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Chapter 7:

  • Refusal of Congress to act either with a view to conciliation or defence
  • -- the Senate Committee of Thirteen and its proceedings -- Mr. Crittenden submits his Compromise to the Committee -- its nature -- the Committee unable to agree -- testimony of Messrs. Douglas and Toombs that the Crittenden Compromise would have arrested secession in the cotton States -- Mr. Crittenden proposes to refer his amendment to the people of the several States by an act of ordinary legislation -- his remarks in its favor -- proceedings thereof -- expression of public opinion in its favorPres— ident Buchanan recommends it -- recommendation disregarded and proposition defeated by the Clark amendment -- observations thereon -- peace Convention proposed by Virginia -- its meeting and proceedings -- amendment to the Constitution reported by Mr. Guthrie, chairman of the Committee -- its modification on motion of Mr. Franklin, and final adoption by the Convention -- Virginia and North Carolina vote with Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont against it -- its rejection by the United States Senate -- the House of Representatives refuse even to receive it -- every Republican member in both branches of Congress opposed to it.

In this perilous condition of the country it would scarcely be believed, were it not demonstrated by the record, that Congress deliberately refused, throughout the entire session, to pass any act or resolution either to preserve the Union by peaceful measures, or to furnish the President or his successor with a military force to repel any attack which might be made by the cotton States. It neither did the one thing nor the other. It neither presented the olive branch nor the sword. All history proves that inaction in such an emergency is the worst possible policy, and can never stay the tide of revolution. On the contrary, it affords the strongest encouragement to rebellion. The sequel will prove the correctness of these opinions.

Then, first, as to the action of Congress on the President's recommendation to adopt amendments to the Constitution. Soon after its meeting, on the motion of Senator Powell, of Kentucky, ‘so much of the President's Message as relates to the present agitated and distracted condition of the country, and the grievances between the slaveholding and. the nonslave-holding States,’1 was referred to a special committee, consist

1 Senate's Report of Committees, 2d session, 86th Congress, 1860-61, No. 288

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