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Speech of the Hon. Stephen R. Mallory, of Florida, on the Cuba Bill

Speech of the Hon. Stephen R. Mallory, of Florida, on the Cuba Bill

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Excerpt from Speech of the Hon. Stephen R. Mallory, of Florida, on the Cuba Bill: Delivered in the Senate of the United States, February, 1859

Mr. Mallory. Mr. President, I prefer going on now, late as the hour is, because I perceive that unless the friends of this bill stand by it, we shall not get a final vote upon it. In rising, particularly after the address to which we have just listened, to support a bill which appropriates money for the purchase of the Island of Cuba, my mind is embarrassed and oppressed, not only by the multitude and variety of the topics which cluster around it, and which, as we have seen here at this moment, have, more or less, entered into the discussion, but by the importance and gravity of the considerations which it involves. The honorable Senator [Mr. Collamer] who has just taken his seat, has referred to this as a sectional issue, as if the South were supporting this measure to get a few more slave States into the Union, to restore the equilibrium between the North and the South.

Mr. President, I approach this measure in no sectional spirit, and shall discuss it without reference to its northern or southern aspect. The maintenance of the equilibrium between the slave-holding and nonslave-holding States, the equilibrium of numbers, or of population and representation, is a delusive hope, and one which I have long since surrendered. And, thank heaven, sir, we are independent of any such balance of power. Sir, let me assure the northern States here represented, that if I supposed southern rights dependent upon such equilibrium, I would exert every effort to induce at least my own State to withdraw from the Union at once.

No, sir; our rights in this confederacy are not to be held by the permission of a majority of States. They must ever depend, under the Constitution, upon our enlightened patriotism; and, so long as we shall have loyal hearts and strong arms, with the blessing of heaven we will maintain them against all odds, - as those will learn who undertake to invade them.

Mr. President, this is no idle discussion. Whether we shall have a vote or not, the results are to be tangible for good or evil. If this bill shall pass both Houses of Congress, nay, if it shall pass but the Senate, I trust it will appear to Spain at least as a shadow which certainly tells of coming events. Nay, sir, whether it shall pass this body or not, the effect will be, inevitably, that by concentrating and enlightening public opinion, it will prove to Spain that there is a destiny which shapes the ends of this country, to which she, no less than ourselves, must submit. Therefore, sir, I want the discussion; I believe the effect on the main question will be of vital consequence, whether the bill shall pass or not.

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