The Free States Are Subject Provinces
John Parker Hale of New Hampshire
United States Senate, December 13 1859

Mr. President, I do not intend to occupy the attention of the Senate long; but, in my humble judgement, the position of affairs is presented this morning in a more distinct light than it has been before; and if the position assumed by the Senator from California - and I desire to meet this subject plainly - be true, we have been living under a delusion - an utter delusion; we are not a union of States; the free States are subject provinces, and our people do not choose a President. They but perform an idle ceremony. You sit there, according to the enunciation made this morning, the representatives of fifteen States, and you proclaim to the majority of this Union that, if they dare to exercise their prerogative and choose a President representing the views which they entertain, (and the supposition presupposes that they are the views of a majority of the people of these United States, or else they could not elect a President,) you will dissolve the Union. You substantially, by this declaration, declare that this is an idle mockery, a delusion, and a deception. It is no choice; you people of the free States or of the non-slaveholding States - if that is a phraseology suiting any ear better - you are not a part of the sovereign power of this Confederacy; you occupy to us the position that the old French Parliament did to their monarch. He made the decrees, the prerogative of the Parliament was to register them - that was all. They called that a parliament. They called that a government of law. The Senator from California speaks to us as if there had been an appeal made to us. I do not consider it so. I rather consider it as a forewarning of a state of facts which, if it exists, ought to be known and cannot be known too soon.

This is the remedy, sir. I am glad to hear it. The remedy is that a majority of these United States must surrender, give up their convictions, forbear, in the exercise of the highest functions with which God ever endowed freemen, to let their ballots speak the sentiments of their understandings and of their hearts; stifle everything that is manly in them, if by chance they ever got anything of that sort there, and go to the polls next fall to go through the idle ceremony of voting when it is already a foregone conclusion, and if they do not register your decrees, the Union is to be dissolved. Sir, it is dissolved now, if that is the state of the case; it is not a Union; we are not co-States; we are not here the representatives of sovereign States, or of States having any political rights; we are here simply to register your decrees - no, sir, not that, but our people are to come together in the fall of 1860 and register the solemn decrees that shall be made for them by the fifteen slaveholding States of the Union.

Well, sir, I am glad, if this be the case, to know it. It has not been proclaimed too soon. But I want to put this matter a little more in detail, for the benefit of the Senator from California. He says that when there is an aggression on southern rights, then they will dissolve the Union; and he goes on to say that if a majority of these United States shall exercise their rights by electing a man to represent their views, then the South will dissolve it. Would that be an infringement of southern rights? Will it be an infringement of southern rights for the majority of the people of these United States to elect a man to carry out their sentiments and their principles, and to refuse to receive, what may be dictated to them by anybody else?


The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 8, Wednesday, December 14, 1859, page 126