-- Dilemmas of Compromise --


Albany Evening Journal, January 9, 1861
Wednesday Evening

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From the Newark Daily Mercury.


While we feel thus and while we have entire confidence in the principle of Mr. Weed, and in the honesty of his motives, we do not accept even his modified compromises with favor. We may in this lack prudence and caution, but we confess to a desire to see the strength of this Government tested, and to know whether it is a sovereign State, or a collection of jealous and independent provinces. We desire not to purchase, with liberal offers, the forbearance of traitors, but to vindicate the honor of the nation, demanding the preservation of the Union and the Constitution, and the enforcement of the Laws. We understand Mr. Weed's proposition, we think, clearly, and they are not incompatible with principle, but we are opposed to compromises, in which the right is always sacrificed to expediency.

Though not "desiring to see the strength of this Government tested," we are prepared to meet that question as a necessity. In view, however, of such an emergency, shall we not avail ourselves of the advantages of position and circumstances? Should we not prepare for the shock? Is there not strength in Union?

We are as little inclined as our friend of the "mercury" to "purchase forbearance of traitors." To that class neither terms nor offers "have been made." It is that the Country may be the better prepared to deal sternly with Traitors, that we have urged, and do most emphatically urge, that the position of Union men in Southern States should be considered. If our dissenting friends have taken care to read us correctly they will have found that this Journal was neither slow to anticipate the Treason of the gulf States, nor equivocal in its denunciations of Traitors. In an early and adequate appreciation of the magnitude of the evil, we suggested a course calculated to place the friends of the Union upon high vantage ground. Apprehending that we should be called upon to "test the strength of this Government," we saw what is even more apparent now, that the conflict would tax all its faculties and strain all its energies. Hence the desire, before the trial came, to make up a record that would challenge the world's approval. This was due, not less to ourselves, than to the Union men of Southern States, who, with equal patriotism and more of sacrifice, were, amid the "pitiless peltings" of the Disunion storm, like the Dove sent from the Ark, seeking a dry spot on which they can set their feet.

It is not that we hope or care for any change of views or course, from Disunionists, that we ask conciliation, but that by uniting and strengthening Union men, we may be the better enabled to resist and punish Treason. And is not such union and strength needed? Why, but that the right spirit is not aroused, are Traitors allowed to stalk through the National Capital? Why,but that the public sensibility is dulled, do Traitors come and go with impunity? Why, but that the Government is cankered, are not men who openly advise the seizure of Fortifications, dealt with as Traitors? All this results from a failure to adjust differences between those who might be and ought to be friends. When Congress is brought to an agreement upon some one of the various pending propositions, the whole question will assume brighter aspects.

In the border Slave States there are tens of thousands of anxious, devoted Union men who ask only that we should throw them a Plank which promises a chance of safety. In standing by the Union they do and dare much more than is required of us. Maryland has been and is now, withheld from the swirling vortex of Disunion, by the firmness and fidelity of its Governor. If Virginia does not plunge in, recklessly, it will be from the restraining influence of her Governor. Tennessee, implores the North to throw out an Anchor to which she can make fast. Gov. Gilmer, of North Carolina, Mr. Etheridge, of Tennessee, Mr. Davis, of Maryland, and a few other Members of congress, are better Union men than we are, and deserve far more credit for courage and patriotism than is due Representatives backed by Union constituencies.