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denounce the principles of the law for the recapture of fugitives, therefore, unjust, unconstitutional, and immoral; and thus, while patriotism withholds its approbation, the conscience of our people condemns it. You will say that these convictions of ours are disloyal. Grant it for the sake of argument. They are, nevertheless, honest : and the law is to be executed among us, not among you; not by us, but by the Federal authority. Has any Government ever succeeded in changing the moral convictions of its subjects by force ? But these convictions imply no disloyalty. We reverence the constitution, although we perceive this defect, just as we acknowledge the splendour and the power of the sun, although its surface is tarnished with here and there an opaque spot. Your constitution and laws convert hospitality to the refugee from the most degrading oppression on earth, into a crime; but all mankind except you esteem that hospitality a virtue. The right of extradition of a fugitive from justice, is not admitted by the law of nature and of nations, but rests in voluntary compacts. And here is the other: • No person held to service or labour in one State, and under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any laws or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour is due.'
“ This is from the constitution of the United States in 1787, and the parties were the Republican States of this Union. The law of nations disavows such compacts; the law of nature, written in the hearts and consciences of freemen, repudiates them. Armed power could not enforce them, because there is no public conscience to sustain them.
" I must tell you, nevertheless, in candour and in plainness, that the spirit of the people of the free States is set upon a spring, that it rises with the pressure put on it. That spring, if pressed too hard, will give a recoil that will not leave here one servant who knew his master's will and did it not. You will say this implies violence. Not at all; it implies only peaceful, lawful, constitutional customary action. I cannot too strongly express my surprise that those who insist that the people of the slave States cannot be held back by remedies outside of the constitution, should so far misunderstand us of the free States, as to suppose we would not exercise our constitutional rights to sustain the policy which we deem just and beneficent. The constitution regulates our stewardship; the constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defence, welfare, and to liberty. But there is a higher law than the constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.
- Let, then, those who distrust the Union make compromises to save it. I shall not impeach their wisdom, as I certainly cannot their patriotism, but indulging no such apprehensions myself, I shall vote for the admission of California directly without conditions, without qualifications, and without compromises. The Union,—the creature of necessities, physical, moral, social, and political, — endures by virtue of the same necessities; and these necessities are stronger than when it was produced; stronger by the greater amplitude of territory now covered by it; stronger by sixfold increase of the society living under its beneficent protection ; stronger by the augmentation, ten thousand times, of the fields, the workshops, the mines, and the ships of that society,—of its productions of the sea, of the plough, of the loom, and the anvil, in their constant circle of internal and international exchange; stronger in the long rivers penetrating regions before unknown; stronger in all the artificial roads, canals, and other channels and avenues essential not only to trade but to defence; stronger in steam navigation, in steam
locomotion on the land, and in the telegraphic communications unknown when the constitution was adopted; stronger in the freedom and in the growing empire of the seas; stronger in the element of national honour in all lands: and stronger than all in the now settled habits of veneration and affection for institutions so stupendous and so useful.”
March 11th, 1850.—Mr. Webster:~" It is not to be denied that we live in the midst of strong agitations, and are surrounded by very considerable dangers to our institutions of government. The imprisoned minds are let loose ; the East, the West, the North, and the stormy South all combine to throw the whole ocean into commotion, to toss its billows to the skies, and to disclose its profoundest depths. I do not affect to regard myself, Mr. President, as holding, or as fit to hold the helm in this combat of the political elements; but I have a duty to perform, and I mean to perform it with fidelity, not without a sense of surrounding dangers, but not without hope. I have a part to act, not for my own security or safety, - for I am looking out for no fragment upon which to float away from the wreck, if wreck there must, – but for the good of the whole and the preservation of the whole; and there is that which will keep me to my duty during this struggle, whether the sun and the stars shall appear or shall not appear for many days. I speak to-day for the preservation of the Union; "hear me for my cause. I speak to-day, out of a solicitous and anxious heart, for the restoration to the country of that quiet and that harmony which make the blessings of this Union so rich and so dear to us all.
“I will not state what might produce the disruption of these States; but, Sir, I see it as plainly as I see the sun in heaven, I see that disruption must produce such a war as I will not describe in its twofold characters,-peaceable reaction, peaceable reaction! — the concurrent agreement of all the members of this great Republic to separate.”
March 2nd. - Mr. Chase * : -" I cannot believe there is danger in such a course. Least of all does the stale cry of disunion alarm me. Men generally adapt remedies to evils; but what evil that the slave States complain of will disunion cure? Will it establish slavery in the territories? Will it procure the return of fugitives? Will it suppress discussion ? Will it secure slavery where it is? Sir, all men must see that disunion is no remedy for the slave States. Why the cry, if not to alarm the timid, the sensitive, the unreflecting — to afford excuses for concession
* Now Secretary of State to President Lincoln.