Sunday, July 4, 2010

England and the Rebellion

England is strangely ignorant, or wantonly so, of the extent and magnitude of the Southern rebellion; its territorial limits, the preparations made in view of it by its leaders, the issues at stake, and the forces, time, and expenditures necessary to subdue and break it effectually down. She forgets that her own little island might be put in some lone corner of even one of the rebel States, and be so isolated as scarcely to be seen! If a civil war should break out in her little empire, in twelve hours every part of the infected districts could be visited; but not so with us, when we have two or three thousands of miles of coast on the seas; and tens of thousands of square miles inland to pass over and subdue. This requires not only time, but prudent and cautious movements, clear insight, and great forecast and preparation. It is important that we not only put down this rebellion but do it on a scale of such proportions as to effectually prevent is recurrence.

John Bullism would find here no chance for bluster, but all the good sense and practical wisdom of brother Jonathan to ensure success. Let England look at her won civil wars, running through long dynasties and then scarcely brought to an end. She would have nothing to boast of, but much to make her blush for her own impotence and delay. Her Wars of the Roses was a contest of passion far more than of principle; and yet how vindictive and protracted! The two parties fought because the Yorkists wore the white rose, and the Lancastrians the red. It was a war of endless genealogies – nothing more; and yet no war in which England has been engaged was more destructive to human life; none more bloody and ferocious. It was more disastrous to the yeomanry of England than all her wars with Scotland, Wales, and France, and no one can assign a just and adequate reason for it. The history of the world can furnish no such example as this, for causes so frivolous as both parties have assigned, for a struggle so long and so sanguinary. It was a civil war, not a war of succession. More Englishmen fell at Touton than in any of Marlborough’s battles or at Waterloo. In one battle twenty eight thousand Lancastrians, dead on the field, where counted. He wars in Ireland have been the same character, and carried on with a baseness, cruelty and oppression unknown in the world. What difficulties had she in arresting the insurrectionary spirit of the Chartists, and how long was the conflict; and they are not yet subdued, nor the spirit of freedom in Ireland.

She has no occasion to glory over her own prowess and promptitude. Had England been compelled to meet such a rebellion here as we are fighting against, her Queen and Parliament and Government would have been destroyed long since. Napoleon would have quailed under it; and not a single power in Europe could have lived through it. We have proved, and will prove to the world, that ours is the strongest government on the earth. It took England, then the greatest power on earth, seven years to put down – or try to put down – the rebellion in the provinces and on the plantations in America, and then she came off second best. She may judge of our difficulties now by what she had to encounter then. But what she could not do in seven years, when we were in our infancy and she a giant, we will do in one fourth the time, when the Philistines are upon us, and myriads of traitors are plotting against us at home and abroad. The scale is now turned, and hereafter victory will perch on our banners.

England and France need not be concerned about the granite blockade in Charleston harbor. A few storms will remove it, and if they do not, so soon as we convert South Carolina into a free State, the Yankees will do it, and make it a better one than it ever has been. We will manage this war in our own way and it will be managed well. England is just as ignorant of the issues as Madame Trollope and Dickens, and other English tourists, and Russell of the London Times, were and are of the resources, manners and customs and spirit of the United States of America.

An English tourist riding in one of our state coaches was drawing odious comparisons between England and America, when a tremendous peal of thunder shook the earth; a listener said to him, can you manufacture such thunder in England as that! There is more lightning and thunder and better in quality in America than in all Europe beside! They will soon see it and hear it.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Wednesday Morning, February 12, 1862, p. 2

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