Mr. President, one honorable Senator says the amount is not sufficient to induce a capitalist to invest his money in the enterprise. Others, again, say it is far too much; more than we can afford to give for the construction of the work. Let us see which is right. The government is to give twenty millions in all out of the treasury for the road; or we issue bonds and pay five per cent, interest annually upon them, and twenty millions in lands, which, if regarded as money, amounts to a cost to the government of two millions per annum.
What are the objects to be accomplished? A daily mail from the valley of the Mississippi to the Pacific; the free transportation of all troops and munitions of war required for the protection and defense of our possessions on the Pacific; which we could not hold three months in a war either with England or France, without such a road. By building this road we accomplish this further object: This road will be the most effective and powerful check that can be interposed by the government upon Indian depredations and aggressions upon our frontiers or upon each other; the northern tribes upon the southern, and the southern upon the northern. You cut them in two. You will be constantly in their midst, and cut off their intercommunication and hostile depredations. You will have a line of quasi fortifications, a line of posts and stations, with settlements on each side of the road. Every few miles you will thus have settlements strong enough to defend themselves against inroads of the Indians, and so constituting a wall of separation between the Indian tribes, composed of a white population, with arms in their hands. This object alone would, perhaps, be worth as much as the road will cost; and when I speak of what the road will be worth in this respect, I mean to say, that besides the prevention of savage warfare, the effusion of blood, it will save millions of dollars to the treasury annually, in the greater economy attained in moving troops and military supplies and preventing hostilities.
. . .
I have been thus particular in noting these things because I want to show where or on which side the balance will be found in the adjustment of the responsibility account between the friends and the opponents of this measure—which will have the heaviest account to settle with the country.
For myself, I am not wedded to this particular scheme. Rather than have no road, I would prefer to adopt other projects. I am now advocating one which I supposed would meet the views of a greater number of Senators than any other. I think great honor is due to Mr. Whitney for having originated the scheme, and having obtained the sanction of the legislatures of seventeen or eighteen States of the Union. Rather than have the project altogether fail, I would be willing to adopt this plan. It may not offer the same advantages for a speedy consummation of the work; but still, we would have a road in prospect, and that would be a great deal. But if gentlemen are to rise here in their places year after year—and this is the fifth year from the time we ought to have undertaken this work—and tell us it is just time to commence a survey, we will never have a road. The honorable Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Butler] says there ought to be some limitation in this idea of progress, when regarded as a spur to great activity and energy, as to what we shall do in our day. He says we have acquired California; we have opened up those rich regions on our western borders, which promises such magnificent results; and he asks, is not that enough for the present generation? Leave it to the nest generation to construct a work of such magnitude as this—requiring forty millions of dollars from the government. Mr. President, I have said that if the condition was a road or no road, I would regard one hundred and fifty millions of dollars as well laid out by the government for the work; though I have no idea that it will take such an amount. Eighty or one hundred millions of dollars will build the road.
But with regard to what is due from this generation to itself, or what may be left to the next generation, I say it is for the present generation that we want the road. As to our having acquired California, and opened this new world of commerce and enterprise, and as to what we shall leave to the next generation, I say that, after we of this generation shall have constructed this road, we will, perhaps, not even leave to the next generation the construction of a second one. The present generation, in my opinion, will not pass away until it shall have seen two great lines of railroads in prosperous operation between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and within our own territory, and still leave quite enough to the next generation—the third and fourth great lines of communication between the two extremes of the continent. One, at least, is due to ourselves, and to the present generation; and I hope there are many within the sound of my voice who will live to see it accomplished. We want that new Dorado, the new Ophir of America, to be thrown open and placed within the reach of the whole people. We want the great cost, the delays, as well as the privations and risks of a passage to California, by the malarious Isthmus of Panama, or any other of the routes now in use, to be mitigated, or done away with. There will be some greater equality in the enjoyment and advantages of these new acquisitions upon the Pacific coast when this road shall be constructed. The inexhaustible gold mines, or placers of California, will no longer be accessible only to the more robust, resolute, or desperate part of our population, and who may be already well enough off to pay their passage by sea, or provide an outfit for an overland travel of two and three thousand miles. Enterprising young men all over the country, who can command the pittance of forty or fifty dollars to pay their railroad fare; heads of families who have the misfortune to be poor, but spirit and energy enough to seek comfort and independence by labor, will no longer be restrained by the necessity of separating themselves from their families, but have it in their power, with such small means as they may readily command, in eight or ten days, to find themselves with their whole households transported and set down in the midst of the gold regions of the West, at full liberty to possess and enjoy whatever of the rich harvest spread out before them their industry and energy shall entitle them to. It will be theirs by as good a title as any can boast who have had the means to precede them. We hear much said of late of the justice and policy of providing a homestead, a quarter section of the public land, to every poor and landless family in the country. Make this road, and you enable every poor man in the country to buy a much better homestead, and retain all the pride and spirit of independence. Gentlemen here may say that the region of California, so inviting, and abundant in gold now, will soon be exhausted, and all these bright prospects for the enterprising poor pass away. No, sir; centuries will pass—ages and ages must roll away before those gold-bearing mountains shall all have been excavated—those auriferous sands and alluvial deposits shall give out all their wealth; and even after all these shall have failed, the beds of the rivers will yield a generous return to the toil of the laborer. ...
Mr. President, I alluded to the importance of having a communication by railway between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean, in the event of war with any great maritime Power. I confess that the debates upon the subject of our foreign relations within the last few weeks, if all that was said had commanded my full assent, would have dissipated very much the force of any argument which I thought might be fairly urged in favor of this road as a necessary work for the protection and security of our possessions on the Pacific coast. We now hear it stated, and reiterated by grave and respectable and intelligent Senators, that there is no reason that any one should apprehend a war with either Great Britain or France. Not now, nor at any time in the future; at all events, unless there shall be a total change in the condition, social, political, and economical, of those Powers, and especially as regards Great Britain. All who have spoken agree that there is no prospect of war. None at all. I agree that I can see nothing in the signs of the times which is indicative of immediate and certain war. Several gentlemen have thrown out the idea that we hold the bond of Great Britain to keep the peace, with ample guarantees and sureties, not only for the present time, but for an indefinite time; and as long as Great Britain stands as an independent monarchy. These sureties and guarantees are said to consist in the discontented and destitute class of her population, of her operatives and laborers, and the indispensable necessity of the cotton crop of the United States in furnishing them with employment and subsistence, without which it is said she would be torn with internal strife.
I could tell gentlemen who argue in that way, that we have another guarantee that Great Britain will not break with the United States for any trivial cause, which they have not thought proper to raise. We may threaten and denounce and bluster as much as we please about British violations of the Clayton and Bulwer treaty, and the Mosquito protectorate, about the assumption of territorial dominion over the Balize or British Honduras, and the new colony of the Bay Islands; and Great Britain will negotiate, explain, treat, and transgress, and negotiate again, and resort to any device, before she will go to war with us, as long as she can hope to prolong the advantages to herself of the free-trade policy now established with the United States. It is not only the cotton crop of America which she covets, but it is the rich market for the products of her manufacturing industry, which she finds in the United States; and this has contributed as much as any other cause to improve the condition of her operatives, and impart increased prosperity to her trade and revenue. As long as we think proper to hold to our present commercial regulations, I repeat that it will require very great provocation on our part to force Great Britain into a war with the United States. . . .
As for this road, we are told at every turn that it is ridiculous to talk of war in connection with it, for we will have no wars except those with the Indians. Both England and France dare not go to war with us. I say this course of argument is not only unwise and delusive, but if such sentiments take hold on the country, they will be mischievous; they will almost to a certainty lead to a daring and reckless policy on our part; and as each government labors under a similar delusion as to what the other will not dare to do, what is more probable than that both may get into such a position—the result of a mutual mistake—that war must ensue? It is worth while to reflect upon the difference between the policy of Great Britain and this country in her diplomatic correspondence and debates in Parliament. When we make a threat, Great Britain does not threaten in turn. We hear of no gasconade on her part. If we declare that we have a just right to latitude 54 degrees 40', and will maintain our right at all hazard, she does not bluster, and threaten, and declare what she will do, if we dare to cany out our threat. When we talk about the Mosquito king, of Balize, and of the Bay Islands, and declare our determination to drive her from her policy and purposes in regard to them, we do not hear of an angry form of expression from her. We employed very strong language last year in regard to the rights of American fishermen; but the reply of Great Britain scarcely assumed the tone of remonstrance against the intemperate tone of our debates. Her policy upon all such occasions is one of wisdom. Her strong and stern purpose is seldom to be seen in her diplomatic intercourse, or in the debates of her leading statesmen; but if you were about her dock-yards, or in her foundries, or her timber-yards, and her great engine manufactories, and her armories, you would find some bustle and stir. There, all is life and motion.
I have always thought that the proper policy of this country is to make no threats—to make no parade of what we intend to do. Let us put the country in a condition to defend its honor and interests; to maintain them successfully whenever they may be assailed; no matter by what Power, whether by Great Britain, or France, or both combined. Make this road; complete the defenses of the country, of your harbors, and navy yards; strengthen your navy—put it upon an efficient footing; appropriate ample means for making experiments to ascertain the best model of ships-of-war, to be driven by steam or any other motive power; the best models of the engines to be employed in them; to inquire whether a large complement of guns, or a few guns of great calibre, is the better plan. We may well, upon such questions, take a lesson from England. At a recent period she has been making experiments of this nature, in order to give increased efficiency to her naval establishment. How did she set about it? Her Admiralty Board gave orders for eleven of the most perfect engines that could be built by eleven of the most skillful and eminent engine-builders in the United Kingdom, without limit as to the cost, or any other limitation, except as to class or size. At the same time orders were issued for the building of thirteen frigates of a medium class by thirteen of the most skillful shipbuilders in the kingdom, in order to ascertain the best models, the best running lines, and the best of every other quality desirable in a war vessel. This is the mode in which Great Britain prepares for any contingencies which may arise. She cannot tell when they may occur, yet she knows that she has no immunity from those chances which, at some time or other, are seen to happen to all nations. In my opinion, the construction of this road from the Mississippi to the Pacific is essential to the protection and safety of this country, in the event of a war with any great maritime Power. It may take ten years to complete it; but every hundred miles of it, which may be finished before the occurrence of war, will be just so much gained—so much added to our ability to maintain our honor in that war. In every view of this question I can take, I am persuaded that we ought at least prepare to commence the work, and do it immediately.
JUDAH PHILIP BENJAMIN (1811-1884)
Judah P. Benjamin, the "Beaconsfield of the Confederacy," was born at St. Croix in the West Indies, where his parents, a family of English-Jews, on their way to settle in New Orleans, were delayed by the American measures against intercourse with England. In 1816 his parents brought him to Wilmington, North Carolina, where, and at Yale College, he was educated. Not until after he was ready to begin life at the bar, did he reach New Orleans, the destination for which his parents had set out before he was born. In New Orleans, after a severe struggle, he rose to eminence as a lawyer, and his firm, of which Mr. Slidell was a partner, was the leading law firm of the State. He was elected to the United States Senate as a Whig in 1852 and re-elected as a Democrat in 1859. With Mr. Slidell, who was serving with him in the Senate, he withdrew in 1861 and became Attorney-General in the Confederate cabinet. He was afterwards made Secretary of War, but as the Confederate congress censured him in that position he resigned it and Mr. Davis immediately appointed him Secretary of State. After the close of the war, when pursuit after members of the Confederate cabinet was active, he left the coast of Florida in an open boat and landed at the Bahamas, taking passage thence to London where he rose to great eminence as a lawyer. He was made Queen's Counsel, and on his retirement from practice, because of ill health, in 1883, a farewell banquet was given him by the bar in the hall of the Inner Temple, probably the most notable compliment paid in England to any orator since the banquet to Berryer. He died in 1884.
Benjamin was called the "brains of the Confederacy" and in acuteness of intellect he probably surpassed most men of his time. He resembled Disraeli in this as well as in being a thorough-going believer in an aristocratic method of government rather than in one based on universal suffrage and the will of the masses determined by majority vote.
FAREWELL TO THE UNION (On Leaving the United States Senate in 1861)
Mr. President, if we were engaged in the performance of our accustomed legislative duties, I might well rest content with the simple statement of my concurrences in the remarks just made by my colleague [Mr. Slidell]. Deeply impressed, however, with the solemnity of the occasion, I cannot remain insensible to the duty of recording, among the authentic reports of your proceedings, the expression of my conviction that the State of Louisiana has judged and acted well and wisely in this crisis of her destiny.
Sir, it has been urged, on more than one occasion, in the discussions here and elsewhere, that Louisiana stands on an exceptional footing. It has been said that whatever may be the rights of the States that were original parties to the Constitution, —even granting their right to resume, for sufficient cause, those restricted powers which they delegated to the general government in trust for their own use and benefit,—still Louisiana can have no such right, because she was acquired by purchase. Gentlemen have not hesitated to speak of the sovereign States formed out of the territory ceded by France as property bought with the money of the United States, belonging to them as purchasers; and, although they have not carried their doctrine to its legitimate results, I must conclude that they also mean to assert, on the same principle, the right of selling for a price that which for a price was bought.
I shall not pause to comment on this repulsive dogma of a party which asserts the right of property in free-born white men, in order to reach its cherished object of destroying the right of property in slave-born black men—still less shall I detain the Senate in pointing out how shadowy the distinction between the condition of the servile African and that to which the white freeman of my State would be reduced, if it, indeed, be true that they are bound to this government by ties that cannot be legitimately dissevered without the consent of that very majority which wields its powers for their oppression. I simply deny the fact on which the argument is founded. I deny that the province of Louisiana, or the people of Louisiana, were ever conveyed to the United States for a price as property that could be bought or sold at will. Without entering into the details of the negotiation, the archives of our State Department show the fact to be, that although the domain, the public lands, and other property of France in the ceded province, were conveyed by absolute title to the United States, the sovereignty was not conveyed otherwise than in trust.
A hundredfold, sir, has the Government of the United States been reimbursed by the sales of public property, of public lands, for the price of the acquisition; but not with the fidelity of the honest trustee has it discharged the obligations as regards the sovereignty.
I have said that the government assumed to act as trustee or guardian of the people of the ceded province, and covenanted to transfer to them the sovereignty thus held in trust for their use and benefit, as soon as they were capable of exercising it. What is the express language of the treaty?
"The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyments of all rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the United States; and in the meantime they shall be maintained and protected in the enjoyment of their liberty, property, and the religion which they profess."
And, sir, as if to mark the true nature of the cession in a manner too significant to admit of misconstruction, the treaty stipulates no price; and the sole consideration for the conveyance, as stated on its face, is the desire to afford a strong proof of the friendship of France for the United States. By the terms of a separate convention stipulating the payment of a sum of money, the precaution is again observed of stating that the payment is to be made, not as a consideration or a price or a condition precedent of the cession, but it is carefully distinguished as being a consequence of the cession. It was by words thus studiously chosen, sir, that James Monroe and Thomas Jefferson marked their understanding of a contract now misconstrued as being a bargain and sale of sovereignty over freemen. With what indignant scorn would those stanch advocates of the inherent right of self-government have repudiated the slavish doctrine now deduced from their action!
How were the obligations of this treaty fulfilled? That Louisiana at that date contained slaves held as property by her people through the whole length of the Mississippi Valley, that those people had an unrestricted right of settlement with their slaves under legal protection throughout the entire ceded province, no man has ever yet had the hardihood to deny. Here is a treaty promise to protect their property—their slave property—in that Territory, before it should become a State. That this promise was openly violated, in the adjustment forced upon the South at the time of the admission of Missouri, is a matter of recorded history. The perspicuous and unanswerable exposition of Mr. Justice Catron, in the opinion delivered by him in the Dred Scott case, will remain through all time as an ample vindication of this assertion.
If then, sir, the people of Louisiana had a right, which Congress could not deny, of the admission into the Union with all the rights of all the citizens of the United States, it is in vain that the partisans of the right of the majority to govern the minority with despotic control, attempt to establish a distinction, to her prejudice, between her rights and those of any other State. The only distinction which really exists is this, that she can point to a breach of treaty stipulations expressly guaranteeing her rights, as a wrong superadded to those which have impelled a number of her sister States to the assertion of their independence.
The rights of Louisiana as a sovereign State are those of Virginia; no more, no less. Let those who deny her right to resume delegated powers successfully refute the claim of Virginia to the same right, in spite of her express reservation made and notified to her sister States when she consented to enter the Union! And, sir, permit me to say that, of all the causes which justify the action of the Southern States, I know none of greater gravity and more alarming magnitude than that now developed of the right of secession. A pretension so monstrous as that which perverts a restricted agency constituted by sovereign States for common purposes, into the unlimited despotism of the majority, and denies all legitimate escape from such despotism, when powers not delegated are usurped, converts the whole constitutional fabric into the secure abode of lawless tyranny, and degrades sovereign States into provincial dependencies.
It is said that the right of secession, if conceded, makes of our government a mere rope of sand; that to assert its existence imputes to the framers of the Constitution the folly of planting the seeds of death in that which was designed for perpetual existence. If this imputation were true, sir, it would merely prove that their offspring was not exempt from that mortality which is the common lot of all that is not created by higher than human power. But it is not so, sir. Let facts answer theory. For two-thirds of a century this right has been known by many of the States to be, at all times, within their power. Yet, up to the present period, when its exercise has become indispensable to a people menaced with absolute extermination, there have been but two instances in which it has been even threatened seriously; the first, when Massachusetts led the New England States in an attempt to escape from the dangers of our last war with Great Britain; the second, when the same State proposed to secede on account of the admission of Texas as a new State into the Union.
Sir, in the language of our declaration of secession from Great Britain, it is stated as an established truth, that "all experience has shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they have been accustomed"; and nothing can be more obvious to the calm and candid observer of passing events than that the disruption of the Confederacy has been due, in a great measure, not to the existence, but to the denial of this right. Few candid men would refuse to admit that the Republicans of the North would have been checked in their mad career had they been convinced of the existence of this right, and the intention to assert it. The very knowledge of its existence by preventing occurrences which alone could prompt its exercise would have rendered it a most efficient instrument in the preservation of the Union, But, sir, if the fact were otherwise— if all the teachings of experience were reversed—better, far better, a rope of sand, aye, the flimsiest gossamer that ever glistened in the morning dew, than chains of iron and shackles of steel; better the wildest anarchy, with the hope, the chance, of one hour's inspiration of the glorious breath of freedom, than ages of the hopeless bondage and oppression to which our enemies would reduce us.
We are told that the laws must be enforced; that the revenues must be collected; that the South is in rebellion without cause, and that her citizens are traitors.
Rebellion! the very word is a confession; an avowal of tyranny, outrage, and oppression. It is taken from the despot's code, and has no terror for others than slavish souls. When, sir, did millions of people, as a single man, rise in organized, deliberate, unimpassioned rebellion against justice, truth, and honor? Well did a great Englishman exclaim on a similar occasion:—
"You might as well tell me that they rebelled against the light of heaven, that they rejected the fruits of the earth. Men do not war against their benefactors; they are not mad enough to repel the instincts of self-preservation. I pronounce fearlessly that no intelligent people ever rose, or ever will rise, against a sincere, rational, and benevolent authority. No people were ever born blind. Infatuation is not a law of human nature. When there is a revolt by a free people, with the common consent of all classes of society, there must be a criminal against whom that revolt is aimed."
Traitors! Treason! Ay, sir, the people of the South imitate and glory in just such treason as glowed in the soul of Hampden; just such treason as leaped in living flame from the impassioned lips of Henry; just such treason as encircles with a sacred halo the undying name of Washington.
You will enforce the laws. You want to know if we have a government; if you have any authority to collect revenue; to wring tribute from an unwilling people? Sir, humanity desponds, and all the inspiring hopes of her progressive improvement vanish into empty air at the reflections which crowd on the mind at hearing repeated, with aggravated enormity, the sentiments against which a Chatham launched his indignant thunders nearly a century ago. The very words of Lord North and his royal master are repeated here in debate, not as quotations, but as the spontaneous outpourings of a spirit the counterpart of theirs.
In Lord North's speech on the destruction of the tea in Boston harbor, he said:—
"We are no longer to dispute between legislation and taxation; we are now only to consider whether or not we have any authority there. It is very clear we have none, if we suffer the property of our subjects to be destroyed. We must punish, control, or yield to them."
And thereupon he proposed to close the port of Boston, just as the representatives of Massachusetts now propose to close the port of Charleston, in order to determine whether or not you have any authority there. It is thus that, in 1861, Boston is to pay her debt of gratitude to Charleston, which, in the days of her struggle, proclaimed the generous sentiment that "the cause of Boston was the cause of Charleston." Who, after this, will say that republicans are ungrateful? Well, sir, the statesmen of Great Britain answered to Lord North's appeal, "yield." The courtiers and the politicians said, "punish," "control." The result is known. History gives you the lesson. Profit by its teachings!
So, sir, in the address sent under the royal sign-manual to Parliament, it was invoked to take measures "for better securing the execution of the laws," and it acquiesced in the suggestion. Just as now, a senile executive, under the sinister influence of insane counsels, is proposing, with your assent, "to secure the better execution of the laws," by blockading ports and turning upon the people of the States the artillery which they provided at their own expense for their own defense, and intrusted to you and to him for that and for no other purpose—nay, even in States that are now exercising the undoubted and most precious rights of a free people; where there is no secession; where the citizens are assembling to hold peaceful elections for considering what course of action is demanded in this dread crisis by a due regard for their own safety and their own liberty; aye, even in Virginia herself, the people are to cast their suffrages beneath the undisguised menaces of a frowning fortress. Cannon are brought to bear on their homes, and parricidal hands are preparing weapons for rending the bosom of the mother of Washington.
Sir, when Great Britain proposed to exact tribute from your fathers against their will, Lord Chatham said:—
"Whatever is a man's own is absolutely his own; no man has a right to take it from him without his consent. Whoever attempts to do it attempts an injury. Whoever does it commits a robbery. You have no right to tax America. I rejoice that America has resisted.
"Let the sovereign authority of this country over the colonies be asserted in as strong terms as can be devised, and be made to extend to every point of legislation whatever, so that we may bind their trade, confine their manufactures, and exercise every power, except that of taking money out of their own pockets without their consent."
It was reserved for the latter half of the nineteenth century, and for the Congress of a Republic of free men, to witness the willing abnegation of all power, save that of exacting tribute. What Imperial Britain, with the haughtiest pretensions of unlimited power over dependent colonies, could not even attempt without the vehement protest of her greatest statesmen, is to be enforced in aggravated form, if you can enforce it, against independent States.
Good God, sir! since when has the necessity arisen of recalling to American legislators the lessons of freedom taught in lisping childhood by loving mothers; that pervade the atmosphere we have breathed from infancy; that so form part of our very being, that in their absence we would lose the consciousness of our own identity? Heaven be praised that not all have forgotten them; that when we shall have left these familiar halls, and when force bills, blockades, armies, navies, and all the accustomed coercive appliances of despots shall be proposed and advocated, voices shall be heard from this side of the chamber that will make its very roof resound with the indignant clamor of outraged freedom. Methinks I still hear ringing in my ears the appeal of the eloquent Representative [Hon. George H. Pendleton, of Ohio], whose Northern home looks down on Kentucky's fertile borders: "Armies, money, blood cannot maintain this Union; justice, reason, peace may."
And now to you, Mr. President, and to my brother Senators, on all sides of this chamber, I bid a respectful farewell; with many of those from whom I have been radically separated in political sentiment, my personal relations have been kindly, and have inspired me with a respect and esteem that I shall not willingly forget; with those around me from the Southern States I part as men part from brothers on the eve of a temporary absence, with a cordial pressure of the hand and a smiling assurance of the speedy renewal of sweet intercourse around the family hearth. But to you, noble and generous friends, who, born beneath other skies, possess hearts that beat in sympathy with ours; to you, who, solicited and assailed by motives the most powerful that could appeal to selfish natures, have nobly spurned them all; to you, who, in our behalf, have bared your breasts to the fierce beatings of the storm, and made willing sacrifice of life's most glittering prizes in your devotion to constitutional liberty; to you, who have made our cause your cause, and from many of whom I feel I part forever, what shall I, can I say? Naught, I know and feel, is needed for myself; but this I will say for the people in whose name I speak to-day: whether prosperous or adverse fortunes await you, one priceless treasure is yours— the assurance that an entire people honor your names, and hold them in grateful and affectionate memory. But with still sweeter and more touching return shall your unselfish devotion be rewarded. When, in after days, the story of the present shall be written, when history shall have passed her stern sentence on the erring men who have driven their unoffending brethren from the shelter of their common home, your names will derive fresh lustre from the contrast; and when your children shall hear repeated the familiar tale, it will be with glowing cheek and kindling eye; their very souls will stand a-tiptoe as their sires are named, and they will glory in their lineage from men of spirit as generous and of patriotism as high-hearted as ever illustrated or adorned the American Senate.
SLAVERY AS ESTABLISHED BY LAW (Delivered in the United States Senate, March 11th, 1858)
Examine your Constitution; are slaves the only species of property there recognized as requiring peculiar protection? Sir, the inventive genius of our brethren of the North is a source of vast wealth to them and vast benefit to the nation. I saw a short time ago in one of the New York journals, that the estimated value of a few of the patents now before us in this capitol for renewal was $40,000,000. I cannot believe that the entire capital invested in inventions of this character in the United States can fall short of one hundred and fifty or two hundred million dollars. On what protection does this vast property rest? Just upon that same constitutional protection which gives a remedy to the slave-owner when his property is also found outside of the limits of the State in which he lives.
Without this protection what would be the condition of the Northern inventor? Why, sir, the Vermont inventor protected by his own law would come to Massachusetts, and there say to the pirate who had stolen his property, "Render me up my property, or pay me value for its use." The Senator from Vermont would receive for answer, if he were the counsel of this Vermont inventor: "Sir, if you want protection for your property go to your own State; property is governed by the laws of the State within whose jurisdiction it is found; you have no property in your invention outside of the limits of your State; you cannot go an inch beyond it." Would not this be so? Does not every man see at once that the right of the inventor to his discovery, that the right of the poet to his inspiration, depends upon those principles of eternal justice which God has implanted in the heart of man; and that wherever he cannot exercise them, it is because man, faithless to the trust that he has received from God, denies them the protection to which they are entitled?
Sir, follow out the illustration which the Senator from Vermont himself has given; take his very case of the Delaware owner of a horse riding him across the line into Pennsylvania. The Senator says, "Now you see that slaves are not property, like other property; if slaves were property like other property, why have you this special clause in your Constitution to protect a slave? You have no clause to protect a horse, because horses are recognized as property everywhere." Mr. President, the same fallacy lurks at the bottom of this argument, as of all the rest. Let Pennsylvania exercise her undoubted jurisdiction over persons and things within her own boundary, let her do as she has a perfect right to do—declare that hereafter, within the State of Pennsylvania, there shall be no property in horses, and that no man shall maintain a suit in her courts for the recovery of property in a horse, and where will your horse owner be then? Just where the English poet is now; just where the slaveholder and the inventor would be if the Constitution, foreseeing a difference of opinion in relation to rights in these subject-matters, had not provided the remedy in relation to such property as might easily be plundered. Slaves, if you please, are not property like other property in this, that you can easily rob us of them; but as to the right in them, that man has to overthrow the whole history of the world, he has to overthrow every treatise on jurisprudence, he has to ignore the common sentiment of mankind, he has to repudiate the authority of all that is considered sacred with man, ere he can reach the conclusion that the person who owns a slave, in a country where slavery has been established for ages, has no other property in that slave than the mere title which is given by the statute law of the land where it is found.