Documenting the American South Logo
powered by google
Legend Informational Note
See the Page Image
     Mouseover Available
Title: Senior Oration of Edward T. Sykes, [1858]: Electronic Edition.
Author: Sykes, Edward Turner, b. 1839
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 20K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2005
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-12-09, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding.
Source(s):
Title of collection: Records of the Dialectic Society (#40152), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Senior Oration of Edward T. Sykes, [1858]
Author: Edward T. Sykes
Description: 15 pages, 15 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Editorial practices
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 5 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
Page images can be viewed and compared in parallel with the text.
Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
Letters, words and passages marked as deleted or added in originals have been encoded accordingly.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as ".
All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as '.
All em dashes are encoded as —.
Indentation in lines has not been preserved.

For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see the section Editorial Practices.
Senior Oration of Edward T. Sykes, [1858]
Sykes, Edward Turner, b. 1839



Page 1
Two Sections of the Union

Edward T. Sykes
Columbus, Mississippi

Mr. President & fellow members:

Historians in describing the manners and customs of nations, commence with her aborigines, coming down, giving every circumstance directly or indirectly connected with her subjects.
Biographers undertaking to delineate the characters of great men search diligently into the most obstruce turn of life, portraying in lucid colors, each and every incident compatible with nature, leaving nothing for the mind to conjecture.
But for me to attempt a retrospect of

Page 2
the past, beginning with the earliest dawn of American civilization, and ending with the present crisis, would be an almost endless task of study, as well as tax of mind. I shall not one moment entertain the idea of involving myself in such difficulties, but rest satisfied by asking your indulgence a few minutes, whilst we take a cursory view of the revolutionary struggle, Northern fanaticism, and Southern conservatism. It has ever been the characteristic of England even before she rose to any distinction in the catalogues of nations to aspire to that point in the acme of glory that Rome held once, when mistress of the world.
She has with unremitted toil striven to subjugate the whole civilized globe, and when the empire of America rising as she was upon a soil bathed with an atmosphere pure as that inhaled by the first born in the garden of Eden — issued her declaration of rights, praying for

Page 3
redress of grievances, formed in 1774, and based upon the infringements of principles, imposed by the British parliament, for eleven years previous, was looked at with scorn and derision, and considered only as a stepping stone to liberty (and sure it was, for soon she cast off the galling yoke of oppression placed on her by the mother country, and declared herself henceforth and forever free). England thought to drive her into ranks would be only a plaything and amusement for the times.
In vain did the high minded Chatham aided by the patriotism and genius of Burke warn them of their danger, but it seemed that invention was exhausted, reason fatigued, but obstinacy had yet to be conquered.
Hand in hand did Americans North, South, East, and West meet the ruthless invaders on the beach determined rather than live slaves to die freemen, well did they maintain their rights. "The blood of all was shed in one common pool"

Page 4
And never did they intend to dispair until the last man of that glorious band was made to measure his length on his mother earth. The conclusion is known by all, especially when we can look up to the blue vault of heaven in sight of him who reigns supreme and exclaim we live free. "We born to none but our God."
But we have yet to come to a time in our national career by far more sad and appalling—a time when fanaticism and blind infatuation sit high on their imperial thrones— a time when reason is foolish and conviction humbug— a time, in short when social and religious duties are thrown to the four winds of heaven, and the ballot box the great bulwark of civil liberty is rendered profane and insecure by repeated instances of Black Republican mobs.
I regret fellow members that I can present to your minds no fit offering for the occasion. "Would that I had procured for your reception some casket of precious gems—the rich jewels of history and learning

Page 5
some boquets of fresh and fragrant flowers from the enchanted land of poetry and rhetoric, some mental telescope to transport you to the last discovered planet in the far off Heaven of science, or a panorama of the icy palaces of the Arctic whale, and the snowy couch of the Aurora Borealis.
But fellow members, our theme is of a more exaulted bearing—and I almost quail beneath the idea of its important consideration. I mean Northern fanaticism— Northern philanthropy.
That bane of all virtue which had been curdled in their breasts ever since the adoption of the constitution was waiting for a time when its vile mechanism against the prerogatives and rights of free born citizens, might burst forth, sweeping, dashing, and tearing down every thing in its course.
Led on by men who cared nought for the good of their country, animated by the indomnible lust of personal aggrandizement

Page 6
and selfish of the Enjoyments, and social interests of Southern patriots, they long ago opened their damning batteries against that only legacy of liberty and justice, prepared and handed down by the patriarchs of consistency in the trying days of tyranny as a standard and safe guard for our rule and action.
Endeavoring to prove to the enlightened South that slavery is a curse, Northern fanatics have staked their all. They have transgressed the bounds of propriety, set reason at defiance, over leaped the breach that separates virtue from vice, and given to hypocrisy the semblance of religion.
"Even the pulpits have been converted into so many batteries of fiery assaults." Yes that sacred place from which should ever issue words of peace, and good will towards man consecrated as it should be to the precepts of Universal love, has been defiled, disgraced, and prostituted to the wicked purposes of faction, and to the teachings of sectional business and social strife

Page 7
Casting aside their ministerial garbs the pretended preachers of the Gospel instead of expounding religious precepts, and inculcating benevolent aids, have sought to instil in the youthful heart the poisonous ingredients of sectional philanthropy and subvert maiden virtue by hardened vice. Such and always will be the case until that manmouth monster, fanaticism, is quelled by wrenching asunder the two great sections of this once glorious Union. Disunion alone is not the only instance in which the North has shown a want of conservatism. It is the hot bed and cradle of all the isms of the day. They are all born and nourished there. (Kathsuthism the policy in spite of earnest admonitions of Washington and all of our great statesmen of meddling with the affairs of foreign nations. Free soilism a modification of abolitionism, socialism or free loveism, a disgrace to a civilized nation

Page 8
[Blank Page]

Page 9
and which even licentious profligate France would scorn to have originated, all had birth there.) To this the South except in cases of constitutional attacks has been but a looker on. She has permitted herself to be slandered and blackguarded and every epithet of abhorance that could be conceived by a degenerate people has been applied to the Southern portion of our Union. And why is this? Why I ask can one half of a people, born in the same land, and nurtured by the same constitution, who ought to have but one common interest in view, and that the progress of their country should be so far rifted assunder as to render dangerous the freedom of speech. To this we are each and every one of us able to make a correct and ready response. Slavery which has so long agitated the Union, has not yet I think reached that hight to which its backers wish it to attain. That position allowed us by the all wise, and sanctioned by our consciences.

Page 10
[Blank Page]

Page 11
That principle coeval with our nature and acknowledged by all honest and honorable men should give birth to violence and sedition, is easily accounted for. The North have long since tried their habituation to the cold regions of Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, and others now hot beds of abolitionism. They knew that they would not do — that they could not prosper under their chilly clime, and if they kept them they would eventually die completely out — and their property in the form of slaves would soon become nothing. To them it was policy to abolish slavery, and now when they see they are doing well under our Southern atmosphere, and the South is gaining ground by their labor! They cry aloud for philanthropy, philanthropy.
Gentlemen it has been said that there is a point of endurance beyond which forbearance becomes cowardice, and submission crime. Has not that limit of endurance been passed over with impunity?

Page 12
[Blank Page]

Page 13
Shall we continue to retreat until the last entrenchments of liberty be our graves? No fellow members let us rise from our lethargy — let us strengthen every nerve, and raise the stalwart arm of justice against the damning sword of Northern fanatics. Look to the infringements of rights, repeated depredation made on our property, and the arrow of death hurled at our elective franchise, and put the question to yourselves what shall we do?
I ask is there not some hidden thunder of heaven to crush such men? Is there not some electric spark yet reserved in the reach of Southern statesmen to silence such hypocrisy? Our question has been answered once. And thank God that in the time of our greatest need an Ithuriel was given in the person of Clay

Page 14
who with matchless eloquence for his spear and the voice of thunder for his command gained the victory over the demons of avarice and revenge.
Now that Ithuriel has departed for his etherial abode, they again rally under the banner of discord, with "cries of war open war" war against kindred blood and common interest. That cry has to be quelled. Let the South think of her interests and do justice to its calling — and if we see that the Union cannot be preserved without the sacrifice of the South, let us take for our motto the first grand law of nature, and with serried ranks and open voice call for disunion.
Side by side the constitution and the South have made their onward march together, and when attacks from the North have been made on that rich legacy of our fore fathers it ever and anon found the South ready to wield the shield of justice in its defence. The first great characteristic of the South is her conservatism, and long ago would

Page 15
this last fabric of a Republican form of government been shattered to the surface had it not been (I feel happy to say) for the conservative spirit of that portion of the Union that gave me birth
We have learned by experience and repeated attempts that reconciliation with the North is beyond the bounds of dis-cretion. Then as we have every inducement to be a nation of our own with soil and climate not to be surpassed by any on the globe, with kindred sympathies and common interests may we show to the North by our actions, that we are independent of their aid, and not subject to their will and consel. If the Constitution falls let the "same enthusiasm that swells the heart of modern Greeks as they pause on the plains of Marathon" rage high in our breasts. May we all love the South born under her genial clime, fed on her generous soil "clasp her to our bosoms with hooks of steel," willing to stake our honor in defence of her honor and our cause in behalf of her sacred rights.