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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
To Mr. Sutliff.
WASHINGTON CITY, Dec'r. 20, 1850.
MY DEAR SIR, I rec'd. your letter last night and thank you for it. I had written you the day before and have little to add.
Those in Ohio, who think that the Radical Democracy are going to acquiesce in the nomination of a partizan of the leading measures of this administration as a Democratic Candidate for the Presidency deceive themselves; and those who think that any democratic candidate can be elected without the aid of the Radical Democracy deceive themselves still more egregiously. There may be a democratic National Convention, but its action will hardly be as binding as that of 1848. The Slaveholders and their allies declare openly that they will support nobody who is tainted with Freesoilism, in other words, nobody who does not agree to except slavery from the application of his principles: with what force can they complain of us, if we refuse to support anybody who does? Complain or not they will find enough, who are inflexible, to defeat their cherished scheme of reaching the patronage of the National Government through the prostitution of the Democratic organization to the purposes of the slaveholders. I venture the prediction that Benton will support none of the Compromise Tribe. He don't worship the "political trinity" of Foote Clay-CassWebster.
I see the Chillicothe Advertiser, The Cin. Enquirer, the Mt. Vernon Banner, and the Trumbull Democrat are joining in denunciation of the election of Morse, and of all cooperation with Free Democrats by the Old Liners. I am sorry that the defeat of Myers has prepared some to sympathize with this spirit, who would otherwise have been differently affected. But after all, I trust, the influence of this denunciation will not be great. The Old Line democrats of Ohio, separating themselves from the Free Democrats, cannot hope for power, except by submitting to Whig terms and Whig alliances. The demoralization of the party
would be sure to result. I cannot believe that any considerable number will consent to it.
I hope the Free Democrats in the Legislature will stand firm. I regret exceedingly Mr. Randall's course: but it is too late to amend the past. Mr. Giddings sees it as I do, and regrets it as I do. But at all events stand firm, not for mere freesoilism, but for free democracy, for the whole glorious family of free principles, in land, currency, trade & men.
Senator if the free democrats think of going out of their own rank for the Cong term why not vote for Spalding, Myers, Carter, or Stanton, - some man of known and proved sympathy with us? Mere pledges, without antecedent works, are of little worth. How can democrats either object to such a man as Brinkerhoff or Fitch, always democrats. Though they voted for the Buffalo nominee last election, did they not vote for the elder and better democrat?
But the Old Line democrats must meet the Free democrats on terms of equality. Our democracy is as good as theirs—we think it better. Our devotion to democratic principles is as ardent as their and as constant. We think it more ardent and more constant. They must recognize us as democrats, differing from them in only one respect, that we will not cooperate with slaveholders, who make antislavery a disqualification for their suffrages, in party organization. In voting for a true free democrat for Senator, they sacrifice nothing of principle or interest. I trust there will be no yielding to the clamor of the Hunker Presses, and that the Free Democrats will not relax their standard in consequence of it. Rather than aid in placing in the Senate, a man who' will sell out to the slaveholders, let the election go over, or let the Hunkers of both sides combine, and take the consequences. Better elect in cooperation with the whigs - though hardly any circumstances would, under the present aspects of National politics, reconcile me to this—if a good and reliable freesoiler can be secured, though of whig affinities, than take the responsibility of voting for a man who may deceive you.
I have read Wood's message. It is not very definite, and his doctrines on the subject of the Fugitive Slave law are
unworthy of him; but on the whole it is antislavery enough to give no satisfaction whatever to the Hunkers here.
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