War of the Rebellion: Serial 115 Page 0948 PRISONERS OF WAR, ETC.

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This compels me to say that you are not misinformed in regard to my position. I am firmly and unalterably opposed to the whole war policy of the Administration. Fort thirty years I have held the opinion that the State are sovereign; that the Constitution of the United States is a compact between the States composing the Federal Union; that they are the only parties to that compact; that each is to judge for itself of its infraction and of the mode and measures of redress and that as in all cases of compacts, treaties or leagues between sovereigns by which a confederacy is formed, each may lawfully withdrawn from it, or in other words secede from the confederacy whenever it shall deem thatit has sufficient cause and that this is a reserved rightof the States under the Constitution and entirely consistent with it. Of course this would still leave it incumbent upon the seceding State to discharge or assume its share of the public debt and entitle it to a proportionate share of the public property, all of which should be arranged and adjusted by amicable negotiation, as the seceding States have proposed in thepresent controversy. This view of the character of our system of Government and of the rights of the States is taken almost verbatim from the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of hich have ever been the text-book of the Jeffersonian Democracy and were expressly accepted as such by the Democratic party of the Union in its platform adopted in national convention at Cincinnati in 1856, and since reaffirmed. They constitute and always have constituted my party creed, but of course not yours.

Entertained these opinion I deny the right of the Federal Govermment to attempt to subjugate by military power a State which secedes. I regard a contest brought on by such attempt - and that is really the character of the present contest - as a struggle on the part of the seceding States to maintain the principles of constitutional liberty against despotic pretensions and aims, and my sympathies are wholly with those who are thus defending the right of self-government. Mind I do not argue with you; I am merely stating my views and if you held the principles which I do you would feel and act as I do. They are my principles adopted in my very boyhood as you well know and clung to since with increasing devotion and fidelity up to the present hour as the only safeguard of free government in this land. I appeal to Heaven to bear witness to the cincerity of my political faith. It is a part of my very witness to the sincerity of my political faith. It is a part of my very being, as dear to me as life itself and I cannot give it up. I cannot deny it; I cannot be false to it be the consequences what they may.

But suppose I am wrong in these opinions. I still say that the Federal Government ought not to attempt to coercce the seceding States by military power. I recognize the right of every distinct community to choose for itself the institutions under which it will live; that governments exist only by the consent of the governed, and whenever any government becomes grievous and oppressive to such communityit has a right to cast it off and institute such new government as may be deemed most conducive to its happiness. These are deductions from or rather repetitions of the doctrines of the Declaration of Independence - principles which were consecrated by the blood and vindicated by the glories and triumphs of the Revolution. They are as dear now as they were then; they are as vital to liberty now as they were then and the seceded States have the same right to proclaim them in resistance to Northern aggression and coercion now as the thirteen colonies had to hurl them in the teeth of King George in answer to his demand of apssive submission then.