"Mr. Clay's Compromise on the Slavery Question," New York Herald, January 31, 1850, p. 2.
New York Herald
Mr. Clay's Compromise on the Slavery Question
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
The compromise proposed by Mr. Clay on the slavery question, as indicated in his resolutions and speech delivered on the floor of the Senate, on Tuesday last, has produced a more remarkable sensation in the public mind than even the message of General Taylor on the California question.—This sensation appears to have been as prevalent in the Senate at Washington as out of it—in the capitol as in this community; and we presume that the same sentiments will be felt throughout the whole country, as fast as those resolutions and speech travel to the extremities of the Union.
It appears that the principal opposition to Mr. Clay’s remarkable compromise on this interesting question, at first came from the leading Southern members who have heretofore been identified with the democratic party. It is true that the great intellects of the Senate—Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Webster, Col. Benton, Gen. Case, and perhaps one of two others, were silent and speechless before the act of moral courage exemplified in the movement of Mr. Clay. The lesser lights of that body connected with Southern interests, each of them jumped up and made objections—some to one principle, others to another; but all combined in opposition to the general aspect and character of the compromise itself. The Northern Senators, of both parties, did not utter a word on the first impulse; but we have no doubt that their discontent will be elicited in due process of time.
What a singular spectacle of human nature in political action, is presented in the positions of Mr. Clay, and that of the compatriots in the Senate and out of it! Of all the leaders of the old parties, of all aspiring spirits of the new ones, including General Taylor and the whole of his cabinet, from head to tail, not a single soul, not a single mind, has dared to exhibit the moral courage of coming out with any plan for settling the whole question, except it is Henry Clay, who, solitary and alone, faces the crises with as much calmness and composure as General Taylor did the Mexicans at Buena Vista. Whatever may be the objections to Mr. Clay’s plan on the one side, or its recommendations on the other, we think the moral courage he has exhibited is a spectacle of sublimity that ought to shame all the politicians at Washington, and the miserable drivellers of both parties, and all parties, there and elsewhere.
What, then, are the merits of this plan? We think they possess great and paramount merits, sufficient, on reflection and consideration, not perhaps to satisfy the ultras of either the North or the South, but certainly to calm and quiet all those intelligent minds who have the courage to meet the question openly, and endeavor to settle it on the principles of equality, of compromise, of good sense, and practical discretion. Mr. Clay is truly the great intellect of the age. How weak and imbecile, in such a crisis, have been the good and amiable General Taylor, and his puerile and contempable cabinet at his back!
These are our first impressions on this great and remarkable movement of Mr. Clay; but our thoughts are crowding in multitudes upon us, and we shall take time to speed them to our readers, as we will find room in our columns.