Having entered this necessary, if somewhat hopeless caveat
, let us address ourselves to the question at issue.
I will state it again.
Legally and technically, not morally, again let me say, and wholly irrespective of humanitarian considerations, to which side did the weight of argument incline during the great debate which culminated in our Civil War?
The answer necessarily turns on the abstract right of what we term a sovereign State to secede from the Union
at such time and for such cause as may seem to that State proper and sufficient.
The issue is settled now; irrevocably and for all time decided; it was not settled forty years ago, and the settlement since reached has been the result, not of reason based on historical evidence, but of events and of force.
To pass a fair judgment on the line of conduct pursued by Lee
in 1861, it is necessary to go back in thought and imagination, and see things, not as they now are, but as they then were.
If we do so, and accept the judgment of some of the more modern students and investigators of history, either wholly unprejudiced or with a distinct Union bias, it would seem as if the weight of argument falls into what I will term the Confederate
For instance, Professor Goldwin Smith
, an Englishman, a life-long student of history, and friend and advocate of the Union
during the Civil War
, the author of one of the most compact and readable narratives of our national life, Goldwin Smith
has recently said: ‘Few who have looked into the history can doubt that the Union
originally was, and was generally taken by the parties to it to be, a compact, dissoluble, perhaps most of them would have said, at pleasure, dissoluble certainly on breach of the articles of Union.’
（Atlantic Monthly Magazine
, March, 1902, Vol. 89, p. 305.) To a like effect, but in terms even stronger, Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge
, now a senator from Massachusetts
, has declared, not in a political utterance, but in a work of historical character: ‘When the constitution was adopted by the votes of States at Philadelphia
, and accepted by the votes of States in popular conventions, it is safe to say that there was not a man in the country from Washington
, on the one side, to George Clinton
and George Mason
, on the other, who regarded the new system as anything but an experiment entered upon by the States, and from which each and every State had the right peaceably to withdraw, a right which was very likely to be exercised.’
, ‘American Statesman’, series, p. 172.)
Here are two explicit statements of the legal and technical side of the argument made by authority to which no exception can be taken, at least by those of the Union
On them, and on them alone,