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 298

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Page 298

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 298
career the very van of Progress, Mr. Calhoun may be
considered a perfect model.
When, however, a few years of peace had devel-
oped in this new and rapidly growing country—what
it has taken thirty centuries to make manifest in older
and more closely cemented social fabrics that Gov-
ernments and Constitutions are more severely tried by
the conflicts of domestic than of foreign interests, and
ambition ; and it became evident that our Govern-
ment was to be perverted and our Constitution set
aside, to enable one section of this Confederacy to
despoil another then Mr. Calhoun became a Conser-
vative Statesman. He saw that, in common with the
founders of the Republic, he had been deceived in his
belief that the Constitution had been consecrated by a
quarter of a century of successful operation, and, that
all danger of a central despotism had passed by. He
saw, what many in all countries have been too slow
in seeing, that there is a Progress which, like " vault-
ing ambition, overleaps itself." He recoiled from the
operation of machinery he had himself helped to put
in motion ; and he now ardently devoted all his talents
and all his energy to arrest the march of usurpation
and corruption, and to preserve the liberties and in-
stitutions inherited from our fathers.
But merely negative and stolid conservatism did
not at all suit the genius of Mr. Calhoun, which was
essentially active and ever looking forward to the
improvement of mankind. He sought, therefore, ear-
nestly, to discover the principles and theory of Move-
ment that might be onward and unfailing yet regular
and safe. In accomplishing this task, he sounded anew
the depths of human nature ; he reviewed the whole