- One of the fruitful sources, as I hold it, of the errors which prevail in our country, is the theory that this is a government of one people; that the government of the United States was formed by a mass; and therefore it is taken that all are responsible for the institutions and policies of each. The government of the United States is a compact between the sovereign members who formed it; and if there be one feature common to all the colonies planted upon the shores of America, it was the steady assertion of, and uncompromising desire for, community independence.
- Senate speech, May 7th, 1860
- If the Confederacy falls, there should be written on its tombstone: Died of a theory.
- The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, quoting a remark he had made in 1864
- Whether by the House or by the People, if an Abolitionist be chosen President of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies... such a result would be a species of revolution by which the purposes of the Government would be destroyed and the observance of its mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event, in such manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it your duty to provide for your safely outside the Union of those who have shown the will, and would have acquired the power, to deprive you of your birthright and reduce you to worse than the Colonial dependence of your fathers. 
- Tradition usually rests upon something which men did know; history is often the manufacture of the mere liar. 
- A government, to afford the needful protection and exercise proper care for the welfare of a people, must have homogeneity in its constituents. It is this necessity which has divided the human race into separate nations, and finally has defeated the grandest efforts which conquerors have made to give unlimited extent to their domain.
- The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
- I will admit no bond that holds me to a party a day longer than I agree to its principles. When men meet together to confer, and ascertain whether or not they do agree, and find that they differ – radically, essentially, irreconcilably differ – what belongs to an honorable position except to part? They cannot consistently act together any longer.
- Reply in the Senate to a speech of Senator Douglas, May 1860
- Unfortunately, the opinion has gone forth that no politician dares to be the advocate of peace when the question of war is mooted. That will be an evil hour — the sand of our republic will be nearly run — when it shall be in the power of any demagogue, or fanatic, to raise a war-clamor, and control the legislation of the country. The evils of war must fall upon the people, and with them the war-feeling should originate. We, their representatives, are but a mirror to reflect the light, and never should become a torch to fire the pile.
- Among our neighbors of Central and Southern America, we see the Caucasian mingled with the Indian and the African. They have the forms of free government, because they have copied them. To its benefits they have not attained, because that standard of civilization is above their race. Revolution succeeds Revolution, and the country mourns that some petty chief may triumph, and through a sixty days' government ape the rulers of the earth."
- There is a relation belonging to this species of property, unlike that of the apprentice or the hired man, which awakens whatever there is of kindness or of nobility of soul in the heart of him who owns it; this can only be alienated, obscured, or destroyed, by collecting this species of property into such masses that the owner is not personally acquainted with the individuals who compose it.
- What security have you for your own safety if every man of vile temper, of low instincts, of base purpose, can find in his own heart a higher law than that which is the rule of society, the Constitution, and the Bible? These higher-law preachers should be tarred and feathered, and whipped by those they have thus instigated. This, my friends, is what was called in good old revolutionary times, Lynch Law. It is sometimes the very best law, because it deals summary justice upon those who would otherwise escape from all other kinds of punishment.
- Do they find in the history of St. Domingo, and in the present condition of Jamaica, under the recent experiments which have been made upon the institution of slavery in the liberation of the blacks, before God, in his wisdom, designed it should be done — do they there find anything to stimulate them to future exertion in the cause of abolition ? Or should they not find there satisfactory evidence that their past course was founded in error?
- ...How idle is this prating about natural rights as though still containing all that had been forfeited.
- Sir, it is true that republics have often been cradled in war, but more often they have met with a grave in that cradle. Peace is the interest, the policy, the nature of a popular Government. War may bring benefits to a few, but privation and loss are the lot of the many. An appeal to arms should be the last resort, and only by national rights or national honor can it be justified.
- Debate in the House of Representatives, February 6, 1846
Last modified on 15 April 2014, at 17:25