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In the midst of our National Belshazzar-Feast, of pride, voluptuousness, and enchantment, the shot at Fort Sumter fell like a bolt of lightning. It struck the hearts of the revellers, and we began to take our eyes from the dust and turn them up to heaven.

By one wave of that wand which never waves twice to do its work, the handwriting was written on all the walls, and the Palace of our greatness was sinking to ashes. The Republic was at stake. We had played, and we had lost!

We had attempted an impossibility. We had tried to make Liberty and Slavery live together on the same soil.

While the free North was prospering, we had allowed the enslaved to be immolated. While we could flourish under the fragrant branches of Liberty's tree; we were manuring the roots of the Upas, whose branches were spreading over our Northern communities, our homes, our hearts. Its subtle and deadly poison had already struck through the veins and arteries, and approached the springs of life.

For a moment we were like a traveler arrested in the speed of his journey, with a fevered pulse and difficult breathing. The discovery did not come all at once; nor did the nation feel it deeply enough for a long time, to be ready to recover. To Europe it looked like the beginning of our national end—an irrevocable leap to ruin.

Was it death? or was it fever with delirium?

It was both!

The only question, after two years of struggle, which [350] blotted out all the puny strifes of other empires, was whether there was a resurrection and a redeemed life for the great Republic of the world.

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