Secession Era Editorials Project

Furman University Department of History



Nashville, Tennessee, Republican Banner and Nashville Whig [Opposition]

(25 October 1859)

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 doctrines.

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 fanatics.

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 severely condemn. The Democratic party must, therefore, assume a portion of the responsibility for the bloodshed at Harper's Ferry.

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.

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