of despatches in the telegraph offices, they were unceremoniously laid on the table.
There was an evident disposition of the Northern
people to surrender their constitutional liberties to any government that would gratify their political passions.
A true account of the despotism of these times indicates, indeed, what little love of liberty there was in the North
, and its low stage of sentimentalism on this subject; for wherever it has been observed in history that a nation has been willing to surrender liberty in an attempt at territorial ascendancy, it has always been the evidence of a coarse and materialistic character that serves well the ambitious designs of Despotism, and prefers a false greatness to the humbler realities of honour and happiness.
In remarkable contrast to this tendency of the Northern
people to submit to a subtraction of their liberties, and even to applaud it, while they imagined that their greed of resentment and lust of territory were to be satisfied, were the declarations and spirit of the new government erected in the South
There the body of civil liberties was undiminished and untouched.
The muniments of constitutional law were not disturbed.
In the midst of a war “waged not to destroy, but to preserve existing institutions,” the South
was recurring to the past rather than running into new and rash experiments, and exhibiting a spirit of Conservatism that the world had seldom observed in so vast a commotion.
In his message of July, 1861, Mr. Lincoln
had referred to an attempt meditated by States at a position of “neutrality” in the war. On this subject he wrote, with more than usual acuteness:
“1 In the Border States
, so called — in fact, the Middle States
--there are those who favor a policy which they call ‘ armed neutrality ;’ that is, an arming of these States to prevent the Union
forces passing one way, or the Disunion the other, over their soil.
This would be disunion completed.
Figuratively speaking, it would be building an impassable wall along the line of separation-and yet, not quite an impassable one; for, under the guise of neutrality, it would tie the hands of the Union
men, and freely pass supplies from among them to the insurrectionists, which it could not do as an open enemy.
At a stroke, it would take all the trouble off the hands of Secession, except only what proceeds from the external blockade.
It would do for the Disunionists that which, of all things, they most desire-feed them well, and give them disunion without a struggle of their own. It recognizes no fidelity to the Constitution
, no obligation to maintain the Union
; and, while very many who favored it are, doubtless, loyal citizens, it is, nevertheless, very injurious in effect.”
This passage of Mr. Lincoln
's message naturally introduces us to the remarkable part taken by the State of Kentucky
at the period of hostilities and in the opening scenes of the war. Her Legislature had passed a resolution, to the effect that the State
should remain neutral in the contest pending, and would not permit the troops of either party to pass over or occupy her soil for belligerent purposes.