“What the People Think.” Editorial


In this scathing editorial by the New York Tribune, the Whig author/s directly attack what they refer to as the “Satanic Press” for falsely claiming that New York City citizens are in favor of the Nebraska Bill put forward by the Senator from Illinois, Stephen Douglas, and they ask the citizens to publicly affirm their objections to the bill.


[1] “Crown’s got by blood must by blood maintained.” And a measure originating in fraud and perfidy naturally requires to be bolstered up at every stage by gigantic and unblushing falsehood.

The Satanic Press audaciously asserts that the public opinion of this City is in favor of Douglas’s Nebraska bill [2], and proves it, after its fashion, by giving a table of the relative circulation of New York journals favoring and those opposing the passage of that measure. After putting its own circulation as high as it sees fit, it seizes upon that of The Sun [3] and transfers it bodily from the side of Freedom to that of Slavery, reduces that of THE TRIBUNE some Twelve Thousand copies below the account circulation of our Weekly and Semi-Weekly editions (now about One Hundred and Ten Thousand copies) or many thousands more than the aggregate circulation of ALL the journals favoring Douglas’s Nebraska project printed in our City. We presume the regular issues of other anti-repudiation journals are misstated by the Satanic as egregiously as ours. And in this way capital is sought to be made for the Iniquity by the most willful representations — as, for instance, when the Tabernacle full of resolute freemen assembled on Saturday evening to protest against Douglas’s project is belittled by it to a tame gathering of fifteen hundred! Can History be thus falsified? Can the public mind be thus misled?

We appeal to every fellow citizen to bear witness as to the truth of our assertion that at least nine of every ten persons who have expressed an opinion with regard to Douglas’s bill have declared against it; while of the few who have declared for it nearly everyone is a politician by trade whose partisan necessities and personal interests constrain him to approve whatever he supposes to have been, or soon to be, made a party Shibboleth. All the favor shown to that bill in this strongly Compromise and Cotton City emananates from men who would feel constrained to stand up for the re-establishment of Slavery in this State if they should ever find that project inscribed on a Baltimore Democratic platform.

If the leading advocates of Douglas’s bill in our City doubt the truth of what we here assert, and are willing to rest their opinions by facts, we suggest to them the preparation of two Memorials — one on their part, asking our Representatives to support, and both House of Congress to pass Douglas’s bill, and the other on the part of the opponents of that measure, making a contrary request. Let copies of these be printed, and let one person on each side take copies of these Memorials and, going together, simply lay them down before each legal voter and ask him to sign whichever of them shall be expressive of his own views. Let there be no discussion, no controversy, no words; but simply let each paper, couched in unequivocal language and making a distinct request, be laid down before the merchant or clerk, the mechanic or laborer, with the simple suggestion, “If you are a legal voter, and have any opinion or preference with respect to Nebraska, we will thank you to sign whichever of these two Memorials is the more accordant with your views” — and, on receiving his answer, bow and pass on. Would the advocates of Douglas’s bill like to unite with its opponents in thus canvassing the City? If so, we are quite confident that they can be promptly accommodated. And if they can’t expect to carry a majority in this Cotton City, where Pierce had Eleven Thousand Majority, where in the Free States can they expect one?




New York Tribune


[1] Tribune. New York, NY. 20 February, 1854. 

[2] Stephen Douglas, then Senator of Illinois. See also Kansas-Nebraska Act and Missouri Compromise in this archive

[3] The New York Sun was published from 1833 to 1950 and was revived again in 2002. 

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