What It All Means
St. Paul Daily Minnesotian, January 19, 1861
The present clamor on the surface seems to mean, "Union;" at heart it is nothing but the old contest for political supremacy.
The two parties were arrayed against each other prior to the election. It was then attempted to deter the American people from asserting their views by threats of the consequences. We did not heed them. It is now attempted to overwhelm the Republican party in one grand burst of Union-loving indignation. It will fail as the threats did.
What men love the Union better than we do? Who else have sought to make it worth perpetuating by retaining in its development the great principal of freedom out of which it arose? Who else have sought to preserve it from the universal spread of that institution which would have made the name of our country in a few years a jeer and a mockery?
It is said that our institutions are to sink in a sea of blood. We do not believe it. We have faith in the educated good sense of the American people. But be it so. We prefer the wildest delirium of which a nation can be capable, to that slow, gradual obliteration of liberty under the "sum of all villainies"[,] slavery, a doom that but, for the resistance of the Republican party would be the inevitable fate of the Republic.
Other nations have fallen upon revolutions, desperate and deadly ones, but they have arisen from them renovated and with new life. But what nation in the world's history, has ever voluntarily assumed the shackles of slavery, has voluntarily submitted to the domination of a caste, and yet lived? A people may survive convulsions, but never self-degradation.
If, then, we are right in our principles the question comes down to one of two things, resistance or submission. We have chosen resistance to the encroachment of the slave-power. We have made it the vital essence of our party. We have resisted it in Congress, we have resisted it by the press, we have resisted it at the polls, and if needs be, we are ready to resist it at the mouth of the cannon. A RIGHT does not take its shape and nature from surrounding circumstances, but has the same claims upon our hearts and minds in the smoke of battle as in the calm of peace.
What Republican believes the principles enunciated in the Chicago platform to be a violation of the rights of the South? None. What, then, have we done of which we need be ashamed, or from which we should recede? Nothing. Then, as we have supported those principles with our voices and our votes, let us, if necessary, support them with our arms and our hands. As we have withstood threats and sophistry, let us withstand clamors and violence.
But, we are asked,—will you do nothing to preserve the Union? Yes; we will strictly adhere to all the terms and conditions of the Constitution; we will do no wrong to the people of any section of our common country. Nay, more, where the South misapprehend our purposes and views we will do all we can to disabuse them. Hence, as they suppose us about to inaugurate an armed crusade against their institutions, we offer Mr. SEWARD'S proposed amendment to the Constitution, declaring that Congress shall never interfere with Slavery in the States.
But when the South ask us to abandon our principles—to apologize for our own existence as a party—to give up what we have gained in the last great campaign—we say emphatically, never! And if they madly abandon the argument and rush to the arbitration of the sword, they will find the Northern people ready to meet them. We will argue and reason to the uttermost limits of time, but when it comes to the question of being kicked, we will put a period to discussion and drop our logic.