Secession Era Editorials Project


New York, Tribune [Whig]

(26 January 1854)

If the traitorous scamps at Washington who, in a spirit no worthier than that which animated Judas Iscariot, are plotting the surrender to Slavery of the free territory west of the Mississippi, believed that a majority of the North would fail to sustain the movement, they would instantly cease their clamor, and skulk back, and we should hear no more about it.

But they have adopted the belief that the passage of the compromise measures of 1850, and the triumphant election of Frank Pierce, have taken all the spirit out of the North, and that the mass of the voters are now ready to wink at any party iniquity, and sustain any party measure, whatever its enormity.

We are not sure it is worthwhile to attempt to remove this impression. These deliberate violators of solemn compacts, these vagabond repudiators of obligations the most sacred, deserve to be roasted by the hottest fires of public indignation. They ought to have the full benefit of the verdict of an aroused and indignant constituency, and be hung upon the gallows of public opprobrium. Yet in mercy to the culprits, who are thus provoking the incensed judgment of an outraged community, we will briefly state what opposition may be expected in the Free States to the infamous proposal to repeal the Missouri Compromise, and thus expose the rotten foundations of their hopes.

There has been no time during the last seven years when the Whig and Free Soil parties have not been in a clear majority in nearly all the Northern States. The only ground upon which any doubt can be thrown on this presumption, is the result of the last Presidential election. But the vote of the Free Soil party in that contest was only partial, being but the ineffectual remonstrance (and so felt to be) of the more earnest of the Free Soilers against the settlement of the Compromise measures. And the vote of the Whigs in the North was notoriously the vote only of a party divided against itself. It was a contest utterly balked by cross purposes. The Presidential election of 1848, and the Congressional elections of 1850 furnish the only grounds of any just judgment as to the real strength of the anti-Slavery sentiment in the country; and these elections justify the statement that in every Free State, that sentiment, whenever it could be fairly reached, has shown itself to be predominant.

Assuming this to be so, the only question to be answered is, whether that sentiment can be aroused and consolidated, and brought to bear in solid phalanx against the atrocious proposition in question. The fools in Washington believe it cannot. We believe it can. And we believe further that this is by no means the whole strength of the North that will be brought into the field against this infamous project. We shall have the whole conservative force of the Free States of all parties against it. We shall have all the men who do not believe in violating contracts nor in repudiating solemn engagements, on the side of earnest opposition. The moral stamina of the Free States will be set against the measure. Fair dealing and honest purposes will everywhere frown upon such faithlessness and fraud. Sober minded men, who have leaned to the side of the South in the late contests, on the ground that the Abolitionists were the aggressors, will turn and resist this movement as a gross outrage and aggression on the part of the South. Our faith in the intelligence and sense of justice among the people is such, that on the momentous question of a Repeal of the Missouri Compromise, we believe the Free States will rise as one man and crush the repudiating and traitorous dough faces who dare to counsel it. We do not believe it is to be a question of majorities among the people. We believe the proposition will be put down by acclamation.

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