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The Continental Monthly, Vol III, Issue VI, June, 1863 Devoted to Literature and National Policy   By:

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THE CONTINENTAL MONTHLY: DEVOTED TO LITERATURE AND NATIONAL POLICY.

VOL. III. JUNE, 1863. No. VI.

THE VALUE OF THE UNION.

II.

Having taken a hasty survey, in our first number, of the value and progress of the Union, let us now, turning our gaze to the opposite quarter, consider the pro slavery rebellion and its tendencies, and mark the contrast.

We have seen, in glancing along the past, that while a benevolent Providence has evidently been in the constant endeavor to lead mankind onward and upward to a higher, more united, and happier life, even on this earth this divine effort has always encountered great opposition from human selfishness and ignorance.

We have also observed, that nevertheless, through the ages long external discipline of incessant political revolutions and changes, and also by the internal influences of such religious ideas as men could, from time to time, receive, appreciate, and profit by, that through all this they have at length been brought to that religious, political, intellectual, social, and industrial condition which constituted the civilization of Europe some two and a half centuries since; and which was, taken all in all, far in advance of any previous condition.

Under these circumstances, the period was ripe for the germs of a religious and political liberty to start into being or to be quickened into fresh life, with a far better prospect of final development than they could have had at an earlier epoch. Born thus anew in Europe, they were transplanted to the shores of the new world. The results of their comparatively unrestricted growth are seen in the establishment and marvellous expansion of the republic.

Great, however, as these results have been, the fact is so plain that he who runs may read, that they would have been vastly greater but for a malignant influence which has met the elements of progress, even on these shores. Disengaged from the opposing influences which surrounded them in Europe from the spirit of absolutism, of hereditary aristocracy, of ecclesiastical despotism, from the habits, the customs, the institutions of earlier times, more or less rigid, unyielding on that account, and hard to change by the new forces, disengaged from these hampering influences, and planted on the shores of America these elements of progress, so retarded even up to the present moment in Europe, found themselves most unexpectedly side by side with an outbirth of human selfishness in its pure and most undisguised form. This was not the spirit of absolutism, or of hereditary aristocracy, nor of ecclesiastical and priestly domination. All of these, which have so conspicuously figured in Europe, have perhaps done more at certain periods for the advancement of civilization, by their restraining, educating influence, than they have done harm at others, when less needed. All of these institutions arose naturally out of the circumstances, the character, and wants of men, at the time, and have been of essential service in their day. But the great antagonist which free principles encountered on American soil; which was planted alongside of the tree of liberty; which grew with its growth, and strengthened with its strength; which, like a noxious parasitic vine, wound its insidious coils around the trunk that supported it binding its expanding branches, rooted in its tissues, and living on its vital fluids; this insidious enemy was slavery a thoroughly undisguised manifestation of human selfishness and greed; without a single redeeming trait simply an unmitigated evil: a two edged weapon, cutting and maiming both ways, up and down the master perhaps even more than the slave; a huge evil committed, reacting in evil, in the exact degree of its hugeness and momentum. Yes! this great antagonist was slavery an institution long thrown out of European life; a relic of the lowest barbarism and savagism, the very antipodes of freedom, and flourishing best only in the rudest forms of society; but now rearing its hideous visage in the midst of principles, forms, and institutions the most free and advanced of any that the world has ever witnessed... Continue reading book >>


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