Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/180

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

the misery and the shame of the past, as well as the foils of the present.

Every evil which has befallen our institutions is directly traceable to the perversion of the compact of union and the usurpation by the Federal Government of undelegated powers. Let one memorable example suffice for illustration. When Missouri asked for admission as a State into the Union, to which she had a two-fold right under the constitution and usages of the United States, and also under the terms of the treaty by which the territory was acquired, her application was resisted, and her admission was finally purchased by the unconstitutional concession, miscalled the "Missouri Compromise." When that establishment of a politico-geographical line was announced to the apostle of Democracy, who, full of years and honors, in retirement, watched with profound solicitude the course of the government he had so mainly contributed to inaugurate, his prophetic vision saw the end, of which this was the beginning. The news fell upon his ear "like a fire bell at night."

Men had differed and would differ about measures and public policy, according to their circumstances or mental characteristics. Such differences tended to the elucidation of truth, the triumph of reason over error. Parties so founded would not be sectional; but when the Federal Government made a parallel of latitude a political line, sectional party could not fulfill the ends for which the Union was ordained and established. If the limitations of the constitution had been observed, and its purposes had directed Federal legislation, no such act could have been passed; the lid of the Pandora box might have remained closed, and the country have escaped the long train of similar aggressions which aggrandized one section, impoverished the other, and, adding insult to injury, finally destroyed the fraternity which had bound them together.

It was no part of my purpose, as has been already shown, to discuss the politics of the day, though the deep interest I must ever feel in the affairs of the country has not allowed me to ignore them, and will not permit me to be unobservant of passing events, or indifferent to the humiliating exposures to which the Federal Government has of late been subjected. Separated from any active participation in public affairs, I may not properly judge of those who have to bear the heat and burden of the day. Representing no one, it would be quite unreasonable to hold any other responsible for the opinions which I may entertain. How or when a restoration of the government to the principles and practices of its earlier period may be accomplished, it is not given to us to foresee. For me it remains only earnestly to hope, and hopefully to believe, though I may not see it, that the restoration will come. To disbelieve this, is to discredit the popular intelligence and integrity on which self-government must necessarily depend. Though severely tried, my faith in the people is not lost, and I prayerfully trust, though I should not live to see the hope realized, that it will be permitted to me to die believing that the principles on which our