It is customary to speak of our Civil War as a four years conflict.
It was really a thirty years war, beginning when the pioneer Abolitionists entered the field and declared for a life-and-death struggle.
It was then that the hardest battles were fought.
I write the more willingly because comparatively few now living remember the mad excitement of the slavery controversy in ante-bellum days.
The majority — the living and the working masses of to-day --will, doubtless, be gratified to have accurate pictures of scenes and events of which they have heard their seniors speak, that distinguished the most tempestuous period in our national history — the one in which the wildest passions were aroused and indulged.
Then it was that the fiercest and bitterest agitation prevailed.
The war that followed did not increase this.
It rather modified it-sobered it in view of the crisis at hand-and served as a safety-valve for its escape.
For the same reason, the general public has now but slight comprehension of the trials endured by the Abolitionists for principle's sake.
In many ways were they persecuted.
In society they were tabooed; in business shunned.
By the rabble they were hooted and pelted.
Clowns in the circus made them the subjects of their jokes.
Newspaper scribblers lampooned and libelled them.
Politicians denounced them.
By the Church
they were regarded as very black sheep, and sometimes excluded from the fold.
And this state of things lasted for years, during which they kept up a steady agitation with the help of platform lecturers, and regularly threw