Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Justice of Receiving Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia >> Page 44

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Page 44

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 44
timent "that all men are born free and equal," they
have rallied to their standard the ignorant, uneducated,
semi-barbarous mass which swarms and starves upon
the face of Europe ! Unnatural and debasing union !
Hereditary institutions are gone. Already have the
nobility of France been overthrown. Their days are
numbered in the British Empire. Let them go. I
am not their advocate. What next? Confiscation
has begun ! The result is as obvious as if it were writ-
ten on the wall. The hounds of Acteon turned upon
their master. Genius and wealth, stimulated by " an
ambition that o'erleaps itself," have called these spirits
from the vasty deep ; but they will down no more.
The spoils of victory are theirs, and they will gorge
and batten on them.
t In this country we have no heriditary institutions
to attract the first fury of this tempest, which is also
brewing here, for the electric fluid has crossed the
ocean, and the elements denote that it is expanding
over the northern arch of our horizon. The question
of Emancipation, which in Europe is only a collateral
issue, a mere ramification of the great controversy be-
tween hereditary power and ultimate agrarianism, has
become with us the first and most important question ;
partly because the levellers here have not yet felt the
heavy pressure of political oppression, and partly be-
cause they have regarded our institutions of slavery as
most assimilated to an aristocracy. In this they are
right. I accept the terms. It is a government of the
best, combining all the advantages, and possessing but
few of the disadvantages of the aristocracy of the old
world. Without fostering to an unwarrantable extent
the pride, the exclusiveness, the selfishness, the thirst