Washington (DC) National Era, "The Future Judged by the Past," January 1, 1857

    Source citation
    “The Future Judged by the Past,” Washington (DC) National Era, January 1, 1857, p. 2: 4.
    Original source
    Richmond (VA) Enquirer
    Newspaper: Publication
    Washington National Era
    Newspaper: Headline
    The Future Judged by the Past
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Meghan Allen, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    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.


    After so exciting a canvass as we have lately passed through, it is natural that People should pause to take breath, and rest themselves. Let them beware, however, of those who would mislead them into the notion that the apparent calm is anything but a lull in the storm. The well-organized Slave Interest has elected its President, and it has four years more in which to strengthen its power, and lay plans for future aggrandizement. Could the moderate men of the South have their way, the country might have peace. They see in the dark schemes of the Propagandism that besets them, the perils which threaten the best interests of the South, but they dare not defy the Propaganda, who, reckless and irresponsible, are strong enough to ruin, if not rule—strong enough to pull down, if not to build up. Moderation would be arraigned as disloyalty to the South: and what with the Jefferson Davis Democrats on one side, and the Percy Walker Americans on the other, the Conservative Buchanan men of the South would be ground between the upper and nether millstones. As extreme policy will be forced upon them; and, if there are indications now of moderation in their tone, they are but temporary.

    Some of the New York papers who advocated the Republican ticket during the late canvass, are doing what they can to mislead the opponents of Slavery-domination, unintentionally, we would believe. The represent the moderate tone of leading Buchanan papers in the South, as indicating a radical change of policy. They report Mr. Buchanan as adverse to the extreme measures of the Slavery party, in favor of Free Kansas, disposed to occupy a truly national and liberal position.

    A moment’s consideration will put the reader on his guard against those illusive representations, and convince him that the political millennium has not yet dawned. Have the men, who, bound by a common and exceptional Interest, annexed Texas with Slavery on our Southern and Southwestern borders; resisted the organization of Oregon into a free Territory, and the admission of California as a free State; brought about the organization of Territorial Governments in New Mexico and Utah, without restriction as to Slavery; repealed the Missouri Compromise, with the avowed purpose of carrying Slavery into Kansas; encouraged armed forays of Slavery Propagandists into Kansas; intrigued against the black republic of Hayti; intrigued, almost of the point of war, for the forcible separation of Cuba from the mother country; intrigued for the appropriation of the southern half of California to Slavery; intrigued for the conversion of Sonora into a slave State; intrigued for foothold, for conquest, for annexation, in Central America; have always been laboring to secure complete ascendancy in Congress, in the Judiciary, in the Executive; and lately attempted to organize the Southern People in a conspiracy to resist the inauguration of the Republican candidate—possible have these men suddenly changed their character, become peaceable and unaggresive, and abandoned a policy they have pursued with so much pertinacity and violence?

    As for Mr. Buchanan, old men are not apt to chance. Mr. Buchanan cannot be expected to falsify the record of his life. What he has been, he will be. Why, pray, in judging of his future acts, must we yield to vain hopes, deal in groundless predictions, instead of reasoning from his antecedents, his well-known character, and the circumstances by which he is surrounded? We reprint, from the Richmond (Va.) Enquirer a brief memorandum of his acts of "loyalty" using the word in its Southern acceptation:

    "To recapitulate:
    "1. In 1836, Mr. Buchanan supported a bill to prohibit the circulation of Abolition papers through the mails.
    "2. In the same year, he proposed and voted for the admission of Arkansas.
    "3. In 836-‘7, he denounced and voted to reject petitions for the abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia.
    "4. In 1837, he voted for Mr. Calhoun’s famous Resolutions, defining the rights of the States and the limits of Federal authority, and affirming it to be the duty of the Government to protect and uphold the institutions of the South.
    "5. In 1838-’9 and ’40, he invariably voted with Southern Senators against the consideration of Anti-Slavery petitions.
    "6. In 844-’5, he advocated and voted for the annexation of Texas.
    "7. In 1847, he sustained the Clayton Compromises.
    "8. In 1850, he proposed and urged the extension of the Missouri Compromise to the Pacific Ocean.
    "9. But, he promptly acquiesced in the Compromise of ’50 and employed all his influence in favor of the faithful execution of the Fugitive Slave Law.
    "10. In 1851, he remonstrated against an enactment of the Pennsylvania Legislature for obstructing the arrest and return of fugitive slaves.
    "11. In 1854, he negotiated for the acquisition of Cuba.
    "12. In 1856, he approves the repeal of the Missouri Restriction, and supports the principles of the Kansas Nebraska Act.
    "13. He never gave a vote against the interests of Slavery, and never uttered a word which could pain the most sensitive Southern heart."

    That is enough. When, under the policy of James Buchanan, Kansas shall become a Free State, all schemes of Slavery Extension be forever extinguished, and the Slave Interest cease to be the ruling Influence in the Administration of the Government, we shall admit that the Ethiopian can change his skin and the leopard his spots—not before.

    What then, we are asked, mean the declaration of Senator Bigler in favor of Squatter Sovereignty, the editorial of the Pennsylvanian in favor of Thomas H. Benton, and the moderate manifestoes in the Southern Buchanan newspapers? Just this, and nothing more—that the fearful damages sustained by the Northern Democracy in the late struggle, must be repaired; that the Republican Party, which now is in the ascendant in the North, must be disarmed. When, by a course of prudent and conciliatory measures, the Northern Democrats shall have been able to recover their power in a respectable number of the free States, those, who are now deluded by false expectation, may find out that the Power which has tyrannized over the Union, and threatened its life, is only forbearing when it must, but will strike when it can.

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