Secession Era Editorials Project
THE "IRREPRESSIBLE CONFLICT."
Tennessee, Republican Banner and Nashville Whig [Opposition]
The effect of the speeches of Seward, Giddings and other prominent leaders of the
Republican party is, to inflame the minds of such fanatics as Ossawatomie Brown and his confederates, and incite them to
deeds of blood upon the holders of slaves.
Such results are inevitable, and whether foreseen or not, these leaders
should be held to a strict accountability for their incendiary conduct.
If such deeds as have lately been perpetrated at Harper's
Ferry were premeditated by the promulgators of the "irrepressible
conflict" doctrine, they evince a disposition "regardless of social duty and
fatally bent on mischief," and the halter should be called into requisition to
put an end to their capacity for future evil.
If on the other hand they are so short-sighted as not to anticipate such
results from the promulgation of these doctrines, they should be degraded from
the position they occupy as leaders of a great political party.
We have been gratified by the unanimity of the Republican Press in
condemning the course of the abolitionists in attempting to excite an
insurrection, but that party cannot escape the responsibility of these bloody
proceedings, so long as they acknowledge the leadership of such men as Seward and the advocates of his inflammatory
We do not charge that the Republican party sympathized with the
originator of this movement, or that it was countenanced by them.
The fact that only seventeen men from the entire North
enlisted in the cause with Brown, shows conclusively
that he was not sustained by that organization.
What we do charge, is, that the "irrepressible conflict" proclaimed by
Seward, was the direct cause of the outbreak, and the
Republican party are responsible for retaining Seward at the head of their councils.
Instead of repudiating Brown and his fanatical
followers as the Republican party all do, they can only vindicate
their party with success, by repudiating Seward and
all those who proclaim sentiments calculated to fire the minds of
But while we unhesitatingly condemn the Republican party for
the part they have performed in this alarming tragedy, we should be untrue to
ourselves and unfaithful to the public, were we to pass over in silence the
conduct of a party nearer home.
Had the Democratic party adhered to the pledge adopted by the
convention that nominated Gen. Pierce for
the Presidency -- had they in accordance with that pledge, resisted all attempts
to re-open the discussion of the slavery question in Congress or out of
Congress, the Sewards and Giddingses of the North would have had no
ground upon which to base their incendiary appeals to Northern fanaticism.
The slavery question was settled, it was hoped, forever, by the Compromise
Measures of 1850.
The country had been restored to quiet by the prudence and patriotism of
Millard Fillmore, -- But the Democratic
party would not allow the country to remain quiet.
They re opened the slavery question and precipitated upon the country the
most intensely exciting controversy that has ever been witnessed since the
foundation of the Government -- a controversy which ended in the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise and brought into existence, the very party whose acts we so
The Democratic party must, therefore, assume a portion of the
responsibility for the bloodshed at Harper's
Such events as these, and the influence of the Republican and
Democratic parties in bringing them about, demonstrate the
necessity of organizing a national party which, avoiding the sectional extremes
of both, and studiously ignoring the slavery issue, shall assume the control of
the Government on broad national and conservative principles.
-- Such a party is the only hope of the nation, the only safe guard of our
liberties, and the only surety for the restoration of peace and harmony.
The friends of law and order, and the lovers of the Union, should devote
themselves to the task of forming such a party.
This document was produced as part of a document analysis project
by Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University.
(Proofing info: Lloyd Benson.)
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