The National Crisis — Lincoln and McClernand.
In yesterday's Journal appeared an editorial which, it is doing no violence to truth or justice, we suppose, to say was authorized by Mr. Lincoln and expresses his views. This fact, and Mr. Lincoln's high official position, give to the article an importance and significance of no ordinary character.
The recent democratic state convention, our readers will remember, adopted resolutions denying the constitutional authority for secession, and denouncing as revolutionary all acts of nullification. They also declared the right and duty of the federal government to protect federal property wherever situated, but denied that military force could be legally employed within the limits and jurisdiction of a state, in the execution of the law, unless such force was employed in aid of the civil authorities, lawfully requiring it.
For the passage of these resolutions, for uttering these declarations of truths and constitutional law, never before questioned by any party in any quarter of the country, Mr. Lincoln's friends and his newspaper organs have denounced the democratic convention as a nest of traitors, a gang of disunionists, and the resolutions as an epitome of the doctrines of treason. These are harsh terms to apply at any time, under any circumstances, to any body of men, but when applied under the sanction and approval of the president elect, to the representatives of nearly one half of the people of his own state, are so violative of good taste, and so repulsive to the intelligence of respectable men of all parties, as to fail in carrying with them any stigma upon the accused.
Since Mr. Lincoln's election, the conservative men of the nation have looked anxiously to him for some word of encouragement. The cotton states have revolted; the border states have not yet revolted, but unless there be an arrangement, an arrangement involving an amendment of the constitution — They, too, will follow in the revolution which has for its object and purpose the establishment of a new confederacy, foreign to the present Union, and wholly distinct and separate there from. Pending this alarming and distressing state of affairs with South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi already claiming to be out of the Union, and denying federal authority, the friends of the Union, those who seek to avoid civil war, have looked anxiously to Springfield for one word of appeal to the republicans in congress to unite with the conservatives in some measure that will save the Union and avert the horrible future that now looms up above the horizon. They have looked in vain! Mr. Lincoln has not spoken one word publicly on the contrary, his friends and his organs have given out to the country, that there was but one policy to be followed, and that of coercion. The states seceding were to be coerced into submission to federal authority. It was the policy of the sword — the policy that is well known and has been felt for ages in Russia, Austria, Turkey, France, and in all despotisms, but which has, fortunately, as yet been untried in this country.
Against this policy, the policy that would throw away all measures of peace, and would arm brother against brother, the democracy in convention have declared that they would never unite. They demanded that all peaceful measures should first be exhausted, and that then, when the all powerful north, in the generosity of her nature, and in the consciousness of her own strength, should have tendered the boon of peace and guarantee of justice, then, and not till then, should armies, navies, coercion and war become the subject of grave deliberation.
In the article in the Journal of which we speak, and of which we think there can be no doubt that Mr. Lincoln is the author, certain statements of doctrine are laid down. It is asserted that the issue is not whether the states shall or shall not go out; that it is not whether there shall be a compromise or not, but whether in case the seceding states persist, the authority of the federal government shall be maintained there by all the military power of the nation. This, Mr. Lincoln denies to be coercion. He denies that a state can secede, and denies that a state of war can ever exist between the states and the Union: enforcing the laws — "executing the laws," he calls it, by all the arms and force of the government, is not coercion, says Mr. Lincoln. That is to say, in case the people of St. Clair county refuse to pay their taxes, and refuse to carry out the law for the collection of taxes. Gov. Yates sends his troops to that neighborhood, and by force of arms takes possession of the farms and personal property, and at the point of the bayonet extorts the stipend demanded by the law, this would not be coercion, but executing the law. There may be a distinction, but we doubt whether the matter of fact people of the present day will appreciate it so far as to denounce coercion, and yet demand obedience and enforce submission at the sword's point.
But an attempt is made on the part of Mr. Lincoln's friends at home to drag Col. McClernand into the bloody policy they advocate. — Col. McClernand recently made a speech in congress, which is in full accordance with the resolutions of the democratic convention. He denies all constitutional authority for secession; deprecates and denounces all violence perpetrated and to be perpetrated by the revolutionists; denounces the maticism on the part of the Lincolnites of November last, which has brought the country to the present crisis; he invokes the parties to stay their violence and settle the questions of difficulty, peaceably and honorably, AND URGES AN AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION AS THE MEANS OF AVERTING CIVIL WAR. Col. McClernand does not, and no other patriot does, or will, talk of subjugating the slave states, by armies and navies, by Wide-Awakes or Zouave militia, until all measures of peace and compromise shall have been exhausted. If the north shall tender an amendment to the constitution, and the north and the border states shall press that settlement upon the seceding states, and it be rejected, then the proper and ultimate resort on the part of the north and of the border states will, when that contingency arises, be the subject of grave deliberation, on the part of the democracy, and all conservative men. But, should the president elect and his friends in congress and out of it, in state legislatures and state conventions, refuse to the American people the privilege of voting yea or nay on an amendment to the constitution, which shall forever dispose of the cause of all our national trouble, then the people of Illinois, including Col. McClernand and all the democracy, will have no difficulty whatever in holding Mr. Lincoln and his advisers responsible for a wilful and deliberate attempt to precipitate the country into an ill-advised, unnatural and bloody civil war. We have no authority to speak for others, as to what will be one when that civil war thus evoked and thus prosecuted shall be upon the country, but we think, that instead of bearing arms and marching across the frontiers of other states to war upon our countrymen, and emancipate their slaves by war, the people of this state will rise in their power, and will hurl the fratricidal wretches who may be engaged in the direction of the unnatural policy from power, and in their stead will elect men who have some love of country, some love of Union, and above all some respect for the judgment and will of the people.
The most painful particular of this editorial exploit of Mr. Lincoln, is the total absence of all words of kindly counsel. He talks learnedly and discusses elaborately the distinction between "coercion" and of "executing the laws by force of arms," but he has never a work in behalf of the Union, which is now prostrate at his feet, and in whose agonies the civilized world suffers in common with our own people. He has loud talk of armies and navies, but not one word for peace. He has much to say of executing the laws upon an unwilling people, but not one word of kindness, conciliation or compromise towards the millions of his own countrymen who honestly regard his elevation to power as the great evil of the age. George Grenville said that with ten regiments of grenadiers he could execute the laws, among three millions of freemen with arms in their hands. Mr. Lincoln says that with ten thousand soldiers he will not "coerce" but will execute the laws among ten millions of people with arms in their hands. The three millions, backed by the appeals of their kindred, their friends and their countrymen of the British empire, asked for compromise, conciliation and guarantees of vested rights. The ten millions, backed by the appeals of their kindred, their friends and their countrymen, ask Mr. Lincoln for compromise, conciliation, constitutional guarantees and peace. The three millions were denied; an unnatural war ensued, and George the Third lost an empire, and his subsequent mental imbecility has not rescued his name and his memory from the curses of outraged humanity. Mr. Lincoln has the example before him. George Grenville's regiments did not execute the laws as he had promised. Can Mr. Lincoln's regiments, engaged in a war no less resulting, hope for better success? If northern men are to be sent forth to engage in a civil war, let them have the satisfaction, and let their posterity have the consolation, of knowing that before they engaged in such a war, before they took up arms against their own flesh and blood, all the overtures of peace, offers of friendship, and guarantees of protection and security had been tendered their seceding brethren, and that it was not, until all peaceful measures had been exhausted that the strifes as unwillingly begun.