Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech Delivered at Barnwell C.H., S.C., October 29, 1858 >> Page 331

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Page 331

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 331
ize under it, assemble their Legislature, assume the
position of a State, and send Senators and Representa-
tives to Congress against their own will. Can Congress
coerce a State into the Union ? Then Congress can
coerce a State to remain in the Union, or drive a State
out of it. Congress is omnipotent. But where are,
then, the rights of the States ? Fortunately for us,
the Constitution of every State and of every Territory
asking to be a State, is not only virtually but actually
in the hands of its people at all times and under
all circumstances, and they cannot be divested of that
control without the utter destruction of the Federal
Constitution and an entire revolution. The whole
power of Congress in the premises is exhausted when
it accepts the Constitution without condition.
There are some who go still further, and assert that,
although there might be no way to avoid a submission
of the Lecompton Constitution to the control of the
people of Kansas, yet that the conference bill was a
compromise of princciple, inasmuch as it specifically re-
quired them to act, and it made for them the definite
opportunity to defeat the constitution as well as the
ordinance. Now this is true as a fact, yet the inference
is absurd upon its very face. If Congress could not
take the Lecompton Constitution out of the hands of
the people of Kansas, what difference did it make
whether they voted on the ordinance in August, under
the direction of Congress, or any other time, whether
fixed by Congress or themselves ? August was agreed
upon, because it was very well to set a time and let
things end. But from August to August, again and
forever, this constitution was in the hands of the people
of Kansas, and they could do with it what they pleased.