Northern Invasions

NORTHERN Invasions, when successful, advance the civilization of the world.

It would not be difficult to present from all history a mass of illustrations of this thesis wellnigh sufficient in themselves to establish it. And there is no doubt that the principles of human nature, which appear in those illustrations, can be set in such order as to prove the thesis beyond a question. The softness of Southern climates produces, in the long run, gentleness, effeminacy, and indolence, or passionate rather than persevering effort. It produces, again, the palliatives or disguises of these traits which are found in formal religions, and in institutions of caste or slavery. The rigor of Northern climates produces, on the other hand, in the long run, hardy physical constitutions among men, with determined individuality of character. It produces, therefore, freedom even to democracy in politics, protestantism even to rationalism in religion, and grim perseverance even to the bitter end in war. A certain stern morality, often amounting to asceticism, is imposed on Northern constitutions. So superficial is it, so much a creature of circumstance, that Norman, Scandinavian, Goth, or Icelander, deserves no sort of credit for it. All history shows that it vanishes before the temptations of any Vinland which the frozen barbarians stumble upon. None the less does it give them vigor of muscle, and power to endure hardship, which, in the end, tells, over the accomplishments of the most warlike Romans, Greeks, Persians, or other Southrons. “Fight us, if you like,” said Ariovistus to Cæsar; “ but remember that none of us have slept under a roof for fourteen years.” That sort of people are apt to succeed in the long run.

When they succeed, as wo have said, they advance civilization. To begin with the farthest East, all such strength as the Chinese Empire has to-day is due to the Tartar cross in its blood; that is, it results from the conquest of imbecile China by Northern Tartar tribes. One or two more such invasions, followed by colonization of Northern emigrants, would have made China a much stronger power this day than she is, and a nation of higher grade. The history of Indian civilization, again, is a history of Northern conquests. They tell us, indeed, that the Indian castes may be resolved into so many beachmarks of the waves of successive invasions from the North, the highest caste representing the last innovation. When Abraham crossed from Ur of the Chaldees into Canaan, when Cambyses broke open the secrets of Egyptian civilization, when Alexander first opened to the world Egyptian science, these were illustrations of the same thing, — Canaan, Egypt, and the world were all improved by those processes. Greece died out, and has never yet reëstablished herself, because she never had a complete infusion of Gothic blood in her worn - out system. Italy, on the other hand, had a new birth, and at this moment has a magnificent future, because Goths and Lombards did sweep in upon her with their up-country virtues and wilderness moralities. What the Ostrogoths did for Spain, what the Franks did for Gaul, what the Northmen did for England, are so many more illustrations. What Gustavus Adolphus would have done for Germany, if he had succeeded, would have been another.

What we are to do in the South, when we succeed, will be another. It makes the subject of this paper.

Nobody pretends, of course, that War itself does anything final in the advance of civilization. War itself is, what the poets call it, a terrible piece of ploughing. With us, just now, it is subsoilploughing, very deep at that. Stumps and stones have to be heaved out, which had on them the moss and lichens and superficial soil of centuries, and which had fancied, in that heavy semi-consciousness which belongs to stumps and stones, that they were fixed forever. As the teams and the ploughshares pass over the ground which has lain fallow so long, they leave, God knows, and millions of bleeding hearts know, a very desolate prospect in the upheaved furrows behind them. It is very black, very rough, very desert to the eye, and in spots it is very bloody. This is what war does. So desolate the prospect, that we of the Northern States have certainly a right to thank God that it was not we who called out the ploughmen.

War, in itself, does nothing but plough, —hut immediately on the end of the war, in any locality, he who succeeds begins on the harrowing and the planting. And because God is, and directs all such affairs, it is wonderful to see how short is the June which in His world covers all such furrows as His ploughmen make with new beauty. It is to the methods of that new harvest that the President has boldly led our attention in his admirable Proclamation of Amnesty. It is to the details of it that each loyal man has to look already. It is but a few weeks since we heard a sentimental grumbler, at a public meeting, lamenting over the discomforts of the freed slaves in the Southwest, as he compared them with their lost paradise. Men of his type, to whom the present is always worse than the past, succeed in persuading themselves that the incidental hardships of transition are to be taken as the type of a whole future. And so this apostle of discontent really believed that the condition of the fifty thousand freed slaves of the Mississippi, in the hands of such men as Grant, and Eliot, and Yeatman, and Wheelock, and Forman, and Fiske, and Howard, was really going to be worse than it was under the lashes of Legree, or at the auction-block of New Orleans. The more manly, as the more philosophical way of looking at the transition, is to discover the shortest path leading to that future, which, without such a transition, cannot come.

The President, with courage which does him infinite honor, leads the way to this future. His Proclamation is really a rallying-cry to all true men and women, whether they are living at the North or at the South, to take hold and work for its accomplishment. With an army posted in each of the revolted States, with more than one of them completely under National control, he considers that the time for planting has come. He is no such idealist or sentimentalist as to leave these new-made furrows, so terribly torn up in three years of war, to renew their own verdure by any mere spontaneous vegetation.

Practical as the President always is, he is sublimely practical in the Proclamation. “ Let us make good out of this evil as quickly as we can,” he says; “ let peace bring in plenty as quickly as she can.” To bring this about, he promises the strong arm of the nation to protect anything which shall show itself worth protecting, in the way of social institutions of republican liberty. He does not ask, like a conqueror, for the keys of a capital. He does not ask, like a Girondist, for the vote of a majority. He knows, it is true, as all the world knows, that, if the vote of all the men of the South could ever be obtained, the majority would utterly overshadow the handful of gentry who have been lording it over white trash and black slaves together. But the President has no wish to prolong martial law to that indefinite future when this handful of gentlemen shall let the majority of their own people pronounce upon their claims to rule them. Waiving the requisitions of the theorists, and at the same time relieving himself from the necessity of employing military power a moment longer than is necessary, he announces, in advance, what will be his policy in extending protection to loyal governments formed in Rebel States. If there can be found in any State enough righteous men willing to take the oath of allegiance and to sustain the nation in its determination for emancipation,—if there can be found only enough to be counted up as the tenth part of those who voted in the election of 1860, though their State should have sinned like Gomorrah, even though its name should be South Carolina, they shall be permitted to reconstruct its government, and that government shall be recognized by the government of the nation.

It is true that this gift is vastly more than any of the Rebel States has any right to claim. When the King of Oude rebels against England, he does not find, at the end of the war, that, because he is utterly defeated, things are to go on upon their old agreeable footing. Rebellion is not, in its nature, one of those pretty plays of little children, which can stop when either party is tired, because he asks for it to stop, so gently that both parties shall walk on hand in hand till either has got breath enough to begin the game again. If the nation were contending against real and permanent enemies, in reducing to order the States of the Confederacy, or if the national feeling towards the people of those States were the bitter feeling which their leaders profess towards our people, the nation would, of course, offer no such easy terms. The nation would say, “ When you threw off the Constitution, you did it for better for worse. It guarantied to you your State governments. You spurned the guaranty. Let it be so. Let the guaranty be withdrawn. You cannot sustain them. Let them go, then. You have destroyed them. And the nation governs you by proconsuls.” But the nation has no such desire to deal harshly with these people. The nation knows that more than half of them were never regarded as people at home,—that they had no more to do with the Rebellion than had the oxen with which they labored. The nation knows that of the rest of the Southern people literally only a handful professed power in the State. The nation knows, therefore, that what pretended to be a union of republics was, really, to take Gouverneur Morris’s phrase, a union of republics with oligarchies, — seventeen republics united to fourteen oligarchies, when this thing began. The nation knows that the fourteen will be happier, stronger, more prosperous than ever, when their people have the rights of which they are partly conscious, — when they also become republics. The nation means to carry out the constitutional guaranty, and give them the republican government which under the Constitution belongs to every State in the Union. The nation looks forward to prosperous centuries, in which these States, with these people and the descendants of these people, shall be united in one nation with the republics which have been true to the nation. For all these reasons the nation has no thought of insisting on its rights as against Rebel States. It has no thunders of vengeance except for those who have led in these iniquities. For the people who have been misled it has pardon, protection, encouragement, and hope. It can afford to be generous. And at the President’s hands it makes the offer which will be received.

We say this offer will be received. We know very well the difficulty with which an opinion long branded with ignominy makes head in countries where there is no press, where there is no free speech, where there are no large cities. Excepting Louisiana, the Southern States have none of these. And the “ peculiar institutions ” throw the control of what is called opinion more completely into the hands of a very small class of men, we might almost say a very small knot of men, than in any other oligarchy which we remember in modern history. It is in considering this very difficulty that we recognize the wisdom of the President’s Proclamation. He is conscious of the difficulty, and has placed his minimum of loyal inhabitants at a very low point, that, even in the hardest cases, there may be a possibility of meeting his requisition.

It is not true, on the other hand, that he has placed his minimum so low as to involve the government in any difficulty in sustaining the State governments which will be framed at his call. It must be remembered that this “ tenth part ” of righteous men will have very strong allies in every Southern State. It is confessed, on all hands, that they will be supported by all the negroes in every State. Just in proportion to what was the strength of the planting interest is its weakness in the new order of things. Given such physical force, given the moral and physical strength which comes with national protection, and given the immense power which belongs to the wish for peace, and the “ tenth part ” will soon find its fraction becoming larger and more respectable by accretions at home and by emigration from other States. We shall soon learn that there is next to nobody who really favored this thing in the beginning. They will tell us that they all stood for their old State flag, and that they will be glad to stand for it in its new hands.

It will be only the first step that will cost. Everybody sees this. The President sees it. Mr. Davis sees it. He hopes nobody will take it. We hope a good many people will. The merit of the President’s plan is that this step can be promptly taken. And so many are the openings by which national feeling now addresses the people of the States in revolt, and national men can call on them to express their real opinions and to act in their real interest, that we hope to see it taken in many places at the same time.

When Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, he supposed that one-thirteenth part of his people were Christians. He was statesman enough to know that a minority of one-thirteenth, united together because they had one cause, would be omnipotent over a majority of twelve - thirteenths, without a cause and disunited. So, if any one asks for an example in onr history,—the Territory of Kansas was thrown open to emigration with every facility given to the Southern emigrant, and every discouragement offered to the Northerner. But forty men, organized together by a cause, settled Lawrence, and it was rumored that there was to be some organization of the other Northern settlers, and at that word the Northern hive emptied itself into Kansas, and the Atchisons and Bufords and Stringfellows abandoned their new territory, badly stung. These are illustrations, one of them on the largest scale, and the other belonging wholly to our own time and country, of the worth even of a very small minority, in such an initiative as is demanded now, What was done in Kansas can be done again in Florida, in Texas, if Texas do not take care for herself, in either Carolina, in any Southern State where the “ righteous men ” do not themselves Appear to take this first step on which the President relies.

Take, for instance, this magnificent Florida, our own Italy, — if one can conceive of an Italy where till now men have been content to live a half-civilized life, only because the oranges grew to their hands, and there was no necessity for toil.. The vote of Florida in 1860 was 14,347. So soon as in Florida one-tenth part of this number, or 1,435 men, take the oath of allegiance to the National Government, so soon, if they have the qualifications of electors under Florida law, shall we have a loyal State in Florida. It will he a Free State, offering the privileges of a Free State to the eager eyes of the North and of Europe. That valley of the St. John’s, with its wealth of lumber, — the even climate of the western shore, — the navy-yard to be reestablished at Pensacola,— the commerce to he resumed at Jacksonville, — the Nice which we will build up for onr invalids at St. Augustine, — the orangegroves which are wasting their sweetness at this moment, on the plantations and the islands, —will all be so many temptations to the emigrant, as soon as work is honorable in Florida. If the people who gave 5,437 votes for Bell and 367 for Douglas cannot furnish 1,435 men to establish this new State government, we here know who can.

“ Armies composed of freemen conquer for themselves, not for their leaders.” This is the happy phrase of Robertson, as he describes the reëstablishment of society in Europe after the great Northern invasions, which gave new life to Roman effeminacy, and new strength to Roman corruption. The phrase is perfectly true. It is as true of the armies of freemen who have been called to the South now to keep the peace as it was of the armies of freemen who were called South then by the imbecility of Roman emperors or their mutual contentions. The lumbermen from Maine and New Hampshire who have seen the virgin riches of the St. John’s, like the Mas-, sachusetts volunteers who have picked out their farms in the valley of the Shenandoah or established in prospect their forges on the falls of the Potomac, or like the Illinois regiments who have been introduced to the valleys of Tennessee or of Arkansas, wall furnish men enough, well skilled in political systems, to start the new republics, in regions which have never known what a true republic was till now.

To carry out the President’s plan, and to give us once more working State governments in the States which have rebelled, — to give them, indeed, the first true republican governments they have ever known,—would require for Virginia about 12,000 voters. They can be counted, we suppose, at this moment, in the counties under our military control. Indeed, the loyal State government of Virginia is at this moment organized. In North Carolina it would require 9,500 voters. The loyal North Carolina regiments are an evidence that that number of home-grown men will readily appear. In South Carolina, to give a generous estimate, we need 5,000 voters. It is the only State which we never heard any man wish to emigrate to. It is the hardest region, therefore, of any to redeem. At the worst, till the 5,000 appear, the new Georgia will be glad to govern all the country south of the Santee, and the new North Carolina what is north thereof. Georgia will need 10,000 loyal voters. There are more than that number now encamped upon her soil, willing to stay there. Of Florida we have spoken. Alabama requires 9,000. They have been hiding away from conscription ; they have been fleeing into Kentucky and Ohio : they will not be unwilling to reappear when the inevitable “first step” is taken. For Mississippi we want 7,000. Mr. Reyordy Johnson has told us where they are. For Louisiana, one tenth is 5,000. More than that number voted in the elections which returned the sitting members to Congress. For Texas, the proportion is 6,200 ; for Arkansas, 5,400. Those States are already giving account of themselves. In Tennessee the fraction required is 14,500. And as the people of Knoxville said, “ They could do that in the mountains alone.”

We have no suspicion of a want of latent Southern loyalty. But we have brought together these figures to show how inevitable is a reconstruction on the President’s plan, even if Southern loyalty were as abject and timid as some men try to persuade us. These figures show us, that, if, of the million Northern men who have “ prospected ” the Southern country, in the march of victorious armies, only seventy-three thousand determine to take up their future lot there, and to establish there free institutions, they would be enough, without the help of one native, to establish these republican institutions in all the Rebel States. The deserted plantations, the farms offered for sale, almost for nothing, all the attractions of a softer climate, and all the just pride which makes the American fond of founding empires, are so many incentives to the undertaking of the great initiative proposed. In the cases of Virginia and Tennessee, and, as we suppose, of Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas, the beginning has already been made at home. In Florida a recent meeting at Fernandina gave promise for a like beginning. If it do not begin there, the Emigrant Aid Company must act at once to give the beginning.1 There will remain the Carolinas and three of the Gulf States. The ploughing is not over there, and it is not time therefore to speak of the harvest. For the rest, we hope we have said enough to indicate to the ready and active men of the nation where their great present duty lies.

  1. In the last report of the New-England Emigrant Aid Company we find the following significant passage : —
  2. “ There is, undoubtedly, a general desire among the inhabitants of the Northern and Middle States to remove into the States south of them, which will soon welcome the introduction of free labor. This desire manifests itself strongly among soldiers who have seen the beauty and fertility of those States, in their duty of occupation and protection; and it has communicated itself to their friends with whom they have corresponded. Society in those States is, however, still so disturbed, and in such angry temper, that no Northern settler will be welcome or comfortable, as yet, who goes alone. To be saved the animosities and the hardships of lonely settlement, it is desirable that parties of settlers, furnishing to each other their own society, and thus far independent of dissatisfied neighbors, should go out together. The conditions on which only land can be obtaiued point to the same organization. Lands already under cultivation are now offered for sale in all the Border States, at very low rates. If parties of settlers could buy in the large quantities which are offered, it would prove that they could remove and establish themselves, in some instances, upon these lands, almost as cheaply as they have hitherto been able to make the expensive Western journey and take up the cheap wild lands of the Government.
  3. “But such purchases in the Border States are only possible when large tracts of land are sold. To enable the settler of small means to take a farm of a hundred acres, there needs the intervention of the organizers of emigration. Such a company as ours, for instance, can bring together, upon one old plantation, twenty, thirty, or forty families, if necessary: it can arrange for them terms of payment as favorable as those heretofore granted by the Government or the great railroad companies of the West.”
  4. Such suggestions apply more strongly to the case of Florida, which has come within our power since this report was published. Florida is, indeed, more easily protected from an enemy’s raids than any of the so-called Border States.