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 46

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Page 46

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 46
they are setting upon us, successful or unsuccessful,
will in due time come back from the chase ; and come
back to wring from them the accumulations of their in-
dustry, to overturn their altars and desolate their house-
Mr. Speaker, I have touched on topics to-day which
have not heretofore been broached within these walls.
In thus departing from the usual silence of the South
upon this subject, it may be thought that I have gone
too far. But times have changed. They change before
our eyes with the rapidity of thought. Painful as it
is, the truth should now be told,-for shortly it will
speak itself, and in a voice of thunder. We cannot,
in my judgment, avoid this danger longer, by closing
our eyes upon it and lulling our people into a false se-
curity. Nor can we justify ourselves before the world
for the course which we may be compelled to take in
order to maintain our rights, without boldly declaring
what those rights are, defining them and showing that
they are inestimable. All minor considerations must
give way to effect those all-important objects. These
have been my motives for the course I have taken
here. I leave it' to the approaching crisis to determine
whether I am right or wrong.
Sir, if I were asked what it is, under existing cir-
cumstances, the South desires the North to do, I should
say, " Pass laws in your different States forbidding, by
the severest penalties, the publication or circulation of
such incendiary pamphlets as I have exhibited here
to-day." This your Legislatures are fully competent
to do without infringing on freedom of speech, or free-
dom of the press. That freedom means well-regulated,
legal freedom, and not unrestrained licentiousness.