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[286] allowed the opportunity of doing so, will undoubtedly concede every guarantee needed to afford complete protection to the institutions of the South, and to furnish assurances of her perfect equality in the Union; but all such guarantees and assurances are now openly spurned, and the only Southern right now insisted on is that of dismembering the republic. It is perfectly certain that in the attempted exercise of this right neither States nor statesmen will be “let alone.” Should a ruffian meet me in the streets, and seek with his axe to hew an arm or a leg from my body, I would not the less resist him because, as a dishonored and helpless trunk, I might perchance survive the mutilation. It is easy to perceive what fatal results to the old Confederacy would follow should the blow now struck at its integrity ultimately triumph. We can well understand what degradation it would bring to it abroad and what weakness at home; what exhaustion from incessant war and standing armies, and from the erection of fortifications along the thousands of miles of new frontier; what embarrassments to commerce from having its natural channels encumbered or cut off; what elements of disintegration and revolution would be introduced from the pernicious example; and, above all, what humiliation would cover the whole American people for having failed in their great mission to demonstrate before the world the capacity of our race for self-government.

While a far more fearful responsibility has fallen upon President Lincoln than upon any of his predecessors, it must be admitted that he has met it with promptitude and fearlessness. Cicero, in one of his orations against Catiline, speaking of the credit due to himself for having suppressed the conspiracy of that arch-traitor, said, “if the glory of him who founded Rome was great, how much greater should be that of him who had saved it from overthrow after it had grown to be the mistress of the world?” So it may be said of the glory of that statesman or chieftain who shall snatch from the vortex of revolution this republic, now that it has expanded from ocean to ocean, has become the admiration of the world, and has rendered the fountains of the lives of thirty millions of people fountains of happiness.

The vigorous measures adopted for the safety of Washington and the Government itself may seem open to criticism, in some of their details, to those who have yet to learn that not only has war like peace its laws, but that it has also its privileges and its duties. Whatever of severity, or even of irregularity, may have arisen, will find its justification in the pressure of the terrible necessity under which the Administration has been called to act. When a man feels the poignard of the destroyer at his bosom, he is not likely to consult the law books as to the mode or measure of his right of self-defence. What is true of individuals is in this respect equally true of governments. The man who thinks he has become disloyal because of what the Administration has done, will probably discover, after a close self-examination, that he was disloyal before. But for what has been done, Washington might ere this have been a smouldering heap of ruins.

They have noted the course of public affairs to little advantage who suppose that the election of Mr. Lincoln was the real ground of the revolutionary outbreak that has occurred. The roots of the revolution may be traced back for more than a quarter of a century, and an unholy lust for power is the soil out of which it sprang. A prominent member of the band of agitators declared in one of his speeches at Charleston, last November or December, that they had been occupied for thirty years in the work of severing South Carolina from the Union. When General Jackson crushed nullification, he said it would revive again under the form of the slavery agitation: and we have lived to see his prediction verified. Indeed, that agitation, during the last fifteen or twenty years, has been almost the entire stock in trade of Southern politicians. The Southern people, known to be as generous in their impulses as they are chivalric, were not wrought into a frenzy of passion by the intemperate words of a few fanatical abolitionists; for these words, if left to themselves, would have fallen to the ground as pebbles into the sea, and would have been heard of no more. But it was the echo of those words, repeated with exaggerations for the thousandth time by Southern politicians, in the halls of Congress, and in the deliberative and popular assemblies, and through the press of the South, that produced the exasperation that has proved so potent a lever in the hands of the conspirators. The cloud was fully charged, and the juggling revolutionists who held the wires and could at will direct its lightnings, appeared at Charleston, broke up the Democratic Convention assembled to nominate a candidate for the Presidency, and thus secured the election of Mr. Lincoln. Having thus rendered this certain, they at once set to work to bring the popular mind of the South to the point of determining in advance, that the election of a Republican President would be, per se, cause for a dissolution of the Union. They were but too successful, and to this result the inaction and indecision of the Border States deplorably contributed. When the election of Mr. Lincoln was announced, there was rejoicing in the streets of Charleston, and doubtless at other points in the South; for it was believed by the conspirators that this had brought a tide in the current of their machinations which would bear them on to victory. The drama of secession was now open, and State after State rapidly rushed out of the Union, and their members withdrew from Congress. The revolution was pressed on with this hot haste in order that no time should be allowed for reaction in the Northern mind, or for any adjustment of the slavery issues by the

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