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[18]

The American Civil War marks one of the great social reconstructions which are ever taking place as we advance from plane to plane of mentality. The American and the French revolutions; the overthrow of European feudalism by Napoleon, who was but the special instrument of a great movement, are among the special reconstructions more immediately preceding that of 1861, but all had, in a way, a common impulse — the impulse which comes from having arrived at a new mental outlook.

Such revolutions may be bloodless if mental development is equal to meeting the emergency, as it was in the formation of the American Constitution, in 1787. They are, however, far more apt to be in blood, as was that of 1861, which was brought about by the immense and rapid development, in the last century, of mechanism, the press, and the mobility of populations. We had to step to a new mental, moral, and psychic plane, and war was made certain by the want of a wisdom and foresight which, in the circumstances, it was, perhaps, too much to expect.

The present volume deals with the part taken by the navy in the great contest — a part of vastly greater importance than has generally been recognized. Historians are, however, beginning to see that the role of the navy was a vital one, absolutely necessary to success; that the blockade was a constrictive force which devitalized Southern effort. Whatever doubt may have existed at the outset as to the strategy of the

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