To Separate Without Our Consent

Stephen Arnold Douglas of Illinois
Senate, January 3 1861

I do not know that I can find a more striking illustration of this doctine of secession than was suggested to my mind when reading the President's last annual message. My attention was first arrested by the remarkable passage, that the Federal Government had no power to coerce a State back into the Union if she did secede; and my admiration was unbounded when I found, a few lines afterwards, a recommendation to appropriate money to purchase the island of Cuba. It occurred to me instantly what a brilliant achievement it would be to pay Spain $300,000,000 for Cuba, and immediately admit the island into the Union as a State and let her secede and reannex herself to Spain the next day, when the Spanish Queen would be ready to sell the island again for half price, or double price, according to the gullibility of the purchaser.

During my service in Congress it was one of my pleasant duties to take an active part in the annexation of Texas; and, at a subsequent session, to write and introduce the bill which made Texas one of the States of the Union. Out of that annexation grew the war with Mexico, in which we expended $100,000,000, and were left to mourn the loss of about ten thousand as gallant men as ever died upon a battlefield for the honor and glory of their country. We have since spent millions of money to protect Texas against her own Indians, to establish forts and fortifications to protect her frontier settlements, and to defend her against the assaults of all enemies until she became strong enough to protect herself.

We are now called upon to acknowledge that Texas has a moral, just, and constitutional right to rescind the act of admission into the Union; repudiate her ratification of the resolutions of annexation; seize the forts and public buildings which were constructed with our money; appropriate the same to her own use, and leave us to pay $100,000,000 and mourn the death of the brave men who sacrificed their lives in defending the integrity of her soil. In the name of Hardin, and Bissell, and Harris, and of the seven thousand gallant spirits from Illinois who fought bravely upon every battlefield of Mexico I protest against the right of Texas to separate herself from this Union without our consent.


Great Debates in American History, Volume Five, pages 321-322
Current Literature Publishing Company, New York, 1913