Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Nullification to Save the Constitution

Henry Laurens Pinckney

The average American today can not comprehend the King's English here, much less follow and have knowledge of the train of thought.  Pitiful.


Editor’s note: This article is excerpted from an 1833 4th of July Oration delivered by Henry L. Pinckney and is available in its entirety at The James McClellan Library.  This feature of our website contains over 100 primary documents on State’s Rights and federalism compiled by one of the founding members of the Abbeville Institute.

….But why is it that a day, so peculiarly dedicated to our ancestors, and endeared by the remembrance of their toils and triumphs, should have been made an occasion, in this community, of political contention and party strife? Why is it that on this political sabbath, the people of this city, descended, as they are, from the same illustrious source, and enjoying, as they do, the same glorious inheritance, no longer unite as brothers around the tombs of their fathers, nor offer fraternal and harmonious oblations upon the common altar of their common country? Is this unhappy division imputable to us? Did we denounce our brethren as unworthy of political communion with us? Or is it, as they kindly intimated by their conduct, that the purity of their patriotism would be sullied by continued confraternity with anarchists and rebels? What say you, Whigs? Do we indeed deserve the stigmas that have been cast upon us? Is our escutcheon really tarnished by a stain? Have we abandoned the principles of our fathers, or proved undeserving the proud legacy they bequeathed us?

Have we forgotten the price at which they acquired our freedom, or shown ourselves unable to appreciate or unwilling to maintain it? Is there a man in this assembly who, calling himself a Whig, and boasting of the Whig blood which circles in his veins, yet knows in his heart that he has imbibed the doctrines and pursued the conduct of the Tories? Is there an individual here, who, calling himself a State Rights man, knows in his heart that, like another Cyrsilus, he advised implicit submission to federal usurpation, and would, if he could, have laid Carolina At its footstool? Or is there a single man amongst us who, whilst pretending to admire the principles of the Revolution, knows in his heart that he not only approves the new-fangled doctrines of the President, but that he justifies and supports that Bloody Bill, of which the great objects are to make the federal Executive a despot, and the people of Carolina serfs and vassals? No! fellow-citizens—such are not the principles of the State Rights party. We have not forgotten the precepts, or dimmed the glory, of our fathers. 

We have not deserted the standard, or disgraced the cause, of freedom. We come not here to kneel to power, but to resist oppression. We come not here to clank our chains in honour of the tyrant who imposed them, but to defy his power, and break his sceptre into atoms. Strike your harps, then, ye Whigs of Carolina, and sing the praises of Liberty! Raise your voices, play upon a loud toned instrument, shout with a shout of triumph, and sing the glories of the Revolution! Who more worthy to celebrate the deeds of the Whigs of’76, than the Whigs of’32? Who more worthy to call Washington their father, than those who approve his conduct by imitating his example? Who more worthy to eulogize Jefferson, than those who believe with him that “Nullification is the rightful remedy,” and who, acting as he did in ’98, have added fresh lustre to his fame by another signal triumph of his principles? Who more worthy to extol the character of Moultrie, than those who have fought and conquered under his own Palmetto, or to laud the services of Sumter, than those whose cause he consecrated with his dying breath? Who more worthy, in short, to speak of Carolina, than those who have plucked her drowning honour from the deep, or of all that is precious, and endearing, and important in “Liberty, the Constitution, and the Union,” than those who have nobly defended and preserved them all?

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