Crittenden Pleas for Peace
President, it is an admitted fact that our Union, to some extent, has already
been dismembered; and that further dismemberment is impending and threatened.
It is a fact that the country is in danger. This is admitted on all hands. It
is our duty, if we can, provide a remedy for this … Remedies have been propose;
resolutions have been offered, proposing for adoption measures which it was
thought would satisfy the country… We have passed none of these measures. The
differences of opinions among Senators have been such that we have not been
able to concur in any of these measures which have been proposed … We are about
to adjourn. We have done nothing.
I would say to the people [of the South], the distraction which exists in the opinion of those that constitute Congress are such that they cannot agree upon measures now; you may think and feel that justice is denied you; it may be so; but is denied you by whom? In a time of high party excitement, by one Congress. Your Constitution is so framed to give you, in a short period, many Congresses. The power returns to the people of electing their representatives; and this government is worth being patient for, and worth being a great deal for. Be patient and bear it, even though you think you are wronged … Hold fast to the Union. The Union is the instrument by which you may obtain redress, by which you will in the end retain redress. Congress may err. It may err from error of judgment, from passion, from excitement, from party heats; they will not last always. The principles on which your Government was founded recognize all these frailties, recognize all these sources of occasional and temporary wrong and injustice, but they furnish remedy for it. They furnish remedy in the often-recurring elections which people make. It is not far the first offense that dismemberment and disunion are justified. Hold fast to the Union. There is safety, known safety; and the same Union is the best assurance you can have of eventually obtaining from your fellow-citizens a generous recompose for all the wrongs you have received, and a generous remedy against any wrongs hereafter.
These are my feelings, and this would be my advice. My advice is that of a Union man earnest fro its preservation … This would be my advice at all times upon this question, and upon every question which threatened the Union: stay in the Union and strive in the Union….
Through this great nation common blood flows. What man is there here that is not of a blood, flowing – meandering – perhaps through every State in the Union? And we talk about not compromising a family quarrel; and that is to be help up as patriotism, or party fidelity. In the name of God, who is it that will adopt that policy? We are one people in blood; in language one; in thoughts one; we read the same books; we feed on the same meats; we go to the same school; we belong to the same communion. If, as we go through the quarrelsome world, we meet with our little difficulties, if we wish to carry with us grateful hearts of the blessing we have enjoyed, we shall be bound to compromise with the difficulties that must occur on all have the ways of the world that are trodden by Governments on earth. It is our infirmity to have such difficulties. Let it be our magnanimity and our wisdom to compromise and settle them.