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Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 20, 1801

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The Great American Revolution of 1861.

The special order-namely, the report of the committee of thirty-three-being under consideration

Mr. VALLANDIGHAM addressed the House as follows:

Mr. SPEAKER: It was my purpose, some three months ago, to speak solely upon the question of peace and war between the two great sections of the Union, and to defend at length the position which, in the very beginning of this crisis, and almost alone, I assumed against the employment of military force by the Federal Govern. ment to execute its laws and restore its authority within the States which might secede. Subsequent events have rendered this unnecessary. Within the three months or more, since the presidential election, so rapid has been the progress of events, and such the magnitude which the movement in the South has attained, that the country has been forced—as this House and the incoming Administration will at last be forced, in spite of their warlike purposes now—to regard it as no longer a mere casual and temporary rebellion of discontented individuals, but a great and terrible REVOLUTION, which threatens now to result in permanent dissolution of the Union, and division into two or more rival, if not hostile, confederacies. Before this dread reality, the atrocious and fruitless policy of a war of coercion to preserve or to restore the Union has, outside, at least, of these walls and of this capital, rapidly dissolved. The people have taken the subjeci up, and have reflected upon it, till to-day, in the South, almost as one man, and by a very large majority, as I believe, in the North, and especially in the West, they are resolved that, whatever else of calamity may befall us, that horrible scourge of civil WAR shall be averted. Sir, I rejoice that the hard Anglo-Saxon sense and pious and humane impulses of the American people have rejected the specious disguise of words without wisdom which appealed to them to enforce the laws, collect the revenue, maintain the Union, and restore the Federal authority by the perilous edge of battle, and that thus early in the revolution they are resolved to cornpel us, their Representatives, belligerent as you of the Republican party here may now be, to the choice of peaceable disunion upon the one hand, or Union through adjustment and conciliation upon the other. Börn, sir, upon the soil of the United States; attached to my country from earliest boyhood; loving and revering her, with some part, at least, of the spirit of Greek and Roman patriotism; between these two alternatives, with all my mind, with all my heart, with all my strength of body and of soul, living or dying, at home or in exile, I am for the Union which made it what it is; and therefore I am also for such terms of peace and adjustment as will maintain that Union now and forever. This, then, is the question which to-day I propose to discuss:


Sir, it is with becoming modesty and with something of awe, that I approach the discussion of a question which the ablest statesmen of the country have failed to solve. But the country expects even the humblest of her children to serve her in this, the hour of her sore trial. This is my apology.

Devoted as I am to the Union, I have yet no eulogies to pronounce upon it to-day. It needs none. Its highest eulogy is the history of this country for the last seventy years. The triumphs of war and the arts of peace, -science; civilization; wealth; population; commerce; trade; manufactures; literature; education; justice; tranquility; security to life, to person, to property, material happiness; common defense ; national renown; all that is implied in the blessings of liberty;" these, and more have been its fruits from the beginning to this hour. These have enshrined it in the.

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hcarts of the people; and, before God, I believe they will restore and preserve it. Åod to-day they demand of us, their ernbassadors and representatives, to tell them how this great work is to be accomplished.

Sir, it has well been said that it is not to be done by eulogies. Eulogy is for times of peace. Neither is it to be done by lainentations over its decline and fall. These are for the poet and the historian, or for the exiled statesman who may chance to sit amid the ruins of desolated cities. Ours is a practical work; and it is the business of the wise and practical statesman to inquire first what the causes are of the evils for which he is required to devise a remedy.

Sir, the subjects of mere pårtisan controversy which have been chietiy discussed here and in the country, so fär, are not the causes, but only the symptoms or developments of the malady which is to be healed. These causes are to be found in the nature of man and in the peculiar nature of our system of governments. Thirst for power and place, or preëminence -in a word, ambition is one of the strongest and earliest developed passions of man. It is as discernible in the schcol-boy as in the statesinan. It belongs alike to the individual and to masses of men, and is exhibited in every gradation of society, from the family up to the highest development of the State. In all voluntary associations of any kind, and in every ccclesiastical crganization, also, it is equally manifested. It is the sin by which the angels fell. No form of government is exempt from it; for even the absolute monarch is obliged to execute his power through the instrumentality of agents; 2nd ambition here courts one master instead of many masters. As between foreign States, it manifests itself in schemes of conquest and territorial aggrandizement. In despotisms, it is shown in intrigues, assassinations, and revolts. In constitutional monarchies and in aristocracies, it exhibits itself in contests among the different orders of society and the several interests of agriculture, trade, commerce, and the professions. In democracies, it is seen everywhere, and in its highest development; for here all the avenues to political place and preferinent, and emolument, too, are open to every citizen ; and all movements and all interests of society, and every great question-moral, social, religious, scientific--no matter what, as tunes, at some time or other, a political complexion, and forms a part of the clection isnes and legislation of the day. Here, when combined with interest, and where the action of the Government may be made a source of wealth, then honor, viriue, patrioti::n, religion, all perish before it. No restraints and no compacts can biril il.

In a Federal Republic all these evils are found in their amplese proportions, and take the form also of rivalries between the States; or more commonly or finally at least, especially where geographical and climatic divisions exist, or where several contiguous Ståles are in the same interest, and sometimes where they are similar in institutions or modes of thought, or in habits and customs, of sectional jealousies and controversies which end always, sooner or later, in either a dissolution of the union between them, or the destruction of the federal character of the government. But however exhibited, wliether in federative or in consolidated governments, or whatever the development may be, the great primary cause is always the same--the feeling that miglit wakes right; ihat the strong ought tu govern the weak; that the will of the mere and absolute majority of numbers ought always to control; that fifty men may do what ihey please with forty-nine; and that minorities have no rights, or at least that they shall have no li. of enforcing their rights, and no remedy for the viclation of ihem. And thus it is uit the strong man oppresses the weak, and strong communities, states and sections, aggress upon the rights of weaker states, communities and stétions. This is the principle; but I propose 10 speak of it to-day only in its development in the political, and not the personal or domestic relations.

Sir, it is to repress this principle that Governments, with their complex inachinery, are instiiuted among men; though in their abuse, indeed, Governments may themselves become the worst engine's of oppression. For this purpose treaties are entered into, and the law of nations acknowledged between foreign States. Constitutions and inunicipal laws and compacts are ordained, or enacted, or concluded, lo secure the same great end. No men understood this, the philosophy and aim of all just government, better than the framers of our Federal Constitution. No men tried more faithfully to secure the Government which they were instituting, from this mischici; and lia! the country over which it was established been circumscribed by waiure to the limits which it ihnen had, their work would have, perhaps, teen perfect, enduring for ages. But the wisest among them did not foresee-who, indecit. thai was less than omniscient could have foreseen ?--the amazing rapidity

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