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more than a partisan significance. It was a struggle between those in power and those out of power; the issues of which were feigned and exaggerated; in which much that was said against the war was not really meant; and at the close of which the passions it had excited suddenly evaporated. Mr. Van Buren, who, in the Democratic campaign in New York, had made speeches quite warm enough for Southern latitudes, was after the elections an advocate of the war and a mocker of "the rebellion." Many more followed the distinguished lead of the demagogue in raising a clamour about the administration merely for party purposes, and having served those purposes, in returning to the advocacy of a war, in which, by giving false encouragement to the North, and holding out hopes of "reconstruction," they were enemies more fatal to the South than the blind and revengeful radicals who sought her destruction.
It is probable that the movements in the Northwestern States against the administration were better founded in principle than those that had taken place in other parts of the North, and that they denoted a sincere aversion to the war. The opposition of Mr. Vallandigham, who assumed to represent this sentiment of the Northwest in Congress, was apparently superiour to the demagogical clamour of such men as Van Buren and Seymour of New York. The sentiment was undoubtedly sincere, whatever the merits or demerits of its officious representative.*
* There is unavoidable reason for doubting the virtue of Mr. Vallandigham. It is difficult to discover the motives of the Yankee. The people of the South have reason to know, from former political association with this faithless race, how indirect are their courses and how affected their zeal. What appears to be the inspiration of virtue, may be the deep design of a selfish ambition; singularity of opinion may prove nothing but an itch for a cheap reputation; and an extraordinary display of one's self before the public may, at best, be but the ingenious trick of a charlatan.
When Mr. Vallandigham was exiled for obstructing enlistments in the North, he had an opportunity in his travels in the Confederacy of learning the sentiments of the people, and of these he gave the following report in an address to the people of Ohio:
"Travelling a thousand miles and more through nearly one-half of the
The pecuniary interest of New England in the warvwas plain enough. The demand for the products of her industry for objects of this war was greater than at any former period in the history of this continent. Her workshops were in full blast. Ships and locomotives were to be built, the weapons of war were to be created, and the ironmongers of New England found a vast and profitable employment in answering these demands. The spinners and weavers and blanket-makers and artisans were kept busy at their avocations, and everywhere in these avaricious districts of the North arose the hum of profitable industry.
But while New England rioted in the gains of the war, it was stark ruin to the agricultural States of the Northwest. The people there were growing poorer every day in the midst of plenty. The great Southern market which their resources supplied had been closed, and there was no new demand for their agricultural products. The corn, wheat and bacon of Indiana and Illinois was scarely worth the cost of transportation to the Atlantic coast. The railroads connecting the West with the seaboads were principally in the hands of the Eastern capitalists, and the rates of freight were so enormous, that the surplus agricultural product of the Northwestern farmers was in many instances left to rot on their lands or be used as fuel.
This violent contrast between New England and the West in the effects on each of the war, was developed in a formidable opposition of opinion. Indications of this opposition had already been given in the press of St. Louis and Chicago.
"Confederate States, and sojourning for a time at widely different points, "I met not one man, woman or child, who were not resolved to perish rather "than yield to the pressure of arms, even in the most desperate extremity. "* * * Neither, however, let me add, did I meet any one, what"ever his opinion or station, political or private, who did not declare his readi" "ness, when the war shall have ceased, and invading armies be withdrawn, to ** consider and discuss the question of reunion. And who shall doubt the issue "of the argument?"
A man who can be guilty of such a deliberate falsehood, and one evidently planned to catch votes for his political hobby, can certainly make no pretension to heroism, and may even have his claims to honesty justly doubted.
The jealousy of the agricultural States of the North was being inflamed by the unequal profits of the war, and the selfish policy of the Abolitionists; and the opinion plainly grew in the press and public discussion that the West had not a single interest in the war beyond securing the free navigation of the 'Mississippi.
How far statesmanship in the South might have profited by this disaffection in the Northwestern States is left a matter of conjecture and controversy. The efforts made in the Confederate Congress by Mr. Foote in this direction, tendering to these States a complete assurance of the free navigation of the Mississippi, and proposing an alliance with the Confederacy, without political complications, met with feeble encouragement in that body, a doubtful response from the army and divided comments of the press. Whatever may have been the merits of Mr. Foote's proposition, it admitted of no delay. While our government treated it with hesitation, the authorities at Washington were making anxious and immense preparations to overcome the disaffection of the people and to carry on the war; and the means to do this were supplied by an act suspending the habeas corpus and making Lincoln absolute dictator; by new measures of finance, and by a conscription law which called into the field three million of men.
The prospect of a termination of the war by any action of foreign governments was more distant than that afforded by party elections and movements in the North. This action was limited to the French Emperor alone; it had not progressed further at this time than an invitation to England and Russia, made in November 1862, to unite in proposing an armistice to the Washington Government, which should merely give an opportunity for discussion, without affecting in any way the present military interests and positions of the belligerents. Mild as the French proposition was, it was rejected by Russia and England. Lord Russell replied for his government that the time was not ripe for such mediation as was proposed, and that it would be better to watch carefully the progress of opinion in America and wait for some change in which the three Courts could offer their friendly counsel with a prospect of success. The British statesman had nothing to plead for the mass of suffering humanity in his own land which the war he was implored to stop or to ameliorate had occasioned; for humanity was easily outweighed by political reasons, which are as often worked out through • the blood and tears of its own people as through the misfortunes of others.*
* In a letter of Mr. Cobden, published during the early winter in an English journal, he declares that in travelling from Manchester to Blackburn over a country covered with snow, he found hundreds of wasted victims of cold and want. He says: "Hitherto the distressed population have felt little more than the want of food. Now and from henceforth blankets, fuel and clothing are as essential to health as bread and soup." He argues that it is useless to save people from dying by hunger, only that they may perish by fever, or by the exhaustion consequent on cold and insufficient food.
The early advent of winter enhanced the misery of the suffering. In many districts there was no fuel, no means of warmth except the scanty allowance of coals distributed in some places by the Relief Committees. Everywhere the people had too little to eat, and that little was not sufficiently nutricious; everywhere they suffered from cold yet more cruelly than from hunger; and nowhere was there a fund sufficient to provide for their necessities.
The humane shuddered with horrour as they read the frightful accounts of the suffering of the poor published day after day in the London Times. A letter from Stockport described the people there as "suffering all the horrours of a protracted famine." The same writer says: "One poor man upon whom I called this morning, having stripped the walls of every little ornament to purchase bread for his wife and three little children, took the fender and sold it for a shilling." The cases of distress reported in the newspapers merely represented the average condition of the unemployed. An aged couple, we are told, had saved thirty-six pounds; this is gone, their furniture is pawned, the husband is in the infirmary, and the old woman living on a charitable dole of half a crown per week, with some soup and bread. In another case five persons, among them a sick woman, are living on seven shillings a week. One family of six—considered to be particularly well off— have seven shillings, an allowance of coals and some soup and bread from their former employer. Another family of six or seven had lived for twelve months on six shillings a week.
The University of Oxford had subscribed about £4000 towards the relief of the suffering people. A meeting was held to promote further action, at which the following facts were stated by the Hon. E. L. Stanley of Balliol College:
"They received from America before the blockade five-sixths of their
But while the prospect of an early peace dissolved before the eyes of Congress, a subject of instant and practical importance was sorely pressing upon its attention. The vast volume of Treasury notes issued by the government had occasioned a rapid depreciation of our currency, inflated prices and produced serious financial difficulties. So crude and short-sighted had bjsen our notions of public finance, that at the meeting of Congress in August 1862, we find President Davis recommending to it that the public creditors should not be paid in bonds, but that unlimited issues of currency should be made. He then said in his written message to Congress: "The legislation of the last session provided for the purchase of supplies with the bonds of the government, but the preference of the people for Treasury notes has been so marked that legislation is recommended to authorize an increase in the issue of Treasury notes, which the public service seems to require. No grave inconvenience need be apprehended from this increased issue, as the provision of law by which these notes are convertible into eight per cent, bonds, forms an efficient and permanent safeguard against any serious depreciation of the currency."
"cotton; five days of the week they worked on what came from America; "only one day on what came from other countries. That supply was now "practically at an end. The few ships that ran the blockade made no noticeable difference, and even if other countries should double their production, "we should be only supplied with material for one-third of our usual work. "The country, then, was losing two-thirds of the industry engaged in this "trade, and two-thirds of the capital were making no return. And this "trade was such a main part of the industry of the nation that what affected "it must affect all. A Parliamentary return gave the persons actually "engaged in the mills at near 500,000. If they reckoned their families, the "traders who supplied them, the colliers, machinists, builders, and shipping "interest engaged in supplying cotton, they would probably not overstate the "number of dependents on cotton only at 3,000,000. These people were now "deprived of fully two-thirds of their subsistence."
Such is a picture of the "Cotton famine " in England. The most remarkable circumstance in connection with it was the profound indifference of the English Ministry to the distress of near a million of those for whose lives and h appiness they were responsible.