Secession Era Editorials Project


Richmond, Virginia, Enquirer [Democratic]

(10 March 1857)

In anticipation of the definitive decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott case some months or more ago, its adjudication was announced through a respectable proportion of the press, emanating, we do not now recollect precisely, whence or how; but, as the sequel shows, not from mere conjecture, or without reliable data, for it was then stated that seven of the nine judges constituting the court, agreed on the opinion that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, and consequently, that the rights originating in it and under it, were even factitious and ineffective. And it will be seen by the authentic annunciation of the grave and deliberate decision of that august body, in another column, that what was rumor then is reality now. -- Thus has a politico-legal question, involving others of deep import, been decided emphatically in favor of the advocates and supporters of the Constitution and the Union, the equality of the States and the rights of the South, in contradistinction to and in repudiation of the diabolical doctrines inculcated by factionists and fanatics; and that too by a tribunal of jurists, as learned, impartial and unprejudiced as perhaps the world has ever seen. A prize, for which the athletes of the nation have often wrestled in the halls of Congress, has been awarded at last, by the proper umpire, to those who have justly won it. The nation has achieved a triumph, sectionalism has been rebuked, and abolitionism has been staggered and stunned. Another supporting pillar has been added to our institutions; the assailants of the South and enemies of the Union have been driven from their point d'appui; a patriotic principle has been pronounced; a great, national, conservative, union saving sentiment has been proclaimed. An adjudication of the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise, in the Dred Scott case, inseparably embraced collateral questions of such character, as also to involve incidental issues, not unfrequently arising in the councils of the country, and which have ever proved, points of irreconcilable antagonism between the friends and enemies of the institutions of the South; all of which, it will be seen, have been uneqivocally established in accordance with the sense of the Southern people. And thus it is, that reason and right, justice and truth, always triumph over passion and prejudice, ignorance and envy, when submitted to the deliberations of honest and able men: that the dross and the genuine metal are separated when the ore is accurately assayed.

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