Another Speech of Jefferson Davis on National Politics

Source citation
“Another Speech of Jefferson Davis on National Politics,” New York Times, 21 October
1857, p. 2.
Original source
New Orleans Delta
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New York Times
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Another Speech of Jefferson Davis on National Politics
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Don Sailer
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Another Speech of Jefferson Davis on National Politics.
From the New-Orleans Delta,

Pass Chrisman, Saturday, Oct. 19, 1857.

Mr. Editor: It having been announced that Col. JEFFERSON DAVIS would address those of his constituents at this place, who would favor him with their presence, at MCDONNELL’S Hotel, at 10 o’clock A.M., a goodly number of them, of both sexes, availed themselves of the pleasure which the gallant Colonel’s invitation could not fail to realize.
As I have already said, he was speaking when I entered, and had, as I understood, disposed of that much-ado-about-nothing affair, little ROB WALKER, and his pro-counsel carroting in Kansas. Of course, he rebuked the fussy little gentleman for his extra-official acts, knowing that he had traveled beyond the line of his duty and feeling assured that he had transcended the boundary of his instructions, as GEARY, his predecessor, had done.
He was saying as I entered, that, in 1851, Mississippi, in a manner not to be mistaken, laid down the chart by which she would be guided in relation to her Federal relations and her Federal politics. Since then he had accepted the high honor she had conferred on him of a seat in the United States Senate. Since the assumption of the duties that devolved on him in that position, that chart he had followed, and would continue to follow till Mississippi should alter her resolves, or he, in the exercise of his personal judgment, would deem it his duty to deviate from it, in which event he would resign into the hands of his State the trust, untarnished, so generously confided to him.
These, he said, are troublous times. The sectional arrogance, puritanical intolerance and heentous fanaticism of one portion of the Confederacy are of so violent, aggressive and unconstitutional a character that their inevitable result will be, if not restrained and moderated by a better feeling North, or, what is still more reliable, if not boldly met and put down by a united South, to tear asunder, and forever, the bonds of our Union! He could assure his hearers that it was in no sprit of pleasurable anticipation that he looked forward to any such contingency as this. Some of the most endearing reminiscences and associations have grown out of his connection with the Federal Government. While yet a boy he was called to duty in its military service, where he remained up to mature manhood. He had seen its flag wave its graceful folds in the peaceful civic pageant, and witnessed it borne aloft in the clash and cannon-clouds of the battle-field; he had seen it in the East, brightened by the sun at its rising, and in the West, gilded by his declining but golden rays; and to see that flag sundered, to see on star torn from its azurefield , would, he felt, imbue him with a sorrow such as only a parent feels for a lost and beloved child.
He continued, that to the picture which the present aspect of our public affairs presented, there were, as seen by persons of opposite views, two sides, one dark, somber and lowering; the other more bright, hopeful and cheering; which party have caught the true coloring, time would determine.
One party say that Kansas once Abolitionized – and he was inclined to think that Kansas would be the pivot, the turning point of this section conflict – our opponents would then direct their operations to Missouri, thence to Arkansas, thence to New Mexico, Western Texas, or perhaps the whole of Texas; thus cutting off and throwing a cordon round slave territory westward that would render its extension impossible, and reduce, to a certainty, the destruction of the institution itself. If this is to be the programme, were it not better to meet it at once and sever, whatever the consequences, a connection which would place our rights and our interests in such jeopardy? To this interrogatory let Mississippi and the South answer.
Now, for the more favorable view of affairs. The party entertaining it hold that the more correct lights which the able and ample discussion of the subject during the last six years in the Press and elsewhere have elicited in relation to Slavery as an industrial institution – the change in relation to which public feeling is evidently undergoing in old England that first [word] New-England with the view of Abolition – the reaction in favor of justice to the South which seems to be working its way to some extent at the North and West, and the still stronger influence and self-interest, will crush out this fanatical feeling, and exercise this evil spirit of wickedness, folly and fanaticism. He hoped it might be so; but whatever results might emanate from those influences, it is to a united South that he should look for safety and success, and to a more strict and rigid observance of State rights, for we seem to lose sight of our more vital interests and important rights as of independent States, so absorbed are we in Federal politics.
Indeed, the latter override everything else, and if a man is a candidate for Justice of the Peace, his capacity for the office is likely never called in question, while his opinion of the Tariff, or some other matter in connection with Federal politics, equally impertinent to his position, is sure to be called forth. And, speaking of a united South, he would say that he could not conceive why there should be two parties in it. The great Whit party is dead, and of itself, or its creed, he desired now to say nothing. He had with it in its days of strength some jousts in honorable warfare; it could boast of bold and able leaders – men worthy of a freeman’s steel. With the death of that party he anticipated a united South. He never dreamed that the clap-trap of Know-Nothingism would be taken up in the South no more than that the people of the South would honor GOVERNOR KOSSUTH with public ovations. They did not, and in this he was not disappointed: but he was disappointed that any portion of the Southern people should rally to the standard of Know-Nothingism – a spawn the most forbidding of fanaticism. If the immigration of foreigners, or the interference of foreigners at elections in Philadelphia, or New – York, or Boston, clashed with the interests of the native citizens in those places, and that this organization was deemed necessary to prevent such immigration, and put down such interference, there was, certainly, no necessity for it where the alleged evil did not exist; in Mississippi, for instance, where foreign immigration is scarcely noticeable, and where the foreign vote, as that of nationalized citizens is called, cannot affect the merest local election. In pointing this out to some friends of his in this State who had joined the Order, the reply was, “Oh, but we want to assist our friends in the Northern States, where the evil is felt, to put it down.”
Now this was the thing, above all others, which he, Col. D., most deprecated – this, of the citizens of any one State interfering in the State rights of another. If we are to have peace, this system must be frowned down, and a strict non-interference with State rights be mutually and reciprocally observed throughout the Union.
Let this be adhered to, and he could see nothing to prevent any free system of Government – a Government of co-equal and co-independent States, each one acting in its own sphere and not passing beyond it: whilst the foreign affairs of the confederacy, and such other matters as properly pertained to it, were conducted by the Federal Government – from extending itself over the continent, nay, over the civilized globe, carrying in its train the blessings of free trade, carrying in its train the blessings of free trade, general peace, and universal fraternization. A realization, indeed, of the millennium for which benevolent men pray, and of which enthusiast dream!
While he believed such to be the capacity of our Government, if wisely administered, and the rights of the States guaranteed by the Constitution strictly adhered to and observed, for Territorial extension and increase, he had no hesitation in saying that, without such an observance of State rights and of the guarantees of the Constitution, the Union is already too large, and sooner it is dissolved the better – and if driven out of it, we will carry the Constitution with us as a part at least of our patrimony, and as a token of our reverence for its founders.
The original Federalists, who were men of strong minds and vigorous intellects, were in favor of a strong Central Government, and opposed to the addition of any Territory to that of the original thirteen States. Their premises granted, their conclusions were correct, for, without the Constitutional security of State rights guaranteed to the several States, he thought a confederacy of thirteen States was more than a Government of centralizing influences could well manage.
The speaker then went into an elaborate enuinecation of the auxiliaries to her Constitutional rights which the South should evoke to secure her just position and independence first of which was a sound Southern education, and he incidentally complimented the efforts of Professor Green who, with his pupils, was present, for his efforts in this behalf. He had strong reliance on the rising generation of the South, and on the patriotism of our Southern matrons. Without virtue and intelligence no republic can exist; and he invoked the Southern mothers to instill both into the susceptible minds of their sons. He closed his address with a well turned compliment to the ladies present, by many of whom he was personally greeted as he passed through the hall.


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