Secession Era Editorials Project


Richmond, Virginia, Enquirer [Democratic]

(7 February 1854)

Perhaps we may be thought to have betrayed an uncharitable opinion of the patriotism of Southern Whigs in suspecting them of a disposition to oppose the repeal of the Missouri restriction. Would that we had done them injustice in imputing to them such a feeling! For, however widely we may differ from them on party issues we would rejoice to receive their co-operation in support of the constitutional rights of the South. The South has already sustained irreparable loss in consequence of division in its ranks, and we could wish that in every future crisis of difficulty and danger, it might meet its enemies with an unbroken front and concentrated strength.

We disclaim any design to impeach the soundness of the mass of the Whig party of the South, but that the leaders are preparing to play false in the struggle on the Nebraska question, admits not of a rational doubt. We have already cited language from two conspicuous Whig journals of the South in condemnation of the movement of Senator Douglas; and they do not stand alone. Other Whig papers in the South have come to their support, and we apprehend before the struggle is over, the majority of the active and aspiring Whigs of the South will be found in opposition to the repeal of the Missouri restriction. The New Orleans Bulletin, the most influential Whig journal in the South and the Louisville Journal, the leading Whig paper in the West, have both pronounced against the repeal of the restriction of 1820. And in the National Intelligencer of yesterday we find a long and elaborate article in opposition to the bill of Judge Douglas -- Now we beg Southern men to ponder well this fact -- An effort is made to relieve the South of an odious disability, and to restore the rights which it surrendered under duress; to re-assert the true spirit of the constitution, and to carry into legitimate effect the great principle of the Compromise of 1850 -- made too under signally propitious circumstances, yet it encounters the opposition of the very men to whose zeal and devotion in its service the South must appeal for the vindication of its rights. The passage of the Nebraska bill was certain -- the repeal of the last lingering act of Federal encroachment and sectional distinction was inevitable, when by the infidelity of Southern men the bright prospect was clouded, -- and the rights of the South put to the hazard of a fierce and doubtful struggle. We call upon Southern men to mark well the men and the party who thus betray their interests.

In a crisis like the present, open treachery is scarcely more criminal than the indifference and inaction which characterize the course of the Richmond Whig. The South invokes the earnest exertions of all who wish well to its cause, but the Whig renders the service only of a neutral. Does the Richmond Whig correctly represent the Whig Party of Virginia? Are they indifferent to the issue of the present struggle? Do they mean to stand aloof while Northern men are fighting the battles of the South? We cannot believe that such is their purpose. We would fain hope that the Petersburg Intelligencer and the Norfolk Beacon, more correctly represent the sentiment of the Whigs of Virginia in extending to the Nebraska bill a cordial and emphatic support. Time, however, will show whether the course of the Whig be an individual eccentricity or a just exposition of the policy of its party.

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