« PrejšnjaNaprej »
more! Democracy is a rope of sand !” The United States, it said, lacked the cohesive power to maintain an Empire of such magnitude.
Disintegration was, already, exultingly proclaimed to be an accomplished fact, and no power, it was alleged, existed in the Federal Government to unite the fragments of the dissolved Republic.
At the moment of extremest National peril, when the son of the western pioneer whom the people had chosen for their Chief Magistrate, appalled by the dangers which gathered around his country, when his great and honest soul, bowed itself to God, and as a simple child, and in deepest supplication asked His blessing, and guidance; at this hour, from no crowned head, from no aristocratic ruler abroad, came any word of symyathy; but those proud rulers could jest at his uncouth figure, his uneourtly bearing. “The bubble is burst," said they. The Almighty answered that prayer; He joined the hearts and linked the hands of the American people and their President together; and from that hour, to his death, the needle does not more quickly respond to the polar influence, than did Lincoln to the highest and God-inspired impulses of a great people, people capable of the highest heroism and the grandest destiny.
Very soon the work-shops of England and Scotland were set in motion to prepare the means of sweeping American commerce from the ocean.
The active sympathy of the masses of European populations, and the cold and scarcely concealed hostility of the aristocratic and privileged classes, were early and constantly manifested during the entire struggle. This was, perhaps, not unnatural. In addition to the uneasiness which the rap id growth and commanding position of our country had cre ated, the whole world instinctively felt that the contest was between Freedom and Slavery, Democracy and Aristocracy. Could a Government, for the people and by the people, maintain itself through this fearful crisis? It was quite evident, from the beginning, that the privileged classes abroad were more than willing to see the great Republic broken up, to see it pronounced a failure. Mr. Buchanan had left our
foreign relations in a very deplorable condition; the Union had few, if any, able and determined representatives abroad. The conspirators had prepared the way, as far as possible, by their intrigues, scarcely veiled, for the recognition of the Confederacy. The rebels had a positive, vigorous organization with agents all over Europe, many of them in the diplomatic service of the United States. They had created a wide-spread prejudice against Mr. Lincoln, representing him as merely an ignorant, vulgar "rail-splitter" of the prairies.
Mr. Faulkner, of Virginia, represented our Government in France, and Mr. Preston, a slaveholder from Kentucky, in Spain, both secessionists. It was not long, however, before Mr. Lincoln impressed the leading traits of his character upon our foreign policy. Frankness, open, straightforward integrity, patient forbearance, and unbroken faith in the triumph of the Union and liberty, based on his trust and confidence in the Almighty, and the American people, characterized his foreign policy. This policy was simple and thoroughly American; our Representatives were instructed to ask nothing but what was clearly right, to avoid difficulty, and to maintain peace, if it could be done consistently with National honor. The record of the diplomatic correspondence of the United States during the critical years of this administration, is one of which Americans may justly be proud. Time and events have vindicated the statesmanship by which it was conducted. Mr. Seward, in his instructions to Mr. Adams, on the eve of his departure for the Court of St. James, very clearly laid down the principles which should govern our relations with foreign Nations. Mr. Adams was instructed not to listen to any suggestion of compromise between the United States and any of its citizens, under foreign auspices. He was directed firmly to announce that no foreign Government could recognize the rebels as an independent power, and remain the friends of the United States. Recognition was War. If any foreign power recognized, they might prepare to enter into an alliance also, with the enemies of the Republic. He was instructed to represent the whole country, and should he be asked to divide that duty with the
Representatives of the Confederates, he was directed to return home.
The action of the insurgent States was treated as a rebellion, purely domestie in its character, and no discussion on the subject with foreign Nations would be tolerated. England did not recognize the Confederates as a Nation. She did not choose war; but short of recognition, alliance and war, it is difficult to see how she could have done more to encourage and aid the insurgents. On the floor of the British Parliament, a member exulted in the secession of the slaveholders, as bursting of the bubble, Republic."
We have seen that slavery brought on the attempted revolution. To secure that institution, the aristocracy of the South, the slaveholders, seceded from the Union and drew the sword, declaring to the world their determination to make this their peeuliar institution, the corner-stone of their empire.
The Confederacy had secured the coöperation of eleven States; and it had active aid and sympathy from Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, while the Union cause had effective and numerous friends in Tennessee, and a large majority in that part of Virginia, since organized into the State of West Virginia.
There were, at this time, and mostly in the rebel States, nearly four millions slaves. How should they be treated ? Should the Government, by offering them freedom, make them its active friends ? or alienate them by returning them to slavery? In the light of to-day, it is difficult to realize why there should have been any hesitation or vacillation on this question. The transfer of four millions of people, living in the seceding States, from the rebel to the Union side, would be decisive. But many of the Union men of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Maryland, were slaveholders. The Constitution had been generally held as recognizing and protecting slavery. By precedent, long established usage, and generally conceded Constitutional obligation, negroes were to be returned by Federal officers, on demand, to their claimants. The power of the Federal authority under the control of slaveholders, had been long used to return fugitive slaves. The National Judiciary, the army, and the navy, had been the instruments, by which the institution of slavery was upheld. The claim of the master to his slave, had been protected by extraordinary guaranties unknown to any other species of property, and the right to this species of property bad grown to be considered a sacred thing. No “rude hand” must touch it! Abolition and abolitionists were “vulgar fanatics,” reckless of Constitutional obligations; slaveholders were gentlemen. For years the Military Academy at West Point, and the Naval School, at Annapolis, had been under pro-slavery influences. For eight years immediately preceding the revolt, Jefferson Davis and John B. Floyd, as Secretaries of War, had controlled the army, weeding out those who did not agree with them in their peculiar views of State rights and slavery. When the insurgents raised the flag of rebellion, the army and navy were scandalized, and the Na tion disgraced by large numbers of the officers deserting their flag. Nearly two hundred of the graduates of the Military School at West Point, deserted and joined the rebel army. From Robert E. Lee, down to the contemptible Buchanan, who the day before his treason, came to Mr. Lincoln and said, “If all others desert you, I will stand by you,* there is a catalogue of names, which will forever disgrace the annals of the old regular army. The name of Benedict Arnold, long so conspicuous alike for his treason and his personal courage, has been overshadowed by the cloud of deserters, who turned their swords against the flag they had sworn to defend, and against the country which had adopted and educated them.
Among these deserters, the man destined to attain the most conspicuous position in the rebel army, was Robert E. Lee. It is important in the interest of truth, that history should do him justice; that his conduct should be rightly appreciated by the American people, and the world. He bore one of the proudest revolutionary names, and had intermarried with a family, which, by its connection with Washington, has always commanded the love and honor of our country. He had received from his country, grateful for the
•This statement the author received from Mr. Lincoln himself.
services of his ancestors, the best education her National Military School could give. By accepting such education at her hands, he had dedicated his life to her military service. He became the petted soldier, the favorite of his loyal commander-in-Chief, and the staff of his years. General Scott loved and trusted him; and by his confidential relations to the Lieutenant General, Lee was in possession of all his plans and purposes. Suddenly, on the eve of a rebel war, he deserted his flag, betrayed his Chief, and within two days after his resignation was accepted, he was found in the rebel service, soon to receive a high command. How does his treason compare
with that of Benedict Arnold ? Each deserted his flag; each was treacherous to his Chief, by whom he was honored and loved; each drew his sword against his country and his old faithful comrades. Lee was as much beloved and honored by Scott, as Benedict Arnold was by Washington. Arnold sought to betray a stronghold into the enemies' hands. Lee took into the rebel councils, full knowledge of Scott's plans, and a minute and accurate knowledge of the military establishment of his country. He had been generously educated by his country, and his life was doubly pledged to her service; Arnold was a volunteer, and complained of personal grievances. Lee had the countenance of many trai- . tors, to keep, him company; Arnold's infamy, thanks be to God! was solitary and alone. It cannot be pleaded in extenuation of Lee's treason, that he followed Virginia into secession. He deserted before the secession ordinance of his native State had been adopted by the people, and he was one of those, who led Virginia into rebellion. Lee's letter of resignation bears date April 20th, and the people of Virginia did not vote on the ordinance of secession until the 23d of May.* To the infamy, justly attaching to him as a deserter from his flag, and a traitor to his country, the stern logic of truth compels us to add, that he shares with Jefferson Davis, the blacker colors of at least not preventing such fearful inhumanity, and cool calculating cruelty, as finds no parallel in the conduct of Arnold, nor in any act of the earlier American history, before the manhood of the South lost its real chivalry, in the barbarities of the slave system.
• Loo's appointment in the rebel service bears date April wide