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IN presenting this work to the public, I do not invite criticism, but, of course, do not expect it will escape either that of the press or others. If it is not harshly and bitterly denounced by the Democratic press, it will fare better than any thing I have said, written, or done since my first entrance upon the political stage.
I have been told that there was an art to be studied in writing a book, different from all other arts and all other writings, without which no one was likely to be successful. If this be truc, then this, my first effort at book-writing for publication, must prove a sad failure, for the only art I have studied has been the art of telling the truth in a plain, simple style that every reader can readily comprehend, and I think there will not be found a passage in the book that it will be necessary for any child to read twice to catch its meaning.
The chief merit I claim for the work is its strict fidelity to historical facts, which will be recognized by every intelligent and impartial reader as he proceeds. The truth is, that in this extraordinary age of rapid progress, one striking political event succeeds another with such remarkable rapidity that the occurrences of yesterday are obliterated from the mind by those of to-day, and thus there is hardly one man in a million who keeps up
a connected chain of events in his memory, as my posi tion in public life and other circumstances have enabled me to do.
This Rebellion is, in point of fact, a key to my whole political life. There has been no question of public interest for the last thirty-five years or more in which I have not taken an active part; while my personal associations with many of the leading Democrats enabled me to know much that did not appear upon the surface or to the public, and I had been but a short time in Congress before I was satisfied that there was a most active and persevering party in the South laboring with indefatigable zeal to prepare the people for an ultimate dissolution of the Union, and against this party and their objects I have been warring all the time. I need hardly say that I have made but few specchies for the last twen ty-five years that did not contain an admonition to the country on this subject; and it was perhaps owing to this fact, more than any other, that I have been enabled to keep constantly in mind so minute a record of facts as they have occurred.
This work treats of a period and of a history that no other writer, I believe, has undertaken; and without arrogance or presumption, I think I may say that I doubt if there is another person in the country who could write it (without extraordinary labor and research) that would, for those who are most familiar with the facts would rather desire to cover up and conceal what it has been my purpose to expose and lay bare before the world.
When I made up my mind to write this history of the antecedents of the Rebellion, it was with no view to make
a dollar by the work: it was to enlighten the public mind, of the South particularly, as to the great impositions that had been for a long succession of years designedly practiced on their credulity by those in whom they had trusted as their leaders, with what disastrous consequences to the fortunes, the happiness, and lives of every household, in every gradation of life, all are now but too familiar.
I have often had occasion to say that no man alive knew more of this war than I did, and if the people knew as much about it as I knew, or if I knew as little as they did, we should probably all have been together in our sympathies.
I find it extremely difficult to blame any man for rushing to arms in defense of his wife and his children, his property, his liberty, and his honor, who could believe they were all invaded and endangered by a government that they had been educated to look upon as their natural and constitutional protector; and all this was whispered and hissed into their ears by profligate politicians, stupid and abandoned public presses, who, in most cases, had not the nerve or the will, when the danger arrived, to fight for their own wives and daughters, their own property, their own liberty or honor, but who made every manner of excuse for shirking the dangers and hardships of a war of their own creation; but the responsibility they can not escape. For such men the English language is too poor to enable me to express the utter loathing and contempt I feel toward them.
Early in the war I characterized it as "the rich man's war and the poor man's fight." Whether I was right or
wrong in this, those who did the hard fighting can best determine.
One thing, at least, all who read this book can tellnow that the war is over and the result ascertainedand that is, whether I would have been more or less worthy of their confidence and regard by advising them to go into it or to slay out of it; and none will hereafter be surprised, when they have learned the true nature and design of the Rebellion, that from first to last I resolved that no earthly power should induce me to lend it either my co-operation, my respect, or my sympathy.
With these prefatory remarks, this work is respectfully submitted to the candid judgment of an enlightened country by THE AUTHOR.
EDITOR'S PREFAC E.
It is a well-known maxim that "a good cause makes a stout heart and a strong arm," and never was the truth of the adage more strikingly illustrated than in the political career of the Hon. John Minor Botts, of Virginia, than whom no man in the United States at this day stands more prominent before the people as a consistent and patriotic advocate and supporter of "THE UNION,
THE CONSTITUTION, AND THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAWS."
An intimate friend of the illustrious Henry Clay, and a compeer of statesmen and legislators during the most important political eras of the last thirty years, the leading actions of Mr. Botts's life, and his speeches and writings, form as interesting and instructive a portion of the story of the progress of our great Republic from youth to manhood as any part of American history. Especially interesting, however, is the record of the manly and fearless stand made by Mr. Botts in support of the Union cause during the inauguration and progress of the late great conspiracy against the life of the nation, the culmination of which will ever form an eventful era in the world's history. His intimacy with the prominent actors in the great tragedy, and the privilege which he possessed of having the entree behind the scenes in the