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Robert E. Lee Portrait
IN the first grand days of the
God stood with His armed men;
In the last grand days of the
He standeth with them again.
His presence then won the battle
That was for the Christ to be;
And His presence now is conquest
For the Christ that made men
And the early strife was holy,
By the peace it ushered in;
And the later is God's
By the peace it hath to win.
For the peace of Christ hath
Accepted the battle trust;
And yet, till His peace is
Shall war for the right be just:
War for the right unshaken,
To partake not of a sin;
War with its outward horrors,
And the heavenly peace within.
The right is the peace eternal—
And thus is this Christmas morn
Rich in that day's fruition
When the Prince of Peace was
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26, 1863.
THE Message of this year is the
most important document ever submitted by the Executive to Congress and the
country. Elsewhere in our columns we give an abstract of its important points,
and in the President's own words, because a conciser and clearer statement is
not possible. There has been occasionally some sharp criticism of his "style,"
but there are few state papers more direct and incisive than his. He knows
exactly what he means to say, and exactly how to say it. And when his Messages
and letters are compared with those of our Chief Magistrates for many a year,
their true American ring, their manly faith in human rights and the people, are
as unprecedented as they are inspiring.
The President's plan of
reconstruction is familiar to all our readers. It is simple and radical; it is
also inevitable. For either the rebels must be left to determine when to throw
down their arms and rush back to the Union to secure political power, or they
must understand that their chiefs are excepted from pardon, and that the system
for which they took up arms having ceased legally to exist, all hope of its
restoration must be abandoned. The former is the Copperhead plan. It proposes
that whenever a rebel chooses to say that he returns to his allegiance he may
resume all his political rights. The President's plan proposes that he shall
resume his political rights, not when he says that he is sorry, but when he says
that he is sorry in such a manner that he can reasonably be believed.
That something more than an oath
to the Constitution is necessary to secure the peace of the Union is clear
enough from the fact that Jefferson Davis himself does not allow that he has
violated his oath. In his view secession is consistent with the Constitution.
Resistance to coercion is not, according to him and the State Rights school,
rebellion. Simple repetition of such an oath, therefore, would be merely the
first step to another conspiracy, because it leaves the object of the conspiracy
untouched. Now the paramount duty of the Government is not merely to subdue, but
to prevent rebellion. But it is clear that when the rebel guns are silenced the
Union is not necessarily restored. The initiative of political action in the
States which rebellion will leave sullen and passive must proceed from the
National Government. And how more simply and wisely than as the Message
The President has been often
accused of tardily following instead of leading public opinion. But it is his
great merit that he early saw this to be a war in which the people must save
themselves. If they were unequal to the task, a popular government was a
failure. And therefore he has sought only to be the executive magistrate of
their will, which he has divined with more sagacity than any public man in our
history. It is that sagacity which now admonishes him to put into clear and
simple form the settlement to which the national common-sense irresistibly
tends. He has done it. Not as an advocate, or partisan, or fanatic, but with the
same wisdom and passionless equity which has marked his official career from the
moment he commended himself to the prayers of his old friends and neighbors at
Springfield, and set forth to undertake as vast a duty as was ever committed to
As the Message of the President
of the United States is evidently a simple appeal to the intelligence of a great
free people, so that of Jefferson Davis is an elaborate effort at imposition
upon a mass of ignorant and deluded followers, whom
he and the other rebel chiefs
have always controlled, first by keeping them ignorant, and then by inflaming
their passions. Had these men ever allowed the truth to be spoken in the Slave
States, had they not always nullified the cardinal provision of the Constitution
protecting the freedom of speech, they could never have "precipitated" the
Southern people into rebellion. The leaders hold their victims now as they
always held them, by means of ignorance maintained by terror.
The Message of Davis is the last
word of haughty desperation. Many of its statements are plainly false; and its
arguments painfully feeble, as when he speaks of the United States as a power
which might end the war by disunion. Pray, where and what are the United States
after disunion? The baffled conspirator shakes his impotent fist at Great
Britain because it would not directly help to found a nation devoted to slavery
upon the ruins of a friendly ally loving liberty, He fawns upon France in saying
that if the people of Mexico choose to change their form of government it is a
right which we (the rebels) have exercised and can not deny to another people.
It is well said, for the people of Mexico have been heard upon the question of
the Empire in the same way that the Southern people were heard upon that of the
Confederacy. The rebel chief finds the military reverses of the rebellion
"inexplicable." The currency of the Confederacy, he says, is three times too
large for its business, and the glimpses he gives of the bottomless pit of the
rebel finances are enough to occasion still more "inexplicable" disasters. As he
approaches the end of his discourse all the rancor of his hate breaks forth in
malignant abuse of our generals and of our conduct of the war; and with pitiful
inconsequence this defeated traitor, after having shown how utterly he has been
beaten in the field, and how hollow are all his resources and hopes for the
future, complains that the Government he has defied will not concede him to be
The judgment of the world can not
mistake the significance of this Message. It is not the strain of a man who has
"created a nation," it is the fierce cry of rage and despair.
Now that the policy of the
Government is maturely settled, it is clear that one of the chief questions of
the immediate future will be the care of the freedmen. In ordinary times, when
emancipation is enforced by law, as in the case of the British colonies, and
especially in Jamaica, the rage and pride of the planters prevent a fair trial
of the experiment. They refuse to treat honorably as paid laborers those whom
they have been used to drive as cattle, and the inevitable consequence is that
the great plantations fall into ruin, and the laborers take to the bush. Nothing
is surer than that if the planters of Jamaica had been as equal to the new
condition introduced by emancipation as the slaves were, the prosperity of the
island would never have been disturbed.
The condition of our
slaves is such as to require the most faithful and intelligent care. The
operation of the act is to attract them to our lines. They come in groups of
utterly destitute men, women, and children. The most unfortunate of human
beings, they yet do not find corresponding sympathy. Even the Government which
has freed them, and which invites them to enlist as soldiers, does not treat
them honorably, and pays them not the wages of the white soldiers, with whom
they bravely fight and nobly fall, but only the ten dollars a month allowed by
the law for the general employment of
contrabands. Homeless, almost houseless,
utterly destitute and dependent, this rapidly-increasing class of our population
demand a peculiar care. It is idle to say that no particular class of persons
can be provided for, but they must all take their chance, because we recognize
that common-sense is the basis of statesmanship when we establish a Bureau of
Indian Affairs and a Department of Agriculture. Indians and farmers are the two
classes directly interested; but does any body quarrel with the bureaus for that
The sagacity of the President
will undoubtedly lead him to make some proposition to Congress for the
establishment of a Freedman's Bureau, charged with the care of this exceptional
class. Davis says in his Message, with a sly leer at Europe, "By the Northern
man, on whose deep-rooted prejudices no kindly restraining influence is
exercised, they [the negroes] are treated with aversion and neglect." But the
reluctance to touch the subject, the stupid prejudice against the word
Abolitionism, the dull slang about "one idea," must give way to plain practical
common-sense, or the country will be dishonored.
OUGHT it not to be a merry
Christmas? Even with all the sorrow that hangs, and will forever hang, over so
many households; even while the war still rages; even while there are serious
questions yet to be settled—ought it not to be, and is it not, a merry
How well Mr. Nast has seized the
spirit of the great festival in the elaborate and beautiful picture which we
publish this week! The central
scene is the home of the soldier
and his Christmas welcome from wife and darlings, for just that is the central
scene of our American holidays this year. It is the soldier who has saved us our
homes and filled our holidays with joy. It is the soldier who is lifting the
dark winter-cloud beyond which smiles the bright spring of national
regeneration. It is the soldier who is securing the peace that will make the
life of the children sleeping together in the crib, and over whom the dear old
bear, Santa Claus, is bending, a long and happy holiday,
Next year let us hope that the
delicate, and thoughtful, and forcible pencil of our friend Nast may draw a
picture of the National reunion, of the return of the prodigal who has been
living on husks and with harlots, the rebel soldier returning to his country and
his fellow-citizens, the soldier who did not know that in fighting the brave man
whom we see in the picture of to-day, he was fighting his true friend, as well
as honor and liberty. Peace on earth is the Christmas benediction. Blessed then
the brave men upon the Rio Grande, in Louisiana, along the Mississippi, in the
mountains of Chattanooga, in the Valley at Knoxville, upon the Potomac, and the
Rappahannock, and the
James River; among the North Carolina barrens and the
South Carolina Islands, with the great army of sailors upon the rivers and the
sea—to all, whether on sea or land, heroes of the good cause, honor and
blessing; for their stout hands and hearts, with the supporting sympathy and
faith of the whole people, are the peacemakers of the nation.
Richmond Whig says that it
really looks as if the South might be overrun. On another day it declares that
the rebels can only retrieve their misfortunes by imitating the methods adopted
by the Yankees in retrieving theirs; and it calls for a truly great General and
a great army to be put in the path of
General Grant in three weeks. It says
again that the rebels would be a race of cowards if they should even contemplate
the possibility of ever yielding to a foe so contemptible, so cruel, so loathed
and abhorred as the Yankees; and if they are the race they have believed
themselves to be they will not give way to despondency, but nerve themseves for
a fiercer struggle and more costly sacrifices. In fact, they will die in the
This strain of remark is a fit
accompaniment to the melancholy Message of Davis. It is the unmusical whistling
of boys in the grave-yard, announcing not their courage but their foreboding. In
these articles, as in the addresses of Davis, there is, on the part of the
rebels, the same travesty of noble sentiment and heroic resolve which, in the
case of a really oppressed and suffering people striking for relief are solemn
and touching, but which are merely ludicrous and contemptible in the mouths of
men who deliberately undertake a bloody revolution with no other purpose than
the perpetuity of injustice.
The British aristocracy has tried
hard to depict these rebellious American citizens as worthy of sympathy, like
the Poles or the Greeks. British statesmen labored to paint them as a small band
of noble gentlemen struggling for their freedom and rights with a vulgar
democratic tyranny. This wretched effort has also failed. All the masks begin to
fall. The ghastly facts are appearing. The conspiracy of slaveholders is at last
seen to be as base and inhuman as that of St. Bartholomew's Day against the
Huguenots. That too was loudly commended. Muretus called it a great victory of
the true faith. And if Slavery had prevailed in this contest, as Catholicism did
in France, the aristocracy, which fears popular rights, would have hailed it, in
the spirit of Muretus, as a signal triumph of the true faith.
DR. WORTHINGTON HOOKER'S "Science
for the School and Family" (Harpers) is one of his clear and simple expositions,
containing, as he says, only what every body ought to know. Of the singular
competency of Dr. Hooker to the treatment of the subjects he undertakes the most
valuable testimony is that of Miss Peabody, the experienced head of the Boston
Kindergarten. She says of the "Child's Book of Nature," by Dr. Hooker, that "it
will be a great help to our object-teacher," "and is the very best introduction
of children to flowers."
It is in her "Kindergarten Guide"
(T. O. H. P. Burnham), just published in Boston, that Miss Peabody speaks of Dr.
Hooker. She and her sister, Mrs. Horace Mann, whose admirable "Moral Culture of
Infancy" is included in the convenient volume, have had long and extensive
experience as teachers, and the first Kindergarten upon a great and successful
scale was that of Miss Peabody. Now, as she says, they are springing up in all
our cities, and the necessity of a "Guide" is apparent. The theory of the
Kindergarten is simply experience and common-sense applied to the teaching of
children. It requires that the most clumsy hands shall not be considered
competent to the most delicate work, and that to teach so as not to make
knowledge as unpalatable to the child as medicine demands a tenderness and
thoughtfulness which are no more universal than other rare qualities. The
"Guide" is most interesting and invaluable to all who have little folks to teach
or to be taught.
Charles Dickens's Christmas story
for the year is entitled "Mrs. Lirriper's Lodgings." It tells how Mrs. L.
carried on the business; how the First Floor did this, and the Side Room did
that; how the Second Floor kept a dog, and the Third Floor knew the Potteries;
with details of the proceedings of the Best Attic and the Parlors. What Mr.
Dickens has to say about these several personages can be ascertained at the
small charge of ten cents. (Published by Harper & Brothers.)
The holidays will bring no more
fascinating book for boys than Henry Mayhew's "Boyhood of Martin Luther"
(Harpers), and parents will not enjoy it less than the children. It is a fresh
story to almost every body but scholars; for although one of the greatest of men
historically, Martin Luther's life is not as familiar to boys as that of many an
old Greek and Roman. Mr. Mayhew has worked with his heart as well as his head,
and has made a truly delightful book, even retaining a quaint old German flavor,
which is an added charm.
AND NAVY ITEMS.
GENERAL MEADE has demanded that a
court of inquiry shall be held in reference to his late movements; and it is
said that the result of this inquiry will decide the question as to his removal.
Deserters from the rebel lines
state that a large number of soldiers in the Southern armies will take advantage
of the amnesty offered in the President's Proclamation, as soon as they can
become acquainted with its propositions. The Richmond Sentinel, speaking of this
amnesty, regards it as intended to make capital in Europe.
Furloughs are at present being
freely given both to the officers and men of the Army of the Potomac.
The British schooner Maria
Alberta was captured, on the 27th of November, while attempting to run the
blockade into Bay Port, by the schooner Two Sisters. She had cleared from Havana
JEFF DAVIS has just been
denounced in the rebel Congress as the author of the late defeat at
General LONGSTREET in his retreat
from Knoxville lost four thousand prisoners and nearly all his cannon and
The President writes a letter to
General GRANT, congratulating him in the following terms:
GRANT,—Understanding that your lodgment at Chattanooga and Knoxville is now
secure, I wish to tender you, and all under your command, my more than thanks—my
profoundest gratitude—for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which you
and they, over so great difficulties, have effected that important object. God
bless you all!
JOHN MORGAN, the guerrilla, when
last seen was in a buggy with a female making for Dixie, and closely pursued by
Within the last three weeks
nearly three hundred men have died of wounds or disease in the Chattanooga
Rebel guerrillas have been
collecting in considerable force along the banks of the Mississippi, and
especially at the mouth of Red River. Their purpose seems to have been to
capture steamers, and with them cross the river to reinforce General BRAGG. We
very much fear that they come to the rescue rather late in the day.
Guerrillas also are reported as
very active between Chattanooga and Knoxville.
The Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania
Regiment has been ordered home from the West on furlough, having re-enlisted as
The next day after the United
States steamer Circassian (Captain EATON) left
Charleston (the 9th) she captured
the celebrated blockade-runner Minna, which prize—one of the finest of the war
she brought in tow to Fortress Monroe last Sunday.
The small-pox has broken out
among the prisoners of war in the hands of the Confederate authorities at
Isle and at Lynchburg. To prevent its spread
General BUTLER has sent a package
of vaccine matter sufficient to vaccinate six thousand persons.
The orders under which the
steamer Chesapeake was captured were issued from a JOHN PARKER formerly Captain
of the privateer Retribution, but now, until caught, Captain of the unfortunate
Mr. CLEMENT C. BARCLAY, of
Philadelphia, has gone to Fortress Monroe to apply to the rebel authorities for
permission to visit Richmond, as a member of the Sanitary Committee, to offer
his services in attending to our suffering soldiers in Libey Prison and
Lieutenant-Colonel HENRY S.
RUSSEL, Second Massachussetts Cavalry, takes command of the Fourth
Massachussetts Cavalry, the first mounted colored regiment that has been raised.
LEW WALLACE is at
Poughkeepsie awaiting orders.
General F. P. BLAIR, of General
GRANT'S staff, has returned to Washington.
The prize steamship Jupiter,
captured while trying to run the blockade into Wilmington, was sold on Wednesday
at Philadelphia for twenty-nine thousand dollars.
The Corps d'Afrique, under
General G. L. ANDREWS, has been stationed at Port Hudson since its capture last
The command of Matagorda Bay
gives us substantially the control of Central and Western Texas, and of all the
important points on the east coast except
The Indiana soldiers in hospital,
in and around
Washington, Alexandria, Baltimore, and Annapolis are to be removed
The Federal force is now firmly
planted in every rebel State.
The success of our arms during
the last year has enabled the Department to make a reduction of over two hundred
millions of dollars in the war estimates for the ensuing fiscal year.
JOSHUA C. GUNNELL, an influential
citizen of Fairfax County, and an intimate friend of Governor SMITH, of
Virginia, has received permission from the War Department to visit Rielnnond for
the purpose of obtaining the release of several Union men in Castle Thunder,
MOSBY'S guerrillas in that County.
Since March 1, 1861, the naval
bureau has been obliged to order 2980 tons of powder. This vast amount has been
promptly furnished by the Messrs. DU PONT of Wilmington, and the Schaghticoke,
Hazard, American, and Union Powder companies. The above mills supply the
necessities of the navy so fully that it has been compelled to seek no supply
from a foreign market.
Our total loss in killed,
wounded, and missing in the siege of Knoxville falls short of 1000.
Admiral DAHLGREN has already made
arrangements with Mr. WHITNEY, who is raising the monitor Keokuk at Charleston
harbor, also to raise the Weehawken.
The Chesapeake left Shelburne,
Nova Scotia, on Saturday last, with only a small amount of coals. She was
supposed to be prowling about for more.
The rebel Congress has passed a
bill prohibiting the employment of substitutes in the army.
Senator FOOTE, of Tennessee
(rebel), adverting to the horrible cruelties practiced upon our prisoners at
Richmond, admits that the poor fellows had been reduced to starvation, but threw
the blame upon NORTHRUP, the rebel Commissary.
The Bahama Herald is advised from
Richmond "that the month of December is regarded as the most trying one of' the
whole war, its entire future and essential final result depending in a very
great measure upon the issue."
According to a dispatch received
December 12th from General BUTLER, the rebel authorities decline to receive any
more packages or provisions for the Union prisoners. One of their papers, as an
explanation of this refusal, says, that the acceptance of these supplies is a
stain upon the honor of the South.
The new gun-boat Kansas is said
to be ready to sail under sealed orders in pursuit of the Chesapeake.
The Mobile Register says that the
war has been productive of one good result at least, viz., the cheapening of
negroes in the Gulf Status, on account of so many slaves being driven South.