therefore, in theory at least, labor is voluntary; in the other, involuntary: in the labor of the one there is the elective franchise, in the other there is not; and, as labor is always in excess of direction, in the one the power of government is only with the lower classes; in the other the upper. In the one, therefore, the reins of government come from the heels, in the other from the head of the society; in the one it is guided by the worst, in the other by the best intelligence; in the one it is from those who have the least, in the other from those who have the greatest stake in the continuance of existing order. In the one the pauper laborer has the power to rise and appropriate by law the goods protected by the State--when pressure comes, as come it must, there will be the motive to exert it — and thus the ship of State turns bottom upwards. In the other there is no pauper labor with power of rising; the ship of State has the ballast of a disfranchised class; there is no possibility of political upheaval, therefore, and it is reasonably certain that so steadied, it will sail erect and onward to an indefinitely distant period. Such are some of the more obvious differences in form and constitution between these two societies which had come into contact within the limits of the recent Union. And perhaps it is not the least remarkable, in this connection, that while the one, a shapeless, organless, mere mass of social elements in no definite relation to each other, is loved and eulogized, and stands the ideal of the age, the other, comely and proportioned with labor and direction, mind and matter in just relation to each other, presenting analogy to the very highest developments in animated nature, is condemned and reprobated. Even we ourselves have hardly ventured to affirm it — while the cock crows, in fact, are ready to deny it; and if it shall not perish on the cross of human judgment, it must be for the reason that the Great Eternal has not purposed that still another agent of his will shall come to such excess of human ignominy. Such are the two forms of society which had come to contest within the structure of the recent Union. And the contest for existence was inevitable. Neither could concur in the requisitions of the other; neither could expand within the forms of a single government without encroachment on the other. Like twin lobsters in a single shell, if such a thing were possible, the natural expansion of the one must be inconsistent with the existence of the other; or, like an eagle and a fish, joined by an indissoluble bond, which for no reason of its propriety could act together, where the eagle could not share the fluid suited to the fish and live, where the fish could not share the fluid suited to the bird and live, and where one must perish that the other may survive, unless the unnatural union shall be severed — so these societies could not, if they would, concur. The principle that races are unequal, and that among unequals inequality is right, would have been destructive to the form of pure democracy at the North. The principle that all men are equal and equally right, would have been destructive of slavery at the South. Each required the element suited to its social nature. Each must strive to make the government expressive of its social nature. The natural expansion of the one must become encroachment on the other, and so the contest was inevitable. Seward and Lincoln, in theory at least, whatever be their aim, are right. I realized the fact and so declared the conflict irrepressible years before either ventured to advance that proposition. Upon that declaration I have always acted, and the recent experience of my country has not induced me to question the correctness of that first conception. Nor is indignation at such leaders becoming the statesmen at the South. The tendency of social action was against us. The speaker to be heard must speak against slavery; the preacher to retain his charge, must preach against slavery; the author, to be read, must write against slavery; the candidate, to attain office, must pledge himself against slavery; the office-holder, to continue, must redeem the pledges of the candidate. They did not originate the policy, but they pandered to it; they did not start the current, but they floated on it; and were as powerless as drift-wood to control its course. The great tendency to social conflict pre-existed; it was in the heart of the North--it was in the very structure of Northern society. It was not a matter of choice but of necessity that such society should disaffirm a society in contradiction of it. It was not a matter of choice but of necessity that it should approve of acts against it. In possession of power, it flowed to political action on the South, as fluids flow to lower levels. The acts of individuals were unimportant. If I had possessed the power to change the mind of every Republican in Congress, I would not have been at pains to do so. They would but have fallen before an indignant constituency, and men would have been sent to their places whose minds could never change. Nor, in fact, have they been without their use. As the conflict was irrepressible; as they were urged on by an inexorable power, it was important we should know it. Our own political leaders refused to realize the fact. The zealots of the North alone could force the recognition; and I am bound to own that Giddings, and Greeley, and Seward, and Lincoln, parasites as they are, panderers to popular taste as they are, the instruments, and the mere instruments, of aggression, have done more to rouse us to the vindication of our rights than the bravest and the best among us. Such, then, was the nature of this contest. It was inevitable. It was inaugurated with the Government. It began at the beginning, and almost at the start the chances of the game were turned against us. If the foreign slave trade had never been suppressed, slave society
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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