“The True Policy.” Editorial.


This editorial from the Chicago Press and Tribune, written from the Republican view, looks ahead half a century to what America will look like as the population genetically shifts due to the expanded slave trade. It argues that America must begin to prepare the slave population for freedom and full citizenship and to prepare herself for the retribution that comes as a result of her inaction.


[1] The late insurrection in Virginia, [2] which has meant shivers of fear to the inmost fibre of every white man, woman and child in that State, and which will produce a panic throughout all slaveholding communities, is probably but the beginning of a series of like endeavors, which will horrify the country, if the present policy of the bogus Democratic party is pursued for another ten or twenty years. With the madness and recklessness of men bent upon their certain destruction, those engaged in promoting the slaveholding interest are filling the land with their clamor for more negroes, are weakening the defences of the institution by spreading it over an indefinite area, and are opposing with deadly bitterness every attempt of the humane and philanthropic to ward off the dangers which they are accumulating upon their heads. In all this they are assisted by the bogus Democratic party. Utterly blind to or regardless of the impending crisis, they have, by their repeated outrages upon the rights and sensibilities of the North, by their breaches of solemn compacts, in the Kansas-Nebraska bill [3], by their mode of enforcing the Fugitive Slave Law, by their Kansas policy, by their Dred Scot decisions [4], and by their attempted revival of the infamous Slave- Trade, alienated their most powerful friends of the North, and have put to work bands of reckless and bloody men, like Brown and his confederates, who will shrink at nothing, stop at nothing in the gratification of their instincts of fanaticism and revenge. While all this has been going on, in spite of all repressive measures — the lash, the thumb-screw, the faggot and the blood-hounds — exercised without mercy, the slaves themselves have been steadily improving in intelligence and dangerous acquirements. A sense of their own degraded and oppressed condition is stealing upon them; men qualified by large admixtures of white blood in their veins, and by a preparatory schooling in tyranny and vice to be their leaders, are springing up; fugitives that have tasted in the Northern States or in Canada, the sweets of liberty, and who have learned the full hatefulness and atrocity of Slavery, are making their way back to the plantations for the instruction of their old companions; white men, who, like the leaders of the late revolt, have been goaded to insanity by the outrages perpetrated upon them by pro-slavery men at the outposts and in the citadel of the institution, are, we believe, busy with their nefarious schemes for the promotion of murder; and among the enslaved themselves we are told there is a growing spirit of insubordination that needs only an opportunity to break out into the fearful excesses which marked the revolution at St. Domingo [5]. These things point to contingencies which no sane man can contemplate without a thrill of horror. They suggest scenes which we pray may never be enacted, terrible retribution which should be left to God alone. But if such a picture may be drawn, when the slave population numbers barely four millions and a half, what may we not fear, if the rule of the Democracy continues uninterrupted and the accompanying slave-breeding, slavery-extending, slave-whipping and slave-burning go on for twenty or fifty years more. At the end of this century — a period of only forty years, or half the time of our national existence — the slaves of the United States will number thirteen and a half millions — a population four and a half times larger than that which fought the battles of the American Revolution and overpowered the most warlike and puissant nation of the earth! These people — these millions of “things without any rights which white men are bound to respect” — will not be “niggers” pure and simple. The work of amalgamation is going on. At this date, there is at least one mulatto for each democratic voter in all the South; and the well known propensities of those who fill the air with their cries in reprobation of the debasement of the white blood will continue the bleaching process which has been so inauspiciously commenced. Out of the thirteen millions, three millions will be the possessors of an Anglo-Saxon lineage on either the father’s or the mother’s side. In every one of them, the capabilities for all in the way of hate and revenge in which either Africans or Europeans ever indulge, will be fully developed!

We ask, if, in view of facts like these which come home fortified by the lessons of history and experience, it is not time for a reversal of the policy of the country on this everlasting Slavery question? Shall we encourage the Democracy in their attempt to re-open the Slave Trade, and thus add new and more fearful dangers to those which are incident to the presence of the servile race already within our borders? Shall we permit the taunts and opprobrious epithets which are hurled at the Republican party to prevent the doing all that may be done for the restriction of the institution within the area which it already curses? Shall we not put the policy of the false and fallen Democracy behind us, and by the encouragement of Emancipation in Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, and the deportation of the freed men to Liberia, Hayti, Central America and Jamaica, rescue the border slave States from the fate which threatens their Southern neighbors? Shall we not, by the work of educating and Christianizing the blacks everywhere, from Maine to Texas, prepare them for that life of independence for which their struggles will never cease? Shall we not as patriots, warned by the insurrections past, and those more terrible which loom up in the future, do whatever in us lies, for the riddance of the country, of that volcanic element, which, neglected, will carry arson, rape and murder wherever it breaks out in wrath? Let us unite in the endeavor to restore the old and safe policy of the country when the revolutionary patriots ruled it — patriots who foresaw the dangers which the late outbreak has made fearfully apparent. The Democratic policy is exploded. It is the policy of propagandism, which can have but one end, and that will be the bloodiest succession of tragedies that the world ever knew. The rights of humanity cannot always be disregarded. It is time for this nation to begin its preparations for retribution. Permit the Democracy to rule, and this Harper’s Ferry blood is but the few falling drops which presage the burst.




Chicago Press and Tribune


[1] Press and Tribune. Chicago IL. 22 October, 1859.

[2] Abolitionist John Brown led a raid on an armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia) on October 16, 1859 in an attempt to abolish the institution of slavery.  

[3] See the Kansas Nebraska Act in this archive. 

[4] See the Dred Scott Decision in this archive. 

[5] A successful anti-slavery revolution in Haiti (the former Saint Domingue) began on August 22, 1791 and ended in 1804.  

Scroll to Top