Secession Era Editorials Project

Renewal of the Slavery Agitation. -- The Nebraska Bill.

Concord, New Hamphire, New Hampshire Patriot [Democratic]

(1 February 1854)

The whigs and abolitionists are evidently determined to make a desperate effort to reopen the disturbing questions so satisfactorily settled by the Compromise measures, and to renew the slavery agitation. The occasion for this is the introduction in the Senate of Mr. Douglas' Nebraska Bill. This bill, as modified, provides for the organization of two Territories embracing the whole region of country lying west of Missouri and Iowa, extending west to the Rocky Mountains, and north to the British possessions -- that portion lying north of the 40th parallel of latitude to be called Nebraska, and that lying between the 37th and the 40th parallels to be called Kansas. The bill provides for the application of the principles of the Compromise measures to these territories; in other words, that the people of these territories may decide for themselves whether they will have slavery or not. To reasonable and unprejudiced minds this appears right and proper in itself. The people of New Mexico, Utah, and California were left to settle this question for themselves, and there is no good reason why those of Nebraska and Kansas should not have the same privilege. This disposition of the matter is also in accordance both with Democratic principles and the Compromise measures, which deny to Congress the right to legislate slavery either into or out of any territory. This doctrine, established by the Compromise of 1850, and endorsed and confirmed by the Democracy of the nation in convention at Baltimore in 1852, and afterwards at the polls in the triumphant election of Gen. Pierce, it is proposed to apply to the Kansas and Nebraska territories; and this we have no doubt will be approved by the people. The reasonable and patriotic men of all parties have had enough of slavery agitation. They have seen its dangers, its bad effects upon the peace of society, its utter barrenness of good and its fruitfulness of evil, and they have resolved to regard and abide by the Compromise measures, in letter and spirit, as a final settlement of the question. But it seems that demagogues do not despair of overcoming this popular repugnance to the renewal of slavery agitation. They see a favorable opportunity for the revival of old prejudices, the opening of old wounds, the renewal of old controversies, and they are preparing to improve it. The whig and abolition papers and bar-room politicians are uniting in this effort as cordially as they did in 1846, and we already hear the same old stereotyped cant on the subject. But we do not believe that they can make much progress in this work of a renewal of the slavery agitation. We do not believe that the people of New Hampshire can be misled and cajoled by the old slang of these heartless demagogues, who have so long used this question for their own personal benefit. The people have nothing to gain by such controversies, and will not lend themselves to the selfish schemes of trading politicians who seek to get up another abolition mania in the hope of thereby getting into office. These demagogues are the sole gainers by such controversies, and they are benefitted at the expense and to the injury of the people and the country.

This is the last chance for these agitators. These territories embrace all the unorganized territory of the United States, and these men see that now is the time for them to strike their last blow with this question. It is a desperate game, and they have evidently resolved to play it boldly. They see that they have nothing to lose, for if they fail, they will be no worse off than they are now. Both the whig and abolition factions are literally dying out; they are evidently "upon their last legs," and just in a situation where the most desperate experiments can be safely resorted to. In no other circumstances would they attempt to overthrow the Compromise of 1852, so soon after the people had given it they decided and emphatic approval. But if they could succeed at this, and thus open the whole question for renewed agitation and excitement, they probably think they could literally ride upon the whirlwind and direct the storm to their own advantage and promotion. But this they cannot do. We do not believe the people of this country are prepared to enter upon another experiment of this kind. On the contrary, we believe they will set their faces sternly in opposition to every scheme for the renewal of the agitation of this question. They will stand by the Compromise of 1850, and those who attempt to disturb or overthrow it will meet with a stern rebuke at their hands.

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