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The Council of Thirty-five.

on Saturday last, in Washington, thirty-five Conservative gentlemen solemnly resolved that “the Abolitionists will leave to the country but little hope of the restoration of the Union or peace, if schemes of Confiscation, Emancipation, and other unconstitutional measures, shall be enacted under the form of laws.” The thirty-five gentlemen voted to print this rather than else thrilling opinion, for the benefit of mankind in general, and then the Thirty-five gentlemen “broke camp” and went back to their boarding-houses. There has n't been. anything politically [274] more portentous since the Three Tailors of Tooley street issued their Proclamation, beginning, “We, the people of England.” Considering the great importance of this demonstration, it is to be regretted that Conservators did not, by some address more enlarged than a resolution, let us know by what process of reasoning they arrived at the conclusion that the Abolition of Slavery would forever bar the restoration of the Union.

If we were inclined to be hypercritical, we might ask why these Representatives allow themselves to talk of the “restoration of the Union” at all? Do they consider that by any constitutional theory the Union is abolished? that South Carolina could abolish it? that Jefferson Davis, by any villainy, could destroy it in any sense? Because, before a thing can be restored, if we know anything of language or of logic, it must first be lost. The truth is, that the Thirty-five, in their eagerness to construct a pretty series of resolutions, have done that which has been esteemed impossible — they have fairly bitten off their own noses. Eight into the jaws of a solecism, as we shall prove, tumbled the Thirty-five. If the Union can be restored, then it is already destroyed; and if it be destroyed, then the right, by the simplest public law, of the Washington Government, at war with the Government late at Richmond, to confiscate and to offer freedom to the Slaves, is just as clear as the right to shoot soldiers in the field, or to bombard cities. Nobody ever questioned the right of a belligerent in all possible ways to harrass a public enemy. [275] The emancipation of Slaves is a well-recognised operation of war. The Thirty-five, by their most injudicious use of a dangerous word have put the Rebels quite outside the pale of even “conservative” benevolence. Whatever they may be some time hence, when restored to sanity by the grace of gunpowder, they are not now our “dear brethren,” our “misguided fellow-citizens,” our this, that, and the other, but simply, by the theory of the Thirty-five, our Mortal Enemies, whom it may be possible to conquer, but quite impossible to injure. When the Union is “restored,” it will then be time enough for this Three-Dozen-less-One to talk of the unconstitutionality of Emancipation. A Public Enemy has no rights under the Constitution at all.

But we have n't done with the one-legged logic of the Thirty-five Conservatives quite yet. They fall into the not uncommon error of glibly grouping, “Abolitionists” and “Secessionists,” as if these were one in purpose and in policy. Substantially, this always means an indirect compliment to traitors, which no man of self-respect and of genuine loyalty would be guilty of. It is of a piece with that slavering and anile gabble which says in circular rigmarole, “Well, the South is to blame, the North is to blame, the Slaveholders are to blame, the Anti-Slavery men are to blame — let us fix matters, and go on as we did before.” Now, as it is a moral paradox to assert that he who rebukes a sin is responsible for the consequent and deeper flounderings of the sinner, so it is a political paradox to declare that the opponent [276] of a bad policy is to be holden for the bad effects of that policy. Because Slaveholders have chosen to commit that very outrage upon the Constitution which clear-headed men have long foreseen and fore-told, does it follow that the rebukers are as bad as the rebuked? Besides, it is not, as we have over and over again pointed out, it is not the existence, but the extension of Slavery, for which the Traitor States are contending; so that fear of the abolition of Slavery had really nothing to do with the war. Is it to be supposed that Jefferson Davis is in the field because he believed his negroes would be taken from him by the Lincoln Administration? He must be greener than green, and his mind cruder than crude, who thinks so. Even the miserable heads of muddled Secessionists did not mix up matters in that way. What Davis and other gentlemen in the man-owning business were afraid of was, that non-extension might prove equivalent to non-existence — a matter with which the North had nothing to do. Most nuisances disappear when they are cribbed and confined; and. it was not certainly our fault if the “Institution” did require room and verge, which we would not grant if we could, and could hardly grant if we would. The North was resting in comparative quiet upon its vested rights and upon well-settled compromises, when the fierce and insatiable thirst of Slavery for new territory disarranged all adjustments, unsettled the National policy, and compelled us, in self-defense, to exercise our legitimate and unquestionable rights under the Constitution. It was Slavery that made [277] up the issue of the last Presidential election; and, at present, when we are contending for Law and Order, and a Permanent Peace, the Secessionists are battling — for what? for what, but for Slavery? Now, if in hitting them we hit the pet and idol of their hot and half-crazy souls, why should these Thirty-five Congressional Conservators put us in the same dock with admitted criminals, with men who have violated so many statutes, while our only sin is that we are faithful to what we consider the fixed and fundamental law? If there had been no Slavery there would have been no Rebellion. That is, upon all hands, admitted. Then, without Slavery there can be no Rebellion. Ah! that is a sequitur clear enough to most men, but altogether too tough a nut for the the Thirty-five Wise Men of Washington to crack! We are profoundly sorry for their intellectual. weakness; but instead of asking us to stultify ourselves, they should, for their own part, try to think with a little more accuracy.

We hope that we are as willing to pardon injuries as our neighbors are; but at the risk of being, regarded as revengeful, we must admit our inability to keep pace with that eminent Professor of Forgiveness and Forgetfulness, Mr. Richardson of Illinois, who said in the Conserved Caucus, that peace can only be restored by saying to the masses at the South, “You have done wrong! Lay down your arms and you shall not be touched.” But should Congress decide upon this emollient course, let Richardson be the United States. Embassador to the camps of the Rebels! [278] Let him enter their lines, blowing the most assuasive tunes upon the mildest of trumpets! Let him, while gentle smiles illumine his countenance, say tenderly to the Confederate armies, “You have done wrong! Lay down your arms, and you shall not be touched!” We can imagine his reception. Even while he blandly speaks, bowie-knives flash, revolvers are aimed at his sacred person, and an extemporized halter dangles aloft. Jefferson Davis and staff march from headquarters to behold his execution, and Richardson of Illinois is soon no more a member of Congress, and the caucus is reduced to Thirty-four. If he pleases to make this excursion upon his own responsibility, let him depart as soon as convenient. Our opinion is, that he will not be back again in his seat, at any rate during the present session.

It must, we think, be taken for granted, by this time, that the Secession leaders are in earnest. They ask for no favors; they propose no treaties; they announce their intention of fighting out this quarrel. Are we never to take them at their word? Are we never to use the weapons which God and nature have put into our hands? It is not customary to approach a mad dog, holding an olive-branch in one hand and a leg of fat mutton in the other. The prejudice of the world is rather in favor of more active measures, whatever may be the opinion of the dog. And this is all we have to say at present of the Council of Thirty-five.

July 5, 1862.

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