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CHANNELS TO CHARLESTON HARBOR. —[See
THE FIFTH VOLUME of
for the year 1861, is now ready, price $3.50, neatly bound in cloth. This Volume
forms a COMPLETE HISTORY OF
THE WAR for the past year, and contains some
FIVE HUNDRED ENGRAVINGS. It is indispensable to every library.
EUROPEAN Dealers will be supplied
with HARPER'S WEEKLY by John Adams Knight, Publisher of the London American, 100
Fleet Street, London, England, where Subscriptions and Advertisements will be
received, and single copies of HARPER'S MONTHLY and WEEKLY furnished.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 1862.
THE SURRENDER OF THE
Mason, Slidell, Eustis, and Macfarland have
been surrendered to the British Government. The country was prepared for the
event, and gulps the bitter pill in silence.
Mr. Secretary Seward has written a rather
ingenious and extremely long justification of the act. It is to be hoped that it
will so far help him abroad that British journalists will cease to represent him
as the sworn foe of England and of peace.
Every body here knew a week ago
that the traitors would be given up. Not because of any technical informalities
in their arrest, but because it was infinitely better that we should endure a
certain amount of humiliation at the hands of Great Britain than that we should
jeopard the great cause of the Union by throwing the naval power of England into
the rebel scale. The main point thus determined, it devolved upon Mr. Seward to
decide the form and conditions of our compliance with the demand of Great
He might have said that the
arrest of the traitors was right and proper, and their detention legal ; but
that, in the present circumstances, the country was not in a condition to go to
war with England while the much more momentous question of the dissolution of
the Union was being discussed in the battle-field, and therefore that Mason and
Slidell were surrendered for the sake of peace.
Or he might have said that, while
the general spirit of international law justified the arrest, no perfectly
parallel case had ever occurred, and therefore a doubt existed as to the
complete lawfulness of Captain Wilkes's act ; and that as peace with Great
Britain was at the present juncture absolutely necessary to this country, he
would give England the benefit of the doubt, and would release the prisoners to
please her and to appease the British mob.
Or he might have argued the case
from a legal point of view, setting in bold relief the arguments on the British
side, and "casting behind him" the strong points of our case ; and might thus
have concluded, in the teeth of the expressed view of Secretary Welles, and the
sentiment of nine-tenths of the people of the United States, that the arrest was
unjustifiable, the British claim reasonable, and our duty imperative.
Of these three courses the two
first would have completely satisfied the people of the United States, and would
not have lowered the fame of the Secretary. Whether the third will prove as
satisfactory as the others to the great mass of our people is a question which
it will take time to decide.
M. Thouvenel's dispatch, darkly
France would be found on the side
of Great Britain in the event of hostilities with this country, confirms the
opinion we have had occasion to express more than once—that we have no real
friends on the other side of the ocean. The logic of the French Minister is not
worth examination. His strong point is that the
Trent was sailing from one neutral point to
another ; a perfectly immaterial circumstance, in view of the fact that she
carried dispatches and officers of the rebel Government. Sir Wm. Scott always
held that the immediate point of departure and the direct destination were
immaterial if the goods contraband of war actually came from belligerent ports,
or were ultimately destined for belligerent uses. The practical lesson to be
learned from M. Thouvenel's essay, is that France will not be on our side in the
event of trouble between England and ourselves. Mr. Seward's smooth answer must
not delude any one into imagining that our Government places the least reliance
upon the hereditary friendship existing between this country and France ; but
that it relies, as it should do, on our own strength for the regulation of our
It is to be hoped, at all events,
that this extremely disagreeable business will secure the end proposed by so
much humiliation—namely, that we may be suffered to conclude the job of crushing
out the rebellion without further foreign interference. At the present time a
Nashville —belonging to the rebels, half filled with the plunder of
the American ship Harvey Birch, which she burned within sight of the British
coast, is refitting in the harbor of Southampton : the British steamer
Gladiator, filled with arms and munitions for the rebels, is lying in the
British port of Nassau, and has been supplied with coals to enable her to run
into Savannah or some other rebel port, while the authorities of Nassau refuse
coals to our gun-boat, the Flambeau, which is watching for her: other British
steamers are notoriously fitting out in England with like cargoes for the
rebels; and British officials all over, from the Governor of Canada to the
Consul at Havana, give palpable evidence of their sympathy with the rebels. It
is to be hoped that this measure of unfriendliness and injury may suffice. We do
trust that the British may be satisfied with equipping pirates to prey upon our
commerce, and receiving them with their plunder; with converting British ports
into harbors of safety for our enemy's ships, and refusing to sell coal to our
vessels; with permitting their officials to receive with honor and respect the
emissaries of the rebels, and to visit with their high displeasure any British
subject who shows a friendly spirit toward this country. As we have treaties of
alliance with England, and the members of the British Government are constantly
assuring us of their high regard for us, perhaps these injuries may slake their
dislike for the United States and for democracy. It is to be hoped, after the
surrender of Mason and Slidell, that they will.
SUSPENSION OF SPECIE PAYMENTS.
ON 28th December the New York
City Banks suspended specie payments. Their example will be followed by the
Banks of Philadelphia and Boston, and by the Government of the United States.
The suspension is a consequence
of the war. It has been evident for some time that the Government could not
borrow money fast enough to defray the cost of so enormous a war as the one in
which we are now engaged, and that a resort to issues of inconvertible paper
money was inevitable. That necessity rendered the suspension of the Banks
indispensable. They could not go on paying specie while the Government was
issuing its paper at the rate of a million and a half a day, and declining to
redeem it in coin. And it has been doubted whether the Banks would not have
evinced more wisdom had they foreseen the crisis a month ago, and suspended with
forty millions of coin on hand, than to have waited, as they have done, until
nearly half their reserve has been withdrawn from them.
The last time the Banks
suspended, the danger which rendered suspension necessary was a drain of gold to
Europe. No such danger exists to-day. The balance of trade is in our favor, and
we are more likely to draw gold from Europe than Europe from us.
Suspension is necessary now in
order to " tide over" the period intervening between the present time and the
entire suppression of the rebellion. As soon as the rebellion is crushed out the
paper money which shall have been emitted by Government will then be funded or
redeemed in coin at the pleasure of Government. There will then be no reason why
the banks should not resume specie payments at once, and they will of course do
The extent of the changes which
may take place between this and then must depend on the duration of the war, and
the economy with which it is carried on.
If Congress passes tax laws
sufficient to insure an ample fund for the due payment of interest upon the
entire debt incurred for the
suppression of the rebellion ;
Mr. Chase pursues a policy of strict economy in
his financial administration, the new paper money to be issued by Government
need not depreciate below one or two per cent., and gold need not rise above one
or two per cent. premium. There can be no security in this country better than
that of the United States, with their growing wealth and resources, the whole of
which are pledged for the redemption of this paper. Even if five hundred
millions of it were set afloat in the year 1862—which is more than can be needed
without great extravagance somewhere—our debt at the close of the year will only
be one-fourth that of Great Britain, and our means of payment fully equal, if
not superior to hers.
Meanwhile let us trust that
Government and our Generals will strain every nerve to accomplish the work
before them without a moment's delay. Time now is precious indeed.
FOR THE CONTRABANDS.
ONE of the most practical
questions of the rebellion is set forth in a recent Report of Dr. Robert Ware to
the Sanitary Commission, how, properly, to clothe and care for the "
contrabands" at Fort Monroe. By the order of General Wool, those who are
employed by officers and citizens are paid at the rate of eight dollars a month
for men, and four dollars for women, from which sum is deducted enough to pay
for proper clothing. Those not thus employed are engaged in the service of the
Government, and are paid ten dollars a month, with quarters, one ration, and
clothing, the expense of the latter being deducted from the ten dollars. The old
men and boys are paid five dollars a month, with rations and clothing. There are
about fifteen hundred contrabands, of whom six hundred are women. The Government
partly supplies the men whom it employs with coat, trowsers, shoes, and hat ;
but furnishes none for women and children, and no under-clothing for any. The
quarters are still insufficient, and these people are painfully crowded.
The chief Quarter-master of the
post, who was charged with the care of the contrabands, was necessarily entirely
occupied with the inevitable duties of his office; and Mr. H. S. Marsh, of
Syracuse, has been appointed chief Superintendent of contrabands, and he appeals
to the generosity of all who are disposed to improve the condition of the
refugees by sending old or new clothing for women and children, and
under-garments for the men. Those who do not choose to send directly to Mr.
Marsh, at Fortress Monroe, may send to Mr. F. G. Shaw, in the basement of 112
and 114 Broadway, which has been generously granted for the purpose by the New
York Life Insurance Company.
It is one of the many ways in
which every one who will may help on the good cause. And it is not only at
Fort Monroe that the aid will be needed. As
fast as our flag advances the necessity will be created. Deserted by their
masters, or flying to a flag which they believe to be the flag of liberty, the
responsibility of caring for them is thrown upon us. We neither can nor ought to
avoid it. We must direct their industry, and we must see that they do not
suffer. Our duty is not done when circumstances have freed them. The long
arrears of injury to a race are not settled quite so easily. But the question is
manageable now, and it will be our fault if it becomes unmanageable. It is not
the fault of the poor contrabands that they are cold and hungry. Let us clothe
and feed them; remembering, at this holy tide, that "The King shall answer and
say unto them : Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of
the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
THE LAST TRUMP IN THE HAND.
THE last trump card of the
rebellion has been played. If it fail to take the trick, the game is up. There
were but three trumps in their hands. They were all knaves; and they are proving
to be mere Jacks. The first was the surprise. The rebel gamesters knew that the
country did not sincerely believe in the imminence of
and they hoped to succeed before the nation could sufficiently recover from the
shock of consternation to make an effective resistance.
The gamblers were mistaken. Their
play only revealed to the country the depth and strength of its own resolution.
Then they hoped, and probably
believed, that they should find confederates in their game in the loyal States;
and that war would be made upon the Government by the Democratic party, and not
exclusively by a slave-driving faction. But the
smoke of Sumter cleared away only to show them
their appalling self-deceit. So far as support of their treason was concerned,
the great Democratic party in the loyal States had dwindled to such people as
Mr. Benjamin Wood and Mr. Vallandigham, who thought they could harm their
country more by remaining in Congress to try to paralyze the arm of the
Government raised to smite traitors. Mr. Ben Wood is long since silenced, and
Mr. Vallandigham struggles desperately to aid and assist the rebellion by an
effort to plunge us into war with Great Britain. The people who were so
clamorous for " peace" with rebels who were shooting down loyal citizens engaged
in defending the liberties of the nation, are now vociferous to force war with
England upon a fairly debatable point of international law, in which, if we are
wrong, every honorable citizen will frankly confess it.
In this course these gentry are
but helping the rebel leaders to play their third and last card ; an alliance
with England upon any terms, in order that the slave-holding confederacy may be
recognized and protected, and that, if possible, this Government
may be overthrown. And as this
was their last, so it is their strongest, play. The support of Great Britain has
been their fond dream from the beginning. As long ago as the Charleston
Convention, at which the first steps of rebellion were taken by Yancey and his
friends in forcing two Democratic nominations, the chances of English sympathy
and assistance were openly discussed in private circles. In DeBow's Review, in
which the philosophy and practicability of treason has long been debated—a
Review which was peculiarly commended to " national" support—the fact has been
constantly assumed that Great Britain would not permit trouble between the
Government of this country and traitors. During the sessions of the "Peace
Congress," last February, Slidell and Hunter said, and complacently reiterated,
the same thing. The theory was that Great Britain was a monarchy, and its king
So they have played that card,
and the result is still undecided. But if calmness, and sagacity, and most
faithful patriotism and discretion can block the game of rebellion, and
discomfit treason by bringing this play also to naught, it will be done. And if
it be done, of course it results in a clearer understanding than ever between
the United States and Great Britain.
Should war thus be avoided—should
the third and last trump card fail—the reaction in the mind of the rebellious
section will be so signal that the conspiracy will be in great danger of sudden
MR. SEWARD AND ENGLAND.
A REPORT has been circulated, and
at one time was without doubt generally believed, that the Secretary of State
wanted a war with Great Britain, in order that we might be forced to settle our
domestic difficulties by a compromise. The story not only got into print, but it
was privately repeated upon what seemed indisputable authority. Why a statesman
so sagacious—whose great and just fame was founded upon a calm and wise
adherence to fundamental principles, after having steadfastly maintained them in
a day when be stood alone—should without any apparent reason whatsoever desert
them at the very moment they had brought him into official power, and wantonly
disgrace himself, was a question always too incisive to be answered.
To say that he was blinded by
success was no answer; for in the sense in which that word was used he was not
successful, because "success" was the Presidency, and he was not President. To
say that he was soured by disappointment was equally inadequate; because, under
the circumstances, that would have meant treason, and nobody believed him a
traitor. To say that he wanted a separation, in order that he might be the
President of the Northern Union ; or a compromise, in order that he might be
President as the great Pacificator, was to accuse his political sagacity, which
was never doubted; or his sanity, which relieves him from censure.
But while this report was
circulated at home, the universal faith in England seems to have been that the
one thing upon which Mr. Seward was resolved was war with Great Britain. So much
a matter of course was this, that the utterly silly story, that Mr. Seward told
the Duke of Newcastle that either he or
Mr. Lincoln would be the next President, and
that in any case England was to be insulted, was gravely told in the London
Chronicle as a fact that carried its own evidence, and that nobody would be
hardy enough to doubt.
The precise points upon which
this general impression of the Secretary's wishes was founded are not easy to
indicate. They are probably a speech of two or three years since in the Senate;
his remarks at the New England dinner last year; his circular to the Governors
of the coast States; and his letter to
Lord Lyons in regard to the imprisonment
of British subjects. The first two points are explained by a faith which Mr.
Seward probably shares with a great many other political thinkers, that in the
order of civilization, and the development of history, the provinces of Canada
will become incorporated with this Government, but not necessarily in any
convulsive or unfair manner. It is the political speculation of the philosopher,
and seems to have been regarded as the purpose or plot of the statesman. The
circular was the suggestion of a perfectly obvious and natural precaution for a
maritime power at war. It was the counsel of ordinary common sense—nothing more;
while the letter to Lord Lyons was a complete vindication of policy, and a
dignified rebuke of interference which the case amply justified.
But whatever may have been
thought of the Secretary's feeling for England, and with whatever apparent
reason, the publication of his dispatches to Mr. Adams in London puts him, and
us, and all honest Englishmen right. It is now clear that whatever the highest
courtesy, the greatest ability, the truest honor, and the sincerest sympathy
could do to avert the chance of war with Great Britain has been done by Mr.
Seward. No one can understand in the least the masterly ability with which he
manages our foreign affairs at this most critical moment who does not read this
correspondence. As to its spirit, let these extracts testify.
On the 19th of June he writes to
Mr. Adams: "We are anxious to avoid all causes of misunderstanding with Great
Britain : to draw closer instead of breaking the existing bonds of amity and
friendship. There is nothing good or great which both nations may not expect to
attain or effect if they may remain friends. It would be a hazardous day for
both the branches of the British race when they should try how much harm each
could do the other."
On the first of July he writes :
" We, as you are well aware, have every desire for a good understanding with the
British Government. It causes us no concern that the Government sends a naval
force into the Gulf and a military force into Canada. We can have no designs
hostile to Great Britain so long as she does not, officially or unofficially,
recognize the insurgents or render them (Next