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SATURDAY, JANUARY 25, 1862.
RETIREMENT OF SECRETARY
MR. SIMON CAMERON has retired
from the War Department, and is succeeded by
EDWIN M. STANTON, late
Attorney-General under Mr. Buchanan. The public will not regret the change, nor
is it believed that the country will be a loser by it.
SLAVERY BLOCKING THE WAY.
Two Christian knights, brothers,
in the great army which had undertaken to wrest the sepulchre of Christ out of
the hand of the infidel, departed from their tent early one morning in search of
a diamond of rare beauty and great price, which they knew to be concealed in a
neighboring castle, and which these pious brothers had promised to their mother
as a token of filial love. As they rode along they began to discuss the setting
of the jewel. The elder would have it set in plain massive gold, but the younger
insisted upon its being surrounded by a chain of fine pearls. As neither would
yield, and each waxed hotter and hotter as the debate was prolonged, they
finally came to blows, and both soon lay prostrate, faint and bleeding, at the
gate of the castle. An Arab, passing that way, humanely dressed their wounds,
and inquiring the cause of the quarrel, bade them cease their strife. " That
diamond is mine ; and now, lest it should give rise to further quarrels, I will
take it with me at once to Damascus." So saying he departed, leaving the
helpless brothers crest-fallen.
It would seem that these
Christian brothers must have been the lineal ancestors of some of our
politicians and statesmen. The record of our Congressional debates at the
present time contains little else than a never-ending quarrel between
emancipationists and others with regard to the disposal of
slaves whom we haven't got, and whom we are not
likely to get very soon, from present appearances. One honorable member proposes
to emancipate all the slaves in the South at a blow, leaving the ultimate
question of their disposal to be decided hereafter. Another is for transporting
them to Africa. A third demands that Nicaragua or some other tropical region be
acquired, and the negroes sent thither to build up a great tropical empire. A
fourth insists that they be taken into Government service. All this time, be it
remembered, the slaves about whom these gentlemen are fighting are calmly
picking cotton and shelling corn on their masters' plantations, and we can no
more get at them than we can at the inhabitants of Jupiter.
Then, on the other side, we have
another practical party which is furious with every body who doesn't fall down
and worship the divine institution of slavery. The Legislature of Kentucky,
which has been so long on the fence that it requires an effort to believe that
it is now fairly on the loyal side, demands that no enemy of slavery be allowed
to remain in the
Cabinet. The Legislature of Maryland, reeking
with treason, protests against the least interference with the splendid
institution. Newspapers here and there bellow daily that the rascally
abolitionists are the cause of all the trouble; that Wendell Phillips seized
Sumter, and Lloyd Garrison founded the
Confederate States. The telegraphic dispatches
Washington teem with accounts of " abolitionist
conspiracies." If they are to be believed, our representatives are on the point
of cutting each other's throats and that of the President on account of minor
differences of opinion touching the disposal of questions which can only arise
when the rebellion has been fairly crushed out.
It is not good to be jealous of
Providence. It is well that we should take every possible care, and exercise
every possible forethought in our daily travail; but something may safely, nay
must always, be left to Providence. Honorable members and gallant generals are
very wise, no doubt. But Providence is a good engineer too. This slavery
question is just the sort of problem which Providence is apt to solve well. In
the Revolutionary war Providence took care of one or two things which our
leaders had neglected, and they were not the least important of the war. Let us
trust the same power now.
Practically, wherever our armies
advance slavery will disappear. Generals may order the return of fugitive
slaves, but the rank and file won't execute the command, because they have no
interest in doing so. Proclamations may be issued protecting slavery ; but the
slaves won't pay much attention to them, and the masters will not have the
power, nor the troops the time to enforce them. To flourish, or even to exist,
slavery requires perfect peace, and the most strict and thorough execution of
municipal law ; it can no more thrive in the midst of
than gunpowder can be manufactured in a blacksmith's shop. This implies no
abolitionism among officers of our army. General Sherman, at
made his debut with a
proclamation which, so far as slavery was concerned, suited the stomach of the
Charleston Mercury. Yet neither Garrison nor Phillips, nor all the abolitionists
together, ever dealt so deadly a stab at the institution as Sherman did when he
directed that sea-island cotton be picked by free negro labor, and the negroes
paid a penny a pound for all they brought in. He could not help himself. Others
will do the like. Men may go out at the head of our armies with preconceived
opinions on the slavery question that would be relished by Spratt and Yancey;
set them in the field, and if they know their trade as soldiers, they become
active abolitionists by the necessity of the case.
The people of the North have an
abiding faith in the power of the Government to crush out this rebellion, and an
unshakable resolve that it shall be done, though slavery and a dozen other
Southern institutions be crushed out with it. When slavery goes to the wall no
tears will be shed from Northern eyes. But the people hear with anxiety and
annoyance those eternal discussions in Congress about the disposal of negroes;
both because it is idle to quarrel over the disposition of that which we haven't
got, and likewise because it is widely felt that nothing can prevent our
ultimate success except divisions among ourselves such as these discussions seem
calculated to provoke.
THE following interesting and
most gratifying correspondence speaks for itself :
"LL.D., Barrister at Law:
"DEAR SIR,— Having read with the
profoundest admiration and gratitude the graphic letters in which you have
represented our countrymen as fools, knaves, and cowards; having seen with what
painful and elaborate ingenuity you have twisted facts and tortured conclusions,
insulting our public men and covering our soldiers with ridicule ; how
incessantly you have supplied the material to the London Times for its brutal
talk upon American affairs ; how skillfully and with what unquestioned European
effect you have described the efforts of the Government of the United States to
defend its own existence, as a mad fratricidal war; how sedulously you have
ministered to the jealousy and hate which the selfish and the ignorant in
England (if you will pardon the allusion) always entertain for a great and rival
nation; and how faithfully you have served the purpose for which you were sent,
of maligning American politics, society, and events, confirming rancorous
passions, and embroiling in war two nations which are natural allies ; carefully
avoiding to inform yourself, or only informing yourself to conceal, the real
character of the rebellion which has plunged our country into war, and exposed
constitutional liberty to so dire a peril; we, a committee of American
gentlemen, recognizing that you, from the circumstances of your position, more
than any other individual, have misrepresented the motives, conduct, and
character of the American people, and blackened the fair fame of our country,
venture most humbly to request you to honor us by partaking of a dinner at our
expense, in order that it may be made manifest to our countrymen, and to the
whole world, that the nation furnishes at least some originals for the
humiliating caricatures of men and gentlemen that you have described us all to
"With profound respect,
"We are your most humble,
" GENTLEMEN,—Although you and
your ridiculous humbug of a Government have all gone to the devil—and good
riddance to bad rubbish!—yet as long as your dinners hold out I can have no
earthly objection to eating them.
" Yours, LL.D., BARRISTER AT
REBELS AND WATER REBELS.
JUDGE DALY has written a letter
to Senator Harris upon the proper treatment of privateersmen. He takes the
ground that a privateersman is only a rebel upon water, and that if you do not
hang land rebels, but exchange them, you ought to be willing to exchange water
rebels, and not hang them. He does not deny, of course, that if Mr. Mansfield
Lovell were taken in arms against the Government he might be tried for treason,
and justly hung if convicted; and that what is true of Mr. Lovell is true of
every other rebel with or without a rifle. But as Mr. Lovell is no more a
Captain Semmes of the Sumter, if, for
General Banks or Lander, if the rebels had
them, we would gladly exchange Mr. Lovell rather than hang him, so for
Colonel Corcoran we ought willingly to exchange
Captain Semmes, if we had him.
The argument is fair enough.
Every citizen who forcibly resists the Government is a traitor, and traitors are
punishable with death. But there is a difference in the manner of resistance,
and therefore, in a certain sense, a difference in the guilt of the offenders.
When the Congress of Paris agreed that "Privateering is abolished," it certainly
did not mean to say that war or treason were abolished; but only that the
consenting nations pledged themselves to refrain from a certain kind of warfare.
Why did they do it? Simply because war, although it is an appeal to brute force,
has yet a kind of amenity and even fairness. There are things which are
recognized as no less odious in war than in peace. Poisoning wells, murdering
women and children, etc., are among them. And now, by the common consent of the
great Powers of the world, in a treaty to which we have offered to become
parties, privateering, or authorized public piracy upon the high seas, is ranked
among these odious outrages and crimes of war.
The reason of this is evident. It
is because there is an essential unfairness in such warfare. A rebel who is
taken upon the battle-field is a man who has openly and consciously offered
himself to the same chances that he brings to bear against his enemy. He tries
to take the life of the loyal
citizen, indeed, but he does it
by risking his own life. On the other hand, a privateersman is a rebel who takes
a loyal citizen at every disadvantage ; who opposes armed force to helplessness
; who risks nothing; yet who, if honor and heroism constrain resistance, does
not hesitate to murder. The difference between a land rebel and a water rebel,
therefore, is precisely that between a highway robber stopping an unarmed
passenger and a soldier in the field confronting another soldier. That
difference is fully recognized by the Treaty of Paris, which abolishes
privateering. Consequently, when Judge Daly urges, as an argument for the
exchange of privateersmen equally with soldiers taken in the field, "that actual
war exists, and that, as a Christian people, we mean to carry it on according to
the usages of civilized nations," he apparently forgets that the usage of
civilized nations has abolished privateering, and therefore that it affords no
argument to the point.
However, the question is
practically one of policy. No crime certainly could be more clearly proved than
the armed resistance of Commodore Barron and his men at
Hatteras Inlet to the Government of their
country. No men's lives are more distinctly forfeited than theirs. But the
Government wisely prefers not to insist upon its undoubted and exact rights. For
the same reasons it certainly will not hang the privateersmen. But with equal
certainty not upon the ground that they are no worse than rebels on land. Mr.
Davis, of Kentucky, has already introduced a joint resolution, which has passed
the Senate, that the President procure an exchange of prisoners from the
privateer Jeff Davis for prisoners taken from the army of the United States.
"OUR OWN" UPON THE ABOLITION REACTION.
IN a late letter to the London
Mr. W. H. Russell, the correspondent of that
paper in this country, describes the condition of the loyal States in this
country as one bordering upon bloody
civil war, to be waged by what he calls the
Abolitionists against the adherents of the Government. This statement—the
absurdity of which can not, of course, be appreciated in England any more than
if he had repeated the story told by the Memphis papers that Fremont had seized
the head of affairs and turned Congress into the street—is supported by two
references : one to Mr. Sumner's speech in this city ; and the other to a
meeting in favor of Fremont, in Cincinnati, several weeks ago.
As for Mr. Sumner's speech, he
said—first at Worcester, in September or October—that, in his view, Slavery
ought to be assailed, as the main-spring of the rebellion; but that he left the
matter entirely in the hands of the Government. In his New York speech, to which
Mr. Russell refers, Mr. Sumner did not advocate universal
emancipation, nor even
arming the slaves. He said : "Our battalions must be reinforced by ideas, and we
insist strike directly at the origin and main-spring of the rebellion. I do not
say now in what way or to what extent. It may be by the system of a
Massachusetts General—Butler; it may be by that of
Fremont; or it may be by the grander system of
John Quincy Adams." In saying that the rebellion should be struck in some way
through the Slave system, Mr. Sumner merely expressed an all but universal
opinion. And in saying that he should yield to the action of the Administration
in the matter, he merely expressed the universal determination.
The other ground upon which he
asserts the imminence of the war within the war is as follows : "The Government
is accused in mass meeting, amidst immense cheering, of 'an infamous, sneaking,
crawling policy, which replaces the electric watch-word sounded by Fremont for
this great nation.' Assuredly, if he be thus encouraged, the General is not the
man to remain quiet, or to bear his temporary disgrace with equanimity." There
was a large meeting, of enthusiastic Germans mainly, in Cincinnati, about the
middle of November, at which the Rev. Mr. Conway, an ardent and sincere
abolitionist, in the strict technical sense, did say, or is reported to have
said, what Mr. Russell quotes. The spirit of that meeting has had not the
slightest response from any quarter ; but Mr. Russell puts it as if "in mass
meeting" through the country the same sentiments were constantly echoed.
General Fremont has studiously forborne, with a
heroic patriotism which surprises no one who knows him, to please in the least
degree those who might wish him to make an open issue with the Administration.
Of course both he and those who
believe him to be an able and an honest officer still believe that the "electric
watch-word" is the open sesame of our success. But the spirit of the passionate
eloquence of Mr. Conway was neither the watch-word of General Fremont's conduct
nor of the policy of his friends. And the unreality of the impression of the
actual state of things in the country conveyed in this letter of Mr. Russell's
is but an illustration of the entirely false coloring which his letters give to
our sentiments and events in general.
TRAITORS WITHIN THE LINES.
IT was not to be expected that a
treason of so long growth and of such a nature as that which has culminated in
this rebellion, could be rooted out at once even from the departments of the
Government. The offices of which such men as Floyd, Cobb, Thompson, and Toucey
were the heads could not fail to be full of traitors. But it was not very easy
to discover them—and often it must have been very difficult, with due regard to
the proper sequence of the public business, to expel them peremptorily.
Mr. Chase, upon taking the keys of the
Treasury, had summoned singly each of the clerks in the Department, and had
tendered them the oath of allegiance. Some traitors might have hesitated, and
they would have been at once set aside. But of course scores of men who did not
hesitate to receive the pay of the Government while plotting or
favoring its overthrow, would
have taken the oath of allegiance with the smoothest face and glibbest tongue in
Or suppose that every clerk in
the Department had refused the oath. How would it have worked to turn every one
out and fill their places with men of unquestionable fidelity who had not the
least idea of the duties or the routine of their offices? It was by no means
easy to winnow the chaff from the grain.
So with the army and navy.
Experience justified a distrust of the loyalty of officers born in the
rebellious section. Of course there were shining exceptions. Percival Drayton is
one : but he would unquestionably allow the justice of the doubt. Yet nothing
surely could be more ungracious than to assume disloyalty invariably, and to act
upon the assumption. So we were exposed to delays, and even to treachery; but it
When the leaders of the rebellion
determined to strike openly for separation they did not act without perfect
deliberation. For we must never forget that it was we who moved suddenly and
without expectation or preparation. The rebels had had the Government in their
power for many years. They knew how deep and how far the infection had spread.
Mr. Slidell said, during the Peace Congress, "There will be no serious
fighting." He thought that the hopelessness of fighting would be apparent to the
Government. The experience of nine months shows that there was great reason for
his feeling so far as the immediate agents of the Government were concerned. The
game was to make the defense of the Government appear to be an "
movement ; and as all office-holders and the Democratic party hated nothing so
much as "abolition," that cry was to confuse and paralyze them.
How signally it failed in the
country at large, how party shackles of all kinds fell off, and patriots who had
been buried in party came forth like Lazarus from the tomb, casting aside his
grave-clothes, is now matter of history. But so far as the personnel of the
Government was concerned, of which so large a part in the Departments and in the
army and navy were born in Secessia or sympathized with secession, the
expectations of the rebels were not unfounded.
Therefore it is to be expected
that from time to time fresh exposures of treason, even in high places, will be
made. The process of purgation, of course, is going on. Mr. Potter's Committee
and the logic of events are unmasking traitors. The women, by whose agency so
much blood has been shed and wrong done already, are gradually circumvented.
"Washington swarms with traitors," we hear. Yes; but Washington will of course
swarm with traitors more than any city out of Secessia. It is their native air ;
and it is the point where they can do most mischief.
UNDER WHICH KING?
IN the recent debate in the
House, growing out of Mr. Roscoe Conkling's resolution to ask the Secretary of
War to reply a little more satisfactorily touching the
battle at Ball's Bluff;
two questions were put and answered, which are very significant, for they came
from representatives of the extreme right and the extreme left of the friends of
the Government and the Union.
Mr. Lovejoy, of Illinois, who is
popularly supposed to be an abolitionist, asked Mr. Wickliffe, of Kentucky,
whether he preferred the perpetuation of slavery to that of the Union. Mr.
Wickliffe dodged; and made a reply which was not an answer. But Mr. Mallory,
also of Kentucky, immediately took up the question, and said : "Presuming I know
the feeling of Kentucky, if we considered slavery standing in the way of the
Constitution we would not hesitate to wipe out slavery." He added, that "we can
not regard slavery as incompatible with the liberty established by our
forefathers;" and concluded by asking Mr. Lovejoy whether he "would destroy the
Constitution to get rid of slavery ?"
Mr. Lovejoy replied that be would
not. He only declared that slavery must be destroyed rather than the
Constitution and the Union.
What Mr. Lovejoy thinks and means
is very clear. Does Mr. Mallory mean that, if slavery threatens the liberty
established by our forefathers we can destroy it to save that liberty? Or does
he mean, that, as slavery is not incompatible with that liberty, therefore that
liberty can not be preserved without maintaining that slavery? Does Mr. Mallory
really think that slavery is an essential part of the liberty of the country?
Or, as he implies by his remarks, does he hold that slavery is established, not
merely tolerated or recognized, by the Constitution?
If he does, he takes the ground
on which Davis and Breckinridge justify their rebellion.
ARE PERSONS CONTRABAND?
IN his note to M. Mercier, the
French Minister, acknowledging the French dispatch on the
Seward certainly states the truth very mildly when he says : " While it must be
admitted that those three Powers are equally impressed with the same desire for
the establishment of principles favorable to neutral rights, there is at the
same time not such an entire agreement concerning the application of those
principles as is desirable to secure that important object."
Indeed the truth seems to be that
there is an entire difference of opinion.
This is sufficiently clear upon
one point only. Are persons, not in the military service of the enemy,
contraband and liable to seizure ? In reply to this question Mr. Seward quotes
Sir William Scott : "You may stop the embassador of your enemy on his passage."
And in reply to the suggestion that agents of a rebellious movement can not be
embassadors, he relies upon "the true test in all cases—namely, the spirit of
the law." Mr. Everett, also, quotes the same passage in regard to "the
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