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THE CRITTENDEN COMPROMISE.

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introduced in the Senate a series of resolutions which contained a plan of compromise, which it was long hoped would be effected, and which for months continued a topic of discussion in Congress. The features of this plan may be briefly indicated. It sought to incorporate into the Constitution the following propositions :

1. That south of a certain geographical parallel of latitude, Congress, or a Territorial Legislature, shall have no power to abolish, modify, or in any way interfere with slavery in the Territories.

2. That Congress shall have no power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia;

3. Or in the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, or wherever else the Federal Government has exclusive jurisdiction.

4. That in case of the failure to arrest any alleged "fugitive from service," from violence to the officer of the law, or intimidation of his authority, the community where such failure took place shall be compelled to pay the value of such alleged fugitive to the owner thereof, and may be prosecuted for that purpose and to that effect.

The fate of this measure was significant enough of the views and temper of the Republican party, if any additional evidence of these had been needed. In the Senate it was voted against by every Republican senator; and again, every Republican in that body voted to substitute for Mr. Crittenden's propositions the resolutions of Mr. Clarke, to which reference has already been made.

In the House, certain propositions moved by Mr. Etheridge, which were even less favourable to the South than Mr. Crittenden's, were not even entertained, on a vote of yeas and nays; and a resolution giving a pledge to sustain the President in the use of force against seceding States was adopted by a large majority.

It is remarkable that of all the compromises proposed in this Congress for preserving the peace of the country, none came from Northern men; they came from the South, and were defeated by the North! The "Crittenden Compromise" (for a geographical limit within which to tolerate, not establish slavery in the Territories) was, as we have seen, the principal feature of these pacific negotiations; it was considered fully capable to reconstruct the Union; it had even the adhesion or countenance of such influential leaders of Secession as Toombs, of Georgia, and Jefferson Davis, the future President of the Southern Confederacy; it constituted under the circumstances the only possible existing hope of saving the Union. But, unfortunately for the peace of the country, the North deliberately de feated it.

While the door of Congress was thus closed to peace, there was outside of it a remarkable effort at conciliation, which testified to the popular anxiety on the subject. The action of the States was invoked. Commis

sioners from twenty States, composing a "Peace Conference," held at the request of the Legislature of Virginia, met in Washington on the 4th of February, and adjourned February 27th. All the Border Slave States were represented. Most of the delegates from these States were willing to accept the few and feeble guaranties of the Crittenden proposition. The ultimate result was the recommendation of a project to Congress which, in detail, was less favourable to the South than that contained in Mr. Crittenden's resolutions, but generally identical with it in respect of running a geographical line between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding territories, and enforcing the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Law. One curious additional feature was that no territory should in the future be acquired by the United States, without the concurrence of the Senators from the Southern States and those from the Northern States. But it is useless to go into the details of the report of the Peace Commissioners; for it never received any steady or respectful consideration in either house of Congress. In the Senate it was summarily voted down by a vote of twentyeight to seven; and the House, on a call of yeas and nays, actually refused to receive it.

There was an evident disposition on the part of the so-called Border Slave States to avoid a decisive step. To this hesitation the North gave a significance which it did not really possess. It is true that Tennessee and North Carolina decided against calling a State Convention; but this action implied simply that they were awaiting the results of the peace propositions to which they had committed themselves. The State of Virginia, which had distinguished herself by a conspicuous effort to save the Union-for it was on the unanimous invitation of her Legislature that the Peace Conference had been assembled-had called a State Convention in the month of January. It was elected on the 4th of February; and the Northern party found singular gratification in the circumstance that a majority of Union men was returned to an assembly so critical.

There is no doubt the Convention of Virginia was sincerely anxious by every means in its power to restore the Union. But the party in favour of secession was steadily strengthening in view of the obstinate front presented by the Black Republican party in Congress. Delegates who had been returned as Union men, were afterwards instructed to vote otherwise. Petersburg, Culpepper, Cumberland, Prince Edward, Botetourt, Wythe, and many other towns and counties, held meetings and urged prompt secession. The action of the Federal authorities was daily becoming more irritating and alarming. A garrison was thrown into Fort Washington on the Potomac; and it was observed that guns were being mounted on the parapet of Fortress Monroe, and turned inland upon the very bosom of Virginia.

However Virginia might have lingered, in the hope that the breach

VIRGINIA AN ADVOCATE OF STATE RIGHTS.

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that had taken place in the Union might be repaired by new constitutional guaranties, there could be no doubt, in view of her record in the past, that whenever the issue of war was made, whenever the coercion of the seceded States should be attempted, she would then be on the side of Southern Independence, prompt to risk all consequences. The Federal government could not have been blind to this; for the precedents of the State were well known. The Resolutions of '98 and '99, originated by Mr. Jefferson, constituted the text-book of State-Rights, and vindicated and maintained the right and duty of States suffering grievances from unjust and unconstitutional Federal legislation, to judge of the wrong as well as of "the mode and measure of redress." At every period of controversy between Federal and State authority, the voice of Virginia was the first to be heard in behalf of State Rights. In 1832-33, the Governor of Virginia, John Floyd, the elder, had declared that Federal troops should not pass the banks of the Potomac to coerce South Carolina into obedience to the tariff laws, unless over his dead body; and a majority of the Legislature of Virginia had then indicated their recognition of the right of a State to secede from the Union. At every stage of the agitation of the slavery question in Congress and in the Northern States, Virginia declared her sentiments, and entered upon her legislative records declarations that she would resist the aggressive spirit of the Northern majority, even to the disruption of the ties that bound her to the Union. In 1848, she had resolved, in legislative council, that she would not submit to the passage of the Wilmot proviso, or any kindred measure. From the date of the organization of the Anti-Slavery party, her people, of all parties, had declared that the election of an abolitionist to the Presidency would be a virtual declaration of war against the South. The Legislature that assembled a few weeks after Mr. Lincoln's election, declared, in effect, with only four dissenting voices, that the interests of Virginia were thoroughly identified with those of the other Southern States, and that any intimation from any source, that her people were looking to any combination in the last resort other than union with them, was unpatriotic and treasonable.— In view of a record so plain and explicit, it was madness to suppose that the Convention of 1861 entertained any desire to cling to the Union other than by constitutional guaranties, or that Virginia would hesitate for a moment to separate from that Union whenever it should actually undertake to subjugate her sister States of the South.

We have seen that there was but little prospect of peace in the proceedings of Congress, or in the action of the people, outside of Congress, through the forms of State authority. The conduct of the Federal Executive afforded no better prospect; indeed, instead of being negative in its results, it did much to vex the country and to provoke hostility.

The policy of Mr. Buchanan was unfortunately weak and hesitating—

an attempt at ambidexterity, in which he equally failed to conciliate the Secessionists and pacify their designs, or to make any resolute effort to save the Union. He had, in his message to Congress, denounced secession as revolutionary; and although he was clear in the constitutional proposition that there was no right of "coercion " on the part of the Federal Government, yet he did but little, and that irresolutely, to put that Government in a state of defence, in the event of violence on the part of the seceded States. This timid old man-a cautious, secretive politician, who never felt the warmth of an emotion, and had been bred in the harsh school of political selfishness-attempted to stand between two parties; and the result was embarrassment, double-dealing, weak and despicable querulousness, and, finally, the condemnation and contempt of each of the parties between whom he attempted to distribute his favours.

It is true that Mr. Buchanan was over-censured by the North for his failure to reinforce the garrisons of the Southern forts. When Gen. Scott, on the 15th of December, 1860, recommended that nine Federal fortifications in the Southern States should be effectively garrisoned, there were only five companies of Federal troops within his reach; and he could only have intended in proposing such an impracticable measure to make a certain reputation rather as a politician than as a general. Again, when, six weeks later, Gen. Scott renewed this recommendation, the fact was that the whole force at his command consisted of six hundred recruits, obtained since the date of his first recommendation, in addition to the five regular companies. The army of the United States was still out of reach on the remote frontiers; and Gen. Scott must have known that it would be impossible to withdraw it during mid-winter in time for this military operation.

But while Mr. Buchanan's course in refusing to distribute a thousand men among the numerous forts in the Cotton States, as well as Fortress Monroe, is, in a measure, defensible against Northern criticism, for such a proceeding would have been an exhibition of weakness instead of strength, and, at the time, a dangerous provocation to the seceded States, yet, in this same matter, he was about to commit an act of perfidy, for which there can be neither excuse nor disguise. He had refused to reinforce Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbour, for the reason that it might provoke and alarm the Secession party, and disturb the movements in Congress and in the country then looking towards peace. But, for the same reason, he gave the distinct and solemn pledge that he would permit the military status quo in Charleston Harbour to remain unless South Carolina herself should attempt to disturb it. No language could be more explicit than that in which this pledge was conveyed.

The official instructions made on the 11th of December to Major Anderson, then in command of Fort Moultrie, ran as follows:

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"You are aware of the great anxiety of the Secretary of War that a collision of the troops with the people of the State shall be avoided, and of his studied determination to pursue a course with reference to the military force and forts in this harbour, which shall guard against such a collision. He has, therefore, carefully abstained from increasing the force at this point, or taking any measures which might add to the present excited state of the public mind, or which would throw any doubt on the confidence he feels that South Carolina will not attempt by violence to obtain possession of the public works or interfere with their occupancy. The smallness of your force will not permit you, perhaps, to occupy more than one of the three forts, but an attack on or attempt to take possession of either one of them will be regarded as an act of hostility, and you may then put your command into either of them which you may deem most proper to increase its power of resistance."

On the day previous to the date of these instructions, the South Carolina delegation had called on the President; the distinct object of their visit being to consult with him as to the best means of avoiding a hostile collision between their State and the Federal Government. At the instance of Mr. Buchanan, their communication was put in writing, and they presented him the following note:

"In compliance with our statement to you yesterday, we now express to you our strong conviction that neither the constituted authorities, nor any body of the people of the State of South Carolina, will either attack or molest the United States forts in the harbour of Charleston, previously to the action of the convention; and we hope and believe not until an offer has been made through an accredited representative to negotiate for an amicable arrangement of all matters between the State and Federal Government, provided that no reinforcements be sent into these forts, and their relative military status shall remain as at present."

Yet we have seen how this military status was disturbed by Major Anderson's removal to Fort Sumter, an act which greatly strengthened his position, which put him from an untenable post into what was then supposed to be an impregnable defence, which changed the status, quite as much so as an accession of numerical force, and which, to the State of South Carolina, could have none other than a hostile significance. Mr. Buchanan was reminded of his pledge, and asked to order Major Anderson back to Fort Moultrie. He refused to do so. Mr. Floyd, of Virginia, the Secretary of War, in view of the President's violation of faith, and the atempt to make him a party to it, withdrew from the cabinet in a high state of indignation; and thus was accomplished the first act of Mr. Buchanan's perfidy on the eve of war.

The second was soon to follow. After determining not to order Anderson back to Fort Moultrie, President Buchanan determined to take

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