Calhoun’s Final Speech to the US Senate, March 4th 1850


How can the Union be saved? To this I answer, there is but one way in which it can be – and that is the southern section, that they can remain in the Union consistently with their honour and their safety … Do this, and discontent will cease – harmony and kind feelings between the sections be restored – and every apprehension of danger to the Union removed. The question, then, is – How can this be done?


… There is but one way … and that is, by a full and final settlement, on the principle of justice, of all the questions at issue between the two sections. The South asks for justice, simple justice and less she ought not take. She has not compromise to offer, but the constitution; and no concession or surrender to make. She has already surrendered so much that she has little left to surrender. Such a settlement would go to the root of the evil, and remove all cause of discontent, by satisfying the South, she could remain honourably and safely in the Union, and hereby restore the harmony and fraternal feelings between the sections, which existed anterior to Missouri agitation. Nothing else can, with any certainty, finally and for ever settle the questions at issue, terminate agitation, and save the Union.


But can this be done? Yes, easily; not by the weaker party, for it can of itself do nothing – not even protect itself – but by the stronger. The North has only to will it to accomplish it – to do justice by conceding to the South an equal right in the acquired territory, and to do her duty by causing the stipulations relative to fugitive slaves to be faithfully fulfilled, to ease the agitation of the slave question, and to provide for the insertion of a provision in the constitution, by an amendment, which will restore the South, in substance, the power she possessed of protecting herself, before the equilibrium between the sections was destroyed by the action of the Government. There will be no difficulty in devising such a provision – one that will protect the South, and which, at the same time, will improve and strengthen the Government, instead of impairing and weakening it.