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supposed that we were all agreed that the day of compromises was at an end. The most solemn compromises we have ever made have been violated without a whereas. . . .
But what have we to compromise? Sir, I am one of those who went forth with zeal to maintain the principles of the great Republican party. In a constitutional way we met, as you met. We nominated our candidates for President and Vice President, and you did the same for yourselves. The issue was made up; and we went to the people upon it. Although we have been usually in the minority; although we have been generally beaten, yet, this time, the justice of our principles, and the maladministration of the Government in your hands, convinced the people that a change ought to be wrought; and after you had tried your utmost, and we had tried our utmost, we beat you; and we beat you upon the plainest and most palpable issue that ever was presented to the American people, and one that they understood the best. There is no mistaking it; and now, when we come to the Capitol, I tell you that our President and our Vice President must be inaugurated, and administer the Government as all their predecessors have done. Sir, it would be humiliating and dishonorable to us if we were to listen to a compromise by which he who has the verdict of the people in his pocket, should make his way to the presidential chair. When it comes to that, you have no Government; anarchy intervenes; civil war may follow it; all the evils that may come to the human imagination may be consequent upon such a course as that. . . . Sir, I know not what others may do; but I tell you that, with the verdict of the people given in favor of the platform upon which our candidates have been elected, so far as I am concerned, I would suffer anything to come before I would compromise that away. I regard it as a case where I have no right to extend comity or generosity. A right, an absolute right, the most sacred that a free people can ever bestow on any man, is their undisguised, fair verdict, that gives him a title to the office that he is chosen to fill; and he is recreant to the principle of free government who will ask a question beyond the fact whether a man has the verdict of the people, or if he will entertain for a moment a proposition in addition to that. It is all I want. If we cannot stand there, we cannot stand anywhere. Any other principle than that would be as fatal to you, my friends, as to us.
. . . Sir, I do not believe there is a man on the other side who will not do us more credit than to suppose that if the case were reversed,
there would be any complaint on our side. There never has been any from us under similar circumstances, and there would not be now. Sir, I think we have patriotism enough to overcome the pride and the prejudice of the canvass, and submit gracefully to the unmistakable verdict of the people; and as I have shown that you have nothing else to complain of, I take it that this is your complaint. Some of you have said that the election of Mr. Lincoln showed hostility to you and your institution. Sir, it is the common fate of parties to differ, and one does not intend to follow exactly the course of policy of the other; but when you talk of constitutional rights and duties, honest men will observe them alike, no matter to what party they belong.
I say, then, that so far as I am concerned, I will yield to no compromise. I do not come here begging, either. It would be an indignity to the people that I represent if I were to stand here parleying as to the rights of the party to which I belong. We have won our right to the Chief Magistracy of this nation in the way that you have always won your predominance; and if you are as willing to do justice to others as to exact it from them, you would never raise an inquiry as to a committee for compromises. . . . in my judgment, this long, chronic controversy that has existed between us must be met, and met upon the principles of the Constitution and laws, and met now. I hope it may be adjusted to the satisfaction of all; and I know no other way to adjust it, except that way which is laid down by the Constitution of the United States. Whenever we go astray from that, we are sure to plunge ourselves into difficulties. The old Constitution of the United States, although commonly and frequently in direct opposition to what I could wish, nevertheless, in my judgment, is the wisest and best Constitution that ever yet organized a free Government; and by its provisions I am willing, and intend, to stand or fall. Like the Senator from Mississippi, I ask nothing more. I ask no ingrafting upon it. I ask nothing to be taken away from it. Under its provisions a nation has grown faster than any other in the history of the world ever did before in prosperity, in power, and in all that makes a nation great and glorious. It has ministered to the advantages of this people; and now I am unwilling to add or take away anything till I can see much clearer than I can now that it wants either any addition or lopping off.
Congressional Globe, 36 Cong., 2 sess. (John C. Rives, Washington, 1861), 102-103 passim, December 17, 1860.
66. No Extension of Slavery (1860-1861)
BY PRESIDENT-ELECT ABRAHAM LINCOLN
After his election in November, 1860, Lincoln had to be consulted by those who were to be the Republican leaders in the next cabinet and Congress; and he repeatedly gave such cautions as appear in this piece. His influence probably prevented the adoption of the Crittenden Compromise, which he opposed because he thought it an unreasonable concession which could not permanently reconcile the two sections. For Lincoln, see No. 44 above. -Bibliography: Channing and Hart, Guide, §§ 207, 208.
A. TO WILLIAM KELLOGG
[December 11, 1860.] ENpromise in regard to the extension of
NTERTAIN no proposition for a com
slavery. The instant you do they have us under again: all our labor is lost, and sooner or later must be done over. Douglas is sure to be again trying to bring in his "popular sovereignty." Have none of it. The tug has to come, and better now than later. You know I think the fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution ought to be enforced — to put it in its mildest form, ought not to be resisted.
B. TO GENERAL DUFF GREEN
[December 28, 1860.] My dear Sir: I do not desire any ΜΥ amendment of the Constitution.
Recognizing, however, that questions of such amendment rightfully belong to the American people, I should not feel justified nor inclined to withhold from them, if I could, a fair opportunity of expressing their will thereon through either of the modes prescribed in the instrument.
In addition I declare that the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and I denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as the gravest of crimes.
I am greatly averse to writing anything for the public at this time; and I consent to the publication of this only upon the condition that six of the twelve United States senators for the States of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas shall sign their names
to what is written on this sheet below my name, and allow the whole to be published together.
We recommend to the people of the States we represent respectively, to suspend all action for dismemberment of the Union, at least until some act deemed to be violative of our rights shall be done by the incoming administration.
C. TO WILLIAM H. SEWARD
N the 21st ult. Hon. W. Kellogg, a Republican member of Congress of this State, whom you probably know, was here in a good deal of anxiety seeking to ascertain to what extent I would be consenting for our friends to go in the way of compromise on the now vexed question. While he was with me I received a despatch from Senator Trumbull, at Washington, alluding to the same question and telling me to await letters. I therefore told Mr. Kellogg that when I should receive these letters posting me as to the state of affairs at Washington, I would write to you, requesting you to let him see my letter. To my surprise, when the letters mentioned by Judge Trumbull came they made no allusion to the "vexed question." This baffled me so much that I was near not writing you at all, in compliance to what I have said to Judge Kellogg. I say now, however, as I have all the while said, that on the territorial question- that is, the question of extending slavery under the national auspices — I am inflexible. I am for no compromise which assists or permits the extension of the institution on soil owned by the nation. And any trick by which the nation is to acquire territory, and then allow some local authority to spread slavery over it, is as obnoxious as any other. I take it that to effect some such result as this, and to put us again on the highroad to a slave empire, is the object of all these proposed compromises. I am against it. As to fugitive slaves, District of Columbia, slave-trade among the slave States, and whatever springs of necessity from the fact that the institution is amongst us, I care but little, so that what is done be comely and not altogether outrageous. Nor do I care much about New Mexico, if further extension were hedged against. }
[February 1, 1861.]. . .
Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works (edited by John G. Nicolay and John Hay, New York, 1894), I, 657–669 passim.
67. "If Any One Attempts to Haul down the American Flag” (1861)
BY SECRETARY JOHN ADAMS DIX
Dix began his career as a young army officer in the War of 1812. Later he entered politics and became a member of the Albany Regency. For four years he held a seat in the United States Senate as a Democrat. When Buchanan's cabinet broke up in January, 1861, Dix became secretary of the treasury as a Union Democrat, and he sent this memorable telegram for the benefit of the captain of a revenue cutter who refused to obey his orders. When the war broke out, Dix accepted a major-general's commission and did good service. - For Dix, see Morgan Dix, Memoirs of J. A. Dix.- Bibliography as in No. 63 above.
Treasury Department, January 29, 1861. ELL Lieutenant Caldwell to arrest Captain Breshwood, assume command of the cutter, and obey the order I gave through you. If Captain Breshwood, after arrest, undertakes to interfere with the command of the cutter, tell Lieutenant Caldwell to consider him as a mutineer, and treat him accordingly. If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot. JOHN A. DIX,
Secretary of the Treasury. Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix (New York, 1883), I, 371.
68. Last Effort at Compromise (1861)
REPORTED BY DELEGATE LUCIUS EUGENE CHITTENDEN
Chittenden was a delegate from Vermont to the peace conference, called by Virginia and attended by delegates from twenty-one states, including all the border states. This was a last attempt by the border states to recall the seceded states and restore the Union with slavery. An amendment on the slavery question, a proposed modification of which is described in the extract, was adopted by the convention by a narrow and inconclusive majority; it differed little from Crittenden's Compromise, and was not accepted by Congress. - Bibliography as in No. 63 above.
́R. FIELD... I will modify my motion, and state it in this way.
"It is declared to be the true intent and meaning of the present Constitution, that the Union of the States under it is indissoluble." . .
Mr. COALTER: - We have not met here for any such purpose as that indicated in the present amendment. We are not here to discuss the question of secession. We are here because the Border States are alarmed for their own safety. We wish them to remain in the Union.