American affairs — another letter from Mr. Spence.
To the Editor of the London Times:
mediation has been the only probable termination to this contest from its outbreak.
The patience of those who have only to suffer was ever likely, to be sooner exhausted than passions continually excited by hope or stimulated by revenge.
The Southern people may sustain and endure this contest for three years, but Europe
Two reasons for a different view of its probable continuance have been relied upon by those who expected them to lay down their arms, even before a first defeat on a field of battle.
Of these the theory of a moral collapse is quite disproved.
Their firmness of purpose has been tested in many ways — by severe disappointments on the blockade question, the Trent
incident, the power of cotton — by the surprise and capture of their greatest port — by great temptations wherever the Federal
are in occupation; golden contracts or swift promotion — by a gloomy period of reverses, small but continuous and disheartening.
In the face of all these, and after a long term of privation, their spirit has evidently become more and more determined.
Clearly, then, we must abandon the expectation of an end to the contest in this way.
The other reason is of greater force.
Many have inquired whence armies could be supplied with munitions of war if all the ports were occupied, and how any great community could exist without cities to dwell in. Up to the present time only two important cities have been occupied; and if all the ports were captured, there are numerous towns in the interior, little known in Europe
, but sufficient for the need of defensive war. Few ever heard of Montgomery
until its selection as the seat of Government, still fewer of Corinth
Towns were not plentiful when we took every important city on the coast, except Boston
, and yet the colonists maintained the war. The question of supplies is far more difficult; but no blockade of 3,500 miles of coast can prevent the smuggling on a large scale of any article that is not of extreme bulk.
A glance at the map, showing the relation of the coast to Cuba
, the Bahamas, and Mexico
, is sufficient to prove that a supply of powder or arms is simply a matter of high cost.
The colonists maintained the struggle for more than seven years, assisted, indeed, after a time, by France
, but long under disadvantages far greater than those of the South
Eighteen months have now elapsed since the movement began.
Is there anything in the progress of the war or the present attitude of the Southern
armies to permit any other than the conclusion that the struggle will be protracted for a number of years, if its continuance depend on Southern resistance?
Nor can any one believe that the powers of Europe
will remain debarred from the chief material of their manufactures, practically a necessity of life, for a long series of years.
If not, it follows that, sooner or later, action will be taken by them, and in this view delay simply adds to the suffering of the working class and to the permanent injury of America
The most malevolent enemy of that country could desire for it no greater evil than that free scope for devastation, bankruptcy, and vindictive passion, which is desired by those who are deemed its friends.
Your correspondent, writing from the midst of the elation at New York, has recently pointed out in your columns that nothing can save the country from ruin except the mediation of some European Power.
The principal objection to this now brought forward is that the people of the North
are in a condition of mind so violent and incensed against this country that any action on our part would bring down alarming consequences.
It is quite true that the North
has a great number of men, great skill in organization, amazing energy, and little love for this country.
But as we have successfully encountered all these before, on a still greater scale, and wielded by a genius pre-eminent in war, as we did this with but half our present population and a tithe of our present resources, we may weight the subject without any manner of apprehension.
But let us admit the argument in its fullest force — admit that there are 20 millions of people having 500,000 men under arms, and very desirous to turn them against us on the first opportunity.
While we look on, suffer, and abstain, they will either be defeated or conquer the South
If defeated, their friends will have occasion to regret that mediation had not been offered.
If successful, there will be 800,000 soldiers to find employment for, and with which to visit their displeasure upon us.
Another consequence will result.
The feeling of the people of the South
towards this country is at present one of some soreness at the course we have taken.
Our motives are utterly incomprehensible to those who have been educated in the political school of the Union
Still, speaking generally, there is under this a friendly feeling, which has the solid basis of commercial interests thoroughly in unison.
But if subdued, it is very probable that their animosity to the North
would for a time expend itself upon us, after a manner often witnessed in domestic quarrels.
They would vehemently assert that it was our truckling to the North
which permitted a blockade of an entire coast to be ordained by a power which at the time could hardly muster a squadron of ships.
To this they would attribute their ruin; and, however unjustly, looking simply to the fact, we may expect that under such circumstances the bitterness of their spirit would rival that of the North
Now, if the advocates of the drifting policy are alarmed at the vision of half an angry continent, surely a whole one is a more formidable danger.
If any one fact has been plainly developed by the progress of this war for the consideration of statesmen, it is that the peace of Europe
will be seriously endangered if that continent relapse into the power of a single Government, unrestrained, quarrelsome enough when a non military power, and now vain of its strength and afflicted with a passion for arms. --Surely the lovers of peace cannot shut their eyes to this, or wish us to leak into another Crimean war by forbidding that firmness which would have averted it.
And there is a form of mediation that would remove all risk of war. There are four Western maritime Powers, and others would be willing to participate.
The question is one of European
interest, and if addressed by the general voice of Europe
, speaking in the interest of humanity, industry, and peace, none are so excited as to disregard so irresistible a moral force, or so proud but they might yield to it without humiliation.
All such combinations are cumbrous, and undesirable where active measures are intended, but these objections may be outweighed where it is hoped to attain the object by moral influence.
The principle of such a mediation is very apparent, and thoroughly American.
The majority of the European Powers
, with the full sympathy of the Washington Government
, have recently approved the action of people who have discarded old Governments under which they were miserable.
It would be impossible for them to countenance the attempt to impose upon another people a yoke which they detest.--We, least of all, could deny to men of our own race the right we admit in other races.
The Declaration of Independence is high authority on American questions, and asserts that all Governments derive "their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The Government of Richmond would probably be willing that the consent or dissent of the people of the South should be tested, and would respect those principles which hitherto all Americans have revered.
The same well-known instrument declares the ‘"pursuit of happiness"’ to be an inalienable right of man. How could the people of the South
pursue happiness under a system to escape from which they are now cheerfully sacrificing their property and their lives?
If, then, we see the advantage of mediation, and its principles are plainly in view, there remains but the question of time.
The 75,000 men called out by Mr. Lincoln
were soon found to be a miscalculation; the 580,000 that followed now require more levies.
Allowances were made for the failure of the first campaign; but this, the result of ample preparation, is plainly hopeless as a means of restoring the Union
Meantime every day brings nearer the extinction of the stock of cotton, and the torch is busy lighting fires that are consuming the vitals of our people.
The present moment is not, indeed, the time for positive action.
That could not possibly be more inopportune than on the eve of a great battle or siege, but there is nothing in this to forbid such arrangements with other powers as might enable action to be taken on the next full in the storm.
I am, sir, your obedient servant. Liverpool
, June 14. S.