Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> An Oration on the Life, Character, and Services of John Caldwell Calhoun, Delivered on the 21st November 1850, in Charleston, S.C., at the Request of the City Council >> Page 254

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Page 254

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 254
probability, every prospect of the Presidency, and
must pass the remainder of his life in combating in a
small and almost hopeless minority, not for power, not
for glory, but for justice, and, in a measure, for the
existence of the South. He was thus, in a critical
moment, called on to make at once and forever, a
decision which was to shape his destiny, and perhaps
the destiny of a whole people. He did not hesitate.
He had now mastered the Constitution ; he also now
saw clearly the fatal tendency of the prominent
measures brought forward at the close of the war ;
and casting behind him all the glorious labors of the
past, and" all the brilliant prospects of the future
holding in one hand the Constitution, and in the other
truth, justice, and the violated rights of his native
land, he took his post with his little band, waged in
the breach a truceless war of two and twenty years,
and perished there.
Neither ancient nor modern annals furnish a nobler
example of heroic sacrifice of self. Peel yielded to
popular demands, and exchanged party for public grat-
itude and influence. Burke gave up friends, but
power smiled upon him. Self-banished Aristides
alreadyvhad satiated his ambition. Cato and Brutus
perished in the shock. But, in the early prime of life,
midway his yet unchecked career with the greatest
of ambition's prizes but one bound ahead, Mr. Calhoun
stopped and turned aside, to lift from the dust the
Constitution of his country, trampled, soiled and rent ;
arid bearing it aloft, consecrated himself, his life, his
talents, and his hopes, to the arduous, but sacred task
of handing it down to other ages as pure as it was
when received from the Fathers of the Revolution.