Secession Era Editorials Project

Nebraska in the Senate.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Gazette [Whig]

(2 February 1854)

The debate on the Nebraska bill was opened in the Senate by Mr. Douglas, on Monday last. The speech is reported in full in the Eastern papers. It was insolent and bullying in its tone, coarse in its invective, and contemptible in its argument. It was probably the best that its author could do, under the circumstances; but that only shows how weak is the cause of which he undertakes the championship. Men who have a good measure to advocate do not usually open their advocacy of it by lavishing coarse abuse and insulting epithets on its opponents; and in thus distinguishing his leadership on this question, Mr. Douglas betrays his own sense of its inherent wickedness. His ill-humor, moreover, would seem to indicate a consciousness of its failing prospects.

The Eastern and Southern papers, in the interest of this new inroad upon the rights of the North, betray their appreciation of fair dealing, by publishing Mr. Douglas' speech in full, and withholding all notice of the replies of Messrs. Chase and Sumner. This is Slavery fairly developed. Like Catholicism, it cannot bear discussion. It shrinks from the light with as strong a disrelish for it as owls and bats. The very bitterness of intolerance is concentrated in this act of suppressing the arguments of those to whom the Slavery party is opposed.

The replies of Messrs. Chase and Sumner to Mr. Douglas had reference only to the personal attacks made on them by the puny Senator from Illinois. Their answers were firm and determined, but dignified. They could not sink the gentleman in the controversialist, as Mr. Douglas did. Respect for themselves and their constituency, as well as their own inherent sense of propriety, restrained them from bandying fish-market epithets with one who seemed to lack all such requisites.

The further debate on the bill will no doubt be of exceeding interest. The friends of the bill, it is said, do not intend to discuss it, but expect, by remaining silent, to hurry a vote on it. Delays are dangerous to them. They cannot succeed in this, however. There are enough opponents of the scheme in the Senate to occupy a week or two in speaking against it, and it will not be possible to let their charges and arguments go unanswered. Mr. Badger, and other Southern Senators, will explain fully the view which they take of the Nebraska bill as a violation of a most solemn compact, and a disregard of the plighted faith of the nation. Mr. Houston, also, will oppose it, as a violation of Indian treaties. It would be vain to try to keep silence against such arguments.

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