Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

John Brown’s Raid.

Seward views Brown’s raiders as “a band of exceptional men, contemptuous equally of that great question [attempts to introduce slavery in Kansas] and of the parties to the controversy, and impatient of the constitutional system which confines the citizens of every State to political action by suffrage in organized parties within their own borders . . . attempted to subvert slavery in Virginia by conspiracy, ambush, invasion and force.”

“While generous and charitable natures will probably concede that John Brown and his associates acted on earnest, though fatally erroneous convictions, yet all good citizens will nevertheless agree that this attempt to execute an unlawful purpose in Virginia by invasion, involving servile war, was an act of sedition and treason, and criminal to just the extent that it affected the public peace, and was destructive of human happiness and human life.”

Continued -

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alan polk

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Messages
2,302
The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Republican vs. Democratic Party in Relation to Present Threats of Disunion.

As talk of disunion spreads throughout the Capitol, Seward declares that the Republican Party will move forward with the motto: “Union and Liberty, come what may, in victory as in defeat, in power as out of power, now and forever.”

Although Seward states that he does not believe the Democratic Party will stand on the side of disunion, he notes that it covers and sustains those “who threaten disunion.”

He warns Democrats that “every party in this country must stand on Union ground; that the American people will sustain no party that is not capable of making a sacrifice of its ambition on the alter of the country.”

Seward attempts to quell concerns about a Republican ascendency: “Those who seek to awaken the terrors of disunion seem to me to have too hastily considered the conditions under which they are to make their attempt.”

“Who believes that a Republican administration and Congress could practice tyranny under a Constitution which interposed so many checks as ours? Yet that tyranny must not only be practiced, but must be intolerable, and there must be no remaining hope for Constitutional relief before forcible resistance can find ground to stand on anywhere.”

“The people of the United States, acting in conformity with the Constitution, are the supreme tribunal to try and determine all political issues. They are as competent to decide the issues of to-day as they have been heretofore to decide issues of other days. They can reconsider hereafter and reverse, if need be, the judgement they shall pronounce to-day, as they have more than once reconsidered and reversed their judgements in former times.”

“It needs no revolution to correct any error, or prevent any danger, under any circumstances.”

“Nor is any new or special cause for revolution likely to occur under a Republican administration. We are engaged in no new transaction, not even in a new dispute.”

“We are of one race, language, liberty, faith; engaged, indeed, in varied industry; but even that industry, so diversified, brings us into more intimate relations with each other than any other people . . . ever maintained.”

Continued -

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Views of Constitution as a Compact:

“You may refine as you please about the structure of the government, and say that it is a compact, and that a breach, by one of the States or by Congress, of any one article, absolves all the members from allegiance, and that the States may separate when they have, or when they fancy they have, cause for war.”

“But once try to subvert it, and you will find that it is a government of the whole people - as individuals, as well as a compact of States; that every individual member of the body politic is conscious of his interest and power in it, and knows that he will be helpless, powerless, hopeless, when it shall have gone down.”

Continued -

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Joined
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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Union More than Mere Compact:

Seward disagrees with a narrow view of the Constitution as nothing but a compact:

“Mankind,” he insists, “have a natural right, a natural instinct, and a natural capacity for self government; and when, as here, they are sufficiently ripened by culture, they will and must have self government, and no other.

Moreover, Seward contends that the “framers of the Constitution, with a wisdom that surpassed all previous understanding among men, adapted it to these inherent elements of human nature.”

It is a misunderstanding, Seward contends, “to think that its only bonds, or even its strongest ligaments, are the written compact or even the multiplied and thoroughly ramified roads and thoroughfares of trade, commerce and societal intercourse.”

Although these are important, it is not the chief “instruments of cohesion,” according to Seward.

From his perspective, what is paramount to the anatomy of the Union “are the millions of fibers of millions of [contented], happy human hearts, binding by their affections, their ambitions and their best hopes equally the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the wise and the unwise, the learned and the untutored, even the good and the bad. . .”

This collection of hopes and ambition are given over, Seward says, “to a government the first, the last and only such one that has ever existed, which takes equal heed always of their wants, their wishes and their opinions, and appeals to them all,
individually. . .”

It is, he states, manifested every two or four years during elections, for the peoples’ “expressed consent and renewal, without which it must cease.”

Seward challenges people who are contemplating disunion to take that issue into every section of the country, to all the varying classes of people, and appeal to them to rise up for that particular cause.

“They will,” Seward declares, “ask you, ‘Is this all?’ ‘Are you more just than Washington, wiser than Hamilton, more humane than Jefferson?’ ‘What new form of government or of Union have you the power to establish, or even the cunning to devise, that will be more just, more safe, more free, more gentle, more beneficent or more glorious than this?’”

If those seeking disunion were to do so, he states, they “would be silenced and confounded.”

Turning his attention to the President pro tempore (Senator Benjamin Fitzgerald):

“Mr. President, we are perpetually forgetting this subtle and complex, yet obvious and natural mechanism of our Constitution, and because we do forget it, we are constantly wondering how it is that a confederacy of thirty and more States, covering regions so vast, and regulating interests so various of so many millions of men, constituted and conditioned so diversely, works right on.”

“We are constantly looking to see it stop and stand still,” Seward continues, “or to fall suddenly into pieces. But in truth, it will not stop; it cannot stop; it was made not to stop, but to keep in motion - in motion always and without force.”

“The earth seems to be heaving under our feet, and the pillars of the noble fabric that protects us to be trembling before our eyes. But the appointed end of all this agitation comes at last, and always seasonably; the tumults of the people subside; the country becomes calm once more; and then we find that only our senses have been disturbed, and that they have betrayed us.”

“The earth is as firm as always before,” Seward says in conclusion, “and the wonderful structure, for whose safety we have feared so anxiously, now more firmly fixed than ever, still stands unmoved, enduring and unmovable.”

End.


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alan polk

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Joined
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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Below: Senator Douglass responds to Seward’s speech:

Douglass objects to Senator Seward’s claim that Kansas caused all the present difficulties, and further objects to Seward’d attempt to discredit the Democratic Party through the Kansas issue.

A portion of Seward’s speech deals with Kansas and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise.

According to Douglass, the necessity for repealing the Missouri Compromise arose because the majority in Northern States refused to carry it out in good faith.

“I, sir, stood willing to extend it to the Pacific Ocean, to abide by it for forever,” Douglass declares to the Senate, “and the entire South, without one exception [in this Senate] was willing thus to abide by it.”

Douglass maintains that it was the Free Soil Party of the North (evidently in the House of Representatives) who defeated the measure “and thus opened the slavery question anew.”

The Free Soil Party was, for all practical purposes, the precursor of the Republican Party, made up, in great part, of the same membership.

Douglass’ charge here is that Republicans are being hypocritical, or disingenuous. According to him, they once denounced the Missouri Compromise; but then, as asserted in Seward’s speech, they complained when Missouri Compromise, which they denounced, was eventually repealed:

“Those men [Republicans] who now complain of the abrogation of that act were the same men [Free Soil] that denounced it.”

It was, Douglass contends, “the defeat of the bill to extend the Missouri Compromise to the Pacific in the House of Representatives, after it passed the Senate, that opened the controversy of 1850.”

It seems that Douglass is asserting that this unwillingness to extend the line, and the subsequent resistance arising out of that issue, becomes the lynchpin to understanding the present difficulties.

That issue in particular, Douglass reminds the Senate, along with the other controversies, was eventually resolved by the Compromise of 1850. (As part of that Compromise, the line previously established in 1820 was not extended to the Pacific.)

Douglass also reminds Seward that it was Seward’s own party, in 1852, that eventually “agreed to abide by the measure of 1850” that, in part, prevented the extension of the line established in the 1820 compromise.

As a result of all this, Senator Douglass insists that “the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed to carry out the principles of these measures.”

This necessity caused concern in the North, and Douglass implies that Seward and his associates did not want their constituents to know they were responsible for that outcome (the Kansas-Nebraska Act).

“[Seward] was not willing to sit still,” Douglass explains, “and hear himself charged with responsibility for the agitation which belonged to the Senator and his associates.”

Continued -

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