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[342] optimistic believer in its possibilities, would scarcely have dared predict the results in material development which we accomplished.

Four years of bloody, wasting and destructive war had been followed by nearly ten years of plundering, wilder and grosser and more reckless than any conquered people ever suffered, of blundering, blind, fanatical experiments in government of which the people of the South, of both races, were the helpless victims. In 1860 the cotton-growing, slave-owning States contained 1,065,000 men of producing age; 900,000 of these fought against the Union armies, whose enlisted men numbered 2,800,000. Of the Confederate soldiers 300,000, one-third were killed, died or disappeared under the ominous report of ‘missing’ at the roll calls after the battles. The bulk of the South's property, her individual bases of credit, was destroyed by proclamation at one stroke of Mr. Lincoln's pen. Untold millions of her long accumulated wealth invested in Confederate securities, vanished with the Confederacy. The land lay waste and barren, stock was destroyed, not even tools to work with were left. Cities were heaps of ruins, fields were overgrown in weeds and undergrowth. Yet the Confederate veteran, hobbling patiently on his unaccustomed crutches or trying to guide a worn-out army mule and a broken plow with his one remaining arm, had to pay his full share of taxes to the general government and contribute to the pension of his prosperous and victorious opponent, to pay taxes to his State government, ever increasing its extortionate demands, to face the problem of educating his own children and the children of four million freed slaves and to meet forty per cent. interest on the money he might be able to borrow on his possible crop to secure the means to make it. More than this, he had to reorganize his civilization, to meet a thousand new and hard conditions, to reconstruct society and politics, to learn a new life and new conditions, and to do it all in the face of a general government which did not understand him or his troubles or purposes, and of carpetbag State government's intent only on repressing him and draining him to the last drop of his agonized possibilities.

The pages of history present no parallel—no instance of any conquered people subjected to the hardships and difficulties which were thrust upon our Southern people in the dark and hopeless years of reconstruction which followed the Civil War. Four million former slaves were turned loose, and the reigns of government

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