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In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District
of New York.
THE Constitution of the United States of America is an interesting document in many respects, and affords ample matter for speculation to reflecting men who love to occupy themselves with Politics. But now, when the use of its name is in the mouth of every man that speaks, and in the pen of every man that writes,-when it is applied indifferently, and made to serve contradictory purposes-to protect and justify both parties in the unhappy quarrel which distracts the country, and shakes her government from its very foundations,-one is tempted to re-read that Instrument, and give utterance to one's own thoughts upon it,-even one who does not wish to meddle in Politics. Nor is there any wonder if he yields to the temptation; as none there is, if, living in the midst of a plague, a man catches the contagion, or, rather, the contagion catches him.
Only he labors in vain. Being no politician himself,having no personal acquaintance, nothing at all to do in the political world,-what chance has he of being attended to? If he speaks, his voice is drowned in the general cry-"The Constitution!"—a cry that fills the air, and sounds like to many waters. If he writes, there is no leisure to look at his writing, were it even good, and to the purpose; which I cannot say mine is. But people have got no time for reading, except journals and novels: they leave unread papers digested by their own penmen, or even those of the adverse party; though duty and self-interest would urge them to it.
Two years ago all the Southern States, South Carolina excepted, were still represented in Congress at Washington, and in a state of anxiety and suspense, waiting, before resolving themselves what to do in that memorable juncture, that the incoming administration should plainly declare what course she intended to pursue in regard to the old, all-absorbing controversy, whose critical moment was now come; and when by that declaration, which was solemnly made and repeated, they could no longer doubt what the North's intentions were, and that she was determined to carry them by all means into execution, the Louisiana representatives, in a joint letter addressed to their constituents on January 14, 1861, said: “The time for argument is passed; that for action has arrived;"--which sentence, I regret to say, has been ever since acted upon by both parties with unexampled energy and animosity, to the desolation of this country, and the utter ruin of the largest, most unoffending portion of its inhabitants.
In December, 1859, Mr. Helper published a book entitled "The Impending Crisis;" as if he knew what should soon come to pass! Perhaps he knew it not; or the event maybe has something more in it, or something less, than he anticipated. But, far from giving him the credit of a prophet, I regard those his words, not as a prediction of what now occurs, but as a preparation to it,-a means, a help to bring it about.
Prophet I would rather call somebody else, and especially Mr. Buchanan, who, twenty-seven years ago, said in the Senate, "that the Union would be dissolved at the moment an effort would be seriously made by the Free States in Congress to pass such laws,”--namely, interfering with Slavery. It is true, that when some of the slaveholding States had actually dissolved the Union on that account, he denied them the right to secede, which might seem a contradiction; but perhaps, in 1836, he meant that, even in that case, the Union would have been dissolved without just cause; or, in 1861, that those States have not waited