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Richmond (VA) Enquirer
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Washington (DC) National Era
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Meghan Allen
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The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.


From the Richmond (Va.) Enquirer, December 16.

After the repulse of the Black Republicanism in the recent canvas, even the most despondent among us anticipated at least some brief pause in the progress of Anti-Slavery agitation. Under the influence of this reasonable expectation, the South composed itself for a short, respite from the excitement of sectional controversy and declared a disposition to suspend its preparations for the conflict which the fortunate success of the Democracy promised to postpone for a season. The moderation in the tone of this journal, ascribed to other agencies by the uncharitable critic of the New York Herald was a concession to the truce which it was understood to the Black Republican Party intended to observe. The South occupies a defensive position and is ever ready to intermit hostilities at the instance of its adversary. Averse to agitation, except in resistance to threatened aggression, we very cheerfully accepted the assurances of peace and repose which Mr. Buchanan’s election was thought to imply.

To what extent the South was deceived in the promise of a cessation of hostilities, any person may ascertain by reference to the current debate in Congress. The Black Republicans representatives eagerly embraced the earliest opportunity for the renewal of the Anti-Slavery agitation. In the President’s message, they affect to find a provocation of acrimonious accusation against the South; and so they have wantonly rekindled the flames of sectional controversy. Instead of that moderation of temper which misfortune begets in a philosophic mind, and which a decent submission to the declared will of the people imposes as a duty upon all patriots, the Abolition leaders in Congress betray an extreme exasperation of feeling, and the most determined purpose to precipitate a conflict with the South.

The people of the South desired some pause in the controversy, to afford the conservative sentiment of the North opportunity of wholesome reaction on the raging mass of fanaticism. But, since our enemies choose to renew the battle with increased energy of attack, the South must accept the alternative, and prepare to repel the threatened aggression upon its rights. The factious resistance to Whitfield’s admission betrays the perfidy and obstinacy of the enemy with whom we have to contend.

If there had been that suspension of hostilities between the North and the South which we were all induced to anticipate from the defeat of the Black Republican party, Mr. Buchanan might have ventured upon an experiment of compromise and conciliation between the two sections. Though elected in the interest and mainly by the vote of the South, we would not have objected if his Administration had been organized upon a principle of mutual concession, and with a view of pacificating the country. In his support, the South cherished no selfish purpose; and we were ready to compromise our success for the sake of the Union.

But the aggressive demonstration of the Black Republican leaders in Congress neutralizes the effect of their defeat, inflames afresh the resentments of the recent contest, arrays the two sections of the Confederacy in angry controversy, and challenges another trial of the great issues between the South and the dominant power of the North. In the heat of the battle, it is impossible to reconcile the belligerent parties. There can be no impartial adjustment of the dispute, when one side refuses to submit to arbitrations, and insists upon war and an absolute triumph. Mr. Buchanan finds that circumstances have shifted his position, and he will be compelled to change his policy accordingly.

It is the merest madness to dream now of effecting a compromise between the aggressive Abolitionism of the North and the conservative spirit of resistance in the South. And the President elect will commit a fatal folly, if he thinks to organize his Administration upon any other principle than that of as avowed and inflexible support of the rights and institutions of the slaveholding States. He who is not with us is against us; ad the South cannot attach itself to an Administration which occupies a neutral ground, without descending from its own lofty and impregnable position. We do not ask the President elect to become the partisan of our peculiar interests, but only to administer the Government in the spirit of the Constitution and to preserve inviolate the guarantees of our rights. To this end, it is necessary that the Executive patronage and authority should be so employed as to strengthen the hands of our friends and to confound the schemes of our enemies.

In these suggestions it is very far from out purpose to imply any distrust of Mr. Buchanan’s intentions. A frank and full understanding, in advance, of the relative positions of parties, is essential to ultimate agreement and concert of action. And this explanation, in limine, on the part of the South, is the more necessary, as some persons who are supposed to speak the sentiments of the President elect have foreshadowed a policy for the incoming Administration, in which the Democracy of this section will never concur. Thus, in the recent speech of Senator Bigler, it is implied, rather than distinctly announced, that Mr. Buchanan has no sympathy with the “extremists of the South” Mr. Bigler refers only to that small school of statesmen who propose the revival of the African slave trade and the immediate organization of the slave States into an independent republic, then his declaration is equally harmless and supererogatory. But if we are to understand that Mr. Buchanan means to avert his countenance from all who stand upon the rights of the South, with the resolution to resist rather than retreat another step—if we are to understand that the Cabinet are to pursue a trimming policy, and to be controlled by the counsels of men who affect the distinction of exclusive moderation—if we are to understand that any impediment is to be opposed to the legitimate expansion of Slavery in accordance with the principles of the Kansas-Nebraska act; then is Senator Bigler’s speech a distinct declaration of war against an irresistible majority of the Southern Democracy.

In harmony with this subdued tone of the Senator who is understood to enjoy Mr. Buchanan’s intimate confidence, we observe a portentous article in the paper which is reported to be the special organ of his opinions. The Pennsylvanian recently startled the country with a panegyric on Thomas Hart Benton! Can it be possible, at once exclaims every considerate friend of Mr. Buchanan in the South, that the apostate Benton—apostate in a double sense, both from his party and his section—can it be possible that he is to be restored to full fellowship with the Democracy, and to be reinstated in power by the incoming Administration? Is it credible that Mr. Buchanan intends to bestow his confidence upon one so unworthy of trust? Is there danger that the impenitent veteran of the crusade against Slavery is to enjoy the favor of an Administration upon which the South relies for the support of its rights?

These inquires are in everybody’s mouth; but, for ourselves, we are satisfied that that they do injustice to Mr. Buchanan’s intentions. We repeat now the declaration of implicit confidence in the President election, upon which we venture in advance of any indication of his feelings and purposes. We reaffirm our resolution to support his Administration in good faith and to the best of our ability. But, at the same time, we do not intend by such protestations to restrict to an inactive neutrality, in the event that the policy of his Administration should violate the pledges of his election. Fidelity to principle is our supreme obligation.

The same line of conduct we we prescribe to ourselves, we would suggest to the Democracy of the South. It is not time to talk f peace and repose, while the enemy is collecting his forces for another assault upon our institutions. It is not time to make a parade of our pacific disposition, while he challenges us to mortal combat. It is the part of wisdom rather to concentrate our own energies and to strengthen our resolution to receive the threatened shock. Let us neither moderate our spirit nor embarrass our efforts by inconsistent obligations.

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