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and pleaded to the end for the redress of grievance, real or supposed, yet in my own person I had to meet the question whether I should take part against my native state.”
To Mr. Lincoln's messenger, the elder Blair, who was laboring to keep him in the Union army, General Lee said: “ Mr. Blair, · I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the 4,000,000 slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union, but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native state?”
How Mr. Lincoln, in his inaugural address, struggled with the secessionists. “Physically speaking," said he, "we cannot separate—we cannot remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parts of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face; and intercourse, amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Suppose you go to war. You cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you. My countrymen," said Mr. Lincoln, “one and all, think calmly and well upon this subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.
“If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there is still no single reason for precipitate action. In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. I am loth,” said Mr. Lincoln, “to close. We are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
The leaders of the South did not expect to go to war. They fired upon Sumter to fire the Southern heart with victory, to hurry Virginia into secession, and to strike terror to the heart of the Nation. They thought the country would yield to bluster and a very little powder, and let them nationalize slavery and manage the government to suit themselves. General Sherman, who was
in Louisiana all the winter before the war began, says in his memoirs, that the orators of the South used openly and constantly the expression that there would be no war, and that a lady's thimble would hold all the blood to be shed. It is safe to say that if the Southern leaders could have foreseen the consequences, they would never have gone to war.
Among the early governors of Massachusetts was Sir Henry Vane, whose political faith was embodied in the words, “Above all things Liberty."
Among the early governors of Virginia was Sir William Berk. eley, whose political faith has likewise come down to us in words. Sir William Berkeley said, “I thank God there are no free schools, nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years, for learning has brought disobedience into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best governments. God keep us from both.”
Sir Henry Vane and Sir William Berkeley were the prototypes of the generation of our war. Every Union soldier fought to put into practice Sir Henry Vane's words. Every step the Union soldier took meant more free schools and more printing presses. Every shot the Union soldier fired meant: Think, speak and print whatever you like, and the more the better. Let there be light. Above all things Liberty.
Consciously or unconsciously, willingly or unwillingly, every Confederate soldier fought for Sir William Berkeley's view of things. Every step the Confederate soldier took meant: God keep us from free schools and printing presses.
Before the war the South was the ideal abode of conservatism. The whole population belonged to the back centuries. The age of chivalry was the favorite age. The Southern people were so conservative that they came very near answering to Sidney Smith's description of the conservative gentleman who could never fully enjoy the new moon out of respect for that venerable insti. tution, the old moon.
The cause of all this conservatism was slavery. Slavery could not be discussed, and therefore nothing could be discussed. As in Italy all roads lead to Rome, so, at the South, all discussion led to slavery, and slavery would not bear discussion. Every man who owned a slave knew, and all his relatives, dependents and connections knew that slavery and free speech couldn't live together. Slavery was profitable only to the few, damaging to the many, and free speech would have demonstrated it. Slavery could not have survived free speech. If there had been free speech men would have looked not to the extension of slavery, but towards its abolition. Free speech would have demonstrated the immense superiority of the North in men, money, material, machinery, skill and ingenuity. Free speech would have demonstrated that war would be only a strain upon the North, while to the South war must be ruin and desolation.
The cause of the war was slavery; the cause of the war was state rights; but more than all other causes combined, the cause of the war was the want of the freedom of speech at the South. Free speech is the very essence of the civilization of the nineteenth century. What the safety valve is to the steam engine free speech is to civilized society. The one supreme condition for peaceable society is that all sides of a question shall freely have their say. The test of a free, vigorous and progressive country is that all sides of all questions are freely discussed. In a live community every generation has its own questions, sometimes many questions at the same time. No sooner is one question settled than another one is uppermost. Spain and Turkey have no questions because they are not alive. We have many public questions because we are alive. Full, fair, free, open public discussion is not a sign of disease. It is a sign of ruddy, vigorous health. In all the agitations that have been, in all the agitations that now are, and in all the agitations that are to come, the sheet anchor of republican institutions has been, is now and always will be perfect freedom of speech.
Men have prospered just in proportion as restraint upon thought and speech has been removed. With restraint there were pestilence and famine. With liberty have come health and abund
And this is true of printing as well as of speaking. Our experience in this country teaches us that the price of white paper is a sufficient censorship of the press in behalf of common sense. To live by printing a man must print a preponderance of common
If he libel individuals, individual lawsuits eat up his substance. If he counsel lawlessness and lawlessness follow, the sheriff takes him and puts him temporarily or permanently where he will do the most good. If he print rubbish and nonsense he soon finds himself without the ability to buy white paper and his
printing ends. The most wicked publication that is printed helps not the bad, but the good cause. The more a good cause is attacked in print the more people are made to think about it; the more people are made to discuss it, and the more people are set right about it. The American idea is that for physical, moral, mental and political health we must open all the windows and all the doors and let in the fresh air of perfect liberty.
One of the stock arguments before the war was that without slavery the prosperity of the South must cease; without slavery there would never be another cotton crop. That argument implied that if thereby better crops could be raised, it would be well for us all to become slaves. But like many things that were said in behalf of slavery, the truth was not in it. The crops of the South are now twice as large as they were before the war. When cotton was king, the cotton crops of twenty-one years, from 1841 to 1861, were 51,000,000 bales. Under King Liberty, from 1865 to 1886, the cotton crop was 93,000,000 bales, the bales larger, and the crop actually doubled. Slavery was a losing game. Freedom pays. The Union soldiers were the benefactors of the South. They put the South where, for the first time in her existence, she is beginning to get the benefit of her own resources. The Union soldiers freed not only the black man, but they freed likewise the white man of the South. The Union soldiers enabled the white man of the South to work without losing caste. The Union sol. diers gave the South the spelling book printed by steam. There are growing up at the South to-day three millions of young people, two millions black and one million white, who can read and write, who would all have grown up illiterate but for the Union army. The Union soldiers put the agencies at work which will yet light up with electricity the Great Dismal Swamp. The Union army gave the South freedom of thought and freedom of speech. From the dark and dreary back century place she occupied, the Union soldiers moved the South into the bright light of the nineteenth century.
The earth has never seen better fighters than were the Confederates. And they fought under the tremendous disadvantage of almost an entire absence of industral skill. Industrial skill helps a nation to the front in war as well as in peace. During our four years of war every day made the Northern soldier more comforta. ble and the Southern soldier more uncomfortable. Our advantage over the South in numbers was not our greatest advantage, for the North was divided, while the South was united. At the North there was an open, vigorous opposition which at times it took a good-sized army to hold in check; while the South stood as one man, with an expression upon every countenance of “ hold your tongue or die.” The difference in fighting capacity between the North and the South was not so much in numbers as it was in wealth, ingenuity and industrial skill. Not only did the Confederates suffer from want of blankets, from want of clothing, from want of hospital supplies, but very often they suffered from want of food. There is a story that General Lee once caught a soldier inside a private inclosure, which was a breach of orders. General Lee asked the soldier what he had to say for himself. The man said that he had been in there for the good of the service, that he went in only to get a persimmon where with to shrink up his stomach, so that it would be of suitable size for the rations he was getting
The industrial advantages were all with the North. If at the beginning of the war there were at the South steam engines enough to do the work of a million of men: there were at the North steam engines enough to do the work of fifty millions of imen. A steam engine goes with free thought and free speech. A steam engine avoids a country where all must think and talk alike, or not think or talk at all. The forces of nature yield to thought and speech and action, and have nothing in common with stupid conservatism. Industrial skill was with the Nation; want of industrial skill was with the South. Bullets slew one thousand Confederates; want of blankets, want of clothing, want of food, slew ten thousand.
The fighting of the Confederates, heroic as it was, has had precisely the opposite effect it was intended to have. They fought for slavery and produced more liberty. They fought for disunion and produced an imperishable Union. The effect of their fighting has been like that of all the fighting done in England to keep England split up. The blood shed in England to split up England has cemented together more closely all England and all Englishmen. The blood poured out to split up the American Union has bound it more closely together, and will forevermore bind together as with hoops of steel all Americans. Before the war Benton, Clay, Webster and all our foremost men, with tears