Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

and Kentucky, for example, there was civil war, waged by inhabitants of those States against their local governments, as well as against the United States; and nobody contends that the rights and privileges of those States were forfeited by the criminal acts of their citizens. But the real strength of the Rebellion consisted in this, that it was not a rebellion against States, but a rebellion by States. No loose assemblage of individuals, though numbering hundreds of thousands, could long have resisted the pressure of the Federal power and the power of the State governments. They would have had no means of subsistence except those derived from plunder and voluntary contributions, and they would have lacked the military organization by which mobs are transformed into formidable armies. But the Rebellion being one of States, being virtually decreed by the people of States assembled in convention, was sustained by the two tremendous governmental powers of taxation and conscription. The willing and the unwilling were thus equally placed at the disposition of a strong government. The population and wealth of the whole immense region of country in which the Rebellion prevailed were at the service of this government. So completely was it a rebellion of States, that the universal excuse of the minority of original Union men for entering heartily into the contest after it had once begun was, that they thought it their duty to abide by the decision, and share the fortunes, of their respective States. Nobody at the South believed at the time the war commenced, or during its progress, that his State possessed any "continuous right to a participation in the privileges of the Federal Constitution, the obligations of which it had repudiated. When confident of success, the Southerner scornfully scouted the mere suspicion of entertaining such a degrading notion; when assured of defeat, his only thought was to "get his State back into the Union on the best terms that could be made." The idea of "conditions

of readmission was as firmly fixed in the Southern as in the Northern mind. If the politicians of the South now adopt the principle that the Rebel States have not, as States, ever altered their relations to the Union, they do it from policy, finding that its adoption will give them "better terms " than they ever dreamed of getting before the President of the United States taught them that it would be more politic to bully than to plead.

In the last analysis, indeed, the theory of the minority of the Reconstruction Committee reduces the Rebel States to mere abstractions. It is plain that a State, in the concrete, is constituted by that portion of the inhabitants who form its legal people; and that, in passing back of its government and constitution, we reach a convention of the legal people as its ultimate expression. By such conventions the acts of secession were passed; and, as far as the people of the Rebel States could do it, they destroyed their States considered as organized communities forming a part of the United States. The claim of the United States to authority over the territory and inhabitants was of course not affected by these acts; but in what condition did they place the people? Plainly in the condition of rebels, engaged in an attempt to overturn the Constitution and government of the United States. As the whole force of the people in each of the Rebel communities was engaged in this work, the whole of the people were rebels and public enemies. Nothing was left, in each case, but an abstract State, without any external body, and as destitute of people having a right to enjoy the privileges of the Constitution as if the territory had been swept clean of population by a pestilence. It is, then, only this abstract State which has a right to representation in Congress. But how can there be a right to representation when there is nobody to be represented? All this may appear puerile, but the puerility is in the premises as well as in the logical deductions; and the premises are laid down as in

disputable constitutional principles by the eminent jurists who supply ideas for the National Union Party.

moderate, lenient, almost timid, and which, by the omission of impartial suffrage, fall very far below the requireThe doctrine of the unconditional ments of the average sentiment of the right of the Rebel States to representa- loyal nation, are still denounced by the tion being thus a demonstrated absurd- new party of "Union" as the work of ity, the only question relates to the furious radicals, bent on destroying the conditions which Congress proposes to rights of the States. Thus Governor impose. Certainly these conditions, as James L. Orr of South Carolina, a embodied in the constitutional amend- leading Rebel, pardoned into a Johnment which has passed both houses by sonian Union man, implores the people such overwhelming majorities, are the of that region to send delegates to the mildest ever exacted of defeated ene- Philadelphia Convention, on the ground mies by a victorious nation. There is that its purpose is to organize “connot a distinctly "radical" idea in the servative" men of all sections and parwhole amendment,—nothing that Pres- ties, "to drive from power that radical ident Johnson has not himself, within party who are daily trampling under a comparatively recent period, stamped foot the Constitution, and fast convertwith his high approbation. Does it or- ing a constitutional Republic into a dain universal suffrage? No. Does it consolidated despotism." The terms to ordain impartial suffrage? No. Does which South Carolina is asked to subit proscribe, disfranchise, or expatriate mit, before she can be made the equal the recent armed enemies of the coun- of Ohio or New York in the Union, are try, or confiscate their property? No. stated to be "too degrading and huIt simply ordains that the national debt miliating to be entertained by a freeshall be paid and the Rebel debt repu- man for a single instant." When we diated; that the civil rights of all perconsider that this "radical party" consons shall be maintained; that Reb- stitutes nearly four fifths of the legal els who have added perjury to treason legislature of the nation, that it was shall be disqualified for office; and that the party which saved the country from the Rebel States shall not have their dismemberment while Mr. Orr and his political power in the Union increased friends were notoriously engaged in by the presence on their soil of per- trampling the Constitution under sons to whom they deny political rights, foot," and that the man who denounces but that representation shall be based it owes his forfeited life to its clemency, throughout the Republic on voters, and the astounding insolence of the imnot on population. The pith of the peachment touches the sublime. Here whole amendment is in the last clause ; is confessed treason inveighing against and is there anything in that to which tried loyalty, in the name of the Constireasonable objection can be made? tution it has violated and the law it Would it not be a curious result of the has broken! But why does Mr. Orr war against Rebellion, that it should think the terms of South Carolina's end in conferring on a Rebel voter in restored relations to the Union "too South Carolina a power equal, in na- degrading and humiliating to be entertional affairs, to that of two loyal voters tained by a freeman for a single inin New York? Can any Democrat stant"? Is it because he wishes to have the face to assert that the South have the Rebel debt paid? Is it beshould have, through its disfranchised cause he desires to have the Federal negro freemen alone, a power in the debt repudiated? Is it because he Electoral College and in the national thinks it intolerable that a negro should House of Representatives equal to that have civil rights? Is it because he reof the States of Ohio and Indiana com- sents the idea that breakers of oaths, bined? like himself, should be disqualified from Yet these conditions, so conciliatory, having another opportunity of forswear


ing themselves? Is it because he considers that a white Rebel freeman of South Carolina has a natural right to exercise double the political power of a white loyal freeman of Massachusetts? He must return an affirmative answer to all these questions in order to make it out that his State will be degraded and humiliated by ratifying the amendment; and the necessity of the measure is therefore proved by the motives known to prompt the attacks of its vilifiers.

The insolence of Mr. Orr is not merely individual, but representative. It is the result of Mr. Johnson's attempt "to produce harmony between the two sections," by betraying the section to which he owed his election. Had it not been for his treachery, there would have been little difficulty in settling the terms of peace, so as to avoid all causes for future war; but, from the time he quarrelled with Congress, he has been the great stirrer-up of disaffection at the South, and the virtual leader of the Southern reactionary party. Every man at the South who was prominent in the Rebellion, every man at the North who was prominent in aiding the Rebellion, is now openly or covertly his partisan, and by fawning on him earns the right to defame the representatives of the people by whom the Rebellion was put down. Among traitors and Copperheads the fear of punishment has been succeeded by the hope of revenge; elation is on faces which the downfall of Richmond overcast; and a return to the old times, when a united South ruled the country by means of a divided North, is confidently expected by the whole crew of political bullies and political sycophants whose profit is in the abasement of the nation. It is even said that, if the majority of the "Rump" Congress cannot be overcome by fair means, it will be by foul; and there are noisy partisans of the President who assert that he has in him a Cromwellian capacity for dealing with legislative assemblies whose notions of the public good clash with his own. In

short, we are promised, on the assembling of the next Congress, a coup d'état.

Garret Davis, of Kentucky, was, we believe, the first to announce this executive remedy for the "radical" disease of the state, and it has since been often prescribed by Democratic politicians as a sovereign panacea. General McClernand, indeed, proposed a scheme, simpler even than that of executive recognition, by which the Southern Senators and Representatives might effect a lodgment in Congress. They should, according to him, have gone to Washington, entered the halls of legislation, and proceeded to occupy their seats, "peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must"; but the record of General McClernand, as a military man, was not such as to give to his advice on a question of carrying positions by assault a high degree of authority, and, there being some natural hesitation in following his counsel, the golden opportunity was lost. Mr. Montgomery Blair, who professes his willingness to act with any men, "Rebels or any one else," to put down the radicals, is never weary of talking to conservative conventions of "two Presidents and two Congresses." There can be no doubt that the project of a coup d'état has become dangerously familiar to the "conservative" mind, and that the eminent legal gentlemen of the North who are publishing opinions affirming the right of the excluded Southern representatives to their seats are playing into the hands of the desperate gang of unscrupulous politicians who are determined to have the right established by force. It is computed that the gain, in the approaching elections, of twenty-five districts now represented by Union Republicans, will give the Johnson party, in the next Congress, a majority of the House of Representatives, should the Southern delegations be counted; and it is proposed that the Johnson members legally entitled to seats should combine with the Southern pretenders to seats, organize as the House of Representatives

of the United States, and apply to the President for recognition. Should the President comply, he would be impeached by an unrecognized House before an "incomplete Senate, and, if convicted, would deny the validity of the proceeding. The result would be civil war, in which the name of the Federal government would be on the side of the revolutionists. Such is the programme which is freely discussed by partisans of the President, considered to be high in his favor; and the scheme, it is contended, is the logical result of the position he has assumed as to the rights of the excluded States to representation. It is certain that the present Congress is as much the Congress of the United States as he is the President of the United States; but it is well known that he considers himself to represent the whole country, while he thinks that Congress only represents a portion of it; and he has in his character just that combination of qualities, and is placed in just those anomalous circumstances, which lead men to the commission of great political crimes. The mere hint of the possibility of his attempting a coup d'état is received by some Republicans with a look of incredulous surprise; yet what has his administration been to such persons but a succession of surprises?

But whatever view may be taken of the President's designs, there can be no doubt that the safety, peace, interest, and honor of the country depend on the success of the Union Republicans in the approaching elections. The loyal nation must see to it that the Fortieth Congress shall be as competent to override executive vetoes as the ThirtyNinth, and be equally removed from the peril of being expelled for one more in harmony with Executive ideas. The same earnestness, energy, patriotism, and intelligence which gave success to the war, must now be exerted to reap its fruits and prevent its recurrence. The only danger is, that, in some representative districts, the people may be swindled by plausibilities

and respectabilities; for when, in political contests, any great villany is contemplated, there are always found some eminently respectable men, with a fixed capital of certain eminently conservative phrases, innocently ready to furnish the wolves of politics with abundant supplies of sheep's clothing. These dignified dupes are more than usually active at the present time; and the gravity of their speech is as edifying as its emptiness. Immersed in words, and with no clear perception of things, they mistake conspiracy for conservatism. Their pet horror is the term "radical"; their ideal of heroic patriotism, the spectacle of a great nation which allows itself to be ruined with decorum, and dies rather than commit the slightest breach of constitutional etiquette. This insensibility to facts and blindness to the tendency of events, they call wisdom and moderation. Behind these political dummies are the real forces of the Johnson party, men of insolent spirit, resolute will, embittered temper, and unscrupulous purpose, who clearly know what they are after, and will hesitate at no "informality" in the attempt to obtain it. To give these persons political power will be to surrender the results of the war, by placing the government practically in the hands of those against whom the war was waged. No smooth words about "the equality of the States," "the necessity of conciliation," "the wickedness of sectional conflicts," will alter the fact, that, in refusing to support Congress, the people would set a reward on treachery and place a bounty on treason. "The South," says a Mr. Hill of Georgia, in a letter favoring the Philadelphia Convention, "sought to save the Constitution out of the Union. She failed. Let her now bring her diminished and shattered, but united and earnest counsels and energies to save the Constitution in the Union." The sort of Constitution the South sought to save by warring against the government is the Constitution which she now proposes to save by administering it! Is

this the tone of pardoned and penitent treason? Is this the spirit to build up a "National Union Party"? No; but it is the tone and spirit now fashionable in the defeated Rebel States, and will not be changed until the autumn elec

tions shall have proved that they have as little to expect from the next Congress as from the present, and that they must give securities for their future conduct before they can be relieved from the penalties incurred by their past.



A Novel. By WILKIE COLLINS. New York: Harper and Brothers.

EXCEPT for the fact that there is nothing at all automatic in his inventions, there seems to be no good reason why Mr. Collins should not make a perpetual motion. He has a surprising mechanical faculty, and great patience and skill in passing the figures he contrives through the programme arranged for them. Having read one of his novels, you feel as if you had been amused with a puppet-show of rare merit, and you would like to have the ingenious mechanician before the curtain. So much cleverness, however, seems to be thrown away on the entertainment of a single evening, and you sigh for its application to some work of more lasting usefulness; and the perpetual motion occurs to you as the thing worthiest such powers. Let it be a perpetual literary motion, if the public please. Given a remarkable dream and a beautiful bad woman to fulfil it; you have but to amplify the vision sufficiently, and your beautiful bad woman goes on fulfilling it forever in tens of thousands of volumes. As the brother of De Quincey said, when proposing to stand on the ceiling, head downwards, and be spun there like a whip-top, thus overcoming the attraction of gravitation by the mere rapidity of revolution, "If you can keep it up for an instant, you can keep it up all day." Alas! it is just at this point that the fatal defect of Mr. Collins's mechanism appears. But for the artisan's hand, the complicated work would not start at all, and we perceive that, if he lifted it for a moment from the crank, the painfully contrived dream would drop to pieces, and the beautiful bad woman would come to a jerky stand-still in the midst of her most atrocious development. A perpetual literary

motion is therefore out of the question, so far as Mr. Collins is concerned; and we can merely examine his defective machinery, with many a regret that a plan so ingenious, and devices so labored and costly, should be of no better effect.

We think, indeed, that all his stories are constructed upon a principle as false to art as it is false to life. In this world, we have first men and women, with certain wellknown good and evil passions, and these passions are the causes of all the events that happen in the world. We doubt if it has occurred to any of our readers to see a set of circumstances, even of the most relentless and malignant description, grouping themselves about any human being without the agency of his own love or hate. Yet this is what happens very frequently in Mr. Collins's novels, impoverishing and enfeebling his characters in a surprising degree, and reducing them to the condition of juiceless puppets without proper will or motion. It is not that they are all wanting in verisimilitude. Even the entirely wicked Miss Gwilt is a conceivable character; but, being des tined merely to fulfil Armadale's dream, she loses all freedom of action, and, we must say, takes most clumsy and hopeless and long-roundabout methods of accomplishing crimes, to which one would have thought a lady of her imputed sagacity would have found much shorter cuts. It is amazing and inartistic, however, that after all her awkwardness she should fail. Given a blockhead like Armadale, and a dreamer like Midwinter, there is no reason in nature, and no reason in art, why a lady of Miss Gwilt's advantages should not marry both of them; and the author's overruling on this point is more creditable to his heart than to his head. These three people are the chief persons of the story, and their

« ZurückWeiter »