This Union Will Not Easily Be Disrupted
Benjamin Franklin Wade of Ohio
United States Senate, December 14 1859

I say to gentlemen on the other side, these are very harsh doctrines to preach in our ears. What, sir, are you going to play this game of statesmanship with us? Will you go into the election with us, with a settled purpose and design that if you win you will take all the honors and the emoluments and offices of the Government into your own clutches; but if we win, you will break up the establishment and turn your backs on us? Is that the fair dealing to which we are invited? I am happy to know that you propose to make that contingency turn upon an event that will make it impossible to be consummated. The Government, to-day, is all in your hands; it has been in your hands for years; you are partaking of all its emoluments, all its measures you have molded, and you have designated the men who receive its honors. Year after year you have done this, and men have come here from the free States, men holding our opinions, we have sat here patiently, but we have been deprived of all the honors and emoluments that flow from this Government, as though we were its enemies; but did we ever complain? Not at all. We did not expect that we should share any of those favors, unless it should be so that our glorious principles should commend themselves to a large majority of the people of these United States.

But, sir, if it should turn out so - and Heaven only knows whether it will or not - I give gentlemen now to understand, this Union will not easily be disrupted. Gentlemen talk about it in a very business-like way, as though it were a magazine to be blown up whenever you touch the fire to it; as if, on a given day, at a moment's warning, at your own election, at any time and in any event, you can dissolve the bonds of this great Union. Do you not know, sir, that this great fabric has been more than eighty years in building, and do you believe you can destroy it in a day? I tell you, nay. Sir, when you talk so coolly about dissolving this Union, do you know the difficulties through which you will have to wade before that end can be consummated? Have you reflected that between the North and South, there are no mountain ranges that are impassable, and no desert wastes which commonly divide great nations one from another? Do you not know that, whether we love one another or not, we are from the same stock, speaking the same language, and although institutions have made considerable difference between us, the great Anglo-Saxon type pervades the whole? We are bound together by great navigable rivers, interlacing and linking together all the States of this Union. Innumerable railroads also connect us, and an immense amount of commerce binds all the parts, besides domestic relations in a thousand ways. And do you believe that you can rend all this asunder without a struggle? I tell you, sir, you will search history in vain for a precedent; there has been no such Government as this that has ever rent asunder by any internal commotion. I know that Poland was broken up and divided, but it was by external force. We are bound in the same ship; we are married forever, for better or for worse. We may make our condition very uncomfortable by bickerings if we we will, but nevertheless there can be no divorcement between us. There is no way by which it can be effected, but least of all on the contingency that you have spoken of. I tell the Senator from Georgia, if you wait until a Republican President is elected, you will wait a day too late. Why do not you do it now, when, I say again, you have the Government in your own hands? Why tell us that it is to be done when our man is elected? I say to you, Mr. President, he would be but a sorry Republican who, elected by a majority of the votes of the American people, and consequently backed by them, should fail to vindicate his right to the presidential chair. He will do it. No man at the North is to be intimidated by these threats of dissolution that are thrown into our teeth daily, and I ask Senators on the other side, why do you do it? I know not what motive you can have in preaching the dissolution of this Union day by day. If you are going to do it, is it necessary to give us notice of it? There is no law requiring that you should serve notice on us that you are going to dissolve the Union; [laughter;] and I should think it would be better to do it at once, and to do it without alarming our vigilance on the subject. It grates harshly on my ears; and I say to gentlemen that if a Republican President shall be constitutionally elected to preside for the next four years over this people, my word for it, preside he will. Who will prevent him?


The Congressional Globe, The Official Proceedings of Congress, Published by John C. Rives, Washington, D. C.
Thirty-Sixth Congress, 1st Session, New Series...No. 9, Thursday, December 15, 1859, page 144
New Series...No. 10, Thursday, December 15, 1859, page 145