Greeley’s New York Tribune looked to “The Great Compromiser”, Henry Clay of Kentucky, for some counsel on the issue of slavery. Clay helped engineer both the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Compromise of 1850 — both efforts to stave off a crisis over slavery. From the New York Tribune, January 30, 1861:
A motto for the day.
And now, Sir, coming from a Slave State, as I do, I owe it to myself, I owe it to truth, I owe it to the subject, to state that no earthly power could induce me to vote for a specific measure for the introduction of Slavery where it had not before existed, either south or north of that line. Coming as I do from a Slave State, it is my solemn, deliberate, and well-matured determination that no power – no earthly power- shall compel me to vote for the positive introduction of Slavery either south or north of that line. Sir, while you reproach, and justly, too, our British ancestors for the introduction of this institution upon the continent of America, I am, for one, unwilling that the posterity of the present inhabitants of California and New-Mexico shall reproach us for doing just what we reproach Great Britain for doing to us. If the citizens of those Territories choose to establish Slavery, I am for admitting them with such provisions in their Constitutions; but then, it will be their own work, and not ours, and their posterity will have to reproach them, and not us, for forming Constitutions allowing the institution of Slavery to exist among them.
[Henry Clay, Speech in the Senate, Jan. 29, 1850.]