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HE period through which we are now passing, may properly be said to comprise one of the three great epochs which, according to Voltaire, mark the history of every nation. Nay more. Have not the providential developments of the rebellion revealed a new goal in our national progress? Instead of being a dire calamity, may we not rather consider the present civil war as a means, in the hand of Divine Providence, for the solution of a great moral problem — the overthrow of slavery? So completely had the South become wedded to her peculiar institution, that no other instrumentality save the sword was adequate to effect their separation. The shock of battle would alone loosen the bonds of the captive. If this were the design of Providence in inflicting this war upon us, no one can deny that events are slowly though surely working for its accomplishment. Every acre of territory gained possession of by our soldiers is an acre gained for freedom, and already entire States have been wrested from the grasp of the usurper. Such a design precluded the possibility of success on the part of the
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rebels; for, as the death of one of the Siamese twins neces-' sarily terminates the existence of the other, so will the destruction of slavery ensure the downfall of the Southern Oligarchy.
Alexander Stephens has styled it "The Corner-stone of the New Confederacy." The corner-stone demolished, how can the superstructure remain? If, then, the blood which has flowed on so many battle-fields, will wash out the foul stain from our national escutcheon, will it have been shed in vain?
Yet this war, though it may result, under Providence, in the destruction of slavery, is waged, on our part, for a different object, for our national existence; and who so unjust as to deny to the nation the same right which is freely accorded to the individual — that of self-preservation? The motives which prompted the instigators of this revolution allow of no misconstruction. Envious of the growing North; imbittered through disappointed ambition; forgetful of our memories as a people, and recreant to the sacred trust handed down by our fathers, they deliberately plotted the common ruin of our country. Nor is it owing to any lack of exertion on their part that the government is not now overthrown; our capitol and national archives in their possession; Toombs calling the roll of his slaves on Bunker Hill, and grass-growing in the streets of New York and Philadelphia. It was against men prompted by such motives and their infatuated followers that the sword was unsheathed, and is now wielded.
Admitting, however, which was not the case, that they aimed simply at a peaceful withdrawal from the Union, we could not have consented to this, without ensuring the ultimate, if not speedy, downfall of our own government. INTRODUCTORY REMARKS. 9
The right of secession once admitted, or, what is the same thing, Mr. Buchanan's theory, that secession, though unconstitutional, resistance to it on the part of the executive is equally so, acquiesced in—is there a state which would not eventually discover grievances justifying a withdrawal from the Federal compact? One "wayward sister" allowed to depart in peace, the whole family of States would eventually become separated. It is, therefore, a duty which we owe to ourselves, and the world, whose hopes and progress are identified with this last and noblest experiment of a free government, to manfully and successfully resist the breaking away of a single thread from the woof of our national fabric, the erasure of a single star from our national constellation.
War is the legitimate result of man's evil nature, and in falling upon these evil times, we are merely experiencing the misfortune common to all lands and all ages. Grim visaged Mars has presided at the birth, and brooded over the career of nearly every nation. "What," asks Dr. Fuller, " is the history of nations, but an account of a succession of mighty hunters and their adherents, each of whom, in his day, caused terror in the land of the living? The earth has been a kind of theatre, in which one part of mankind, being trained and furnished with weapons, have been employed to destroy another; and this, in a great measure, for the gratification of the spectators." America is not the first country which has been called upon to give up the flower of her youth. Yet our losses, though heavy, do not compare with those which have hitherto marked the annals of blood. The siege and reduction of Jerusalem resulted in the loss of 1,000,000 lives; 90,000 Persians were slain at the battle of Arbela, and 100,000 Carthaginians in the engage10 INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.
ment of Palermo; 12,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry perished oil the fatal field of Issus. Spain lost 2,000,000 lives during her persecutions of the Arabians, and 800,000 more in expelling the Jews. Frederick the Great inflicted a loss of 40,000 on the Austrians in the conflicts of Leuthen and Leignitz. The battle of Jenna, and the lesser engagements immediately following, cost the Prussian army over 70,000 men. At the battle of Leipsic the French suffered casualties to the number of 60,000, and the Swedes and their allies 40,000 more; 50,000 French and Kussian soldiers lay dead and dying on the field after the battle of Moskowa, and Napoleon again lost 47,000 at Waterloo, and the Duke of Wellington, 15,000.
War has its lights as well as shadows. A retrospect of the world's history reveals the fact that the sword has been no maan instrumentality in the development of the human race. Though leaving a trackless waste behind, it has opened a way for the advance of civilization. From the earliest period down to the late Russian war, when the English army made known the true religion to the Turks, it has been the forerunner of Christianity. Whatever the impelling motives; the resort to arms is always attended with some good results. The enervation and effeminacy which a long peace begets, disappear before a chivalrio ardor and a sublime energy. A generous and self-sacrificing spirit is developed where selfishness and venality before existed; the political atmosphere over-heated, foul, corrupt, is cooled, cleared, and purified by the shafts and thunderbolts of war.
We, that is the North, have experienced but few of the evils, and all the benefits, resulting from a condition of hostility. Indeed, were it not for the absence of so many familiar countenances, we should with difficulty realize