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Compromise in politics can be intolerable. The run-up to the Civil War shows that

Compromise in politics can be intolerable. The run-up to the Civil War shows that
An 1855 engraving depicts Henry Clay speaking in the Senate on the Compromise of 1850. (Library of Congress Prints)

To the editor: I was encouraged by the op-ed article headline “ ‘Compromise’ Wasn't Always a Dirty Word in American Politics.” I agree a healthy democracy depends upon reasonable leaders’ ability to compromise.

However, some ideas are beyond the question of compromise. I was therefore saddened to see that historian H.W. Brands chose to cite the Missouri Compromise, nullification and the Fugitive Slave Act to support the argument in favor of the necessary role of compromise in good government.

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These are all arguments against compromise. There can be no justification for the continued enslavement of human beings.

While good government does depend on the ability to reasonably compromise, it must also know when compromise cannot be tolerated. And therein lies the difficulty of implementing good governance.

Margaret Vaughn, Torrance

..

To the editor: Brands writes of pre-Civil War statesman Henry Clay’s brilliant ability to negotiate, to “muddle through” issues of critical importance until they became more tractable. Clay’s sense of perspective came from his grasp of history and a genuine faith in his fellow man.

And that’s the rub: So many Americans today have no knowledge of history and cannot understand and accept that their all-important issues might just be transient in the greater scheme of things. And many of those who do understand historical context have lost faith in their fellow man.

I wonder what Clay would advise?

Jane Faulkner, Solvang

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