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 363

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Page 363

Speech | The Reprint Company; John F. Trow & Co. | 1866, 1978
Transcription 363
only corporations, that may be dissolved at the will
of the Federal Government cannot declare what is
property in the Territories, and are not sovereign. It
is said, nevertheless, that they are sovereign, because
of a certain natural and inherent right of any popula-
tion organized under any form of government to regu-
late their own affairs. Nothing could be more vague,
uncertain, metaphysical, and shadowy, than such a
proposition as this. If any man has any natural or
inherent rights which I deny regarding all the
rights to which a being born so helpless as man,
may attain, to be purely conventional, and such as
other men allow him —I should suppose that those
rights belong to him as an individual, rather than as a
member of any social or political system. It seems to
me clear that we must be born with whatever is natu-
ral or inherent to us, and that we can receive no acces-
sion of rights of that character from any social or polit-
ical organization ; but that, on the contrary, such
rights, whatever they may be, must be in no small de-
gree restrained and diminished by any organization
formed for the good of the whole. Such, in fact, is
the case. Individual rights---no individual pretensions,
passions, and desires, mistaken for rights are just
what governments are instituted to control and regu-
late. But if any such natural or inherent rights could
possibly exist, they are conceded when the settler on
the public domain, asking the protection of this Gov-
ernment, agrees to be governed by such an organic law
as Congress may offer him which he does for the sub-
stantial consideration of protection. If he, by himself,
or in conjunction with his fellow-settlers, had any such
rights, they are entirely surrendered when they come