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[441] Mr. Lincoln intended peace or war, was a sore trial to human patience. A government which cannot uphold and vindicate its authority in the country which it professes to rule is to be pitied; but one which does not even attempt to enforce respect and obedience is a confessed imposture and sham, and deserves to be hooted off the face of the earth. Nay, more: it was impossible for ours to exist on the conditions prescribed by its domestic foes. No government can endure without revenue; and the Federal Constitution (Art. I. § 9) expressly prescribes that
No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another; nor shall vessels bound to or from one State be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties, in another.

But here were the ports of nearly half our Atlantic and Gulf coasts sealed against the commerce and navigation of the other half, save on payment of duties utterly unknown to our laws; while goods could be entered at those ports at quite other (and generally lower) rates of impost than those established by Congress. Hence, importers, with good reason, refused to pay the established duties at Northern ports until the same should be exacted at Southern as well; so that three months acquiescence by the President in what was untruly commended as the “Peace policy,” would have sunk the country into anarchy and whelmed the Government in hopeless ruin.

Still, no one is required to achieve the impossible, though to attempt what to others will seem such may sometimes be accepted by the unselfish and intrepid as a duty; and this practical question confronted the

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Abraham Lincoln (1)
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