WE have many precedents upon the part of the “ Guardian of Civilization,” which may or may not guide us. Not to return to that age “ whereunto the memory of man. runneth not to the contrary,” “ the day of King Richard our grandfather,” and to the Wars of the Roses, we will begin with the happy occasion of the Restoration of King Charles of merry and disreputable fame. Since he came back to his kingdoms on sufferance and as a convenient compromise between anarchy and despotism, he could hardly afford the luxury of wholesale proscription. What the returning Royalists could, they did. It was obviously unsafe, as well as ungrateful, to hang General Monk in presence of his army, many of whom had followed the “ Son of the Man ” from Worcester Fight in hot pursuit, and had hunted him from thicket to thicket of Boscobel Wood. But to dig up the dead Cromwell and Ireton, to suspend them upon the gallows, to mark out John Milton, old and blind, for poverty and contempt, was both safe and pleasant. And civilization was guarded accordingly. One little bit of comfort, however, was permitted. Scotland had been the Virginia of his day, and Charles had the satisfaction of hearing that the Whigs, who had betrayed and sold his father, and who had (a far worse offence) made himself listen to three-hours’ sermons, were chased like wild beasts among the hills, after the defeat of Bothwell Brigg. But what Charles could not do was permitted to his brother. After the rebellion of Monmouth was put down, the West of England was turned to mourning. From the princely bastard who sued in agony and vain humiliation, to the clown of Devon forced into the rebel ranks,—from the peer who plotted, to the venerable and Christian woman whose sole crime was sheltering the houseless and starving fugitive, there was given to the vanquished no mercy but the mercy of Jeffreys, no tenderness but the tenderness of Kirk.
But the House of Stuart was not always to represent the side of victory. Thirty years after the Rout of Sedgemoor, the son of James, whose name was clouded by rumor with the same stain of spuriousness as that of his unfortunate cousin, was proclaimed by the Earl of Mar. The Jacobites were forced to drink to the dregs the cup of bitterness they had so gladly administered to others. Over Temple Bar and London Bridge the heads of the defeated rebels bore witness to the guardianship of civilization as understood in the eighteenth century.
Another thirty years brings us to the landing of Moidart, the rising of the clans, the fall of Edinburgh and Carlisle, the “Bull’s Run” at Prestonpans, and the panic of London. If we are anxious to guard our civilization according to Hanoverian precedents, there is one name commonly given to the commander-inchief at Culloden which Congress should add to the titles it is preparing against McClellan’s successful advance. The “ Butcher Cumberland ” not only hounded on his troops with the tempting price of thirty thousand pounds for the Pretender dead or alive, but every adherent of the luckless Jefferson Davis of that day was in peril of life and wholesale confiscation. The House of Hanover not only broke the backbone of the Rebellion, but mangled without mercy its remains.
We come now, in another thirty years, to the next struggle of England with a portion of her people. It is impossible, as well as unfair, to say what might have been done with “ Mr. Washington, the Virginia colonel,” and Mr. Franklin, the Philadelphia printer, had they not been able to determine their own destiny. We can only surmise, by referring to two wellknown localities in New York, the “ Old Sugar-House” and the “Jersey PrisonShip,” how paternally George III. was disposed then to resume his rights. And without disposition to press historic parallels, we cannot but compare Arnold and Tryon’s raid along the south shore of Connecticut with a certain sail recently made up the Tennessee River to the foot of the Muscle Shoals by the command of a modern Connecticut officer.
But as we were spared the necessity of testing the royal clemency to the submitted Provinces of North America, we had better pass on twenty years to the era of the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland. In this country the Irishman need not “ fear to speak of ’98,” and in this country he still treasures the memory of the whippings and pitch-caps of Major Beresford’s riding-house, and other pleasant souvenirs of the way in which, sixty years ago, loyalty dealt with rebellion. There is no inherent proneness to treason in the Hibernian nature, as Corcoran and the Sixty-Ninth can bear witness; nor is Pat so fond of a riot that he cannot with fair play be a —well, a good citizen. Yet at home he has been so “ civilized” by his British guardian as to be in a chronic state of discontent and fretfulness.
We must, however, hasten to our latest precedent, — England in India. The Sepoy Rebellion had some features in common with our own. It was inaugurated by premeditated military treachery. It seized upon a large quantity of Government munitions of war. It only asked “ to be let alone.” It found the Government wholly unprepared. But it was the uprising of a conquered people. The rebels were in circumstances, as in complexion, much nearer akin to that portion of our Southern citizens which has not rebelled, and which has lost no opportunity of seeking our lines “ to take the oath of allegiance ” or any other little favor which could be found there. We do not defend their atrocities, although a plea in mitigation might be put in, that these “ were wisely planned to break the spell which British domination had woven over the native mind of India,” and that they were part of that decided and desperate policy which was designed to forever bar the way of reconstruction. But toward the recaptured rebels there was used a course for which the only precedent, so far as we know, was furnished by that highly civilized guardian, the Dey of Algiers. These prisoners of war were in cold blood tied to the muzzles of cannon and blown into fragments. The illustrated papers of that most Christian land which is overcome with the barbarity of sinking old hulks in a channel through which privateers were wont to escape our blockade furnished effective engravings “ by our own artist ” of the scene. Wholesale plunder and devastation of the chief city of the revolt followed. The rebellion was put down, and put down, we may say, without any unnecessary tenderness, any womanish weakness for the rebels.
We have thus established what we believe is called by theologians a catena of precedents, coming down from the days of the Commonwealth to our own time. It covers about the whole period of NewEngland history. And we next propose to ask the question, how far it may be desirable to be bound by such indisputable authority.
Is it too late to reopen the question, and to retry the issue between sovereign and rebel, less with respect to ancient and immemorial usage, and more according to eternal principle ? We answer, No. The same power that enables us to master this rebellion will give us original and final jurisdiction over it.
But one principle asserts itself out of the uniform course of history. The restoration of the lawful authority over rebels does not restore them to their old status. They are at the pleasure of the conquering power. Rights of citizenship, having been abjured, do not return with the same coercion which demands duties of citizenship. Thus, to illustrate on an individual scale, every wrong-doer is ipso facto a rebel. He forfeits, according to due course of law, a measure of his privileges, while constrained to the same responsibility of obedience. His property is not exempt from taxes because he is in prison, but his right of voting is gone -, he cannot hear arms, but he must keep the peace, he must labor compulsorily, and attend such worship as the State provides. In short, he becomes a ward of the State, while not ceasing to he a member. His inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were inalienable only so long as he remained obedient and true to the sovereign. Now this is equally true on the large scale as on the small. The only difficulty is to apply it to broad masses of men and to States.
It may not be expedient to try South Carolina collectively, but we contend that the application of the principle gives us the right. Corporate bodies have again and again been punished by suspension of franchise, while held to allegiance and duties.
The simple question for us is, What will it be best to do ? The South may save us the trouble of deciding for the present a part of the many questions that occur. We may put down the Confederate Government, and take military occupation. We cannot compel the Southerners to hold elections and resume their share in the Government. It can go on without them. The same force which reopens the Mississippi can collect taxes or exact forfeitures along its banks. If Charleston is sullen, the National Government, having restored its flag to Moultrie and Sumter, can take its own time in the matter of clearing out the channel and rebuilding the light-houses. If a secluded neighborhood does not receive a Government postmaster, but is disposed to welcome him with tarry hands to a feathery bed, it can be left without the mails. The rebel we can compel to return to his duties ; if necessary, we can leave him to get back his rights as he best may.
But we are the representatives of a great political discovery. The American Union is founded on a fact unknown to the Old World. That fact is the direct ratio of the prosperity of the parts to the prosperity of the whole. It is the principle upon which in every community our life is built. We cannot, therefore, afford to have any part of the land languishing and suffering. We are fighting, not for conquest, for we mean to abjure our power the moment we safely can, — not for vengeance, for those with whom we fight are our brethren. We are compelled by a necessity, partly geographical and partly social, into restoring a Union politically which never for a day has actually ceased.
Let us advert to one fact very patent and significant. We have heard of nearly all our successes through Rebel sources. Even where it made against them, they could not help telling us (we do not say the truth, for that is rather strong, but) the news. Never did two nations at war know one-tenth part as much of each other’s affairs. Like husband and wife, the two parts of the country cannot keep secrets from one another, let them try ever so hard. And the end of all will be that we shall know and respect one another a great deal better for our sharp encounter.
But this necessity of union demands of the Government, imperatively demands, that it take whatever step is necessary to its own preservation. It is as with a ship at sea, — all must pull together, or somebody must go overboard. There can be no such order of things as an agreed state of mutiny,—forecastle seceding from cabin, and steerage independent of both.
Not only is rebellion to be put down, therefore, but to be kept from coming up again. It is obvious to every one, not thoroughly blinded by party, how it did come up. The Gulf States were coaxed out, the Border States were bullied or conjured out. A few leading men, who had made the science of political management their own, got the control of the popular mind. One great secret of their success was their constant assumption that what was to be done had been done already. It is the very art of the veteran seducer, who ever persuades his victim that return is impossible, in order that he may actually make it so. North Carolina, as one expressively said, “ found herself out of the Union she hardly knew how.” Virginia was dragged out. Tennessee was forced out. Missouri was declared out. Kentucky was all but out. Maryland hung in the crisis of life and death under the guns of Fort McHenry. In South Carolina alone can it be said that any fair expression of the popular will was on the Secession side. The Rebellion was the work of a governing class, all whose ideas and hopes were the aggrandizement of their own order. Terrorism opened the way, reckless lying made the game sure. If any one is inclined to doubt this, let him look at the sway which Robespierre and his few associates exercised in Paris. Some seventy executions delivered that great city from its nightmare agony of months. , A dozen resolute, united men, with arms and without scruples, could seize almost any NewEngland village for a time, provided they knew just what they wanted to do. Decision and energy are master-keys to almost all doors not fortified by Hobbs’s patent locks. A party of tipsy Americans one night stormed a Parisian guardhouse, disarmed the sentry, and sent the guard flying in desperate fear, thinking that a general emeute was in progress. Now one issue of the Rebellion must be to put down, not only this governing class, but also the system from which it springs. We have no such class at the North. We can have no such class. The very collision of interests, the rivalries of trade, the thousand-and-one social relations, all neutralize each other, are checks and counterchecks, which, like the particles in a vessel of water, always tend toward the level of an equilibrium. Two men meet in their lodge as Odd-Fellows, but they are opponents on “ town -meeting day.” Two partners in business are, one the most bitter of Calvinists, and the other the most progressive of Universalists. Dr. A. and the Rev. Mr. B. pull asunder the men whom ’Change unites. But with the Southerner of the governing class it is not so. One sympathy, more potent than any other can be, leagues them all. All are masters of the Helot race upon which their success and station are built. It is a living relation, the most powerful and vital which can bind men together, that sense of authority borne by the few over the many.
The Norman barons after the Conquest, the Spanish conquerors in Mexico and Peru, the Englishmen of the days of Clive and Hastings in India, are all examples of that thorough concentration of strength which must arise in the conflicts of races. Republics have fallen through their standing armies. The proprietary class at the South was the most dangerous of standing armies, for it was disciplined to the use of power night and day. The overthrow of the Rebellion will to a great degree ruin this class. But since it is one not founded on birth or culture, but simply on white blood and circumstance, (for no Secessionist is so fierce as your converted Northerner,) it cannot fall like the Norman nobility in the Wars of the Roses, or waste by operation of climate like the masters of Mexico and Hindostan. It renews itself whenever it touches slave-soil. That gives it life. We contend that Government must for its own preservation go to the root of the matter. And we cannot see that there is any Constitutional difficulty. There are probably not ten slave - proprietors in the South whom it has not the right to arrest, try, and hang, for high-treason. Of course, every one can see the practical difficulty, as well as the manifest folly, of doing this. But if it has that right toward these individuals, it certainly may say, by Act of Congress, if we choose, that it will not waive it except upon conditions which shall secure it from any further trouble. It seems to us tully within our power. And we will use an illustration that may help to show what we mean. President Lincoln has no right to require of any citizen of the United States that he take the temperance-pledge. But suppose a murderer who has taken life in a fit of drunkenness applies for pardon to the Executive. The Executive, Governor or President, as the case may be, may surely then impose that condition before commuting the sentence or releasing the prisoner. Now the Nation stands toward the Rebels in a like attitude. It may be good policy to take them back as fast as they submit, it may be Christian magnanimity to make the way as easy as possible for their return, but they have no right to come back to anything but a prison and hard labor for life. Many of them have trebly forfeited their lives, — as traitors, as deserters from the naval and military service, and as paroled prisoners who have broken their parole. And therefore we say, since we cannot deal with all the individuals, we must deal with the masses, and that in their corporate capacity. It South Carolina is a sovereign State, is in the Union as a feudal chief in his king’s court, with power to carry from York to Lancaster and from Lancaster to York his subject vassals, then South Carolina has dared the hazard of rebellion, and her political head is forfeit.
It is next to be asked, what these conditions are to be. And that is not to be answered in a breath. That they can have but one result, emancipation, is a foregone conclusion; but the mode of reaching it is not so easily determined. A cotton-loaded ship took fire at sea. It would have been easy to pump in water enough to drown the fire. But the captain said, “No,” for that would swell the bales to such an extent as to open every seam and start every timber. So with the ship now carrying King Cotton : you may indeed quench the fire, but you may possibly turn the ship inside out into the bargain.
But something we have a right to insist on. We have it, over and above the Constitutional right shown just now, upon the broad principle of necessity. Slavery has proved itself a nuisance. Just as we say to the owner of a bone-boiling establishment, “ You poison the air; we cannot live here; you must go farther off,”— and if a fever break out which can be clearly traced to that source, we say it emphatically: so now Slavery having proved itself pestilential, we say, “ March ! ” We are not disposed, à la Staten Island, to burn down our yellow-feverish neighbor’s house. We will give everybody time to pack up. “We will make up a little purse for any specially hard case which the removal may show. But stay and be plague-stricken we will no longer; nor are we disposed to spend our whole income in burning sulphur, saltpetre, and charcoal to keep out infection. And certainly, when by neglect to pay groundrent, or other illegality, the owner of our nuisance has forfeited his right to stay, no mortal can blame us for taking the strictest and most decisive steps known to the law to remove him.