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Civil War Harper's Weekly, November 19, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper published during the Civil War. These newspapers were read by millions of people during the war. Today, these newspapers are available on this WEB site for you to read and increase your understanding of the war.

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Albemarle

Albemarle

Second Term

Abraham Lincoln Reelected

Slave Conscription

Slave Conscription

One Hundred and Forty Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment

Hatcher's Run

Hatcher's Run

Allatoona

Battle of Allatoona

Over the Hillside

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Train Robbery

Darbytown Road

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HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[NOVEMBER 19, 1864.

738

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER, 19,1864.
THE ELECTION.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND ANDREW JOHNSON have been elected, by enormous and universal majorities in almost all the States, President and Vice-President of the United States for the next four years. This result is the proclamation of the American people that they are not conquered; that the rebellion is not, successful ; and that, deeply as they deplore war and its inevitable suffering and loss, yet they have no choice between war and national ruin, and must therefore fight on. In an unfortunate moment for himself General McCLELLAN permitted his name to be used as the symbol of the cowardice and subjugation of his fellow citizens, and from that moment his defeat was a foregone conclusion.

The moral effect of the election both at home and abroad will be of the most impressive character. It shows our foreign enemies that they have nothing to hope from the divisions of this country, while the rebels will see in it the withering and invincible purpose of their loyal fellow citizens, who ask of them nothing but obedience to the Constitution of the United States, and the laws and acts made in pursuance of it. Whenever they shall choose to overthrow the military despotism that holds them fast--whenever they shall see that no great section of this country can, under equal and respected laws, have any permanent and profound interest different from all the rest—then they will find that the loyal men of the country are longing to throw down their arms and cement a Union that shall be eternal.

But the lesson of the election is, that every constitutional act and law must be absolutely respected. There must be no threats, no revolts, and no hope of extorting terms by arms. The Constitution is the sole condition of the Government; and if citizens differ as to what is constitutional, that difference must be peacefully and constitutionally settled. This is what the people have declared by four years of war, and this is what they confirm by the re-election of Mr. LINCOLN. In himself, notwithstanding his unwearied patience, perfect fidelity, and remarkable sagacity, he is unimportant; but as the representative of the feeling and purpose of the American people he is the most important fact in the world.

One other of the most significant lessons of the election is, that the people are conscious of the power and force of their own Government. They expect the utmost vigor in the prosecution of the war by every legitimate method, and they naturally require that the authority of the Government, which is to be established by the continuance of the war, shall not be endangered by its end. When the authority of any Government is openly and forcibly defied it must be maintained unconditionally by arms. When that authority is established and unquestioned, every wise Government will be friendly, patient, conciliatory, but firm and just.

Yet the grandest lesson of the result is its vindication of the American system of free popular government. No system in history was ever exposed so such a strain directly along the fibre as that which ours has endured in the war and the political campaign, and no other could possibly have endured it successfully. The result is due to the general intelligence of the people, and to the security of perfectly free discussion. Let that be maintained and jealously defended by all parties in the land, at every country cross road, and in every city and State, and the Union and the Government are forever secure. They have been maintained by the authority of the Government itself, and we see the result. Thank God and the people, we are a nation which comprehends its priceless importance to human progress and civilization, and which. recognizes that law is the indispensable condition of Liberty.

BRYANT'S BIRTHDAY

THE Century Club in New York grew out of the Sketch Club some twenty years ago. The Sketch Club was a private social assembly of men interested in literature and art which pleasantly combined sandwiches with aesthetics, and oysters with criticism. Composed of men of every pursuit, it was a cultivated, genial, sympathetic society, of which we speak in the past tense, yet which we believe still survives. But it had a name only, and no local habitation. It was a shifting feast from house to house of the members. The " Century" was founded as a proper club. It was the natural fruit of the winged seed of the Sketch Club; it struck root and flourishes perennial.

The Saturday evenings at the Century are memorable to many whose feet seldom cross its threshold now. They ring still in the past with wit and song and laughter. The authors and artists of New York and men of cultivated and generous sympathies have been always counted among its members, and the wandering authors and artists of other countries have been gladly

hailed as its guests. Among its founders was WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, and upon the recent return of his birthday, when he completed his seventieth year, his fellow members of the Century made a festival to express their respect for the man and their honor for the poet.

The Century was already famous for its festivals. For many years it had annually celebrated Twelfth Night, and there have been many a beautiful and happy holiday there of which no public mention was made. The artists who are members always secure a picturesque grace and point in the decorations and the noble drawing room of the Club house is a fit scene for the sparkling and illustrious company which the feasts assemble. Here, on the evening of the 5th of November, the members of the Century and an illustrious company of invited guests assembled. The great room was decorated with flowers, wreaths, the national colors, pictures and statues Upon a slightly-raised platform stood Mr. BRYANT and Mr. BANCROFT, the historian, President of the Club, surrounded by groups of friends, among whom were EMERSON, WILLIS, HOLMES, STREET, TUCKERMAN, TAYLOR, BOKER, STODDARD, READ, and others. The President made a speech of congratulation and hope, to which Mr. BRYANT fitly and modestly responded. A chant for the poet's birthday by BAYARD TAYLOR, the music by the artist LOUIS LANG, was then sung by the choir boys of Trinity Church, Letters were read from the absent poets LONGFELLOW, HALLECK, WHITTIER, and LOWELL, followed by a short speech from EMERSON, and the recitation of poems by Messrs. HOWE, BOKER, and HOLMES. More letters were read more poems from STODDARD and STREET; more speeches; and an album of original sketches by the most eminent American artists was presented to Mr. BRYANT with a proper stand from various members of the Club, Mr. HUNTINGTON, President of the National Academy, spoke for the artists, and the guest of the evening replied. Then there was supper, and at midnight the feast ended amidst the most friendly hilarity.

There is something very impressive in this purely literary festival upon the eve of the most important election that has occurred in the country. But it is impossible not to remember that the poet BRYANT is no dreamer. Like JOHN MILTON'S, his is no fugitive virtue cloistered and unbreathed, and his name will shine in our history like that of MILTON in the English, with the twin lustre of patriotism and poetry. STODDARD'S lines are as true as melodious when he says, speaking of the country which BRYANT has loved so well, and has so faithfully served :

"And now, even in her sorest need,

Pale, bleeding, fain in every limb,

She still remembers what he is,

And comes to honor him.

"For hers, not ours, the songs we bring,

The flowers, the music the light;

And 'tis her hand that lays the wreath

On his gray head tonight."

THE WARNING OF HISTORY

UNDER the title "State Rights, a photograph from Ancient Greece" (Munson, Albany), Professor TAYLOR LEWIS, one of the most distinguished Grecians in the country, has rendered that country a signal service. The intention of his pamphlet is to show, from the history of Greece, the inevitable ruin that results from the system which we call State sovereignty. The execution of the work is masterly. The style is sinewy, sparkling, and trenchant, and the comprehensive argument, copious in scholarly illustration and impregnable in reasoning, has an impassioned glow and tension which recall the nobler works of the nation from whose history the argument is drawn. There is no work upon this momentous topic in all our political literature which is more complete or more richly rewards thoughtful study than this little treatise of Professor LEWIS.

It was issued before the election, but its importance is not limited by any such event. For it discusses the fundamental principle of the rebellion, the principle which must be thoroughly exposed and rejected before there can be national peace. The war is the conflict between National and State sovereignty. The rebellion was only possible upon that ground. Foreseeing that the development of our civilization would sooner or later show the exact relation between injustice and individual interest, and that Slavery would be revealed as the fierce rival of free labor, the Southern leaders prepared for the crisis, not by instigating a rebellion in the name of Slavery, but by deluding the popular mind with the chimera of State sovereignty. They knew that they could stimulate their followers by that appeal when every thing else was impracticable. The argument was that the Constitution was a treaty, a compact between sovereign powers, and that each power was the sole judge when the terms of the compact had been infringed, and also of the remedy. From this theory sprang the assertion that sovereign States could not lawfully be coerced, and the demand of JEFFERSON DAVIS to be " let alone."

This is the future question of the country. If secession be a reserved Constitutional right, as the rebels claim, the right may be exercised at the will of a State for any purpose satisfactory to itself. In the present instance the plea is

the protection of " rights," meaning Slavery. In another it will be "rights," meaning a tariff ; or some form of taxation, or whatever the leaders may choose. But whatever the pretext the principle appealed to is the principle of national disintegration and ruin. With pathetic power Professor LEWIS summons wrecked and wretched Greece from her tomb of a thousand years to show to the new world the wounds by which she fell, and to plead as only woeful experience can, against the deep damnation of the taking off of this nation.

THE GOVERNMENT.

EVERY man in the country should resist the effort which is often made to represent " the Government" as an independent and dangerous power. "The Government" does this, "the Government" does that, we are told by fiery orators, as if the Government were an oppressive and despotic tyrant.

That is a kind of talk which is intelligible elsewhere, but which has no significance here. Our Government Is not something above and beyond the people it is simply the constitutional expression of the popular will. Consequently, to resist the Government is to resist the people ; for the same instrument which establishes the constitutional form of the Government also provides for correcting its errors and withstanding any conceivable invasion of popular liberty. If, for instance, a man is of opinion that any officer of the Government is exceeding his authority, he may complain, and the law gives him the remedy. But to suppose that all the officers of the Government, including, of course, the House of Representatives, are in conspiracy against popular rights is ridiculous, because the people themselves elect the Representatives every two years.

In any system, indeed, where questions are decided by ballot there may be such fraud or force that the result will not justly indicate the real wish of the people. But while such disturbing elements are found at particular points, they can not exist universally without betraying a condition of affairs which proves the popular system to be impracticable. Nobody supposes, probably, that all the votes polled at a general election in the city of New York are fair and lawful votes. The result in that city can riot be held to indicate, according to the actual proportion, the ayes and noes upon any question or candidate. When, therefore, there were the same suspicion, the same uncertainty overhanging every poll in the country, there would be a distressing doubt as to the real popular will, unless the figures were palpably beyond the suspicion of fraud. But that very state of things would reveal such an indifference, timidity, or acquiescence in fraud as virtually to make the vote express the force, if not the actual numbers, of public opinion.

Votes are valuable when there are men behind them, as EMERSON says of words. The question of this rebellion is simply whether there are men behind the votes. If there are, then the Government of the United States is merely the American people willing, speaking, and acting. If there ere not, then the Government is a mask, which the most daring hand will snatch and wear.

THE PRESIDENT AND THE LIEUTENANT-GENERAL.

WHEN the letters between the President and General GRANT upon the opening of the summer campaign were published, we did not especially allude to them. But we now reprint them that every man in the land may understand what cordial sympathy there is between the two men. It is not easy to parallel, it is impossible to surpass, in history the simple manliness of this correspondence Two honest, faithful, sagacious men, who have one cause only at heart, that of the country who are each peculiarly representative of' a certain indomitable patience and tenacity which is characteristically American, are providentially in this emergency at the head of our civil and military administration. If the Government had always been in such hands we should have had no war to deplore. Let every citizen at home and soldier and sailor in the service carefully read and ponder these letters :

"EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON April 30, 1864. "Lieutenant-General Grant "

"Not expecting to see you before the spring campaign opens. I wish to express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up to this time so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know. nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self reliant; and pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any restraints or constraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster, or capture of our men in great numbers, shall be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there be any thing wanting, which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it.

"And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain you.   Yours, very truly,

"A. LINCOLN." GRANT'S REPLY.

" HEAD-QUARTERS ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES,

CULPEPPER COURT-HOUSE, May 1, 1864.

" THE PRESIDENT,—Your very kind letter of yesterday is just received. The confidence you express for the future and satisfaction for the past in my military administration is acknowledged with pride. It shall be my earnest endeavor that you and the country shall not be disap-

pointed. From m§ first entrance into the volunteer service of the country to the present day I have never had cause m complaint, have never expressed or implied a complaint against the Administration or the Secretary of War for throwing any embarrassment in the way of my vigorously prosecuting what appeared to be my duty.

" Indeed since the promotion which placed me in command of all the armies, and in view of the great responsibility and importance of success, I have been astonished at the readiness which every thing asked for has been yielded, without even an explanation being asked. Should my success be less than I desire and expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you.

" Very truly, your obedient servant,

" U S. GRANT, Lieutenant-General "

RAILWAY ACCIDENTS.

As the winter approaches, and a winter which the weather-was assure us is to be peculiarly severe, it is alarming to remark how frequent are railway accidents. The disaster upon the New Haven Road, followed immediately by that upon the New London, and again upon the Hudson, and by several Western accidents, with that of a week since upon the Erie, aroused the public mind for a moment ; but the interest of the election overpowered all other public care. Now that it is past, we hope that the dangers of the railways may be remembered to some good result.

There is no doubt that many of our railroads are allowed to fall into a perilous state before proper measures are taken to avoid fatal consequences. The sleepers and the rails are often notoriously worn out before they are replaced, I and passengers are daily whirled along tracks which they pass with fear and trembling. The New Haven railroad, or the Harlem track, is for several miles the only direct land avenue out of New York into New England. The travel is immense. The passage of trains is incessant. The security of the road should, therefore, be almost perfect. Yet it was matter of common conversation during the summer that the road was in bad order, and nobody who traveled much upon it was surprised when the late accident occurred.

We do not say that the particular accident was avoidable. Some defect in the iron, which it was not possible to know until it was exposed to precisely the conditions which made disaster inevitable, may explain this accident, as similar reason will explain others. But that very fact should impress upon the managers of railroads the necessity of the most careful scientific observation. What is the effect upon iron of the movement of heavy trains ? In what way may the natural consequences of possible but unperceived defects be best obviated? All such questions should be constantly entertained and answered by study and experiment.

It is true that, in view of the constant and enormous railroad travel in this country, great disasters are comparatively infrequent. At every hour of the day and night there are thousands of human beings thundering along upon the rails, yet; upon the whole, how few are hurt ! It is computed that the Illinois Central Railroad has transported thirty millions of people, the entire population of the United States, and without the loss of a single life, except through the acknowledged fault of the sufferer. Such a record is as honorable as it is remarkable. Yet with proper care it might be the rule of every road. It is one of the immutable laws that, as the sailor expressed it, God has somehow so fixed the world that a man can afford to do right. Nor can there be any question that the safer a railroad is, the more profitable it is.

We warn the managers that peculiar care is necessary, now that the frosts are coming; and that the public will not accept any easy apology for an appalling tragedy.

PARTIES.

BECAUSE Patriotism requires in times of public peril the earnest support of certain candidates, it does not therefore become Party spirit. Patriotism is not neutrality between policies proposed ; on the contrary, it is the faithful support of that policy which promises greater security to the Government. Parties are inevitable and desirable in every constitutional system. But when we speak of such parties we mean, of course, men and policies which aim always at the better preservation of the nation. There is such a thing as faction as well as party. There is such a thing as a traitor as well as a political opponent. Thus BENEDICT ARNOLD was not a true American whose political views differed from those of WASHINGTON; he was a traitor. Thus also JEFFERSON Davis is not an honest political opponent; he is a rebel.

Hostility to causeless and bloody rebellion is a patriotic duty, which, we trust, we shall never forget. Whatever favors rebellion or excuses rebels will always be resisted by truly patriotic citizens. Rebellion can not, in any legitimate sense, be a party policy. It has not been so in this country, although the rebels hoped it might be made so. The true men of all the old parties stood together for the Government, and they stand there now. And, at such a time as this, the only legitimate party division is a rivalry of Patriotism. Which shall most swiftly and surely and unconditionally vindicate the national honor, maintain the national authority, and de-  (Next Page)


 

 

  

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