They who think that this powerful government can be disrupted peacefully, have read history to no purpose. The sons of the men who carried arms in the seven years war with the most powerful nation in the world, to establish this government, will not hesitate to make equal sacrifices to maintain it. Most deeply must we deplore the unnatural contest. On the leads of the traitors who provoke it, must rest the responsibility. In such a contest the God of battles has no attribute that can take sides with the revolutionists of the Slave States.

I recommend you at an early day to make manifest to the gen. tlemen who represent this State in the two Houses of Congress, and to the country, that Michigan is loyal to the Union, the Constitution and the Laws, and will defend them to the uttermost; and to proffer to the President of the United States, the whole military power of the State for that purpose. Oh, for the firm, steady hand of a Washington, or a Jackson, to guide the Ship of State in this perilous storm. Let us hope that we shall find hit on the 4th of March. Meantime, let us abide in the faith of our fathers-Liberty and Union, one and inseparable, now and forever.”

AUSTIN BLAIR. Executive Oflice, Lansing, January 2, 1861.


No. 3.


ANNUAL REPORT of the Auditor General



Lansing, December 10th, 1860. To the Legislature of the State of Michigan:

In obedience to the requirements of law, I have the honor to submit the following Report of the receipts and expenditures for the fiscal year ending the 30th day of November, 1860, the State indebtedness and resources. The balance in the Treasury at the close of the fiscal year 1859 was....

$163,577 22 There has been received into the Treasury, from all

sources, exclusive of the above amount of cash on hand, the sum of......

692,482 23 Making the available funds for the year just closed, 856,059 45 The amount expended during the year is.... 721,437 57 Leaving a balance in the Treasury at the close of the

year, as per the books of this office, ... $125,618 02 To which should be added, outstanding warrants,

9,003 86

Making an actual balance in the Treasury,..

134,621 88

« AnteriorContinuar »