Morality and Might the Old World and the New

The London Times is pleased to expatiate at much length upon the text of this article — assuming that two different principles govern the Old World of Europe and the New of the States of the late North American Union; the former being controlled by Morality,the latter by Might. There is little if anything in history, either European or American, to sustain the views of the Times save that part of the American history which developes the motives and measures which terminated in this war. In European diplomacy Morality has had the smallest possible share, and we have seldom seen her triumphant save when, by rare good luck, she happened to be on the same side with Might. Power is never just where it has a selfish motive opposed to Justice. The English nation can lay as little claim to credit for Morality as any power on earth. The Old World of which it has been a chief Director of affairs has been the scene of successive national outrages — a conspicuous one of modern times being the partisan of Poland, to which England was a party. In all the revolutions and vicissitudes of nations of that world, where Might has prevailed, it was as often against Morality as for it.

On the other hand, with regard to the North American States, the charge of the Times only holds good with reference to the besotted and brutalized power which now rules in the Northern States, and which, by its flagrant outrages upon the Federal Constitution and the rights of the Southern States, forced a dissolution of the old Union. The States of that Union became independent after a struggle, painful and prolonged, against the injustice of the Might of England, the mother country. Thus the first great act of the New World was a triumph in its war for Morality and Right over the injustice and Might of the Old. After its triumph the States whose combined efforts achieved the result proceeded to form their own political systems. These, in their very essence, involved the principles of Right and Morality against the doctrine of Might, the power of mere numbers. They established separate State Governments, which contained checks and balances for the preservation of Order and protection of Right, and they jointly formed a Confederate Government with limited powers, in which it was sought, constitutionally, to protect the States and the country against the tyranny of numbers merely. In the election of President the vote was by States. The Legislative Department had its revisory and checkmating body in the Senate, to which each State, irrespective of size, sent two members, and the President had the veto power over acts of Congress as a still further protection against the force of numbers. The whole system was interwoven with the moral principle — the safeguards for the protection of the minorities and the localities against the oppression of sectional and numerical power — Might. It may be said they were not strong or clear enough. We rather think they were, Had they been respected they certainly would have been sufficient, and none, however strong, would have prevailed against that unscrupulous and infatuated sectional majority by which they were trodden into the dust.

So that in the political institutions of the New World the moral principle was set up over that of Might. In its history down to the present struggle there is certainly nothing to impeach its integrity in all its foreign relations it acquired no territory by might save that from Mexico. In the war with that nation it had right on its side, and the acquisition of territory was an incident justifiable by the highest examples of the Old World. Its other acquisitions were by purchase; including those from the poor North American Indians, in which it deviated from the example of the Times's own nation, whose Morality it holds up to the admiration of the world ! In the second war between the New World and Old England, the former was resisting the principle of Might asserted by the latter, against the Moral principle that a man had a right to choose his country and serve under what flag he pleased.

The Government of the United States in all its relations with the world up to the time of the dissolution of the Union, presents the fairest record of all nations. Not an act of injustice stained its pages. Those who shaped its policy and controlled its councils were distinguished Southern statesmen, and to them is chiefly attributable the Morality, the Might and Justice which prevailed.

But the United States was doomed to repeat history, and to imitate the Old Word in its many examples that Might makes Right, in order to initiate here a struggle that was to teach them the lesson of Morality. It did this not in its foreign relations, but in its domestic. The besotted power of numbers which became, by peculiarity of pursuits and social condition, centered in the Northern States, broke down the barriers of the Constitution which had been raised to protect the States and the minorities, and for the first time involved the New World in that Crime which has so much cursed the Old, and which has made England in days gone by conspicuous among the nations — the crime of substituting the power of Might for that of Right. In this situation of affairs we confess a part of the lecture of the leading journal of England is applicable to the New World. It thus truthfully tells the fate which must follow the persistence in the rule of Might by the blind despotism of the Federal Union:

"If they persist in the rule of might, there is only one result. They will just annihilate one another. A miserable remnant, a ruined country, a relapse into savagery, and other revile unknown and inconceivable will be the only possible result. We see it because we are bystanders and spectators, and because we look on from the vantage ground of our tried communities, our established principles, and our ancient institutions. From this vantage ground, as if from a secure elevation in a wide spread deign, we tell these poor drowning wretches that they have no chance whatever but to forget their dream of infinite numbers, boundless territory, inexhaustible wealth, and Irresistible might, and bow low, like children, to the teaching and arbitration of right. Let them just consider what they ought to do, and what 'ought' means, and they have some chance of getting out of this difficulty without blasting a whole continent. We do not say this is an easy or altogether a pleasant course; but it is the only course which does not lead to utter destruction."

But the principle of Morality will prevail in this struggle, and the South will vindicate its Right. History is, in our case, merely repeating itself. People that cannot live together must separate. Civilized and manly people will not submit to the despotisms inseparable from large areas of territory controlled by one Government. Morality and Right demand the division of such countries into smaller areas as population increases. All history proves this, and we are repeating history. On this subject we propose to say a word on another day, to assist in some degree to quiet the minds of any who may be uneasy, and of any who look book with regret, considering the present condition as something that was not and that might have been avoided. We are ranging ourselves in the History of the World and Menkied, just where we must be, and are about to report History in the vindication of certain Providential laws which cannot be put aside.

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