Whether that point is reached it is useless to discuss. Neither the people of Maryland nor its government have taken any steps toward changing their national relations. As yet she is within the Constitution, fulfilling its requirements and asking only the privilege it professes to guarantee. Her Governor is loyal to the utmost; the Legislature has declared that it would not and could not pass an ordinance of secession and has done nothing in contravention of the Constitution or any know law. It has protested against what it deemed the arbitrary, illegal and dangerous policy of the Administration, and if in error it was responsible only to the people of Maryland and not amenable to reproof or punishment by the General Government.
Within our borders the Federal courts have always been open, their process unobstructed, their orders never resisted (but by Federal officials). Through thion every law of Congress could be enforced and every offense known to the code punished.
Yet Maryland by deliberate acts of the Administration has been outlawed; her government subverted; her laws disregarded and defied; here property seized, and force under the name of martial law has superseded the civil power. Her citizens are arrested without warrant; the security of their papers and effects violated; their right to keep and bear arms infringed, and freedom of speech and of the press not only abridged but suppressed.
Every man knows that these things are done in our midst; no honest man can deny that they are palpable breaches of the Constitution for no man can point to one line in that Constitution or to any law that authorizes, justifies or excuses them. Acts now so sanctioned are encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States and the people, and if prohibited are revolutionary. When the Government is not controlled by the paramount law, when it can do and does what that law does not permit or forbids it is unrestrained and absolute.
Wherever the law is superior to the ruler civil liberty exists; when the ruler is superior to the law; where at his discretion he can supersede, suspend or disobey it he is by whatever name he may be called despotic.
Believing that powers fatal to her rights as a State and destructive of the liberty of her citizens are exercised by those administering the General Government Maryland asks whence they are derived; asks to be shown the grant, and she is told that South Carolina has seceded and the cotton States are in rebellion.
But Maryland has not seceded, and unless its repudiation by South Carolina destroyed the Constitution our rights under it are not lost; if it is destroyed the Government, its creature, has ceased to exist.
We have next the much-abused maxim inter arma silent leges (in war the laws are silent), but we reply the Constitution was made for peace and for war and its voice is too potent to be drowned in the din of arms.
But "the Government must be maintained, the Constitution and the Union must be preserved. " We answer to violate the Constitution in order to maintain it is a contradiction in terms--without it there is neither Union nor Government, which can exist only with it.
The President's oath is to maintain the Constitution not to preserve the Union in some other mode. We ask you, fellow-citizens, have you ever had or heard from the adherents of the Administration-the miscalled Union party--any other justification attempted? Or this eked out with grandiloquent platitudes about the stars and stripes, our flag and the eagle?