New Government and New Union
Any of the States outside of the South could have requested admission to the new American Confederacy, admitted by many to be a more perfect union with previous defects remedied. Below, Senator Robert M.T. Hunter of Virginia addresses the United States Senate on January 11, 1861.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
New Government and New Union:
“Mr. President, I have not sought to speak hitherto on the momentous question of the day, because I did not believe that any good would be accomplished…the disease seemed to me to be so deeply seated that none but the most radical remedies would suffice; and I had no hope that the public mind of the North was in a condition to receive any such proposition. All must see that the bonds which have hitherto bound together the members of this Confederacy are parting like flax before the fire of popular passion.
We cannot recall the past; we cannot restore the dead; but the hope and the trust of those who desire a Union, are that we may be able to reconstruct a new Government and a new Union, which may perhaps be more permanent and efficient than the old.
A President has been nominated and elected by a sectional majority, who was known to have avowed and to entertain [radical] opinions; [a] standard bearer who has made [threatening] declarations in regard to the rights of the South.
Is it surprising, then, that the Southern States should say: “It is not safe for us to remain longer in a Government which may be directed as an instrument of hostility against us; it is not safe for us to remain linger under the rule of a Government whose President may misuse his patronage for the very purpose of stirring up civil strife among us, and also for the purpose of creating civil war in our midst?
I say, therefore, sir, that the South is bound to take this course [of independence] unless it can get some guarantees which will protect it in the Union, some constitutional guarantees which will serve that end….
But, sir, I maintain that coercion, if it were possible, is not right; and if it were right, it is not possible. [The] only effect of an attempt at coercion would be to destroy the chances of a reconstruction of the Union, or, in other words, to defeat all the hopes that are left to the friends of a Union in the country.
I proceed then, Mr. President, to make my proposition, that this Federal Government cannot be carried on within the limits and jurisdiction of a State, without the assent, the aid, and the sympathy of its people. In the first place, it depends on the Legislatures of the several States to elect members of this body. If a majority of States, although they might represent a small minority of the people, were to refuse to send Senators here, your Government is gone; you have lost one of the most important arms of the system; you no longer have a Senate.
But sir, that is not all. To obtain the right of exclusive legislation within dock-yards, forts, your custom-houses? Where would you have your locus in quo, from which to administer the functions and powers of this General Government? Everywhere, if they were to refuse to give you this assent, you would be under State jurisdiction; and thus it would be in the power of the State constantly to thwart, obstruct, and prevent the administration of Federal power, within her limits and jurisdictions.
So too, it is in the power of the States, if they choose, if they undertake to withdraw their assent from this Constitution, to defeat these great ends of the Union….the framers of the Constitution supposed that this Federal Government would only be an authorized Government within a State so long as it had the assent of the people of that State; and when the people of that State withdrew their assent, it was not the authorized Government; and therefore they provided no means for enforcing its powers and for exercising its jurisdictions.
Sir, the only mode in which you could protect the administration of the Federal affairs and the Federal jurisdiction within the State, would be to set aside the State government by force, and to reduce it to a territorial condition; and then what would be the result? You first coerce a State because it secedes from thirty-two other members of this Confederacy; and you turn around and secede yourselves from it by reducing it from a condition of a State to the position of a Territory!”
(The Politics of Dissolution, Marshall L. DeRosa, editor, Transaction Publishers, 1998, pp. 240-253)