Syracuse Daily Courier and Union, January 28, 1861
Every proposition for a settlement of existing difficulties is persistently and steadily voted down by Republican leaders. No compromise on the question which has already dissevered the confederacy—no compromise out of the many proposed, with a view to remedy[ing] subsisting business embarrassments has met their approval. No compromise to avert civil war with our own white brethren and fellow citizens, is the cry of the partizans who have always opposed every war with foreign nations and shown themselves ready to compromise, with foreign powers, every American claim and unfrequently unquestioned rights!
The line of 36° 30' as a compromise line by congressional action, was, it is true, without and beyond the constitution, and of no obligatory effect except as a matter of mutual agreement. Such was the doctrine of the Democratic party in times past; and such is now the decision of the Supreme Court. That line, or the line of 37°, is not therefore NOW proposed as a mere law to be established by Congress; but as an amendment to the constitution. As such, it would unquestionably have a positive, permanent and unchanging validity!
If the adoption of that line does injustice to any section, it is not to the North. It was originally an encroachment on the equal rights of the South, reluctantly yielded for the sake of peace, and in the hope that it might prove a lasting settlement of a dangerous question. If unsatisfactory to any portion of the people, it is the southern and slaveholding citizen, who under the decisions of the Supreme Court, would alone have the right to complain. And yet we find Republican legislators and Congressmen voting nearly in a body against any practicable compromise of that character, and persistently initiating and advocating every war measure,—war the last and desperate resort of injured nations!
What would the proposed line effect? It would secure an honorable peace. It would guarantee more than two thirds of the national domain against slavery; while slavery might gain a slight foothold and maintain a brief and sickly existence in the other third. It would exclude slaves from a territory the whole of which as a portion of the Louisiana purchase, was a slaveholding territory, in which slave property equally with every other was protected by the treaty for its acquisition, and the existing law. It would exclude the South from common territory into which the supreme federal tribunal has declared its right to go with its slave property. And yet such vast concessions and advantages are repudiated by northern representatives!
Are the republican leaders the self-constituted-avengers of the North, crazed enough to be fit for the lunatic Asylum? Are the Northern people gone stark mad with the frenzies of Abolitionism? Is it to-day true, that "whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad?" Can there come but one of two issues from this crisis, a peaceful settlement of difficulties or mutual slaughter and devastation? Do the signs and portents of the day really indicate an avenging Nemesis; the wrath of an offended Deity blinding the people; and an utter abnegation of all reason, judgment, and discretion to the citizens of the Republic? Is the fair fabric of this government to be annihilated? Are its cherished Constitution, its judicial tribunals and its boasted liberties to be drenched in fraternal blood, or consumed in the fires of civil conflict? Shall the impracticables of the day stand defiantly upon a boasted principle, which is denied, in practice at least, by the whole world; denied in substance by even the anti-slavery nations of the old world, who are again importing slaves under the more fashionable name of coolies; denied in practice by the founders of the government, (all slave holders, acquiring and organizing slave territories and slave States without a question,) and repudiated by the Constitution, if the constitutional tribunals of the land are to be the judges? Shall these impeachables, by a sullen adherence to such an abstraction, be permitted to deluge the land with fraternal gore, and cause the sun of National liberty, which had begun to illumine at least, the white races of the world, to go down in, eternal gloom alike for them and for all others? God forbid! We cannot believe that the hand of Deity is in this madness! We shall not believe until the conviction is forced upon us, that the great mass of quiet, law-abiding, peaceable citizens of the North, constitutionally brave as they are, are ready for such ends, to precipitate such results, and enter upon a bloody career of desolation at home, so widely in contrast with the peace and prosperity of the past!
It may be that some portion of the Republican party and some of the Republican leaders, are anti-slavery or abolition mad! But the patriotic citizen will still hope and trust that God and the people will save us from such a terrible future!
Let the people demand an opportunity to act and be heard for or against these propositions! Let them demand a submission of amendments to the Constitution, and, if need be, of counter-amendments in case of disagreement, to them for their decision. Let not the men now clothed in a little brief authority dare to withhold from them this question now while we are yet at peace.
"Quo[u]sque tandem abutere patientia nostra, Catalina?" How long, ye political Catalines, will ye abuse the patience of the people? How long trespass upon their good nature and trifle with their best interests and their highest and purest hopes? How long shall the people bear with the insane ravings of Abolitionism? How long shall they be compelled to listen calmly to the worn-out platitudes of so-called Republican dogmas? How long to be vexed by the quibblers who set their own imaginations and illegal technicalities in array against the solemn decisions—of legal tribunals delivered after a full and exhaustive argument? While our merchant princes are bankrupted in every direction; while prudent capitalists, in reasonable fear of coming convulsions, hoard their funds; while laborers are deprived of ordinary employment and mechanics fund diminished; while the wheels of business generally are blocked; while States are arrayed against States, and commotions grow by what they feed on—how long shall partisans mock at the public calamity? How long will the people be content with their Fabian policy of delay?—Will they willingly permit this condition to continue one, two or three years? Let the people answer.