Secession Era Editorials Project


New York, Tribune [Whig]

(4 February 1854)

Amid the embarrassments and degradations occasioned by the sinuosity of the President and his Cabinet in reference to the Nebraska bill, and the inconsistent and antagonistical positions necessarily imposed upon their adherents, the last desperate resort of the burglar to deceive his pursuers, is embraced. As the burglar when pursued and about to be seized, cries out "stop thief," so these abrogators of solemn compacts and repealers of slave- prohibiting enactment, when are exposed, make the stale cry -- "The Abolitionists are after us -- help, help!"

Because Messrs. Chase and Sumner, Giddings, and Gerrit Smith issued a dignified and truthful address to the public, in reference to the Kansas and Nebraska bill, the President and Cabinet, their organ and its echoes, Douglas and his associates unite in the about: "The Abolition confederates are upon us -- stop thief!" The old trick won't win. It may direct the attention of some momentarily, and cause others, for a time, to follow the wrong track; but there are those in pursuit whom these deceptive cries can neither divert nor retard. The plotters may not, and probably will not, be arrested in the Senate, but the guardian of the public honor and plighted faith in the House we trust they cannot dodge.

The first Nebraska bill was suppressed and superseded, lest it should be called an Abolition measure. The present bill was substituted, and to quell the rising insubordination a Cabinet council was held and it was determined to threaten and frighten the Free Soil Democrats into servile subjection by calling them Abolitionists. The "Little Giant" being caught in the very act of catering for Free Soil sympathy and aid, trembling accepts and adopts the new Administration project, abrogating and repealing all antecedent slave-prohibiting legislation, reports it to the Senate, assails the old slave-excluding ordinance of '87, denounces the Free Soil guaranty and compact of 1820, and concludes with the loud and prolonged outcry: "The Abolition confederates are after me; to the rescue -- help -- help!" Next the public press at the North and West give the alarm, the people assemble in masses, and the groundswell of popular indignation and denunciation reaches the National Capitol. Hereupon the Cabinet organ, its echoes and sentinels unite in a simultaneous cry -- "Abolition movements." The Senate bill, with hot haste, is reported to the House, with the view of rushing it through under the despotic operation of gag rules, but it is met by a multitudinous uprising, and amendments and substitutes are interposed, and again the agonizing cry is heard: "The Abolitionists are upon us -- help -- help!" We repeat it, this old trick won't win.

We are told, with mock solemnity, that this Kansas and Nebraska bill only reasserts and reaffirms "man's indefensible right to self-government" -- that the Jeffersonian Proviso and the Ordinance of '87 which adopted it; the Missouri Compromise and all slave-prohibiting legislation are unconstitutional obstructions and impediments to this indefeasible right. That although our revolutionary fathers, and the public opinion of the civilized and christianized world declare Slavery to be an evil and a curse -- a blight upon national and individual progress and prosperity, ruinous and degrading to free labor and a heaven-provoking wrong -- still in the judgment of this enlightened Administration, all slave-prohibiting agreements, compacts and laws, are palpable violations of the inalienable right of man to self-government! A proposition so revolting to the moral sentiment of the world and of the age in which we live, cannot shield itself from public execration by raising the ridiculous and contemptible outcry! "The Abolition confederates are upon us -- to the rescue -- help -- help!"

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