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No public man seemed to have such clear ideas of that all-important subject, of how we should treat the Rebel States. The policy Mr. Sumner proposed in the beginning, he adhered to till the end. It was dictated by enlightened judgment, and a spirit of hearty goodwill to the South; for in his case, as in that of Horace Greeley, Gerrit Smith, and many others of the most enthusiastic champions of Freedom, their hostility was against a system of wrong, rather than against the wrong-doer. They wanted to see the system exterminated, without the ruin of its upholders. There was, therefore, nothing strange in what could hardly be understood at the time—the expression of so much sympathy with the South in her prostration. The first hand extended to the Chief of the Rebellion was by Horace Greeley, in the bail-bond of Jeff. Davis, for which he received the jeers of thousands. While the war lasted, these men advocated its prosecution with unrelenting vigor. When it ceased, the cry went out, ‘All hands to the rescue—save what we can from the wreck!’ And, without the fear of contradiction, I boldly assert, that after the South laid down their arms, the earliest, the strongest, the most constant friends they had at the North, were among the file-leaders of the first crusade against Slavery, and among the rank and file of the men who had done the hardest fighting during the war.

In the October number of the Atlantic Monthly for [447] 1863, with his usual ability, in an article on Our Domestic Relations, or, How to Treat the Rebel States, Mr. Sumner goes over a part of this ground. Assuming that the Union victory had already been substantially won,—although hundreds of thousands of lives, and uncounted millions of treasure were yet to be added to complete the immolation,—the Senator enters upon the discussion of a question which was soon to assume such vast magnitude—How we were to treat the Rebel States. It became clear that the same Supreme Power which in its sovereignty was suppressing the Rebellion, and vindicating the laws, would be obliged to fix the conditions of perpetual peace, and determine by what process the transition from rebellion to loyalty might be most surely accomplished.

It was plain enough that the doctrine of State Rights, which had been at the bottom of the Rebellion, would have to go by the board. The absurdity of two sovereignties, to say nothing about thirty or forty, in one community, subject only at their caprices to the Sovereign over all, was an absurdity that would no longer require extensive argument.

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