Secession Era Editorials Project
SLAVERY IN THE FIELD.
New York, Tribune [Whig]
(6 January 1854)
An overt attempt is set on foot in Mr. Douglas's
Nebraska bill to override the Missouri
The eighth section of the act admitting Missouri as a State
is as follows:
"In all that territory ceded by
France to the United States, under the name of
Louisiana, which lies north of 36 degrees and 30 minutes north
latitude, not included within the limits of the State contemplated by this act,
slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crim
whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be, and is hereby,
forever prohibited: Provided, always, that any person escaping into
the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any State or
Territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person
claiming his or her labor or service, as aforesaid."
This plain and unequivocal declaration that neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude shall ever exist in our North-west
Territories is unceremoniously hustled aside by Mr.
Douglas, who makes the Compromise measures of 1850 the
scape-goat for his sin in doing it.
He says that:
"A proper sense of patriotic duty enjoins upon
your Committee the propriety and necessity of a strict adherence to the
principles, and even a literal adoption of the enactments of that adjustment
in all their Territorial bills, so far as the same are not locally
And hence he proceeds to incorporate the following provision respecting
Nebraska into his bill at the start:
"When admitted as a State, the said
Territory, or any portion of the same, shall be received into the
Union with or without slavery, as their Constitution may
proscribe at the time of their admission."
It is not to be expected of men who live for the sole
purpose of enjoying official station, that they shall ever be manly, noble or
They slavishly cower before every storm that threatens their opinions
with popular condemnation, and make haste to trim their sails to catch the
passing breeze of public favor.
It is everywhere assumed among such that subjection to the slaveholding
interest is now our only sure path to political honors and distinction.
In the struggle of 1850, the great Northern anti-Slavery sentiment was
inundated and overwhelmed in consequence of the succumbing temper and
faithlessness of rotten leaders.
With their own hands they destroyed the dykes and let the waters flow in
and wash away the rich fruits of years.
The XXXIst Congress inaugurated the era of submission to
Since then, everything has gone on swimmingly in this line.
Not only was the Slavery question compromised, but the
character, reputation, and principles of hundreds of our public men were
also compromised by the same operation.
There was a general debauch and demoralization throughout all political
circles, as was clearly manifested in the triumphant run of
Gen. Pierce. The demoralization continues.
It is not to be expected, therefore, that we shall see, for the present,
in the acts of public men who place success before
principle, anything but unmanly submission to the
demands of the slave power.
If Gen. Taylor had lived, and the Wilmot Proviso
doctrine had substantially triumphed, as it would have done through the
instrumentality of his policy relative to our Mexican acquisitions, then we
should have seen the reverse of what we now see.
Instead of finding Mr. Douglas down on his
marrow-bones at the feet of slavery, we should see the same man standing up
firm and strong in behalf of the glorious old Ordinance of
Freedom's battle was fought and lost in 1850, and the cowards and traitors
have all run to the winning side.
But although anti-Slavery is weak in political circles, it was never
stronger with the masses of the people.
The great heart of the country is sound.
Thousands and millions of true men all over the
North wait but the occasion for a practical demonstration
of their power, to show how firm is their attachment to the principles of
freedom, and how deeply they scorn the shallow fools who have the
impertinence to talk about "crushing out" those principles.
We expect to see Slavery go on pressing and pushing the advantages it
derived from the adjustment of 1850, till a reaction is created that will
again convulse the country to its center.
Slavery is imperious, encroaching, truculent, belligerent.
Its own conduct will thus ultimately generate an explosive force that
must blow it to atoms.
This movement of Douglas to override and virtually repeal
the Missouri Compromise is one step in this direction.
We denounce every attempt to remove the salutary restriction upon the
introduction of Slavery into the North-West, and above the line of 36
[degrees] 30 [minutes] below which the Missouri Compromise
confines it, whether insidious and hesitant, or open and flagrant, a breach of
solemn compact between the North and the South,
inevitably opening a door to a fresh and fierce agitation.
Let the Country take notice that this convulsion is not commenced on
the side of Freedom.
This document was produced as part of a document analysis project
by Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University.
(Proofing info: Entered by Jeff Bollerman, Proofed by Lloyd Benson.)
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