Stone Collection: Volume 71 - Item 17
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17. Benjamin F. Thomas, Few Suggestions upon the Personal Liberty Law and “Secession” (So Called) (Boston: John Wilson & Son, 1861). (22 p.)
Open letter dated January 1, 1861, discussing the legality of South Carolina’s ordinance of secession. The question at that point was what to do with South Carolina because she was the only state that had seceded. The author from Massachusetts did not equivocate. “If the Constitution is a compact which every State is capable of breaking, whose obligations every State may throw off at its pleasure, it is not worth preserving. We believe it, the great mass of the people of this country believe it to be a wiser, better, nobler thing, a frame of government capable of amendment in the mode itself provides; capable of being overthrown only by revolution, only by successful revolution. Men may, it is true, for just cause, by revolution, change or overthrow government. It is also true, that men may maintain and uphold government for just cause; and it is just cause when their only rational hopes of peace, of security, and of well-regulated liberty, for themselves and their children, are bound up with it” (emphasis in original).