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The Continental Monthly , Vol. 2 No. 5, November 1862 Devoted to Literature and National Policy   By:

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No other nation was ever convulsed by an internal struggle so tremendous as that which now rends our own unhappy country. No mere rebellion has ever before spread its calamitous effects so widely, beyond the scene of its immediate horrors. Just in proportion to the magnitude of the evils it has produced, is the enormity of the crime involved, on one side or the other; and good men may well feel solicitous to know where rests the burden of this awful responsibility.

The long train of preparatory events preceding the outbreak, and the extraordinary acts by which the conspirators signalized its commencement, point, with sufficient certainty, to the incendiaries who produced the vast conflagration, and who appear to be responsible for the ruin which has ensued. But it remains to inquire by what means the great mass of inflammable materials was accumulated and made ready to take fire at the touch; what justification there may be for the authors of the fatal act, or what palliation of the guilt which seems to rest upon them. The reputation of the American people, and of the free government which is their pride and glory, must suffer in the estimation of mankind, unless they can be fairly acquitted of all responsibility for the civil war, which not only desolates large portions of our own country, but seriously interferes with the prosperity of multitudinous classes, and the stability of large industrial interests, in other lands.

Neither in the physical nor in the moral world, can the effects of any phenomenon go beyond the nature and extent of its causes. Mighty convulsions, like that which now shakes this continent, must have their roots in far distant times, and must gather their nutriment of passion and violence from a wide field of sympathetic opinion. No influence of mere individuals, no sudden acts of government even, no temporary causes of any nature whatsoever, are adequate to produce results so widespread and astounding. The social forces which contend in such a conflict, must have been 'nursing their wrath' and gathering their strength for years, in order to exhibit the gigantic death struggle, in which they are now engaged.

Gen. Jackson, after having crushed the incipient rebellion of 1832, wrote, in a private letter, recently published, that the next attempt to overthrow the Union would be instigated by the same party, but based upon the question of slavery.

That single hearted patriot, in his boundless devotion to the Union, seemed to be gifted with almost preternatural foresight; nor did he exhibit greater sagacity in penetrating the motives and purposes of men, than in comprehending the nature and influence of great social causes, then in operation, and destined, as he clearly foresaw, to be wielded by wicked men as instruments of stupendous mischief to the country. His extraordinary prevision of the present attempt to overthrow the Union, signalizes the evident affiliation of this rebellion with that which he so wisely and energetically destroyed in embryo, by means of the celebrated proclamation and force bill.

It was, however, only in the real motive and ultimate object of the conspirators of 1832, that the attempt of South Carolina at that time was the lineal progenitor of the rebellion of the present day. The purpose was the same in both cases, but the means chosen at the two epochs were altogether different. In the first attempt, the purpose was, indeed, to break up the Union and to establish a separate confederacy; but this was to be done upon the ground of alleged inequality and oppression, as well as unconstitutionality, in the mode of levying duties upon foreign importations. The attempt, however, proved to be altogether premature. The question involved, being neither geographical nor sectional in character, was not then, if it could ever be, susceptible of being made the instrument of concentrating and intensifying hostile opinion against the federal power... Continue reading book >>

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