CALHOUN, JOHN C. Autograph letter signed ("J.C. Calhoun") to Wilson Lumpkin, Fort Hill, S.C., 1 September 1848. 4 full pages, 4to, 252 x 202mm. (9.7/8 x 7.78 in.), with original envelope, with CALHOUN'S FREE FRANK.
"NOTHING WILL BE LEFT...BUT FOR THE SOUTH TO...TAKE OUR OWN DEFENCE INTO OUR HANDS...THE QUESTION BETWEEN THE NORTH AND SOUTH IS...A MERE QUESTION OF POWER"
A superb letter written at the height of the sectional crisis which preceded the Compromise of 1850: "...The arguement is indeed, exhausted. The question between the North & South is now acknowledged by the former to be a mere question of power. The pretext of bettering the condition of the slaves is laid aside. The only alternative left us is, shall we resist, or surrender, & thus in fact change conditions with our Slaves." If the southern states unite, he vows, "we could certainly save ourselves, and possibly the Union. I say possibly, for it is to be doubted whether the disease has not already progressed too far for that..." Calhoun then describes the methods by which southern factions, Democrat and Whig alike might unite, since "it is clear how little we have to hope from the success of either [Presidential] candidate." Afterwards, he asserts, the Governors and legislatures of each slave-holding state "shall take the highest grounds, in reference to the Slave question" to reassure Congress, for, "the great question between North & South will come in issues...If we should be defeated, as in all probability we shall, nothing will be left, but for the South to meet in convention, & to take our defence in our own hands." As to the Presidential contest, Calhoun declares, "I stand aloof on independant grounds, ready to support the Democratic or Whig candidate...as long as he goes right, & oppose him when he goes wrong..."