Atlantic Monthly, Volume 10, Number 59, September, 1862

Part 5 out of 5

the more ridiculous. The babbling and bawling of the speakers about "the
rights of the South," and "the infamous Abolitionists who disgraced
Congress," were but faint echoes of the Confederate cannon which had
just ceased to carry death into the Union ranks. Both the speeches and
the cannon spoke hostility to the National Cause. The number of the
dead, wounded, "missing," and demoralized members of the great Army of
the Potomac exceeded, on that Tuesday evening, any army which the United
States had ever, before the present war, arrayed on any battle-field.
Jefferson Davis, on that evening, was safer at Richmond than Abraham
Lincoln was at Washington. A well-grounded apprehension, not only for
the "Union," but for the safety of loyal States, was felt on that
evening all over the North and West. It was, in fact, the darkest hour
in the whole annals of the Republic. Even the authorities at Washington
feared that the Army of the Potomac was destroyed. This was exactly the
time for the Honorable Mr. Wickliffe and the Honorable Mr. Brooks, for
the Honorable W. A. Duer and the Honorable Fernando Wood, to delight the
citizens of New York with their peculiar eloquence. This was the
appropriate occasion to stand up for the persecuted and down-trodden
South! This was the grand opportunity to assert the noble principle,
that, by the Constitution, every traitor had the right to be tried by a
jury of traitors! This was the time to dishonor all the New England
dead! This was the time to denounce the living worthies of New England!
Hang Jeff. Davis? Oh, yes! We all know that he is secure behind his
triumphant slayers of the real defenders of the Constitution and the
Union. Neither hangman nor Major-General can get near _him_. But Charles
Sumner is in our power. We can hang him easily. He has not two or four
hundred thousand men at his back. He travels alone and unattended. Do we
want a constitutional principle for combining the two men in one act of
treason? Here is a calm jurist,--here, gentlemen of the party of the
Constitution and the Laws, is the Honorable W. A. Duer. What does he
say? Simply this: "Hang Jeff. Davis and Charles Sumner." Davis we cannot
hang, but Sumner we can. Let us take one-half of his advice;
circumstances prevent us from availing ourselves of the whole. There is,
to be sure, no possibility of hanging Charles Sumner under any law known
to us, the especial champions of the laws. But what then? Don't you see
the Honorable W. A. Duer appeals, in this especial case, to "the higher
law" of the mob? Don't you see that he desires to shield Jeff. Davis by
weaving around his august person all the fine cobwebs of the Law, while
he proposes to have Sumner hanged on "irregular" principles, unknown to
the jurisprudence of Marshall and Kent?

But enough for the New York meeting. It was of no importance, except as
indicating the existence, and giving a blundering expression to the
objects, of one of the most malignant and unpatriotic factions which
this country has ever seen. The faction is led by a few cold-blooded
politicians universally known as the meanest sycophants of the South and
the most impudent bullies of the North; but they have contrived to array
on their side a considerable number of honest and well-meaning dupes by
a dexterous appeal to conservative prejudice and conservative passion,
so that hundreds serve their ends who would feel contaminated by their
companionship. Never before has Respectability so blandly consented to
become the mere instrument and tool of Rascality. The rogues trust to
inaugurate treason and anarchy under the pretence of being the special
champions of the Constitution and the Laws. Their real adherents are
culled from the most desperate and dishonest portions of our population.
They can hardly indite a leading article, or make a stump speech,
without showing their proclivities to mob-law. To be sure, if a known
traitor is informally arrested, they rave about the violation of the
rights of the citizen; but they think Lynch-law is good enough for
"Abolitionists." If a General is assailed as being over prudent and
cautious in his operations against the common enemy, they immediately
laud him as a Hannibal, a Caesar, and a Napoleon; they assume to be his
special friends and admirers; they adjure him to persevere in what they
conceive to be his policy of inaction; and, as he is a great master in
strategy, they hint that his best strategic movement would be a
movement, _ la_ Cromwell, on the Abolitionized Congress of the United
States. Disunion, anarchy, the violation of all law, the appeal to the
lowest and fiercest impulses of the most ignorant portions of the
Northern people,--these constitute the real stock-in-trade of "the
Hang-Jeff.-Davis-and-Charles-Sumner" party; but the thing is so managed,
that, formally, this party appears as the special champion of the Union,
the Constitution, and the Laws.

Those politicians who personally dislike the present holders of
political power, those politicians who think that the measures of
confiscation and emancipation passed by the Congress which has just
adjourned are both unjust and impolitic, unconsciously slide into the
aiders and abettors of the knaves they individually despise and
distrust. The "radicals" must, they say, at all events, be checked; and
they lazily follow the lead of the rascals. The rascals intend to ruin
the country. But then they propose to do it in a constitutional way. The
only thing, it seems, that a lawyer and a jurist can consider is Form.
If the country is dismembered, if all its defenders are slain, if the
Southern Confederacy is triumphant, not only at Richmond, but at
Washington and New York, if eight millions of people beat twenty
millions, and the greatest of all democracies ignominiously succumbs to
the basest of all aristocracies, the true patriots will still have the
consolation, that the defeat, the "damned defeat," occurred under the
strictest forms of Law. Better that ten Massachusetts soldiers should be
killed than that one negro should be illegally freed! Better that
Massachusetts should be governed by Jeff. Davis than that it should be
represented by such men as Charles Sumner and Henry Wilson, notoriously
hostile to the constitutional rights of the South! Subjection, in
itself, is bad; but the great American idea of local governments for
local purposes, and a general government for general purposes, still,
thank God! may survive it. To be sure, we may be beaten and enslaved,
The rascals, renegades, and liberticides may gain their object. This
object we shall ever contemn. But if they gain it fairly, under the
forms of the Constitution, it is the duty of all good citizens to
submit. Our Southern opponents, we acknowledge, committed some
"irregularities"; but nobody can assert, that, in dealing with them, we
deviated, by a hair's-breadth, from the powers intrusted to the
Government by the Fathers of the Republic. While the country is
convulsed by a rebellion unprecedented in the whole history of the
world, we are compelled by our principles to look upon it as lawyers,
and not as statesmen. We apply to it the same principles which our
venerated forefathers applied to Shay's Rebellion in Massachusetts and
the Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania. To be sure, the
"circumstances" are different; but we need not remind the philanthropic
inhabitants of our section of the country, that "principles are
eternal." We judge the existing case by these eternal principles. We may
fail, and fail ignominiously; but, in our failure, nobody can say that
we violated any sacred form of the ever-glorious Constitution of the
United States. The Constitution has in it no provisions to secure its
own existence by unconstitutional means. It is therefore our duty, as
lawyers as well as legislators, to allow the gentlemen who have
repudiated it, because they were defeated in an election, to enjoy all
its benefits. That they do not seem to appreciate these benefits, but
shoot, in a shockingly "irregular" manner, all who insist on imposing on
them its blessings, furnishes no reason why we should partake in their
guilt by violating its provisions. It is true that the Government
established by the Constitution may fall by a strict adherence to our
notions of the Constitution; but even in that event we shall have the
delicious satisfaction of contemplating it in memory as a beautiful
idea, after it has ceased to exist as a palpable fact. As the best
constitution ever devised by human wisdom, we shall always find a more
exquisite delight in meditating on the mental image of its perfect
features than in enjoying the practical blessings of any other
Government which may be established after it is dead and gone; and our
feeling regarding it can be best expressed in the words in which the
lyric poet celebrates his loyalty to the soul of the departed object of
his affection:--

"Though many a gifted mind we meet,
And fairest forms we see,
To live with them is far less sweet
Than to remember thee!"

It is fortunate both for our safety and the safety of the Constitution,
that these politico-sentimental gentlemen represent only a certain
theory of the Constitution, and not the Constitution itself. Their
leading defect is an incapacity to adjust their profound legal
intellects to the altered circumstances of the country. Any child in
political knowledge is competent to give them this important item of
political information,--that by no constitution of government ever
devised by human morality and intelligence were the rights of rascals so
secured as to give them the privilege of trampling on the rights of
honest men. Any child in political knowledge is competent to inform them
of this fundamental fact, underlying all laws and constitutions,--that,
if a miscreant attempts to cut your throat, you may resist him by all
the means which your strength and his weakness place in your power. Any
child in political knowledge is further competent to furnish them with
this additional bit of wisdom,--that every constitution of government
provides, under the war-power it confers, against its own overthrow by
rebels and by enemies. If rebels rise to the dignity and exert the power
of enemies, they can be proceeded against both as rebels and as enemies.
As rebels, the Government is bound to give them all the securities which
the Constitution may guaranty to traitors. As enemies, the Government is
restricted only by the vast and vague "rights of war," of which its own
military necessities must be the final judge.

"But," say the serene thinkers and scholars whom the rogues use as
mouthpieces, "our object is simply to defend the Constitution. We do not
believe that the Government has any of the so-called 'rights of war'
against the rebels. If Jefferson Davis has committed the crime of
treason, he has the same right to be tried by a jury of the district in
which his alleged crime was committed that a murderer has to be tried by
a similar jury. We know that Mr. Davis, in case the rebellion is
crushed, will not only be triumphantly acquitted, but will be sent to
Congress as Senator from Mississippi. This is mortifying in itself, but
it still is a beautiful illustration of the merits of our admirable
system of government. It enables the South to play successfully the
transparent game of 'Heads I win, tails you lose,' and so far must be
reckoned bad. But this evil is counterbalanced by so many blessings,
that nobody but a miserable Abolitionist will think of objecting to the
arrangement. We, on the whole, agree with the traitors, whose designs we
lazily aid, in thinking that Jeff. Davis and Charles Sumner are equally
guilty, in a fair estimate of the causes of our present misfortunes.
Hang both, we say; and we say it with an inward confidence that neither
will be hanged, if the true principles of the Constitution be carried

The political rogues and the class of honest men we have referred to
are, therefore, practically associated in one party to oppose the
present Government. The rogues lead; the honest men follow. If this new
party succeeds, we shall have the worst party in power that the country
has ever known. Buchanan as President, and Floyd as Secretary of War,
were bad enough. But Buchanan and Floyd had no large army to command, no
immense material of war to direct. As far as they could, they worked
mischief, and mischief only. But their means were limited. The
Administration which will succeed that of Abraham Lincoln will have
under its control one of the largest and ablest armies and navies in the
world. Every general and every admiral will be compelled to obey the
orders of the Administration. If the Administration be in the hands of
secret traitors, the immense military and naval power of the country
will be used for its own destruction. A compromise will be patched up
with the Rebel States. The leaders of the rebellion will be invited back
to their old seats of power. A united South combined with a Pro-slavery
faction in the North will rule the nation. And all this enormous evil
will be caused by the simplicity of honest men in falling into the trap
set for them by traitors and rogues.


_The Tariff-Question, considered in Regard to the Policy of England and
the Interests of the United States; with Statistical, and Comparative
Tables_. By ERASTUS B. BIGELOW. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. 4to.

Under this modest title, the American public is presented with a work of
uncommon research, and of great practical utility and value. Its author
is well known as a skilful and most successful inventor, in whose
admirable power-looms nearly all the carpets of the world are now woven.
On the subject of manufactures few can speak with more authority,
whether in reference to its general bearings or its minute details. The
work before us affords ample proof of his ability to discuss one of the
most important questions in political economy.

The hundred pages of text are followed by two hundred and thirty-four
pages of tabular statistics. This large and well-arranged body of
invaluable information, though styled an appendix, was, in fact, the
precursor of the argument, and constitutes the solid base on which it
rests. These tables are "not mere copies or abstracts, but the result of
labored and careful selection, comparison, and combination." In this
treasury of facts, derived for the most part from official records, the
commercial and industrial interests of the United States and of England,
especially, are presented in all their most important aspects and
relations. The amount of information here given is immense; and knowing,
as we do, the scrupulous care of the collector, we cannot doubt its
accuracy. Independently of its connection with the author's argument,
this feature of the work cannot fail to give it value and a permanent
place in every library, office, counting-room, and workshop of the

In his discussion of the tariff question, Mr. Bigelow assumes it as a
settled principle of national policy that revenue should be raised by
duties on imports. To clear the ground from ambiguity, he states exactly
what he means when he uses the terms "free-trade" and "protection," and
then proceeds to describe and explain the tariff-policy of Great
Britain. Not without good reason does he give this prominence to the
action of that great power. It is not merely that England stands at the
head of manufacturing and commercial nations, or that our
business-connections with her are intimate and extensive. The fact which
makes English policy so important an element in the discussion is found
in the persistent and too often successful efforts of that country to
shape American opinion and legislation on questions of manufacture and
trade. Nowhere else have we seen the utter fallacy of the free-trade
argument, as urged by Great Britain on other countries upon the strength
of her own successful example, so clearly shown. The nature, object,
extent, and motive of the tariff-reforms effected by Sir Robert Peel and
Mr. Gladstone are made plain, not only by the quoted explanations of
those statesmen, but by statistical facts and figures. Until she had
carried her manufactures to a height of prosperity where competition
could no longer touch them, England was, of all nations, the most
protective. Then she became of a sudden wondrously liberal. Her
protective laws were abolished, and, with a mighty show of generosity,
she opened her ports to the commerce of the world. Foreign producers
were magnanimously told that they could send their goods freely into
England at a time when English manufactures were underselling and
supplanting theirs in their own markets. The sacrifice of duties
actually made by England on foreign manufactures, and which she paraded
before the world as a reason why other nations should imitate and
reciprocate her action, amounted, as we learn from the work before us,
to this immense annual sum of two hundred and eighteen thousand dollars,
being "less than one-fourth part of the tax which Englishmen annually
pay for the privilege of keeping their dogs!"

It is true that the exports and trade of England have increased with
extraordinary rapidity since 1853, and that the free-trade economists of
that country ascribe this great prosperity in large degree to their
alleged reforms. That they have no good ground for such a representation
is shown conclusively by Mr. Bigelow. During the same period, France,
with high protection, and the United States, with moderate protection,
made equal or even greater advances. The causes of this increased
prosperity must, therefore, have been general in their nature and
influence. The progress of invention and discovery, and the increased
supply of gold, are mentioned by the author as among the most efficient.

The immense extent and vast importance of English manufactures, and
especially of the cotton-manufacture, are fully unfolded, and we cannot
wonder at the earnest and unceasing efforts of that country to preserve
and to extend this great interest. This necessity is strikingly evinced
in the section on "The Dependent Condition of England." We can only
allude to this part of the argument, as full of striking suggestions,
and as showing that in some very important respects England is the most
dependent of all countries, and that the continued maintenance of her
life and power rests on the maintenance of her manufacturing supremacy.
In the section headed "Efforts of England to extend her Manufactures,"
we have some curious and instructive history, and we specially commend
this part of the work to those who have been accustomed to lend a
willing ear to British talk on the subjects of protection and

Mr. Bigelow devotes a short, but graphic and comprehensive, section to
the "Condition and Resources of the United States." "The Tariffs of the
United States," their merits and defects, are briefly considered. His
"Reasons in Favor of a Protective Policy" leave, as it seems to us, very
little to be said on the other side. From a multitude of passages which
we have been tempted to quote, we select the following, as a not
unfavorable specimen of the work:--

"War is an evil to which we are always liable, and shall continue to be
liable, until the Millennium comes. With reference to this always
existent danger, no nation which is not willing to be trampled on can
safely take its position on Quaker ground. That the possible event may
not find us unprepared, we build fortresses and war-ships, and maintain
armies and artillery at vast expense. No one but the mere visionary
denies the propriety or the necessity of this. Yet it is demonstrable
that a nation about to be involved in war will find a well-developed
industrial and productive power of more real value than any or than all
of the precautionary measures above mentioned; since, without such
power, neither forts nor armies can long be sustained.

"It is obvious that the doctrine of free-trade (I mean, of course,
genuine free-trade, and not the British counterfeit) ignores the
probability, if not, indeed, the possibility of war. Could peace,
perpetual and universal, be guarantied to the world, the argument
against protection would possess a degree of strength, which, as things
now are, does not and cannot belong to it. May it not be well for us to
consider, whether, on the whole, we can do better than to take things as
they are, by conforming our national policy, not to an imaginary era of
universal peace and philanthropy, but to the hard and selfish world in
which we happen to live?

"Lest this remark should be misinterpreted, I disclaim all intent to
intimate that men acting in communities are released from those
obligations of morality and justice which bind them as individuals. As
civilization advances and mankind become more enlightened and virtuous,
the beneficial change cannot fail to show itself in the public councils
of the world, and in the kinder and broader spirit that will animate and
control the intercourse of nations. Meanwhile, let us not expect to find
in collective humanity the disinterested goodness which is so rarely
exhibited by the individual members. Let us rather assume that other
nations will act, in the main, on selfish principles; and let us shape
our own course as a nation in accordance with that presumption. Few, I
think, will call this uncharitable, when they recall to mind our own
experience during the year past. Why were so many among us surprised and
disappointed at the course pursued by the English, generally, in
reference to our domestic difficulties? Simply because they forgot,
that, with the mass of mankind, self-interest is a far stronger motive
than philanthropy. That England should sympathize, even in the slightest
degree, with a rebellious conspiracy against a kindred and friendly
nation,--a conspiracy based openly and confessedly on the extension and
perpetuity of an institution--which Englishmen everywhere professed to
regard with the deepest abhorrence,--was certainly very inconsistent;
but it was not at all strange. In fact, it was precisely the thing which
we might expect would happen under the circumstances. Those who made the
mistake have learned a lesson in human nature which should prevent them
from repeating the blunder."

From the past opinions and present condition of our Southern States, and
from the history of the war thus far, the author strongly argues the
necessity of a policy designed and fitted to build up a diversified
industry and a vigorous productive power. In regard to the degree of
protection, he advocates no more than is necessary to equalize
advantages. In consequence of her abundant capital, lower rate of
interest, and cheaper labor, England can manufacture at less cost than
we can; and this disadvantage can be counteracted only by protective
legislation. The benefits which have accrued to the manufacturers of
England from a governmental policy on whose stability they could rely,
the advantage of a long and firmly established business with all its
results of experience and skill, and the collateral aid of a widely
extended commerce, are points clearly brought out and presented to the
consideration of American economists.

But our limits forbid that we should attempt any further exposition of
this excellent work. The section on "Free Trade" cannot fail to arrest
attention, and that upon "The Harmony of Interests among the States" is
full of common sense inspired by the broadest patriotism.

Our imperfect abstract gives but a meagre notion of the fulness and
completeness of this admirable work. It will accomplish its object, if
it send the reader to the book itself. The appearance of the volume is
timely. Events and circumstances have prepared the minds of our
countrymen to understand and to appreciate the argument. The book cannot
fail to diffuse sounder views of the great topics which it discusses,
and will exert, we trust, a beneficial influence on the legislation of
the country.

_The Slave-Power; its Character, Career, and Probable Designs: being an
Attempt to explain the Real Issue involved in the American Contest_. By
J. E. CAIRNES, M. A, London: Parker, Son, & Bourn. 8vo.

This book, which is dedicated to John Stuart Mill, and is in excellent
keeping with that writer's article on "The Civil War in America,"
deserves a respectful and even cordial welcome from the people of this
country. It has grown out of a course of university-lectures on
North-American Slavery, more especially considered in its economical
aspects. But the author has been led to enlarge his view, and has
brought before the public one of the most significant works that have
yet appeared on this momentous subject. So far as the treatise is a
speculative one, it has an interest for all inquirers. So far as it is
intended to influence or modify the current estimate of the great
conflict in this country, it bears more directly on the people of
England; but, unless we have determined neither to seek nor to miss the
sympathy of intelligent Englishmen, we ought to hail so manly and
powerful an attempt to correct the errors which prevail in the
mother-country. We do not undertake at this time to subscribe to
everything we find in this book, nor are we now about to criticize its
contents. Our wish is to introduce it to our readers as a comforting
proof that there is a leaven yet working among our English kinsmen which
it would be extremely unjust in us not to recognize. We quote an English
critic, who says:--"The work is exceedingly able, as well as exceedingly
opportune. It will do much to arrest the extraordinary tide of sympathy
with the South which the clever misrepresentations of Southern advocates
have managed to set running in this country, and to imprint the picture
of a modern slave-community on the imagination of thoughtful men."
Professor Cairnes sets himself at the start against the endeavor to
refer this great crisis to superficial and secondary causes. He pierces
the question to the core, and finds there what has too often been
studiously kept out of sight, the cancer of Slavery. Acknowledging what
has been so diligently harped upon, that the motive of the war is not
the overthrow of the slave-power, he still insists that Slavery is the
cause of the war. This he attempts to establish historically and
economically; nor does he leave the subject without a searching look
into Southern society and a prospective glance at the issues of the
contest. He has freely consulted American authorities, most of which are
familiar to many of our readers; he has also turned to good account the
reports of open-eyed English travellers, and the opinions of sensible
French writers, not overlooking the remarkably clear narrative of our
political history in the "Annuaire des Deux Mondes" for 1860. He handles
his materials with great skill, and, in a word, has brought to bear on
his difficult subject an amount of good sense and sound thought quite
remarkable in a foreigner who is dealing with the complex politics of a
distant country.

Professor Cairnes, in opposition to the Southern doctrine proclaimed at
home and abroad, views the present rebellion as unconstitutional, and as
therefore amenable to the usual tests by which a revolutionary movement
is justified or condemned. He refers to the manner in which the English
people allowed their sympathies "to be carried, under the skilful
management of Southern agency acting through the press, round to the
Southern side"; and while he admires the spectacle of a people rising
"for no selfish object, but to maintain the integrity of their common
country, and to chastise a band of conspirators, who, in the wantonness
of their audacity, had dared to attack it," he attributes the "cold
criticism and derision" of the English public to a shallow, but natural,
misconception of the real issue. So far as in him lies, he does not
intend that the case shall be so misconceived any longer. Without
declaring himself an advocate or apologist of American democracy, he
warmly pleads that democracy ought not to bear the burdens of
oligarchy,--that the faults and mistakes in the policy of this country
ought not all to be laid at the door of the present National Government,
and thus redound to the benefit of its Southern foes, when so many of
those faults and mistakes were committed under the sway of the very
class in whose behalf they are now quoted. Our sensitive countrymen, who
have so keenly smarted under English indifference or hostility, may
console themselves with the thought that there is one Englishman of
undoubted ability and sincerity who calls the Southern Confederation
"the opprobrium of the age."

Near the close of the volume the author strives to penetrate the
darkness which hangs over the present conflict. He does not think "that
the North is well advised in its attempt to reconstruct the Union in its
original proportions." He would have the North supported in striving for
"a degree of success which shall compel the South to accept terms of
separation, such as the progress of civilization in America and the
advancement of human interests throughout the world imperatively
require." The terms of his proposed settlement we have not room here to

With this hasty notice, and without any attempt at criticism, we dismiss
a thoughtful and interesting book, which, however in some particulars it
may fail to meet the entire acceptance of all American readers, is well
worthy of their calm and deliberate perusal.


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