Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Selections from the Letters and Speeches of the Hon. James H. Hammond, of South Carolina >> Speech on the Relations of the States, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, May 21, 1860 >> Page 359

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Page 359

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 359
preme, and uncontrollable ; in short, what we call sove-
reign. Certainly no other power can do it ; since, in
that case, the really supreme power could at once re-
verse any such declaration, and without a proper defin-
ition of property agreed upon by the controlling power
of a Government, there could be no civil Government
at all ; for civilized government, however far it may
reach, is organized property, and never has existed,
and never can exist long without defining by law or
established usage what is property.
We have no history of the origin of human associ-
ation and political government that affords us any full
or clear account. The Bible and other ancient books
give us hints, which suggest thoughts, that enable us
to form such conceptions of these matters, which are,
perhaps, sufficient for all our practical purposes. A
roving family, grown into a tribe, finding pleasant
waters, fine soil, and sweet air, that have not been ap-
propriated, arrests its wanderings, drives down its
stakes, claims this delightful region as its own, consti-
tutes it property, and, dividing it out, organizes a gov-
ernment, and, by the right of eminent domain, of usage,
and its physical power, establishes a sovereignty. That
sovereignty is good so long as it can be maintained
against all assaults. If it sustains itself, in time it
grows great ; it becomes over-populous ; it sends out
emissaries to discover other similarly-endowed lands ;
it obtains them by first discovery, by purchase, or
by conquest ; it colonizes them with its surplus pop-
ulation, but, holding the eminent domain, it holds its
colonies in strict subordination to its own will, and
maintains sovereignty over them. The colonies also
grow. In time they demand sovereignty for themselves.