A Prospect for Peace
New York Morning Courier and Enquirer, March 1, 1861
When the Peace Congress assembled, it was not generally supposed that its deliberations would be attended with any practical results. It was, nevertheless, expected that it would decide upon some measures which might be taken as a basis of settlement, and it was believed that the discussions which would take place in it would have a good effect. To observing men, however, it was evident that the only settlement of the present difficulties that could be made was to be made by Congress, and that body had regarded, with no little jealousy, the assembling of a Convention to which was to be entrusted a work which it believed to be within its own province.
The deliberations of the Peace Congress have not been ineffectual. Time at least has been gained by its session, and the excited passions of the people have had an opportunity to cool. But while many will rejoice that it has at last arrived at a basis for the settlement of the difficulties now before the country, a greater number will rejoice over the passage of the resolutions of the Committee of Thirty-three. These resolutions are drawn in the most admirable spirit, and, excepting the territorial question, they meet all the issues which have been presented as causes of vexation. They give to the slave-holder every assurance that he can reasonably desire, and if there has been any doubt as to the disposition of the Republicans to do what was right, it is now most decidedly removed. There remains not the slightest ground for accusing them of a want of right spirit, of a want of nationality. The resolutions to which they have given their approval prove that they are not the mere sectional men that their opponents have accused them of being, and that so far from being opposed to conciliation, they are willing to do almost anything, but sacrifice their principles, to preserve an attachment to the Union.
The passage of these resolutions will be received by all but ultra men, with the greatest satisfaction; and they are the beginning of a good work which, it is to be hoped, will soon be completed. But little time is left the session of the present Congress, but this time can now be most profitably employed. It is in the power of this Congress to confer upon the country a greater blessing than perhaps any of its predecessors ever has. It is in its province to do what will remove the remaining causes of disagreement, to calm excited passions, and to pave the way for the Administration of Mr. LINCOLN to commence its labors freed from great embarrassment. If this Congress can settle at once and forever the question regarding the Territories, then surely its duty is manifest, and it cannot discharge it too quickly. The Territorial question is, after all, the question, for the others were only secondary. As to the settlement of these, there has never been any real difficulty, but the Territorial question has been the rock against which the waves of passion have been dashing. To remove this has been the aim of every so-called compromise measure. Each of these, with but one exception, has been objectionable to a great body of our people. Some have involved the conceding of more than was before demanded, and others have demanded sacrifices which could not consistently be made. The only proposition which could fully meet the question, and which proposed a settlement definite and final, involving no sacrifice of principle on the part of those who were opposed to the extension of Slavery, was that of Mr. ADAMS. By ultra men on both sides that proposition met with coldness, but by the reasonable and the conservative it was regarded as a ground upon which all Union men might meet. While the extension of the Missouri Compromise line, even as agreed to by the Peace Convention, might find opposers, the proposition of Mr. ADAMS can be objected to only by those who are determined to do nothing, rather choosing to let the country remain unquiet than offer anything savoring of conciliation to the Unionists of the Border and Slave States. The more this proposition has been discussed, the more satisfactory has it appeared. Those who at first doubted the wisdom of it, and who deemed that it involved a sacrifice that could not be made, have been led to a different conclusion. Daily has the number of its advocates increased. It is such a simple, yet such a satisfactory method of putting an end to a question pregnant with evil, that it now seems strange that it should ever have been opposed by sensible men. The readers of this journal know that it has urged repeatedly the passage of this proposition or one similar to it. It has constantly asserted that, while the Constitution should be abided by and the laws enforced, something should be yielded to the Unionists in the South, since it might be yielded without a sacrifice of principle.
Congress having had laid before it various propositions, and having thus far taken no action affecting the Territorial question, and there being no prospect of its being presented with any proposition the basis of which will be more acceptable than that of Mr. ADAMS, a more opportune time than the present for action upon this one could not be found. The adoption of the CORWIN resolutions has paved the way for this action, and the passage of an enabling act for New Mexico, will at once dispel the cloud which has lowered over our country. That Territory can never become a slave-holding one. Climate, soil, every thing, in fact, makes it a region to which the slaveholder cannot profitably emigrate. Make, then, this territory a State, and the vexatious question of Slavery is forever removed from the province of Federal legislation, and the two great sections of our country will have no further cause for difference. This done, the new Administration will enter upon its duties with all cause of opposition to it removed. Its position in regard to Slavery will be well understood, but the assurances the slaveholders have received will forbid their harboring any feelings of distrust. If then, so great benefits can result from the ADAMS proposition, surely Congress should lose no time in passing it.