thought amazing in England
that the President
should have recently called for a great army of volunteers and regulars, and that the inhabitants of the Free States
should have sprung forward as one man at his call, like men suddenly relieved from a spell.
It would have been amazing had the call been longer delayed.
The national flag, insulted and defied for many months, had at last been lowered, after the most astonishing kind of siege recorded in history, to an armed and organized rebellion; and a prominent personage in the Government
of the Southern Confederacy is reported to have proclaimed amid the exultations of victory that before the 1st of May the same cherished emblem of our nationality should be struck from the capitol
An advance of the “Confederate troops” upon that city; the flight or captivity of the President
and his Cabinet; the seizure of the national archives, the national title deeds, and the whole national machinery of foreign intercourse and internal administration, by the Confederates
; and the proclamation from the American
palladium itself of the Montgomery Constitution
in place of the one devised by Washington
, and Jay
— a constitution in which slavery should be the universal law of the land, the corner-stone of the political edifice — were events which seemed for a few days of intense anxiety almost probable.
Had this really been the result, without a blow struck in defence of the national Government and the old Constitution, it is certain that the contumely poured forth upon the Free States
by their domestic enemies, and by the world at large, would have been as richly deserved as it would have been amply bestowed.
At present such a catastrophe seems to have been averted.
But the levy in mass of such a vast number of armed men in the Free States
, in swift response to the call of the President
, shows how deep and pervading is the attachment to the Constitution
and to the flag of Union in the hearts of the 19,000,000 who inhabit those States.
It is confidently believed, too, that the sentiment is not wholly extinguished in the 9,000,000 white men who dwell in the Slave States
, and that, on the contrary, there exists a large party throughout that country who believe that the Union
furnishes a better protection for life, property, law, civilization, and liberty, than even the indefinite extension of African
slavery can do.
At any rate, the loyalty of the Free States
has proved more intense and passionate than it had ever been supposed to be before.
It is recognized throughout their whole people that the Constitution
of 1787 had made us a nation
. The efforts of a certain class of politicians for a long period had been to reduce our Commonwealth to a Confederacy.
So long as their efforts had been confined to argument, it was considered sufficient to answer the argument; but, now that secession, instead of remaining a topic of vehement and subtle discussion, has expanded into armed and fierce rebellion and revolution, civil war is the inevitable result.
It is the result foretold by sagacious statesmen almost a generation ago, in the days of the tariff “nullification.”
“To begin with nullification,” said Daniel Webster in 1833, “with the avowed intention, nevertheless, not to proceed to secesssion, dismemberment, and general revolution, is as if one were to take the plunge of Niagara
, and cry out that he would stop half way down.”
And now the plunge of secession has been taken, and we are all struggling in the vortex of general revolution.
The body politic, known for 70 years as the United States of America
, is not a Confederacy, not a compact of sovereign States, not a copartnership; it is a Commonwealth, of which the Constitution
drawn up at Philadelphia
by the Convention
of 1787, over which Washington
presided, is the organic, fundamental law. We had already had enough of a confederacy.
The thirteen rebel provinces, afterwards the thirteen original independent States of America
, had been united to each other during the revolutionary war by articles of confederacy.
“The said States
hereby enter into a firm league
of friendship with each other
Such was the language of 1781, and the league or treaty thus drawn up was ratified, not by the people
of the States, but by the State Governments
,--the legislative and executive bodies namely, in their corporate capacity.
The continental Congress, which was the central administrative board during this epoch, was a diet of envoys from sovereign States.
It had no power
to act on individuals
. It could not command
It could move only by requisitions and recommendations.
Its functions were essentially diplomatic, like those of the States-General
of the old Dutch Republic
, like those of the modern Germanic Confederation.
We were a league of petty sovereignties.
When the war had ceased, when our independence had been acknowledged in 1783, we sank rapidly into a condition of utter impotence, imbecility, anarchy.
We had achieved our independence, but we had not constructed a nation.
We were not a body politic.
No laws could be enforced, no insurrections suppressed, no debts collected.
Neither property nor life was secure.
had made a treaty of peace with us, but she scornfully declined a treaty of commerce and amity; not because we had been rebels, but because we were not a state-because we were a mere dissolving league of jarring provinces, incapable of guaranteeing the stipulations of any commercial treaty.
We were unable even to fulfil the conditions of the treaty of peace and enforce the stipulated collection of debts due to British subjects; and Great Britain
refused in consequence to give up the military posts which she held within our frontiers.
For 12 years after the acknowledgment of our independence
we were mortified by the spectacle of foreign soldiers occupying a long