The people had become convinced that the Confederate
cause was lost; they saw that the exertions of four years, misdirected and abused, had not availed, and they submitted to what they conceived now to be the determined fortune of the war.
That war closed on a spectacle of ruin, the greatest of modern times.
There were eleven great States lying prostrate; their capital all absorbed; their fields desolate; their towns and cities ruined; their public works torn to pieces by armies; their system of labour overturned; the fruits of the toil of generations all swept into a chaos of destruction; their slave property taken away by a stroke of the pen; a pecuniary loss of two thousand millions of dollars involved in one single measure of spoliation-a penalty embraced in one edict, in magnitude such as had seldom been exacted unless in wars synonymous with robberies.
As an evidence of the poverty of the South
, produced by the war, we may cite the case of the State of South Carolina
By the census of 1860, the property of the State
was value at $400,000,000. Of this, it has been estimated that the injury to the banks, private securities, railroads, cities, houses, plantations, stock, etc., Amounted to $100,000,000. There were, by the same census, 400,000 slaves, valued at $200,000,000. This left only $100,000,000 for the value of all the property left in the State
; and the principal portion of this consisted of lands, which had fallen in value immensely.
The close of the war presented the Government
with the alternative of two distinct and opposite policies, with reference to the subdued Southern States.
One was the policy of the restoration of the Union
with reconciliation: the other the policy of restriction.
The party that favoured the latter was not long in developing the full extent of its doctrine, which involved universal confiscation at the South
, a general execution of prominent men, the disfranchisement of men who acted or sympathized with the Confederates
, and the granting of the right of voting to the freed blacks.
This hideous programme was announced not only as a just punishment of “rebels,” but as a security for the future, and the indispensable condition of the public peace.
But to men who had read the lessons of history it was clearly apparent that this policy would be destructive of the very ends it proposed; that it would increase the acerbity of feeling at the South
; that it would deliver the two races over to the most violent discord; and that it would be the occasion of immeasurable chaos and interminable anarchy.
It was the immortal Burke
who uttered the great philosophical truth of history: that “liberty, and not despotism, was the cure of anarchy ;” and who proposed as the speedy and sovereign remedy for the disorders of the Colonies, that they should be “admitted to a share in the British Constitution.”