-- Dilemmas of Compromise --


Albany Evening Journal, December 8, 1860
Saturday Evening

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The Utica Morning Herald, in a calm article, reviewing the suggestions of adjustment between the South and North, says:

Nor is it the simple restoration of the Missouri Compromise that is anywhere proposed. The Albany Journal does not suppose that anybody would regard that as of any significance as a measure of conciliation. The extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific is the intent and purpose of the Journal, as it has frankly said.

The position of the Albany Journal in the Republican Party and in the State, demands that its deliberate arguments on a matter so important should be respectfully weighed and considered. We dissent most vigorously from its proposal for extending the Missouri line.

Now that the suggestions of this Journal are the occasion of more attention than was anticipated, it is not strange that their plain import should be misunderstood, especially as in some quarters they have been intentionally misrepresented. The following is what we did say:

With a mutual desire to harmonize differences, let us suppose that, in place of a vindictive Fugitive Slave law -- a law repugnant to manhood and honor -- one should be enacted which arms the Federal authorities with all needful power for its execution, together with a provision making Counties where fugitives are rescued by violence, from officers who have them in charge, liable for the value of the Slaves so rescued.

And in regard to the other vexed question, viz: the right of going into the Territories with Slaves, why not restore the Missouri Compromise line? That secured to the South all Territory adapted, by soil and climate, to its 'peculiar institution.'"

The "Herald" will see that the point we made had reference only to the "simple restoration of the Missouri Compromise Line." Is it fair, then, to say that "the extension o that line to the Pacific is the intent and purpose of the Journal?" Is it fair to attribute to us an "intent" and "purpose" which we never dreamed of? Is it fair to substitute the word "extend" for the word "restore," and then "dissent most vigorously from a proposal" that we have not either made, or suggested, or that never entered our mind?

We do not attribute intentional unfairness to the "Herald." It took up the question after others had perverted it. When it reads what we did say, it will probably find less to dissent from

Our first suggestion, viz: the substitution of an efficient, but proper Fugitive Slave Law, for the existing vindictive and obnoxious Law, is not generally regarded with disfavor. Nor, truly stated, could Republicans who opposed the Repeal of the Missouri Compromise Law, threat an inquiry (for that is the form of our suggestions) as to its restoration, as the "unpardonable sin."

The Editor of the N.Y. Courier and Enquirer has an answer to this feature of the controversy, from which we make an extract:

Mr. Weed's other suggestion, not proposition, was, to "restore the Missouri Compromise line."

Well, what honest man opposed to the extension of Slavery, can be opposed to this measure? When, in 1854, the Missouri Compromise was repealed, we pledged ourselves to our readers , never to cease agitation until it was actually or virtually restored. And we demand its restoration now, not as an act of concession to the South, but as the acknowledgment of wrong to the North by the South. Its repeal was a gross outrage upon the plighted faith of the South, and an insult to the whole North. By that repeal Slavery sought to make its way into Kansas; but, thank God, it has been driven back. In settling, then, by Compromise, let the Missouri Compromise line be restored as an act of grace to the North; and it would lead to a repeal of the personal liberty laws upon the modification as suggested of the present "vindictive fugitive slave law."

Why then, if the Albany Evening Journal and ourselves, have asked nothing but what is right and just, and which may be conceded by both the North and South with honor -- why does the Tribune in the face of facts and in total disregard to the slightest respect for truth, charge us with proposing to nullify the election of Lincoln and the disbandment of the Republican Party?

And now, that fighting on that Platform an under the Banner of the Constitution, we have achieved a triumph for Republican principles, we can afford to be magnanimous as well as just. There have been errors both by the North and the South; but the greatest error of all, was the repeal of the Missouri Compromise line. We know very well, that in as much as that line only extended to the west line of the Louisiana purchase, its restoration would accomplish nothing substantial. But that is not the point. It was wrongfully repealed; and when friends are ready to wipe out old sores and resume their kind, friendly, and fraternal relations, let this which at the time, was the gravest of sores, be healed also.