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قراءة كتاب The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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‏اللغة: English
The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863
Devoted to Literature and National Policy

The Continental Monthly, Vol. 4, No. 2, August, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

feeling of every true American. This will be the knowledge, gained by the bitterest experience, which will give us that nationality we have so long lacked.

And not a little conducive to the development of that new-found nationality will be the respect and admiration, not to say applause, which the display of our latent power and resources, the prosperous conduct and successful close of this the most gigantic struggle of history, will win for us from the nations of the Old World. And this brings me to the second beneficial effect of this war upon our future, namely, the establishment of our position among the great powers of the earth, and our relief from all future aggressions, encroachments, and annoyances of the mother country. From the day when our independence was declared, America has been an eyesore to all the leading Governments of Europe—the object of detraction and bitter hostility, of envy, hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness. And though these feelings have been partially concealed under the cloak of studied politeness and false, hollow-hearted friendship, occasions enough have been given for them to break forth in sufficient intensity to establish beyond a question the fact of their existence. The apostles of despotic power have suffered no opportunity to escape of dealing a blow at our national existence: even the low and disreputable weapon of slander has been brought to bear against us, and we have been held up to mankind as a race of visionaries, of fanatical reformers, whose efforts have ever been to destroy all the honored landmarks of the past, and lead humanity back over the track of ages to the socialism of primitive existence. And it was but natural for us to expect little sympathy from their hands, for in our success lay the triumph of a principle which was deadly to all their cherished institutions—a principle which, once firmly established, must in time inevitably spread beyond the waters, to the utter and eternal downfall of aristocracies and dynasties, since it is founded in one of the very first truths of universal human nature—in the recognition of the rights of the individual, and of the total dependence of the governing upon the governed. And yet they could not withhold their admiration of the indomitable energy and perseverance of the American race, and their wonder at our miraculous growth in enlightenment and power. Taught wisdom by the past, they dared not combine to crush us by brute force, and so they have waited and hoped for the downfall which they sincerely believed would, sooner or later, overtake us. England and France have ever hung about us like hungry wolves around the dying buffalo, waiting patiently for the hour when they might safely step in and claim the lion's share of the spoil. The crisis of our fate which they have so long awaited, they now fondly believe to be upon us; and old England, false, treacherous, cowardly, piratical England, fearful lest our native resources may enable us to weather the storm, has at last dropped the mask of a century, and openly encourages and abets the rebels and traitors who are desperately striving for our dismemberment, even furnishing them with the very bone and sinews of war, that they may compass their unholy ends, and effect the ruin which will give to her another fat colonial province. While the more wily French emperor, looking to our possible success, and anxious for a subterfuge beneath which he may skulk in that event, and so escape the retribution which will assuredly fall upon his head, has really outwitted his island rival, in his Mexican expedition, whereby he hoped to 'kill two birds with one stone,' securing, in either event, the richest portion of the American continent, and thereby establishing a foothold, that, in case of our ruin, he may be first 'in at the death,' and carry off the larger share of the booty. And what will be the result? Checked, defeated, disgraced on the very threshold of his undertaking, his chosen and hitherto invincible legions, furnished with all the appliances of warlike invention, and perfected in the boasted French skill and discipline, baffled and routed by the half-civilized Mexicans, to whose very capital our own raw volunteers marched in a single season, he will be by no means anxious to measure his strength with ours when we shall have emerged from a war in which the lessons of military science, learned by hard experience, have been widely diffused among our hitherto peaceful people, and when we shall have nearly a million of trained troops ready to spring to arms at an hour's call; troops who will fight a foreign foe with double the courage and desperation which has characterized the present war. If he cannot subdue the rude Mexicans, can he conquer us?

The development of those latent resources of which even ourselves were ignorant, the display of wealth and power at which we are astonished no less than foreign nations, the energetic prosecution of more than two years of war on such a magnificently extended and expensive scale, without even feeling the drain upon either our population or treasure, have taught Great Britain a lesson which she will not soon forget, and of which she will not fail to avail herself. What nation ever before, without even the nucleus of a standing army, raised, equipped, and put into the field, within a brief six months, an army of half a million of men, and supported it for such a length of time, at the cost of a million dollars per day, while scarcely increasing the burden of taxation upon the people? And yet this was done by a portion only of our country—the Northern States; and that, too, by a people totally of and hitherto unaccustomed to warlike pursuits. If such are our strength and resources when divided, what will they be united and against a foreign foe? England cannot fail to see the question in this light, and in the future she will find her interest in courting our friendship and alliance, rather than in continual encroachment and exasperation. We shall hear no more of Bay Islands or northwestern boundaries, of San Juan or rights of search; and the Monroe doctrine will perforce receive from her a recognition which she has never yet accorded to it. She will recognize as the fiat of destiny our supremacy on the western hemisphere. Foreign nations have respected us in the past; they must fear us in the future. And while they will have no cause to dread our interference with the affairs of the Old World, they will be cautious of tampering with a power which has proved itself one of the first, if not the very first, on the face of the earth.

For—and this is another effect of the war which may be noticed in this connection—for many years to come we shall be a military nation. The necessity of guarding against a similar outbreak in the future will prompt the increase of our standing army; while the same cause, as well as the taste for military pursuits which our people will have acquired during this war, will keep the great mass of the people prepared to respond to the first call in the hour of danger. The militia laws will be revived, revised, and established on a firmer basis than ever before, and the antiquated militia musters and 'June trainings' will again become our most cherished holidays. Independent military organizations will spring up and flourish all over the land, and he who aforetime wore his gorgeous uniform at the heavy cost of running the gauntlet of his neighbors' sneers and gibes as a holiday soldier, will now be honored in enrolling his name among the 'Independent Rifles' of his native village. The youth will labor to acquire the elements of military knowledge and reduce them to practice, not with a view to holiday parades, but with an eye to the possible exigencies of the future, knowing that when the hour of trial shall come, the post of honor and of fame will be open to all, and that he who has most cultivated the military art in time of peace will bid fair to win in the race for