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Lincoln; in which the Southern States clearly foresaw the fate to which, as she points out, slavery in their dominions would be ultimately doomed, if power long continued in the hands of the party pledged to the Republican platform of 1860. By their sudden decision to secede from the Union, the South at once prevented any further progress in this gradual process of “suffocating" their institutions, and changed the whole issue of the quarrel between them and the Northern States. Unaccountable blindness to this change is one of the leading errors so rapidly depriving the antislavery party of all the advantages they had so dearly won. Mrs. Stowe says (page 15), that "expressions have proceeded from the national administration which naturally gave rise to misapprehension;" in which she is in much error. There has been no misapprehension in the matter. President Lincoln may certainly claim the merit of frank utterance with a simple clearness unusual in governing powers, and which leaves no room for mistake. His declaration that he would maintain slavery if it was essential to the safety of the Union to do so, or abolish it if he found such abolition necessary for the preservation of the Union,-is plain and unequivocal, and lays down perhaps the only course open to him as President, bound to defend the Constitution of the United States. On further examination of his subsequent acts and utterances we shall find him keeping this guiding principle steadily in view, and doing what he deems that the exigencies of the times require to restore the Union.
Mrs. Stowe makes long extracts (pages 15 to 22)
to show that the Confederate States, in seceding, took their stand on the maintenance of slavery in their dominions, and the aggressions on this “institution” by the Northern States. It was hardly needful to go into any detail to prove this fact, which is undeniably clear from the Secession Ordinances of everyone of the Southern States. But the motives of these States for so seceding do not in anywise alter the fact we have just noticedthat this Act of Secession, by its very nature, removed the issue of the contest from the Slavery question to that of the Union. This must all along be kept steadily in view if we would rightly understand the course of following events.
In her pages (23, 24) Mrs. Stowe points out how the policy of maintaining “the Union as it was” would be worked by the anti-slavery party to secure the final emancipation of the slaves in the South. We have less need here to examine how far her calculation is a sound one; and whether there might not have been great danger of the Slave States again getting the upper hand in some future convulsive struggle for power-seeing that the South foresaw and refused to wait for this consummation.
Read by the light of subsequent events, Mrs. Stowe's account of the success of the abolitionist war policy (pages 24, 25) shows how deep may be the delusions of enthusiastic zeal.
We shall soon give a few words to the present position of the Federal States and their future prospects in prosecuting this terrible unfortunate war. All the acts and ordinances which she enumerates as tend- t ing to abolish slavery would have been far more
beneficially enacted had the South been allowed to secede peacefully.
It is needless to examine in detail President Lincoln's proposition for emancipating the slaves of the South by compensation, so enthusiastically dwelt upon in her 26th page, seeing it was merely a fanciful project never discussed by Congress, and incapable of being carried into effect even had it become law,—which was all but an impossibility. Every trace and almost all memory of it have been swept away by the rapid course of following events.
Pages 27 to 45 of Mrs. Stowe's reply are filled with anticipations of the effects of sundry acts of the Government, accounts of the care of some blacks who had fallen into the hands of the Federals, and letters recounting in detail some small detached expeditions where negroes were employed against their former masters. Upon these glowing, sanguine statements the subsequent progress of events has, as we have before noticed, furnished a very sad commentary. They read like some missionary letters—the delight of the enthusiastic—which display vividly the self-sacrifice and fond hopes of a few pious men, but are worse than useless as a reliable account of the real progress of heathen nations.
In pages 45, 46, Mrs. Stowe, apparently reconciled to the abandonment of the compensation scheme, discusses President Lincoln's famous emancipation proclamations, which deserve our careful separate consideration. Therefore we need here remark only that in this instance again neither those who issued the proclamation nor those to
whom it is addressed have, according to Mrs. Stowe, rightly understood it. Again she comes forward to interpret the President's utterances, proving, as before, how easy self-deception is to those who cannot look at things save in their own coloured lights.
From these pages forwards, to the end of her reply, Mrs. Stowe, after once more reading the emancipation proclamations—the events of the past and hopes for the future with the radiant glow of her own sanguine zeal, fervently closes her appeal to our country with a sorrowful inquiry, “ What has turned the most generous sentiments of the British heart” against the Abolitionists in what she deems the hour of their near and certain triumph; and indignantly complains of us for having permitted the “ Alabama” to prey upon American commerce.
To this complaint, seeing that it has more than once been repeated in quarters which ought to be better informed of the laws of England and the real state of the case than Mrs. Stowe possibly can be, some attention must be given. The accusation against our Government of connivance with the private acts of individuals hostile to foreign powers, founded upon the freedom with which such actions have passed, unnoticed and not hindered by our authorities, has again and again been repeated by various European governments more or less despotic. It was natural that they should suppose our rulers sanctioned all that they did not prevent, seeing that they had very dim sense (if any sense at all) of the respect here paid to private rights and the impossibility of any restraint beyond the law of the land. But from the United
States of America, claiming to be the freest country in the world, and in whose case all other nations have again and again been forced to condone unlawful acts of aggression on the plea of the want of authority in the Central Government to control her several independent States, such an accusation is, indeed, monstrous! Nor would it have been seriously made had not the Federal States sacrificed so many of their own rights to the military dictatorship now carrying on the war, that in the heat of the moment they forgot that we have not done the same, and that with us law and liberty still walk hand in hand in their usual even course, It may or may not be true that the “ Alabama" was fitted out and is kept afloat by English capital. In a great and rich country like ours there will always be found men to pursue gains by courses repugnant to the principles and feelings of their country
But until they come into collision with the law, they are left to pursue their course. Thank Heaven, we have no Lynch law or indignation mob tyranny in England! It is to be feared that almost even up to the present day, English capital has, in various hidden ways, aided in carrying on the odious slave trade, to abolish which we have made such large sacrifices of blood and treasure. But this has been cunningly done so as to escape the detection of the law. Just so was the “ Alabama” built and fitted out here, crafty care being taken to furnish no proof of her warlike character and destination that would have warranted legal interference with her, until the mask could safely be thrown aside and she was far beyond our jurisdiction.