The Free-State settlers of Kansas have been very greatly and very grievously wronged. They have been both injured and insulted. They have been treated as no free-born citizens of the United States were ever before treated by their fellow-countrymen. Their territory has been invaded; their dearest rights have been denied to them; their most sacred instincts have been outraged. A dark and dreadful Past lies behind them. An uncertain Present surrounds them It is but natural, therefore, that they should distrust the promises of the Future. It is but natural that for them to bid bygones be bygones should be a bitter and a difficult task.
All justice must be done to them. Ever allowance must be made for men smarting under such recollections as burn and sting in their memories. It is an easy thing for men whose prerogatives of manhood and of citizenship have never been questioned to pronounce upon the obstinacy and violence of the settlers in Kansas. It would not be quite so easy, we hope, for the same men to control their own wrath, and to subdue their own desire of vengeance in the like circumstances.
But in every circumstance of life it is necessary for men to consult their actual position, and to ascertain their actual intentions, if they would really achieve any object whatever.
Now what do the settlers of Kansas want? Angry and sore as they may be, they distinctly disclaim any intention of violent revenge upon their invaders. They profess the most pacific purposes. They neither wish nor mean to provoke civil war. They are content to overlook the past, which they can never forget, and which they, perhaps, ought not to be asked now to forgive. They seek only a practical assurance that for the present and the future they shall be protected in the enjoyment of their lawful rights, and of their intrinsic privileges. They propose to secure this object, the highest and holiest object at which any political organization can aim, by keeping up a system of government, a legislature and a judiciary external to the regular appointments of the National Administration. They do this in the face of the fact, that the President, of whose behavior in regard to them they had so much reason to complain, has been succeeded in his office by a Chief Magistrate who intentions, if they are to be inferred from his acts, are widely different from those of his predecessor—that the Territorial Governors who had made matters in Kansas constantly worse by their intrigues with the worst enemies of the people of Kansas, have been replaced by a Governor whose words and whose deeds have satisfied the most high-spirited of the friends of Kansas, and that the exigencies of party consistency, as well as the decencies of official life, compel the National Government to recognize as binding upon the people of Kansas the acts of a past Legislature, in itself, very possibly, to the last degree offensive, but certainly accepted as a Legislature by the Congress of the United States. Is this conduct of the Free-State men of Kansas, either commendable in itself or likely to conduce to the good of the Territory itself and of the nation? We think not. We are as little disposed as anybody can be, to counsel tames under injury, or acquiesces in injustice. But we have very little patience with aimless and undecided obstinacy. For obstinacy without decision, unintelligent obstinacy, is the attribute, not of strength, but of weakness. And the country cannot afford to see the stand for immutable rights in Kansas deserted by those who should hold it, in favor of a partisan stand for measure. The end of the Kansas controversy is certainly the establishment of the right of self-government in the people of Kansas. And until, the Free-State leaders of Kansas have shown some better reason than has yet been given to the world, for believing that this end can be attained by perseverance in the play of the “Topeka Legislature,” they must expect to be regarded by the mass of intelligent Northern men as impracticable persons, who are risking their own peace, and the peace of the country, upon and abstraction.
What right, we ask, have the free settlers of Kansas to distrust Governor WALKER, and to impede his efforts for the restoration of public tranquility? He as done nothing and said nothing which can justify any doubt of the integrity of his purposes in Kansas. By his moderation, his evident impartiality, and his avoidance of vexatious points, he has gradually conciliated to himself the good will of many of his bitterest opponents. He represents the National Administration as at present conducted. The traits which we applaud in his management of Kansas politics are the reflection of Mr. BUCHANAN’S policy. They have provoked, and are provoking, the fiercest animadversion from and extreme section of the Southern Democracy who fancy that the whole world was made for them, and that the policy they desire to see adopted is the ordination of Heaven for the ruling of mankind. And we hold that these friends of Liberty in and out of Kansas who refuse to strengthen the just and moderate government of the Administration in that Territory, however good their intentions may be, are more likely to ruin than to advance the cause which they have at heart.