Xxiii. “peace” efforts at the North.
- The Tribune's overture -- the Albany evening Journal's -- the Philadelphis meeting -- Mayor Henry -- Judge Woodward -- George W. Curtis suppressed.
in one of Beaumarchais's comedies, a green reveler in every advantage and luxury that noble birth and boundless wealth can secure, asks an attendant the odd question, “What have I done that I should enjoy all these blessings?” --and is answered, with courtly deference and suavity,  “Your Highness condescended to be born.” The people of the United States had, in an unexceptionably legal and constitutional manner, chosen for their President an eminently conservative, cautious, moderate citizen, of blameless life and unambitious spirit, born in slaveholding Kentucky, but now resident in free Illinois, who held, with Jefferson and nearly all our Revolutionary sages and patriots, that Human Slavery is an evil which ought not to be diffused and strengthened in this Nineteenth Century of Christian light and love. Hereupon, the ruling oligarchy in certain States, who had done nothing to prevent, but much, indirectly yet purposely, to secure this result, resolved to rend the Republic into fragments, tearing their own fragment away from the residue. What should be done about it? The natural, obvious answer springs at once to every unquivering lip--“Convince the disturbers that their only safe course is to desist and behave themselves. They might have had a President who is not a Republican, had they chosen: having done their best to elect one who is, they must now accept the result they have contributed to insure, until the evolutions of four years shall bring around the opportunity for another, and, if they will, a more acceptable choice.” Far otherwise was the actual response of the Republic to her spoiled children, and their most unreasonably factious demonstration. Instead of treating their outbreak as culpable and flagrant disloyalty, to be rebuked, abandoned, repented, and desisted from, the first impulse from almost every side was to inquire on what terms and by what means they could be mollified, bribed, beseeched, into remaining peaceably in the Union. This was but following in the beaten track. Vehement threats of secession and dissolution were among the established means whereby an aristocracy of less than one-tenth of the American people had for sixty years swayed, almost uninterruptedly, the destinies of the Nation. Why should they not again resort to the expedient which had so often proved effectual? Why should not the response be substantially the same now as it had hitherto been? And why should not those whose success furnished the pretext for this treason be charged with the evil, and inculpated as themselves the traitors Had not, for a generation, the upholding of a rule based on caste, and a denial to the humblest class of all political rights in half the Union, and of all social and civil, as well as political, rights in another third of it, been commended and glorified as Democracy? Had not every assertion, however broad and general, of the right of each rational being to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” been stigmatized as Sectionalism? Had not a simple adhesion to the policy of Jefferson and the fathers, as to Slavery in the Territories, been denounced as Radicalism, and as “making war on fifteen States?” Had not ravaging and subjugating foreign lands, with intent to curse them with human bondage, been glorified as “extending the area of Freedom?” Had not the maintenance of the rights of constitutional majorities, and of the duty of universal submission to the popular will, constitutionally ascertained and declared, been stigmatized  as inciting to disunion and anarchy? And who could expect that half a century of such utter perversion of the plainest, least equivocal, most obvious terms, should not bear bitter fruit? The inebriate, who fancies the square in which he lives revolving about him, and gravely holds his latch-key in hand, waiting till his door shall in due order present itself, labors under substantially the same hallucination, and is usually certain to cherish it until he awakes to prosaic realities — to bruises, self-reproach, headache, and remorse.1 Nearly forty years ago, the great and good Channing, after listening to Benjamin Lundy, wrote to Mr. Webster in apprehension that the South would regard and resent any attempt at the North to promote or hasten the removal of her giant curse as impelled by hostility or ill-will, though nothing was further from our intention.2 The good Doctor can scarcely have read with adequate attention, or at least not with the utmost profit, the urgent, impassioned adjurations of the demoniacs to the Saviour of mankind, for forbearance and “non-intervention.” “Let us alone,” was their habitual entreaty: “What have we to do with thee?” “Art thou come to torment us before the time” No delicacy of handling, no gentleness of treatment, could have pacified them: they must be left undisturbed and unobserved, or irritation and excitement were unavoidable. Twenty or thirty years ago, there existed in Charleston, S. C., an association for social and intellectual enjoyment, known as “The Wistar  Club.” Many, if not most, of the more intelligent and cultivated class belonged to it, and strangers of like breeding were freely invited to its weekly or bi-weekly meetings. It was its rule to select, at each gathering, some subject for conversational discussion at the next. At one of these meetings, the economic results of Slavery were incidentally brought into view; when the few remarks dropped from one and another developed a decided difference of opinion — the native Carolinians expressing a conviction that “the institution” was profitable; while two or three members or guests of Northern birth indicated a contrary impression. Hereupon, some one asked, “Why not select this as the topic for our next meeting?” “Agreed!” was the unbroken response; and the point was settled. It was distinctly stipulated that no ethical, ethnological, religious, or other aspect of the main problem, should be considered — nothing but the simple, naked question--“Is it economically advantageous to a community to hold slaves?” Hereupon, the assemblage quietly dissolved. At the evening designated for the next regular meeting, the “Yankee” members of the club were duly on hand, prepared and eager for the expected discussion; but not a Carolinian was present! Some old head had determined that no such discussion should take place — at least, in Charleston — and had given a hint which had operated as a command. Though the interest in the subject had seemed general at the last meeting, and the disposition to discuss it mutual and cordial, not a man now appeared to speak for Slavery. The ‘Yankees’ enjoyed or endured each other's society throughout the evening, sipped their coffee with due decorum, and dispersed at the proper hour, without an opportunity for discussion, leaving the proposed debate to stand adjourned over to the opening of the bombardment of Fort Sumter, in the year of grace 1861. “Why can't you let Slavery alone?” was imperiously or querulously demanded at the North, throughout the long struggle preceding that bombardment, by men who should have seen, but would not, that Slavery never let the North alone, nor thought of so doing. “Buy Louisiana for us!” said the slaveholders. “With pleasure.” “Now Florida!” “Certainly.” Next: “Violate your treaties with the Creeks and Cherokees; expel those tribes from the lands they have held from time immemorial, so as to let us expand our plantations.” “So said, so done.” “Now for Texas!” “You have it.” “Next, a third more of Mexico!” “Yours it is.” “Now, break the Missouri Compact, and let Slavery wrestle with Free Labor for the vast region consecrated by that Compact to Freedom!” “Very good. What next?” “Buy us Cuba, for One Hundred to One Hundred and Fifty Millions.” “We have tried; but Spain refuses to sell it.” “Then wrest it from her at all hazards!” And all this time, while Slavery was using the Union as her catspaw — dragging the Republic into iniquitous wars and enormous expenditures, and grasping empire after empire thereby--Northern men (or, more accurately, men at the North) were constantly asking why people living in the Free States could not let Slavery alone, mind their own  business, and expend their surplus philanthropy on the poor at their own doors, rather than on the happy and contented slaves! The Slave Power, having resolved to destroy the Union--having taken decided steps to that end — several States having definitively seceded, or prepared to secede, from the Union, without giving the least intimation that they could be swerved from this purpose by any pledge or act whatever, on the part of the Free States--what was the North to do? “Let us try the virtue of new protestations, new prostrations, more groveling abasements,” was the instinctive, urgent, unanimous response of that large portion of the politicians and traders of the Free States who had already reduced servility to a science. Without the least warrant, in defiance of the most explicit declarations, it was assumed that Secession was but a “strike” of the Slave Power for more complete, unresisted sway over the Union, rather than for utter and final escape from it. Whoever has carefully considered the platforms and the action of the respective parties which confronted each other during the canvass and in the election of 1860, must realize that Secession could be met in but one of four ways: 1. By substantial acquiescence in the movement, and in its proposed result. 2. By proffering such new concessions and guarantees to Slavery as should induce the conspirators to desist from their purpose, and return to loyalty and the Union. 3. By treating it as Rebellion and Treason, and putting it down, if need be, by the strong arm. 4. By so acting and speaking as to induce a pause in the movement, and permit an appeal “to Philip sober” --from the South inflamed by passionate appeals and frenzied accusations,3 to the South, enlightened, calmed, and undeceived, by a few months of friendly, familiar discussion, and earnest expostulation. The first of these alternatives had few open advocates in the Free States; but there were some who even went the length of declaring Secession a constitutional right,4 to be exercised by any State whenever her own convictions  of safety and interest should prompt her to that resort — or, if not exactly a right, then a heroic remedy for grievous wrongs, which could not be practically resisted.5 The second was urgently advocated by the entire “Democratic” and “Conservative” strength of the Free States, and by nearly all that still openly clung to the Union in the Slave States. The third was the natural, spontaneous impulse of tie great mass of Republicans, who could not see why their adversaries should not submit unqualifiedly to the result of a fair and honest election, as they had uniformly done, constitutionally resisting any unwarranted act or attempt of the President elect or his supporters, whenever the occasion should arise. But they found it difficult to realize that those who still retained predominance in both branches of Congress, and in the Supreme Court--who might have had, moreover, a Democratic President, had they chosen to support the candidate of a majority of that party — and who had still the active and earnest sympathy of a large majority of the American People — could cherish any real fears of usurpation and aggression from the numerical minority, or the President they had been permitted to choose. It was with little patience that the great body of the Republicans heard suggestions from any of their leaders or oracles of overtures looking to “conciliation” and “peace” through new concessions, in the face of the now chronic menace of Disunion. The asserted right of Secession is one which no government or nation ever did or can concede without signing its own death-warrant. When the Federal Constitution was before the States for ratification, vehemently and formidably opposed, and its adoption, in several States, for a time successfully resisted, there was manifest danger of its failure in New York, as well as in two other great leading States, Virginia and Massachusetts. To the New York Convention, sitting at Poughkeepsie, the people had returned a majority of delegates hostile to ratification. The friends of the Constitution were constrained to resort to delay, to policy, and to propositions of amendment, to overcome or wear out the resistance they had  encountered. In this dilemma, Alexander Hamilton wrote to James Madison to ask if the Constitution might not be accepted provisionally, with liberty to recede from the Union formed by it, if experience should justify the apprehensions of its adversaries. Mr. Madison promptly and wisely responded6 in the negative, stating that such conditional acceptance had been agitated at Richmond, and rejected as, in fact, no ratification at all. In the same spirit, Mr. Clay likened our Constitutional Union to a marriage, which is either indissoluble at the pleasure of one or both parties, or else no marriage at all. The Virginia Convention which ratified the Federal Constitution, in the preamble to its Ordinance of Ratification, declared that it was the “impression” of the People of their State that the powers granted by said Constitution, being derived from. the People of the United States, may rightfully be resumed by them, whenever those powers shall be perverted to their injury or oppression. But this is nothing else than the fundamental doctrine of the republican system — that governments are made for the People, not the People for governments; and that the People, consequently, may, from time to time, modify their forms of government in accordance with their riper experience and their enlightened convictions — respecting, of course, the limitations and safeguards they may have seen fit to establish. This right had been set forth, with remarkable clearness and force, in the preamble to the Declaration of Independence, and by many of our patriot sages in later days. John Quincy Adams — never remarkably inclined to popularize forms of government — had distinctly affirmed it in a speech in Congress; so had Abraham Lincoln, in one of his debates with Senator Douglas. But the right of a people to modify their institutions is one thing, and the right of a small fraction or segment of a people to break up and destroy a Nation, is quite another. The former is Reform; the latter is Revolution.7  But, while it was impossible to concede the asserted right of Secession — that is, of State withdrawal at pleasure from the Union--(for, even if the Constitution is to be regarded as nothing more than a compact, it is evident — as Mr. Jefferson observed,8 in speaking of our old Articles of Confederation: “When two parties make a compact, there results to each the power of compelling the other to execute it” )--it is not impossible so to expound and apply the original, organic, fundamental right of a people to form and modify their political institutions, as to justify the Free States in consenting to the withdrawal from the Union of the Slave, provided it could be made to appear that such was the deliberate, intelligent, unconstrained desire of the great body of their people. And the South had been so systematically, so outrageously, deluded by demagogues on both sides of the Slave line, with regard to the nature and special importance of the Union to the North--it being habitually represented as an immense boon conferred on the Free States by the Slave, whose withdrawal would whelm us all in bankruptcy and ruin — that it might do something toward allaying the Southern inflammation to have it distinctly and plainly set forth that the North had no desire to enforce upon the South the maintenance of an abhorred, detested Union. Accordingly — the second day after Mr. Lincoln's election had been assured at the polls — the following leading article appeared9 in The New York Tribune:
going to go.--The people of the United States have indicated, according to the forms prescribed by the Constitution, their desire that Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, shill be their next President, and Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, their Vice-President. A very large plurality of the popular vote has been cast for them, and a decided majority of Electors chosen, who will undoubtedly vote for and elect them on the first Wednesday in December next. The electoral votes will be formally sealed up and forwarded to Washington, there to be opened and counted, on a given day in February next, in the presence of both Houses of Congress; and it will then be the duty of Mr. John C. Breckinridge, as President of the Senate, to declare Lincoln and Hamlin duly elected President and Vice-President of these United States. Some people do not like this, as is very natural. Dogberry discovered, a good while ago, that “ When two ride a horse, one must ride behind.” That is not generally deemed the preferable seat; but the rule remains unaffected by that circumstance. We know how to sympathize with the defeated; for  we remember how we felt, when Adams was defeated; and Clay, and Scott, and Fremont. It is decidedly pleasanter to be on the winning side, especially when — as now — it happens also to be the right side. We sympathize with the afflicted; but we cannot recommend them to do any thing desperate. What is the use? They are beaten now; they may triumph next time: in fact, they have generally had their own way: had they been subjected to the discipline of adversity so often as we have, they would probably bear it with more philosophy, and deport themselves more befittingly. We live to learn: and one of the most difficult acquirements is that of meeting reverses with graceful fortitude. The telegraph informs us that most of the Cotton States are meditating a withdrawal from the Union, because of Lincoln's election. Very well: they have a right to meditate, and meditation is a profitable employment of leisure. We have a chronic, invincible disbelief in Disunion as a remedy for either Northern or Southern grievances. We cannot see any necessary connection between the alleged disease and this ultraheroic remedy; still, we say, if any one sees fit to meditate Disunion, let him do so unmolested. That was a base and hypocritic row that was once raised, at Southern dictation, about the ears of John Quincy Adams, because he presented a petition for the disolution of the Union. The petitioner had a right to make the request; it was the Member's duty to present it. And now, if the Cotton States consider the value of the Union debatable, we maintain their perfect right to discuss it. Nay: we hold, with Jefferson, to the inalienable right of communities to alter or abolish forms of government that have become oppressive or injurious; and, if the Cotton States shall decide that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on lettering them go in peace. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless; and we do not see how one party can have a right to do what another party has a right to prevent. We must ever resist the asserted right of any State to remain in the Union, and nullify or defy the laws thereof: to withdraw from the Union is quite another matter. And, whenever a considerable section of our Union shall deliberately resolve to go out, we shall resist all coercive measures designed to keep it in. We hope never to live in a republic, whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets. But, while we thus uphold the practical liberty, if not the abstract right, of secession, we must insist that the step be taken, if it ever shall be, with the deliberation and gravity befitting so momentous an issue. Let ample time be given for reflection; let the subject be fully canvassed before the people; and let a popular vote be taken in every case, before Secession is decreed. Let the people be told just why they are asked to break up the confederation; let them have both sides of the question fully presented; let them reflect, deliberate, then vote; and let the act of Secession be the echo of an unmistakable popular fiat. A judgment thus rendered, a demand for separation so backed, would either be acquiesced in without the effusion of blood, or those who rushed upon carnage to defy and defeat it, would place themselves clearly in the wrong. The measures now being inaugurated in the Cotton States, with a view (apparently) to Secession, seem to us destitute of gravity and legitimate force. They bear the unmistakable impress of haste — of passion — of distrust of the popular judgment. They seem clearly intended to precipitate the South into rebellion before the baselessness of the clamors which have misled and excited her, can be ascertained by the great body of her people. We trust that they will be confronted with calmness, with dignity, and with unwavering trust in the inherent strength of the Union, and the loyalty of the American people.Several other Republican journals, the including some of the most influential, held similar language, and maintained a position not unlike that of The Tribune None of them countenanced the right of a State to secede from the Union, or regarded it as more defensible than the right of a stave to secede from the cask which it helps to form; nor did they regard the effervescence now exhibited at the South as demonstrating a real desire on the part of her people to break up the Union. But they said impressively to that people: “Be calm; let us be heard; allow time for deliberation and the removal of prejudice; unite with us in calling a Convention of the States and People; and, if that Convention shall be unable to agree on such amendments to the Constitution as shall remove existing discontent, and your people shall still, with any approach to  unanimity, insist on disunion, you shall go in peace. Neither Congress nor the President has any power to sanction a dissolution of the Union; but wait for and unite in a Convention, and our differences shall somehow be adjusted without fraternal bloodshed.” With the same general object, but contemplating a different method of attaining it, the veteran Editor of The Albany Evening Journal--whose utterances were widely regarded as deriving additional consequence from his intimate and almost life-long association with Gov. Seward--took ground, at an early day, in favor of concessions calculated — at all events, intended — to calm the ebullition of Southern blood. Being sharply criticised therefor, by several of his contemporaries, he replied10 to them generally as follows:
The suggestions, in a recent number of The Journal, of a basis of settlement of differences between the North and the South, have, in awakening attention and discussion, accomplished their purpose. We knew that in no quarter would these suggestions be more distasteful than with our own most valued friends. We knew that the occasion would be regarded as inopportune. We knew also the provocations in the controversy were with our opponents. Nothing is easier, certainly, than to demonstrate the rightfulness of the position of the Republican party--a party that was created by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and owes its recent triumph to the determination of Slavery to extend and perpetuate its political dominion, aided by two successive and besotted Federal Administrations. But, unfortunately, the pending issue is to be decided irrespective of its merits. The election of Mr. Lincoln is the pretext for, and not the cause of, Disunion. The design originated with Mr. Calhoun; who, when he failed to be chosen President of the whole Union, formed the scheme of dividing it, and devoted the remainder of his life in training the South up to the treason now impending. Mr. Calhoun had, in McDuffie, Hayne, and other statesmen, eloquent auxiliaries. The contagion extended to other Southern States; and, by diligence, activity, discipline, and organization, the whole people of the Gulf States have come to sympathize with their leaders. The masses are, in their readiness for civil war, in advance of their leaders. They have been educated to believe us their enemies. This has been effected by systematic misrepresentations of the sentiments and feelings of the North. The result of all this is, that, while the Southern people, with a unanimity not generally understood, are impatient for Disunion, more than one half of them are acting in utter ignorance of the intentions, views, and feelings, of the North. Nor will the leaders permit them to be disabused. Those leaders know that Mr. Lincoln will administer the Government in strict and impartial obedience to the Constitution and laws, seeking only the safety and welfare of the whole people, through the prosperity and glory of the Union. For this reason, they precipitate the conflict; fearing that, if they wait for a provocation, none will be furnished, and that, without fuel, their fires must be extinguished. This question, involving the integrity of the Union and the experiment of self-government, we repeat, will be decided irrespective of its merits. Three miserable months of a miserable Administration must “drag its slow length along” before the Republican Administration can act or be heard. During these three months, its baleful influences will be seen and felt in the demoralization of popular sentiment. Its functionaries and its journals will continue to malign the North and inflame the South; leaving, on the 4th of March, to their successors an estate as wretchedly encumbered and dilapidated as imbecile or spendthrift ever bequeathed. Mismanaged as that estate has been, and wretched as its present condition is, we regard it as an inestimable, priceless, and precious inheritance — an inheritance which we are unwilling to see wholly squandered before we come into possession. To our dissenting friends, who will not question our devotion to freedom, however much they may mistrust our judgment, we submit a few earnest admonitions: 1. There is imminent danger of a dissolution of the Union. 2. This danger originated in the ambition and cupidity of men who desire a Southern despotism; and in the fanatic zeal of Northern Abolitionists, who seek the emancipation of slaves regardless of consequences. 3. The danger can only be averted by such moderation and forbearance us will  draw out, strengthen, and combine the Union sentiment of the whole country. The Disunion sentiment is paramount in at least seven States; while it divides and distracts as many more. Nor is it wise to deceive ourselves with the impression that the South is not in earnest. It is in earnest; and the sentiment has taken hold of all classes with such blind vehemence as to “crush out” the Union sentiment. Now, while, as has been said, it is easy to prove all this unjust and wrong, we have to deal with things as they are — with facts as they exist — with people blinded by passion. Peaceable Secession is not intended; nor is it practicable, even if such were its object. Mad, however, as the South is, there is a Union sentiment there worth cherishing. It will develop and expand as fast as the darkness and delusion, in relation to the feelings of the North, can be dispelled. This calls for moderation and forbearance. We do not, when our dwelling is in flames, stop to ascertain whether it was the work of an incendiary before we extinguish the fire. Hence our suggestions of a basis of adjustment, without the expectation that they would be accepted, in terms, by either section, but that they might possibly inaugurate a movement in that direction. The Union is worth preserving. And, if worth preserving, suggestions in its behalf, however crude, will not be contemned. A victorious party can afford to be tolerant — not, as our friends assume, in the abandonment or abasement of its principles or character — but in effects to correct and disabuse the minds of those who misunderstand both. Before a final appeal — before a resort to the “rough frown of war” --we should like to see a Convention of the People, consisting of delegates appointed by the States. After more than seventy years of “wear and tear,” of collision and abrasion, it should be no cause of wonder that the machinery of government is found weakened, or out of repair, or even defective. Nor would it be found unprofitable for the North and South, bringing their respective griefs, claims, and proposed reforms, to a common arbitrament, to meet, discuss, and determine upon a future. It will be said that we have done nothing wrong, and have nothing to offer. This, supposing it true, is precisely the reason why we should both propose and offer whatever may, by possibility, avert the evils of civil war, and prevent the destruction of our, hitherto, unexampled blessings of Union. Many suppose that the North has nothing to lose by a division of the Union. Some even say that we must be gainers by it. We do not, for obvious reasons, intend to discuss this aspect of the question. But it is a mistake — a serious and expensive mistake. The North and South were wisely and by a good Providence united. Their interests, their welfare, their happiness, their glory, their destiny, is one. Separated, while the North languishes, the South becomes, first, a despotism, running riot, for a season, with unrestrained African Slavery, to share in time the fate of every tropical nation, whether depotism, monarchy, or republic. That fate, induced by the indolence, luxury, and laxity of the privileged few over the oppressed, degraded, and enslaved many, is anarchy and destruction. That fate is written in the history of all enslaved nations — its ancient, seared, and crumbling, but instructive, monuments are seen in Egypt, in Italy, in Central America, and in Mexico. These are the evils — and they are not imaginary — that we desire to avort. But, conscious of the feebleness of a single voice in such a tempest, there is little to expect but to abide its peltings. The Republican party now represents one side of a controversy fraught with the safety and welfare of this Government and nation. As an individual, we shall endeavor to do our duty; and, as we understand it, that duty does not consist in folded arms, or sealed ears, or closed eyes. Even if, as say our Rochester and Syracuse friends — and they are such, in the trust meaning of the word — the North stands, in all respects, blameless in this controversy, much is needed to correct the impression of the Southern people; many of whom, truly informed, would join us in defending the Union. We do not mistake the mission of the Republican party in assuming that, while defending free territory from aggression, it maintains and upholds the supremacy of the Constitution and laws. The people have intrusted the Government to our keeping; and we must not abuse their confidence or disappoint their expectations. We intend to answer in detail the questions raised by The Democrat and Journal. It is proper, though perhaps scarcely necessary, to say that, in this solicitude for the Union, we think and speak only for ourself. We are either better, or not so well, informed of the condition of the country and the bearings of this controversy as others — either in advance of or behind the intelligence of the times. But, as we speak only for ourself, nobody else can be compromised or harmed.However well intended and (under certain aspects) salutary, it may well be questioned whether either of these overtures was not calculated to do more harm than good. Each was, of course intended to strengthen the Unionists of the South--the former  by showing that the North did not regard the Slave States as a conquest, of which it was about to take possession, nor yet as a heritage whence were derived its subsistence and wealth; but rather that it looked on their people as misguided, excited brethren, with whom we were anxious to discuss all differences freely, settle them (if possible) amicably, or part — if part we must — in kindness and mutual good-will. The latter, in a like spirit, was plainly designed to induce the Southrons to bring their grievances to the bar of amicable investigation and discussion, by assuring them that the North stood ready to redress every wrong to the extent of its power. But the chronic misapprehension at the South of any other language from the North than that of abject servility, was then, as ever, deserving of thoughtful consideration. The palpable fact that the North recoiled with shuddering aversion from a conflict of arms with the South, was hailed by the Secessionists as a betrayal of conscious weakness and unmanly fear; while the proffer of fresh concessions and a new compromise was regarded by Southern Unionists as an assurance that they had only to ask, and they would receive — that the North would gladly do anything, assent to anything, retract anything, to avert the impending shock of war. For the great mails, during the last few weeks of 1860, sped southward, burdened with letters of sympathy and encouragement to the engineers of Secession, stimulating if not counseling them to go forward in their predetermined course. A very few of the writers indorsed Secession as a right, and favored it as an end; but the great majority wished it carried no further than would be necessary to frighten, or bully the ‘Black Republicans’ out of what they termed their “principles,” and sink them, with their “ conservative” fellow-citizens, into measureless abasement at the footstool of the Slave Power. And nearly every current indication of public sentiment pointed to this as the probable result, provided “the South” should only evince a willingness to accept the prostration, and graciously forgive the suppliant. As trade fell off, and work in the cities and manufacturing villages was withered at the breath of the Southern sirocco, the heart of the North seemed to sink within her; and the Charter Elections at Boston, Lowell, Roxbury, Charlestown, Worcester, etc., in Massachusetts, and at Hudson, etc., in New York, which took place early in December, 1860, showed a striking and general reduction of Republican strength. What must and could be done to placate the deeply offended and almost hopelessly alienated South, was the current theme of conversation, and of newspaper discussion. Of the meetings held to this end, the most imposing may fairly be cited as a sample of the whole. The city of Philadelphia had given a small majority for Lincoln over all his competitors. Her Mayor, Alexander Henry, though of “American” antecedents, had been among his supporters. On the 10th of December, he issued an official Proclamation, “by advice of the Councils” of the city, summoning the whole people thereof to assemble on the 13th in Independence Square, there to “counsel together,” in view of the fact that  Disunion appeared to be imminent, unless the “loyal people, casting off the spirit of party, should, in a special manner, avow their unfailing fidelity to the Union, and their abiding faith in the Constitution and laws.” The meeting was held accordingly; called to order by the President of the Common Council, prayed for by Bishop Potter, and the speaking initiated by Mayor Henry, who, after cautioning his hearers to discard “all sordid and self-interested views,” and to avow their “unbroken attachment to the Union,” and their determination to “leave no honest effort untried to preserve its integrity,” proceeded to set forth the provocations to Secession, and the proper means of counteracting it, after this fashion:
My fellow-citizens, I should be false to the position in which you have placed me — I should be recreant to my sense of duty — if I withheld an avowal of the truth which this occasion demands. I speak to you frankly, my fellow-citizens; I tell you that, if, in any portion of our confederacy, sentiments have been entertained and cherished which are inimical to the civil rights and social institutions of any other portion, those sentiments should be relinquished and discountenanced. (Cheers.) The family discipline which you choose to adopt for your own fireside, whilst it does not violate the law under which you dwell, is your rightful prerogative; and you are prompt to resist the officious intermeddling of others, however well intended. (Applause.) The social institutions of each State in this Union are equally the rightful prerogatives of its citizens; and, so long as those institutions do not contravene the principles of your Federal compact, none may justly interfere with, or righteously denounce them. (Applause.) The efficient cause of the distracted condition of our country is to be found in the prevalent belief of the citizens of the South that their brethren of the North are, as a community, arrayed against a social institution which they regard as essential to their prosperity. You are ready to aver truthfully that such belief is mistaken and unfounded; but it becomes all who are actuated by an earnest brotherhood to see to it that, where public sentiment has been misled, it shall be restored to its standpoint of twenty-five years since. The misplaced teachings of the pulpit, the unwise rhapsodies of the lecture-room, the exciting appeals of the press, on the subject of Slavery, must be frowned down by a just and law-abiding people. (Great applause.) Thus, and thus only, may you hope to avoid the sectional discord, agitation, and animosity, which, at frequently recurring periods, have shaken your political fabric to its center, and, at last, have undermined its very foundation.Hon. Joseph R. Ingersoll (old-line Whig, but anti-Lincoln) followed in a far less humiliating strain, but urging the immediate, unconditional repeal of the State act antagonistic to the Fugitive Slave Law; which proposition was hailed with enthusiastic cheers. He closed as follows:
We are all one country. It is a farce to suppose that this country will be divided. (Applause.) It will be united in peace or in war. (Applause.) You may see, perhaps, legions brought against legions, in a domestic fury that shall be worse than the fury of a foreign enemy, and they will be united in doing harm. While we, in the center of the country, will endeavor to interpose kindness and peace, in order to restore the country to the situation in which it was left at the death of Washington, let us be determined to maintain the rights of the whole country, and extend the feeling of fellowship over all the land. (Great cheering.)Judge George W. Woodward11 spoke next, commencing by an assault on Mr. Lincoln's premonition that “the Union must become all Slave or all Free,” and proceeding to indicate the exclusion of Slavery from the territories as a dogma which must be given up, or the Union was lost. Here is his statement and condemnation of the policy inaugurated by Thomas Jefferson:
The inexorable exclusion of slave property from the common territories, which tho Government holds in trust for the people of all the States, is a natural and direct step  toward the grand result of extinguishing slave property, and was one of the record issues of the late election. This policy must be considered as approved also. Not that every man who voted for the successful nominee meant to affirm that a trustee for several coequal parties has a right, in law or reason, to exclude the property of some and admit that of others of the parties for whom he holds; but so is the record. The South seems inclined to accept the judgment. She holds the property that is to be shut out of the territories — that is to be restricted, cribbed, and confined more and more until it is finally extinguished. Everywhere in the South, the people are beginning to look out for the means of self-defense. Could it be expected that she would be indifferent to such events as have occurred?--that she would stand idle, and see measures concerted and carried forward for the annihilation of her property in slaves? Several States propose to retire from the confederacy; and that justly alarms us. We come together to consider what may be done to prevent it; and we are bound, in fidelity to ourselves and others, to take the measure of the whole magnitude of the danger.The Judge proceeded to set forth that the questions raised among our fathers by the introduction of Slavery had been wisely settled:
If the Anglo-Saxon loves liberty above all other men, he is not indifferent to gain and thrift, and is remarkable for his capacity of adaptation, whereby he takes advantage of any circumstances in which he finds himself placed. And, accordingly, by the time the colonists were prepared to throw off the British yoke, and to assume among the Powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitled them, it had been discovered that the unwelcome workers, against whose introduction such earnest protests had been made, could be turned to profitable account in the Southern States--that the African constitution was well adapted to labor in latitudes which alone could produce some of the great staples of life — and that the North, which could not employ them profitably, would be benefited by such employment as the South could afford. Considerations of humanity also, as well as the rights of private property, entered into the discussions of that day. What was best for an inferior race, thrust unwillingly upon a superior? That both should be free? or that the inferior should serve the superior, and the superior be bound by the law of the relation to protect the inferior? That was a great question; and, like all the questions of that day, it was wisely settled. The Northern States abolished their Slavery; and so gratified their innate love of freedom — but they did it gradually, and so did not wound their love of gain. They sold out Slavery to the South; and they received a full equivalent, not only in the price paid down, but in the manufacturing and commercial prosperity which grew up from the productions of slave labor. When the Constitution came to be formed, some of the Northern States still held slaves; but several had abolished the institution, and it must have been apparent that natural causes would force it ultimately altogether upon the South. The love of liberty was as intense as ever, and as strong at the South as at the North; and the love of gain was common also to both sections. Here were two master passions to be adjusted, under circumstances of the gravest delicacy. They were adjusted, in the only manner possible. Concessions and compromises — consideration for each others' feelings and interests — sacrifices of prejudices, forbearance, and moderation — these were the means by which the “more perfect Union” was formed. And what a work it was! If the Union had never brought us a single blessing, the Constitution of the United States would still have been a magnificent monument to the unselfish patriotism of its founders. Not an alliance merely, but a close and perfect Union, between people equally ambitious, equally devoted to freedom, equally bent to bettering their condition, but separated by State lines and jealous of State rights--one section seeks its prosperity under institutions which were to make every man a freeman — the other under institutions which tolerated negro Slavery. Had the Constitution failed to work out the beneficent results intended, here was an instance of human efforts to do good, which would forever have challenged the admiration of mankind. But it did not fail, thank God! it has made us a great and prosperous nation, and the admiration of the world for the motives of the founders, is swallowed up in wonder at the success of their work. But all this the “irrepressible conflict” ignores. The passion for liberty has burned out all memories of the compromise and the compact in these Northern communities, which, under the false name of Liberty bills, obstruct the execution of the bargain. What part of the purposes of the founders are the ‘underground railroads’ intended to promote? Whence came these excessive sensibilities, that cannot bear a few slaves in a remote territory until the white people establish a Constitution? What does that editor or preacher know of the Union, and of the men who made it, who habitually reviles and misrepresents the Southern people,  and excites the ignorant and the thoughtless in our midst to hate and persecute them? Be not deceived. Let me not prophesy smooth things, and cry Peace, when there is no peace. Let the truth be spoken, be heard, be pondered, if we mean to save the Union.Judge Woodward concluded his address to this non-partisan Union meeting after this fashion:
Have I not a right to say that a Government which was all-sufficient for the country fifty years ago, when soil and climate and State sovereignty were trusted to regulate the spread of Slavery, is insufficient to-day, when every upstart politician can stir the people to mutiny against the domestic institutions of our Southern neighbors — when the ribald jests of seditious editors like Greeley and Beecher can sway legislatures and popular votes against the handiwork of Washington or Madison — when the scurrilous libels of such a book as Helper's become a favorite campaign document, and are accepted by thousands as law and gospel both — when jealousy and hate have extinguished all our fraternal feelings for those who were born our brethren, and who have done us no harm?Mr. Charles E. Lex (who had voted for Lincoln) made an apologetic and deprecatory speech, wherein he said:
However they may suppose the contrary, our affections are not alienated from our Southern friends; and, even now, the rumor of any damage to them from a domestic source would bring to their aid a legion of young men from this State--ay, and of those more advanced in life — ready to assist them in the emergency, and willing to shed their blood in their defense. I appeal to you, citizens of Philadelphia, whether I am not speaking the truth. What, then, can we say to them? What more than we have expressed in the resolutions we have offered? If they are really aggrieved by any laws upon our statute-books opposed to their rights — if, upon examination, any such are found to be in conflict with the Constitution of these United States--nay, further: if they but serve to irritate our brethren of the South, whether constitutional or not, I, for one, have no objection that they should instantly be repealed. They are not necessary to our existence as a State. We have lived without them in years that are past, and we can live without them again. I am not here, however, to concede that, in this respect, our noble commonwealth has lone any intentional wrong; but if, in our calm judgment, it shall appear that our feelings, in the slightest degree warped, have apparently inflicted any injury, she is noble and generous enough manfully to repair it. Let the Fugitive Slave Law be executed in its full intent and spirit. It is the law of the land; let it be implicitly obeyed. We might, perhaps, have desired to have a few of its provisions modified; but let it remain as it is, however liable these portions may be to Northern criticism, if the South deem it necessary for the protection of her rights. Let us, too, submit, as we have hitherto cheerfully done, to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is the great bulwark of the Constitution. Its judgments should be final and conclusive, and not be questioned in any quarter. Whilst the free discussion of every question is the privilege of every citizen of the Republic, let us discountenance any denunciation of Slavery, or of those who maintain that institution, as intemperate and wrong, whether they are promulgated in the lecture-room, at the political gathering, or from the sacred desk.Mr. Theodore Cuyler followed in a kindred strain, illustrating his notion of what was required to bring back the seceders and restore fraternal concord to the Union, as follows:
Let us of the North get back to our true position. Let us first set the example of perfect obedience to the Constitution and the laws; and then, when we shall have pulled the beam from our own eye, we may talk to our brother of the mote in his. Let us return the fugitive from labor, as we are bound to do; or, if we permit his rescue by unlawful violence, compensate his owner for the loss. Let us repeal our obnoxious Personal Liberty bills — those mean evasions of the plainest duty; let us receive our brother of the South, if he will come among us for a little time, attended by his servant, and permit him thus to come. We are bound by a sacred compact not to interfere or meddle with the institution of Slavery as it exists in many of our sister States; and yet the pulpit and the press, and many of our public halls, are eloquent with violent and inflammatory appeals touching this subject, whose mischief, extending far beyond the boundary of our own Commonwealth, extends into the very heart of neighboring States. Who shall say, fellow-citizens, how much of our present peril springs from this very cause? Can we wonder that our Southern brother feels that the heart of his Northern fellow-citizen is shut against him? Can we forget that these appeals have reached the Slaves  themselves, and filled with dread and apprehension the once quiet and happy homes of many, very many, Southern masters? Fellow-citizens, although the law may be powerless, yet there is a moral force which can and would arrest this evil. I appeal to you earnestly — to each one of you individually — by every lawful means in your power, to put an end to the violent and inflammatory discussion of this unhappy subject. The past, the present, and the future, appeal to you eloquently to be true to your country and to yourselves. Never before has constitutional liberty assumed so fair a form among men as here with us. Never before, under its influence and protection, has any people been so speedily and happily borne to great prosperity; until now the imagination sinks in the effort to contemplate that glorious future on whose very threshold our feet have stood. Can it be that madness and fanaticism — can it be that selfishness and sectionalism — are about to destroy this noblest form of government, freighted as it is with the highest hopes of humanity? (Loud cheers.)Mr. Isaac Hazlehurst closed the discussion in a far manlier spirit. Himself a “Conservative,” the “American” candidate for Governor in 1857, he had no palinode to offer for Northern “fanaticism,” and no thought of crouching to Southern treason. On the contrary, he spoke, with singular and manly directness, as follows:
Fellow-citizens, it is no time for party, because there are no party questions to be discussed. We are here for the purpose of endeavoring to preserve the Union of these States. The American Union was made perfect by the people of these States, and by the people of these States it is to be maintained and preserved. It is not a question of “must be preserved,” but, in the language of Gen. Jackson, “it shall be preserved.” (Applause.) * * * I say, fellow-citizens, that Pennsylvania has been true to the Constitution and the Union. She has always been loyal to it. There is no doubt upon that subject. She has nothing whatever to repent of; and we will maintain these principles as presented by your resolutions. I care not where the traitors are — I care not where they hide themselves — the first arm that is raised against the Constitution and the Union, I will bring and that I have to their defense — all that I have to secure the enforcement of the laws. ( “Good!” Cheers.)Of the resolutions in which the spirit of this meeting was embodied, these are the most significant:
Resolved, 4. That the people of Philadelphia hereby pledge themselves to the citizens of the other States that the statute-books of Pennsylvania shall be carefully searched at the approaching session of the Legislature, and that every statute, if any such there be, which, in the slightest degree, invades the constitutional rights of citizens of a sister State, will be at once repealed; and that Pennsylvania, ever loyal to the Union, and liberal in construing her obligations to it, will be faithful always in her obedience to its requirements. Resolved, 5. That we recognize the obligations of the act of Congress of 1850, commonly known as the Fugitive Slave Law, and submit cheerfully to its faithful enforcement; and that we point with pride and satisfaction to the recent conviction and punishment, in this city of Philadelphia, of those who had broken its provisions by aiding in the attempted rescue of a slave, as proof that Philadelphia is faithful in her obedience to the law; and furthermore, that we recommend to the Legislature of our own State the passage of a law which shall give compensation, in case of the rescue of a captured slave, by the county in which such rescue occurs, precisely as is now done by existing laws in case of destruction of property by violence of mobs. Resolved, 6. That, as to the question of the recognition of slaves as property, and as to the question of the rights of slaveholders in the territories of the United States, the people of Philadelphia submit themselves obediently and cheerfully to the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, whether now made or hereafter to be made; and they pledge themselves faithfully to observe the Constitution in these respects, as the same has been or may be expounded by that august tribunal. And, further: they recommend that whatever points of doubt exist touching these subjects be, in some amicable and lawful way, forthwith submitted to the consideration of said Court; and that its opinion be accepted as the final and authoritative solution of all doubts as to the meaning of the Constitution on controverted points. Resolved, 7. That all denunciations of Slavery, as existing in the United States, and of our fellow-citizens who maintain that institution, and who hold slaves under it, are inconsistent with the spirit of brotherhood and kindness which ought to animate all who live under and profess to support the Constitution of the American Union. That the meaning of all this was--“In the hope of winning back the seceded States, and of retaining the trade, custom, and profits, which we have hitherto derived from the slaveholders, we hereby solemnly pledge ourselves never more to say or do, nor let our neighbors say or do, aught calculated to displease said slaveholders or offend the Slave Power,” was promptly demonstrated. Mr. George W. Curtis, one of our most attractive and popular public speakers, had been engaged by “the People's Literary Institute” of Philadelphia to lecture on the evening after the great meeting, and had announced as his subject, “The policy of honesty.” What reflections were suggested by that topic or title to the engineers of the meeting, can only be inferred from the following notification:
The following letter from the owner of the Hall betrays a common impulse, if not a common origin, with the foregoing:
So the Lincoln city of Philadelphia, like a good many other Northern cities, made her bid for slaveholding forbearance and patronage — no one observing, nor even hinting, that the North had rights and grievances, as well as the South--that “sectional” aspirations, aggressions, encroachments, were not confined to Free States; and that, in the conciliation so generally and earnestly commended, the Slave Power might fairly be asked to accord some consideration, some respect, if not to make some concession, to that generous, loving spirit, which recognizes a brother in the most repulsive form of Humanity, which keenly feels that wrong and degradation to any necessarily involve reproach and peril to all, and will rest content with nothing short of Universal Justice and Impartial Freedom.