The Force Policy
Kentucky Statesman, December 25, 1860
The prepared speech of Senator Wade, delivered in the Senate on Monday last, the remarks of Senator Hale, on Mr. Crittenden's resolutions, the tone of the whole Republican press and other indications, develop, as we think, very clearly the policy of the incoming administration. The right of secession is denied and scoffed at, and in all quarters a bold determination expressed to maintain the entirety and supremacy of the Federal Government by physical force. It is now clearly foreshadowed that the new Republican administration will refuse to recognize the movements of the Cotton States, will decline to treat with them and will steadily push the question to a hostile solution. Rather than permit the Union to be dismembered, they will crush the country in civil war. Force is to be employed to coerce the seceding States into submission, and steel and lead are to be the arguments employed. This issue Kentucky will be speedily called upon to meet.
We can not mistake Kentucky feeling on this subject when the Federal Government shall undertake to use bayonet and cannon to subjugate six or eight slave States to the Administration of Mr. Lincoln on the Chicago platform; we do not hesitate to believe that Kentucky, indignant and united, will take her position along with the section to which she belongs, and present her face to the enemy. In such a dread contingency we shall hear no more of party, but will only know each other as freemen and Kentuckians, impelled by a common sentiment and united by a common interest and one destiny. In such an emergency we should scorn to appeal to party feeling, and spurn the attempt to draw party lines. Old Kentucky! would be the cry, and in her defense of her honor and her cause, men would rally oblivious of old associations.
But Kentucky should at once and promptly meet this issue. We regard this "Force policy" of the Republicans as the most dangerous enunciation, the most fearful issue possible to conceive. To acquiesce in it is to become subjugated provinces, to await its inauguration is to subject the country to the most fearful war ever undertaken. It would be a war of devastation and extermination, bloody, terrible and awful beyond any the world has known. But to accept the issue promptly is to avert both results. Let the border States unhesitatingly announce that upon such an issue they will stand a unit with the South, and the Republicans may be deterred from presenting such an issue. Resistance then and immediate avowal of a purpose to resist by the border States is the best policy for peace, for the Union, and for our honor and liberties. War would be the death knell of Union now or reconstruction hereafter. Boldness and firmness at this juncture by Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Maryland will do more to save the Union, avert civil war and secure our rights, than any position we could take.