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And now, in conclusion, let me say that, whether the responsibility rests upon the North or the South, whether upon the Abolitionists of the North proper or the Secessionists of the South, for breaking up, even for the time being, such a government as our fathers had formed for us, which was the pride and boast of every true American heart at home and abroad, and the wonder and admiration of an enlightened world, and involving 32,000,000 of people on this continent in all the horrors through which we have and are yet to pass before we see the end, and all mankind in a greater or less degree in its consequences, the party that is responsible for the loss of the dead, the sufferings of the living, the sacrifice of human happiness and general prosperity of the whole country, to say nothing of the infuriate, incarnate feeling that has been engendered betweer. the different sections of the country and between citizens of the same states and neighborhoods, will, as I firmly believe, have to answer hereafter, both in this world and in the world to come, for the most atrocious and stupendous crime that has been committed since the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
THE GREAT STRIKE FOR HIGHER WAGES.
In the preceding pages I have given a faithful and succinct history of this “GREAT STRIKE FOR HIGHER WAGES,” under the direction of the Trades' Dis-UNION ASSOCIATION, and traced the progress of the movement, step by step, for a period of nearly thirty years before it broke out into open and defiant rebellion. I have shown, too, how and under what circumstances the plan of the leaders had been changed from their original purpose of separation to a fixed design to usurp the whole power of the general government—to seize upon the Capitol at Washington, inaugurate their chief as the head of the nation, and thus force Democracy upon the nation, and, if they could accomplish it, extend the institution of slavery over the whole country, in which gigantic work the active co-operation of a number of the leaders of the Democratic party North stood pledged to come to their assistance.
I have already explained why that contemplated aid was not rendered at the time; but, since the foregoing history was written, circumstances have occurred, and facts have been developed, which, I think, fully reveal the plot, with a necessary change of actors in some of the parts to suit the shifting scenes of the times. The timely-discovered and, fortunately, defeated Democratic insurrection, which was crushed out just before the late presidential election in 1864, and of which Mr. Vallandigham was at the head, and participated in by that very extensive political organization known as the "KNIGHTS OF THE GOLDEN CIRCLE,” with the substitution of General McClellan for Mr. Davis (though I acquit General McClellan of all connection with the ulterior and principal designs of the leaders of the insurrection, who hoped to mould him to their own purposes if elected), yvas only the delayed action of the party, rendered necessary by the circumstances already explained. I think there is little room to doubt that, but for the precipitate and unexpected action of the authorities of South Carolina in their attack on Fort Sumter, instigated by the hot haste of the secession leaders in the Virginia Convention, which did not leave full time for the completion of their organization, Northern Democratic insurrection would have developed itself in the spring or summer of 1861 instead of the fall of 1864.
Not having had access to Northern newspapers since the war, it was by mere accident that another piece of evidence has fallen under my obseryation, of which, I dare say, a great deal more has appeared of which I have no knowledge, and of which no doubt much more will hereafter appear. That to which I now refer was the statement made by “ General Gantt," of Arkansas, who was himself an active secessionist in 1861, and afterward a general in the Confederate service, was taken prisoner, relented, and testified against his Northern Democratic friends, who did not
come to time," as promised, in '61. I cut the following article from the New York Tribune, the date of which I have forgotten:
“PROOF DIRCET.--General Gantt, of Arkansas, has been the subject of fierce abuse in the Copperhead journals, for which we were unable to account until we recently observed that, in speaking for the Union cause some weeks since, he made the following statement. He said that, after his capture by the Union forces (he was a general in the rebel service) at Island No. 10, he was brought North to this state as a prisoner of war, and declared that prominent Democrats of Pennsylvania then conferred with him, and assured him that if the rebels would hold out a little longer they would be successful, for the Democrats of the North would arrest the war by defeating the conscription, and otherwise rendering the administration powerless to prosecute it.' And he added, with withering emphasis, 'I COULD GIVE YOU THE NAMES IF WHAT I SAY IS DISPUTED.' There were a number of Democratic members of the Legislature present, and they did not dare to question the statement or call for names. He said the Democrats of the North ADVISED THEM TO WAR, PROMISED TO COME TO THEIR ASSISTANCE, AND THEN LEFT THEM ALONE IN THE STRUGGLE, and confined themselves to cowardly, perfidious, and stealthy assaults upon their own government.” He said that, instead of Northern Democrats coming to their assistance, the soldiers of the Union came in overwhelming force and conquered them ; 'but,' said he, “they brought government with them, and rescued us from a tyranny more terrible than
General McClellan was no politician; had never, as far as I knew, been in public life except as a soldier ; had never filled any political office or place; had little idea, perhaps, of the quirks and quibbles, acts and tricks of practical professional politicians, and lent his name unwittingly, I am prepared to believe, to those adroit managers and skillful manipulators, who, if they could have once had him under their thumb, hoped to mould and fashion him to any shape the Democracy might see fit to demand. Fortunately for himself, he did not fall into the potters' hands; fortunately for his country, they had no opportunity to entangle him in their political cobwebs before he was aware of it, from which extrication would have been difficult.
I have called this rebellion A STRIKE FOR HIGHER WAGES, and so it was, nothing more and nothing less. It was a bold and wicked strike to hold on, per fas aut nefas, to the power and control of the government, which they found was naturally and certainly falling into the hands of the majority of the North. The government had been in operation for seventy-two years; during the greater part of this time the North had had a considerable numerical majority; but, by a pretty well united South on the slavery question, the minority had been able to retain sufficient strength in the North, through the patronage of the government, to secure its continuance in power. Accordingly the South had had General Washington at the head of the government for eight years, Mr. Jefferson for eight years, Mr. Madison for eight, Mr. Monroe for eight, General Jackson for eight, Mr. Van Buren (who, although a Northern man, was nominated and elected by the South while running against a Southern candidate) for four, Mr. Polk for four, Mr. Tyler (who, though elected by the Whigs, was bought up by the Democracy) for four, Mr. Pierce (who, like Mr. Van Buren, was nominated and elected by the Southern Democracy against a Southern candidate) for four, and Mr. Buchanan for four-making in all sixty years ; which was offsetted by twelve only on the part of the opposition to Democracy, to wit, John Adams for four, John Quincy Adams, four, and General Taylor and Mr. Fillmore, four; and, during the whole terms of the two latter, the Democracy had control of one or both of the two houses of Congress; and such had been the success of this minority, by the perfection of their organization and their system of rewards and punishments, that they grew bold, insolent, and insane in their demands, and, throwing off all disguise in an hour of weakness and madness in 1854, they repudiated all compromise, old and new, and planting themselves firmly on the doctrine of SQUATTER SOVEREIGNTY,'
19 which they had previously—and have again, since they found it did not pay as well as they expected-so indignantly repudiated, declared all compromises evasions or violations of the Constitution not to be tolerated for the future, fairly and squarely tendered the issue to the North, that the powers of the government must be absolutely and entirely in the hands and under the control of the majority or the minority, and that all efforts at compromise and conciliation would be held as an act of infidelity and hostility to the South. From that hour I saw that the South was doomed, and sacrificed to the unholy ambition of the leaders of Democracy; and the efforts I then made, in numerous appeals to my countrymen, to rise up in their strength and resist this act of insanity and mischief, only served to bring upon me such a storm of indignation, rebuke, and coarse abuse, as was never before or since vented on any public man in this country or elsewhere. Arnold himself was treated with tenderness and kindness in comparison. These cpithets emanated from all parties; and my own party, if possible, was more bitter than the rest; I was sustained by none, the fruits of which they have since and are now reaping. I must be excused for this partial repetition of what I have said in the foregoing pages, but I want to impress it strongly on the minds of the South, that they may see to whom they are so deeply indebted for their present terrible and afflicted condition.
Mr. Lincoln was elected in November, 1860. The climax had arrived, the pretext was afforded; and so proud am I of the position I then took, and have ever since maintained, that I hope I may stand excused for thus publicly washing my hands of all responsibility for what has ensued by here producing a portion of my correspondence on that question, beginning with November, 1860, and running down to the present time. The letter which follows was the first after the election. This correspondence was with a gentleman who was at the head of a spirited Democratic secession paper, which was published at the time in some few of the Southern papers.
Staunton, Nov. 20, 1860. MY DEAR MR. BOTTS, --You may perhaps regard me as both vain and intrusive thus to thrust before your notice the inefficient logic of an individual so entirely innocent of weight in the national councils as myself; but you will permit me to plead, as apology, the unusual and sincere interest which I feel in your own personal advancement as well as the public good, to say nothing about a wish to advise you of the error (which posterity will surely point at as the great blunder” of your life) into which your darling pet and mistress--the Union-has insensibly invited you. A mistress who, when you first embraced her, was comely, and worthy of your love, but has now become hideous and rotten, and only fit to be cast aside for any untried novelty.