In so far they were right, as Governor John A. Andrew
said of John Brown
Meanwhile, practically, as a common-sensed man, leading an everyday existence in a world of actualities, John Brown
was not right; he was, on the contrary, altogether wrong, and richly merited the fate meted out to him. It was the same with the secessionists.
That, in 1861, they could really have had faith in the practicability—the real working efficiency—of that peaceable secession which they professed to ask for, and of which they never wearied of talking, I cannot believe.
I find in the record no real evidence thereof.
Of the high-type Southron, as we sometimes designate him, I would speak in terms of sincere respect.
I know him chiefly by hearsay, having come in personal contact only with individual representatives of the class; but such means of observation as I have had confirm what I recently heard said by a friend of mine, once governor of South Carolina
, and, so far as I know, the only man who ever gave the impossible and indefensible plan of reconstruction attempted after our Civil War, a firm, fair and intelligent trial.
He at least put forth an able and honest effort to make effective a policy which never should have been devised.
Speaking from ‘much and varied experience,’ I recently heard Daniel H. Chamberlain
say of the ‘typical southern gentleman’ that he considered him ‘a distinct and really noble growth of our American soil.
For, if fortitude under good and under evil fortune, if endurance without complaint of what comes in the tide of human affairs, if a grim clinging to ideals once charming, if vigor and resiliency of character and spirit under defeat and poverty and distress, if a steady love of learning and letters when libraries were lost in flames and the wreckage of war, if self-restraint when the long-delayed relief at last came—if, I say, all these qualities are parts of real heroism, if these qualities can vivify and enoble a man or a people, then our own South may lay claim to an honored place among the differing types of our great common race.’
Such is the matured judgment of the Massachusetts
governor of South Carolina
during the congressional reconstruction period; and, listening to it, I asked myself if it was descriptive of a southern fellow-countryman, or a Jacobite Scotch chieftain anterior to ‘the '45.’
The southern statesman of the old slavery days—the antediluvian period which preceded our mid-century cataclysm—were the outcome and representatives of what has thus been described.
As such they presented a curious admixture of qualities.
Masterful in temper,