search
top

From Across the Rubicon

SayUncle points out that Wyoming is telling the feds to go to hell in regards to a lot of their less-than-civil-rights-respecting laws.  Montana did a similar action with federal gun laws.  These are largely symbolic gestures, because despite all this, Montana and Wyoming are still committed to being a functioning part of the United States.

But what if they weren’t?  What if the federal government crossed the Rubicon of gun control?  We often like to think that the federal government will meet mass resistance should the “knock on the door” ever come, but they probably won’t.  Lone individual action will not be how an onerous federal gun measure will be successfully resisted.  No doubt some individuals will try, with the end result being those individuals end up dead, possibly along with their families.  I don’t think the answer to the “Crossed Rubicon” problem lies in relying on that possibility.  The knock won’t likely come from men in jack boots, disarming people to ship them off in cattle cars and toss them into ovens.  It’ll come from a happy, smiling government that wants to take care of everybody, and surely you don’t need guns in such a happy utopia.

Most non-sociopathic human beings have powerful mental programming that prevents them from going against the tribe.  It’s easy to say “I’ll shoot any son of a bitch that comes for my guns.” from the comfort of a lounge or living room.  It’s quite another thing to actually do it; to put a fellow countryman in the cross hairs, one that’s likely to represent a government that looks more like Sweden than 1930s Germany, and actually pull the trigger.  It is not something the vast majority of law abiding people are capable of doing.  I have no doubt some will, but the numbers will be very small, too small to make any difference in the end.  Such action will likely strengthen the resolve of those who want to bring us paradise.

Whether we realize it or not, Wyoming and Montana are showing us how it could be done, effectively done.  They key to resisting an unconstitutional federal government is state action, but something more than mere symbolic action.  What if, for instance, Montana declared that federal gun control was invalid and unconstitutional, and threatened to arrest any federal agent who entered Montana to enforce it?  How far would the federal government be willing to press Montana?  What are other Americans willing to sacrifice in order to impose gun control on states that don’t want it?  In this hypothetical scenario, Montana would have to be deadly serious about enforcing their edicts.  Attempts by the federal government to impose control over the situation would need to be met with quite real threats of secession, along with the attendant violence that could go along with such an audacious move. Montana would essentially be asking the nation a very serious question “Are you so intent on gun control that you’re willing to risk the cohesion and integrity of the United States, and to risk violence against the citizens of several of our states to enforce it?”  Unless Americans change greatly, the answer to that is probably going to be no, and it would offer a peaceful way for the federal government to retreat back across the Rubicon.

This scenario offers three very important things — It offers people, who want to resist, the legitimacy of a functioning, lawful government to rally around, as an alternative to dying in a desperate, lone action.  It offers a means of collective confrontation with the federal government that wouldn’t have to turn violent except as a final resort, and finally it offers an opportunity for the proponents of gun control to back down from the brink.

The question second amendment advocates need to be thinking about isn’t “Where’s the line in the sand where I start shooting.” but “Where’s my line in the sand where I start lobbying my state government to stand up to this crap?”  We have to keep the spirit of defiance alive in our state cultures.  Secession has a lot of negative connotations to many people, since the last time we did it, it was in defense of slavery, but its possibility a critical aspect in the balance of power between the federal and state governments.  It is the ultimate trump card, one that must be played with utmost care, but it must be kept in play.  That’s tough in an age where all the states suckle at the federal teat, but if we’re to remain under a federal government limited by the a constitution, more states have to start acting like Montana and Wyoming, and be willing to tell the federal government to go to hell, with all the terrible consequences that statement could have if they were to one day be serious about it.

16 Responses to “From Across the Rubicon”

  1. SayUncle says:

    see updates. story looks faked.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Damn… I hate it when facts get in the way of a perfectly good post :)

  3. Kristopher says:

    Yep … and the Montana initiatives kinda fell apart. Introduced, but went nowhere.

    Montana is a bit schizo … very red, but the miner’s union folks keep electing Democrats out of Butte. Add the californicators in Kalispell, and the state tends to wander in two directions at once.

  4. Matt says:

    A good post nonetheless. For what it’s worth, you knocked it out of the park.

  5. Magus says:

    Money.

    When the States paid the federal budget, the States could withhold money from the Federal and bring it into line.

    Now, the people pay directly to the federal–the federal withholds money from the States to bring them to their knees.

    What happens when a State tells the federal government to take a fuck you dive into a septic tank? The fed withholds money, the State comes into line, and the people get fucked.

    It’s happened before, it is happening now, and that’s what’ll happen in the future–unless there is a massive change in the political tendencies in the Union very, very, soon.

  6. Sebastian says:

    That’s how things work under ordinary circumstances. States like Montana would take a bite, because they take in from the federal government more than they pay to it at a ratio of 1:43:1. Wyoming is a bit less, 1.09:1. Idaho’s ratio is the same as Montana’s. Ironically, the most pro-gun states are the biggest recipients of federal money. It would definitely hurt, but it wouldn’t be impossible if the people in those states were determined to keep their independence.

  7. Nate says:

    I wonder how many freedom lovers would go to Montana and/or Wyoming if they took a Cowboy Hard stand to the federal governments encroachment on ALL our rights. If the governors of the states were smart they could turn that possible flood of people into a substitution for that federal money.

  8. Magus says:

    Sebastian, what makes me want to cry, is the fact that people aren’t determined to keep their independence. You have people within the United States who believe in Hillary, Obama, and McCane.

    Just the other day I had someone tell me the Constitution was “outdated”. I told him that I don’t believe so and that if something needs to be changed there are methods described within it to amend/change it. I also told him that ignoring the Law was no way to run a country.

    He didn’t care, he said that “belief in the Constitution is holding society back”.

    What do you do? You try to educate and they refuse to listen, refuse to think, and refuse to question…

  9. Sebastian says:

    You can say that about a lot of people, but not all. Even at the time of the American Revolution, only about 1/3rd of Americans supported its goals. The other third were loyalists, and 1/3rd just didn’t care.

    You can make a difference as a minority. Make no mistake, I have no doubt that New Jersey, New York, California, and the other urbanized states will swallow the wedge, but there are other states where the population maintains a healthy loathing of federal meddling, and Montana is one of them. I would move there in a second if the feds crossed the line and Montana was resisting them. I think it makes a lot more sense to rally around a government standing up for you than it does being the lone guy on your street who decides a standoff with the All The King’s Men is the prudent path forward.

  10. tjbbpgob says:

    Your statement that secession was in defense of slavery was completely erroneous. Secession was for the express reason you state Wyoming and Montana are supposedly taking the stand they are(if they are indeed) states rights. Lincoln didn’t even make it an issue until late 1863 or some such. I hope my facts are correct and that The war Between the States ended for all time the issue of states rights.

  11. mark says:

    Sadly, I agree that any “resistance” would come from a very few and scattered
    folks who would not necessarily be very social in any case -“Sociopaths” probably says it best.
    Most “normal” citizens would just go along with the changes to gain some illusion of “security” orsome such intangible at the expense of the end of any civil rights.

    When the Patriot Act became law, there was almost no protest, cartainly no resistance on any meaningful scale. I’m not sure if this was due to feat of our government, fear of terrorism, or apathy, but probably a bit of all of these.

    If the Patriot Act had been proposed by a Democratic Administration, the wails any cries of the Republican Right would have been deafening, but they seem to be in the vanguard of those who would happily give up all civil rights in the name of security.

    M. Bush’s concept of the USA and of government in general makes me sick and the sheer numbers of American citizens who still love and support this guy and his policies is depressing.

    mark

  12. w says:

    Good post, but you’re missing one key ingredient, repeal of the 17th (and the 16th) amendment to the constitution. The reality is that the states have NO representative in Washington, DC. Senators are glorified representatives with 6 year terms.

    The fact remains that when the 17th amendment was ratified the states (people) ceded most, if not all control, to a strong central government. Many people say that the 10th amendment died with The War of Northern Aggression; well, “state’s rights” was effectively killed with the 17th.

    So, when those individuals who rail against the corrosive and corruptive influences of “money in politics”, and thus supported McCain-Feingold, I simply ask them why they are surprised. Why should any US Senator listen to the citizens of his state when he is beholden to those groups that provide him the funds necessary to remain in office? Nor do I fault any “special-interest” group or lobbyist for trying to influence issues that affect them; IT’S PROTECTION MONEY!!!!

    Whether it’s 2A issues or other policies, the fact remains that the US Senate insulated itself from the accountability of its state legislature, and citizens. I love how the media decries the lack of citizen participation in local issues…what a joke! Why bother? The only true federal office for which we can vote is our US representative.

    If the respective legislatures of each state actually appointed their US senators (as the Founders enumerated…DUH!) we citizens, through our state houses, could actually have an impact by LIMITING the size of Washignton, DC’s involvement in our daily lives. Bottom line; Federalism works best.

    Now, couple the affect of the 17th on Federalism with the narcotic-like dependency of monies collected from the 16th and you have the ultimate recipe for timid state governments that will fold like a cheap road map (that’s a navigation device for those of you who have only used GPS, and not old enough to remember navigating via Rand McNally:)

    While noble and naive, the states are toothless until we restore our nation’s “natural order”. REPEAL THE 16TH and 17TH AMENDMENTS!!!

    W

  13. R.J. says:

    As far as putting one’s countrymen in the crosshairs, one would have to finally make the decision that the other is no longer a fellow countryman, but an enemy. The Jews did this in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Cops apparently do this routinely, which may be necessary when they are arresting a true criminal, but becomes a very dangerous precedent when they batter a little old lady, rip the gunfrom her hand, cuff her, and yank her from her house, as they did to Patricia Konie after Katrina. We The People will have to think like this someday. Our gov’t disregards the Constitution in all aspects now, and we will have to have this mindset when it goes completely rogue.

  14. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    The Confederacy seceded in order to protect the institution of slavery. Period. (There were a couple of states that seceded only after fighting started, so maybe they get a pass.)

    Lincoln’s election platform was to halt the spread of slavery to the territories; this would prevent more pro-slavery Senators from joining the Senate, thus defeating slavery (eventually)*. He waited until 1863 because he didn’t believe there was enough political support to end (most) slavery.

  15. tjbbpgob says:

    “Lincoln’s election platform” for Alcibiades McZombie. Please read what Lincoln said here. Nomatter what we think of slavery today and how vile the institution was the states had the right to secede, I believe, but it wasn’t a good thing to do, obviously

    Select Search —– All Bartleby.com —– All Reference —– Columbia Encyclopediad World History Encyclopedia Cultural Literacy World Factbook Columbia Gazetteer American Heritage Coll. Dictionary Roget’s Thesauri Roget’s II: Thesaurus Roget’s Int’l Thesaurus Quotations Bartlett’s Quotations Columbia Quotations Simpson’s Quotations Respectfully Quoted English Usage Modern Usage American English Fowler’s King’s English Strunk’s Style Mencken’s Language Cambridge History The King James Bible Oxford Shakespeare Gray’s Anatomy Farmer’s Cookbook Post’s Etiquette Brewer’s Phrase & Fable Bulfinch’s Mythology Frazer’s Golden Bough —– All Verse —– Anthologies Dickinson, E. Eliot, T.S. Frost, R. Hopkins, G.M. Keats, J. Lawrence, D.H. Masters, E.L. Sandburg, C. Sassoon, S. Whitman, W. Wordsworth, W. Yeats, W.B. —– All Nonfiction —– Harvard Classics American Essays Einstein’s Relativity Grant, U.S. Roosevelt, T. Wells’s History Presidential Inaugurals —– All Fiction —– Shelf of Fiction Ghost Stories Short Stories Shaw, G.B. Stein, G. Stevenson, R.L. Wells, H.G.

    Reference > Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents

    PREVIOUS NEXT

    CONTENTS BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD

    Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States. 1989.

    Abraham Lincoln
    First Inaugural Address
    Monday, March 4, 1861

    ——————————————————————————–

    ——————————————————————————–

    The national upheaval of secession was a grim reality at Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. Jefferson Davis had been inaugurated as the President of the Confederacy two weeks earlier. The former Illinois Congressman had arrived in Washington by a secret route to avoid danger, and his movements were guarded by General Winfield Scott’s soldiers. Ignoring advice to the contrary, the President-elect rode with President Buchanan in an open carriage to the Capitol, where he took the oath of office on the East Portico. Chief Justice Roger Taney administered the executive oath for the seventh time. The Capitol itself was sheathed in scaffolding because the copper and wood “Bulfinch” dome was being replaced with a cast iron dome designed by Thomas U. Walter.

    ——————————————————————————–

    ——————————————————————————–

    Fellow-Citizens of the United States:

    IN compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of this office.” 1
    I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement. 2
    Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—
    I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. 3
    Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
    Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes. 4
    I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause—as cheerfully to one section as to another. 5
    There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:
    No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due. 6
    It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution—to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause “shall be delivered up” their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly equal unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath? 7
    There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by State authority, but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him or to others by which authority it is done. And should anyone in any case be content that his oath shall go unkept on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept? 8
    Again: In any law upon this subject ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not in any case surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that “the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States”? 9
    I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules; and while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand unrepealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional. 10
    It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our National Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens have in succession administered the executive branch of the Government. They have conducted it through many perils, and generally with great success. Yet, with all this scope of precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted. 11
    I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself. 12
    Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it? 13
    Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was “to form a more perfect Union.” 14
    But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity. 15
    It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances. 16
    I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. 17
    In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices. 18
    The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favorable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed unless current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper, and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections. 19
    That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events and are glad of any pretext to do it I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak? 20
    Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ones you fly from, will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake? 21
    All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly written in the Constitution has been denied? I think not. Happily, the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might in a moral point of view justify revolution; certainly would if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. 22
    From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this. 23
    Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession? 24
    Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left. 25
    I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the Government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes. 26
    One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, can not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other. 27
    Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you. 28
    This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable. 29
    The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose, but the Executive as such has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor. 30
    Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people. 31
    By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years. 32
    My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty. 33
    In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.” 34
    I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. 35

    CONTENTS BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD

    PREVIOUS NEXT

    Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

    Welcome · Press · Advertising · Linking · Terms of Use · © 2008 Bartleby.com

    .

  16. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    The only thing that speech proves is that Abe Lincoln was a genius.

    I don’t see how Lincoln’s speech proves me wrong.

    His speech boils down to:
    *Whether Northern states must enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.
    *Whether slavery can be banned in the territories.
    *Secession won’t solve the divide between the two sections.
    *The Union can only be dissolved by a majority of the States.

    If you want a better rebuttal, you’re going to have to expound on that speech, because it currently agrees with what I’ve said.

top