Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Party of No Compromise Prompts Secession


In the words of historian Clement Eaton, "the secession of the lower South marks the end of a long period of sectional adjustment by the fine art of compromise.  The exercise of this art is indispensable in a democratic country like the United States, containing regions with clashing economic interests."  --- Davis was trying to find compromise and force Congress to ….

Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman

North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission

"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"

Party of No Compromise Prompts Secession

"When the Committee of Thirteen met, they accepted a motion of [Senator] Jefferson Davis (December 23) that no report should be adopted unless it received the assent both of a majority of the Republican members and a majority of the other members of the committee. The reason for this procedure was that no measure which was unacceptable to the Republicans would be likely to pass Congress. The key man on the committee, therefore, was William H. Seward, the most prominent Republican leader.  This New Yorker was so strongly influenced by the astute politician, Thurlow Weed, editor of the Albany, New York, Evening Journal that the connection was recognized in the epigram, "Weed is Seward and Seward is Weed."

Before Seward made his decision as to how he would vote on compromise proposals and also whether he should accept a position in Lincoln's cabinet as Secretary of State he consulted Weed. This powerful Republican politician had just returned from Springfield, Illinois, where he had an interview with Lincoln.  Shortly before his pilgrimage to Springfield, Weed, who represented the business interests, had publicly supported compromise on the territorial question in his paper.

However, in his memorable interview with the President-elect he learned that Lincoln was opposed to the restoration of the Missouri Compromise line. Weed reported this information to Seward, and the latter, accordingly, followed the leader of his party in rejecting compromise on the basis of the Crittenden proposals.

The Republican members voted against this plan of adjustment [between North and South]. The representatives of the lower South on the committee also voted in the negative. This unwise action of the Southerners was taken because the Republicans had voted against the Crittenden compromise, although [Robert] Toombs, Davis, and other prominent Southern leaders were willing to accept it.  Consequently the Senate Committee of Thirteen reported on December 31, eleven days after the meeting, that they were unable to agree on any plan of adjustment.

Crittenden, on January 3, 1861, urged Congress to allow the people of the whole country to vote on his proposals in solemn referendum, but this plea was rejected by a majority of the Republicans. Delaying tactics by the Republicans prevented a vote in the Senate on the Crittenden Compromise until March 3, when it was rejected by a vote of 20 to 19, after many of the Southern Senators had departed."

(The History of the Old South, Clement Eaton, MacMillan Company, 1949, pp. 578-579)