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The Continental Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 2, February, 1864 Devoted To Literature And National Policy   By:

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Transcibers note: The letter "o" with a macron is rendered [=o] in this text, the letter "e" with a macron [=e].

THE

CONTINENTAL MONTHLY:

DEVOTED TO

LITERATURE AND NATIONAL POLICY.

VOL. V. FEBRUARY, 1864 NO. II.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, AS SEEN BY THE LIGHT OF 1863.

Mr. Jefferson, in his lifetime, underwent the extremes of abuse and of adulation. Daily, semi weekly, or weekly did Fenno, Porcupine Cobbett, Dennie, Coleman, and the other Federal journalists, not content with proclaiming him an ambitious, cunning, and deceitful demagogue, ridicule his scientific theories, shudder at his irreligion, sneer at his courage, and allude coarsely to his private morals in a manner more discreditable to themselves than to him; crowning all their accusations and innuendoes with a reckless profusion of epithet. While at the same times and places the whole company of the Democratic press, led by Bache, Duane, Cheetham, Freneau, asserted with equal energy that he was the greatest statesman, the profoundest philosopher, the very sun of republicanism, the abstract of all that was glorious in democracy. And if Abraham Bishop, of New Haven, Connecticut, compared him with Christ, a great many New Englanders of more note than Bishop, pronounced him the man of sin, a malignant manifestation of Satan. On one or the other of these two scales he was placed by every man in the United States, according to each citizen's modicum of sense and temper. We say, every man because in that war of the Democrats against the Federalists, no one sought to escape the service. Every able tongued man was ready to fight with it, either for Jefferson or against him.

When Jefferson passed away triumphant, toleration set in. His enemies dropped him to turn upon living prey. They came to acquiesce in him, and even to quote him when he served their purpose. But the admiration of his followers did not abate. They canonized him as the apostle of American democracy, and gave his name to the peculiar form of the doctrine they professed. For many years the utterances of the master were conclusive to the common men of the party better far than the arguments of any living leader. Of late we have heard less of him. The right wing of the democracy begin to doubt the expediency of the States' Rights theory; and with the wrong wing his standing has been injured by the famous passage on slavery in the 'Notes on Virginia.' The wrong wing of the Democratic party are the men who cry out for the 'Constitution as it is, and the Union as it was' a cry full of sound and often of fury; but what does it signify? The first gun that was fired at Fort Sumter shattered the old Union. If peace men and abolitionists, secessionists and conservatives were to agree together to restore the old Union to the status quo ante bellum , they could not do it. 'When an epoch is finished,' as Armand Carrel once wrote, 'the mould is broken, it cannot be made again.' All that can be done is to gather up the fragments, and to use them wisely in a new construction. An Indian neophyte came one day to the mission, shouting: 'Moses, Isaiah, Abraham, Christ, John the Baptist!' When out of breath, the brethren asked him what he meant. 'I mean a glass of cider.' If the peace party were as frank as the Indian, they would tell us that their cry signifies place, power, self. The prodigal sons of the South are to be lured back by promises of pardon, indemnification, niggers ad libitum , before they have satiated themselves with the husks which seem to have fallen to their portion, and are willing to confess that they have sinned against heaven and against their country... Continue reading book >>


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