Secession Era Editorials Project

Speech of Mr. Douglas -- Renewal of the Slavery Agitation -- Its object.

Concord, New Hamphire, New Hampshire Patriot [Democratic]

(1 February 1854)

We devote a large portion of our paper to the great speech of Judge Douglas upon the Nebraska bill, and we hope every reader of the Patriot will give it a careful and candid perusal, and urge his neighbors to do the same. We have seldom read an abler or more conclusive argument in support of any measure, and we see not how any candid man can read it without being convinced of the correctness of his positions and the soundness of the great principle which he advocates. We wish every man in New Hampshire could be induced to peruse it, candidly and carefully.

At this time, when our own State election so imperatively demands our attention, we should not devote so much space to a matter which has no proper connection with that election, were it not for the fact that whig and abolition demagogues here are making perservering efforts to misrepresent the whole scope and bearing of the subject to which it relates. The Sunday address of the abolition members of Congress, and the gross perversion of facts and of history which it makes, are being spread abroad by the opposition press, with a view to get up another abolition excitement which they hope to turn to their advantage in our election. Every whig paper in the State has not only joined in giving currency to these misrepresentations, but in concert with the abolition organs are raising the old abolition cry about the extension of slavery, reiterating their old stereotyped abolition slang of 1845-6, and making a desperate effort to get up an excitement upon the subject, with the hope of influencing our election. All sensible men must see that the question has properly nothing to do with the election -- that the result of our election can have not influence upon the matter, and that the matter ought not be introduced into the canvass. But the whigs and abolitionists, hopeless of making any show of strength upon the proper and legitimate issues of the canvass, have seized upon this question, as drowning men catch at straws, and are endeavoring to turn public attention from the real issues, and to direct it upon this subject alone. They seem to think that the game of 1846 can be played over again, and are resolved to make the effort. Hence we see all the whig papers suddenly dropping all other subjects and devoting themselves almost exclusively to this. Hence we see those whig papers which lately repudiated their abolitionism, returning, like the dog to his vomit to their old abolition cant and humbuggery -- endeavoring to deceive the people in regard to the real merits of this question and to get up another abolition excitement with a view to secure control of the Legislature, and thus elect two abolition-whigs to the U S. Senate.

These efforts, if unexposed, might prove in some degree successful; and therefore we have deemed it proper to publish this masterly speech of Judge Douglas, which will show the people the true character of the measure, and the groundlessness of all these abolition assaults upon it. It shows up these abolition agitators in their true light, exposing their gross falsification of the record and their shameless misrepresentations, so clearly and triumphantly that no one can fail to be convinced of their utter recklessness and want of principle and honesty. He shows the insincerity of the professed regard of these men for the Missouri Compromise, and leaves no room for doubt that their sole object is to get up another abolition excitement for the promotion of their own mercenary and factious purposes. He proves conclusively that the legislation of Congress in relation to slavery has never made any territory free -- has never practically excluded slavery from any portion of the country. His whole argument upon this point, and the history which he gives of the legislation upon this subject, and its design and effect are as conclusive as they are instructive, and they seem to leave no ground for the agitators to stand upon. He shows that the Missouri Compromise has been frequently disregarded and practically annulled previous to the passage of the Compromise of 1850; that even the celebrated antislavery ordinance of 1787 was not only inoperative, but was openly disregarded and violated, and that the Compromise of 1850 was designed to and did establish a principle totally inconsistent with that of 1820, viz: the principle that the people of all territories then in possession or thereafter acquired, should be left to decide for themselves whether they would have slavery or not. And he shows further that it was the perservering efforts from 1846 to 1850, on the part of these abolition agitators, to disregard and repudiate the very letter and spirit of the Missouri Compromise, which they now pretend to regard so sacred -- it was this alone that caused the dangerous agitation which resulted in the adoption of the Compromise measures of 1850. They then opposed and defeated a proposition to settle the whole question upon the principle of the Missouri Compromise -- a proposition which would have accomplished just what they now pretend to desire. But the adoption of that proposition would have settled the whole controversy and put and end to slavery agitation, and therefore they opposed and defeated it, for they did not want the question settled; their political existence depended upon keeping it open and keeping up an excitement in regard to it. And that is the motive of their present movement. They see that under the healing influence of the Compromise measures, abolitionism has been rapidly dying out; -- that those measures took away from the agitators their indispensable aliment, by settling the slavery question. And they see plainly that unless that agitation can be renewed, their political death is very near, even at their very doors. Hence it is that they have now made this desperate effort to upset the Compromise of 1850, and to get up another abolition excitement. -- But we are confident they cannot succeed, particularly in this State; for no people have suffered more from abolitionism than those of New Hampshire, and they will not again suffer themselves to be misled by these mercenary demagogues. They remember 1846, and the disgraceful results of that year of abolition rule; and they will sternly oppose all efforts to renew an agitation from which they have suffered so much. They will stand by the Compromise of 1850, and the great principle of popular sovereignty thereby established.

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