That we must, in ninety days, seeks an alliance as a necessity,with a Confederacy of Southern States, is as plain to my mind, as every one must see, to put the country in a thorough state of military preparation. That the separation will be peaceful, should it occur before the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, is guaranteed by the Message of President Buchanan, recently delivered to the Congress now in session.
After descanting upon the power supposed to exist in him as President of the United States, to use coercive means against a State seceding from the Union, Mr. Buchannan says, “The question fairly stated is does the Constitution delegated to Congress the power to force a State into submission, that is attempting to withdraw, or has actually withdrawn from the confederacy, if answered in the affirmative, it must be on the principal that the power has been conferred upon Congress to declare and make war upon a State. After much serious reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that no such power has been delegated to Congress, nor to any other department of the Federal Government.”
No constitutional barrier, however, will stay the arm of Mr. Lincoln, elected and led on by the aggressive and vile fanaticism of the North the chief embodiment of the “irrepressible conflict” doctrine, and staunch endorser of the “Helper Book,” need not be counted upon because of the lack of constitutional authority: but he may be impeached! Who is to do it? Will a black republican Congress impeach a black republican President? Never. But the power and forces of the Federal Government, as far as possible, we may well calculate will be by him levied and brought to bear against any and all States attempting separation from the General Government. Contemplating these events as I do to my mind, it is highly important that an appropriation be made at once adequate in its amount, for arming the militia with approved modern arms and ammunition to be stored at convenient points along the northwest border of the State, and at the seat of government. There are a few hundred stands of arms subject to the order of the Governor, now deposited in the United States Arsenal at this place, and other additional ones, to which the State is entitled at the city of Washington, amounting in all to 1,400 of antique structure and doubtful capacity.
I am not for war, but I am in favor of preparing for war in times of peace, and recommend to you who have authority to provide t he means necessary for the defense of our citizens. The money in the treasury belongs to the people, and they out to be permitted to use it for the protection of their property and the security of their wives and children. Our western border is in eminent peril now, from the incursions of Montgomery, a freebooter sent down by the people of the northern States with common designs against Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. The protection afforded by the Federal Government, even in the Union, is contemptibly spurned by any bandit who sees proper to invade us. Imagine the condition of our border people then when we strike for our liberties and declare for separate nationality. Immediate legislation calling a Convention is earnestly recommended the the State by the authority of the people may define her position at as early a period as possible; other States of the South with whom we must share a common fortune, being far in advance of Arkansas in this important movement. Party prejudices and recriminations ought to be buried and forgotten in so moments a crisis.
Let the people speak through their delegates, fix the destiny of our State and all will unite in the verdict. If there are any among us who are deaf to the admonition of plain facts and reason, false to the honor, glory, and independence of their State which is their rightful sovereign, let them speak also that we may know ourselves. To prevent the migration from other States having anti-slavery tendencies, I advise the passage of a law prohibiting the importation of negroes into Arkansas from any source whatever, unless accompanied by their owners, who shall settle and become permanent citizens of the country. The object of which is to compel the border States to take care of and protect their own slave property, and ultimately to look to the cotton growing States as confederates and allies, having like institutions and common interests.
Such a law need have temporary application to be repealed or modified in future, as circumstances require. When Missouri abolishes slavery, Arkansas becomes a border State; she is likely to do this before a great while, unless inhibited by such a statute as this united in by all the cotton growing States. The Indian nations on our western border will do the same thing unless their freesoil proclivities are forestalled by such statutory enactments.
The revenue in the Treasury at the commencement of the present session of the General Assembly amounted to $304,000.00. After paying the expenses of your body for the present term there will still remain, say $250,000: on the 15th of May next, t his amount will be augmented by paying into the State revenue for the present year, say $215,000; for the purpose of defense $75,000 might well be appropriated, and leave an ample find in the Treasury for all future contingencies.
As a peace measure, I recommended in my address delivered to you a reduction of the State Tax from 1/6 to 1/8 of one percent. In the present aspect of affairs, it is well perhaps that the present rate be preserved until peace and quiet be restored to the country.
It is recommended further for your consideration, that no appropriations be made of money at present for any but the necessary and legitimate expenses of the Government.
The election of a Senator for the United States Congress, who can only take his seat after the 4th of March next, necessarily under the administration of Mr. Lincoln, and whom the people in Convention might see propriety, and calculated to forestall public sentiment, to be expressed hereafter by the assembling of the State Convention.
The opinion if entertained by many that the exigencies of the country in anticipation of coming events, renders it necessary that a law should be passed , suspending the collection of debts. The reasons urged in support of this measure, are particularly referable to amounts due by our citizens to those of the freesoil States, and is justified by its advocates with some plausibility, as retaliatory for the wrongs done us by the northern people, in kidnapping and harboring our slave property.
Let our escutcheon be preserved in the future as it has been in the past, though they have despoiled us of thousands; let us pay them the last farthing. They have proved adepts in dishonor; let us prove adherents to principle. Our people, as a community, are free from local or foreign debt, and are abundantly able and willing to meet their obligations; and if they were not, postponement by stay laws would never pay them out; interests, costs, and the consequent increased embarrassment of the country, followed by an enormous depreciation of property, would leave them worse off when pay day came, than they were at first.
Twenty years since a statute similar to the one now proposed was enacted. It paralyzed the individual and aggregate energies of the people, and extended its baneful influence to every department and ramification of business. When a man makes a contract, let him fulfill it, do not support him in its defalcation.
Henry M. Rector