of the State
The antislavery Whigs, after their defeat at the State convention in September, took great satisfaction in this result, which, as they felt, put Massachusetts
again right on the record.
wrote to J. R. Giddings
, February 25:—
Our first point should be our principles; and if Corwin does not stand firm on those, much as we admire his present position, we could not support him. I am afraid of a convention; we should be beaten there.
The machinery of the party, or of a majority, is in the hands of the “Old Whigs.”
It would be desirable to prevent a convention if possible.
The device of leaving to the States each to vote for its own Vice-President might avoid local embarrassments in the canvass; but behind there is the chance of some John Tyler for Vice-President, whose influence might neutralize all our doings.
It seems to me clear, however, as I have more than once mentioned, that we cannot expect candidates from the united Whig party on our principles.
The party as a party does not receive them, and would not nominate men who were true and frank in their support.
By such a device as you propose they might be lulled, and we might, by the chances of death, pay the penalty in being obliged to serve some Vice-President with Southern principles.
I am willing to be in a minority in the support of our principles; and I am not satisfied that it would not be preferable to bring forward candidates who may be beaten in the next contest, but who will be carried in 1852.
The antislavery sentiment is not of itself strong enough to place candidates in the chair now; it will be very soon.
Our struggle is not for persons nor for honors nor for spoils; it is to advance certain truths deemed vital to the happiness of the country.
How can they be best advanced?
By an inflexible maintenance of them, disregarding the chances of elections; or by a careful and prudent management of the canvass, so that our principal candidate may succeed without the whole country distinctly passing upon the issues which we present?
I do not know that the latter may not be the better course, but I doubt.
But I throw out these things for your consideration, repeating the assurance of my confidence in your judgment.
To Mrs. Bancroft
Do not think me too extreme on the subject of slavery.
I have no opinion now which I have not long maintained, and I suspect often expressed under your roof.
I doubt not that opinions are sometimes attributed to me beyond any that I entertain.
In my view, every constitutional effort ought to be made to restrain and abolish slavery.
In this I am quite in earnest; but I am disturbed not a little by those who attack the Constitution and Union, and I do not wish to be confounded with them.
I make this explanation because I inferred from something Lord Morpeth wrote me that you might have given him an erroneous idea of the exact extent of my opinions.
But whatever they may be, they can be of very little consequence, and I have stumbled into this explanation only in the spirit of friendship.