Harper's Weekly 05/11/1861


AT the time we write it seems likely that
the Border Slave States, with the excep-
tion of Delaware and Maryland, will make com-
mon cause with the rebels against the United
States Government. There is much talk about
“neutrality” in Kentucky, Missouri, and Ten-
nessee. In this case “neutrality” means a
covert alliance with rebels, and treasonable will-
ingness to supply them with aid and comfort.
The Government will regard such “neutrals”
as enemies, and will deal with them according-
ly. Maryland aspires to a similar position of
neutrality; but geographical necessity will com-
pel the Government to lay hands on her at the
outset of the war, and it is therefore not worth
while to estimate her among the parties to the
conflict. Delaware alone, of the Border Slave
States, evinces loyalty to the Union.

The war which has now begun will therefore
be waged by the Free States, on one side, against
thirteen Slave States on the other, to wit: Vir-
ginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Flor-
ida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas,
Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.

The population of the Free States, by the
census of 1860, amounts to 18,950,759; the free
population of the thirteen rebellious States to
7,657,395—considerably less than half that of
their opponents.

In the Free States every man able to bear
arms is at the service of the Government. In
the rebellious States a certain number of men
are required at home to keep in subjection
3,912,096 slaves. By a law of Louisiana plant-
ers are obliged to keep on their plantations a
sufficient force of white men to resist a negro in-
surrection. Custom renders the same practice
imperative in the other Slave States. Thus,
from the 7,657,395 whites of the rebellious
States must be deducted a large body of adult
males, who are required at home to defend the
women and children from the negroes. It is
with the balance only that the Government will
have to deal.

In modern warfare, however, success is won
not so much by numbers as by money. The
longest purse, in the long-run, infallibly wins
the day. The comparative wealth of the two
sections thus becomes a matter of the highest
moment. In the Banks of the States now con-
stituting the Southern Confederacy, there is at
present about $20,000,000 in specie: in the
Banks of the Border States about $5,000,000
more. With the exception of the Banks of New
Orleans, all the Banks of the Gulf States, of
North Carolina, and of Virginia, and many of
those of Tennessee and Kentucky, are insolvent,
have suspended specie payments, and issue notes
which are uncurrent except at an enormous dis-
count. In the three cities of New York, Phila-
delphia, and Boston, the Banks hold about
$51,000,000 in specie, and the sub-treasuries
and mint about $15,000,000 more. Notes of
Western Banks, secured by deposits of Slave
State stocks are greatly depreciated. But the
currency of Pennsylvania, New York, and New
England is at par. It is now well known that the
attempt to negotiate $5,000,000 of Confederate
Bonds, ten days ago, was a failure, notwithstand-
ing the terrorism exercised by the rebel press.
When our Government asked for $8,000,000,
$34,000,000 were offered, notwithstanding the
opposition of leading newspapers. The Southern
Savings Banks contain so little money that the
amount is not worth recording in statistical re-
ports: in New England, New York, and Penn-
sylvania, the working-classes have deposited some
$130,000,000 in Savings Banks. The Govern-
ment of the United States can borrow, without
difficulty, and at a moderate rate of interest, a
hundred millions a year at New York for two or
three years, if so much be required to suppress
the rebellion: the rebel Government can not
borrow ten millions at home, or ten cents abroad.
If, therefore, money be the sinew of war, as his-
torians assure us, a very brief campaign must
settle the question in favor of the North.

Mechanical appliances are as essential in
war as men and money. In these the pre-em-
inence of the North is unquestionable. The
Southern States are a purely agricultural region.
Mechanical arts can not thrive side by side with
slavery. There is a foundery at Richmond, Vir-
ginia, at which arms and munitions of war are
manufactured, and there are one or two other
small shops in other Southern States where
Northern mechanics make a few guns. But,
with sparse exceptions, every pistol, rifle, mus-
ket, cannon, bayonet, sword, and bowie-knife,
and every pound of powder, every box of caps,
every cartridge, every shell, every fuse, and ev-
ery bullet or ball that is used by the Southern
troops was made at the North, and can not be
replaced at the South. From the hour the
United States occupy the Richmond foundery,
and blockade the Southern ports, the supply of
arms to the rebels will be stopped. Every car-
tridge burned after that time will be an irre-
trievable loss. Nor is there any chance that
founderies will be established at the South.
Slaveholders dare not. The most magnificent
pasture-lands in America are untilled because
the Southern whites dare not trust their slaves
with scythes to mow hay; much less could they
suffer armories and factories to be established
where negroes might obtain powder, ball, and
edged tools. In the North, on the other hand,
the prospect is that every adult male will, in the
course of a few weeks, be supplied with the most
perfect weapons of modern warfare, and that the
highest efforts of mechanical skill and modern
engineering talent will be at the service of the

Again, in wars between regions which have
both a large coast surface, much depends on the
respective tonnage of the belligerents. In this
respect the power of the Government is to the
power of the rebels as four hundred to one.
Where they have a thousand tons the Govern-
ment has four hundred thousand. All the great
steamships and clipper vessels, all the fast
yachts, and the bulk of the small steamers and
propellers are owned at the North. New York
alone can fit out, in thirty days, a fleet suffi-
cient to capture every Southern vessel and
blockade every Southern port. Mr. Jefferson
Davis committed a sad blunder in organizing a
system of privateering. He may tempt half a
dozen pirates to seize a few of our merchant
ships. But he has certainly secured the ultimate
extirpation of Southern vessels from the face of
the deep. In six months from this time there
will not be a craft afloat that will dare to hail
from any port south of the capes of the Del-

What, then, can the South hope from this
absurd rebellion?

Website design © 2000-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
All Content © 1998-2004 HarpWeek, LLC
Please submit questions to webmaster@harpweek.com