Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Rebellion

Very few persons had a correct idea of the proportions the rebellion would assume, when South Carolina first declared her intention of throwing off allegiance to the General Government. At first it was not credited that she would dare undertake so rash a measure. When her threats began to assume shape and it was seen that her determination was fixed, that she had fully resolved to cast herself into the seething cauldron of civil discord, it was thought she would go alone, or possibly one or two of the more Southern States might accompany her in treason. It was little thought at the time that the slave States almost in a body would unite in a grand effort to overthrow the Government.

That no idea was entertained the rebellion would reach the size it did, even by the Federal Executive, is apparent by his first official military act in calling out the paltry number of seventy-five thousand troops to suppress it. Had he known that for years the plan had been concocted, and during all the previous Administration its infamous leaders, high in office and sworn to protect our Government, were plotting its overthrow, he would have formed more enlarged conceptions of its extent. But that was known only to the initiated. Their idea was a separate Government based upon the inalienable right of man to hold his fellow man in bondage; or, in other words, the establishment of an oligarchy, the corner-stone of which, according to Stephens, was to be slavery. Growing out of, based upon and sustained by an institution of Southern growth, fancied to be interwoven with its prosperity and even vitality, the sympathies of the South were at once enlisted and it required no very specious arguments to cause unprincipled men who governed these states by virtue of their offices, to precipitate them into the vortex of dissolution.

So soon as the size of the rebellion was ascertained, and it was seen to be of no mushroom growth, but that its roots extended back through the previous Administration, the President began to enlarge his operations and to prepare for actual, vigorous war. His worst enemies he found to be his own household; not the open ones with arms in their hands contending against the Government that had ever fostered and protected them; but secret ones who came with proffered assistance in one hand and a dagger in the other. Men who while they swore fealty to the Government, were covertly seeking its destruction. Against these insidious foes there was no guarding, and at every step they seemed to thwart his plans for the suppression of the rebellion, until the most vigorous measures were adopted.

The splendid diplomacy of the Secretary of State settled the question that we had no foreign power to fear, and that our avowed enemies were confined to the slave States. The plans of the Executive were taken accordingly, and the Federal arms have since rapidly asserted their supremacy. God has seemed to smile upon our efforts; though attacked by superior force and under every disadvantage, yet victory has ever accompanied our standard. The government is bound to be sustained; defeated at every point, the rebels must soon see the hopelessness of their cause and yield to the superior skill and numbers of those contending for rights, from which their leaders so vainly sought to disfranchise us.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Monday Morning, April 21, 1862, p. 2

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