Speech of Luther J. Glenn of Georgia to the Missouri Secession Convention

Luther J. Glenn, Secession Commissioner from Georgia, March 4, 1861

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Missouri Convention: On the 19th day of January, a Convention of the people of the State of Georgia adopted an ordinance of secession, which I beg leave to read and present to this Convention. They also adopted a resolution appointing commissioners to the various States, which I will read. [Mr. Glenn read the ordinance of secession passed by the State of Georgia, and the resolution referring to his appointment as Commissioner.] Under that resolution, gentlemen of the Convention, I had the honor to be appointed a Commissioner from the State of Georgia to the State of Missouri, and having read and presented to you the ordinance of secession and the resolution, my duty might be considered as having been performed. It is, perhaps, however, due alike to the State which I represent, and the State of Missouri, that, with your permission, I shall accompany the execution of my duty with a few brief remarks. I propose to trespass upon your patience but a short time.

Georgia has not assumed this position because of any dissatisfaction with the Constitution, because of any dissatisfaction with the General Government when administered in accordance with the spirit of that Constitution. If her Northern confederates had been true to that instrument, if they had carried out the Federal Constitution according to its spirit and letter, Georgia, having been among the first to adopt the Federal Constitution, would have been among the last to have abandoned the General Government. The causes which have operated to induce and impel the State of Georgia, one of the old thirteen States, one of those which passed through the fire and blood of the Revolution, to sever the ties that bound her to the Government of her fathers, have been enunciated, and read and understood of all men.

I do not, gentlemen, propose to enter into anything like a detailed history of the rise and progress, and present position of the anti-slavery feeling of the North. To do so would be a reflection upon your intelligence–an abuse of your indulgence, and an assumption on my part of an unnecessary task

The first occasion upon which this feeling of hostility among the people of the Northern States assumed a position of hostility was, I believe, the application of your own people, then a Territory, for admission into the Federal Union. With the history and result of that struggle you are familiar. I need not recite it. Without assuming a political aspect or organization, the Abolitionists a few years after this event formed societies; they established newspapers at different points. In New York, Boston and other places, they began to teach the mind of the rising generation. They began to preach their doctrines from the pulpit, and but a few years elapsed before this anti-slavery feeling had so far overcome and taken possession of the religious mind of the North that (as you remember in 1844) they deposed from office one of their ablest men, to-wit; Bishop ANDREW, of Georgia, for no other reason than that he had intermarried with a lady in Georgia who was possessed of a few negroes in her own right. It was then, you recollect, that the Southern Methodists dissolved their connection with their fanatical brethren of the North. The same feeling and spirit of opposition to the Southern interest and institutions–the same fanatical spirit if you please–entered into the Baptist church and soon after brought about an effective separation of that denomination. And, in truth, gentlemen of Missouri, so far has this feeling taken possession of the mind of the North, that at this time there are but few places and few churches to be found on the Northern soil, where the Southern church, however, pure and upright and devoted to its cause, would be allowed to proclaim its holy mission. As might have been expected, this feeling entered into the political organization of the country. The Abolition party of the North, for many years, only held the balance of power between the political organizations of the country, but it soon took possession of one of them and you know, as every man knows who has read the history of the political parties of the country, that the untimely end of the old Whig organization was attributable alone to this cause. Even Mr. Clay, with all his power, and with all his influence could not save the Whig organization from the withering effects and influence of this party. Gentlemen, some years thereafter another political organization, the American party, arose–as was said, on the ruins of both the old political organizations, discarding the evils of both, and combining the virtues of both. It lived for a while, so long as it was confined within the limits of State Governments, and you remember that no sooner than the delegates of this party from the North and South, in 1856, met in convention in the city of Philadelphia, than they disagreed and differed in reference to the slave question, and it was then that the delegates from the Northern States, or most of them withdrew and went into a convention with those of more congenial principles and tastes in the city of Pittsburgh, and there Mr. Fremont was nominated. You remember the platform upon which he was nominated, I will not take up your time by reading it. You will remember that the principle therein advocated was that it was the duty, the right and power of Congress to exclude the men of the South with their property from the common territory of the Union. You will further remember, gentlemen, what a contest there was in the election that followed. You vividly recollect that struggle, and that it was only after the most superhuman effort on the part of the Democratic party, the conservative portion of the people of the North, that Mr. Buchanan was elected.

Well, gentlemen, four years passed away. Within that time does the anti-slavery feeling of [sic] the North subside? Is there any abatement of hostility of the Northern people towards the institutions and rights of the South? Why, within those four years what have the people of Georgia seen and witnessed? They have witnessed the formation of Emigrant Aid Societies for the purpose of sending men into the common Territories of the country for no other object than to exclude the men of Georgia and men of Missouri there from with their property. In that same time they have witnessed their own and your own people shot down, and the soil of Kansas moistened with the blood of your own people, for no other crime than the assertion and vindication of their own constitutional rights. Within that time, gentlemen, we have seen the Governor of a non-slaveholding State refusing to deliver a fugitive from justice upon the demand of the Governor of the State of Kentucky, for the reason, as they hold, that it is no crime to entice your slaves to leave you. Within that time Georgia has witnessed more than sixty Representatives of this organization at the North, endorsing and recommending the infamous sentiments contained in the Helper Book, and but for the indomitable perseverance of one of the Missouri Representatives in urging his resolution to that effect, she would have witnessed one of the men who endorsed the book elevated to the Speakership. She has witnessed, moreover, within these four years almost every State North of Mason and Dixon’s line pass under the influence and power of the Republican organization of the North. She has seen within that time the true men, the constitutional men of the North cut down one after another, and in every case and on every occasion where the opportunity has occurred, every true and constitutional man in the Senate of the United States, with but one exception within the last four years, has been swept away and his place filled and occupied by a Representative of the Republican party.

She has seen within that time, as I have already stated, the States of the North pass under the influence and into the hands of this organization. It has seen their Executive, their Judicial and their Legislative Departments–all their offices, from the highest to the lowest, from the constable up through every intermediate grade to the Executive–filled with the representatives of the Republican organization. Not only so, but, within these four years, Georgia has seen an organized band descending upon the soil of Virginia, taking possession of the arsenal and property of the Government, and there pouring out the blood, shedding the innocent blood, of Virginia’s citizens, for the avowed purpose of liberating the slaves of the South.

But, gentlemen, these four years have passed away, and the Republican organization–a sectional organization–existing alone in the Northern States; with the exception of a few thousand votes in the South; I say this organization, sectional, geographical–an organization against the formation of which, the Father of his Country warned the American people, met in Convention at the city of Chicago, and there proclaimed and published a platform of principles to the world. And, gentlemen, this same platform is to be found one in spirit and in object, to the one which was adopted in Pittsburgh in 1856; whereby it is asserted that Congress has the power and right, aye, and that it is the duty, to exclude the Southern man and his property from the Territories, belonging alike to the North and the South, to the East and the West. They nominated their candidates on this platform. They go before the people–the ideas of November roll around–what is the result? Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Hamlin are elected by an overwhelming majority of the popular vote in the North.

Now, gentlemen, we have not only to look to the platform of this party for the principles and objects which they avow, but we must also look (and so the State of Georgia has done) to the principles and objects avowed by the candidates who have been elected by the Republican organization. Mr. Lincoln, the President elect, subscribes to the platform adopted in Chicago. Not only so, but he avowed the principles contained in it long before he was nominated, and enunciated the doctrine that Congress had the power to exclude the Southern man from going into the Territories with his property. He said that if he were a member of Congress he would vote to effect this exclusion, regardless of the decisions of the Supreme tribunal of the country. Not only so, but he has avowed the irrepressible conflict. Georgia saw all this and declared that the Northern mind would never become easy and quiet upon this question until it was satisfied that slavery was put in a course of ultimate extinction. Georgia has looked to his published declarations and opinions in order to ascertain the objects and views and opinions of the Republican organization. Not stopping there, she has looked to the declarations of the representative men of the Republican organization. She has looked to the views and opinions as expressed by Mr. Seward, Mr. Sumner, Mr. Wilson and others, both in and out of Congress, for the purpose of arriving at and ascertaining what was the ultimate object of the Republican organization in reference to the institution of slavery. She has not confined herself to them, but in order to ascertain more clearly, if you please, the object, she has gone into the county meetings and State Conventions, which may probably be a more true reflex of the principles and objects of the party, than the declaration of its representative men, and considered their action and resolutions. Looking at all these things–looking at the national platform; at the county and State platforms; at the declarations published of Mr. Lincoln himself; at the declaration and avowals of the representative men of the party, Georgia came to the conclusion that it was the avowed object of the Republican organization to put slavery and the government upon such a track as that slavery might ultimately be put in a course of ultimate extinction–that it was their object to surround the slaveholding States with a circle of free States, and thereby cause the institution (to use their own language) to sting itself to death. Seeing these things, believing, gentlemen of Missouri, that there was no hope in the future–looking to the end and seeing nothing but danger and destruction to her people and hee [sic] best interests–aye, seeing that there was an antagonism, an irreconcilable antagonism, if you please, between the two sections of the country–believing, if you please, that there is a difference of principles, of civilization between the North and South, and feeling that this difference would never be reconciled, Georgia thought it was best there should be a peaceable separation. Hence, gentlemen, she has adopted her ordinance of secession, and she invites all slaveholding States to unite with her, and among them the State of Missouri–to unite with her in forming a Southern Confederacy–believing that, if they all will unite in forming a Southern Confederacy, we shall thereby have a government combining, as it were, every variety of soil and climate, embracing, as it will, a people homogeneous in views, in feelings, in sympathies and interests. With a government securing equal rights to all and every State and every citizen, she thinks that a future will be presented full of power and greatness to the Union, of happiness and prosperity to the people.

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention. In the name of my State and for myself individually, I beg you to accept my grateful acknowledgment, for the kind reception and respectful hearing you have given me, (mingled applause and hisses among the audience, which lasted for some time, and was subdued with some difficulty by the President.

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