Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 29.djvu/31
In Memory of Jefferson Dacis. 19
with them their property, of whatever nature, recognized and pro- tected by the constitution.
The Northern people, or at least the dominant majority of them, asserted the power and duty of Congress to exclude slavery from the Territories, and to prevent the citizens of the Southern States from settling in the same, unless they abandoned and left behind them their slaves, which constituted their most valuable property.
Although the present Supreme Court of the United States, by a bare majority of one, has recently asserted the practical omnipotence of Congress over the territories free from constitutional restraints, the Supreme Court at that day took a different view, and in the Dred Scott case gave its emphatic sanction to the contention of the Southern people.
It is needless to follow the history and developments of those memorable controversies. Suffice it to say that events occurred and conflicts arose which rendered impossible the continuance of a vol- untary union. The predestined strife was not to be averted. Pas- sion usurped the seat of reason. Dissension swelled into defiance. Chiding grew into fierce recrimination. Constant quarrel ripened into hate. Fourteen Northern States, in their so-termed " personal lib- erty bills," openly nullified the constitution in that very clause which had been the condition sine qua non upon which the Southern States had acceded to the compact. A sectional party was formed upon a basis known and designed to exclude from its ranks the entire people of fifteen States, and that party triumphed by an electoral majority which left no hope that it could ever be overcome.
Surely the Constitution of the United States was not framed to meet or to fit such a condition of affairs. It was a compact entered into between independent states for the declared purpose of promot- ing the "common defense and general welfare," and of "insuring domestic tranquility." It was a league between friends, not between enemies; and when conditions arose which arrayed the sections in permanent conflict with each other, and changed their relations and feeling towards each other" from friendship into enmity, he must have been blind, indeed, who could not see that the continuance of a vol- untary union became impossible.
' Mr. Davis naturally espoused the cause of his people, and became one of its ablest and most ardent advocates. None saw more clearly or deprecated more deeply the inevitable result of the continuance of such a conflict. He proclaimed on all occasions his love for the Union. He had spent almost his entire life in its service. Although