Boston Daily Courier, June 29, 1861
It would be presumptuous in us, as mere conductors of a public journal, with only those means of forming our judgment upon the course of events which are open to all others, to undertake to point out what is to be the absolute policy of the Administration. Some deductions as to the future, however, may generally be derived with a certain degree of clearness from the past. Human conduct, too, in governments as in individuals, is subject to certain laws of circumstance and necessity. We can only make our minds up as to future events, by carefully considering the facts that naturally lead to them. It has thus seemed to us, as we have repeatedly intimated in this journal, that there would be no fighting upon any large scale. We thought there were imperative reasons to forbid it at present; and if not at present, that affairs would gradually take such a shape, as to prevent it at all. The great danger was, that the seceders themselves, either in over-confidence at one moment, or in desperation at another, might be led to make an attack; but that danger once passed, was scarcely to be apprehended in the future.
On the other hand, we could not but think that the Government wished to put down the rebellion by other means than a battle, if possible,—since a battle meant the destruction of many lives of fellow-citizens, on the one side and the other, and many direful consequences only too likely to follow upon such an event—none of which need ensue, if no general engagement of troops should take place. The refusal of the Government to treat with the rebels, and its proper indignation at foreign intimations of allowing them belligerent rights, all indicated its idea, that, in a country with institutions like our own, such a movement as that of the South could only be treated as an insurrection,—and that an insurrection on a large scale must be managed, if possible, like one within a narrower compass; and thus be put down by the peace-officers, supported, according to the circumstances, by a sufficient force of their armed fellow-citizens. This judicious and truly republican course has been thus far pursued, evidently to the strengthening of the Government, until it is manifestly invincible, and as evidently to the weakening of the rebels, until it is plain that, at no distant period, the seceded States must one after another give in. Moral causes will bring this round, in our opinion, without fighting at all, except within a limited range and at scattered points; and this opinion, we believe, coincides with the views entertained by the Government.
To this view of the case we believe it has been brought, no less by sound policy, upon a careful consideration of all that facts and probabilities might appear to warrant, than by a realizing sense of the shocking and terrible miseries of civil war. What set of men, fit to be entrusted with the administration of affairs, and conscious of any responsibility to God and their fellow creatures, would wish to be accountable for drenching this fair land in blood, and for all the unspeakable ills and woes of such a warfare as only too recently seemed almost impending, if it could be avoided—if the Government could be otherwise upheld,—with a reasonable prospect of restoring the country to itself, with renewed strength, prosperity and happiness, with all its lately glorious hopes revived, and all its noble institutions re-established in the confidence and affections of the people?
It is upon these grounds—as apparently taken by the Administration—that there appears no likelihood of any forward movement of troops, before the assembling of Congress. A sagacious telegraphic correspondent at Washington (and are they not all notoriously sagacious?) informs the public that "the precise object of this is not known"—but proceeds to give it on the "authority of a cabinet minister," that it certainly is not to give Congress an opportunity "to talk compromise." We suppose not; but it may and we venture to presume will give the representatives of the people the opportunity to consider the state of the nation and to devise means, if possible, to avert the profoundest calamities with which a people was ever threatened. We cannot do the President the injustice to suppose that he has called Congress together without an object, or that that object can be any other, than to stay the progress of a desolating war, if it can, as well as to provide the means of maintaining the legal and constitutional authority of the government. It would be a very extraordinary thing indeed, if the session of Congress should pass away, without any attention being paid to the main point, upon which hangs the destiny of the nation and which engages the anxious interest of the worldl Supposing, which is not to be supposed, that the entire body of Republicans in both branches should not consider the mighty question at issue within their province, still we cannot help conceiving, that it may be brought to notice in a Senate containing eleven anti-abolitionists (besides the Republicans who are not abolitionists) out of forty-three in the whole, or in a House, of which seventy-seven constitute the no insignificant minority, in a body of one hundred and eighty.
As to "compromise" and "concession"—what are these but words only, not things? They should be put aside, just as "coercion," a word in popular use not very long since, has now gone out of date, amid the shifting current of events and opinions. Certainly, the United States will be expected to make neither compromise nor concession which will lessen its authority, or give countenance to rebellion, or which will derogate in the slightest degree from the principles and provisions of its Constitution. Within these limits everything may be done, and ought to be done, for peace. It will be found, on investigation, that it amounts to so little, that this great country has drifted thus far into a war for an abstraction, a shadow, for something upon which depends no single existing right, either North or South. The slavery question, both in the States and Territories, was specifically determined by the last Republican Congress, saving all the rights of the South. It did not protect slavery in the Territories, but it did not exclude it from them. It conformed to the spirit of the opinion of the Supreme Court. We see not what, more could be asked, or could be done. But secession had then begun its baleful career; and the actual condition of the question was disregarded by those who had so little foresight as to determine upon testing its result.
That result is not very far distant; and those who engaged in the headlong scheme are doomed to utter disappointment. In the very nature of things, it must be settled adversely to the conspirators. Secession is a word that will have no charm for the ears of future generations. The institution of slavery will have its appropriate sphere, and no more. It cannot struggle, as the basis of political power, against the strength o£ the free States. It has now had its brief day of final conflict, and will be no more the absorbing topic of political discussion, but the theme of philanthropists and political economists, and the fanatical spirit which has so torn our civil society will subside.
The country can afford to be generous, in such a condition of things. The Administration need not consider what it may do, within the limits of justice and reason, for it has the power. By moderation it can soon make a united country, through peace. It is strong enough to forget that there is any quarrel, that there has been aggression, insult, violence, and wrong, in marking out the course for itself to pursue. While it exhibits its power, it can hear every complaint, and redress every grievance, and manifest so just a sense of its own dignity and authority, and so true a desire to reclaim the misguided and to protect loyal citizens who are oppressed, that passion itself must soon grow calm, and rebellion cease, for want of even plausible pretext. We have endeavored to point out the policy which the Administration seems to us disposed to pursue. It will meet with some obstacles, no doubt, but they will not prove insuperable. They will thus accomplish the purpose which alone we can suppose them to have in view, and the country will be saved.