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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
To E. S. Hamlin.
WASHINGTON CITY, Feb. 24, 1851.
MY DEAR SIR, I am in debt to you, but not absolutely insolvent. I have taken to be sure rather an unreasonable stay of execution, but I always meant to pay up at last. But you will have even now to take payment in depreciated currency and that you will say is half way to repudiation. I can only give you a very hurried and unsatisfactory letter for your good one.
The papers will shew you that agitation has not been entirely excluded from the Senate. Clay has himself been the arch agitator. For myself I thought it a good occasion to appear in the character of a friend to the progress of business, and the postponement of slavery discussions, which would interfere with it at this session. I was really anxious for the progress of business—for the fate of cheap postage and the harbor & river bill depended upon it. And besides
I decided to show the country the hypocrisy of those pretences which always put the " other public interests" in competition with "freedom" but never in competition with slavery. You will see my speech and I hope approve of it. It had one capital effect. It brought out Rhett in an able speech vindicating the same views of the fugitive servant clause of the Constitution which I adopt. These southern ultras are altogether more honest than the southern dough-faces. They believe slavery to be right most of them and the rest believe it to be a necessity. They all agree in believing that in the- present state of the races in the slave states slavery is best for both and indeed indispensable to the safety of both. They believing and holding also that the Constitution recognizes their right of property in slaves, their conclusions are natural enough. They avow them boldly and act upon them. The Compromisers on the other hand, generally, regard slavery as a temporary institution; but use it as a means of gaining and retaining political power.
It seems to me that the only course for us who believe in equal rights without limitations or exceptions, is to act together. We shall be ruined if we undertake to act with the Whigs. We cannot merge in the Old Line Democracy, so long as it cleaves to its alliance with the slave power, without being submerged. It seems to me that our true course, in the event, that the young men's Democratic Convention in May fail, as I fear they will fail, to take ground on the slavery questions which we can approve, is to call a Convention of Radical Democrats or Jeffersonian Democrats to meet in June or thereabouts and organize throughout the State. This course will bring Hunkerism to its senses.
All on the subject of the Presidency is much as it was when I last wrote you. Douglas is figuring, but he can't come it.
Write me at Cincinnati immediately on receiving this. I expect to be there on Friday night or Saturday morning of next week: and I hope to be able to spend a day or two in Columbus before the Legislature adjourns. I desire much to see our friends there.
Miller of the Toledo Republican writes me that he is about to sell out. I am sorry; but if he and Riley can be secured for the Columbus paper the cause may not lose by it. Under existing circumstances it is very important to have a paper of the right kind at the Capital.
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