Should There Be Any Further Compromise with Slavery?
Akron Summit County Beacon, January 24, 1861
There has been, and is yet, a great degree of nervousness among the Republicans, and indeed people of all parties, in the North, lest our Senators and Representatives in Congress should, through menace, fear of a dissolution of the Union, or from some other cause, again yield to the clamorous demands of slavery, and consent to a further sacrifice of principle, in the compromise measures sought to be agreed upon, in adjusting the unhappy difficulties existing in our country, at the present time.
The truth is, the people have become heartily tired and sick of compromises, and this interminable talk about them; and, after all the abuses to which they have given countenance—the enormities that have been perpetrated under them, and the utter want of fidelity, that has hitherto attended the observance of their most sacred provisions, the people would experience great relief, if the very word "compromise" could be expunged from the English language and the sound thereof never again heard—at least upon the American continent.
Freedom, the stronger, has for the sake of harmony, been compromising with slavery, the weaker, ever since the formation of our Government. "The Compromises of the Constitution,"—"The Missouri Compromise of 1820," and the "Compromise measures of 1850," are household words and familiar to every ear, to say nothing of the thousand and one concessions and unwritten compromises, between those high in authority, who have mal-administered the government, and the propagandists of the accursed institution.
And yet, notwithstanding Freedom, has ever, thus, been ready to make concessions to slavery, to secure peace, and having made them, has, in every instance, religiously observed them, we find that the moment the latter, either through numerical strength, or intrigue, or even the most gross corruption, finds itself in a condition to enhance its own interests and trench upon the rights of the former, by so doing, never scruples to disregard and annul the most sacred compacts, as is evidenced by its wanton abrogation of the Missouri Compromise line, and the unheard of atrocities, which, under that same influence were perpetrated upon the people of the then new territory, but now populous State of Kansas.
We believe, therefore, that we speak the sentiment of every man in Summit County—we know we do our own—when we say that there should be no further compromise of principle, with slavery, whatever may be the result of the present contest.
While, as an order-loving and law-abiding people, we are ready and willing to stand by and faithfully fulfill any contracts that we may enter into, we are emphatically opposed to the renewal of any such contract, after its most vital principles have been annulled and trampled in the dust by the adverse party thereto—much less are we willing to consent to such a renewal as shall give said adverse party infinitely greater advantages under the new, than they were entitled to under the old.
Who desires the restoration of the Missouri Compromise line? Nobody! The South does not desire it, for the reason that she had appropriated, previous to its repeal, all that she was entitled to, or could expect, under that compact. Hence the repeal. The North does not desire it, for the reason that she has a method, quite as effectual and far more honorable, of saying to that accursed blotch upon the escutcheon of our beloved country, "thus far shalt thou come, but no farther"—in her enterprising and industrious population, which constantly and rapidly, like the "Star of Empire, westward takes its way."
Indeed, the North desires no compromise, whatever, and if one is entered into it must be for the benefit of the South alone. And what kind of a Compromise, pray, will satisfy the South? The old line of 36° 30', extended to the Pacific, with slavery forever prohibited North, and the territory South of it left open to competition between free and slave labor? Not a bit of it! They will never be satisfied with anything, short of having the whole of that territory given over, bodily, to slavery; not merely to be admitted as slave States, when sufficiently populous, but to be constituted slave territory, and protected as such, by solemn act of Congress, or Constitutional amendment, if, perchance, they will abate any of their late pretensions, that the Constitution carries, and should protect slavery everywhere.
No! No! The day for concessions and unholy alliances between Freedom and slavery has passed by. As things are now situated, there is but one form of Compromise that the North will consent to enter into, with the South, the terms of which, must be speedily accepted and complied with, or even that proposition will be withdrawn.
That compromise is simply this. Let the traitors of the South, who, by their hot-head[ed] and criminal tom-foolery, have brought the Nation to the verge of civil war, as far as possible, retrace their steps—restore to the Government the property they have stolen—return to their allegiance—and swear, upon the Constitution, that from now, henceforth and forever, they will remain loyal to the Union, and the North will consent to the issuing of a general amnesty—and that the leaders in that rebellion, and their aiders and abettors may be permitted to "go unwhipt of justice" and unhung.
This is our ultimatum!