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Important meeting. -War accepted. - President's message. — Undefined policy on the slavery issue. Hopeful. - Report of Secretary of War. - Great and rapid increase of the army. - Congratulations. discouragement. - Sanitary agencies.


- Bull Run.

Escaping slaves.


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No ground for - Report of Navy.

Wide field. Large additions.

Three lines of operations. Report of Treasury. - Elaborate. success in raising means. come tax.

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- Plans announced and reasons. Great

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National banks. — Unfounded expectations. - Hopes.

Ir is to express the thought tamely to say that the American Congress never assembled under circumstances more profoundly solemn and significant than when it came together on the 2d of December, 1861,-never when questions more pregnant and difficult of solution were to be answered. A year previous it had met at a time, perhaps, of more vivid alarm and immediate anxiety in view of the approaching tempest, whose mutterings, yet at a distance, were rapidly advancing. At the special session in July the storm had, indeed, burst; but, as compared with subsequent developments, it was of small dimensions and slight severity, hardly more than a premonition and menace of approaching danger,—the skirmish of the advance-guard of the army behind, while of the size of that army, and of the duration of the war it was inaugurating, men knew nothing, and scarcely dared conjecture; though, it may be added, their wildest apprehensions fell far short of the actuality afterward realized.

Now the war had not only been declared, but had been in progress two thirds of a year. The people, having gradually though reluctantly relinquished all idea of further compromise,

had been forced to the conclusion that what could not be settled by diplomacy must be submitted to the arbitrament of the sword, and that the war must now be fought to the bitter end. There had been battles, too, whose unsuccessful results had greatly increased the general solicitude, and deepened impressions of danger, and of the magnitude of the work in hand. The character of the war was becoming more and more apparent, the real issues involved more plainly seen, the posi tions of those who claimed neutrality more manifestly untenable, and the impossibility of saving the Union, and at the same time protecting slavery, which was seeking its destruction, was seen to be increasingly evident. În seeking, therefore, peace, and a practical solution of the troublesome questions at issue, the minds of the dominant party had taken more intelligent views of the great controversy, and were reaching more or less rapidly two positions which were new, startling, and in the minds of many subversive not only of the hitherto avowed policy of the war, but of the very principles of constitutional government. These two positions were, first, the assumption that slavery was the cause of the trouble, that its interests were of secondary importance, and that it should be treated as subordinate to the higher claims of the country and its preservation; and, second, that the Constitution was of less importance than the Union, that the infractions of the former were less perilous than the rupture of the latter, and that the provisions of even the organic law of the government must be silent in the presence of the supreme law of the nation's safety. But this was untrodden ground, and opened an unexplored region, where they were compelled to move without the lights of precedents or the landmarks of former legislation. That they made mistakes, both the President and Congress, that they did not always see alike may be readily admitted without calling in question either their honesty or their sagacity. No wisdom, unless more than human, was adequate to the fearful exigencies through which they were passing.

The message of the President was particularly calm and dispassionate. Much of it would have been entirely appropri

ate to times of profoundest peace; though he did not, of course, ignore the subject that was uppermost in every mind. Referring to Rebel efforts to secure foreign recognition, he spoke of "the ruin of our country offered" by disloyal citizens for "the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad" as having "received less encouragement and patronage than they probably expected." Of the promptness of the people in furnishing men for the army he expressed his great gratification, affirming that "the number of troops tendered greatly exceeds the force authorized by Congress"; while he spoke of the operations of the Treasury as "having been conducted with signal success." Of naval affairs he spoke hopefully, adding "that it may almost be said a navy has been created and brought into service since our difficulties commenced." Referring to slaves who, having been freed by the confiscation act passed at the special session, "must be provided for in some way," and to the possibility that others might be released by similar enactments in some of the States, and "thrown on them for disposal," he recommended that some plan of colonization should be formed for them, as also for any other "free people of color already in the United States." Concerning the policy of freeing the slaves of Rebel owners, though saying that "the Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed," he added, as very clearly indicating the drift of his thought and purposes upon the subject: "We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable," so fearfully did the Southern Unionists, at least large numbers of them, embarrass the government in that hour of supreme peril. Though their loyalty depended so largely on the conservation of the slave system, it was deemed in the highest degree important to conciliate and commit them to the Union cause. And yet to do it required a course upon the part of the government that seemed to many equivocal and vacillating, breathing too much of policy and too little of principle, as ready to surrender the just claims and primal rights of the many to the imperious and wicked demands of the few.

Saying that "the war continues," and that "the last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault upon Fort Sumter," he added: "What was painfully uncertain then is much better defined and more distinct now; and the progress of events is now in the right direction." He referred to the strong hopes entertained by the Rebels of Northern aid, and the fears of the friends of the Union on the same point, as having been "settled definitely and on the right side." He spoke of the struggles in the three States of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, "neither of which would promise a single soldier at first," and of their having "now an aggregate of not less than forty thousand in the field for the Union." Saying that there was "no armed insurrectionist north of the Potomac, or east of the Chesapeake," and that "the cause of the Union is advancing steadily and certainly southward," he closed with these preg nant words: "The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also. With reliance on Provi dence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us."

The report of the Secretary of War not only contained the statistical facts and figures that set forth the condition of the army, its wonderfully rapid growth, and its necessities still unsupplied, but it communicated information and statements, though couched in the prosaic language of a public document, in the highest degree suggestive and sentimental even. Indeed, there is hardly anything in the range of literature more poetic than the simple figures of the Secretary. Thus, after saying that at the opening of the Rebellion the entire military force at the disposal of the government consisted of sixteen thousand and six men, mostly employed at the West, he announced that "we have now an army of upwards of six hundred thousand men." "In April," he said, "seventy-five thousand volunteers were called upon to enlist for three months' service, and responded with such alacrity that seventy-seven thousand eight hundred and seventy-five were immediately obtained. Under the authority of the act of Congress of July 22, 1861, the States were asked to furnish five hundred thousand volun

teers to serve for three years, or during the war; and by the act approved the 29th of the same month, the addition of twenty-five thousand men to the regular army was authorized." Indeed, so grandly had the country responded that he was enabled to add, "the aggregate force furnished the government, since April last, exceeds seven hundred thousand men." It was with justifiable pride he could add: "We have here an evidence of the wonderful strength of our institutions. Without conscriptions, levies, drafts, or other extraordinary expedients, we have raised a greater force than that which, gathered by Napoleon with the aid of all these appliances, was considered an evidence of his wonderful genius and energy, and of the military spirit of the French nation. Here every man has an interest in the government, and rushes to its defence when dangers beset it. . . . . So thoroughly aroused was the national heart that I have no doubt this force would have been swollen to a million had not the Department felt compelled to restrict it, in the absence of authority from the representatives of the people to increase the limited number." He referred to the effective aid he had received from the "loyal governors," and of "the creditable degree of discipline" the troops had attained in "the short time since they engaged in the pursuits of peace." Describing the magnitude of the conspiracy, "extending over more than seven hundred thousand square miles, with a coast line of three thousand five hundred and twenty-three miles, and a shore line of twenty-five thousand four hundred and fourteen miles, with an interior boundary line of seven thousand and thirty-one miles in length," he added that the effort to restore the Union, "entered on in April last, was the most gigantic endeavor in the history of civil war." He spoke of the "first successes" of the insurgents as resulting from "obvious causes," and of the disaster at Bull Run as "the natural consequence of the premature advance of our brave but undisciplined troops, which the impatience of the country demanded," but as begetting "no discouragement to our gallant people," stimulating, the rather, the massing of a mighty army "eager to precipitate itself upon the foe." The check on the Potomac, he said,

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