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 political rights, or to preserve their institutions or constitutions, or to defeat usurpation, or for honor's sake-and not for dominion or conquest, or subjugation, or the spoils of war — it is a presumptuous abuse of language and a perversion of the truth that any should characterize either party with degrading epithets, or impute to either a criminal purpose in sustaining a cause upon which they bestow the highest and best proofs of honest devotion. More conspicuous is the injustice of such recrimination, when, in a free government like ours, the people first express their opinions through the ballot-box on the morality, justice, policy, and constitutionality of every measure affecting the general welfare. The American people were neither seduced, surprised, nor betrayed into the war of 1861. After a vain search, the conquerors failed to find a vicarious sufferer who could personate the alleged treason of the people. The truth was, there was no head to the rebellion against the Union in the South, or to the rebellion against the Constitution in the North. The people on both sides, in their entire body, were the offenders. Mr. Lincoln, who was not an Abolitionist before the war, was forced by the pressure of popular clamor and a supposed military necessity, to declare the emancipation of the negroes, and Mr. Davis, who was a pronounced friend of the Union, was compelled to draw the sword against it to avoid the crime of treason in defending the rights of the States, assailed through the institution of slavery, with arms within the Union. His jailor, while he was a prisoner, punished him for treason in a manner befitting the Inquisition, but his judges never took heart to hear a demurrer to the indictment. There was no treason in the war. There was no traitor of any note to either flag during the war. The causes of the war had such deep hold on the convictions of the people that every man fought as he would have fought for his family or his religion. For more than forty years the people had warned and admonished each other in every solemn form that warring opinions and angry debates were steadily approaching a crisis that would compel hostile conclusions between warring States. Every test of the ballot during that period had developed a growing determination on both sides to yield nothing that was involved in the issues that were then agitating the country. Many compromises were devised by generous and patriotic men, who set high examples of personal sacrifice before the people, but their counsels were rejected. Compromise was as fuel to the flame. Advice and warning were lost on the people. Within a few years before the war America was, in rapid succession, bereft of the three men who have added to her fame the chief glory of the 19th century. Twenty centuries may not produce the equal of either
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