living to see how vain had been their promises of peace and conciliation.
The most that can now be said for their work is that it postponed the armed conflict between freedom and slavery, and allowed an interval in which the free States gained in material strength beyond any corresponding advance in the slave States.
This was not indeed the wisdom of the period itself, but an afterthought of a generation later.
The makers of the Compromise professed to be seeking, not a truce, but a final pacification.
But whether their scheme proved to have even this incidental advantage, not claimed or foreseen by them, must always remain a matter of pure speculation.
If the loyal people were in numbers and resources relatively stronger in 1860 than in 1850, on the other hand the pro-slavery party had during the intervening decade, under the administrations of Pierce
, used diligently its opportunity to spread the virus of disunion, solidify opinion, concert action, corrupt officers of the army and navy, and dispose the materials of war in a way to give the insurrection the advantage at its beginning.
The South was united and prepared in 1860 as it was not in 1850, and the government was at the outset in the means of resistance weaker at the later than at the earlier period.