202 CONFEDERATE PORTRAITS
reading of many of his speeches is a revelation of dig- nity, sobriety, and common sense. In numerous instances the course he recommended and urged and followed was the course of moderation and fairness. And what finer warning could be held out before a radical party than his conservative reminder : *' Truth is often strangled in the house and by the hands of its own friends by a struggle for that which is impossible to-day but which may easily be accomplished to-morrow.'- ^^
Acting in this spirit, he supported Clay and Webster in the Compromise measures of 1850, making himself extremely obnoxious to the Southern fire-eaters by doing so. And I think the importance of this conduct of the moderate Whigs cannot be too much insisted upon. They roused the wrath of violent partisans in all sections, and Webster, at least, earned the hatred and contempt of a large number of his constituents. Yet it would be easy to maintain that the patriotic action of that group of Whig leaders in 1850 saved the Union, not only then, but forever. They delayed the conflict for ten years, and during those ten years the North had time to accumulate the resources which, even so, were barely sufficient to enable it to overcome.
Again in the great Kansas struggle, Toombs's voice was given for moderation and prudence. ** Senator Toombs introduced a bill which, in fairness to the free- state settlers, went far beyond the measure that earlier in the season had been drawn by Douglas," says Mr.