The cities' petition for peace.
Papers are in circulation in Boston
, New York
, designed to be laid before the Washington Congress in July, praying the peaceful acknowledgment of the Southern Confederacy, and stating that unless the war be terminated those cities must be utterly ruined.
The movement is a rational one, and the fact stated is apparent; the war is indeed destructive to its own authors.
But the petition for a peace is like the tardy and enforced concessions of Louis XVI. and of Louis Philip
; they are but ‘"too late."’ Two hundred thousand men cannot be readily disbanded; they will not disperse until they are paid, and the pay is not forthcoming.
An army, especially one of such huge proportions, has itself something to say on the question of discharge from the service.
Nor is Congress in a condition to exercise its own pleasure with respect to the war. If Congress be the throne of the Black Republican Republic
, there is a power behind the throne greater than the throne itself.
That power is the Executive
, not so much by its own will and might, as by virtue of the military legions which it has called into existence, and of the will and sentiments of the popular masses, whose mouth-piece is the press and whose pleasure is the law, with both Congress and the Executive
The cities of the North
are keenly sensitive to all that affects the profits of trade; they are cosmopolitan, and comparatively conservative and tolerant of different opinions.
But the masses of the people, who populate the rural districts, are less intelligent, more sectional, and more fanatical and truculent towards the South
It will require a longer time before the sentiment which is now taking hold of the city populations can reach the country and subdue the mad war fever which is driving the North
into such excesses.
The temper of the North
is not to be learned from its cities.
The South has been once misled by supposing that it could be, and will not repeat the blunder.
When our people were told before the war that dissolution was inevitable, and that the North
sympathized with old John Brown
, and intended aggression upon the South
, the fact was denied by our merchants, who declared that, in their biennial trips to the Northern
cities, they found the merchants enthusiastic in favor of conceding to the South
all her just rights, and cultivating with her relations of cordial friendship and confidence.
The politicians of the South
, who had not been much at Washington
, or watched the doings of Abolitionists there, and whose reading was confined to a single political newspaper of the respectable but obsolete stamp of the National Intelligencer,
participated in this view of the merchants, and repudiated the war as wildly chimerical.
It was in vain that the men who knew the temper of the rural masses, it was in vain that the newspapers who read the feelings and designs of the Northern
people in their press, sounded the notes of alarm, and exhorted the South
to prepare for the coming storm.
The clouds broke over our heads unawares, the war found us unprepared.
The South is not to be deceived in like manner again.
The cities of the North
may petition their sectional Congress for peace; they may mourn the disasters which the war has brought upon them; they may cry peccavi, and, like the prodigal, imprecate the South
for forgiveness and reconciliation; they may weep and wail and gnash their teeth in the lowest depths of self-reproach and remorse into which they have fallen, but it will all avail nothing.
Congress is powerless in the presence of the arraies which those very cities have sent into the field.
themselves are but mere puppets, dancing to the motion of these armies, and obeying the caprices of the excited and fanatical masses of the Northern
And even if Congress and the Executive
should give way, the South
knows well enough where all power rests in the hostile section, and will never be deceived again by the cities.
The truth is, this war cannot stop until it runs its course.
It is like a mighty locomotive with train attached that has lost its breaks and is rushing down a mountain grade.
No power can check its dead career.
Down it will go until it has reached the bottom and rushed on miles beyond.
There is no help or escape for those on board.
If they leap overboard they are incontinently dashed to pieces.
The only thing to be done is to remain on board, and to take the risks.
The Northern cities are part and parcel a mighty monument, just as headlong and disastrous as that of the doomed train.
They helped to set it in motion.
They leaped shouting and exultant on board as it was setting off. Prayers and petitions will now avail nothing.
They cannot vote themselves out of the danger as readily as they voted themselves into it. They are in for the war, and they must follow it to the death.
Their fate is pitiful, but their doom is just.