New York Herald, "Kansas as a Slave State," January 7, 1858

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    "Kansas as a Slave State-The Test Question between the North and the South," New York Herald, January 7, 1858, p. 4: 3.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Herald
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    Kansas as a Slave State-The Test Question between the North and the South
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    Zak Rosenberg, Dickinson College
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    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.

    Kansas as a Slave State --- The Test Question between the North and the South.

    We had supposed that, with the reassembling of Congress on Monday last, (considering the sharply defined and emphatic shape which the Kansas question had assumed in the interval of the Christmas holidays,) the Lecompton constitution would at once monopolize the debates of both houses, and that the report of Monday's proceedings would furnish us some important developments on all sides upon the paramount issue of "slavery" or "no slavery." We had especially anticipated some disclosures of the strength or weakness of the Lecompton programme in the House of Representatives; but we have been sadly disappointed. The exact whereabouts of the Northern and Southern democratic members of that body, on the Kansas difficulty, remains as much a mystery as heretofore; but with regard to General Walker and his filibusters we have had, for several days, a surfeit of eloquent harangues-filibuster and anti-filibuster-South and North.

    Many of our unsupporting readers will no doubt think it very remarkable that, notwithstanding the overwhelming importance of the Kansas issue, it should thus be completely set aside in the House, on account of the pompous pretensions of Walker the filibuster. But the thing is easily explained. Kansas, as she now stands, is a tough subject to handle. Any member of Congress who now touches it must define his position as in favor of the South or against the South. Any man who now advocates the Lecompton constitution must do so with a plea for the South in behalf of Kansas as a slave State; and any man who opposes the recognition of said constitution, though he may plead the plea of "popular sovereignty," will be classed with the Northern party opposed to the extension of slavery. Here, then, are the perils to our Congressional politicians, cliques and parties which have struck them dumb. This is why Kansas has been so utterly ignored in the House since the adoption of the Lecompton constitution in Kansas, with the slavery cause.

    In this dilemma, Walker the filibuster has been a godsend to the men of Buncombe of all parties and sections in Congress. Nothing can be done with Walker, nothing can be done for Walker; and, whatever the Hon. Mr. Jones or the Hon. Mr. Smith may say about Walker, it is not likely to hurt anybody; but it may prove to be good for Buncombe. But all this time these men of buncombe have been thinking, and studying, and wondering "what in the name of God shall we do with a slave State constitution of Kansas, under the peculiar circumstances of the case, and the peculiar situation of the North and of the South, and of our party and of ourselves? Everything will be turned upside down in the South if we reject this constitution, and there will be a horrible row among our people in the North, if we accept it." Accordingly the members of the House remain standing upon the brink of this great question, like sinners upon the banks of Jordan, afraid to plunge in, for fear they would rise no more. A few bold and daring spirits of the Lecompton faith must lead the way; and these have not yet appeared.

    In the meantime Col. Forney, of the Philadelphia Press, adheres to the doctrine that the Lecompton constitution should be rejected on the local pleas of "popular sovereignty," and says that our warning that a dissolution of the Union may follow the rejection of Kansas as a slave State is an idle threat, amounting to nothing. To convince our incredulous contemporary, and all others entertaining the same delusive ideas upon the subject, that the safety of the Union may depend upon the admission of Kansas with her Lecompton constitution, we publish elsewhere in this paper several very significant extracts from some of our leading Southern journals. From these extracts it will be discovered that the South will probably make the admission of Kansas as a slave State their ultimatum, and that her rejection a slave State will very likely be the signal for the initial steps in behalf of the formulation of a separate Southern confederacy.

    Disguise it as we may, the real difficulty in this Kansas business is slavery, and the real contest is for the absolute political supremacy of the North on the one side, and for a Southern balance of power, or check, on the other. There are Southern men who believe that, in admitting Kansas as a slave State, Missouri will be safe as a slave State; but that if we make Kansas a free State, Missouri will soon be compelled to abolish slavery. With this beginning, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware would soon follow next in order, from the pressure of Northern emigration and Northern political ascendancy; and where, then, would be the safeguards for slavery, even in the cotton States? It is not Kansas alone, therefore, that the South will consider as dependent upon this Lecompton constitution, but the whole line of border slave States from Missouri to the Atlantic seaboard.

    This Lecompton constitution, then, involves the decisive battle for political power between the North and the South. Thus far, from the close of the Revolution of '76, including the compromises of the federal constitution, the political harmony of the Union has been maintained by mutual concessions from the North and the South, and particularly in reference to the admission of new States; and there never has been a case in which the harmony of the Union depended so much upon the good old plan of admitting at least one slave State with two free States, as in the case of Kansas. If we admit Kansas, Oregon, and Minnesota all as free States, we shall thereby establish a Northern majority of eight in the United States Senate, where the South has been anxious, above all things, to keep as near an equilibrium as possible. But, apart from this consideration, the moral effect of the rejection of Kansas as a slave State will be such as to destroy the prestige of Southern influence in the general government, and to give to all sorts of free State and abolition enterprises the boldest activity in every direction.

    Briefly, this Kansas question involves the last foothold of the South; and from the facts and the contigencies we have indicated, we seriously believe that we are upon the verge of a sectional struggle for political power which will shake the mighty and beautiful fabric of our American Union from its tarrets to its foundations. Presidential politicians, cliques and parties will be swept before this convulsion like the loose rubbish of a cornfield in a whirlwind. Hence we are not surprised that, with half a dozen Presidential candidates in the Senate, and a score of embryo Presidents in the House, they should all be so suddenly reduced to silence in this Kansas difficulty. A few days more and they will be compelled to show their hands.

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