The cotton States have drawn the sword against the Union, the Constitution and the Law. They cut short all consultation; they strike the first blow; they seize the property of the Union, garrison its forts against the officers of law, take possession of its revenue-cutters, rifle its arsenals to arm their forces against its authority, gather armies to seize the Federal capitol[,] its public buildings and its archives, and fire upon the national troops while peacefully obeying orders. This is not secession; it is not dissolution; it is rebellion and aggressive war!

Men of Connecticut! look this thing squarely in the face! All past differences of opinion, all interests or ties of party dwindle into nothingness; all political questions, all proposals of compromise or schemes of settlement are swept aside by armed rebellion making war upon the nation. A new and appal[l]ing issue confronts us—have we a government, or are we to be delivered over to Parisian mob-law and Mexican anarchy? It is no longer how shall we be governed, but shall we have any government at all? It is no longer what laws shall be made, but shall we have any laws?

Compromise with armed rebellion is impossible. When the constitutional election of Abraham Lincoln was followed by mutterings of discontent and threats of secession, the first impulse of the Northern people was for conciliation. They knew how grossly they had been belied, and were willing to do and endure much to remove an honest mistake. Even those Republican papers and speakers that believed no further compromise could be made with safety or honor were as conciliatory in tone as possible, and carefully avoided anything that might exasperate the Southern people. Our Senators spoke the language of conciliation and forbearance. To remove misapprehension Senator Seward proposed a resolution disavowing the purpose and disclaiming the right to interfere with slavery in the States. Other Republican authorities proposed measures of compromise and schemes for removing the vexed questions forever. Some advocated the restoration of the Missouri line; others the admission of all territories as states; others the repeal of any laws that gave pretext for complaint. No pains was spared to assure the South that three months[‘] trial of Mr. Lincoln’s administration would satisfy them that they were safe in all their rights under the new rule.

To all these overtures the Gulf states have been deaf. The men who have for twenty years been plotting the destruction of the confederacy had succeeded only too well in propagating their treasonable spirit. Their deliberate purpose to seize the Government by force is at last unmasked, and they have swept the cotton states into open, armed, aggressive rebellion.

All the old questions of slavery in territories, admission of States or return of fugitives vanish with the smoke of the first gun fired at Charleston. One issue confronts us: Shall the majority of Law and the authority of government be vindicated, or have we mob-law and anarchy? Compromise with treason is treason itself. Nothing can be done until the sword of rebellion is sheathed and the sanctity of law acknowledged. Are rebels to seize the United States arsenals and forts with impunity? Then what protects the country against a rebellion every month? Is there no power in all the land to enforce the laws and quell treason? Then what power is there to carry into execution any scheme of conciliation? If any faction or State or section may remedy a defeat at the ballot-box by an appeal to force, and beat down the authority of law by arms, any other may do the same. No other question can even be considered until we know whether we are to have a government. If the Constitution has no competent defenders, no amendment of the Constitution is worth a straw. If the laws have no power, any change of laws is folly. Law or no law is the only question now.

On that question the people of the mighty North are a unit. Party lines are obliterated until it is settled. Democrats, Unionists, Republicans, alike love the Union, stand by the Constitution, demand the enforcement of the laws at all hazards, and recognize the supreme necessity of a government that can protect the country, put down rebellion and execute the will of the people. Let the laws be obeyed, let order reign, and then the people of the North will attend to all complaints and listen with patient ear to all requests.

With rebel armies making war upon the United States it is no time to be talking about fugitive slave laws or personal liberty bills, party platforms or constitutional amendments. The very government is on trial for life. The new issue is not of our making. The people of the North, of whatever party, were anxious to settle all differences in a peaceful and law-abiding way, and were willing to submit quietly to the lawful decision. The traitors of the cotton States have precipitated the new issue upon us. So long as they presented requests, however intemperately, and passed resolutions, however passionately, so long as they talked of peaceable secession and sent commissioners to arrange and arbitrate, we could consult with calmness and offer the olive branch with dignity. But when they take arms to inaugurate in this country a Mexican revolution, when they make war upon the United States, and organize forces to seize upon the Federal Capital, they leave us no alternative, and every honest freeman of the North will answer: The Constitution shall be obeyed! the flag of our country shall be respected! the laws shall be enforced!