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MY DEAR SIR With feelings of deep interest and sober consideration, I have read your paper of the 7th Inst. Your letter presents a correct, but brief view, of the external and internal relations of the Country at the present time and you are right in your conclusion, That the questions now before the Country are pregnant with the most vital and important consequences and the result beyond the Ken of mortal man. What ought to be done, in regard to our present relations with Mexico, I am not prepared to say. I am, however, prepared to say, that our National character demands an increased vigor in the prosecution of the War, to that Point which may be necessary to humble the pride of the Priesthood and Military Chieftains of Mexico. Then the question will arise, what is to be the next step?
The Annarchal Rulers of Mexico, being prostrated, the people will desire peace. But the whole letter and spirit of our Government stands opposed to conquering provinces to govern, or to that of conquering a country for the purpose of annexation to our Union. Circumstances might justify our wresting territory from an hostile Enemy, and holding it, peopleing it, and annexing it to our Union. But a Territory already peopled with materials unfit to enter into the spirit of our institutions, and become good Citizens, should never be annexed to our Union.
On the subject of our internal relations, you present the case, as I conceive of it, Justly. The long, constant, and increasing disposition of the people generally, of the Non Slave holding States, to intermeddle with, and finally destroy and overturn our constitutional rights connected with negroe Slavery, must be resisted efficiently and speedily, or our Federal Union will be dissolved.
Our forbearance on this subject, has to my mind, already become intolerable.
The Wilmot proviso is but one of a long list of our grievances on this subject. And we ought to make one general and consolidated issue of the whole subject. Our great and only difficulty is to unite and consolidate the action of the Slave holding States. Attempts made by States Single-handed must fail. If we cannot produce Unity and concert of action on this subject Then we may make up our minds to meet the most gloomy anticipations which your letter presents. And strange as it may appear to you, Yet I assure you that the people of no one of the Southern States, except South-Carolina are prepared for such action at this time, as you and myself deem to be, not only necessary, but indispensible to the security of the Southern States. Upon this subject our people have been most wickedly and awfully misled by Office holders and office seekers, aided by a Subservient press. One party, the Whigs, have deemed it their party interest to preserve a calm quiet silence, least a division might spring up between them and their Northern Associates, and thereby prevent the success of their party at the next Presidential election.
On the other hand, the Democrats have labored long and hard, to convince their southern Partizans, That the Van Burens, Wrights, Casses &c. &c. was their shield and hiding Place from the coming storm. It is true, that daily developments are stripping off this flimsy Vail of deception. But the minds of the large masses of the people are inveloped in thick and gross darkness on this subject.
I trust I am not wanting in courage or Patriotism to do my duty on this subject. I have most faithfully endeavored to use the humble means at my Command to sustain those who are battling for the Country. We have many difficulties connected with the Slave question which are rapidly pressing upon us. To meet them as we ought, I concur with you, that concert of action is the first object to be obtained, and I can see no way of effecting this object, but by a Convention of the States interested. And if a plan can be devised and prosecuted to success, which will approach to a general feeling on the part of the States interested, I should indulge strong faith, that the heart burnings and strifes, on this Slave question, would ultimately be settled, and the Union preserved. But our Enemies will never cease in their Warfare upon our Constitutional rights so long as we keep up our Party divisions at home, so as to manifest to the world that we have more thirst for office and selfish Party ascendancy than for the constitutional rights of the States, and the true interest and liberty of the people.
As they now stand, I am thoroughly disgusted with both the great political Parties of the Country. Both are under the influence and controul of a cunning selfish combination of Corrupt Office Seekers.
They are ready to barter the most vital and sacred Constitutional rights of the people, for place and power. To be sure, there are many good men and true, attached to both Parties, but the influence of such are paralized by the overwhelming numbers of a different character. Nothing short of a thorough reorganization of Parties, can save our glorious Republic from destruction.
If the Country is so far depraved That it cannot afford material for the leaders of an honest, patriotic party then indeed, will our days soon be numbered. And like Greece and Rome, It will be written, the United States, W A 8.
I would not hesitate a moment, but move in the matter which you suggest without delay if I could be as sanguine as you seem to be, that good would result from the effort. Our State elections being over indicates the present as a favorable time for such a movement, it is so. Nevertheless, when I look over the Material which compose the legislature of Georgia, and consider the influences under which they are governed, I assure you, they are the last body of men in the State, that I would look to for a patriotic movement, at this momentous crisis.
Look at our Congressmen, of both Parties, from Georgia, and you have a good specimen of the leader, who at this time hold the reigns in the State. Our best men in Georgia are now in private life, pretty generally disgusted with political life. Those however, who concur with ray views are evidently gaining strength rapidly, and I entertain no doubt will ere long become the dominant party in Georgia. I venture the opinion, that the actings and doings of the Present Legislature will greatly tend to strengthen the ranks of the Faithful and honest portion of the State. And if the Wilmot proviso, (as you anticipate) should receive the sanction of Congress, it will strongly tend to favor the views which we entertain. Indeed, the passage of the Wilmot resolutions by Congress, I believe will be one of those wicked Acts which will be over-ruled for great good. It will enlarge the platform on which we stand.
Should the Wilmot resolutions, or something like them, pass both houses of Congress, I suppose as a matter of course, the President will Vetoe them. If he does not, few friends as he now has, the number will be greatly diminished.
You are not apprized of all that I have done, for a year past, or you would not suspect me of supineness in regard to the subjects which now agitate the Country. I am not idle, although no aspirant for notoriety. As far as my Circle extends, I have been very successful in exercising a salutary influence in Georgia. My position in relation to public affairs is universally known in this State. When the proper time shall arrive, I will shrink from no position which may be assigned me, in an attempt to get up a Southern Convention, for the Purposes suggested in your letter. The Slave holding States have only to unite in Council and proper action on the Slave question and our opponents would be crushed at once. Union amongst ourselves would give us strength to face a frowning world.
Your views may be sound upon the subject of retaliatory measures, as suggested in your letter, but my first impressions are not favorable in regard to their Expediency, or practicability.
I at this time strongly incline to the Opinion that the high ground, imperatively taken That we will no longer submit to the Variegated Violations of our rights Connected with our Slave property, or domestic institutions, by the Non-Slave holding States, would be the most wise and expedient measure for the South. And after due notice, upon the pledge of our sacred honor and our lives Maintain the ground assumed.
No man loves or attaches more importance to the Union of these States than he who now holds this pen. But I desire the continuance of no Union which degrades me. If a new State would be Ejected from the Union On account of recognizing the institution of Affrican Slavery Then the Slave holding States ought no longer Continue in such a Confederacy of States. The repeated assaults upon our constitutional compact has greatly marred its beauty and symmetry, and to my mind it is most clear, that if the General Government cannot be brought back to the Constitution, this generation will not pass away before the glory of our Confederacy will have departed. Write soon and write freely. As Ever your friend
- Wilson Lumpkin
- Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1899, Calhoun Correspondence.