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قراءة كتاب The Continental Monthly, Vol 6, No 5, November 1864 Devoted To Literature And National Policy

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‏اللغة: English
The Continental Monthly, Vol 6, No 5, November 1864
Devoted To Literature And National Policy

The Continental Monthly, Vol 6, No 5, November 1864 Devoted To Literature And National Policy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
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the same practical results by more peaceful methods.

The historian perceives that each of these great wars was an inevitable condition of liberty for the people, and has exalted their condition. In all these struggles there were the same kinds of opponents to the war: the ignorant, who knew nothing about it; the morally indifferent, who could not see why freemen and tyrants could not agree to live together in amity; and the demagogues, who were willing to ruin the country to exalt themselves. But we now understand that only through these red gates of war could the peoples of the world have marched up to their present enjoyment of liberty; that each naming portal is a triumphal arch, on which is inscribed some great conquest for mankind.

The present civil war in the United States is the last frantic attempt of this dying feudal aristocracy to save itself from inevitable dissolution. The election of Mr. Lincoln as President of the United States, in 1860, by the vote of every Free State, was the announcement to the world that the people of the United States had finally and decisively conquered the feudal aristocracy of the republic after a civil contest of eighty years. With no weapons but those placed in their hands by the Constitution of the United States, the freemen of the republic had practically put this great slave aristocracy under their feet forever. That portion of the Union which was controlled by the will of the whole people had become so decidedly superior in every attribute of power and civilization, that the slave aristocracy despaired of further peaceful resistance to the march of liberty through the land. Like every other aristocracy that has lived, it drew the sword on the people, either to subdue the whole country, or carry off a portion of it, to be governed in the interests of an oligarchy.

This great people was not plunged into civil war by unfriendly talking, or by the unfriendly legislation of the Northern people, or by the accidental election of Abraham Lincoln as President. Nations do not go to war for hard words or trifling acts of unfriendliness or accidental political changes; although these may be the ostensible causes of war—the sparks that finally explode the magazine. There was a real cause for this rebellion—the peaceful, constitutional triumph of the people over the aristocracy of the republic, after a struggle of eighty years. If ever a great oligarchy had good reason to fight, it was the Slave Power in 1860. It found itself defeated and condemned to a secondary position in the republic, with the assurance that its death was only a question of time. It is always a good cause of war to an aristocracy that its power is abridged; for an aristocracy cares only for itself, and honestly regards its own supremacy as the chief interest on earth. This Slave Power has only done what every such power has done since the foundation of the world. It has drawn the sword against the inevitable progress of mankind, and will be conquered by mankind. It is waging this terrible war, not against Northern Abolitionists, or the present Administration, but against the United States census tables of 1860; against the mighty realities of the progress of free society in the republic, which have startled us all; but with which no class of men were so well acquainted as Mr. Jefferson Davis and his associates in rebellion.

There has always been a conflict in our country between this old slave aristocracy and the people. The first great victory of the people was in the war of the Revolution. That war was inaugurated and forced upon the country by the masses of the people of the New England and Middle States. The aristocracy of the South, with their associates in the North, resisted the movement to separate the people from the crown of Great Britain, till resistance was impossible, and then came in, to some extent, to lead the movement and appropriate the rewards of success. But the free people of the North brought on and sustained the war. Massachusetts was then the fourth province in population; but she sent eight thousand more soldiers to the field during those bloody eight years than all the Southern States united. Virginia was then the empire State of the Union, and Rhode Island the least; but great, aristocratic Virginia furnished only seven hundred more soldiers than little, democratic Rhode Island. New England furnished more than half the troops raised during the Revolution; and the great centres of aristocracy in the Middle and Southern States were the stronghold of Toryism during the war. Indeed, a glance at the map of the Eastern and Middle States reveals the fact that the headquarters of the 'peace party' in the Revolutionary and the present war are in precisely the same localities. The 'Copperhead' districts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are the old Tory districts of the Revolution. The Tories of that day, with the mass of the Southern aristocracy, tried to 'stop the war' which was to lay the foundations of the freedom of all men. The Tories of to-day are engaged in the same infamous enterprise, and their fate will be the same.

Had the Slave Power been united in 1776, we should never have gained our independence. But it was divided. Every State was nominally a Slave State; but slaveholders were divided into two classes. The first was led by Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and other illustrious aristocrats, North and South; and, like the Liberal lords of Great Britain, threw their influence on the side of the people. This party, very strong in Virginia, very weak in the Carolinas, dragged the South through the war by the hair of its head; and compelled it to come into the Union. It also resolved to abolish the Slave Power, and succeeded in consecrating the whole Northwestern territory to freedom as early as 1790. The opposition party had its headquarters at Charleston, was treasonable or luke-warm during the war, and refused to come into the Union without guarantees for slavery.

The result of the whole struggle was, that the people of the thirteen colonies, with the help of a portion of their aristocracy, severed the country from Great Britain, and established a Government by which they, the people, believed themselves able, in time, to control the whole Union, and secure personal liberty in every State. For 'the compromises of the Constitution' mean just this: that our National Government was a great arena on which aristocracy and democracy could have a free fight. If the aristocracy beat, that Government would be made as despotic as South Carolina; if the democracy triumphed, it would become as free as Massachusetts. That was what the people had never before achieved: a free field to work for a Christian democracy. God bless the sturdy people of New England and the Middle States for this! God bless George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the liberal gentlemen of the Old Dominion, for helping the people do it. They did not win the victory, as many have supposed; but they bravely helped to lead the people of the Free States to this great military and civil achievement. Virginia was richly paid for the service of her aristocracy. But history tells us who did the work, and how nobly it was done.

The republic was now established, with a Constitution which might be made to uphold a democratic or an aristocratic government, as either party should triumph. The Slave Power, forced half reluctantly into the Union, now began to conspire to rule it for its own uses. All that was necessary, it thought, was to unite the aristocracy against the people. And this work was at once well begun. The first census was taken in 1790, and the last in 1860. This period divides itself, historically, into two portions. The thirty years from 1780 may be regarded as the period of the consolidation of the Slave Power, and its first distinct appearance as a great sectional aristocracy in 1820, in the struggle that resulted