A political Metamorphosis.
The States of the South
had been the earliest advocates of the suppression of the slave trade and the staunchest supporters of the union of the States, but when the gathering clouds on the northern horizon began to throw their shadows athwart the whole southern sky, they prepared for the exercise of their sovereignty in the only way which was justified by precedent and which seemed to offer adequate protection to their rights and interests.
But ‘tempora mutantur et mutamur cum illis.’
Times had indeed changed, and parties had so changed with them as to remind us forcibly of a scene from the ‘Inferno’ of Dante
, in which the poet saw ‘a strange encounter between a man and a serpent.
After the infliction of cruel wounds they stood for a time glaring at each other.
A great cloud surrounded them, and then a wonderful change took place.
Each creature was transformed into the likeness of its antagonist.
The serpent's tail divided itself into two legs, the man's legs intertwined themselves into a tail.
The body of the serpent put forth arms, the man's arms shrank into his body.
At length the man sank down a serpent, and the serpent stood up a man and spake.’
The former secessionists of the North
were now devoted adherents of the Union
, even if blood was necessary to cement it. The Union-loving South of the early days felt that she could no longer uphold it consistently with her interests and her honor.