Just for Curiosity: Pre-War Newspaper Comparison

alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 4, 1860

Toombs Continued -

Wisconsin, Toombs states, is one of the States that attempted to nullify the Act of 1850, claiming Wisconsin law superior to that of the Federal Government. The US Supreme Court addressed that State’s actions thusly:

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Toombs finds it to be the highest of hypocrisies for the State of Wisconsin to refuse to obey a Federal Law while having “the audacity to send Senators here to look honest men in the face and prate about Union.”

Toombs informs the Senate that he has with him abstracts of laws and resolutions of 9 States “which have been adopted with the direct attempt to abrogate and annul this plain provision of the Constitution.”

All derived from abolitionists, these laws and resolutions, according to Toombs, often cite “‘higher law’ to pliant judicial interpretation” or invoke habeas corpus or writs of mandamus;

“but,” he goes on to add, “the bolder criminals have squarely met the question, and annulled the Constitution by means of what are called personal liberty acts. Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, have all sought to accomplish these results in the one or the other of the modes which I have described.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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Joined
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The Yazoo Democrat, March 4, 1860

Toombs Continued-

The Senator continues to outline the means used by several states to obstruct Federal Law. Below, he discusses Maine:

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The discussion surrounding other States can be found in the text at the end of this post.

In Toombs’s mind, such willful violations constitute a breach of contract. He quotes a speech delivered by Daniel Webster in 1852 in support of his belief:

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Upon reading this into the record, Toombs declares that “the bargain,” is, in fact, broken - “broken by the States whose policy I have reviewed; broken by the Republican Party, who did the work in their legislatures and elsewhere. Their hands are soiled with blood of the compact, they cannot be permitted to administer at its alter.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 3, 1860

Toombs Continued -

Toombs delivered his second charge:
Southern Deprevation of Equal Rights in the Territories.

Prepetory to the facts of that specific charge, Toombs observes that Republican opposition to the extension of slavery is largely based - and is often asserted by them - on “account of their reverence for the ‘fathers of the Republic.’” This, according to Toombs, is fraudulent.

Senator Toombs readily admits that many Southern founders of the country opposed slavery. He cites, for example, Luther Martin of Maryland who was a delegate to the Constitution:

“I think one of the objections which Luther Martin . . . urged against the adoption of the Federal Constitution, was, that it tolerated the slave trade, and, perhaps, that it did not give the power to Congress to abolish slavery.”

He further cites Washington, Jefferson and Madison, who, he admits, “expressed opinions against slavery,” but who also, nevertheless, lived and died as slaveholders.

Here, however, Toombs makes a critical distinction, contending that such opinion held by them is evidence “of what the Constitution really was, a pro-slavery fundamental law.”

In regards to Washington, Jefferson and Madison, although they expressed opinions against slavery, Toombs asserts that they never “pretended that the Constitution, in any way whatever, or in any degree whatever, provided either for restraining, limiting, or abolishing it.”

It is the reason that, earlier in his speech, Toombs (athough he often used abolitionists and Republicans interchangeably) actually makes a distinction between the “radical school” of abolitionism, led by Garrison and Phillips, and that of the Republican Party generally:

“The Garrison and Phillips school say our Constitution is pro-slavery, that it does require the surrender of fugitives from labor . . . . Their conduct in this respect stands out in honorable contrast with [The Republicans] who take oaths to support the Constitution, and then break them.”

From Toombs’ perspective, it would appear that all these parties - Garrison, Phillips, Martin, Washington, Jefferson, Madison- have, at least, one thing in common: An Understanding that the Constitution was pro-slavery.

Toombs seems to suggest here that the Republicans fundamentally disagree with Washington, Jefferson, Martin and Madison and, therefore, are forced to manipulate the Founders’ principles and then “ingraft them on the policy of the Republic in direct violation of the Constitution.” In essence, Toombs is accusing Republicans of utilizing a sort of political sleight of hand to bring about the destruction of the Constitution.

Continued -

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 3, 1860

Toombs Continued -

That the Republicans maintain that their principles regarding slavery, and/or its extension, are somehow in conformity with the Founders is seen as an outrage by Toombs.

To dispel the myth, Toombs submits to the Senate a history of slavery expansion by the Founding Fathers.

- in 1798, John Adams extended the Ordinance of 1787 over all the Territories owned by the United States while “excluding the anti-slavery clause of that ordinance;”

- “Jefferson acquired a slave territory larger than the rest of the Union put together,” and “extended slavery over it, by protecting all slaveholders in any of the then existing States in emigration to and settling in it.”

- Toombs contends that Jefferson, in his retirement, “strongly condemned both the geographical line and the attempt to prevent the ‘diffusion of slavery over a greater surface,” in what was termed the Missouri Compromise of 1820.

- Toombs cites in support of this claim several letters written by Jefferson concerning the Compromise, one of which he wrote to Madison, wherein Jefferson tells Madison: “The Missouri question, by a geographical line of division, is the most portentous one I have ever contemplated.”

- Toombs enters into the record a letter from Madison to Monroe, written in 1820:

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Senator Toombs rails against the Republicans for claiming their prohibitions against slave expansion is in conformity with be ideas of Jefferson and Madison:

“I thunder it in your ears,” Toombs exclaims to the Senate, stating that, “I would to God my voice could reach those whom you deceive and betray.”

Continuing to berate before the Senate, Toombs declares that these Republicans “have the audacity to stand before the civilized world, even in the assemblies of their countrymen, . . . and say their principles are in conformity to the policy of the early fathers. The audacity of mendacity can be carried no further.”

He challenges the Republicans to be honest, and insists that if they truly respected the Founders of the country they would “imitate their example and policy. . . The fathers”, he continued, “even of New England voted to continue the slave trade for twenty years. They got something or nothing for it; if something, pay it; if nothing, stand for their honor.”

Toombs observes that New England was not brought into the Union “with the idea that you would steal them or confiscate them. Was that your understanding of the bargain? The fathers said they would suppress insurrections. We do not think the events at Harper’s Ferry are in strict conformity with that understanding”

Toombs reiterates the Southern position regarding the Territories:

“We only ask that our common Government shall protect us both equally, until the Territories shall be ready to be admitted, as States, into the Union, then leave the citizens free to adopt any domestic policy in reference to this subject which, in their judgment, may best promote their interests and their happiness.”

Toombs states that the Federal Government is, in fact, carrying out its duty in regard to this Territorial question. However, he asks the following:

“If the Republican Party had power in the government, how could they carry out their own principles in the Territories?” The Supreme Court, Toombs states, has already ruled that Congressional prohibition of slavery in the Territories is unconstitutional. To carry out their intent, according to Toombs, Republican would have to deprive the slaveholding States of their equal rights in the Territories by continuing to subvert the Supreme Court.

Continued -

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alan polk

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The Yazoo Democrat, March 3, 1860

Toombs Continued-

His third charge against Republicans:

- commission of offenses against the people and property of the United States.

Toombs accuses Republicans of consistently attempting “to excite servile and civil war in the slaveholding States, and to subvert their institutions, to devestate the land by fire and sword.”

- “Black Republican Governors of the North annually denounce our institutions, and advise measures to subvert them.”;

- Republican legislatures do the same, “but are constantly contriving fraudulent and violent legislative enactments to to defeat us of our rights, and protect those of their own citizens who are engaged in stealing our property.”;

- many of their speeches are intended and calculated to excite insurrection;

- “at least one senator and sixty-eight Representatives of one House of the National Legislature have recommended a publication that advises the overthrow of our government by force.”;

- “The pulpit, the press, and the lecture room join in this crusade against the South, and counsel the adoption of all means to harass, endanger us.”

Conclusion-

“Is this peace?” Toombs asks. “If it is, I prefer war. . . It is vain, in face of these injuries, to talk of peace, fraternity, and a common country. There is no peace; there is no fraternity; there is no common country,” Toombs sadly asserts.

“I and you, and all of us know it.”

End.

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Below: William Seward’s Senate Speech of February 29, 1860

With word swirling around in the press that his “Irrepressible Conflict” speech had become politically toxic, Seward’s popularity and political support was under threat of dwindling away. His supporters, according to Wikipedia, encouraged the Senator “to avoid controversial statements.” Taking heed of his advisors suggestions, and hoping things would quiet down by his absence, Seward embarked upon an eight month tour of Europe.

Returning to the US in January of 1860, he found that he remained a controversial personality, despite his absence from the country. With the Republican National Convention approaching, he delivered a speech before the Senate in regards to the admission of Kansas as a State, but used the opportunity to shore up his reputation as a viable candidate for the Republican nomination coming up in Chicago.

Seward’s speech was deemed a success, at least by moderates. The Herald declared that Seward’s “speech was decidedly in favor of the elevation of the white man rather than the equality of the whites and blacks.” According to Wikipedia, abolitionists objected to his speech because he “said that Brown was justly punished.”

Nevertheless, it is posted below in several installments.
 
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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1863

Seward Senate Speech -

After arguing for the admission of Kansas, Seward turns to the present crisis engulfing the country:

Seward states to the Senate that it would be shameful if we, as a country, “Europeans by extraction, Americans by birth or discipline, and Christians in faith and meaning to be such in practice, cannot so combine prudence with humanity in our conduct concerning the one disturbing subject of
slavery . . .”

It is a discussion, Seward says, that should take place, “not only to preserve our unequalled institutions of freedom, but also to enjoy their benefits with contentment and harmony.”

“Wherever a guiltless slave exists,” Seward continues to say, “be he Caucasian, American, Malay or African, he is subject to distinct and opposite ideas . . .”

Seward observes that the idea of the slave is subject to obvious contradictions of opinions because all at once, he is believed to be both wrongly and rightly a slave.

Dividing the country between free and slave does not erase this contradiction, because, as Seward states, “The balance of numbers on either side, never completely extinguishes this difference of opinion, for there are always some defenders of slavery [within all sections of the country, but there are also citizens among them who are also against it, and] who assert with Milton, that ‘no man who knows aught can be so stupid as to deny that all men naturally were born free, being the image and resemblance of God himself, and were by privilege above all the creatures, born to command and not obey.”

It is a contradiction that remains throughout.

Seward then observes that when people consider the subject of slavery, it is generally considered in its legal and structural sense only, so that often “society seems to overlook the natural right or personal interest of the slave himself, and to act exclusively for the welfare of the citizen. But this fact does not materially affect ultimate results. . .”

It cannot, Seward asserts, because “the elementary question of the rightfulness or wrongfulness of slavery inheres in every form that discussion concerning it assumes. What is just to one class of men can never be injurious to any other; and what is unjust to any condition of persons in a State, is necessarily injurious in some degree to the whole community.”

Continued-


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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Capital States vs, Labor States

Seward notes that the two different economic systems in the country, one based on the labor of slaves and the other on freeman, has created two different municipal systems.

“The slave States strikes down and affects to extinguish the personality of the laborer, not only as a member of the political body, but also as a parent, husband, child, neighbor or friend.”

From a political perspective, according to Seward, the slave becomes “merely property without moral capacity, and without moral and domestic and social relations, duties, rights and remedies- a chattel, an object of bargain, sale, gift, inheritance or theft.” The slave’s earnings are not his own, Seward observes, but belongs to his owner. In addition, the “State protects not the slave as a man, but the capital of another man, which he represents.”

Conversely, Seward explains that the free States “encourages and animates and invigorates the laborer by maintaining and developing his natural personality in all the rights and faculties of manhood, and generally with the privileges of citizenship.”

In the case of slave states, Seward contends, “capital invested in slaves becomes a great political force, while in [the free states] labor thus elevated and enfranchised, becomes the dominating political power.”

It is within this political and economic context that Seward delineates between the two sections, asserting that slave States are Capital States and free States are Labor States.

According to Seward, once these individual systems are established and the different States begin to interact with the impulses of ambition and commerce, the citizens “begin to study the effects of these systems of capital and labor respectively on its intelligence, its virtue, its tranquility, its integrity or unity, it defense, its prosperity, its liberty, its happiness, its aggrandizement and its fame.”

So it is, Seward explains, that in the United States the question naturally arises: “whether slavery is a moral, social and political good, or a moral, social and political evil?”

This, according to Seward, is only natural because “Men, States and nations entertain [the question of slavery], not voluntarily, but because the progress of society continually brings it into their way.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

That the progress of society continues to bring slavery into unavoidable conflict with it, is emblematic of what occurred in the United States at its founding.

“The fathers of the republic encountered it,” Seward explains. “They even adjusted it so that it might have given us much less than our present disquiet, had not circumstances afterward occurred which they . . . had not clearly foreseen.”

Seward maintains that though the fathers generally condemned the practice of slavery, they nonetheless inherited the institution, but also hoped that it would eventually fade away.

This hope, says Seward, is “asserted in the Declaration of Independence, as a fundamental principle of American society, that all men are created equal, and have inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Despite this declaration, Seward notes, each State reserved its own independent political power over the institution of slavery.

That the new government of the United States was to be a representative one, the issue of how slaves should be represented within that context naturally arose.

“Slaves were capital in some States,” Seward explains, but in others “capital had no investments in labor. Should those slaves be represented as capital or as persons, taxed as capital or persons, or should they not be represented or taxed at all?”

To these questions, Seward states, the fathers disagreed. This disagreement resulted in long debates and then to eventual compromise.

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

The compromises which the founders settled upon resulted in the following:

- each State shall have two Senators in Congress;

- three-fifths of the slaves shall be elsewhere represented and be taxed as persons.

According to Seward, the discussion surrounding the issue of runaway slaves raised the following questions:

“What should be done if a slave escapes into a labor State? Should that State confess him to be a chattel; and restore him to such, or might it regard him as a person, and harbor and protect him as a man?”

This too, says Seward, resulted in a compromise:

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The nation was soon to grow and Congress was authorized to make all rules and regulations concerning public land and to admit new States.

So, according to Seward, the Constitution, “while it does not disturb or affect the system of capital in slaves, existing in any State under its own laws, does, at the same time, recognize every human being when within any exclusive sphere of federal jurisdiction, not as capital, but as persons.”

As a consequence, Seward states that Congress “admitted the new States in the southwest as capital States, because it was practically impossible to do otherwise, and by the ordinance of 1787, confirmed in 1789, they provided for the organization and administration of only labor States in the Northwest.”

Seward maintains that the Northwest Ordinance “directed fugitives from service to be restored, not as chattel, but as persons.” Congress also “rewarded naturalization to immigrant free laborers, and prohibited the trade in African labor.”

According to Senator Seward, these dispositions were “in harmony with the condition of society, and, in the main, with the spirit of the age.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

As alluded to above, these dispositions remained agreeable to the young nation. According to Seward, these times were defined by relative tranquility, where the 7 Northern States were content with being “labor States” while the 6 Southern states were equally content with being “capital States.”

All this began to change, however, and it did so in ways that the Founding Fathers, according to Seward, could not have clearly foreseen.

Seward asserts that these unforeseen circumstances are as follows:

- “the reinvigoration of slavery consequent on the increased consumption of cotton;” and

- “the extension of national domain across the Mississippi, and these occurred,” Seward states, “before 1820.”

Louisiana was already established as a slaveholding State within the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase. There yet remained, Seward nevertheless notes, “a vast region, which included Arkansas and Missouri, together with the then unnoccupied and even unnamed Kansas and Nebraska.”

Both Arkansas and Missouri were applying or readying to apply for Statehood.

The slaveholding States, or the “capital States,” as Seward calls them, “seconded these applications, and claimed the whole Louisianian Territory was rightfully open to slavery, and to the organization of future slave States.”

(Below is a map of modern America overlaid with Louisiana Purchase. Source: Wikipedia)
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“The labor States,” Seward declares, “maintained that Congress had supreme legislative power within the domain, and could and ought to exclude slavery there.”

This question, Seward reminds the Senate, was not at all relating to slavery as it existed in the States. It was, Seward continues, “purely and simply a national question whether the common interest of the whole republic required that Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska, should become capital States, with all the evils and dangers of slavery, or be labor States, with all the security, benefits and blessings of freedom.”

Applying more specificity to his description of the question, Seward explains thusly:

“[W]hether ultimately the interior of this new country should be an asylum of the oppressed and the exile, coming year after year and age after age, voluntarily from every other civilized land as well as for the children of misfortune in our own, or whether, through the renewal of the African slave trade, these magnificent and luxuriant regions should be surrendered to the control of capital, wringing out the fruit of the earth through the impoverishing toil of negro slaves.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

Senator Seward outlines with much passion the grievances experienced by the North over the past decades, portraying the struggle at times as an unnecessary series of appeasements.

In essence, Seward accuses the slave states of brow beating the free states with repeated threats of disunion. And, at points, Seward seems to flirt with the idea of calling the South’s bluff.

Whatever the case, he insists that the questions of 1820 were, in all reality, no different than the questions now before the country in 1860. Despite various compromises, the issues remain and nothing has been resolved.

In fact, Seward believes that the Missouri Comprise was “unnecessarily accepted by the free states” because, as he tells the Senate, the North was simply “influenced by exaggerations of the dangers of disunion.”

From Seward’s perspective, “the Missouri debate discloses truths of great moment for ulterior motives.” He finds these “truths” in three areas:

- “First, That it is easy to combine the capital States in defence of even external interests, while it is hard to unite the labor States in a common policy;”

- “Second, That the labor States have a natural loyalty to the Union, while the capital States have a natural facility for alarming that loyalty by threatening disunion;” and

- “Third, That the capital States do not practically distinguish between legitimate and constitutional resistance to the extension of slavery in the common Territories of the Union, and unconstitutional aggression against slavery established by local laws in the capital States.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

Seward states that since 1820, foreign threats largely faded from the political scene and the country experienced enormous growth. He goes on to show how disputes during this prosperous period arose and then operated on political events.

During the decades after 1820 a “great increase of invention, mining, manufacture and cultivation. Steam on land and on water has quickened commerce.”

“The press and the telegraph have attained prodigious activity, and the social intercourse between States and their citizens has been immeasurably increased; and consequently, their mutual relations affecting slavery have been, for many years, subject of earnest and often excited discussion.”

- there was a slave rebellion in Virginia;

- Virginia and Kentucky debated and then rejected the system of voluntary labor;

- colonization societies formed in the “capital States;”

- emancipation societies arose in the free states;

- South Carolina instituted proceedings to nullify Federal revenue laws;

- the “capital States” complained about “labor States” for interpreting Constitutional provisions for the surrender of fugitives from service so as to treat them as persons, and not property;

- the slave states denied, in Congress, the Right of Petition, and embarrassed or denied freedom of debate on the subject of slavery;

- presses which defended the labor system in the “capital States” were suppressed by violence;

- public meetings considering slavery in the “labor States” were dispersed by mobs sympathetic to the “capital States;”

- the Whig Party, normally an opposition party, practiced forbearance toward the interests of labor;

- the Democratic Party, despite some dissent, largely sustained the party of capital;

- attempts to remove slavery from Washington D.C. began but Van Buren, a Democrat, launched “a prospective veto” against it;

- a Democratic Congress brought Texas into the Union, “stipulating practically for it’s future reorganization into four slave states;”

- Mexico was incensed. War insued. The “labor States” asked that the Mexican law of liberty might remain and be confirmed. The Democratic Party refused;

- the “labor States” became alarmed “lest the number of new capital States might become so great as to enable that class of States to dictate the whole policy of government; and in case of Constitutional resistance, then to form a new slaveholding confederacy around the Gulf of Mexico;

- the slave states were determined to force the government and “labor States” to allow slaves into the Territories, while the “labor States” insisted on the Constitutional doctrine that slaves brought into the Territories or free states be considered persons;

- under “a Whig success, California and New Mexico appeared before Congress as “labor States;”

- the “capital States” refused to consent to their admission into the Union;

- “and again threats of disunion carried terror and consternation throughout the land.”

Continued -
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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

Framing these events in terms of a conquest waged by the slave states, and pointing out that the 1820 compromises had settled nothing, Seward explains that these events created fears for the Union and ultimately gave rise to yet another settlement- the Compromise of 1850.

This latest compromise resulted in the following:

- California admitted as a “labor State;”

- New Mexico and Utah remanded as Territories with popular sovereignty;

- new remedies for recapture of runaway slaves; and

- the abolishment of open slave markets in D.C.

Seward asserts that these enactments were “collated with the existing statutes, namely, the Ordinance of 1787, the Missouri Prohibitory Law of 1820, and the Article of Texas annexation.”

This Compromise, Seward asserts, was deemed to be “a final, absolute and comprehensive settlement of all existing and all possible disputes concerning slavery under the Federal authority.”

The two great parties of the nation, therefore, presented the Compromise of 1850 to the American people as an “adjustment, never afterward to be opened, disturbed or to be questioned, and the people accepted it by majorities unknown before.”

Despite these proclamations and assurances, it was not long, Seward tells the Senate, “before the national repose was shocked again - shocked, indeed, as it never before been.”

Kansas and Nebraska, referred to by Seward as “reservations of labor and freedom,” were to be opened by Congress.

Here Seward finds a suitable culprit in the “slave capitalists” of Missouri, who, Seward claimed, “looked down upon and coveted the fertile prairies of Kansas.”

According to Seward, it was not just the Missouri capitalists who were concerned, but a certain terror reigned in all of the “capital States” as well, especially when it was realized that a new “labor State” was to be built on their western border.”

Nevertheless, Seward insists, Missouri held the key to Kansas and realized that, if only Congress removed the barriers established in 1820, it could “seize the smiling Territory by surprise.”

Continued -


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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

In Seward’s mind, it was a Democratic President, in cahoots with a Democratic Congress, who quickly moved to undo the restriction which constrained the “capital States” from moving beyond the Missouri prohibition line first established in 1820 and then codified in 1850.

According to Seward, the Democrats scurried about and then found “with delighted surprise” that the 1850 compromise “actually killed the spirit of the Missouri law, and devolved upon Congress the duty of removing the lifeless letter from the national code.” This was done through the Kansas Nebraska Act and, three years later, by the Supreme Court in Dred Scott.

“The deed was done,” Seward notes, and Kansas was then opened to the fearful possibility of becoming a “capital State.”

Seward recalls that the Whig party in the South concurred with the decision, and, with that, ceased to exist as a viable party, never to rise again. As far as the Democrats were concerned, Seward claims that their membership simply “seceded, and stood aloof.” The whole country, he states, was also confounded by the decision.

Obviously alienating a great portion of the electorate, Seward recalls that “amid the perplexities of the hour, a Republican Party was seen gathering itself together with much earnestness
. . . to rescue . . . the cause of freedom and labor.” It was and is, he asserts, the only party which stands by, and with, Kansas.

Continued -

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

The Democrat, Seward declares, “now stands on the position that both Territorial governments and Congress are incompetent to legislate against slavery in the Territories, while they are not only competent but are obliged, when it is necessary, to legislate for its protection there.”

He accuses the Democrats of also hiding behind the Supreme Court. This, according to Seward, is especially egregious.

From his perspective, it cannot possibly be a true construction of the Constitution that the power of deciding forever between freedom and slavery should be renounced by the legislative branch. Congress, Seward declares, “alone possesses any legislative authority.”

That such power to legislate should, instead, be assumed and exercised by a court is dangerous; for a court “can only take cognizance of the great question collaterally in a private action between individuals.”

The independent and ever recurring Congress “is the one essential, indispensable institution in a republic.” It is, therefore and according to Seward, the guardian care of liberty. If Congress abdicates its duties and responsibilities, liberty suffers or “is but precariously maintained.”

That slavery is to be “enforced by an irresponsible judicial tribunal,” Seward says, “is the completest possible development of despotism.”

To Seward, it is more than despicable, it is, apparently, unprecedented:

“Did ever the government of a great empire, founded on the rights of human labor, slide away so fast and so far,” Seward asks, “and moor itself so tenaciously on the basis of capital and that capital invested in laboring men?”

He continues:

“Did ever a free Representative Legislature, invested with powers so great and with the guardianship of rights so important, of trusts so sacred, of interests so precious and of hopes at once so comprehensive, surrender and renounce them all so unnecessarily, so unwisely, so fatally and so inglorious?”

Continued-
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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued-

“[W]here in Ireland, in Italy, in Poland, or in Hungary,” Seward asks the Senate, “has any ruler prepared for a generous and confiding people disappointments, disasters and calamities equal to those which the government of the United States holds now suspended over so large a portion of the continent of North America?”

[Seward then makes reference to William Walker, (although he does not mention his name) the soldier of fortune from Tennessee who invaded Nicaragua and made himself President in attempt to expand Southern slavery into Central America.]

In addition to this action, other citizens have reopened the slave trade, Seward reminds the Senate, “in violation of our laws and treaties; and, after suspension of that shameful traffic for fifty years, savage Africans have been once more landed on our shores and distributed, unreclaimed and with impunity, among our plantations.”

“It is in America that these things have happened: in the nineteenth century - the era of the world’s greatest progress - and while all nations but ourselves have been either abridging or altogether suppressing commerce in men.”

“The world, preposessed in our behalf by our early devotion to the rights of human nature, as no nation ever before engaged its respect and sympathies, asks, in wonder and amazement, what all this demoralization means?”

Seward asserts, however, that Americans have an excuse for it, or at least think they do, and it is one in which they also think is virtuous:

Americans, Seward believes, “have loved not freedom so much less, but the Union of our country so much more. We have been made to believe, from time to time, that, in a crisis, both of these precious institutions [freedom and Union] could not be saved together, and therefore we have, from time to time, surrendered safeguards of freedom to propitiate the loyalty of capital and stay its hands from doing violence to the Union.”

But these things are the realm of the statesman and politician, Seward declares, and Americans should not “fail to appreciate the logic of current events.”

“Let parties, or the government, choose or do what they may,” Seward says, but, “the people of the United States do not prefer the wealth of the few to the liberty of the many, capital to labor, African slaves to white freemen, in the national Territories and in future States. That question,” he goes on to say, “has never been distinctly recognized or acted on by them.”

According to Seward, the Republican Party “embodies the popular protest and reaction against a policy which has been fastened upon the nation by surprise.”

He states that the Republican Party has but one policy: “the saving of the Territories of the United States, if possible, by constitutional and lawful means from being homes for slavery and polygamy.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Expanding on the Republican Party, Seward outlines its policies going forward:

- it will stand by freedom of speech and of the press;

- stand by the Constitutional rights of freemen everywhere;

- favor the speedy improvement of the public domain by homestead laws;

- encourage mining, manufactures, internal commerce, with needful connections between the Atlantic and Pacific States.

Seward maintains that all of the above policies are indispensable to freedom.

Turning to the issue of disunion, Seward observes that a common complaint being heard is that “the Republican Party in the North is hostile to the South.”

He responds by reminding the Senate that Republicans are now the majority in the North. As a result, Seward contends, the Republican Party is “practically the people of the North.”

“You say the Republican Party is a sectional one. Is the Democratic Party less sectional? Is it easier for us to bear your sectional sway than for you to bear ours? Is it reasonable that for once we should alternate? But is the Republican Party sectional? Not unless the Democratic Party is.”

- White Over Negro Equality -

According to Seward, critics of the Republican Party also claim that it intends “to introduce negro equality among you.”

“Suppose we had the power to change your social system,” Seward says, “what warrant have you for supposing that we should carry negro equality among you?”

“We know, and we will show you, if you will only give heed, that what our system of labor works out, wherever it works out anything, is the equality of white men.”

“The laborer in the free states, no matter how humble his occupation, is a white man, and he is politically the equal of his employer.”

Continued-

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Seward continues on the theme of white equality over that of blacks:

18 of the 34 States in the Union are free States, Seward reminds the Senate. After naming each State individually, he insists his intentions of doing so are not to “array them in contrast with the capital States.” However, he asks whether, in any of those 18 free States, “negro equality offend’s the white man’s pride?”

“Throughout the wide world,” he continues to ask, “where is the State where class and caste are so utterly extinguished as they are in each and every one of them?”

“Let the European immigrant, who avoids the African as if his skin exhaled a contagion, answer. You find him always in the State where labor is ever free.”

“Did Washington, Jefferson and Henry, when they implored you to relinquish your system, and accept the one we have adopted, propose to sink you down to the level of the African? or was it their desire to exalt all white men to a common political elevation?”

Continued -

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alan polk

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The New York Herald, March 1, 1860

Seward Speech Continued -

Senator Seward introduces into the record a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to an Englishman regarding American emancipation:

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Seward allows that the South has a right to maintain slavery within its own States. But he feels an honest discussion regarding the institution should take place without censorship.

That the South is angered that Republicans talk confidently about the fact that slavery “will, in the end, be universally accepted by the capital States, acting for themselves, and in conformity of their own constitutions, while they sanction too unreservedly books designed to advocate emancipation.”

“But surely,” he continues, “you can hardly expect the federal government or the political parties of the nation to maintain a censorship of the press or of debates.”

“The theory of our system is,” Seward explains, “that error of opinion may in all cases safely be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”

“Differences of opinion, even on the subject of slavery, with us are political, not social or personal differences. There is not one disunionist or loyalist among us all.”

“The people of the North are not enemies but friends and brethren of the South. . .”

Continued -

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