The spirit of the age and above all the spirit of American liberty as thus inherited from the Revolution by every section of our country require that the independence of the Confederates States should be recognized by the Government of the United States. As a consequence the U. S. troops should have been withdrawn from the Southern forts, and Lincoln having refused to do this and avowed a determination to re-enforce and hold them, and that too for the purpose of reducing the Southern people to submission to this Government, they had no alternative but to take themor voluntarily submit to subjugation. I therefore think that the South Carolinians were justifieed in taking Fort Sumter and I rejoice in their success; but it is charge that they fired the first gun and thus commenced the war. Very well; call it that if you please. They were compelled to do so or surrender their independence without a struggle. I admire their heroism and devotion to their rights manifested in that glorious achievement. Did I not do so I should be false to every principle which I hold dear and every impulseof my heart.
Standing where I do you can see that I must necessarily be opposed to all measures for encouraging and sustaining the war which Lincoln threatens to wage against the South. My sympathies upon general principles of government and political freedom (and this throws entirely out of view the question of domestic slavery and all the issues and strifes to which it has given rise) are with the South in this consent. She stands strictly on the defensive; she makes no war upon the North; she will not invade the North unless she be first invaded. All she asks is to be let alone; to be permitted to depart in peace. Give her assuarnce that she may and the sword at once drops from her grasp and not a drop of blood will be shed in fraternal strife. And she offers and has repeatedly and from the outset offered to pay her share of the public debt, to account for all Federal property within her limits upon a fair and equitable apportionment and division of the public property between the two sections and to adjust all questions of different by friendly negotiation. But all her overtures have been rejected and answered by threats of coercion - coercion. She has prepared to meet this as best she could and has taken only defensive measures.
A war of aggression upon the South under such circumstances - and such a war Lincoln declared in his proclamation of the 15th of April and in his two subsequent ones blockading the Southern ports - would be one of the most wanton and wicked wars in all history. And to call it a war in favor of the Union is on my judgment the most false of all pretenses.
The Union cannot be saved or restored by civil war, and this every man of the smallest measure of intelligence and judgment knows. Were the South to be conquered in such a contest it would not restore the Union of free and sovereign States recognized and guarantee by the Constitution. Our flag - revered and glorious as it is - cannot sanctify tyranny and injustice or justify a war upon the principles of that grand, heroic, old contest in which it was borne, and from the blood and fire of which it emerged torn and battle-stained, it is true, but still bravely flying the token of victory, freedom and peace, and if it should now be established in triumph over the South by the might of armed hosts it would wave only over a land blasted and destroyed and above the graves of a free and gallant race who preferred to die rather than live degraded and disgraced.
But you cannot conquer the people of the South. Eight millions of men like them bred to freedom and determined to be free cannot be