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Xxv. Peace Democracy—peace Conference.

  • The Tweddle Hall Convention at Albany, 1861
  • -- Seymour, Thayer, etc. -- peace Conterence or Congress at Washington -- modified Crittenden Compromise adopted thereby -- Congress non-concurs -- failure to Compromise -- why.

on the 31st of January, 1861, a Democratic State Convention, called to consider the impending peril of Disunion, assembled at Tweddle Hall, Albany. It was probably the strongest and most imposing assemblage of delegates ever convened within the State. Not less than thirty of them had been chosen to seats in Congress, while three1 of them had been Democratic candidates for Governor; one of them once elected, and since chosen again. Though called as “ Democratic,” there was a large and most respectable representation of the old Whig party, with a number who had figured as “Americans.” No Convention which had nominations to make, or patronage to dispose of, was ever so influentially constituted. All sympathizing State officers and members of the Legislature were formally invited to participate in its deliberations. Sanford E. Church, of Albion, was temporary Chairman, and Judge Amasa J. Parker, of Albany, President. [389] On taking the Chair, Judge Parker said:
This Convention has been called with no view to mere party objects. It looks only to the great interests of State. We meet here as conservative and representative men who have differed among themselves as to measures of governmental policy, ready, all of them, I trust, to sacrifice such differences upon the altar of our common country. He can be no true patriot who is not ready to yield his own prejudices, to surrender a favorite theory, and to clip even from his own party platform, where such omission may save his country from ruin otherwise inevitable. [Loud cheers.]

The people of this State demand the peaceful settlement of the questions that have led to disunion. They have a right to insist that there shall be conciliation, concession, compromise. While yet the pillars of our political temple he scattered on the ground, let them be used to reconstruct the edifice. The popular sentiment is daily gathering strength, and will overwhelm in its progress alike those who seek to stem it on the frail plank of party platforms and those who labor to pervert it to mere party advantage. [Cheers.]

The venerable Alex. B. Johnson, of Utica, followed, in an address which lauded the good understanding which had always existed between the Democratic party and the South; which he attributed to a mutual dread of the undue extension and aggrandizement of Federal power. He said:

To a superficial observer, our difficulties consist of revolutionary movements in the Southern States; but these movements are only symptoms of a disorder, not the disorder itself; and, before we can treat the disorder understandingly, with a view to its remedy, we must understand its cause; and we shall find it in the avowed principles on which the late presidential election was conducted to its final triumph-principles inculcating sectional hate in place of federal kindness; in direct contravention with the dying injunctions of the Father of his Country, and of the most eminent of his successors in the presidency, General Jackson.

He proceeded to blame the Republicans, “whose principles and conduct have produced the mischief,” for refusing to give “the South” such guarantees of her rights as are required; adding:

What the guarantees should be is in vain for us to prescribe, having no power to either inaugurate them or to conduct them to a successful consummation; but, speaking for the Democratic party of this State, and of, we believe, the whole Union, and, indeed, for a vast body of citizens not identified with any party, we feel safe in saying that no guarantee will be unwelcome that shall give the South, and all its property, the same rights that are or shall be possessed by the North and its property: the same rights which the South possessed at the commencement of the confederacy: Slavery being at that time no object of antagonism, but the common institution of all the States but one; and we will accord this equality the more readily, by reason that any settlement which shall continue any inequality between the North and the South will be prejudicial to the permanency of the settlement, and hence should not be offered by the North, even if the South, from a love of the Union, should be willing to remain therein with less than an equality of its advantages.

He considered the prescribed modes of amending the Constitution, and then continued:

Possibly, all remedies may be withheld till the seceded States shall have become confederated together and refuse to return. In the possibility of this unhappy determination, and which the present aspect of parties compels us to consider, we are certain that the will of a large portion of the citizens of this State is against any armed coercion, on the part of the General or State governments, to restore the Union by civil war; and, in this connection, we have seen with disapprobation the haste evinced by our Legislature to imbrue their hands in fraternal blood, and the pernicious zeal which, without even the apology of any legislative direction, induced the transmission of this aggressive intention to the governors of not only the seceded States, but of the Border States, who, at the time, were struggling to restrain their citizens from secession, and thus revealing to us, that, unless our Northern people interfere, the mistaken sectionalism, which has produced our present misfortunes, is not to be corrected by any evidence of its destructiveness, but is to be continued by partisans, till the South is either subjugated or destroyed. The advocates of this horrid violence against the doctrines of our Declaration of Independence, and which, if successful in its object, would [390] constitute a more radical revolution in our form of government than even secession, certainly mistake not only the age in which we live, but the people whom they represent, and who sympathize in no desire to take a bloody revenge on those who think they can live more peacefully and prosperously alone, than in a Union with those who have, for years, irritated them almost to madness, by denouncing them as a reproach and a disgrace.

Mr. Johnson concluded in these words:

But we are asked, rather triumphantly, “ Have we a government?” The question is intended to imply, that the government must be strong enough for self-preservation, whatever may become a necessary means. The answer is, that the government is as strong as its founders could agree to make it. Its weakness in emergencies like the present was foreseen by the men that framed the Constitution; but they soon perceived that they must take the Constitution as it now stands, or no confederation could be formed. If, therefore, we now attempt to strengthen the government by coercive action, which all men know its founders would have rejected with scorn, we are the revolutionists, and not the South; so jealous, indeed, were the States of Federal interference, that its protection of them against domestic violence was prohibited, till the disturbed State applied for protection by its legislature, or by its chief executive when the legislature could not be convened. If, then, the States would not accept protection from the general government till it was demanded, how much less would they have accepted coercion against their own actions! The government was strong enough while cemented by mutual good fellowship; but no government, and ours the least of all, is sufficiently strong to resist incessant aggravations. Finally, if Congress and our States cannot, or will not, win back our Southern brethren, let us, at least, part as friends; and then possibly, if experience shall, as we suppose it will, show the departed States that, in leaving the Union, they have only deserted a happy home, they may be willing to sue us to readmit them; or, if they shall find a permanent separation more desirable than Union, we may still exist together as useful and profitable neighbors, assisting each other when either is threatened by injustice from the nations of Europe; and the two sections, instead of wasting their time and energies in quarreling with each other about Slavery, will at least have more time to severally employ all their energies in seeking their own prosperity in their own way.

Gov. Horatio Seymour followed, berating the Republicans generally, but especially those in Congress, as the responsible authors of the perils now darkening the National sky. Referring to the refusal of the Republicans in Congress to cooperate in the legalization of Slavery in the territories, he asked:

What spectacle do we present to-day? Already six States have withdrawn from this confederacy. Revolution has actually begun. The term “secession” divests it of none of its terrors, nor do arguments to prove secession inconsistent with our Constitution stay its progress, or mitigate its evils. All virtue, patriotism, and intelligence, seem to have fled from our National Capitol; it las been well likened to the conflagration of an asylum for madmen — some look on with idiotic imbecility; some in sullen silence; and some scatter the firebrands which consume the fabric above then, and bring upon all a common destruction. Is there one revolting aspect in this scene which has not its parallel at the Capitol of your country? Do you not see there the senseless imbecility, the garrulous idiocy, the maddened rage, displayed with regard to petty personal passions and party purposes, while the glory, the honor, and the safety of the country are all forgotten? Tile same pervading fanaticism has brought evil upon all the institutions of our land. Our churches are torn asunder and desecrated to partisan purposes. Tho wrongs of our local legislation, the growing burdens of debt and taxation, the gradual destruction of the African in the Free States, which is marked by each recurring census, are all due to the neglect of our own duties, caused by the complete absorption of the public mind by a senseless, unreasoning fanaticism. The agitation of the question of Slavery has thus far brought greater social, moral, and legislative evils upon the people of the free States than it has upon the institutions of those against whom it has been excited. The wisdom of Franklin stamped upon the first coin issued by our government, the wise motto, “ Mind your business!” The violation of this homely proverb, which lies at the foundation of the doctrines of local rights, has, thus far, proved more hurtful to the meddlers in the affairs of others than to those against whom this pragmatic action is directed.

Gov. Seymour proceeded to argue that the North had. thus far. had [391] greatly the advantage in the division or disposition of the Federal territories — that the claims put forth on behalf of the South were just and reasonable — that the difference ought to be settled by compromise — that we have no alternative but compromise or civil war-adding:

We are advised by the conservative States of Virginia and Kentucky that, if force is to be used, it must be exerted against the united South. It would be an act of folly and madness, in entering upon this contest, to underrate our opponents, and thus subject ourselves to the disgrace of defeat in an inglorious warfare. Let us also see if successful coercion by the North is less revolutionary than successful secession by the South. Shall we prevent revolution by being foremost in overthrowing the principles of our government, and all that makes it valuable to our people, and distinguishes it among the nations of the earth?

Gov. Seymour proceeded to dilate on the valor and sagacity of the men of the South--the extent of their coast-line, rendering its effectual blockade nearly impossible — the ruin of our own industry which must result from civil war — and to urge afresh the necessity of compromise; saying:

The question is simply this--“ Shall we have compromise after war, or compromise without war? ”

He urged that a compromise was required, not to pacify the States which have seceded from the Union, but to save the Border States from following, by strengthening the hands of their Unionists.

There is no point whereon men are apt to evince more generosity than in the sacrifice of other men's convictions. What they may consider vital principles, but which we regard as besotted prejudices or hypocritical pretenses, we are always willing to subordinate to any end which we consider beneficent. In fact, a frank, ingenuous confession of the errors and sins of his adversaries is one of the politician's commonest exhibitions of sincerity and patriotism. Thus Gov. Seymour continues:

Let us take care that we do not mistake passion and prejudice and partisan purposes for principle. The cry of “no compromise” is false in morals; it is treason to the spirit of the Constitution; it is infidelity in religion: the cross itself is a compromise, and is pleaded by many who refuse all charity to their fellow-citizens. It is the vital principle of social existence; it unites the family circle; it sustains the church, and upholds nationalities.

But the Republicans complain that, having won a victory, we ask them to surrender its fruits. We do not wish them to give up any political advantage. We urge measures which are demanded by the honor and the safety of our Union. Can it be that they are less concerned than we are? Will they admit that they have interests antagonistic to those of the whole commonwealth? Are they making sacrifices, when they do that which is required by the common welfare?

Had New England and some other of the Fremont States revolted, or threatened to revolt, after the election of 1856, proclaiming that they would never recognize nor obey Mr. Buchanan as President, unless ample guarantees were accorded them that Kansas should thenceforth be regarded and treated as a Free Territory or State, would any prominent Democrat have thus insisted that this demand should be complied with Would he have urged that the question of Freedom or Slavery in Kansas should be submitted to a direct popular vote, as the only means of averting civil war? Yet Gov. Seymour demanded the submission of the Crittenden Compromise to such a vote, under circumstances wherein (as Gov. Seward had so forcibly stated) “the argument of fear” was the only one relied on, and Republicans were to be coerced into voting for [392] that Compromise, or staying away from the polls; not that their convictions had changed one iota, but because they could only thus avert the unutterable woes and horrors of a gigantic and desperate civil war.

Mr. James S. Thayer (a Whig of other days) followed in a speech which urged the call, by the Legislature, of a constitutional State Convention, to march abreast with similar Conventions in the Border Slave States, in quest of “some plan of adjustment on this great question of difference between the North and the South.” He continued:

If we cannot, we can at least, in an authoritative way and a practical manner, arrive at the basis of a peaceable separation [renewed cheers]; we can at least by discussion enlighten, settle, and concentrate the public sentiment in the State of New York upon this question, and save it from that fearful current, that circuitously, but certainly, sweeps madly on, through the narrow gorge of “the enforcement of the laws,” to the shoreless ocean of civil war. [Cheers.] Against this, under all circumstances, in every place and form, we must now and at all times oppose a resolute and unfaltering resistance. The public mind will bear the avowal, and let us make it — that if a revolution of force is to begin, it shall be inaugurated at home. [Cheers.] And if the incoming Administration shall attempt to carry out the line of policy that has been foreshadowed, we announce that, when the hand of Black Republicanism turns to bloodred, and seeks from the fragment of the Constitution to construct a scaffolding for coercion — another name for execution — we will reverse the order of the French Revolution, and save the blood of the people by making those who would inaugurate a reign of terror the first victims of a national guillotine.2 [Enthusiastic applause.]

Mr. Thayer proceeded to argue that Southern Secession, under the circumstances, was justified by urgent considerations of necessity and safety. He said:

The Democratic and Union party at the North made the issue at the last election with the Republican party that, in the event of their success, and the establishment of their policy, the Southern States not only would go out of the Union, but would have adequate cause for doing so. [Applause.] Who of us believed that, with the government in the hands of a party whose avowed policy was no more slave States, no further extension of Slavery, and asserting the power and duty of Congress to prohibit it in all the territories, that the Southern States would remain in the Union? It seems to me, thus encompassed and menaced, they could not, with safety to their largest interest, and any prudent consideration for their future condition and welfare, continue in the confederacy. What would become, in twenty-five years, of 8,000,000 of white people and 4,000,000 of slaves, with their natural increase, walled in by Congressional prohibition, besieged and threatened by a party holding the seats of Federal power and patronage, that, according to the doctrine of the President elect, must “arrest the further spread of Slavery,” and place the institution itself “ where the public mind will rest satisfied [393] in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction?”

This is the position I took, with 313,000 voters in the State of New York, on the 6th of November last. I shall not recede from it; having admitted that, in a certain contingency, the Slave States would have just and adequate causes for a separation. Now that the contingency has happened, I shall not withdraw that admission, because they have been unwise or unreasonable in the “ time, mode, and measure of redress.” [Applause.]

Aside from particular acts that do not admit of any justification, those who imagine that the Southern States do not well know what they are about, forget that they have been for fifteen years looking at this thing with all its importance to their largest interest, as well as to their safety, and mistake the deep and deliberate movement of a revolution for the mere accidents and incidents which always accompany it. [Applause.] There are some Democrats and Union men who, when the fever for a fight has subsided, will wake up and wonder that they mistook the madness of passion for the glow of patriotism. Again: we should consider that, whatever may be our construction of the Constitution under which we live, as to any right under it for one or more States to go out of the Union, when six States, by the deliberate, formal, authoritative action of their people, dissolve their connection with the government, and nine others say that that dissolution shall be final if the seceding members so choose, announcing to the North, “No interference; we stand between you and them.” Can you bring them back? No! Enforcement of the laws in six States is a war with fifteen. And, after all, to speak plainly on this subject, and reveal the true secret of the utter repugnance of the people to resort to any coercive measures, it is within their plain judgment and practical common sense, that the very moment you go outside the narrow circle of the written letter and provisions of the Constitution of the United States, you are confronted with the great world of facts, and find this is not a consolidated government; not a government of the whole people in the sense and meaning now attached to it. [Applause.]

Mr. Thayer proceeded to speak of “coercion” in terms which go far to elucidate the outcry since made against alleged usurpations and disregard of personal rights in dealing with partisans of the Rebellion. Said he:

It is announced that the Republican Administration will enforce the laws against and in all the seceding States. A nice discrimination must be exercised in the performance of this duty: not a hair's breadth outside the mark. You remember the story of William Tell, who, when the condition was imposed upon him to shoot an apple from the head of his own child, after he had performed the task, he let fall an arrow. “For what is that?” said Gesler. “To kill thee, tyrant, had I slain my boy!” [Cheers.] Let one arrow winged by the Federal bow strike the heart of an American citizen, and who can number the avenging darts that will cloud the heavens in the conflict that will ensue? [Prolonged applause.] What, then, is the duty of the State of New York? What shall we say to our people when we come to meet this state of facts? That the Union must be preserved. But if that cannot be, what then? Peaceable separation. [Applause.] Painful and humiliating as it is, let us temper it with all we can of love and kindness, so that we may yet be left in a comparatively prosperous condition, in friendly relations with another Confederacy. [Cheers.]

The Committee on Resolutions having reported, the venerable ex-Chancellor, Reuben H. Walworth, appeared on the platform in support of the second, which earnestly deprecated civil war; saying:

Civil War will not restore the Union, but will defeat, forever, its reconstruction.

Said the ex-Chancellor:

It would be as brutal, in my opinion, to send men to butcher our own brothers of the Southern States, as it would be to massacre them in the Northern States. We are told, however, that it is our duty to, and we must, enforce the laws. But why — and what laws are to be enforced? There were laws that were to be enforced in the time of the American Revolution, and the British Parliament and Lord North sent armies here to enforce them.

But what did Washington say in regard to the enforcement of those laws.? That man — honored at home and abroad more than any other man on earth ever was honored-did he go for enforcing the laws? No, he went to resist laws that were oppressive against a free people, and against the injustice of which they rebelled. [Loud cheers]

Did Lord Chatham go for enforcing the laws? No, he gloried in defence of the liberties [394] of America. He made that memorable declaration in the British Parliament, “If I was an American citizen instead of being as I am, an Englishman, I never would submit to such laws — never, never, never!” [Prolonged applause.]

A single voice was raised in dissent from these inculcations. A Mr. Elseffer having proposed to amend one of the reported resolutions by an assertion that, if the Federal Government should undertake to “use force,” “under the specious and untenable pretense of enforcing the laws ,” it would “plunge the nation into civil war,” and been warmly supported therein by Mr. Thayer and others, Hon. Geo. W. Clinton,3 of Buffalo, rose in opposition, and said:

We all agree in detesting the very thought of war. [Applause.] But is our country gone? Is the Union dissolved? Is there no government binding these States in peace and harmony! Why, the proposition was before you, ten minutes ago, that this Union was dissolved, and you voted it down. God grant it may for ever continue! [Applause.] Oh! let us conciliate our erring brethren who, under a strange delusion, have, as they say, seceded from us; but, for God's sake, do not let us humble the glorious government under which we have been so happy!-which has done, and, if we will by judicious means sustain it, will yet do, so much for the happiness of mankind. [Applause.]

Gentlemen: I hate to use a word that would offend my Southern brother, erring as he does; but we have reached a time when, as a man — if you please, as a Democrat--I must use plain terms. There is no such thing as legal secession. There is no such thing, I say, unless it is a secession which is authorized by the original compact,--and the Constitution of these United States was intended to form a firm and perpetual Union. [Cheers.] There is no warrant for it in the Constitution. Where, then, do you find the warrant for it? It is in the unhappy delusion of our Southern brethren, who doubt our love for them and our attachment to the Constitution. Let us remove that illusion. We will try to do it. But if secession be not lawful, oh! what is it! I use the term reluctantly but truly — it is rebellion! [Cries of “No! No! Revolution.” ] It is rebellion! rebellion against the noblest government that man ever framed for his own benefit and for the benefit of the world.

[A voice: We are all rebels, then.]

Judge Clinton: May be so, sir. Gentlemen, this secession doctrine is not a new thing. The people have passed upon it. They passed upon it in the last war. Y may do what you please, my friend; but I never, never can be prevailed upon to see, by any process of reasoning, by any impulse of feeling, that the Hartford Convention was not what the people of the Union pronounced it — a damnable treason. [Applause.] What is it — this secession? I am not speaking of the men. I love the men, but I hate treason. What is it, but the nullification of all the rights of the United States, and the execution of the laws! A threat to reject them, in arms! It is nullification by the wholesale I, for one, have venerated Andrew Jackson, and my blood boiled, in old time, when that brave patriot and soldier of Democracy said--“The Union--it must and shall be preserved!” [Loud applause.] Preserve it! Preserve it! Why should we preserve it, if it would be the thing that these gentlemen would make it — that this amendment would make it! Why should we love a government that has no dignity and no power? [Applause.] Admit the doctrine, and what have you? A government that no man who is a freeman ought to be content for one day to live under. Admit it, and any State, of its own sovereign will, may retire from the Union! Look at it for a moment. Congress, for just cause,--for free trade or sailor's rights — declares war. Oh! where is your government! Why should it! What right has it to declare war! The Constitution invested that power in it, but one State says, “ War is not for me — I secede.” And so another and another, and the government is rendered powerless. * * *

I understand this amendment to have this point, and no other. It is perfectly nugatory and useless, unless it has this point, because all the other points for which it can provide are already provided for in the resolution. It is this: You shall use no force to protect the property of the United States, to retain it in your possession, or to collect your revenue for the common benefit, and the payment of the common debt. Now, I am willing to say, that the government is false to itself, false to us, and false to all, if it should use more than necessary force for these purposes; but I am not prepared to humble the general government at the feet of the seceding States. [Applause.] I am unwilling to say to the government, “ You must abandon your property — you must [395] cease to collect the revenues, because you are threatened!”

In other words, gentlemen, it seems to me — and [ know I speak the wishes of my constituents,--that, while I abhor coercion, in one sense, as war, I wish to preserve the dignity of the government of these United States as well. [Applause.]

Mr. Elseffer's amendment was thereupon withdrawn, and the original resolutions unanimously adopted.

They are eight in number; whereof the first affirms that “the crisis into which the country has been thrown” has been produced by “the conflict of sectional passions ;” and that the calamities now imminent of civil war can only be averted by concessions. The second condemns a resort to civil war, on the part of the Federal Government, asserting that “civil war will not restore the Union, but will defeat, for ever, its reconstruction.” The third calls for conciliation, concession, and compromise, declaring that “it would be monstrous to refuse them.” The fourth declares that it is eminently fit that we should listen to the appeals of loyal men in the Border States. The fifth approves of the Crittenden proposition, and urges that it be submitted by the Legislature to a vote of the electors of this State. The sixth urges upon Congress “adequate measures of conciliation,” and requests the Legislature to take steps toward the summoning of a Convention of the States. The seventh urges a compliance with the request of the Legislature of Virginia for a meeting of Commissioners at Washington, and asks the Legislature of New York to appoint Commissioners thereto; and, in case of its failure, names seven eminent citizens — not one of them a Republican--as such Commissioners. The eighth implores “the States in the attitude of secession to stay the sword and save the nation from civil war,” so as to give time for perfecting a compromise; appealing also to the nonseceded Southern States to act in a similar spirit. Committees were appointed to present these resolutions to Congress and to the State Legislature, as also to correspond with other States; and then the Convention adjourned, after empowering its President to reconvene it in his discretion.

The action of this Convention was of great moment under two distinct aspects; first, as indicating truly and clearly the light in which the Secession movement was regarded by the “conservative” politicians of the North;4 secondly, as revealing to the [396] South the probable action of those “conservatives,” should the Union be constrained to defend itself by force against a slaveholding effort for its disintegration and overthrow. And, whatever may have been the intent of those assembled, it is certain that the sentiments expressed by Messrs. Parker, A. B. Johnson, Seymour, Thayer, etc., and the approving response which they elicited, were hailed by the engineers of Secession as proof positive that they would either not be forcibly opposed at all, or would have no difficulty in overcoming, by the help of their sympathizing friends and allies in the Free States, any resistance to their purpose that might be offered.5 Mr. Roscoe Conkling attests that, when the proceedings of this Convention reached Washington, they were hailed with undisguised exultation by the Secessionists still lingering in the halls of Congress; one of whom said to him triumphantly, “If your President should attempt coercion, he will have more opposition at the North than he can overcome.” 6

The “Peace Conference,” or Congress, so called, was assembled on the unanimous invitation of the Legislature [397] of Virginia,7 and convened8 in Washington one month prior to Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. Thirteen Free States were represented, viz.: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa; and seven Slave States, viz.: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. Ex-President John Tyler, of Virginia, was called to the Chair. On motion of Mr. James Guthrie, of Kentucky, it was9

Resolved, That a Committee of one from each State be appointed by the Commissioners thereof, to be nominated to the President, and to be appointed by him, to whom shall be referred the resolutions of the State of Virginia, and the other States represented, and all propositions for the adjustment of existing difficulties between States; with authority to report what they may deem right, necessary, and proper, to restore harmony and preserve the Union; and that they report on or before Friday.

This Committee was composed as follows:

Maine, Lot M. Morrill; New Hampshire, Asa Fowler; Vermont, Hiland Hall; Massachusetts, Francis B. Crowninshield; Rhode Island, Samuel Ames; Connecticut, Roger S. Baldwin; New York, David Dudley Field; New Jersey, Peter D. Vroom; Pennsylvania, Thomas White; Ohio, Thomas Ewing; Indiana, Charles B. Smith; Illinois, Stephen F. Logan; Iowa, James Harlan; Delaware, Daniel M. Bates; North Carolina, Thomas Ruffin; Virginia, James A. Seddon; Kentucky, James Guthrie; Maryland, Reverdy Johnson; Tennessee, F. K. Zollicoffer; Missouri, A. W. Doniphan.

Mr. Guthrie, from the majority of said Committee, on the 15th, made a report, recommending several amendments to be ingrafted on the Federal Constitution; which amendments, as perfected and voted on by the Conference, will hereafter be given.

Gov. Roger S. Baldwin [Republican], of Connecticut, made a dissenting report; recommending that, instead of the aforesaid amendments, this body adopt and recommend the suggestion of the Legislature of Kentucky--that of a General Convention of the States. [His proposition will be given in full, in connection with its disposal by the Conference.]

Mr. James A. Seddon, of Virginia, made another minority report, wherein he affirms that the majority report would not be acceptable to Virginia, [398] because it gave less to the South than even the Crittenden Compromise; whereas, Virginia required the whole of that, and something more. He proposed sundry amendments to the Federal Constitution, in addition to the guarantee to Slavery, forever, of all territory south of 36° 30′; one of which secures to every slaveholder the right to take his slave through any non-slaveholding State or territory, in passing from one slaveholding State or territory to another; and also secures to him protection for his slaves as property, while at sea on such a journey. Another is in these words:

article 7. Sec. 1. The elective franchise and the right to hold office, whether Federal, State, territorial, or municipal, shall not be exercised by persons who are, in whole or in part, of the African race.

Another of these amendments presumes, and recognizes, the right of peaceable State secession, undertaking to guard against its abuses.

Mr. Charles A. Wickliffe, of Kentucky, proposed that this Convention request the several States which have passed Personal Liberty bills, to abrogate them; also, that they allow slaves to be carried across their soil respectively.

Mr. Amos Tuck [Republican], of New Hampshire, submitted an Address to the People of the United States, “deploring the divisions and distractions that now afflict our country,” but deprecating secession or violence, and insisting that “the Constitution of the United States, properly understood and fairly enforced, is equal to every exigency.” Mr. Tuck's address closed with three resolutions; which will be given hereafter.

Gov. S. P. Chase, of Ohio, proposed that this Convention adjourn to the 4th of April, to enable other States to be represented therein: but this was not agreed to.

After several days' discussion and consideration, with votes upon various amendments, Mr. David Dudley Field, of New York, moved to amend the Committee's report, by striking out § 7, and inserting as follows:

article 1. No State shall withdraw from the Union without the consent of all the States, given in a Convention of the States, convened in pursuance of an act passed by two-thirds of each House of Congress.

This proposition was rejected,10 as follows:

Ays--Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts. New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Kansas--10.

Noes-Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia--11.

Mr. Guthrie's report at length coming up for action thereon, Gov. Baldwin moved a substitution for said report of his proposition aforesaid; which was in the following words:

Whereas, unhappy differences exist which have alienated from each other portions of the people of the United States to such an extent as seriously to disturb the peace of the nation, and impair the regular and efficient action of the Government within the sphere of its constitutional powers and duties:

And whereas, the Legislature of the State of Kentucky has made application to Congress to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States:

And, whereas, it is believed to be the opinion of the people of other States that amendments to the Constitution are or may become necessary to secure to the people of the United States, of every section, the full and equal enjoyment of their rights and liberties, so far as the same may depend for their security and protection on the powers granted to or withheld from the General Government, in pursuance of the national purposes for which it was ordained and established:

And whereas, it may be expedient that such amendments as any of the States may [399] desire to have proposed, should be presented to the Convention in such form as the respective States desiring the same may deem proper:

This convention does, therefore, recommend to the several States to unite with Kentucky in her application to Congress to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to be submitted to the Legislatures of the several States, or to conventions therein, for ratification, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by Congress, in accordance with the provision in the fifth article of the Constitution :

which was defeated by the following vote:
Ays--Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont--8.

Noes--Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Kansas-13.

Mr. Seddon's project, excluding that part which provides for State secession, was likewise moved as a substitute, and defeated by the following vote:

Ays--Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia--4.

Noes-Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Kansas--16.

Mr. James B. Clay,11 of Kentucky, now moved a very long substitute, which was substantially Mr. Seddon's over again; which was rejected by the following vote:

Ays--Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia-5.

Noes--Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont-14.

Mr. Tuck's proposition, consisting of an address and three resolves, was now moved as a substitute. His resolves were as follows:

1st. Resolved, That this Convention recognize the well understood proposition that the Constitution of the United States gives no power to Congress, or any branch of the Federal Government, to interfere in any manner with Slavery in any of the States; and we are assured, by abundant testimony, that neither of the great political organizations existing in the country contemplates a violation of the spirit of the Constitution in this regard, or the procuring of any amendment thereof, by which Congress, or any department of the General Government, shall ever have jurisdiction over Slavery in any of the States.

2d. Resolved, That the Constitution was ordained and established, as set forth in the preamble, by the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity; and when the people of any State are not in full enjoyment of all the benefits intended to be secured to them by the Constitution, or their rights under it are disregarded, their tranquillity disturbed, their prosperity retarded, or their liberty imperiled, by the people of any other State, full and adequate redress can and ought to be provided for such grievances.

3d. Resolved, That this Convention recommend to the Legislatures of the several States of the Union to follow the example of the Legislatures of the States of Kentucky and Illinois, in applying to Congress to call a Convention for the proposing of amendments to the Constitution of the United States, pursuant to the fifth article thereof.

The Conference refused thus to substitute, by the following vote:

Ays--Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont--9.

Noes--Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia-11.

The question was next taken on the first section of Mr. Guthrie's plan of constitutional amendment, as follows:

section 1. In all the present territory of the United States, north of the parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited. In all the present territory south of that line, the status of persons held to involuntary [400] service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed; nor shall any law be passed by Congress or the Territorial Legislature to hinder or prevent the taking of such persons from any of the States of this Union to said territory, nor to impair the rights arising from said relation; but the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the federal courts, according to the course of the common law. When any territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a member of Congress, it shall, if its form of government be republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntary servitude, as the constitution of such State may provide.

This proposition was affirmed12 and recommended by the following vote:

Ays--Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee-9.

Noes--Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia--8.

New York,13 Indiana, and Kansas were equally divided, and so cast no vote. The section was declared adopted.

The second section had been so amended during the debates as to read as follows:

section 2. No territory shall be acquired by the United States, except by discovery, and for naval and commercial stations, depots, and transit-routes, without the concurrence of a majority of all the Senators from States which allow involuntary servitude, and a majority of all the Senators from States which prohibit that relation; nor shall territory be acquired by treaty, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators from each class of States hereinbefore mentioned be cast as a part of the two-thirds majority necessary to the ratification of such treaty.

This was likewise adopted-New York and Kansas being still divided-by the following vote:

Ays--Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,Tennessee,Virginia-11.

Noes--Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont-8.

Mr. Guthrie next moved the adoption of the third section of his Committee's report; amended by the Convention so as to read as follows:

section 3. Neither the Constitution nor any amendment thereof shall be construed to give Congress power to regulate, abolish, or control, within any State, the relation established or recognized by the laws thereof touching persons held to labor or involuntary service therein, nor to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and without the consent of the owners, or making the owners who do not consent just compensation; nor the power to interfere with or prohibit representatives and others from bringing with them to the District of Columbia, retaining, and taking away, persons so held to labor or service; nor the power to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States within those States and Territories where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation of persons held to labor or involuntary service in any State or Territory of the United States to any other State or Territory thereof where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right during transportation, by sea or river, of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and of landing in case of distress, shall exist; but not the right of transit in or through any State or Territory, or of sale or traffic, against the laws thereof. Nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons held to labor or service than on land.

The bringing into the District of Columbia of persons held to labor or service for sale, or placing them in depots to be afterwards transferred to other places for sale as merchandise, is prohibited.

This section was adopted by the following vote — New York and Kansas not voting, because equally divided:

Ays--Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia-12.

Noes-Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire. Vermont--7.


Mr. Guthrie next moved the adoption of the fourth section of the report, which had been so amended as to read thus:

section 4. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.

This also was carried, by the following vote-New York and Kansas still equally divided:

Ays--Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New-Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia-15.

Noes--Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New-Hampshire--4.

Mr. Guthrie next moved the adoption of the fifth section of the report, so amended as to read as follows:

section 5. The foreign slave trade is hereby forever prohibited; and it shall be the duty of Congress to pass laws to prevent the importation of slaves, coolies, or persons held to service or labor, into the United States and the Territories from places beyond the limits thereof.

This section was adopted, as follows:

Ays--Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New-Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Kansas-16.

Noes-Iowa, Maine,Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia--5.

Mr. Guthrie next moved the adoption of the sixth section of the report; amended thus:

section 6. The first, third, and fifth sections, together with this section of these amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.

This was adopted by the following vote — New York again divided, and not voting:

Ays--Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Kansas-11.

Noes--Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia--9.

Mr. Guthrie next moved the adoption of the seventh section of the report; amended to read as follows:

section 7. Congress shall provide by law that the United States shall pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive from labor, in all cases where the marshal, or other officer, whose duty it was to arrest such fugitive, was prevented from so doing by violence or intimidation from mobs or riotous assemblages, or when, after arrest, such fugitive was rescued by like violence or intimidation, and the owner thereby deprived of the same; and the acceptance of such payment shall preclude the owner from further claim to such fugitive. Congress shall provide by law for securing to the citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

This section was adopted by the following vote-New York still divided:

Ays--Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Kansas-12.

Noes-Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia--7.

The report having been thus adopted by sections, Gov. Chase, of Ohio, demanded a vote upon the entire plan of conciliation together; which President Tyler decided unnecessary, as the whole plan had been adopted by sections.

Mr. T. E. Franklin, of Pennsylvania, moved the following independent proposition:

Resolved, As the sense of this Convention, that the highest political duty of every citizen of the United States is his allegiance to the Federal Government created by the Constitution of the United States, and that no State of this Union has any constitutional right to secede therefrom, or to absolve the citizens of such State from their allegiance to the Government of the United States.

Mr. Barringer, of North Carolina, [402] moved that this proposition do he on the table; which was defeated by 12 States to 9: but, on motion of Mr. Ruffin, of North Carolina, the consideration of Mr. Franklin's proposition was indefinitely postponed, as follows:

Ays--Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia--10.

Noes-Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania--7.

Mr. J. A. Seddon, of Virginia, moved once more his proposition, requiring an amendment of the Constitution, whereby the assent of a majority of the Senators from the slaveholding States and a like majority of the Senators from the non-slaveholding States is required to give validity to any act of the Senate, as also recognizing and legalizing State-secession from the Union; which was laid on the table.

Mr. Guthrie then offered the following preamble to the propositions which had been agreed to:

To the Congress of the United States:

The Convention assembled upon the invitation of the State of Virginia, to adjust the unhappy differences which now disturb the peace of the Union and threaten its continuance, make known to the Congress of the United States that their body convened in the city of Washington on the 4th instant, and continued in session until the 27th.

There were in the body, when action was taken upon that which is here submitted, one hundred and thirty-three Commissioners, representing the following States: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas.

They have approved what is herewith submitted, and respectfully request that your honorable body will submit it to conventions in the States as an article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

This was adopted; and President Tyler requested to present the “plan of adjustment” to Congress forthwith.

And then the Convention adjourned without day.

The above plan of conciliation was immediately communicated by President Tyler to Vice-President Breckinridge, who laid it before the Senate without delay: and, on motion of Mr. Crittenden, it was referred to a Select Committee of five, to be reported to the Senate next day.

Mr. Crittenden reported it accordingly.14 Gov. Seward, from the Republican minority of said Committee, presented a substitute for that project, as follows:

A joint resolution concerning a National Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Whereas, the Legislatures of the States of Kentucky, New Jersey, and Illinois, have applied to Congress to call a Convention for proposing amendments to the Constitution of the United States: Therefore,

Be it resolved, etc., That the Legislatures of the other States be invited to take the subject into consideration, and to express their will on that subject to Congress, in pursuance of the fifth article of the Constitution.

Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, and others, strenuously objected to a consideration of the majority report at this time; so that its second reading was postponed until next day: when, on motion of Mr. Douglas, it was made the special order for noon of the day following; when Gen. Joseph Lane, of Oregon, made a long speech against “ coercion,” and in favor of the Southern view of State Rights. Mr. Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, followed, speaking very strongly and earnestly in favor of maintaining the Union. [403]

At length, the Senate, on motion of Mr. Douglas, voted-Yeas 25; Nays 11-to postpone the consideration of this, in favor of the House proposition of amendment, already referred to, and which had passed that body; providing

that no amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, etc.

This proposed amendment was finally concurred in by the Senate: Yeas 24; Nays 12: as follows:

Yeas--Messrs. Anthony, Baker, Bigler, Bright, Crittenden, Dixon, Douglas, Foster, Grimes, Gwin, Harlan, Hunter, Johnson, of Tennessee, Kennedy, Latham, Mason, Morrill, Nicholson, Polk, Pugh, Rice, Sebastian, Ten Eyck, and Thomson-24.

Nays--Messrs. Bingham, Chandler, Clark, Doolittle, Durkee, Foot, King, Sumner, Trumbull, Wade, Wilkinson, and Wilson--12.

And then the Senate returned to the consideration of the Crittenden proposition, for which Mr. Clark's proposition, already given,15 was again offered as a substitute, and voted down: Yeas 14; Nays 22.

Finally, Mr. Crittenden moved that the Peace Conference proposition be substituted for his own original project of conciliation; which the Senate refused, by the following vote:

Yeas--Messrs. Crittenden, Douglas, Harlan, Johnson, of Tennessee, Kennedy, Morrill, and Thomson-7.

Nays--Messrs. Bayard, Bigler, Bingham, Bright, Chandler, Clark, Dixon, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Gwin, Hunter, Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, Polk, Pugh, Rice, Sebastian, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Wade, Wigfall, Wilkinson, and Wilson--28.

So the Senate, by four to one, disposed of the scheme of the Peace Commissioners, and proceeded to vote, directly thereafter, on Mr. Crittenden's original proposition, which was defeated-Yeas 19, Nays 20-as has been stated.

The proceedings of the Peace Conference were likewise presented to the House,16 but not acted upon in that body — the report of the Committee of Thirty-three being held entitled to preference.

Thus ended in failure the more or less earnest efforts to avert the gathering storm of war by some project of “Compromise” or “ Conciliation,” to be enacted by Congress preliminary to its being ingrafted on the Constitution. And, as it has been very widely asserted and believed that the Republicans evinced an unbending disposition, stubbornly refusing to make any concession, any sacrifice, for the preservation of peace and National integrity, it may be well to consider what they actually did and proffered. The foregoing pages show that

I. They were at all times willing, and more than willing, to unite in the call of a Convention of the States, which would have inherent power to deal thoroughly with all the questions whereon the differences termed “sectional” had arisen, and wherein their opponents were morally certain to have a large majority of votes. President Lincoln at an early day, Gov. Morgan, the Republicans in the Peace Conference, etc., etc., had indicated their concurrence in the call of a Convention. But this resort, though originally suggested by the Legislature of Kentucky, was voted down in the Peace Conference by the aid of all the Slave States represented-Kentucky among them.

II. The Republicans likewise [404] evinced a willingness to pay for slaves who should be lost to their owners through popular interposition to defeat their return to bondage from the Free States to which they had escaped. Mr. Tuck's proposition in the “Peace Conference,” Gov. Baldwin's, and nearly every authentic or influential utterance from the same side, admitted the duty of the North, if it could no longer return such fugitives, to pay their value to those injured or aggrieved by this failure to make good the constitutional stipulation. Had the South presented as her ultimatum--“Pay us cash17 for every slave whom we shall hereafter lose through your repugnance to slave-hunting” --the exaction would have been acceded to as reasonable and just.

III. The North could not, without shame and conscious guilt, consent to diffuse and uphold Slavery on territory that came to us free.18 But Gov. Anthony, of Rhode Island, formally offered,19 in the Senate, to unite in the immediate admission of New Mexico (which then included Arizona) as a State, under such Constitution [405] as her people should see fit to frame and adopt-New Mexico being at that moment a Slave Territory by act of her Legislature — to say nothing of the Dred Scott decision. That would have given the South a firm hold on nearly every acre of our present territory whereon she could rationally hope ever to plant Slavery--provided the people of New Mexico should see fit to ingraft Slavery on their State, as they seemed, under Democratic training, to have done on their Territory.

IV. The House — which had become strongly Republican through the withdrawal of most of the representatives from Cotton States passed the conciliatory and practical resolves reported by Mr. Corwin from the Committee of Thirty-three--passed them by an overwhelming majority. The Senate would have promptly concurred, had it been intimated or probable that such concurrence would have arrested and rolled back the surge of Secession.

V. Both Houses united in passing the Joint Resolve from said Committee which, being ratified by the required proportion of the States, would have precluded forever any action of Congress adverse to the perpetuation of Slavery in such States as should desire such perpetuation. This, too, would have been readily perfected, had “the South” evinced any inclination to be satisfied and pacified thereby. But it was very generally treated by them as of no value. Senator Mason, of Virginia, spoke of it derisively as, in substance, one of the planks of the Chicago [Republican] Platform. And the artillery of Secession soon dispelled all desire of, or motive for, ratifying it.

VI. There were very many Republicans-and those by no means without consideration or influence — who would have cheerfully consented to a peaceful withdrawal from the Union of the Cotton States, with such others as might have chosen to accompany them, had these accorded time for decently effecting and assenting to such a separation, after first allowing the Free States a fair opportunity to submit to and urge upon the people of the South their reasons for deprecating it. To this end, the calling of a National Convention and the election of delegates thereto were deemed indispensable prerequisites. Such a Convention could have acted decisively on the main question and all subordinate points-such as the rightful disposal, by apportionment or otherwise, of the public lands and other property belonging to the Union,with the public debt owed by it.

VII. The North did, as we have seen, organize three new Territories at this Session, in utter silence respecting Slavery, and in such manner as left “ the South” in full possession of all the rights accruing to her from the Federal Constitution, as expounded in the Dred Scott decision. This was done, not in accordance with the views and feelings of the Republicans, who reported and passed the bills, but as a peace-offering and a concession to those Southern Unionists who were constantly protesting that they cared nothing for the extension of Slavery — in fact, were rather opposed to it-but would not tamely submit to see a stigma placed on their section and her “institution” by Northern votes.

Yet all this was fruitless, because the North, in the full flush of a longawaited [406] and fairly achieved triumph, did not see fit to repudiate the cherished and time-honored principle for which it had patiently, ardently struggled. No other successful party was ever before required, at such a moment, to surrender its principle, its consistency, its manhood, on peril of National disruption and overthrow. There was no concession from the other side — no real compromise-but a simple, naked exaction that the Republicans should stultify and disgrace themselves, by admitting that they were fundamentally wrong, and that, instead of electing their President,they should have been defeated.20

What “the South” and its friends really required of the North was partnership, cooperation, complicity, in the work of extending, diffusing, and fortifying Slavery, such as it had secured in the annexation of Texas. That Slavery was a great National interest — the broad and solid base of our industrial economy and commercial prosperity — the slaves confined, indeed, to one section of the Union, because there most profitably employed, but laboring for the benefit of Northern21 manufacturers and merchants as much as for that of Southern planters and factors — that we must all watch and work to give that interest wider scope by the conquest of more territory, and by the maintenance at all hazards of Slavery in Cuba, etc.--and that all anti-Slavery discussion or expostulation must be systematically suppressed, as sedition, if not treason — such was the gist of the Southern requirement. A long-haired, raving Abolitionist in the furthest North, according to “ conservative” ideas, not merely disturbed the equilibrium of Southern society, but undermined the fabric of our National prosperity. He must be squelched,22 or there could be no further Union. Haman, surrounded by the power and pomp of his dazzling exaltation, bitterly says, “All this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai, the Jew, sitting at the king's gate.” 23

Hence “ the South” would accord no time, allow no canvass by Northern men of the Slave States in the hope of disabusing their people of the prejudice that we were their natural, implacable enemies.24 They gave us but this alternative--“Consent to Disunion-let us wrest from the Republic such portion of it as we choose to have-or meet us in the shock of battle! Your country or your life!”

--And so we were plunged into the horrors of Civil War.

1 Horatio Seymour, Amasa J. Parker, and William Kelly.

2 The Bangor (Maine) Union of about this date (copied approvingly into The Cincinnati Enquirer of February 8th), said:

The difficulties between the North and the South must be compromised, or the separation of the States shall be peaceable. If the Republican party refuse to go the full length of the Crittenden Amendment — which is the very least the South can or ought to take — then, here in Maine, not a Democrat will be found who will raise an arm against his brethren of the South. From one end of the State to the other, let the cry of the Democracy be, Compromise or peaceable separation.

The Detroit Free Press of February 3d or 4th (copied into The Cincinnati Enquirer of February 6th), more boldly and frankly said:

We can tell the Republican Legislature, and the Republican Administration of Michigan, and the Republican party everywhere, one thing: that, if the refusal to repeal the Personal Liberty laws shall be persisted in, and if there shall not be a change in the present seeming purpose to yield to no accommodation of the National difficulties, and if troops shall be raised in the North to march against the people of the South, a fire in the rear will be opened upon such troops, which will either stop their march altogether, or wonderfully accelerate it.

In other words, if, in the present posture of the Republican party toward the National difficulties, war shall be waged, that war will be fought in the North. We warn it that the conflict, which it is precipitating, will not be with the South, but with tens of thousands of people in the North. When civil war shall come, it will be here in Michigan, and here in Detroit, and in every Northern State.

3 Son of the illustrious Do Witt Clinton.

4 The Albany Argus, for example, of November 10, 1860-four days after the election of Mr. Lincoln-thus clearly and temperately expressed the view generally taken of the Secession movement by the Democratic journals of the Free States:

We are not at all surprised at the manifestations of feeling at the South. We expected and predicted it; and for so doing were charged. by the Republican press with favoring disunion; while, in fact, we simply correctly appreciated the feeling of that section of the Union. We sympathize with and justify the South, as far as this-their rights have been invaded to the extreme limit possible within the forms of the Constitution, and, beyond this limit, their feelings have been insulted and their interests and honor assailed by almost every possible form of denunciation and invective; and, if we deemed it certain that the real animus of the Republican party could be carried into the administration of the Federal Government, and become the permanent policy of the nation, we should think that all tie instincts of self-preservation and of manhood rightfully impelled them to a resort to revolution and a separation from the Union, and we would applaud them and wish them God speed in the adoption of such a remedy.

In the same spirit, The Rochester Union, two or three days later, argued that the threatened secession of the Slave States was but a counterpoise of the Personal Liberty bills and other measures of antagonism to slaveholding at the North. Said The Union:

Restricting our remarks to actual violations of the Constitution, the North have led the way, and for a long period have been the sole offenders or aggressors. For many years, laws have been on the statute-books of Northern States, which were passed with the avowed object of preventing the “delivering up” of fugitive slaves, which the Constitution says, “shall be delivered up.” Owing to their different circumstances, Northern States have been enabled to secure their cherished object by violating the Constitution in a way that does not necessitate secession from, or a dissolution of, the Union. Owing to their peculiar circumstances, the Southern States cannot retaliate upon the North without taking ground for secession from or a dissolution of the Union. But, in resorting to this mode and measure of redress, they simply followed the example set by Northern States in violating the Constitution to such an extent as they deem necessary to secure their objects. The Northern States stopped at one given point in their career of nullification, because they had no object to gain by going further. The Southern States propose to stop at another given point, which, in their judgment, is indicated by the necessities of their position.

5 The Albany Argus of Nov. 12, 1860, said:

Should secession from the Union be actually attempted by South Carolina alone, or in connection with other States, it will be a most important question for the present and next Administration, how it shall be treated. Shall it be met by force? Shall the military power of the Government be employed to retain seceding States within the Union, and compel them to yield obedience to the requirements of the Constitution? Waiving, in what we now have to say, all question about the right of secession, we believe that, as a matter of practical administration, neither Mr. Buchanan nor Mr. Lincoln will employ force against the seceding States. If South Carolina, or any other State, through a convention of her people, shall formally separate herself from the Union, probably both the present and the next Executive will simply let her alone, and quietly allow all the functions of the Federal Government within her limits to be suspended. Any other course would be madness; as it would at once enlist all the Southern States in the controversy, and plunge the whole country into a civil war. The first gun fired in the way of forcing a seceding State back to her allegiance to the Union, would probably prove the knell of its final dismemberment. As a matter of policy and wisdom, therefore, independent of the question of right, we should deem resort to force most disastrous.

6 The New York Herald of November 9th--the third day after that of the Presidential election — in its leading editorial, had said:

For far less than this [the election of Lincoln], our fathers seceded from Great Britain; and they left revolution organized in every State, to act whenever it is demanded by public opinion. The confederation is held together only by public opinion. Each State is organized as a complete government, holding the purse and wielding the sword, possessing the right to break the tie of the confederation as a nation might break a treaty, and repel coercion as a nation might repel invasion. * * * Coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question.

The Charleston Courier of November, 1860, announced the formation of Military organizations in various parts of the North in defense of “Southern rights.” Allentown, Pa., was specified as one of the points at which such forces were mustering and drilling.

7 Adopted January 19, 1861.

So early as Nov. 30, 1860, Gov. John Letcher, of Virginia, who, as a Douglas Democrat and former anti-Slavery man, was regarded as among the most moderate of Southern politicians, in answer to a Union letter from Rev. Lewis P. Clover, a Democrat of Springfield, Ill., had said:

I now consider the overthrow of the Union absolutely certain. South Carolina will secede; and the chain, once broken, is not very likely to be reunited. * * * Unless something shall be speedily done to quiet the apprehensions of the South, the Union is gone beyond all hope.

Mr. Clover replied, stating that he had shown Gov. L.'s letter to Mr. Lincoln (who asked Mr. C., whether it was just to hold him responsible for the Personal Liberty bills, etc., which he had never favored), and trusting that the President elect would “be found a friend to the South.” Gov. Letcher responded (Dec. 25, 1860), saying:

I regard the government as now doomed, beyond a contingency, to destruction. * * * I have lost all hope, as I see no disposition in the free States to adjust the controversy. We have just heard from Washington that the Republicans have presented their ultimatum; and I say to you, in sincerity and sorrow, that it will never be assented to. I believe ninety-nine men out of every hundred in Virginia will repudiate it with scorn. Conservative as I am, and laboring as I have been for months to secure an adjustment, before I will assent to that proposition, I will welcome civil war with all its horrors. It would be dishonorable in the South to accept it; and my motto is, “Death before dishonor.”

Such were the Southern Unionists whom the Republicans were expected to conciliate, and stigmatized as repelling.

8 February 4th.

9 On the 6th.

10 February 26, 1861.

11 Son of Henry Clay; since a prominent Rebel; died in Canada in January, 1864.

12 February 27th.

13 Through the necessary absence from the Conference of a Republican Commissioner, [Mr. David Dudley Field] leaving his colleagues live to five.

14 February 28th.

15 See page 382.

16 March 1, 1861.

17 During the preceding discussion in the Conference, Gov. S. P. Chase, of Ohio (February 6th), after stating frankly to the Southern Commissioners that those from the Free States could not surrender the principle of Slavery Restriction as to the territories, and that, if they did, it would do no good, as their constituents would disavow and repudiate them, proceeded as follows:

Aside from the Territorial question — the question of Slavery outside of Slave States--I know of but one serious difficulty. I refer to the question concerning fugitives from service. The clause in the Constitution concerning this class of persons is regarded by almost all men, North and South, as a stipulation for the surrender to their masters of slaves escaping into Free States. The people of the Free States, however, who believe that slaveholding is wrong, cannot and will not aid in the reclamation, and the stipulation becomes therefore a dead letter. You complain of bad faith; and the complaint is retorted by denunciations of the cruelty which would drag back to bondage the poor slave who has escaped from it. You, thinking Slavery right, claim the fulfillment of the stipulation; we, thinking Slavery wrong, cannot fulfill the stipulation without consciousness of participation in wrong. Here is a real difficulty; but it seems to me not insuperable. It will not do for us to say to you, in justification of non-performance, ‘The stipulation is immoral, and therefore we cannot execute it;’ for you deny the immorality, and we cannot assume to judge for you. On the other hand, you ought not to exact from us the literal performance of the stipulation when you know that we cannot perform it without conscious culpability. A true solution of the difficulty seems to be attainable by regarding it as a simple case where a contract, from changed circumstances, cannot be fulfilled exactly as made. A court of equity in such a case decrees execution as near as may be. It requires the party who cannot perform to make a compensation for non-performance. Why cannot the same principle be applied to the rendition of fugitives from service? We cannot surrender-but we can compensate. Why not, then, avoid all difficulties on all sides, and show respectively good faith and good will, by providing and accepting compensation where masters reclaim escaping servants and prove their right of reclamation under the Constitution? Instead of a judgment for rendition, let there be a judgment for compensation, determined by the true value of the services, and let the same judgment assure freedom to the fugitive. The cost to the National Treasury would be as nothing in comparison with the evils of discord and strife. All parties would be gainers.

18 Mr Webster, in one of his latest speeches — at Buffalo, May 22, 1851-said:

If the South wish any concession from me, they won't get it — not a hair's breadth of it. If they come to my house for it, they will not find it. I concede nothing. * * * No matter what may be said at the Syracuse Convention, or any other assemblage of insane persons. I never would consent that there should be one foot of Slave Territory beyond what the old Thirteen States had at the time of the formation of the Union. Never, never The man can't show his face to me, and prove that I ever departed from that doctrine. He would sneak away, or slink away, or hire a mercenary Heep, that he might say what a mercenary apostate from liberty Daniel Webster has become. He knows himself to be a hypocrite and a falsifier. * * * All that I now say is, that, with the blessing of God, I will not now nor hereafter, before the country or the world, consent to be numbered among those who introduced new Slave Power into the Union. I will do all in my power to prevent it.

Mr. Clay's deliberate and emphatic declaration that he would never consent nor be constrained “to vote for the positive introduction of Slavery either south or north of that line” (36° 30′), will be found on page 205.

19 See page 381.

20 The Cincinnati Enquirer of January 15, 1861, has a letter from “ A Citizen of Highland County,” which puts the case squarely thus:

There is only one possible remedy which can save the country,and restore harmony and peace; and that is a total abandonment of the dogmas of Lincoln, and the adoption of another and opposite object-“ the recognition of the equality of all the States in the territories of the United States, and the strict enforcement of all the laws protecting and securing slave property under the Constitution.” This principle is recognized in the proposition of Senator Crittenden; and when the madness and violence of such men as John Sherman, Ben. Wade, and Horace Greeley shall be humbled, and when wise and patriotic statesmen shall be looked for and found as guides and counselors for the peace of the nation, then may we rejoice in the prospect of restoring our country to that prosperity and happiness which we had before the spirit of Abolitionism and of hate blasted this fair heritage of our fathers. Let the entire South to the border, including Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, and Missouri, take a bold, dignified, and patriotic position, and demand as a right that which the North-redeemed from the curse of Abolitionism — will have the magnanimity and patriotism to yield.

21 See Judge Woodward's speech, page 364.

22 See Mayor Henry's speech; also his letter forbidding G. W. Curtis's lecture, pages 363-7.

23 Esther v., 13.

24 See Senator Clingman, page 373.

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