Position of Douglas — The Duty of Patriots.
We find in the St. Louis Democrat of yesterday the following dispatch, which that paper says is in response to a dispatch sent Senator Douglas from St. Louis, inquiring as to his position in the present crisis:
WASHINGTON, April 15, 1861.
To T. E. Courtenay:
Without have been consulted or indorsing any particular measure, I am for my country and against all assailants.
[Signed,] S. A. DOUGLAS.
Mr. Douglas, in common with the conservative men of the country generally, made every effort to affect a peaceable compromise — to adjust the sectional dispute in manner to prevent civil war. The ultra republican party on the one side and the southern extremists on the other, resisted all propositions for amicable settlement. The result is, civil war is upon us. What is the duty of the patriot? To shrink from responsibility, and stand off, crying out, with selfish imbecility: "It is none of our fight?" NO! It is our fight. It is the fight of every true American citizen. For one, we do not intend to be placed in the attitude of bluelight federalism of 1812, which prated irresponsibility and "Jim Madison's war;" which was repeated, in substance, by the sectionalists of 1846, that then it was "Jim Polk's war." The war is a FACT, and we are with our country.
Where else could any sane man expect Stephen A. Douglas to be? The war could have been avoided. Douglas, Crittenden and their compeers contended for peace and for peaceful measures. Sectional hate, and sectional privilege stood between. Mr. Lincoln could have prevented the strife. Jefferson Davis could have done so. They and their partizans, in their partizan blindness, could see nothing but partizanship. We, who stood between these contending forces, had no power in the premises, and now that blows have come, it is the patriot's duty to stand by his government, and contribute his aid to stifle the fratricidal strife, ruinous to the country and its every interest. It is idle for us now to comment on the causes which have produced the present condition of things. We have not, nor do we now, indorse the principles of the administration. We condemn them. So do we condemn secession and the objects of secession leaders. Both have ignored and defied the conservative sentiments of the country; but because of the errors of those who have initiated this senseless, suicidal strife, shall we calmly fold our arms, and see the country go to the devil because of internecine war produced by the bitter wrangles of two factious wings of a minority of the people? No! A thousand times no! But let us bear a hand. The one side has the government. It was constitutionally chosen. Let us sustain that, — not in its party principles, but in its resistance to rebellion. To refuse is to bid havoc, anarchy and endless civil war. We must not forget our patriotism in our partisan opposition to the party principles of our constitutional rulers. Our remedy is in the ballot, not in the bayonet. It is our duty to sustain the government as it is, that we may not be deprived of our remedy against the ills which are the results of the errors and excesses of both extremes of the dispute which has engulfed us all in dreadful strife, and which, continued, can only by disastrous to all. If the states of the Union cannot live in amity, let us resort to the constitutional means by which we can live apart; but, as an Illinoisan we cannot submit to a settlement dictated at the point of the bayonet. Our own safety, our highest and dearest interests, demand that we shall secure for ourselves an attitude, and place ourselves in such condition, that in the unnatural melee we may not be tacked to the tail of any faction outside of the Union framed by the fathers of the republic.
There is absolute necessity that Illinois should cultivate amity of feeling among themselves. — Made up of emigrants from all sections of the Union, and from various parts of the world, we are not homogeneous, but every dictate of patriotism, of self-preservation, points out to us, in the present crisis, unity of purpose. We have our rights to maintain, and these can best be secured by standing by the constitution and laws. Let us stand by the national government, and by the ballot correct the errors of the administration, whatever they may be. When we abandon this resort we are adrift, and, constituted as our state is, there is no guaranty that the bloody strifes of sectional faction may not be epitomized upon the soil of our adoption.
But we started out to comment briefly of Douglas and his position. We who have abiding faith in the man and his patriotism need no telegraphic outgivings to inform us of his views of the present crisis. He is with his government — with his country. As the friends and admirers of the man and the statesman, we have pride that he is so, but whether Douglas so stood or not, all patriots should. Let us urge the peaceful arbitrament, but let us be prepared to maintain our rights, willing and eager, all the while, to concede the rights of all.