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nearly a century and a half, has the true interpretation of civilization, when he writes:
"Since the world began no nation has ever risen to a commanding eminence in the arts of peace, which has not, at some period of its history, been redoubtable in war. And in every well-balanced development of nations, as of individuals, the warlike instinct and the military point of honor are not repressed and extinguished but only refined and civilized. It belongs to the pedagogue, not to the philosopher, to declaim against them as relics of barbarism."
This being true, war is a cleansing process, and a civil war, a process of national purification.
It is as a national, not as a local event, that the Civil War takes on significance. Suppressed rebellions are less interesting, but not necessarily more instructive reading, than successful revolutions. The Civil War in America, as an event in the history of the Nation, was "insurrection and rebellion." Its promoters declared for "independence," and claimed to the end that for this alone they fought; but the parallel they drew with the American Revolution failed at every point, and "independence" resolved itself into what the London Times, at first an ally of the Confederacy, came, at last, to call "the Slaveholders' Rebellion."
President Lincoln, whose accuracy of speech, whose insight into conditions and consequences, and whose sense of right and justice are beyond dispute, ever spoke of the war as "insurrection and rebellion," using a phrase of the Constitution of known and adjudicated meaning. John Fiske, with his habitual directness, remarks in the preface to his The Mississippi Valley in the War:
"It may be observed that this book sometimes alludes to the Confederates as "rebels." I have been surprised to find how generally people seem to think that some sort of stigma is implied by that word. For my own part, I have sympathized with so many of the great rebellions in history, from the revolt of the Ionian cities against Darius Hystaspes down to the uprising of Cuba against the Spaniards, that I
am quite unable to conceive of "rebel" as a term of reproach. In the present case, it enables one to avoid the excessive iteration of the word "Confederate," while it simply gives expression to the undeniable fact that our Southern friends were trying to cast off an established government. In England, to this day, Cromwell's admirers do not hesitate to speak with pride of the Great Rebellion. While my own sympathies have always been intensely Northern, as befits a Connecticut Yankee, I could still in all sincerity take off my hat to the statue of Lee when I passed it in New Orleans. His devotion to the self-gov-. ernment which seemed to him in mortal peril was no more reprehensible than the loyalty of Falkland to the prerogative of Charles I., though in both cases the sentiments were evoked under circumstances dangerous to the nation's welfare."
Herein we have stated precisely the case before us: an account of the Civil War as an event "dangerous to the Nation's welfare."
The Nation, then, being the chief theme, its aspirations, its efforts, its achievements become the subject of the story. It is not that there was lack of devotion or bravery among the armies of the Confederacy, or that there was devotion and bravery in the armies of the Union; it is the cause of the Confederacy as "dangerous to the Nation's welfare" that here engages us. Tested by the conditions of nationality, that "cause' was baseless. The Northern mind finds itself incapable of discovering any justification for the Confederacy, or the war which it precipitated. The North searches the literature of the New World in vain for an apology for that war which is comparable with the Declaration of Independence, or Lincoln's first inaugural. It sees men of genius at the South diverting its energies into the devastating channel of slavery, seemingly for no moral end; for at last the North came to condemn slavery, repentant amidst the throes of defeat and anguish for its dead. The South, not the North, is entitled to the credit of compelling
the abolition of slavery; the South, not the North, demonstrated the fallacy of the doctrine of State sovereignty and secession and no false doctrine was ever so ably defended, as by Calhoun in the Senate, by Lee and Johnston in the field. It is not a question of bravery, or of fighting qualities, or of military genius, South or North, but a question of stern, industrial necessity: for the stars in their courses fought for the true economy of the Nation, and the unyielding law of nature was wiser than selfish men. Lincoln expressed the whole in an epigram: "This government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free; it will become all one thing or all the other."
The state of mind of the American people changed amidst civil war: this is the conclusion of the whole matter.
The present volume is a civil rather than a military history, for the civil victory of the Nation over Confederacy was of far greater import than a merely military conquest. In a national sense, the American people, through the awful experience of civil war, returned to the principles of the Fathers and purified the republic of political corruption. The North does not boast of prowess or achievement; it does not, it cannot look upon the South as having been a conquered country: for the final triumph of national ideas. was won against bitter and treacherous foes at the North who, in the judgment of loyal men and women, outclassed the fiercest of Confederates at the South.
Happily for him who attempts to write the history of the Civil War, he has a friend, counsellor, and guide in the foremost man of the age, Abraham Lincoln. The simple perusal of his now published utterances and writings will give the justest idea of what the war meant: and yet probably no person would have been more surprised than Lincoln, had he been told that he had written the best history of the Civil War in America.
It is through Lincoln's eyes that I have tried to see the war. The Nation's "new birth of freedom" is his pacific interpretation of that mighty conflict.
In the volume which precedes this, The Civil War from a Southern Standpoint, the reader is shown the other side of the picture. In Volume XVI, The Reconstruction Period, Volume XVII, The Rise of the New South, and Volume XVIII, The Development of the North, the history of the country is carried forward after 1865, the close of the War. Happily for America the Nation now knows no North, no South, no East, no West, but only the beneficent realization of Webster's vision:
"Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable." FRANCIS N. THORPE.
He who writes on any aspect of the Civil War must of right acknowledge his indebtedness to a great company of writers who precede him, links in the chain binding the present to the past. The enormous number of books about the War preclude the probability that any reader or writer is familiar with their contents, but every one who presumes to write of the War is specially indebted to some group of secondary authorities which for some reason have become familiar to him. Some twenty years ago I began gathering material for a civil history of the United States during the period of the Civil War; I become interested in Confederate and Federal legislation, a rather neglected field,-made exhaustive abstracts of all legislation by Southern States; collected the journals of the secession conventions, also a large number of pamphlets expository of the issues arising during the period. At the time of the death of Jefferson Davis, I had collected for me the editorial comments and reviews on his life and work, some twelve hundred articles, from nearly four hundred principal newspapers of America and Europe, recording the opinion of the world respecting Davis thirty years after the War; I also collected or made abstracts of documents recording the action of Congress regulating political and civil affairs, during this period; finally, I went pretty carefully through the important "Memoirs" and "Narratives" of the chief participants in the War. This material, quite extensive in the aggregate, is the chief original material I have consulted in the preparation of the present volume; but in addition I have freely used a few