Detroit Free Press, April 29, 1861
It is impossible to determine whether the telegraphic rumors of proposed armistices by the government with Virginia and Maryland be true. It is certain that they ought not to be true. An armistice at this time means that the southern people, who appear to pay little regard to their constituted rulers, shall get ready for a fight, and that the Federal government shall lose the advantage of the present burst of patriotic and military feeling. We opposed the commencement of hostilities, but we now know no policy, and will listen to no policy, which shall protract the war. We are in favor of the utmost vigor. In war we know only one rule,—that is, to arm and act efficiently. If Virginia and Maryland are to have armistices, let it be with an army of a hundred thousand men upon their soil. Let us lose no advantages. Let us not fail to create all advantages possible. If we are not to have war, if the policy of the administration is to delay hostilities and to finally acknowledge the Southern Confederacy, the people should know it now. The States who are eager to contribute their money to strengthen the arm of the government—the men who are abandoning business, home, families, to offer their lives for the country—should know it. This is no time to talk of armistices and delay, unless the administration intend to back down. If they entertain such a design, we want to know it, and the people want to know it. We have the war. Fort Sumpter is taken. The blood of loyal troops stains the streets of Baltimore. A Baltimore mob defies the government and cuts off the most direct communication with the capital. This does not seem to us the time for treating, or for delay. It is the time for vigor. So far the government has been driven to the wall. Action, vigorous, self-assertive action, is the only mode left to recover its prestige, and to inspire confidence at home and abroad in its power. If Maryland is true to the Union she will aid the government to open the Baltimore route; but Virginia has seceded—she is in a state of rebellion. An armistice with her may keep her men back from Washington sixty days, but leaves the pseudo Confederate States ample leisure to perfect all arrangements for attack. In sixty days Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and perhaps other States, will be under the Confederate States constitution—increasing their power of mischief, consolidating secession sentiment, and giving them an importance with foreign nations which will do vast injury to the Washington government. If this is the critical period of the nation’s history, (and who doubts that it is?) it certainly is the very period for the national spirit to rise highest, the national arm to be strongest, and the popular effort to hold aloft the constitution and the laws the most decided. In this we express the sentiment of the people. Let the administration beware lest they disappoint the nation.
The present condition of the North must not be misunderstood. It is a vast upheaval of courage, patriotism, and devotion to the best interests of the nation. It is not a sentiment of attachment to the administration. Not for a moment. It is wider and nobler than that—more practical than that. It embraces all the glorious promise of the American future. It believes in the destiny which will crowd coming centuries with the fame, happiness and wealth of this free people. One administration, one President, one four years’ term, is a speck—an insignificant point—in the far-reaching vision of the popular patriotism. Nothing is to be done for rulers—everything for the constitution. Mr. LINCOLN is not leading this sentiment. No man can lead it. It is a strong and deep current sweeping irresistibly to the future, bearing with it all who will be borne, but overwhelming all who oppose its progress. We wish no mistake to be made. Northern unity is not for the man, but for the nation. Not for Mr. LINCOLN, but the constitution. We will submit to no delays—no procrastinating policies—no armistices, while mobs defy the government and rebels drive her officers from their State. The voice of peace should have prevailed before the sounds of war commenced. When peace was honorable we were for peace; but we never will, even by silence, consent to the dishonor of timid policies—to truces and armistices which are extorted by fear of mobs. All men will bear witness that we held the “blood-letters” of the times of peace up to the execration of the world. And now that these “blood-letters” are, in time of war, sinking into the gentle harmlessness of lambs—now that they are not seen in martial array presenting their breasts to the men whose blood they thirsted for—we deem them equally execrable. The honor of the nation required that this war should never have commenced; but the same honor now demands vigor—victory—the real supremacy of the constitution and the laws.
Arm first and treat afterwards, is now our motto. Nations unarmed and unprepared never secure honorable and lasting peace. We know that no glory is to be attained in this war. We are proud that it is not glory which unites the North—that it is a sober adherence to the best social, material and religious interests of the nation which makes us a unit; but this calm, determined, common-sense spirit will not submit to trifling inaction, or to weak attempts at peace, at a moment when honorable peace is impossible. If this government has power, this is the time to display and use it.