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Amid the festivities and splendor of the approaching 4th of March in Washington, the President of the United States cannot be altogether able to banish from his mind some reflections not altogether in harmony with the triumphant and jubilant demonstrations which will accompany his second inauguration. He may possibly be able to recollect that, when, four years ago, he ascended the chair of George Washington, he had an opportunity of making his name second only to that greatest of mankind in the affections of the American People. He found a country in which no drop of blood had ever been shed in civil war; a country powerful, populous and happy, beyond the lot of nations. South Carolina, it is true, in the exercise of State Sovereignty, had withdrawn from the American Union, and the solemn question presented for Mr. Lincoln's decision was whether coercion should be employed for her restoration — a power which, when proposed in the Convention that formed the American Constitution for such a contingency, was unanimously voted down. The party that counselled force proved too strong for that which invoked conciliation and compromise, and the result is before the world.

No sane man now doubts that if, on assuming the Executive authority four years ago, Mr. Lincoln, in his Inaugural Address, had proclaimed the sentiment, recommended by General Scott, "Wayward sisters, depart in peace," the old Union would long ere this, without the expenditure of a dollar of treasure or a drop of blood, have recovered its integrity. The second inauguration would have witnessed a re-united and happy people, with more substantial evidences of strength and prosperity than the pop-crackers, sky-rockets and illuminations which, on the 4th of March, 1865, will blaze over a Republic's sepulchre.

We speak, of course, on the theory that it was the object of Mr. Lincoln's advisers in 1861 to secure the preservation of "the Union." If this was not their object; if they sought to subvert the old Government in everything but name; to make it a consolidated empire, from which the American Constitution and the sovereignty of the States should alike disappear; to overthrow State institutions and civil liberty; they adopted the means most suitable to the end. --We scarcely imagine, however, that, even if they contemplated such results, they calculated the cost, or, if they had formed the faintest conception of the magnitude and expense of the operation, would have ventured upon that fearful experiment. Little did they think that Charleston, which hung out the Flag of Independence in 1861, would not be evacuated till the approach of the Presidential inauguration of 1865, and that millions of men, and thousands of millions of treasure, would not even then have made any impression upon one vital spot of the Confederacy.

If the labor of that enormous host of men, if the gigantic expenditures which have been employed in destruction, had been devoted to the production of Victories of Peace, what a different spectacle would now meet the eye from that which Mr. Lincoln may behold, by looking beyond the delirious crowds which attend his inauguration, and surveying the countless graves, the bereaved households, the desolated fields, the inextinguishable animosities, which this war has produced! The treasures expended in it might have united the Atlantic and Pacific by Northern and Southern lines of railroad, and connected the whole country by railways and canals; might have endowed schools, colleges and humane associations innumerable; might have given an impetus to agriculture, commerce and the mechanic arts that would have made the United States first among nations. If the Constitution was to be violated, it might have been violated in this way with more advantage to humanity, and more consistency with common sense, than trampling it beneath the bloody heel of war.

We do not think, if the President of the United States had it again in his power to decide the issue presented to him at his inauguration in 1861, he would come to the same decision. If we are right in this conviction, all the pageantry of the approaching ceremonies cannot console him for the consequences of the fatal error of his first Proclamation.

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