prices of the products of the soil and of manufactures were not remunerative, and a large amount of money laid idle for want of profitable employment.
The difficulty of making collections in the Southern
country increased the financial dilemma, and as the fact grew upon the people that war was inevitable, the certainty of immense losses to the merchants of the North
caused further depression, and, with the announcement of war, there was an almost total collapse of credit and destruction of values.
For a time the people were at sea without a compass or rudder.
National growth or development always moves in lines; not like the tree that develops its branches and twigs equally, and makes, when grown, one of the most beautiful of God's creations; but nations develop as certain ideas take possession of its people, and such are run out until it is necessary to take up a new thought to preserve the results of the last.
So there is always a want of completeness, of roundness, in national thought, practice and growth.
When lines of thought in a nation become antagonistic, the result must be the destruction of both or the supremacy of one.
To solve such questions, war comes in as the final arbiter.
It is as yet a necessity.
Wars between civilized people have been caused, in the past, more by diversity of opinion than by desire for conquest, and will be for years to come.
War tests principles.
When the successful thought assumes its position after war, it will be found to have elevated the people, advanced and enlarged their ideas, and given them a consciousness of power they did not have before they passed through this trying ordeal.
But the realities of war the people of Pennsylvania
did not understand nor appreciate.
The military spirit had almost died out from the impulse it received after the close of the Mexican
war. Here and there, throughout this broad Commonwealth, could be occasionally heard the fife and drum, and the tramp, tramp of a few badly-drilled volunteers.
Public opinion was not favorable to military organizations, and their efforts on parade were a subject of sport.
It was much easier to pay a militia fine than to go through the expense and drudgery of a drill.
The people thought the small national army was sufficient to man a few forts, keep up the pretense of a military organization, and take care of the Indians.
They had no fear of a foreign war, and Mexico
had been taught its lesson.
The military school at West Point
was considered by many people as a useless expense.
For what good, they would ask, would be militia trainings or organized volunteer regiments, of what service an expensive army organization, when the country has no foes?