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SATURDAY, JUNE 15, 1861.
THE UNION-IN THE FUTURE.
A FAVORITE argument of the
enemies of the American people, at the present crisis, is to say that
and bloodshed render the reconstruction of the Union impossible.
The argument, such as it is, has
done service. While the Gulf States were declaring in the most binding form of
words they could frame that they never, never would reconstruct the Union,
Virginia still protested against " coercion," because it would render separation
final. While a new Government was being deliberately established at
Montgomery, and every trace of the Government
of the United States was being obliterated by its pseudo-successor, New York
politicians still denounced force, because bloodshed would alienate us forever.
And even now, foreign observers as well as domestic traitors whine at the
outbreak of a war which, they say, must render a reunion of the States utterly
These gentlemen should read
history, and take heart. Civil war, we beg to assure them, is not an invention
of the nineteenth century. It has occurred before, once or twice, in most
countries, and, surprising as it may seem to the critics we address, it has
hardly ever ended in a final separation of the belligerents, but has almost
invariably terminated in the victory of one side and the submission of the
other. Nay, more, after the lapse of a few years, the sometime enemies have been
better friends than ever.
The history of England has been
an endless succession of civil wars. Over one quarter of the fifteenth century
was consumed in the war of the Roses ; yet the people quietly acquiesced in the
Government of Henry VII. At least half the kingdom supported Charles the First
against the Commonwealth, and fought for him bravely ; but when he was fairly
overthrown and executed, they submitted, and were loyal to Cromwell. Half a
dozen times, after the abdication of James the Second, the people of various
parts of the kingdom rose in arms to restore " the Pretender ;" at many times
during the reign of William the people of Great Britain must have been equally
divided between the rival kings ; yet Anne's reign was unusually peaceful and
happy. Since then Ireland has been in arms ever so often, and her leaders have
proclaimed as loudly as our Southrons do, that they would never submit; yet
there is now no part of the British dominions more contented or more loyal than
It would be tedious to recount
the endless civil wars which preceded the establishment of the great French
monarchy, or those which had the effect of consolidating it afterward. But there
probably never was a war prosecuted with more bitterness or more fury on both
sides than the religious war which began with the massacre of Saint Bartholomew
and only ended with the coronation of Louis XIV. ; whose reign, however, was
singularly free from domestic troubles. It may be remarked also that even the
revocation of the Edit de Nantes, which probed the old sores to the bottom, did
not revive the war ; so false it is to suppose that time will not tame the
warlike spirit of minorities. Nothing could be fiercer than the spirit with
which the republicans of France denounced the encroachments of Bonaparte ; yet
they became his willing soldiers long before the Expedition to Russia. So in our
time ; ten years ago, all France was secretly execrating the author of the coup
d'etat of the 2d December, and the subsequent massacres ; now the difficulty is
to find a Frenchman who is not a Napoleonist.
Spain, like France and England,
was, in the first centuries of modern history, a congeries of small kingdoms. Of
these, in the thirteenth century, there remained, Aragon, Castile, and Granada.
How Castile conquered and absorbed the other two the history of Spain relates ;
but Mr. Prescott says nothing in his history of Philip the Second about any
remains of the old hostile feeling at that time. It had in fact died out long
before. During Wellington's campaign in Spain the Spanish people were divided,
and fought with bitterness on both sides; yet they all submitted to Ferdinand
VII. Again, almost in our own day, the Carlist war divided half the households
of Spain ; yet no monarch is more universally popular among her people than
We might go on to show that the
history of Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden, and all the other nations akin to
ourselves, has been similar to that of Great Britain, France, and Spain. We
might especially refer to the affair of the Sonderbund in Switzerland, which was
so graphically related in the columns of the Lounger a couple of weeks since.
But we have probably said enough to prove that civil wars have been common in
all countries, that they have hardly ever led to permanent divisions between the
hostile sections, but that, after a fair fight, one side has generally been
beaten and has succumbed to the other.
It will be so in our case. It is
that this Union can be divided.
Peaceable separation would be organized anarchy. And now that both sections are
armed for the fight, the war will take its course, and in the nature of things
one will be beaten and will succumb to the other.
We hear many boasts from the
South of their willingness to fight to the last man before they yield. This is
what every people says at the beginning of a war. Nobody—no nation—ever
contemplates surrender at the beginning of a fight. We must let time and the
discomforts of war do their work. If we are true to ourselves, defeats in the
field, isolation from the civilized world, blockaded ports, want of money, food,
clothing, and all the comforts and luxuries of life, will by-and-by exercise a
remarkably beneficial effect upon the temper of our enemy, now so obdurate. It
is hard to yield, no doubt. But it is a good deal harder to starve or be killed.
This reflection will by-and-by occur to the "unconditional enemies of
The Albion censures us because,
in reply to a direct charge of falsehood brought against us by
W. H. RUSSELL, Esq., LL.D., correspondent of
the London Times, we ventured to assure our readers that we had spoken the
truth. Apparently, if Mr. RUSSELL had accused the Albion of falsehood, that
journal would have remained silent under the imputation. Of the taste of the
Albion's interference in the matter, in ignorance of the facts, it is not for us
to judge. Possibly, when
Mr. RUSSELL comes North, he may lament that his
volunteer champion had not shown less zeal and more discretion in his cause.
A REASONABLE WORD.
JUST before Postmaster Blair
closed the postal communication between the rebellious States and the North, the
Lounger received a long and courteous letter from Mississippi, partly
criticising some things which had been said in these columns, and partly
endeavoring to justify the treason of
Jefferson Davis and his fellow-conspirators.
M. thinks the Lounger is " a
desperate bad politician," because he admits the right of revolution, and
concedes that the discontented themselves must be the judges when the proper
hour arrives, yet complains that the rebellious citizens did not exhaust all
peaceful means before they invoked war. The logic here does not seem to be very
clear. But as M. holds views that are elsewhere held, and openly put forth by a
few papers in the loyal part of the country, it is worth while to state again
precisely what we understand by the right of revolution.
It is the natural right of
self-defense, belonging to society as to the individual. It is the right of any
community which suffers intolerable oppression from its government, and is
without hope of remedy in the peaceful order of law, to appeal to arms to change
the government and secure the redress. But as the right of self-defense is
inherent in every individual, so every member of society has an equal claim to
the remedy ; and, consequently, the right of revolution belongs to the whole
When, therefore, any nation,
intolerably oppressed by its government, has exhausted every peaceful means of
settlement, and appealing to God and to the world for the justice of its cause
and the necessity of a struggle, succeeds in overthrowing that government and
establishing another, it has resorted to revolutionary redress, and the world
admits its claim. But since there will never be absolute unanimity, and some of
the people—for instance, the officers of the government and their friends—will
oppose the revolution, the word " people" must be considered to mean the greater
number of them. The "people" can not mean a minority of them. The will of the
people of the city of New York is the will of the majority. The will of the
people of the United States is the will of the majority. Until, therefore, a
majority of the people of the country, directly by their wishes or indirectly by
their acquiescence, having vainly appealed to every lawful method and failed to
rid themselves of intolerable oppression, take up arms to right themselves,
there is no revolution. If a few people try it, it is a riot. If enough to make
the effort formidable, it is a rebellion. And as the greatest good of the
greatest and not of the smallest number is the true aim of government, such a
movement having none of the dignity of a revolution wants also its
Now does M., or any body else,
pretend that the greater part of the people of the United States suffer any
intolerable oppression which they wish to remove by force of arms ?
Now comes " Another Lounger," and
asks the present one—" Who ought to be the judges of the cause for revolution ?"
The reply to this question is very simple. When people consciously risk their
necks they do not do it without what seems to them adequate occasion. But
meanwhile other people retain their conscience and common sense : and if they
see a revolution begun, as in the present instance, for a base and inhuman
purpose, they do not therefore justify it. Revolutions are justified, not by
their success, but by their results.
" Another Lounger" asserts that
the theory of our system is that the majority shall rule: that the minority are
therefore the governed, and that the " legitimate deduction" from this is that
the majority section is the governing and the minority section the governed
section : but that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the
governed. He adds that our fathers so regarded the question between them and
How can a shrewd man be guilty of
so much sophism and error in one sentence ? Our fathers did not complain that
they were in a minority or outvoted, but that they were not allowed to vote at
all ; that they were taxed without asking their consent, just as at this moment
the Southern people are taxed by
Jeff Davis's Government, which has never said
to them " by your leave." And the word " section" has in this discussion no
relevance. In a Government where the citizens have all equal political power
either the majority or minority must govern—which shall it be ? That the
minority happen to live in one part of the country can not affect the question.
That the minority think the majority adverse to their interests is inevitable;
otherwise they would be with the majority. But they are one people ; the
question, therefore, upon which they differ is a common question, and the
greater number of the people think it should be settled in one way rather than
in another. The fewer are bound to submit. If they resist, they can only justify
their resistance by the plea that the wrong consequent upon the majority's
decision will be so immediate and disastrous that it is better to take the
chance of anarchy than to wait for legal redress. And of this history and
mankind will be the judges.
" Another Lounger" speaks of "
our late Southern brothers" as resolved to fight rather than be ruled against
their consent. But is not the opposition in every popular government ruled, in
this sense, against its consent? And is that a justification for taking up arms?
Are the citizens of the city of New York whom Fernando Wood rules against their
consent—and there are several of them-justified in breaking up the city
government by force because they did not vote for Mr. Wood, and had no faith in
him? Those citizens live mainly in certain wards. May they call themselves the
oppressed minority wards because they can not coerce the greater number of
people who live in other wards? May they ask to retire and form another city by
No, fellow-Lounger ; when our
fathers said that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the
governed, they did not mean the consent of every individual citizen, but the
great mass of the people. Nor did they mean the consent of the governed in any
particular square mile or miles. They meant the consent of the people, in a
common-sense use of the word. Now there are more than thirty millions of people
in this country. Does "Another Lounger" suppose that there are four millions of
them who seriously wish this revolution?
Your next question we can take in
IT is another, but it belongs to
the same general topic we have been considering, " Does," asks Another Lounger,
"in your opinion, the fact that (so far as their separate individual action is
concerned) the South States have heretofore approved and consented to a
constitutional and supreme rule over them bind them henceforth forever, unless
the North States, the ruling States, shall also give their consent that the
former no longer obey ? If this is claimed, then what right (and you have
claimed it for them) have the people of Rome, who for centuries have consented
that the Pope shall be supreme temporal ruler over them, and who first asked him
to assume that power, to attempt to free themselves from their self-assumed yoke
The " South States" and the
"North States" are not parties to this Government. The Constitution of the
United States was made by "the people," and the people of the several States who
accepted the Constitution renounced the separate sovereignty of their States so
far as was necessary to form a nation. No method was provided for the
restoration to the State of those sovereign powers; but the Constitution can be
amended in a prescribed manner. If an amendment so introduced should provide for
that restoration, a State may become a sovereign power again, but not otherwise.
If the people of any State desire that sovereignty again, and the people of all
the States decline to give it to them, there is an end of the matter, unless
they choose to try to get it by force, in which case it is either a riot or a
rebellion ; and in any case it is the armed action of a few against many.
Of course, each generation of
American citizens must decide for itself whether it wishes to maintain the
present system of government or not. No generation can bind another. Politically
the word "forever" gets its force from common consent. Whenever, therefore, the
people of this country wish to be bound no longer by the Constitution of the
United States, they will resort to the methods of relief provided by that
instrument. If they are not willing to do that, it is evidently because they
know that they are not the people, but only a few persons.
As for Rome, the Pope was not
chosen by the people as their temporal ruler, as Another Lounger seems to
suppose. And even if they had chosen him, and were wearing "a self-assumed
yoke"—if they had provided no means for easing that yoke, and were intolerably
and irremediably oppressed by it, they would, when they felt themselves strong
enough, throw it off. The Pope has always held the yoke fast, not by popular
consent but by foreign bayonets.
THE COMEDIAN COBB.
A YEAR ago the
Treasury of the United States was at the mercy
of Howell Cobb, of happy memory. An officer of the Government, sworn to be
faithful to it, and paid by it, he was using every method he could command to
impoverish the Treasury, destroy the Government, and ruin the
country. Of Cobb it may be said
that, on the one hand, he was a fit associate of Floyd, and on the other, a
proper pendent to Thompson. Does it not seem as if Divine Providence meant to
inspire an unfailing faith in the perpetuity of our Government by showing us
that it might be for months and years in the hands of such men, and then emerge
unharmed and with eyes lifted heavenward, as Daniel came out of the lions' den?
Every body knew Cobb's incapacity
: every body knows his treason ; but nobody ever suspected him of humor. Yet
Cobb has been making merry. He addressed his fellow-traitors at Atlanta on the
22d May. The object of the speech was the raising of money to support the
rebellion. The reasoning was worthy of Cobb. The financial devising was also
worthy of Cobb. He said: "We not only need soldiers, we must have treasure to
carry on the war." True enough, was the natural response of every listening
rebel ; and how on earth are we to get it ?
The sly Cobb, knowing perfectly
well what was in the minds of his hearers, suggestively continued, in a
"will-you-walk-into-my-parlor" vein: " Private contributions have been offered
to a vast amount. I will mention an instance," etc. " Offers of this sort," he
added, " come pouring in upon the Government from all parts of the country."
It is easy to fancy the relief
afforded by this last sentence to those who were naturally alarmed by the
opening allusion to private contributions. Ah, well ! we may fancy them saying
with a sigh of relief, since offers are pouring in, we are safe. To deepen this
feeling the cunning Cobb says, as it were, " Exactly ; you're safe enough ; you
needn't contribute ;" for, he continues in his speech, "The Government does not
require contributions from individuals; she has the means within herself of
sustaining this war." Good! responds the audience in their souls. "No donations
are necessary except for the equipment of your own volunteers, and those you can
and will provide for," quoth Cobb. Of course, the cheerful crowd answer in their
hearts. "But," continues the comical Cobb —and this is the joke which betrays
the excellent humor he has so long concealed—" But I tell you what you may do.
Those of you who raise large crops of cotton, when your cotton is ready for
market, give it to your Government at its market value, receive its bonds, and
let it sell your produce to Europe for the specie to sustain our brave 'boys' in
Virginia. This was agreed on at Montgomery, and we promised to throw out the
suggestion that the people might think about it."
In other words : " Gentlemen,
Jeff must have money ; but he doesn't require contributions from you. Jeff has
means within himself of paying as he goes. He distinctly does not ask you to
give any thing whatsoever. But, look here, giving is one thing and exchanging is
another. Wouldn't it be lovely in you to give Jeff your cotton, which he can
sell for specie in Europe, and let him give you his bonds—Jefferson Davis's
bonds, and Mississippi might indorse them—which you can sell for specie—whenever
you can find a buyer. Above all things, Jeff disdains to ask for contributions.
Yet contributions are pouring in, and he only asks of you to give him your
cotton and take his bonds."
If that is not giving for
nothing, what is ? Cobb is not only a traitor, forsworn before God and man, but
he is also a wag.
THE best use of red tape is to
hang people who perplex public affairs by it. Regiment after regiment of ardent,
brave, patriotic citizens is gathered in this State, and are instantly struck
with nightmare. They can not move hand or foot. They wonder, and every body
wonders, why they do not go. The Government needs every man as fast as he can be
had, and still they do not go. Men throw up their business at the call of the
country and State ; they leave their families ; they only ask to go—and still
they stay. Not a regiment leaves without a prolonged and disgraceful squabble
among the civil officers and committees and contractors. If any disgusted and
impatient citizen tries to find the cause of the delay, it turns out that
nothing is ready because of the conflict of contractors ; that nobody goes
because half of a committee owns railway stock, and wants to send the troops by
rail ; and the other half owns steamboat stock, and wants to send them by water.
Somebody declines to give arms ; somebody else clogs the movement because his
son or cousin is not made captain or major. There is no end of petty annoyances
and delays; and the one great characteristic of the military movement of the
Empire State, so far as the authorities are concerned, is inefficiency.
Why could not New York have been
as prompt as Massachusetts ? Why were there no proper equipments for our
soldiers ? Men from Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were in Washington before a
New York soldier had marched. Did they march as soon as they received orders?
Orders from where ?
It is war. The first condition of
war is a single head. What is the great State of New York doing at such a time
as this with a military board ? Why does not every member resign, and leave the
Governor to deal directly with the Department of War? The Government of the
United States requires a certain number of regiments. They are to go either into
service or into camp. The requisition is made upon the Governor. If more men
offer than are asked for, they should be taken, because they will be needed. The
Government can not have too large an army. It may cost a great deal of money;
but the larger the army the sooner the peace ; and the money will have been
economically spent. Washington was told that five thousand men would put down
Shays's rebellion. " Very well," said he, " then I will send fifteen thousand."
If you would beat, said Napoleon, have just twice as many men as your enemy at
It is high time that the
Government of the State of New York and the Union Defense Committee (Next