Secession Era Editorials Project

Excitement in Congress.

Detroit, Michigan, Free Press [Democratic]

(4 February 1854)

One would suppose, from the tone of the Washington letter writers to the New York papers, which tone is infectious with the abolition and a portion of the whig press of the north, that all Washington, -- including the President, Cabinet, both houses of Congress, clerks, understrappers, and denizens, -- is on fire with excitement, and that a blaze has been lighted which is to sweep over the country after the fashion of a burning prairie. We have not learned whether Gen. Scott, the ex-whig candidate for President, is "fired with indignation" in view of the state of affairs, but if he is not, his neighbors have got "fired up" before him.

When members of Congress have been a month in Washington, they are very much inclined to imagine that the whole structure of the confederacy rests upon their individual shoulders, and that, if a question arises about which they get nervous, the nerves of the whole country twitch in response to their own. They are immediately seized with a sort of convulsive fear, for the safety of the Union, of course - not for their own - don't know what to do, and when they are obliged to do some thing, some of them do wrong.

Now the country was never calmer than at this moment, and Congress is not going to do any thing to disturb that calmness. It can't be disturbed. Neither whig bellowing nor abolition howling can do it. Nothing can do it, if the democratic majority in the Senate and House but do their duty. No section, short of an abandonment by Congress of the fixed principles of the Democratic party, can produce agitation among the masses of the people.

The great prevailing public sentiment of the north is sound on the slavery question. Never, since the adoption of the constitution, has it been more sound or better settled. The compromise measures of 1850 have not only been acquiesced in, but they have been approved; and so long as they are preserved inviolate -- so long as their principles are sustained by the legislation of Congress -- the people of the north will be satisfied. -- It will only be a departure from these principles that can excite indignation, not loud, but deep.

And of all of the northern States, not one is sounder than Michigan. We believe, to-day, could the plan of organizing Nebraska and Kansas proposed by the Senate Committee on Territories, be submitted to the democracy of this State, that ninety-nine out of every one hundred votes would be for approval. The principle of Congressional non intervention in the domestic affairs of the States and Territories is strongly intrenched in the popular heart. The battle on that principle has been fought, and never was victory more nobly or more thoroughly won.

Mr. Douglass' bill may not be a perfect bill. -- It may need amendments. But the grand principles embraced in it - that of leaving the people of Nebraska, and of all other territories, to take care of their own local affairs -- is right; and to that principle the democracy of Michigan and of the Union are committed, and they will adhere to it with firm and unyielding tenacity.


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