Congress passing such a Force bill now as this of Stanton
's, and whether you will not aid us in defeating it?”
“Of course,” said he, “I am extremely anxious to see these sectional troubles settled peaceably and satisfactorily to all concerned.
To accomplish that, I am willing to make almost any sacrifice, and to do anything in reason consistent with my sense of duty.
There is one point, however, I can never surrender — that which was the main issue of the Presidential canvass and decided at the late election concerning the extension of slavery in the Territories
“As to that matter,” I replied, “however important it may have heretofore seemed to some persons, we can well afford to remit it to the remote future, when there may be a practical necessity for its consideration, inasmuch as it has dwindled into utter insignificance before that portentous issue now so unexpectedly before us.”
“Unexpectedly, indeed, and portentous enough in all conscience!”
said he; “but I trust that matters are not as bad as they appear.”
“ Bad as they certainly are,” I replied, “they will be infinitely worse before long if the utmost care be not taken to allay the present excitement, and to preserve the existing status between the sections until some such plan as that of Mr. Crittenden
's, for a general convention, can be carried into effect, which, as the Peace Conference here has failed to secure a compromise, is the ultimate reliance left us for that object.”
I then went on to say: “Mr. Lincoln
, it may seem presumptuous in me to express my opinion to you on these subjects so decidedly.
But I speak frankly, because I feel deeply their vital importance to the whole country, and especially to the people of the district which I represent, which is a border district, stretching along the Potomac
from the Alleghenies
to tidewater, and which, in the event of a sectional civil war, will not only be the first to suffer from its effects, but will feel them first, last, and all the time, and in all their intensity.
I speak to you as a Union man, from a Union county
, of a Union district, of a Union State--a State which has done more to make and to maintain the Union
than any of her sister States have had it in their power to do, and which now, from her known conservatism, her acknowledged prestige in national politics, and her geographical position, midway between the angry sections, can do more than any other State to preserve the peace and to bring about, by her mediatorial influence, a satisfactory adjustment of these fearful complications in spite of the opposition of those twin foes of the Union
--the fanatical faction of Abolitionists in the North
, and that of the no less fanatical secessionists per se
in the South-provided only that a little more time be allowed her to continue her ”