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from posterity. The words "from a Southern standpoint" are not meant to indicate that this is a partisan book, or a work conceived in a spirit of hostility to other sections; they only mean that the War is viewed as the South has viewed and always will view it—as it was seen by those brave men of the South who were wounded for the transgressions not of the South, but of the whole nation; as the South confidently believes it will be viewed by future generations.
When the people of a great nation, who have lived together in amity, who have been happy and prosperous under the operation of beneficent institutions which they cherish with the warmest sentiments of love and pride— when such a people, enlightened, generous, ardent lovers of liberty, become estranged from one another, alienated in affection, divided into geographical sections by the conflict of geographical interests, it becomes them to consider seriously, but none the less frankly, whether it is better for the sections to separate in peace or to be held together by the sacrifice of the institutions of one section for the
aggrandizement of the other. This question of preserving her institutions, to which she had every right, or of sacrificing them and becoming subservient to the prosperity of the North, came to the people of the Southern States in 1860. If it appeared in a different aspect to the people of the North, it was not the first time in the history of the world that men, arrayed on opposite sides of a great political conflict, were animated respectively by the most exalted motives that can influence human action.
Before entering upon the narrative of the greatest internal struggle which history records, let us briefly trace the long conflict between the centripetal and centrifugal forces of the Union, in order that we may the more clearly comprehend the spirit which animated those who took part in that stupendous contest. The great centripetal force. has always been the spirit of American brotherhood and faith in American institutions. It was engendered by the
Revolution. It gained strength with the establishment of a general government, and the many blessings which that government brought. It grew into a conviction of the excellence of American institutions and inspired the most enlightened patriotism. This sentiment is deeprooted in the heart of every American of every State and every section. The great centrifugal force has always been the contest between the geographical sections for the balance of power. The dread of losing this balance of power delayed the completion of the Confederation through nearly the whole period of the Revolution, and nearly proved fatal to the adoption of the Constitution.
Previous to the War between the States the operation of these two forces had produced constant political strife. Sometimes these conflicts were bitter, but they always ended in conciliation and compromise. Thus, the whole framework of the Constitution and the laws of the United States was a series of compromises. All our institutions had been founded in conciliation. During the first fourteen years under the Constitution there were some causes of irritation between the geographical sections, some alternations of geographical influence, some friction of partisan politics. There had been, however, an acquiescence in the results which had agitated Washington's Cabinet. The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, never intended to be more than a protest, or party platform, had accomplished their purpose and brought about a change of administration.
If the United States had remained within the original limits there would have been no fear by any section that it would be tyrannized over by any other section; and the centripetal and centrifugal forces would have settled into equilibrium, disturbed only by the friction of conflicting interests.
With the acquisition of foreign territory in 1803 came prolific cause of sectional strife and serious apprehensions for the permanent disturbance of the balance of power between the sections. The violent opposition of New
England need not be recited. The speeches of New England senators in 1803, the subsequent famous speech of Josiah Quincy, the opposition to the measures of Jefferson and Madison, the Hartford Convention: all bear testimony to the dissatisfaction of New England at her temporary loss of power. Yet New England had nothing to fear. None of her institutions were threatened. No hardship was put upon her. She had no grievance except that the balance of power was lost and she had not a dominating voice in the affairs of the Union.
The West, just emerged from the period of the Spanish intrigues, became reconciled as New England became dissatisfied. The fortunate conclusion of the War of 1812 brought to an end the movement for secession in New England, and the thoughts of her statesmen were directed to finding new combinations to recover the lost balance of power. As the policy of acquiring foreign territory, which had been forced by the South had been the means of disturbing this balance; so the assimilation of this territory and its organization into States must be the means of restoring it. Then began the contest for the settlement of the Territories, which led to the slavery agitation.
The slavery agitation was injected into politics as a means of curbing the ascendency the South had so long maintained in the affairs of the government. It began with the unjust opposition of the North to the admission of Missouri as a State, it was temporarily allayed by the Missouri Compromise, but it laid the foundation of a partisan policy which was relentlessly pursued for many years, assuming various phases, and finally gaining such strength as to threaten and ultimately accomplish the destruction of the peculiar institution of the South.
At first the political leaders of the North disclaimed the intention of interfering with slavery in the States where it existed, but demanded the right to prevent its extension. This led to a contest over the government of the Territories, and the admission of States. It is needless to rehearse