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July-August 1860

From The Missouri Democrat, Wednesday, July 11, 1860.

The Four Parties and the Two Principles.

Though four well organized and mutually antagonistic parties are now contending with one another for the Federal Government, yet the fact is apparent that but two principles are on the field. The one demands the exclusion of slavery from, and the other the establishment of slavery in, the public domain. This is the simple statement of the case. There are therefore but two living representative parties-the two which represent opposing principles on the question of slavery in the Territories. The other two, however respectable they may prove to be numerically, are in reality but mere individual agglomerations, which encumber the arena and retard the settlement of the controversy. Neither has a vital principle, nor what for a short period is often found an excellent substitute for such a principle-the hope of victory. And the success of either, if its success were possible, would be a prolongation of the disastrous debate which has kept the Confederacy in a turmoil for ten years. Not so with the success of the Republican party or the pro-slavery Democracy. The election of either Lincoln or Breckinridge, would be a virtual adjustment of the matter in dispute. The establishment of slavery in the Territories at least, would be the inevitable result of the election of the latter-its exclusion therefrom will be the result of the election of the other. On the other hand, the election of either Douglas or Bell would necessarily have the effect of protracting the agony by postponing the decision. The Squatter Sovereignty Democracy and the Union party have this in common-they pretermit all expression of opinion on the character of slavery. The one refers the question to the territorial settlers, indifferent whether they vote it up or down. The other is entirely non-committal. You cannot tell from its platform whether it is hot, cold or lukewarm; whether it is for slavery, against slavery, or simply indifferent as to what may be the issue of the conflict between it and free labor. We by no means imagine that any such indifference is felt. On the contrary, we know that John Bell himself is an ardent advocate for the extension of slavery; but on the other hand, Edward Everett, who, of the two, has the better chance of being President, is an avowed slavery restrictionist. The party which these gentlemen represent may, therefore, be justly said to have no position on the all-engrossing question of the day. Partisans may attempt to overlook this inremed[i]able defect, but earnest men will not; and ninety men out of every hundred citizens are earnest on this question of slavery.

The Union party, it is plain, has no mission at this time, and the Squatter Sovereignty Democracy can have no mission at any time, except when double dealing, duplicity and an utter indifference to right and wrong are in the ascendant. Were the Union threatened[,] were the great question of our current politics the preservation or the dissolution of the Union, then indeed a Union party would be the only refuge of patriotism; but now every party rivals every other in professions of devotion to the Union; and whether or not the[y] are alike sincere it is apparent that danger is as little to be apprehended as if they were. We know that Douglas and his followers accuse their late associates of Disunion, but the language of Breckinridge and Lane gives the lie to the accusation, and the acts of Breckinridge's supporters sustain the denial given by their chief. From the slave States any more than from the free States no threat of revolt in the event of the election of a “Black Republican President” is longer heard. Douglas, it would seem, has succeeded Seward as the object of Southern hatred and obloquy, and the Disunionists, if Disunionists there be, are evidently more intent on defeating him than preventing the inauguration of Lincoln. But if there be any truth in the grave charge made by Douglas and his adherents against the Breckinridge men, it should inure to the benefit, not of the latter, but of the Union party. There is, however, no truth in it, and hence in the strife of the two great principles mentioned above, both the Union party and the Douglas party are mere supernumeraries. Every vote given to their candidates is a shot fired in the air. Their success would furnish no solution of the difficulties which beset public affairs. With the accession of either to power we should have a repetition of those internal throes and outward explosions which destroyed in succession the Whig and National Democratic parties, because the same elements of combustion and repulsion are found in both. But the Republican party and the pro-slavery Democratic party are each composed of homogeneous elements. Success may develop differences of opinion which are latent, within the former, but on the question of the extension of slavery-the governing question-it is a unit. So also, is the party of which Breckinridge is the candidate, and between them there is no middle ground now. The mutual advance of the two principles has at last brought two representative parties face to face, while every thing that impeded their progress, has either been destroyed or jostled aside. All other parties are but shams, while their nostrums for the relief of the body politic are of no value. We are told of two Highland chiefs, hereditary enemies, who suddenly met one day on a narrow path that wound along a precipice, the base of which was hid in a sunless, roaring chasm. They could not pass each other by-the way was too narrow-while neither would retrace his steps for the other. Both, therefore, saw that one had to go down-down into the jaws of the abyss before the other, and so it is with the two principles which now confront each other in Federal politics. The decisive hour has come, and every citizen and patriot should choose his side. The choice is between slavery and freedom for the Territories, and between the diverse social and political institutions which they create. Time and civilization have pronounced against slavery. The institution is a barbarism as well as an anachronism-a barbarism which the spirit of the age and the patriarchal relation has softened in many of its aspects, we are willing to acknowledge, but nevertheless a barbarism pure and unmixed in its origin and essence. How can any sound mind or true heart hesitate when slavery woos him on the one hand and freedom on the other?

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