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sentiment in the free States as to the policy or importance of subduing at once and forever a power promising or undertaking thus to subvert the principles of liberty throughout the world ? In the presence of such declarations, and the better knowledge obtained of the institution of slavery since the war broke out, need we marvel that intelligent statesmen like Mr. Bright, of the English Parliament, for instance, should say of the South, “ Her object is to retain the power to breed negroes, to lash negroes, to chain them, to buy and sell negroes, to deny them the enjoyment of the commonest family ties, to break their hearts by rending them at their pleasure, to close their mental eye against a glimpse of that knowledge which separates us from the brute creation, for, in accordance with their laws, it is a penal act to teach a negro to read."
These are sweeping charges, and I do not quote to endorse them, although one must be very blind now to doubt that the South is fighting to perpetuate slavery by the establishment of a government hostile to the rights and in denial of the dignity of labor. Nor is it less apparent, judging from the ferocity and heartless barbarity manifested by the traitors towards the Union prisoners in many instances, and towards the Union people of the South, that the effect of slavery upon them is to the last extent pernicious. Still they cling to and fight for it.
But a great change is going on-greater by far in the border States and at the South than at the North-in regard to this institution. One of the most striking individual instances of this is to be seen in the recent address of E. W. Gantt, a member elect to Congress, in 1860, from Arkansas, who, until within a few months past, has held a commission in the rebel service. Of slavery he says, existence had become incompatible with the existence of the Government; for while it had stood as a wall damming up the current and holding back the people and laborers of the North, it had, by thus precluding free intercourse
between the sections, produced a marked change in their manners, customs, and sentiments; and the two sections were growing more divergent every day. This wall or the Government—one must give way. The shock came which was to settle the question. I thought the Government was divided and negro slavery established forever. I erred. The Government was stronger than slavery. Reunion is certain, but not more certain than the downfall of slavery.
We fought for negro slavery. We have lost.” Look, too, at the wonderful strides towards general emancipation in Maryland, Missouri, and several other slave States; nor let it be forgotten with what general satisfaction immediate emancipation has been acquiesced in in this District. There was at first, to be sure, some hesitancy and a little grumbling on the part of a few of the owners, while a smaller number declined to present their slaves for valuation and compensation, on the ground, as it was understood, that they hoped and believed that Jefferson Davis would sooner or later have permanent possession here at the capital, and would, of course, protect them in their “sacred rights." But while this latter number, which was very small, are no doubt vexed with themselves for their latent treachery, those who took advantage of the law under a sort of protest would, I doubt not, every one of them now heartily approve it, were the thing to be gone over again.
In view of these among other numerous considerations patent to every one who reads, it is unaccountable that so many of our good people at the North, as if in a spirit of magnanimity, should esteem it either their duty or good policy to brace themselves so firmly in support of this tottering institution of slavery, and especially that they should be so ready to denounce such men as General Butler, General Shepley, Daniel S. Dickinson, and others for yielding to their honest convictions, and with Joseph Holt, Andrew Johnson, Horace Maynard, and hosts of other patriotic Southerners, saying, “God speed to universal emancipation.”
Do you ask if I have turned Abolitionist? I answer that the political Abolitionism of former days differs widely from the great movements now in progress for the freedom not alone of the slaves, but of the down-trodden, laboring white population, too, of the South. I am constrained to believe with Mr. Gantt, that “the mission of slavery is accomplished.” And when, as he says, he has “recently talked with Southern slaveholders from every State,” that “they are tired of slavery, and believe they could make more clear money and live more peaceably without than with it," why should we of the free States longer strive for its maintenance ? Mr. Boyce, of South Carolina, warned his friends that if they brought on a war against their Government it would be the death of their cherished institution. They did commence the war; let them suffer, as they are doing in many ways, its legitimate consequences.
Certainly we are not called upon to interpose any counteracting obstacle. Let the work go on. Do we not plainly see in it the hand of the Almighty ? Heretofore we have, as it were, waited for the records of history to be made up before being permitted to see clearly the workings of Providence in the affairs of men. As from an eminence we looked back into the past to behold “ His wonderful doings.” But now we seem to feel IIis immediate presence and to see His all powerful hand in the great events daily transpiring around us.
No, my friend, you well know I am beyond the influence of either official position (for I neither hold nor desire any) or partisan politics. Neither “Abolitionism,” “ Republicanism,” nor “Democracy,” in a party sense, have I anything to do with during the war. My motto is, “ My country first-afterwards, if need be, my party.” Let us give to the administration a cheerful support. Its responsibilities are immense—how tremendously oppressive we cannot fully realize until the war is ended, if, indeed, we ever can. Let us seek to strengthen, not to destroy it. If we think errors are committed, point them out in a spirit of friendship, not of carping bitterness. Let us be united. Before there can be peace the military power of the rebels must be broken and thoroughly subdued. This can be done only by exerting our united strength against them. They had been long preparing for this struggle, and had, no doubt, many times surveyed the whole field ere entering upon it in hostile array.
You have, no doubt, seen the letter of that arch-traitor, J. M. Mason, to Jefferson Davis, written in September, 1856, when the latter was Secretary of War, in which Mason informs him, through his “most private ear,” that the Governors of several of the Southern States had agreed to rendezvous at Raleigh, evidently for treasonable purposes, in view of the anticipated election of Fremont to the Presidency, in which event he said he had already given it as his judgment, that the South should not pause, but proceed at once to immediate, absolute, and eternal separation, adding, -as he knew what he deserved,-“so I am a candidate for the first halter.” The principal object of the letter, however, was to urge Davis to comply with Governor Wise's official request “ to exchange with Virginia, on fair terms of difference, percussion for flint muskets.”
This, by the way, is the same “ J. M. Mason” who, when the question was to be submitted to Virginia whether or not she should secede from the Union, you will recollect, had the unblushing effrontery to advise all who were opposed to secession to leave the State! The same, too, who, in his place in the United States Senate, in the spring of 1861, with an air of offended dignity, expressed his indignation at the quartering of United States troops in this city and the mounting of cannon on the land side of Fortress Monroe! It was, indeed, a sore thing for the conspirators, the arrival here of one or more batteries of flying artillery, and they used their utmost power to prevent it. It seriously interfered with their arrangements; for there is scarcely a doubt that their fixed purpose was to prevent President Lincoln's inauguration and take violent possession of the Government.
Again, looking farther back, it should create no surprise if, when the entire history of this infamous conspiracy finally comes to the light, it shall be found that the poisoning at the National Hotel, where Mr. Buchanan was stopping in the spring of 1857, prior to his inauguration, had for its special object quietly to put him out of the way, in order to give place to Vice-President Breckinridge, upon whom they could rely to co-operate with them, through Floyd, Cobb, and Thompson, in usurping the Government in the event of being defeated, as they were, at the polls. Such a suggestion then would have shocked the public sense; but after what we have since witnessed,—the perjuries, the thefts, the robberies, the cold-blooded murders, the savage cruelties of this traitor horde,—no act of theirs, however horrible, need startle us.
But this is diverging. The signs of an early suppression of the rebellion are auspicious. Our armies on land and water are bravely pressing onward; the rebel cause is fast losing ground in Europe, where so much pains have been taken by Southern emissaries to enlist the aristocracy and enemies of the United States in their behalf; no more piratical vessels will be constructed in England or France to prey upon our commerce; the rebels are in a straitened condition for the necessaries of life, and all that is now wanted to put an end to further bloodshed, is for the people of the loyal States at home to reinforce and support our armies in the field, in the same spirit of union and patriotism with which they rallied in defence of our flag when it was first assailed at Fort Sumter. This will ensure certain success and end the war. Then the seceded States will return to their positions under the Constitution; slavery, if