patriotism and fairness they are not designed to impeach.
He doubtless considered carefully and well what the South
could be induced to accept; and he undoubtingly believed this to be embodied and presented in his plan of compromise.
A slaveholder himself; born, educated, and living amid the influences of the institution; he could not or did not realize that his conditions would seem inadmissible to any but the narrowest and most miserable fanatics.
Assuming his premises, regarding the matter exclusively from his standpoint, and putting conscience and consistency entirely out of the question, his proposal was fair enough; and its cordial adoption would doubtless have exhilarated the stock market, and caused general rejoicing on exchanges and around the dinner-tables of merchant princes.
Its advocatesd, with good reason, claimed a large majority of the people in its favor, and clamored for its submission to a direct popular vote.
Had such a submission been accorded, it is very likely that the greater number of those who voted at all would have voted to ratify it.
But, on the other hand, these facts deserve consideration:
I. The Democratic and “Conservative” politicans who united on the Crittenden Compromise
, and clamored for its adoption, had had control of Congress and the Federal Executive
through seven-eighths of our past national history.
If this were the true panacea for our troubles respecting Slavery, why had they not applied it long ago?
Why not adopt it under Polk
, without waiting to the last sands of their departing power?
Why not unite upon it as their platform in the Presidential contest of 1860?
Why call upon the Republicans to help them do, after forty years of controversy, what they might themselves have done, without help, almost any time during those forty years? Why repudiate, against the most urgent remonstrances, in 1854, a compromise which, so far as it went, was substantially identical with this, and now ask those whom they then overbore to unite with them in ratifying another and a worse, in 1861?
The “Conservatives,” so called, were still able to establish this Crittenden Compromise by their own proper strength, had they been disposed so to do. The President was theirs; the Senate strongly theirs; in the House
, they had a small majority, as was evinced in their defeat of John Sherman
Had they now come forward and said, with authority: “Enable us to pass the Crittenden Compromise
, and all shall be peace and harmony,” they would have succeeded without difficulty.
It was only through the withdrawal of pro-Slavery members that the Republicans had achieved an unexpected majority in either House
Had those members chosen to return to the seats still awaiting them, and to support Mr. Crittenden
's proposition, they could have carried it without difficulty.
But it was abundantly evident that the passage of this measure would not
restore the Union
Several States had already plunged into Secession, their oracles avowing that they wanted no
concession, and would be satisfied with none.
Every suggestion that they should wait for some overt act, at least for some official declaration, from Mr. Lincoln