its eagerness to make the attempt.
There was yet time before the inauguration of Lincoln
to arrange a ‘final’ compromise to restore forever the tottering ‘Union as it was.’
In this fatuous endeavor Massachusetts
Republicans were destined to take part—among them the son of John Quincy Adams
In 1820 the father wrote in his1
I have favored this Missouri Compromise, believing it to be all that could be effected under the present Constitution, and from extreme unwillingness to put the Union at hazard.
But perhaps it would have been a wiser as well as a bolder course to have persisted in the restriction upon Missouri, till it should have terminated in a convention of the States to revise and amend the Constitution.
This would have produced a new Union of thirteen or fourteen States unpolluted with slavery, with a great and glorious object to effect, namely, that of rallying to their standard the other States by the universal emancipation of their slaves.
If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to break.
As to the result of the breach, the great statesman's prevision was clear:
If slavery be the destined sword, in the hand of the destroying angel, which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut asunder the bonds of slavery itself.
Quincy's Life of Adams, p. 114; Lib. 28.170.
's perception was identical with Adams
's. He greeted his readers at the opening of the thirty-first2
volume of the Liberator
with these words, suggested by the political situation: ‘All Union-saving efforts are simply idiotic.
At last, “the covenant with death is annulled,” and “the agreement with hell ” broken—at least by the action of South Carolina
, and ere long by all the slaveholding States, for their doom is one.’
Joy! But, alas!
not by Northern manhood, conscience, church, and clergy; not by measures projected against slavery in the States, or even by the election of a President troubled by the compromises of the Constitution
and eager to amend them away; not by one single act or threat of the political anti-slavery party, as a unit, in