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The Slavery Question Speech of Hon. John M. Landrum, of La., Delivered in the House of Representatives, April 27, 1860   By:

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The House being in the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union

Mr. LANDRUM said:

Mr. CHAIRMAN: That we are now threatened with great and alarming evils, no one who will take a calm and unprejudiced survey of the condition of the country can for a moment doubt. In the formation of this Government there existed a spirit of harmony and concession from the citizens of each State in this Union towards the citizens of every other State; and this spirit was so plainly exhibited in the convention which framed the Constitution of the United States that it was so adjusted, so adapted to the wants of all the States entering into the Confederacy that it received the almost unanimous support of the Convention. Harmony and concord and good feeling reigned throughout the whole Confederacy. The citizen of South Carolina rejoiced in the prosperity and commended the virtues of the citizen of Massachusetts; and the citizen of Massachusetts responded to the feeling of the citizen of South Carolina. That was the feeling which pervaded the citizens of this common country when the Constitution was formed; and that was the spirit which pervaded it for the thirty years afterwards during which the Government was administered by the fathers of the Republic.

But now, Mr. Chairman, what state of things does this country exhibit? A people discordant; a great sectional party formed, and the whole history of the country ransacked in a search for subjects of denunciation on the part of citizens of one portion of the Confederacy against citizens of the other.

In that convention which framed the Constitution, which is the basis of our Government, slave States were admitted without objection. Concessions were made to slave States on every point that they demanded, and which they deemed essential to the preservation and protection of their rights in this Union. Ay, there was no objection then to the admission of a State into the Union because she permitted slavery. So far from that, the Constitution abounds with express provisions for the protection of their property, and for the security of their rights. It was not objected to a free State that she should form a member of the Confederacy because she did not tolerate slavery. But the patriotic founders of the Republic looked to the interests of the whole country, and sacrificed prejudices whenever sacrifices were necessary, " in order to form a more perfect union ."

Contrast that state of feeling and that state of facts with the condition in which we now see the country. Mutual denunciation is the business even of the Representatives of the people on the floor of this Hall. Members of Congress recommend the circulation of books calculated to sap and undermine the foundations on which the whole fabric of wealth, of respectability, and of civilization, of one half the Union is based. We meet here, not to strengthen the bonds that bind us together in the Union, but to weaken them, as far as human ingenuity can do so. To such a point has this state of things culminated, that the people of State after State in the Southern portion of the Confederacy have met in convention and declared their belief that there is a probability that the time is rapidly approaching when they " must provide new guards for their future security ." The State which I have the honor in part to represent has made that declaration. And it is charged here on the floor of this Hall, by almost every member of the Republican party who has addressed this committee on the subject of the state of the Union, that it is the Democratic party which is responsible for this condition of things; that the Democratic party have departed from the lessons of wisdom taught us by the example of our forefathers, and have thus precipitated on the country all these evils, by the manner in which they have treated the slavery question... Continue reading book >>

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