Harper's Weekly 02/18/1865


THE AMENDMENT.

It can not be said that the Yankees do not
learn. When the war began, General Butler
offered his soldiers to repress movements of the
slaves. Generals Halleck and M`Clellan
made themselves disagreeably notorious in re-
pelling the best sources of information; and
from one end of the country to the other it was
agreed that it was a war for the Union only.
So it was; so it has been; so it will be to the
end. But that the Union and Slavery were
henceforth incompatible, and that the country
must choose the one or the other, was by no
means a general popular conviction.


At the opening of the fifth year of the war,
the country having thought the matter over, has
now seen what some men have always seen, that
Slavery in a Union like ours has been, and al-
ways must be, the root of civil war. Congress,
therefore, recommends the constitutional aboli-
tion of Slavery, and the country cries Amen!
This result has been so inevitable since the war
began that the only surprise now is the agree-
able one that the present Congress has done the
work.


As for the fifty-six members who voted against
the proposition it is difficult to speak with suffi-
cient condemnation or contempt. A system op-
posed to every divine law and humane instinct
obtains, under the conviction that it is rapidly
perishing, a foothold in the Union. Suddenly it
renews its life; swells into towering importance;
debauches and demoralizes the nation; controls
legislation by open threats; and finally loses its
absolute and universal ascendency in every de-
partment of the Government. Thereupon it or-
ganizes a fierce conspiracy, and for four years
tries to destroy the nation. At last the nation
decides to remove it, and fifty-six representa-
tives resist upon the incredible ground that it is
an inopportune time; that the public mind is
excited; and that the rebels themselves do not
share in the legislation for its extinction. Ac-
cording to this extraordinary theory, when a pa-
tient lies in mortal peril from a fever contracted
in the fetid air of his chamber, it is better to
wait until he is cured before the room is venti-
lated. The absurdity would be irresistible if the
folly were not criminal.


A body of fifty-six Charles Firsts of England,
or as many Charles Tenths of France, is the
only parallel we can imagine for this ludicrous
group of American citizens. Neither the French
nor the English Charles would ever believe that
the people were in earnest. Neither the Bour-
bon nor the Stuart could learn any thing from
arguments or from blows. And this faction in
the free States, which moribund Slavery leads
by the nose, is at once the Jacobin and Jacobite
element in our politics; Jacobin in its appeals
to all that is most dastardly in human nature,
and Jacobite in its tenacious clutch upon what-
ever denies the original rights of men.


For the last twenty years events have been
trying the public men of this country until the
very dregs at last appear. It is the most ter-
rible record of the century. An honorable
man hereafter would a thousandfold rather say
that his ancestor voted against separation from
Great Britain than that he voted against giving
a lawful, peaceful chance of freedom to the
slaves in America. The fortunes made in the
slave-trade is popularly held to be tainted; but
what shall be said of the reputation made by
solemnly voting against the legal removal of the
inhuman atrocities of Slavery?



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