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[21] existence the whole fabric of the American system of government, with its thirty-nine written constitutions, and would plant upon its ruins a military oligarchy, with its capital in a fortified camp. Such a place as Washington City was in the closing hours of the nine years sway of reconstruction, when a significant array of frowning batteries admonished Congress that while that war continued military power would enforce its own decrees, whatever might be the expressed will of the people.

In the South these malcontents still have a meager following. These few are a class peculiar to Southern politics.

No other country could have presented the conditions under which their existence was possible.

In the beginning they zealously urged the demands of the people of the South on all the issues that had led to the war of 1861.

They did not believe that war was possible, and in this supposed security they raged for it.

When the war surprised them in their violent demonstrations, a few ventured into the first campaign as quartermasters and the like. Many took refuge in agriculture, and made peace-offerings of beef and bacon to appease the demands of the conscription. Others began to murmur their convictions that the war was being waged at the expense of civil rights.

It was a very just war, they said, but it was not conducted with sufficient delicacy by some of the Generals in matters of personal rights. They were chiefly men of wealth, but they complained with most disinterested protestations that it was a “rich man's war and a poor man's fight,” and, as the rich did not all desire to fight, the poor should not be allowed to continue the struggle.

When the four years war was ended, and peace appeared to be assured, those who had fought in the Confederate armies and had gained the heartfelt gratitude of their countrymen, though their cause was lost, stood aside in a spirit of self-denial, and, to encourage a feeling of amity between men of all grades of opinions, invited these men to take the lead in public affairs.

They accepted the situation, but it was a poor one, for robbery and plunder were not then the perquisites of office.

The revolution of 1867 promised richer rewards for public service, and when it offered them employment they again accepted the situation, and with it the blood-money of their new allies.

When that second war came, with political intriguers and spoilsmen for its generals, thieves, bummers and camp-followers for its soldiery, and the paroled prisoners of the war of 1861 and a poor and helpless people for its victims, these men were found among the most unpitying and aggressive of all these hordes. Some of these were natives of the South;

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