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Harper's Weekly 08/30/1862



The rebels are certainly frank. They tell us
plainly and in the most contemptuous way that
they come of a master race, and we Northerners
and Northern emigrants of a subject and slave
race. They disdainfully declare that they have
always ruled us—that they are our born masters—
that they have whipped us in like hounds before,
and that they will do it again; that we are ped-
dling knaves and cowards, who would gladly sell
our souls for sixpence, and who instinctively crawl
upon the ground before the chivalrous gentlemen
of the South.

Well, fellow-Northerners, they will make their
words good unless we believe in ourselves as heart-
ily as they in themselves. They have ranged their
class and their civilization against ours. It is use-
less to disguise the scope of the contest. Their sys-
tem must be annihilated or ours must. We must
conquer and subdue them utterly or they will ab-
solutely overcome us. After sixteen months of
war they are flushed with hope and confidence;
but their purpose is no stronger now than ever.
They have always meant conquest of the North.
They hoped it would come by peaceable secession,
and then a peaceable surrender of the North under
the name of reconstruction. But they believe now
that the same practical result can be achieved with-
out separation.

And there is but one thing that can help it;
that is, the resolution of the North that they shall
be exterminated, if extermination is necessary to
our success. And when once we have that deep
and inexorable determination, we shall succeed
without exterminating them. For we shall dis-
integrate their society. We shall make the foun-
dations of their social system quiver and shake be-
neath their feet. We shall fill the sky with black-
ness over them and the air with terror around
them. Rather than that they shall be victorious
over this Government and ruin the foundations of
civil order, the death and horror and desolation in
which they would ingulf us all shall yawn for
them. Who are they, and for what purpose is it,
that they are to disturb with fire and blood, and
infinite loss and anguish, the peace in which we
were all living—a peace which provided every
peaceful remedy for difference or complaint? They
have brought the sword against us. Let them feel
the edge of that sword in all its sharpness, rather
than that it shall prevail against us.

Not a hair of their heads would we have injured.
They laughed us to scorn and called us cowards.
Gladly would we have borne and forborne. They
sneered with the insolent defiance of the barbarism
in which they delight to wallow. For the sake of
Liberty we strained Peace almost to pusillanimity.
For the sake of Slavery they rushed with fierce joy
into the cruelest war. In the name of Justice let
them have that war to the utmost.

When that is the feeling of this nation we shall
not be troubled about M`Clellan's army, nor anx-
ious about the Virginia campaign, nor quaking, as
we are at this moment, lest Washington be taken;
but the quaking and the fear will be in the hearts
of those who, having sworn to save Slavery or die,
hear at last the voice of the awaking wrath of Lib-
erty—a wrath which, once aroused, they can no
more resist than dead leaves in the forest can with-
stand the equinoctial gale.


Old Bat, the statesman, who haunts the grocery
at the corner of 245th Street, said the other day that
he was a better Union man than the President, and
he could prove it. “The President,” said he,
“doesn't like slavery, and would be glad to see it
ended. But I am for saving the Union either by
carrying Liberty to the Gulf or Slavery to the

The Bat school of statesmen is tolerably large.
They plume themselves upon their peculiar patriot-
ism. “You Abolitionists,” they cry, “are very
ready to shout save the Union, when it means de-
stroy Slavery. Are you equally ready to save it
by destroying Liberty?”

When they put the question so, they put it fair-
ly; and the reply may be equally plain—we are
all willing to suffer temporary deprivations of Lib-
erty for the sake of saving the fundamental law
which secures permanent Liberty. It is upon the
same principle that we are willing to suffer a pain-
ful surgical operation that we may be free from
pain afterward. But when you ask us whether, in
order to save a Government which was established
to secure personal and political liberty, we are will-
ing to be deprived of that liberty forever, you ask
an absurdity. You might as well wonder whether,
in order to save his life, a man would be willing
that his heart should be cut out. That would be
the destruction of his life. To save the Govern-
ment by destroying Liberty is equally impossible.

Honest men are giving their lives, their time,
and their money, and mean to give and suffer to
the end to save the Union. But what is the Union?
It is a political organization for specified purposes.
They are not fighting for the Union merely because
it is a Union, for it might exist for inhuman and
nefarious ends. The combination of pirate vessels
into a pirate fleet is a union by which more money
might be made than by the separate ships; but it
would be a union more despicable and dangerous
in the exact degree that it was larger and stronger.
The great multitude of citizens are fighting to the
death for this Union because they believe with all
their hearts in the objects it was founded to secure
and in the certainty of its securing them. And
the great end of that Union is to give every man
the fairest possible chance. In its formation it
supposed and intended that by this time all artifi-
cial distinctions would have been removed, and
that the general equality of opportunity would
have secured the general welfare.

To ask, therefore, whether you would not extend
Slavery all over the land to save the Union is to
ask the supremely silly question whether you would
not put out your eyes to save your sight. Remem-
ber that the Union is so priceless because by its
lawful operation it secures to every man the largest
liberty of thought, speech, and action. And it is
because the only privileged class in the country
saw that the lawful working of the Union was go-
ing to secure more liberty than they thought com-
patible with their continued monopoly of the Gov-
ernment that they are now trying so hard to dis-
solve the Union. Let us say to them that we will
willingly extend Slavery to save it and they will
clasp us to their hearts. They say and believe
that they are our natural masters. They will be
entirely justified in saying so when Bat speaks for
the country.


You call for severity,” says some doubting
soul; “but was it ever found that a system of fire
and sword in war was a wise system? Is there not
common sense in war as in every thing else; and
may you not conduct it so savagely as to drive the
enemy into desperation, when a more moderate
method would have induced them to surrender?”

Certainly you may. But does any body but
Jeff Davis and John Bull insinuate that the Gov-
ernment has waged this war savagely? Read any
account of the treatment of our prisoners in Rich-
mond, Salisbury, Montgomery, or Charleston, and
the filth, the poison, the foul food, the sickening
inhumanity of treatment are revolting. On the
other hand, do you suppose that the rebel prisoners
at Camp Douglas, on Delaware Island, or else-
where, suffer? Do you suppose Soulé is stifled in
indescribable nastiness at Fort Lafayette? Do you
not know that our own captains were turned out of
their comfortable quarters at Fort Warren to ac-
commodate the wretched old Mason and Slidell;
and that the Baltimore prisoners in the same fort
received every luxury from people in Boston?
Have we boiled bones and carved skulls? Have
we hung men of rebellious sympathies?

No: no man will charge upon the Government
any undue harshness in the conduct of the war
hitherto. It began by declaring privateersmen to
be pirates, but its roaring was that of a sucking
dove. It has taken thousands of prisoners—many,
like Buckner, aggravated traitors. Did it try even
that man, that, if found guilty, there might be an
example? No; it has exchanged him. With the
exception of some guerrillas shot upon the spot
like other noxious vermin, has there been any sol-
itary instance of rebel life taken except upon the
battle-field? None; none at all.

Nor does any one ask for an inhuman or savage
policy now. All that is asked is that we under-
stand that we are at war, and that we use every
lawful means of warfare. Having found that tufts
of grass and twigs lightly thrown will not drive
the enemy away, let us try stones. Having been
forced to rely upon war, let us show those who have
invoked it that we are more terrible in its use than
they; that if they hit, we shall hit harder; that if
we bleed, they shall bleed more copiously; that if
we suffer, they shall endure anguish.

The severity that drives an enemy to despair is
wanton cruelty. It is the conduct of the British
in India and China, a conduct in war which makes
them the most hated of nations. But British bru-
tality stands alone. The magnanimous Britons
alone blow men from the cannon's mouth because
they do not side with heartless foreigners against
their own country. They alone deliver young
wives, nearly mothers, to the disemboweling knife
of barbarians. The energy in the prosecution of
this war which is demanded by all loyal men is
neither torture nor wanton suffering, but the stern-
est use of every weapon of war.


There has been some question whether General
Pope's order for our troops to live upon the enemy,
and not to guard the property of rebels, is not an
abandonment of the country to the rapine of our
own soldiers. Several letters have been printed
from the seat of war in Virginia apprehending the
demoralizing effect of the order upon our own men,
and fearing that all discipline would be destroyed.

But this fear arises from a misunderstanding.
The order of living upon the enemy does not mean
allowing robbery and ravage of every kind. It
means simply that all property within our lines is
to be occupied by the military authorities, and ap-
propriated to our use under military regulations,
and that when we move all that can not be of serv-
ice to us shall be destroyed, that it may not serve
the rebels. To secure this result it must, of course,
be guarded. But instead of guarding it for the
enemy, it will be held by ourselves for ourselves.
The object of the order is to prevent the protection
of property intended to help the overthrow of the
Government. The result of it will be the neces-
sity of every man's deciding whether he will take
the chance of safety under our Government or un-
der the rebellion.

Two soldiers of our army in Virginia came to
a farm-house and begged for some water. The
virago in charge said that if they were Confeder-
ates they might drink and welcome; if not, they
might go hang. Finding the chance hopeless the
soldiers went off. The next day the woman sent
to our Commanding General for a guard to protect
her house and property against stragglers! So
when we went into Maryland, the secession dis-
tricts were overrun with a vast crowd of custom-
ers, who paid for what otherwise would have had
no sale at all, and paid in gold, which was imme-
diately converted into shot and shell to kill loyal
men and destroy the Government. General Pope's
order is intended to make such absurdity impos-
sible. To expect to make Union men out of Seces-
sionists by showing them that they may rebel in
perfect safety, is as wise as to try to extract sun-
beams from cucumbers. It is an alchemy in which
General Pope does not believe.

There is one argument, and one only, which will
make Union men, and that is the lesson of hard
experience that the Government is overwhelming-
ly powerful and superior, and respects itself enough
to make its enemies suffer.


It is an interesting inquiry why Mr. Soulé is
shut up in Fort Lafayette and Mr. Vallandigham
is not. Mr. Vallandigham urges people to do what
Mr. Soulé has done. Engaged in a mortal strug-
gle for its existence, the Government is straining
every nerve, and Mr. Vallandigham exhorts citi-
zens to resist it passively. The friend of the rebel
leaders, conspicuous in his subservience to every
nod of the aristocratic faction which has brought
all the desolation of this war upon the country, Mr.
Vallandigham now virtually counsels surrender to
their infamous insurrection.

If it be asked if he has not a right to his opinion
and to the expression of it, the reply is, that the
necessities of war supersede the privileges of peace.
The right of absolutely free discussion upon the
rights and wrongs of secession was allowed down
to the beginning of hostilities by the rebels. The
very day after the capture of Sumter, even, there
were voices in this city in favor of yielding to the

But when war began debate ended. Open jus-
tification of the rebels became, under the changed
circumstances, an act of rebellion. Words were
things. Orators who tried to deaden public ardor,
newspapers which strove to paralyze the national
arm by every kind of appeal to ignorance and prej-
udice, were dealt with, and justly, as conspirators
aiding and abetting. The man who endeavors to
turn aside the officer who is upon the track of an
accomplice, actually committing a murder, is not
less criminal than the murderer. So the man who,
by tongue or pen, aims to weaken the public mind
in such a solemn and critical moment as this—and
as the whole last year has been—is not less crimi-
nal than if he fought against us with arms.

If Mr. Vallandigham were detected in sending
to Jeff Davis an accurate account of the number,
distribution, and purpose of Pope's army, should
he be sheltered from punishment by the plea that,
as an American citizen, he had a perfect right to
get and use information of public matters as he
chose? The reply would be, whoever chooses to
help our enemies does it at his peril. So, when he
tries to persuade men not to support the Govern-
ment against the rebellion, he helps our enemies;
and he should do it at his peril.

Criticism of the causes of the war, or of its con-
duct, if they are made in an evident and sincere
spirit of loyalty, however sharp they may be, are
tolerable, for they assume the justice of the cause.
But a man who thinks the war wrong, the Govern-
ment tyrannical, the rebels right, even if a little
irregular, is a man who ought not to be allowed to
help them by his words in the desperate moment
of the struggle.

This is the temporary denial of free speech. Of
course it is. It is a temporary suspension of in-
dividual freedom that the very guarantee of all
permanent freedom may be secured. It is the de-
nial of the privilege to the private soldier of trying
to raise a mutiny in the ranks on the very battle-
field. This is the temporary limitation of free
speech to which every true lover of liberty in the
land gladly submits, and of which only rebels and
rebel sympathizers complain. If Mr. Vallandi-
gham thinks the rebels right, let him hold his
tongue. If he says so, when their hand is on our
throat, let his tongue be held.


The Lounger most cordially sympathizes with
the suggestion of his correspondent:

Dear Mr. Lounger,—Since the war began you have
been so serious in your columns that I have not dared to
write to you; but I have something to say now, which I
think you will listen to.

“The other morning I wanted a few spools of thread
and a piece of tape, and put on my bonnet and ran to
Haberdasher & Co.'s to get them. It was a warm day and
there were not many people in the street, and when I got
into the shop I was quite confused by the number of young
men who came politely forward and asked to serve me with
what I wished. They were not the foolish, simpering fel-
lows of whom there are so many pictures and so much fun
in Punch; but they seemed to be quick, intelligent, and

“I brought my thread and tape, and as I sauntered home,
thinking of my brother Ned, who is with Pope in Virginia,
I saw upon a pile of bricks a poster headed `Recruits
wanted.' Of course we all know that they are wanted.
We know how much is left undone for the want of men.
Yes, Mr. Lounger, and I know that if women would an-
swer it would be left undone no longer.

“Now we women are as much interested in the war as
you men. The Southern women, indeed, are said to be
the main-stay of the rebellion, and the Northern women
have been the chief solace and cure of our wounded sol-
diers. How they have worked in every way that women
can, to help the great cause! And yet there is one other
way. It is this. Let some of us do the work of Haber-
dasher & Co.'s clerks, and let them go to the war. At
the Sanitary Commission rooms, and the hospitals, etc.,
there are as many women as can be made useful. But I—
and I am sure there are plenty like me—would willingly
take the places of these young men until they return. We
can sell thread and measure ribbon and do up tape, per-
haps not as well as they, but well enough for the purpose.

“Of course there are many of them who have mothers
and sisters and families dependent upon them who could
not easily go. But they ought to remember that business
will revive only with peace, and if the war continues they
must, many of them, lose their places. Then there are
a great many who have nobody but themselves to look
after, and they might surely go.

“I write to you, hoping that you will print my letter, and
that they may see it. If they do, I hope they will think
seriously of what I say. I can not put it in pretty language,
but it means just the same. It means that I, for one, do
not believe that a man hasn't soul above buttons merely
because he sells them; and I don't believe that a man can
not handle a rifle skillfully because he is nimble with the
yard-stick. At least, let's try, Mr. Lounger.

“Your faithful friend and constant reader,“Lucy Lamb.”

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