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 283

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Page 283

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 283
for it was too absurd to contend that Congress was
bound to receive and treat respectfully all sorts of
petitions petitions frivolous, unconstitutional and de-
structive of law, order and society. When the an-
nexation of Texas was brought forward, they fastened
upon that measure, and opposed it with great zeal and
much effect, upon the ground that it extended the
area of Slavery. But there were too many interests,
even in the North, in favor of annexation, and Mr.
Calhoun was enabled to defeat them signally. But
when the Mexican war was declared, a new and vast
field was opened to them. It was certain that a large
territory would be gained by that war : and it was
scarcely begun before it was moved in Congress and
carried in the House, and almost carried in the Senate,
to prohibit Slavery in the domain that might be
acquired.
The alarm was immediately sounded, and the South
appeared for once to be fully roused. A number of
Southern States declared, through their Legislatures,
that if this Prohibition was enacted they would not
submit to it. While, on the other hand, a still larger
number of Northern States made Legislative declara-
tions in favor of it, and instructed their Senators to
support it. Thus, at length, the Abolition question,
always purely sectional, became again, as in the case of
Missouri, but under far more ominous circumstances,
the chief element in the most important practical po-
litical issue of the day. From 1846 up to near the
close of the late memorable Session of Congress, this
contest was carried on in various forms with deepen-
ing import, until at length it entirely absorbed the
public mind, and occupied the Federal Government to