Monday, October 24, 2016

John L. Motley to Mary Lothrop Motley, November 25, 1862

Vienna, 20 Favoriten Strasse, Wieden,
November 25, 1862.

Dearest Little Mary: We jog on here much as usual. We are fortunate in our pleasant house and garden, so that the external physical influences are not so gloomy as they were last winter; but in other respects we are rather dismal, being so far away from the center of all interest, our own beloved country. It is very probable that I shall not live to see the end of this great tragedy, which seems to have hardly passed its first act. But you may do so, and when you do, you will see a great commonwealth, the freest and the noblest that ever existed in history, purged of the foul disorder which has nearly eaten away its vitals. This war is a purifying process, but it seems that a whole generation of youths has to be sacrificed before we can even see the end.

When the news of the attempt of the French emperor to interfere in our affairs in favor of the slaveholders reaches America, I hope it may open the eyes of our people to the danger ever impending over them from abroad. You will see that this is distinctly intimated in the despatch of Drouyn de l'Huys. The party of peace is supposed to have triumphed, and of course peace to the Europeans means the dismemberment of the Republic and the establishment of the slaveholders' Confederacy. I consider the 25,000 majority in glorious Massachusetts after the proclamation as a greater monument of triumph in the onward march of civilization on our continent than anything that has yet happened. I have somewhat recovered from the spleen and despondency into which I was thrown by the first accounts of the elections in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. After all, when one makes an arithmetical calculation we see that the popular vote in the great States is very nearly balanced, and when we reflect that it was really a vote upon the Emancipation Proclamation, the progress is enormous. Two years hence there will be a popular majority for emancipation as large as there was for non-extension in 1860. This is true progress. Moreover, our majority in Massachusetts is almost equal to the Democratic majority in New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania combined.

The President's proclamation was just in time. Had it been delayed it is possible that England would have accepted the invitation of France, and that invitation was in reality to recognize the slaveholders' Confederacy, and to make with it an alliance offensive and defensive. I am not exaggerating. The object is distinctly to unite all Europe against us, to impose peace, and to forcibly dismember our country. Nothing has saved us from this disaster thus far except the antislavery feeling in England, which throughout the country, although not so much in high places, is the predominant popular instinct in England which no statesman dares confront. Thank God, Sumner is reelected, or is sure of it, I suppose, and Sam Hooper, too. The “people” of Massachusetts have succeeded in electing five senators out of forty, thirty representatives out of a few hundred, and half a congressman.1 If McClellan had been an abolitionist together with his military talents, which are certainly very respectable, he would have been a great man. This is a great political and social revolution, and not an ordinary war. Goodby, my darling. Your letters give us great pleasure. Mr. Sumner is a high-minded, pure-minded patriot, and his rejection by Massachusetts would be a misfortune and a disgrace. Mr. Hooper, too, is eminently qualified for his post, and I beg you to give him my most sincere congratulations at his reelection, which I at one time felt was rather doubtful.

Ever thine in storm and shine and brine,


1 These senators and representatives were elected to the Legislature of the State by opponents of the national administration.

SOURCE: George William Curtis, editor, The Correspondence of John Lothrop Motley in Two Volumes, Library Edition, Volume 2, p. 294-6

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