The Union-Saving Committee

New Orleans Daily Crescent, December 11, 1860

Mr. Speaker Pennington, of the House of Representatives, has appointed the Union-saving Committee of thirty-three—one from each State—as provided for by the resolution of Mr. Boteler of Virginia, and their names are announced to the public.[1] This committee, ostensibly, is “to consider questions connected with the perilous condition of the country.” This is the object of the movement, as it appears upon the surface. The real object is to patch up a sort of compromise or adjustment, with a view of luring the South back into a Union which she has firmly made up her mind to abandon. It is, in short, a Union-saving expedient, a dodge, a plot set on foot to entrap the South once more into submission, which is but another name for dishonor and disgrace. Such, we know, was not the motive which prompted Mr. Boteler to move the resolution—but that such would be its effect, if Southern Representatives had not made up their minds to have nothing to do with it, we have not the shadow of a doubt.

When we say “Southern Representatives” we mean those who represent the sentiment of the South—a sentiment almost unanimous for withdrawal. There are members upon this committee who have been chosen by Southern constituencies—but they are not representatives of Southern sentiment, if, for any reason, they yield one jot or tittle to the demands of Northern fanaticism, on the miserable pretext of “saving the Union.”

Look at the names upon the committee. Whom has the Speaker selected: Millson, of Virginia, an avowed Union man; Davis, of Maryland—a Union-at-any-price man, and a semi-Black Republican; Winslow of North Carolina, an easy-going old gentleman, with no decided political tendencies, one way or another; Boyce, of South Carolina—less of a disunionist, perhaps, than any of his delegation; Nelson, of Tennessee, who made, at the last session, a regular spread eagle, Fourth of July speech, circulated at the North by thousands, as evidence of Southern sentiment; Houston, of Alabama, Taylor, of Louisiana, Rust, of Arkansas, Phelps, of Missouri, and Hamilton[2] of Texas—all supporters of Douglas at the last election. The friends of Breckinridge have no representatives upon the committee, except from States like Florida, Mississippi, etc., where no other sort of a man could be found. The Bell men are graciously accorded two representatives only.

Without any disrespect to those gentlemen, we may ask if anybody believes that Mr. Hamilton, of Texas, and Mr. Taylor, of Louisiana, represent the predominant public sentiment of these two States?[3] a If they are for unconditional submission—if they are for compromise even—they do not correctly represent the people. Mr. Pennington, obviously, has framed the committee with a view to a Union-saving report. It was for this reason, no doubt, that Mr. Hawkins, of Florida—who, being the only representative of that State, was obliged to be chosen—asked to be excused from a service for which, he foresaw, he would have no heart. And when the report is made, it will appear for what precise object the committee was framed, even if there be a doubt of it at present.

The whole thing will come to nothing. The day for compromises is gone. The experiment, however, will be harmless, and therefore let them go ahead. As well attempt to bring to life an Egyptian mummy, thousands of years dead, as to restore the Union upon its former foundations. The soul of the Union is dead, and now let its body be buried.

1.  Boteler's resolution was adopted on the second day of the session by a vote of 145 to 38. The Committee included four members who had voted against it: Tappan of New Hampshire, Morse of Maine, Howard of Michigan, and Washburne of Wisconsin. Ohio gave ten of the thirty-eight votes against the Committee, and Corwin of that State was made Chairman. The Committee was composed of sixteen Republicans, ten Douglas Democrats, two Constitutional Unionists, and five Breckinridge Democrats, of whom Hawkins of Florida and Boyce of South Carolina refused to serve. The Journal of Proceedings and the several Reports from the Special Committee may be found in House Reports, 36 Cong., 2 Sess., I, Rpt. 31
2. John Smith Phelps and Andrew J. Hamilton remained loyal to the Union and were appointed military governors of Arkansas and Texas, respectively. Thomas Nelson also remained in Congress after Tennessee seceded, but was captured and imprisoned by the authorities of the Confederacy.
3. Miles Taylor was Chairman of the Douglas Democratic National Campaign Committee and had coined the slogan, "Thank God no disunionists support Stephen A. Douglas." Louisiana gave the following vote in the election: Douglas 7,625, Breckinridge 22,681, and Bell 20,204; Texas gave to Breckinridge 47,548 and to Bell 15,438.