Yesterday, I think we arrived at an interesting historical paradox. The consensus was that, in the slimmest sense, compensated emancipation was possible. But in the actual sense it was impossible. That is because while we were able to imagine the country getting its hands on enough resources to bail-out slave-holders, we could not imagine slave-holders accepting such a bail-out. The only way to make it work would be to compel them to accept--which is just another way of saying "War." (This, of course, only one of many problems with the counter-factual, and I ask patience as we address the others in the coming days. Again, one post can't do it all.)
The great difficulty was, not to know how to constitute the Federal government, but to find out a method of enforcing its laws. Governments have generally but two means of overcoming the opposition of the governed: namely, the physical force that is at their own disposal, and the moral force that they derive from the decisions of the courts of justice.A government which should have no other means of exacting obedience than open war must be very near its ruin, for one of two things would then probably happen to it. If it was weak and temperate, it would resort to violence only at the last extremity and would connive at many partial acts of insubordination; then the state would gradually fall into anarchy. If it was enterprising and powerful, it would every day have recourse to physical strength, and thus would soon fall into a military despotism. Thus its activity and its inertness would be equally prejudicial to the community.The great end of justice is to substitute the notion of right for that of violence and to place a legal barrier between the government and the use of physical force.
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