Where Is the Statesman for the Times?
Syracuse Daily Courier and Union, May 29, 1861
The career of battle is at hand. The green sod of our country will soon be crimsoned with blood. With whatever success to either party to the contest, we suppose that at least, until Congress meets, the shock of battle when once joined must continue, and the earth drink up the blood of slaughtered hundreds and perhaps thousands of our fellow citizens. There was an apparent necessity for the defence of Washington with our troops and arms, and there may have been some reason why they should cross into Virginia. It would seem that with the broad Potomac between Washington and the foe, and with no declared authori[ta]tive purpose of present attack upon Washington by the Confederate authorities, the government might have remained content with mustering, arming, equipping and disciplining its forces, at least till Congress met and gave its sanction to war or devised a plan for peace. But it seems now probable that ere long, one of the bloodiest battles, whose record ever stained the page of History, will be fought on the soil of the Mother of States and Statesmen, with what result God only knows! But the prayer of every patriot must be, that God will give victory to the right.
The present unexpected movement which startled the public like the burst of thunder in a still and cloudless night strongly indicates we will have yet more startling and terrible results.
But in five weeks Congress will meet. It will yet be in its power to arrest the mad shock and wild career of civil war. But, alas! the Clays and Websters, the Calhouns and Wrights and Bentons, the great intellects of a past generation have gone to their last rest; and their voices can no more speak peace to the raging storm nor arrest the tide of fratricidal combat! Who shall take their places and emulate their fame? Rome awarded rank, wealth and recompense for a life saved in battle. Who shall win and wear the civic wreath of fame to be awarded by a grateful people for the lives of thousands of citizens saved, and the bond of National Union peaceably restored? Is it yet possible?
For ourselves, we have little hope of such a result from the Hales, or Wades, the Sumners and Wilsons, and Lovejoys, who do not represent in their feelings or purposes even the Conservative Republicans, but rather the rampant, blood-thirsty Abolitionists of that party. But there are men of all parties from whom better things may be expected! Mr. Crittenden of one party, General Lane of another, and Mr. Seward of a third from all of whom, perhaps, some hopes of a wise adjustment might have been entertained, have all ceased to be actors in the grave debates of the Senate. To the Senators of the States of Illinois, Kentucky and New York at least the people may yet look with some reasonable hopes of peaceful counsels and a bloodless victory over imminent peril—. Mr. Douglas, the distinguished Senator from Illinois, has once before aided in extending the olive branch of peace. Mr. Breckinridge has sought to stay the rising tide of immediate secession in Kentucky, in order to make one more effort for adjustment and for peace in the coming Congress. The Senator elected to fill the seat of a Wright and a Seward from this State is uncommitted to any extreme measures, and represents the most conservative State of the Union and the State which is most interested in peace and a preservation of the Union. Does the spirit of a Wright animate his grave successor? Has the mantle and wisdom of a Clay descended upon the son of Kentucky, in whose veins courses the blood of revolutionary sires[?] Can any one DOUBT that the "little giant[,]" true to the precedents of his own past life, true to his action at the last session, will be true to the proclaimed doctrines of the late Convention largely composed of his own supporters and recently held in this State?
The people without regard to party will watch with anxiety the dangerous disease which now imperils the life of Mr. Douglas; and every citizen will hope that he may be spared to take his seat in the coming Congress and be permitted to contribute his wise counsels, his great name and extensive influence to heal the distractions and avert the perils which now menace the country.
It seems to us, that these three figures stand out in bold relief as the patriots of the coming session of Congress, who may reasonably be expected to speak peace to the troubled waves of civil conflict and by their wisdom and power still the risen storm! Unless the present movement have the effect to drive Kentucky out of the Union,—upon these three central figures, the watching and anxious gaze of the American people must be fixed and the hopes of the American people centre!
May they each, and all other patriots with them, live to earn and long to wear the civic wreath of gratitude which rendered a Clay illustrious and has embalmed him beyond all other acts of his long political career in the hearts of a grateful people.