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[58] had said, ‘being inclined, and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.’ Well might the English historian, Goldwin Smith, in spite of his strong partiality for the North, say of this passage, ‘Southern revolution could not have asked for a clearer sanction.’

Not the Constitution alone, but the whole spirit of the American Revolution, and of the institutions founded on it, was palpably violated and set at naught by the war undertaken against the seceding States. If governments were still to be imposed by force upon reluctant peoples, fitted for freedom, and capable of self-rule, the principles of 1776 were abandoned, and their work nullified. The Declaration of Independence might as well follow the Constitution into the political lumber-room. This was too evident to escape the observation of many even among the party in power at the North, but the old despotic theories, while discarded in name, had sunk deeply into the souls of men. The precedents of century on century had so thoroughly associated the idea of unquestioned power with ‘government,’ and unquestioning submission with ‘governed,’ especially among that large class who,—immigrants themselves or the sons of immigrants,—had not yet shaken off the traditions and influence of the old world, and comprehended very imperfectly, if at all, the complex and highly developed polity under which they lived, that it seemed impossible to disjoin them. Of the one people on earth which possessed a government resting solely upon consent the greater part were so little capable of realizing and acting up to the principles which formed the justification, the very reason for existence, of their institutions, that they blindly destroyed it, and erected on its ruins a successor of the old type, built on the old barbarous foundation of physical force, the ‘right divine,’ of the strongest. It was a distinct and long step backward in the evolution of society, and would hardly have been taken, had the decision depended exclusively upon the descendants of the men of 1776. Should it be alleged that the end which sanctified such means, in the eyes of those employing them, was the swift and certain destruction of slavery, the conclusive answer is to be found in their own repeated and emphatic disavowals


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