Browsing "Prescient Warnings"

A Slow and Gradual Method of Cure for Slavery

Writer Timothy Flint travelled the Mississippi Valley in the early 1800’s and his recollections were published in 1826. After witnessing firsthand the conditions on plantations, Flint cautioned patience and gradualism to erase the stain of slavery in the United States as the fanatic abolitionists would be incautious and rash in their bloody resolution to the question. This underscores the unfortunate fact that abolitionists advanced no practical and peaceful solutions to the matter of slavery in the United States. Only war to the knife.

Bernhard Thuersam,


A Slow and Gradual Method of Cure for Slavery

“[Prior to Northern slavery agitation], The Southern people were beginning to esteem and regard the northern character. The term “yankee” began to be a term rather of respect than reproach.

It is easy to see how soon this will all be reversed, if we incautiously and rashly intermeddle in this matter. Let us hear for a moment, the Southern planter speak for himself, for I remark that if you introduce the subject with any delicacy, I have never yet heard one, who does not admit that slavery is an evil and an injustice, and who does not at least affect to deplore the evil.

[The Southern planter] says, that be the evil so great, and the thing ever so unjust, it has always existed among the Jews, in the families of the patriarchs, in the republics of Greece and Rome, and that the right of the master in his slave, is clearly recognized in St. Paul; that it has been transmitted down through successive ages, to the colonization of North America, and that it existed in Massachusetts as well as the other States.

“You,” they add, “had but a few. Your climate admitted the labour of the whites. You freed them because it is less expensive to till your lands with free hands, than with slaves. We have a scorching sun, and an enfeebling climate.  The African constitution can alone support labour under such circumstances.

We of course had many slaves. Our fathers felt the necessity, and yielding to the expediency of the case. They have entailed the enormous and growing evil upon us. Take them from us and you render the Southern country a desert. You destroy the great staples of the country, and what is worse, you find no way in which to dispose of the millions that you emancipate.”

If we [of the North] reply, that we cannot violate a principle, for the sake of expediency, they return upon us with the question, “What is to be done? The deplorable condition of the emancipated slaves in this country is sufficient proof, that we cannot emancipate them here.

Turn them all loose at once, and ignorant and reckless as they are of the use and value of freedom, they would devour and destroy the subsistence of years, in a day, and for want of other objects upon which to prey, would prey upon one another. It is a chronic moral evil, the growth of ages, and such diseases are always aggravated by violent and harsh remedies.  Leave us to ourselves, or point out the way in which we can gently heal this great malady, not at once, but in a regimen of years. The evil must come off as it came on, by slow and gradual method of cure.”

In this method of cure, substitutes would be gradually found for their labor. The best modes of instructing them in the value of freedom, and rendering them comfortable and happy in the enjoyment of it, would be gradually marled out. They should be taught to read, and imbued with the principles, and morals of the gospel.

Every affectionate appeal should be made to the humanity, and the better feelings of the masters. In the region where I live, the masters allow entire liberty to the slaves to attend public worship, and as far as my knowledge extends, it is generally the case in Louisiana. In some plantations they have a jury of Negroes to try offences under the eye of the master, as judge, and it generally happens that he is obliged to mitigate the severity of their sentence.”

(Recollections of the Last Ten Years in the Valley of the Mississippi, Timothy Flint; George Brooks, editor, Southern Illinois University Press, 1968, pp. 246-249)

Sovereign States in a Federated Union

John Taylor of Caroline viewed the economic life of the country as being local in character and only under the jurisdiction of the individual States – that is, popular institutions. Therefore he concluded: “The entire nationalistic program of the Federal Government as to banking, funding, tariff, and internal improvements is unconstitutional.” If one sidesteps the victor’s claim that they fought to end slavery 1861-1865, one finds that the Hamiltonian drive for concentrated federal power was underlying reason for war.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Sovereign States in a Federated Union

“The States, located in the center of the political landscape, perform a stabilizing function with sufficient power to protect the whole [federal] structure from the onslaughts of inimical forces that attack from two directions. They are essentially buffer States.

They represent a compromise between two types of concentrated power – one in the Federal Government, the other in the people, the turbulence of whom may lead to the reintroduction of monarchy such as followed the French Revolution.

Mobs and tyrants generate each other. Only the States can prevent the clashes of these two eternal enemies. Thus, unless the States can obstruct the greed and avarice of concentrated power, the issue will be adjudicated by an insurrectionary mob.

The States represent government by rule and law as opposed to government by force and fraud, which characterizes consolidated power whether in a supreme federal government, in the people, in factions, or in strong individuals.

Republicanism is the compromise between the idea that the people are a complete safeguard against the frauds of governments and the idea that the people, from ignorance or depravity, are incapable of self-government.

The basic struggle in the United States is between mutual checks by political departments and an absolute control by the Federal Government, or between division and concentration of power. Hamilton and Madison presented an impressive case for a strong national government, supreme over the rights of States.

They are supported by all the former Tories who benefit from the frauds of the paper system. Those who take this view are referred to as variously as monarchists, consolidators, and supremacists. The basic fallacy of their way of thinking is that they simply refuse to recognize “the primitive, inherent, sovereignty of each State” upon which basis only a federal form of government can be erected.

They assume the existence of an American Nation embracing the whole geographical reach of the country, on which they posit their argument for a supreme national government. But this is merely a fiction . . . The Declaration, the [Articles of] Confederation, and the Constitution specifically recognize the existence of separate and sovereign States, not of any American Nation or consolidated nation or people of the United States or concentrated sovereignty in the Federal Government. The word “America” designates a region on the globe and does not refer to any political entity.”

(The Social Philosophy of John Taylor of Caroline, A Study in Jeffersonian Democracy, Eugene Tenbroeck Mudge, Columbia University Press, 1939, pp. 65-66)

“Mexico Will Poison Us”

The newly-acquired territories of the Mexican cession set the stage for conflict between Northern and Southern interests to dominate them. In the case of the South, they observed the steadily increasing numbers of Northern immigrants flowing westward which threatened the political balance and harmony with the industrializing North. The bloody victory over Mexico was crowned with the black clouds of future warfare, and a dark legacy which we still live with today.

Bernhard Thuersam,


“Mexico Will Poison Us”

“Santa Anna had worked a prodigy: he had succeeded in raising a large army from a nation that was half in revolt against him, he had armed and equipped it, and he had made it a fine fighting force. It was a good army, it fought with sustained fury, it came exceedingly close to winning the two-day battle, and it might well have won it if Santa Anna’s own courage had lasted long enough to send it into action on the third day [at Buena Vista].

On the morning of the third day, instead of attacking again, he was already in retreat. The retreat became a panic, the army melted away, and it was only by what amounted to another miracle that he raised an army to oppose Scott.

It turned out a victory after all, a victory won by [Zachary] Taylor’s subordinates and the courage of the private soldier. But it was Captain [Braxton] Bragg and the other officers of artillery ((T.W. Sherman, George Thomas, John Reynolds), it was Jefferson Davis and the First Mississippi Rifles, above all it was the anonymous platoons, who won the battle.

Taylor may have inspired his troops: he certainly did not direct them. The company officers and the private soldiers improvised a rule of thumb defense on the spot as it was needed. The army was shot to pieces in two days of murderous fighting that was frequently hand-to-hand, but it was full of fight – and it held the field. Thus ended the military career of Zachary Taylor. His former son-in-law [Colonel Jefferson Davis] had won the election for him.

It was a little after noon of the second day when a brigade of Mexican cavalry, grandly uniformed, charged the one remaining strong point that defended a flank and protected the road to Saltillo by which an American retreat would have to move.

The troops of that strong point had been driven back and the Mississippi Rifles were coming up in support. Their wounded [Colonel Davis] formed them as a retracted flank, joining an Indiana regiment at a sharp angle. When the Mexican cavalry got within rifle range, it halted. Mississippi and Indiana blew it to pieces and there was no further attack in that part of the field.

By September Jefferson Davis was a Senator of the United States. In 1853 he was Secretary of War. In 1861 he was a President exercising the function of a military genius.

Winfield Scott, however, made an army and conquered a nation. He had, of course, brilliant assistants. [Daniel] Twiggs was a first rate fighting man, and [William J.] Worth . . . was rather more than that. Moreover Scott had a handful of brilliant engineers – Robert E. Lee, who was effectively his chief of staff, [PGT] Beauregard, [George] Meade. Company and battalion officers whose names read like a list Civil War generals, North and South, fought in detail the campaign that Scott conceived and directed. The classic tactics of Robert E. Lee, the perfect battle of Chancellorsville, the converging attacks of Gettysburg, were all learned at the headquarters of Winfield Scott.

“The United States will conquer Mexico,” Ralph Waldo Emerson had said, “but it will be as a man swallows the arsenic which brings him down in turn. Mexico will poison us.”

(The Year of Decision: 1846; Bernard Devoto, Little, Brown and Company, 1943, excerpts, pp. 486-488; 492)

Keep Northern Texts Out of Southern Schools

Major-General Samuel Gibbs French, a Confederate officer born in New Jersey, stated shortly after the war that “woman is responsible for [Confederate] Memorial Day,” noting that the annual remembrance of those who died in defense of American liberty was a “pleasing duty” that the Southern woman took upon herself to perform annually. He added: “I am not unmindful, ladies, of the power you possess and can exercise in preserving the true story of the war and the memory of the Confederate soldiers. Tell the true story to your children. If you do not, their nurses will tell them [their version].”

Bernhard Thuersam,


Keep Northern Texts Out of Southern Schools

“The true cause of the War Between the States was the dignified withdrawal of the Southern States from the Union to avoid the continued breaches of that domestic tranquility guaranteed, but not consummated by the Constitution, and not the high moral purpose of the North to destroy slavery, which followed incidentally as a war measure.

As to the war itself and the result thereof, the children of the future would be astonished that a people fought so hard and so long with so little to fight for, judging from what they gather from histories now in use, prepared by writers from the North. They are utterly destitute of information as to events leading to the war. Their accounts of the numbers engaged, courage displayed, sacrifices endured, hardships encountered, and barbarity practiced upon an almost defenseless people, whose arms-bearing population was in the army, are incorrect in every way.

A people, who for four long years, fought over almost every foot of their territory, on over two thousands battlefields, with the odds of 5,864,272 enlisted men against their 600,000 enlisted men, and their coasts blockaded, and rivers filled with gunboats, with 600 vessels of war, manned by some 35,000 sailors, and who protracted the struggle until over one-half of their soldiers were dead from the casualties of war, had something to fight for.

They fought for the great principle of local self-government and the privilege of managing their own affairs, and for the protection of their homes and firesides.

The facts are that while the South has always been prominent in making history, she has left the writing of history to New England historians, whose chief defect is “lack of catholic sympathy for all the sections of the country.”

They especially treat the South as a section, almost as a foreign country, and while omitting the glaring faults of their own ancestors and their own section, they specialize the faults of the early Virginia colonists and the Southern colonists generally.

They speak of slavery as a crime for which the South is solely responsible . . . and ignore the historical fact that England and New England are as much responsible for it as their brothers of the South; that it was forced not only on New England, but on the South, by Great Britain, and in spite of the protests of Virginia and other Southern colonies.

The histories written by Northern historians in the first ten or fifteen years following the close of the war, dictated by prejudice and prompted by the evil passions of that period, (and generally used in the schools), are unfit for use, and lack all the breadth, liberality, and sympathy so essential to true history, and, although some of them have been toned down, they are not yet fair and accurate in the statement of facts.

Until a more liberal tone is indicated by Northern historians, it is best that their books be kept out of Southern schools. It is therefore important that that the Southern people be aroused and take steps to have a correct history written, a history, which will vindicate them from the one-sided indictment found in many of the histories now extant.”

(Report of the Historical Committee (excerpt), United Confederate Veterans, Gen. S.D. Lee of Mississippi, Chairman, presented at the Houston Reunion; Confederate Veteran, June 1895, excerpt, pp. 165-166)

Delaware the Southern State

In July 1861, Senator James A. Bayard of Delaware spoke in the United States Senate and compared “the language of Lincoln and the Republicans to statements by the British Crown and Parliament during the American Revolution.” He saw it as irrational that after a devastating war between the sections, there would remain no bond to cement the people to one another, and that war would ruin both North and South.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Delaware the Southern State

“In 1861, an optimistic Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs stated “all fifteen States of the South will have severed the bonds which have bound them to the late Federal Union and will have joined the Confederate States.” This statement is remarkable for two reasons.

First, Toombs expected, as did many Southerners, that every slave State would bond itself to the new southern Confederacy. Second, Delaware was included in Toombs’ fifteen States of the South. Most Southerners do not view Delaware in this light, but based on historical evidence, Delaware was actually more Southern than middle, and positively more Southern than Northern. Delaware, then, is the perfect case study for what Abraham Lincoln called “the fire in the rear.”

She had a large pro-Southern population, a congressional delegation that favored at minimum peaceful separation if not secession, a State government that was split between pro-war Republicans and pro-South Democrats, and Delaware was occupied by the Union army several times during the war. It would be no stretch to say that if not for military occupation and the inability of Delaware to secede, Delaware may have endeavored to cast its lot with the South.

Both United States Senators from Delaware in 1860 – James A. Bayard the younger and Willard Saulsbury, Sr., were Democrats . . . Delawareans had long supported Southern rights in the United States Congress, but by 1860, the State’s geographic position exposed its property and material well-being to the abuses of the federal government, thus forcing its citizens to adopt a more cautious approach to the sectional conflict.

[In the 1860 presidential election, those] candidates who were diametrically opposed to Lincoln received over seventy-six percent of the total popular vote . . . [and] Democrats retained a five to four majority in the State Senate . . .

In March [1861], the [Delaware] Gazette unleashed its harshest condemnation of the federal government with a stinging editorial supporting State’s rights. The paper thought the impending crisis would settle the issue of location of sovereignty in the republic. “If a government has a right to subjugate a State then freedom must mourn until other countries and other peoples establish what we had hoped had been done by Washington and Jefferson and their compeers.”

On 19 July 1861, Bayard rose in the Senate to deliver a two-hour speech entitled “Executive Usurpation” in response to a joint resolution of Congress . . . to “approve and confirm certain act of the President of the United States for suppressing insurrection and rebellion,” most notably the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the raising of troops, and the blockade of Southern ports.

[Bayard stated] “I am attached to the Union as any man who claims a set in this body . . .” But the course of the administration and the Republican Party, Bayard asserted, “was the reduction of the States to “provinces, and the military power to become the dominant power in the representative Republic . . . for the purpose of conquest and subjugation.”

(The Avenger Without Mercy: Delaware Under the Federal Heel; Brion McClanahan; Northern Opposition to Mr. Lincoln’s War, D. Jonathan White, editor, Abbeville Institute Press, 2014, excerpts, pp. 116; 120; 127; 136-137)

Binding Men to the Footstools of Depots

South Carolinian Robert Y. Hayne (1791-1839) followed Jefferson’s admonition that the national debt was not something to be passed on to future generations, and most presidents of his era and until the War endeavored to pay the debts incurred by their administrations before leaving office. In encouraging a perpetual public debt, Daniel Webster promoted the American System of Hamilton and Henry Clay which provided the government a perpetual supply of money with which to buy influence and power.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Binding Men to the Footstools of Despots

“The gentleman from Massachusetts [Webster], in alluding to a remark of mine that before any disposition could be made of the public lands, the national debt (for which they stand pledged) must be first paid, took occasion to intimate [that Southerners desire to pay the national debt] “arises from a disposition to weaken the ties which bind the people to the Union.”

But, adds the gentleman, “so far as the debt may have an effect in binding the debtors to the country, and thereby serving as a link to hold the States together, he would be glad that it should exist forever.”

Surely then, sir, on the gentleman’s own principles, he must be opposed to the payment of the debt. Sir, let me tell that gentleman that the South repudiates the idea that a pecuniary dependence on the Federal Government is one of the legitimate means of holding the States together.

A monied interest in the Government is essentially a base interest . . . it is opposed to all the principles of free government and at war with virtue and patriotism. In a free government, this principle of abject dependence if extended through all the ramifications of society must be fatal to liberty. Already we have made alarming strides in that direction.

The entire class of manufacturers, the holders of stocks with their hundreds of millions in capital, are held to the Government by the strong link of pecuniary interests; millions of people, entire sections of the country, interested, or believing themselves to be so, in the public lands and the public treasure, are bound to the Government by the expectation of pecuniary favors.

If this system is carried on much further, no man can fail to see that every generous motive of attachment to the country will be destroyed, and in its place will spring up those low, groveling, base and selfish feelings which bind men to the footstool of despots by bonds as strong and as enduring as those which attach them to free institutions.”

(Speech of Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina, January 25, 1830; The Webster-Hayne Debate on the Nature of the Union, Herman Belz, Editor, Liberty Fund, 2000, pp. 42-43.)

Consolidation Generates Monarchy

To Jefferson, the Revolution meant “not merely independence from British rule but also escape from the British system of government into republicanism.” He also abhorred political parties, or what he called sects,” and saw that all Americans as “federalists” – i.e., supporters of the Constitution and virtually all republicans, i.e., “believers in a republic rather than a monarchy.” And the States were the line of defense against government tendencies to consolidate power around itself.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Consolidation Generates Monarchy

“On the eclipse of federalism, although not its extinction, [New England] leaders got up the Missouri question, under the false front of lessening the measure of slavery, but with the real view of producing geographical division of parties, which might ensure them the next President.

The people of the north went blindfolded into the snare, followed their leaders for awhile with a zeal truly moral and laudable, until they became sensible that they were injuring instead of aiding the real interests of the slaves, that they had been used merely as tools for electioneering purposes; and that trick of hypocrisy then fell as quickly as it had been got up.

To that has now succeeded a distinction, which, like that of republican and federal, or Whig and Tory, being equally intermixed through every State, threatens none of those geographical schisms, which immediately go to a separation.

The line of division now is the preservation of State rights as reserved in the Constitution, or by strained constructions of that instrument, to merge all into consolidated government. The Tories are for strengthening the Executive and General Government; the Whigs cherish the representative branch, and the rights reserved by the States, as the bulwark against consolidation, which must immediately generate monarchy.

Although this division excites, it is well understood, and will be a principle of voting at the ensuing election, with the reflecting men of both parties.”

(Thomas Jefferson, to Marquis Lafayette, November 1823, Jeffersonian Cyclopedia, John P. Foley, editor, Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1900, excerpt, pp. 760)

Guardians of the Constitution

John Taylor of Caroline said that “the great weakness of the Constitution is that its meaning is never unequivocal,” and that its misinterpretation was due to the loss of power by the agrarians.  Though the Constitution was designed to guarantee local self-government for the farmers, “a mode of construction is introduced to advance the interest of mercenary combinations.” The mercenary combinations helped form the Federalist, Whig and Republican parties.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Guardians of the Constitution

“Certainly, the States never intended to give to the Federal Government the power of veto over their own laws. It is absurd to suppose that an agency brought into being by the several States can have exclusive power to construe the instrument which grants its power, for this is equivalent to the assertion that the States can make a constitution but are without power to prevent its infringement.

If the Federal Government has the last word even on the constitutionality of its own laws, then federalism is at an end. If the Supreme Court can dominate State matters, then all the heroic efforts of the Founding Fathers to set up a system of mutual checks and secure wise and responsible State government were futile.

In the event of a controversy between the two spheres [State and federal], the Supreme Court would be an interested party and consequently partial. Such a conflict cannot be settled by a court. The correct remedy, as stated in the Constitution, is amendment by the people. Further, the dispensation of justice is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. Hence, the people of the States, since they are sovereign, can be denied no judicial power over their own affairs.

Nonetheless, the Court is prone to ignore the idea of the sovereignty of the people of the States and to place it instead in the governments of the States or even the in the government of the Union on the hypothesis that the Union is the supreme government of an American Nation. And since the powers reserved to the States far exceed those delegated, this entitles the States to priority in all controversies over fundamental issues of government.

Liberty is lost if the States are deprived of a direct and final voice in the interpretation of the Constitution of their Union. Hence, the sweeping powers assumed by the Supreme Court are a direct violation of the basic liberties of the States and of the people. The idea of a court dictating to the States runs counter to the basic idea of federalism and makes the Constitution a rope of sand. If State powers are limited by any supreme federal department, the situation is like the one that [John] Locke described: “no man has a right to that which another has a right to that which another has a right to take from him.”

Hence, the States, not the justices of the Supreme Court, are the guardians and guarantors of the Constitution. A jury composed of the parties that originally contracted to form the Union is better qualified to perform the task of maintaining it than the federal justices whose power extends merely to cases in law and equity involving individual and private affairs, not to issues that affect any of the departments or spheres of the government of the United States.”

The Social Philosophy of John Taylor of Caroline, A Study in Jeffersonian Democracy, Eugene T. Mudge, Columbia University Press, 1939, excerpts, pp. 133-135)

Liberator and Imperial Protector

What General Enoch Crowder warned of below was reminiscent of Reconstruction’s political control in the South, as Washington-recognized Northern carpetbag governors and legislators gained official recognition and were free to engage in fraudulent political methods and elections to remain in power. Under Lincoln and the Republican Radicals, the US government became “a blind instrument for fastening an undesirable or fraudulent government upon a people” – 50 years later the Cuban people were assured of fraudulent government fastened by Washington.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Liberator and Imperial Protector

“The conditions imposed on Cuban independence at the end of the American military occupation in 1902 had effectively subjected Cuban sovereignty to U.S. supervision. “The Government of Cuba,” Article III of the Platt Amendment stipulated, “consents that the United States may exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the preservation of life, property and individual liberty, and for discharging the obligations with respect to Cuba imposed by the Treaty of Paris on the United States.

By virtue of the Platt Amendment, Washington assumed ultimate responsibility for underwriting the solvency of national administration. The very conduct of [Cuban] national politics emerged as a source of policy concern in Washington. The American presence in Cuba loomed pervasively, functioning always as the understood coefficient of all political strategies.

Specifically, the Platt Amendment, as the understood basis of U.S. Cuban policy, encouraged outright an incumbent party, assured of American support, to embark on a course of partisan excesses, including reelection through illegal, if ostensibly constitutional, methods.

As early as 1912, General Enoch H. Crowder, the U.S. legal advisor during the second intervention, caution Washington against becoming captive to the political maneuvers of any single faction in Cuba. With a sober understanding of . . . U.S. – Cuban treaty relations, Crowder warned:

“Having once gained the official recognition of this government, and so become “the duly constituted authority,” . . . it could by fraudulent practices as was undoubtedly done in the last election for President prior to the election of 1906, secure its apparent reelection, and if the protest became too violent to overcome, such government would only have to notify the President of the United States and request assistance. The right of a people to change their rulers, and in fact change their form of government when it becomes subversive of the principle for which it is instituted . . . is essential to the preservation of a free government . . . Provision should be made that the United States will not be made the blind instrument for fastening an undesirable or fraudulent government upon a people whom we profess to be preserving a free government.”

Crowder’s plea went unheeded. On the contrary, within a year, Woodrow Wilson proclaimed constitutionality as the cornerstone of US Latin American policy . . . “We are the friends of constitutional government in America, Wilson averred, “We are more than its friends, we are its champions.”

(Intervention, Revolution and Politics in Cuba, 1913-1921; Louis A. Perez, Jr., University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978, excerpts pp. 11-12)

Striving to Maintain the Union

The departure of Southern States from the fraternal Union came as no surprise to many, and those like Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia forecast disunion to President James Buchanan if he would not end his warfare with Stephen Douglas. Noting the refusal of Republicans to compromise and not wanting to return to Congress to witness the death of the Union, Stephens returned Georgia to await the unfolding events.

Bernhard Thuersam,


Striving to Maintain the Union

“The [Cincinnati] speech was intended as a solemn warning not only to his constituents and people of the South, but the whole country, that in his opinion the peace and prosperity of the country depended upon a strict and inflexible adherence to the principles of the adjustment measures of 1850 upon the subject of slavery, as carried out and expressed in the Democratic Baltimore platform of 1852, with the additional plank inserted in the Cincinnati Convention of 1856.

It was well known then that Mr. Stephens had serious apprehensions that those principles would be departed from in the next Democratic Convention to be held in Charleston the following year. It was also known that he did not finally determine to withdraw from Congress until after a personal interview with Mr. [James] Buchanan, in which he had urged the President to cease his warfare against Mr. [Stephen] Douglas, and the support of the paper known as his organ in Washington in insisting upon the insertion of a new plank in the next Convention, asserting it to be the duty of Congress to pass acts to protect slavery in the Territories, and not to leave that subject, as the Cincinnati platform had done, with the people of the Territories.

Mr. Stephens most urgently urged the President that if he continued to pursue the line of policy he was then following there would be a burst-up at Charleston, and with that burst-up of the Union – temporary or permanent – “as certainly as he would break his neck if he sprang from that window” [of the reception-room at the White house, in which they were conversing] “or as the sun would set that night.”

Mr. Buchanan seemed surprised at this opinion, but was unshaken in his determination to adhere to the policy he was then following. Mr. Stephens, in taking leave, told the President that his object in seeking the interview was to know if his purpose was as stated, and if that was so, his own intention was, not to be allowed to return to the next Congress.

He had spent sixteen years of life in striving to maintain the Union upon the principles of the Constitution; this he thought could be done for many years to come upon the principles set forth in the Cincinnati platform. The Government administered on these principles he thought the best in the world; but if it was departed from, he saw nothing but ruin ahead. He did not wish to be in at the death; but if disunion should come in consequence of this departure, he should go with the people of his own State.

Another fact connected with the retirement of Mr. Stephens from Congress may be noted here. When leaving Washington, with a number of other Southern members, on the beautiful morning of the 5th of March, 1859, he stood at the stern of the boat for some minutes, gazing back at the Capitol, when someone jocularly said, “I suppose you are thinking of coming back to those halls as a Senator.” (It was known that he had announced his intention not to return as a Representative.)

Mr. Stephens replied, with some emotion, “No; I never expect to see Washington again, unless I am brought here as a prisoner of war.” This was literally fulfilled in the latter part of October 1865, when he passed through Washington on his way to his home as a paroled prisoner from Fort Warren.”

(Life of Alexander H. Stephens, R.M. Johnston & W.H. Brown, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1883, excerpts, pp. 347-348)