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Title: "Confederated Government," Speech of Thomas O. D. Walker, April 19, 1843: Electronic Edition.
Author: Walker, Thomas Owen Davis, 1822-1865
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann and Mildred Mickle
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Risa Mulligan
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 26K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© 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:
2005-05-06, Risa Mulligan finished TEI/XML encoding
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Title of collection: Davis and Walker Family Papers (#4172), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "Confederated Government," Speech of Thomas O. D. Walker, April 19, 1843
Author: Thomas Owen Davis Walker
Description: 7 pages, 7 page images
Note: Call number 4172 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Examples of Student Writing/Debating Society Writings
Politics and Government/Government and Governing Bodies
Politics and Government/Political Issues
Editorial practices
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Transcript of the personal correspondence. Originals are in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Original grammar, punctuation, and spelling have been preserved.
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For more information about transcription and other editorial decisions, see Dr. Erika Lindemann's explanation under the section Editorial Practices.

Document Summary

Walker's speech traces the history of and possible dangers to confederacies as a form of government, beginning with Greek leagues of tribes through European confederations to the American union of states.
"Confederated Government," Speech of Thomas O. D. Walker , April 19, 18431
Walker, Thomas Owen Davis, 1822-1865

Page 1
Confederated Government
From the remotest era to the present time the desire of perfecting Government has been justly regarded as co-ordinate with the highest efforts of the intellect of man. The result of such attempts has been the discovery that the tendency of political establishments is first to feudalism thence to partial liberty, thirdly to monarchy and lastly to Republicanism. This last has been esteemed the acme of all human wisdom attainment in the sphere of political science.
Owing to the versatility of human genius various theories and numerous speculations have been brought to light as to the true methods by which the benefits resulting from it might most effectually be realized, and at the same time the casualties and evils with which it is replete be rendered negatory in their effect. Mild Democracies have [been] essayed by some, whilst representative Government has been more wisely tested by others. Under the one or the other of these forms attempts in most Confederacies have been made. Powers have been [barguined] for the accomplishment of some mercenary design, to prevent the entailment of danger, to crush some common foe, or to preserve the perpetuity

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of each through the combined power of the whole.
From such an origin has sprung that Government under which we live—a dominion composed of twenty six sovereignties, though differing widely from a number of those who have preceded us in possessing that community of ties which should link those coming from our origin. How extensive some these influences may be, and to what intensity they may exist at present, the moral principles of2 our nature on which3 they must subsequently rely for their vitality and continuance will afford but an unsound foundation. The destiny of previous confederacies which at first seemed visionary to others but finally came to be a fatal reality must prove the sequel of all such as follow in their wake.
Confederated Governments have been formed from the first days of the regular organization of society in Europe down to the present time. The lamentable issue of their careers leaves but the faintest hope to all successors. The elements of some of these Governments have been of a character bearing the strongest similitude to those of our own. Many of them have flowd from a source whence no fixed principle of political rule had ever been recognised bu[t] sprang into national existence panopled in all their wisdom, experience and research, but at the same time burthened with some of their greatest dangerous inconsistencies. Scarcely had this confederacy raised its arm to execute [the right]4 of its high powers when it betrayed

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signs of utter inefficiency. So sensible was the National Government of its inadequacy to the purposes for which it was intended, that an appeal, and thereby a virtual confession of its inability, and an implied acknowledgment of its dependency was made to the constituent members of the Union to support its drooping body, or to accept the surrender of its nominal powers. This occurred at a time when every urgent motive to singleness of action and to unity of thought bore with their united force. The remoddeling of the old and the adoption of a new Federal Constitution healed the rent after one of the most astonishing exhibitions of order and decorum that has ever marked the course of any people. This unprecedented forbearance however had a cause commensurate with so surprising an effect. The attitude of England presented an object of terror which could not fail to suppress all effervescence of State jealousy.
The greatest barrier to the adoption of Confederated Government presents itself in the want of that concentrative principle which should pervade every part of such a fabric. The elevated position which is at present occupied by some of the nations of Europe is to be traced to this great first principle of concentrative power. By the simple act of confederation there is necessarily implied some delegation of power, but the amount of that power must

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always be restricted by the voice of the constituting states. Would it not create an anomaly in human action, particularly as in this case when such action is controlled by the concurrent suffrages of the states, should any individual state relinquish a right which it was deemed for its particular interest to retain, and why would not such a grant be made? There is a natural inclination in every Government to acquire supremacy. Is it not probable then that such a desire would exist in sovereign states, when the internal administration of such states is conducted by themselves5 and consequently ample opportunity afforded for the acquirement of preponderancy? Would it then be to promote this acquisition to yield the peculiar advantages,—and honor the rights—of each to any great degree. Do we not see an illustration of this in the case of South Carolina promulgating the doctrine that she possesses the constitutional right to secede from the Confederacy . That in the hue and cry of nullification6 she sees pictured the great

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charter of state prerogative; That she holds this her inalienable right—one that she has never granted conceded to the National Government Calls upon the affiliated members of the Union to join in the formidable halloo "States rights and legitimate sovereignty."
This opens another ground of objection to Government by Confederation. Wherever confederacies have existed and this probability is in whatsoever cases they shall exist, there have been and will be extension of empire local division. No effort can be is so availing when spread over much surface as when confined to a smaller compass. The popular will in Confederated Government is the supreme dictator, and the dissensions which must necessarily arise from the accumulated interests of so many dissimilar states, creating an incongruous and irreconcilable mass, will lead to inevitable conflict and disorganization Then would a delicate and over wrought punctilio arise as to infringement and partial aggression. The superior influence of some would blast the idolized institutions of other[s], and anarchy would form the counterpart to primitive tranquility.
This is no dream of fancy. Instructive realities have been manifested even in our own Confederacy 7, independent of the thousand verifications to be found in the annals of other Governments. What eloquent

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lessons are taught by the dissolution of the Germanic Confederacy and the downfall of the Amphyctionic Council.8 This latter a faithful prototype of the Anglo-American Confederation in all the minute details of Governmental machinery. We are cemented by affinity by the inherent endearments of blood and the same tongue; they were held together by institutions as immutable as any could be impressed with the stamp of humanity, and by a superstitious belief in the omnipotence of the Delphic oracle. For where superstition dwells the rest is subservient to her sway. Yet, with this powerful magnet which was calculated to absorb every discordant feeling, national and individual, and form one united nation they sank. Let us hold them up as our beacon light to avoid they coming danger. and Whilst we hope for the best let us prepare for the worst.
But at this implied want of stability in our our Government let the Agrarian from a lack of consolidation, let the Agrarian pause before he condemns. Tis not a covert stroke at any predilection for free institutions. Far otherwise! Tis a disposition to preserve these institutions by adopting a frame that will insure such a body, will present such a breastwork as age itself shall refuse to impair. Tis the rejection of such a one as the first political simoom that starts from conflicting interest will bury in confusion not to be adjusted.
See a faithful commentary upon the practical operation of the principles of Consolidated Government

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in the miniature republic of San Marino. The castled city now raises its head after the experience of thirteen centuries and looks down upon the shade of departed Genoa confinned by the violence of faction. The days of the Guelphs and Ghibellines 9 are past and with them was washed from earth the pride and boast of the fifteenth century. To come to ourselves. On our South western border we have a pioneer in the trial of Consolidated Government. That scion, sprung from the a chosen graft upon the stock of our Government has not the character of Confederacy about her. Yes, Texas has inherited from her sire us the emblem of free Government principles and if not overpowered by foreign force the genius of her Government will bear her triumphantly on. But if the myrmidons of Mexico are destined to rule and the scenes of Goliad and Alamo are to [be] enacted anew then will be wafted above that truly shall a deep wailing burst from every patriot breast that truly "a nation has fallen oppression has won"

Th. O. D. Walker

April 19. 1843


1. Davis and Walker Family Papers, SHC. "Confederated Government" is written on two 9 3/4 by 15 3/4 sheets of paper folded in half to provide eight leaves. On the verso of the last leaf, Walker wrote "Confederated Government." Beneath this title, and written upside down with respect to it, appears the endorsement, in Walker's hand, "Speech written in Senior year at college."Walker's speech was probably intended for the Dialectic Society because the topic is too overtly political to have been a senior speech delivered on the public stage. Moreover, Walker's senior speech appears to have been "The abuse of Mind through error," dated April 1843 and corrected in Professor William Mercer Green's hand (Davis and Walker Family Papers, SHC). Walker would not have been required to prepare two senior speeches in the same month, and because he did not graduate with honors, he was not obliged to deliver a speech at the 1843 Commencement.
When the speech was delivered, however, is uncertain. Dialectic Society minutes for May 31, 1843, the last meeting of the school year, report that "A very eloquent valedictory address was delivered to the Graduating class by T. O. D. Walker of Wilmington, one of its members" (Vol. 9, UA). Although "Confederated Government" is not a traditional valedictory address, perhaps it was nevertheless written for this occasion.

2. Walker wrote of on top of in.

3. Walker wrote which on top of they.

4. Characters are superimposed and difficult to make out, but Walker appears to have written the over its and r over f, changing fight to right.

5. A smeared question mark appears after themselves.

6. Nullification is the doctrine, supported by advocates of states' rights, that states have the right to declare null and void a Federal law that they judge unconstitutional. The doctrine is based on the theory that the Union is a voluntary confederation of states and that the Federal government has no right to exercise powers not explicitly assigned to it by the US Constitution. In 1832 South Carolina declared null and void the Federal tariff act. Congress subsequently enacted a compromise tariff, and South Carolina rescinded the ordinance nullifying the tariff. The state, however, kept the principle of nullification alive by declaring null and void a Force Bill that Congress had passed allowing the President to use armed force if necessary to execute Federal laws.

7. Walker wrote C on top of G at the beginning of Confederacy.

8. Amphyctyonic councils were a form of government in ancient Greece. Amphyctyony, or leagues of tribes, maintained temples and other religious shrines. Each tribe had a certain number of votes in the council, which enacted laws concerning religious matters and which could declare a sacred war against an offender. The most important amphyctyony was the Great or Delphic Amphyctyony, which met in the spring at the temple of Demeter and in the fall at Delphi.

9. Guelphs and Ghibellines were the anti- and pro-imperialist parties in fifteenth-century northern Italy.