John Bell Deceased
Cincinnati Daily Times, May 7, 1861
We must confess to having been for many years an ardent admirer of JOHN BELL, of Tennessee. We regarded him as a true patriot and an untiring advocate of the perpetuation of the Union. At the last Presidential contest we gave him our vote, because we believed that his election might still the troubled waters and obviate the difficulties which we could foresee in the future, and which are now upon us. We fear we were mistaken in the man, or else the JOHN BELL of twenty years ago, and that individual who has now indorsed the infidelity of Tennessee to the General Government, are different persons. Of this we would gladly be assured, but circumstances forbid such a supposition.
The fact is, the outside pressure has been too great, and JOHN BELL has "gone under." The hue and cry raised by politicians and their tools has forced the leading man of the State to succumb, and acknowledge its power and influence. He has denied the power of the Federal authorities to call for troops to defend the public property, and the step is a short and easy one to that position which will find him arrayed in open hostility to the General Government.
Now, we fear that in the political gloom which overspreads the country, Mr. BELL has lost his way, and is wandering forth into paths with which he is totally unacquainted, and which must lead him to the precipice over which he must roll all his reputation for integrity to his country, and honest fidelity to the principles he has advocated for so many years. Thank God, the true Union men in the North or South refuse to follow him. They stood side by side with him on a platform as ample as our country itself, they declared him the representative of themselves and their political opinions, they labored for his election, mourned over his defeat, and now regret that he has proven recreant to himself and the land of his birth. And there the connection ends.
In view of the certain result of this struggle, what has MR. BELL gained? Instead of a division of sentiment in the North, he cannot be ignorant of the fact that its people, together with thousands upon thousands in the South, are a unit upon the platform of which he was considered the great personification, "The Union, the Constitution, and the Enforcement of the Laws." This knowledge among the masses in the Border and Slave States who have refused to give way to the madness of Disunionism, has caused wonder and astonishment that the heretofore considered representative of the Union sentiment has forsaken his position, and is prepared to take his stand among the political demagogues against which his Union friends directly waged an unceasing war.
What has JOHN BELL gained by his disaffection[?] The Republicans of the North have cast the Chicago platform to the winds, the Democrats of that section and the sensible adherents to that party in the South have trodden under foot every consideration of partizan issues in their manly vindication of the authority of the Government, the Union men, everywhere throwing aside all prejudices of clique or organization, stand upon the one basis, "The Union, the Constitution and the Enforcement of the Laws." Fugitive Slave Laws, Personal Liberty Bills, and the other trifling memoranda which have marked the progress of events to the present crisis, are no longer deemed worthy of consideration, and the entire people outside of the friends of Secession stand without reserve upon the only foundation assumed by the Union party in the last Presidential campaign.
The head and front of the Union party of 1860, has, however, deserted his post. He departed just when the principles for which his former supporters labored were manifesting their power and endurance; he has fallen to rise no more. As the personification of a living principle he was a valuable accessory, as the representative of an exploded idea he is worse than nothing. He has arrayed himself in defense of a Government established by traitors to their country, and as the reward of treason he may perish amid its ruins.