Secession Era Editorials Project

The Importance of the Early Passage of the Nebraska Bill.

Jackson, Mississippi, Mississippian [Democratic]

(21 April 1854)

It is much to be hoped that the Nebraska bill will be passed at the present session of Congress. It is evidently the policy of the managers and wire-pullers of the Whig party to keep the question open -- particularly in the Northern States. With the Northern Whigs will be affiliated treacherous Democrats in that quarter, who have enlisted against the Administration because they have not enjoyed a monopoly of its patronage; and such Southern Whigs as are ready to sacrifice the true interests of the country and the rights and honor of the slave-holding States upon the altar of party. In thus striving to keep the question in an unsettled condition, the object of this confederated band of partisans and sectionalists is, to reap the benefits of it in future political contests, especially in the next Presidential campaign.

The National Democratic organization is fully committed to the principles of the Nebraska Bill. It is committed against Congressional legislation on the subject of slavery, either in the States or Territories, -- it is committed to the doctrine that the soil, climate, and natural capacities of territories belonging to the Union, and the will of the people when they come to form their organic law, must decide the question of slavery, untrammeled by the interference of government. There is no escaping from this position. To abandon it, would be to discard a cardinal article in the Democratic creed. Indeed, it would be rejecting the very corner-stone on which the super-structure rests. Without it, there could be no national organization. The condition on which the Democracy of the slave-holding States co-operate with their brethren of the North, is that of non-interference with the rights of slave-holding States, and opposition to Congressional legislation, which discriminates in any form against the property of one section of the Union to gratify the cupidity, the prejudices, or the consciences, if a misguided philanthropy will have it so, of the other. When this condition is disregarded by our brethren of the non-slaveholding States, the National organization must fall to pieces. It will no longer be held together by principle, and will fail to carry out the great purposes of self-government and constitutional equality, which alone render it valuable. Deprive it of these virtues, and its continuance ceases to be desirable.

We say, then, that the National Democracy, as a party, are pledged to the principles of the Nebraska bill. But how stands the Whig organization? We may look in vain to the Northern States for a single prominent man of that party who has declared in favor of the measure. Their metropolitan organ, the National Intelligencer, is making war upon it; and even in the South, its notes are echoed back by sundry reckless prints which belong to the same political school. The scheme is to keep the question open, so that in the next Presidential contest, the Whig organization may enlist under its banners the Abolition faction. In the North, they will seek to play upon the passions and prejudices of the people by misrepresenting the true character and purposes of the measure. They will ring in the ears of the Northern people that the "slave power" is encroaching upon their rights, and is seeking to roll back the African tide even upon States where the people have decided it shall not exist. Unprincipled demagogues in that quarter, are constantly alleging this to be the ultimate aim of the advocates of the Nebraska bill, and they declare the measure t o be an incipient step towards its accomplishment. Exaggerated pictures of the alleged "horrors of slavery" will be drawn to every conceivable form to work upon the sympathies and arouse the passions of the uninformed. Crafty knaves and noisy fanatics will instil the poison of disaffection into the minds of the masses; and even the sacred desk will be used as an engine for the defeat of the Democratic party. For effect, it is not improbable that some Southern man who has proved his infidelity to the South, will be chosen as the Whig candidate. Already a movement has been made in favor of John Bell, of Tennessee, whose recent course has won for him the plaudits of the New York Tribune, and other Abolition prints. In the North his claims to Abolition support will be based on his affiliation with that sect in the important struggle now pending; while at the South he will be claimed as a Southern man par excellence, Southern-born, Southern-raised, and an owner of slaves. The Northern parties to this foul conspiracy against the rights of the slave-holding States and the peace of the country, will be content with the triumph of their principles, while their Southern allies will rest satisfied with the election of one of their number, and the share of the spoils which the success of the plot would ensure to them. Beyond all doubt the contest would be prosecuted upon sectional issues, or rather upon the issue of the proscription of the South on the one hand, and the equality of the States on the other. Our hope is, that reason would assert its supremacy in the minds of the Northern people; and that the same party which triumphed so gloriously in 1850, would again come out of the struggle victoriously. But passion and prejudice may rule the hour. The late election in Connecticut augurs unfavorably. It is idle to disguise the fact that under the influence of a delusion in the minds of the masses as to the real principles of the Nebraska bill, the Administration party has been most signally routed. If the pretext for keeping up this delusion remains, no one can tell what results it may not be made to work out two years hence. A sectional battle will inevitably be fought; and it may result in the election of a President pledged to carry out a sectional policy, and to sanction measures tending to the overthrow of the Government. It is with this view that we would urge the importance of prompt action upon the bill now before Congress. It behooves good men everywhere to rally under a common banner and thwart the deep-laid schemes of the conspirators.


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