The Moderation of Tyranny
New Orleans Daily Delta, January 23, 1861
Mr. Seward's late speech is said, by his admirers at the North, by superficial people at the South, to be characterized by a tone of peculiar moderation. Thence the Black Republicans argue that the South, convinced of the fallacy of her suspicions, ought to abandon her attitude of resistance—her idea of independence. Thence, the few at the South who still worship at the altar of Unionism infer that the extinct fires may be rekindled, and the falling temple be restored. The arch-leader of Black Republicanism has spoken. Words of lactaqueous moderation fall from his lips. In honied phrases he recommends forbearance and patience. The fanatical and arrogant majority at the North will probably not relish a style which is so antagonistic to their feelings. Many of them may not understand the philosophy which forms the foundation of Mr. Seward's theories. But that sagacious man is now, as he has always been, in advance of his followers in ideas, while he has seemed to lag behind them in expression. He knows that a show of moderation costs little, and may gain much. The opiate before the dagger gives certainty to the final blow. To lull the victim to sleep averts the danger of his dying struggles, and simplifies the work of dispatching him. Mr. Seward understands those truths. Hence nothing appeals to him so strongly as the dangers in which the country is now involved. Nothing, he considers, is so necessary as moderation. He appears to be, in short, a remarkably amiable enemy. But the bloodiest tyrants that have ever disgraced humanity have counterfeited an amiability which might shame even Black Republican competition. Moderation is the favorite device of despots. While Philip the Second was engaged in burning his subjects at the stake, plundering them of their property, destroying their towns, he was particularly fond of calling himself a "sovereign, clement, mild and debonair." After the Duke of Alva had, by one sweeping decree, condemned all the inhabitants of the Netherlands to death, he expressed the most unbounded astonishment that those ungrateful people should have repaid his extraordinary moderation with discontent and rebellion. It was true that liberty of conscience was suppressed, and an unlimited royal despotism introduced in place of the ancient charters of the Provinces, but the Government had conceded everything except freedom of religion and a limitation of the royal prerogative.
Mr. Seward and his Black Republican followers are just as amiable as Philip, just as moderate as Alva. They are astonished that the South should distrust them in spite of all their protestations of moderation, all their declarations of forbearance. It is true that they have violated all their Constitutional obligations, but they are quite ready to enforce on the South their own theories of Constitutional obligation. It is true they have broken their promise not to steal Southern slaves, but they are willing to promise not to steal them again. It is true that they have robbed the South of her rights in the Territories, but they are willing to allow her to exist without them. It is surely strange that in the face of such magnanimous offers, such amiable declarations, the South should persist in her resolution to withdraw from the Union. Mr. Seward is willing to concede everything except our rights—grant everything except what we ask. He disclaims any intention to interfere with us, except for the repression of slavery; he repudiates all idea of coercion, except for the enforcement of the Federal laws. After the present difficulties shall have been composed, after the controversy shall have been ended, after the questions at issue shall have been settled, he is ready to sanction the call of a Convention to amend the Constitution in accordance with the requirements of the situation, and the demands of justice. But he will not consent to this until the contest shall have been terminated either one sway or the other; until the South shall have succeeded in establishing her independence of the North, or until the North shall have subjugated the South. That is to say, he will not permit any arrangement until an arrangement shall have become either impossible or unnecessary. This is the remedy which Mr. Seward offers for the evils afflicting his own section of the country; these are the concessions he tenders to the adverse section. The remedy is only an aggravation of the evil; the concessions are only a repetition of aggression.