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The State Convention—The Basis on which Union Tickets should be Formed.


January/February 1861

From The Missouri Democrat, Monday, January 21, 1861.

The State Convention—The Basis on which Union Tickets should be Formed.

The election on the 18th of February, will be the most important that has ever taken place in Missouri.  On that day the people will either declare for plunging the State into anarchy and civil war, or for holding fast to the Constitution and the Union.  An unknown and fearfully perilous future is to be braved, or the cause of a noble conservatism placed on a securer basis.  There is but one thing to be decided by the election, and that is the Federal relations of the State.  The question is Union or Disunion;  Union first, last and all the time, or Disunion in the guise of Union with conditions annexed.  It will be for the citizens of Missouri to choose between the two.  It is for the directors of opinion on both sides to simplify the issue and render it clear to the humblest understanding.  The true Union man, whatever may be his party association, utterly rejects secession.  It is not embraced in any programme which he can devise, because his position is, that for every political evil there is a remedy within the Union.  It is said that no woman can be liberal of her honor; neither can a faithful citizen falter with his allegiance.  Of his public obligations, allegiance to the Constitution is the paramount, transcendent one.  But the question is put, Are you opposed to all compromise?  Certainly not.  We do not believe there is a Republican in Missouri opposed to a compromise on any basis that shall not involve a sacrifice of Republican principles—not the principles, mark you, which our enemies attribute to us; we are all as ready to sacrifice as we are to disclaim those imputed principles—but the principle of preventing the degradation of free soil into slave soil.  That principle Republicans will never renounce if for not other reason than because its renunciation would brand them with infamy t the last syllable of recorded time.  Republicans give every pledge and every assurance that the Constitutional provision requiring the rendition of fugitive slaves shall be faithfully executed.  They will also abstain from any Congressional interference with slavery wherever it exists by virtue of local law.  They do not contemplate any retroactive application of the dogma which distinguishes them as a party.  This leaves the 300,000 square miles south if Kansas and Utah to the South—an extent of territory too vast for the energies of slave colonization.  With the Indian Territory, New Mexico and Arizona added to the Slave States, the area of slave soil will exceed 1,100,000 square miles, while its population black and white is under 12,000,000.  It will be found that the South, in proportion to its population, will then have more territory than the North, while each will have quite enough for a century at least.  The notion that either section may not have ample room and verge enough for its development, is chimerical in the extreme.  We therefore take the ground that the recognition by the Republican party of the state of things in the Territories which that party shall find existing on its accession to power, will fulfill the rational expectations of all pro-slavery and anti-slavery Union men.  We know it will satisfy neither Abolitionists nor Secessionists, but that is an unimportant circumstance.

The real question in Congress seems to e the mode in which this principle shall be carried out.  An enabling act for New Mexico is unquestionably the simplest.  That measure can be passed at once by the Federal Legislature, whereas the Crittenden Compromise, even if amended in conformity with his late interpretation of it, would have to make the circuit of three-fourths of the State Legislatures.

The Fugitive Slave Law can also be amended by Congress, and there is no doubt that the incoming Administration will execute it to the letter.  No difficulty whatever will be experienced in procuring an amendment to the Constitution directly affirming that Congress has no power to interfere with slavery in the States.  The report of the Crisis Committee of the House, it will be noticed, embraces these propositions, and there is no real obstacle in the way of carrying them out, unless Southern Senators and Representatives should oppose them, refusing to accept any concession that shall not predestine Mexico to slavery, and commit the Federal Government to its protection in all the Southern Territories.  Republicans consent to neither.  International law,and public morals interdict any arrangement that shall offer a premium on piracy, filibustering and armed propagandism of slavery, while national dignity demands that no new obligation in behalf of slavery shall be imposed on the Federal Government.  The Republican party have resolved to relieve the government of all complicity with the institution, except such complicity as the Constitution establishes, and that resolve will be executed.  Any compromise that infringes not on these forbidden grounds, will be acquiesced in, we doubt not, by the Free States.

But the preservation or destruction of the Union must not be contingent on the adoption or rejection of any compromise.  The Union must not be staked in any party game.  It must not be put into the balance against any party platform, or any plan of readjustment.  Hence, in the formation of the Union tickets for the convention, the eligibility of candidates must not be tested by their party associations hitherto.  We are ourselves very willing to accept some of the names on the ticket published by the Republican.  There are others on that ticket for whom no Union man can vote.  Above all things, it is essential that the Union vote in this city and county should not be frittered away on two tickets.  Union for the sake of the Union should be the motto of the patriot.  We are ready to support any unconditional Union ticket on which Union men of all parties shall be fairly represented.  The consolidation of the Union vote is the great desideratum, and that can only be reached by making a ticket composed of Union men of all parties, say six Republicans, five Democrats, and four Belleverett [sic—Bell-Everett, i.e., Constitutional Union Party] men.  This proposition is so liberal and patriotic, as to require no argument to enforce it.  We are all but certain that it will be assailed by those who will only consent to save the Union on condition of having a sure thing in the April election.  But whether it be accepted or rejected, we would advise Republicans to act upon it, and thereby attest the intensity of their devotion to the Union, and at the same time unmask the hypocrites, who with the most exalted pretensions have no higher aim in this contest, than the plunder of the city.