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 Before entering upon the narrative of those events I must remind you that the social, political, and constitutional changes brought about by the war are so vast, and have been effected so suddenly and completely, that it is not easy even for us who lived under the old order of things to judge the actions of individuals and communities in the light of opinions and institutions then almost universally received and respected, uninfluenced by the very different opinions and institutions of to-day. The task will become more difficult when the population of this country shall come to consist, as it will in a very few years, of people who never knew any Constitution but the present Constitution, or any Union but the present Union, and who will have no personal knowledge of the views and opinions that guided the conduct of men before the iron of war had entered the soul of our institutions. I can, perhaps, better draw your attention to the conclusions which are warranted by the facts about to be presented to you by the rather startling proposition that the actual Southern Confederacy, the Confederacy which for four years made head against the power of the Federal Government, reinforced at last by the slaves, was called into existence by Mr. Lincoln himself. To explain what I mean it is necessary to mark the difference between the state of affairs before and after the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln of April 15, 1861—a difference so important and so generally disregarded in what is said and written on the subject of the war that I shall have to ask your indulgence if I present it somewhat in detail. Although nearly the whole people of the Southern States became to all intents united after the proclamation of April 15th, it is generally forgotten that before that event the views of duty and of policy entertained in the cotton and in the border States were widely divergent. I shall try to show what that difference was.
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