Prospect of Conciliation
New Orleans Bee, December 29, 1860
There are a few singularly hopeful and sanguine spirits at the South who really believe that if we are but patient, and long-suffering and forbearing, the North will do us full justice. We should rejoice at the possibility of an adjustment of difficulties within the Union, but every day's experience and observation satisfy us that expectations of this kind are absolutely futile. Shortly after the assembling of Congress it was thought that propositions of a character to content the South would be adopted as the basis of a satisfactory settlement. We have seen how groundless were these hopes. Propositions were, indeed, presented, but only to be rejected. The tender consciences of the Black Republicans debarred them even from entertaining the conciliatory resolutions submitted by the venerable JOHN J. CRITTENDEN. The solemn farce of the Committee of Thirty-Three is nearly played out, and the majority of anti-slavery fanatics on that committee manifest inflexible opposition to every effort at compromise. In the Senate MR. WADE's speech is a portentous indication, as well of Abolition indisposition to yield any thing to Southern demands, as of Abolition willingness to employ coercion, if it can be possibly invoked.
Such are the developments in Congress, whence alone can properly emanate all overtures for the restoration of harmony and good feeling. If we extend our examination to the Black Republican press, even a fiercer spirit of opposition may be discerned. It is useless to consult the conservative sheets of the North, as they are powerless, and moreover represent the minority alone. To the Black Republican organs must we look for a correct expression of the dominant public sentiment of that section. We honestly acknowledge that we can find in these journals no evidences whatever of a disposition to yield one jot or tittle of opposition to slavery. We have before us at this moment multiplied proofs of their persistance in the odious sectional platform upon which LINCOLN was elected. Nay, this triumphant partisan himself will not budge an inch. We have the assurances of his home organ, the Springfield Journal, that he has no compromises to make, that he regards secession as treason, and that he will use the entire power of the Government to put it down. Another authoritative sheet says "it is enabled to state, in the most positive terms," that Mr. LINCOLN is utterly opposed to any concession or compromise that shall yield one iota of the position occupied by the Republican party on the subject of slavery in the Territories, and that he stands now, as he stood in May last, when he accepted the nomination for Presidency-square on the "Chicago platform." Does this bear the aspect of conciliation? Is this an inducement to the South to postpone action, and to hope in returning justice?
Let us look a little farther. THURLOW WEED, of the Albany Evening Journal, ventured some days ago to hand out a flag of truce, and to propose certain concessions to the South. They were received with a shout of reprobation by the Black Republican prints. Nevertheless Mr. WEED went to Springfield, and had a personal interview with the President elect, striving doubtless to impress upon Mr. LINCOLN'S mind the expediency of adopting a conciliatory course. His success may be appreciated from the statement since made in his own paper that ABRAHAM LINCOLN is determined to require from all the States an enforcement of the laws and obedience to the Constitution, and that he continues earnest and inflexible in his devotion to the principles and sympathies of the Republicans.
Most, if not all other journals of the Black Republican stripe hold language equally decided. The New York Courier and Enquirer of the 22d instant says "secession is rebellion, and all rebels are traitors to the government under which they live." And again: "Why should we hesitate to call upon the rebels in South Carolina and elsewhere to bear in mind that halters are being prepared for traitors?" And yet again, speaking of the people of South Carolina:
We disown them. They are no longer our brethren, but a band of rebels and traitors, pledged to pull down the fairest temple of liberty ever raised by human hands; and it is a duty which the Executive owes to his oath of office and the Constitution—to our country and to the whole civilized world—to give notice to the fools and madmen of South Carolina that the slightest resistance to the laws of the United States or any attempt to interfere with her forts, arsenals, or property of any kind, will inevitably be met with prompt and severe public chastisement.
And so on, through a column of tirade, in which the advocates of secession are perpetually denounced as "rebels" and "traitors." The Tribune—though we will do that sheet the justice to say that it is opposed to coercion—is earnest and emphatic in repudiating the slightest concession to the South. Here is a specimen from a long article in its issue of the 24th instant:
Our clear duty is to check the extension of slavery. We have still a vast region of almost uninhabited territory yet to be made into States, and on that soil should never be impressed the foot-print of a bondman. We owe it to generations of men yet unborn. We have no right to leave the question to be settled by the contingency of climate, or the accident of any existing or possible circumstance. One unvarying law, as stable and inevitable as the great law of nature, must be applied to it all, and for all time—THE TERRITORIES MUST BE FREE.
Is it possible, then, for us to yield one inch on this question? Never! We believe in the great doctrine of the Federal Constitution; we believe in the principles of our fathers; we are not willing to compromise with an evil, that it may spread and live forever, which they only tolerated for a season, in the hope that it would speedily perish; and we want peace. "We want peace, and not panic," and therefore we can make no compromise and yield no concession which is to be a perpetual plague to us, and to those who come after us an inheritance of perpetual political strife, to end, sooner or later, in a struggle more terrible than any civil war the world has ever witnessed. The real settlement of the question is now begun, let it be fully accomplished, and not again be put off to a future day.
We have culled these samples of Northern opinion almost haphazard. Other journals, such as the Times, Commercial Advertiser, the Republican organs in Boston, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Chicago, &c., all breathe the same spirit. When in the midst of a most dangerous crisis—the work of disunion having already begun—the Lincoln organs unanimously cry "no concession, no compromise," how ineffably absurd is it on the part of any Southern man to think of preserving the Union by a salutary and radical change of Northern sentiment. Our only resource is independence.