North America, by Anthony Trollope


It has been the ambition of my literary life to write a book about the United States, and I had made up my mind to visit the country with this object before the intestine troubles of the United States government had commenced. I have not allowed the division among the States and the breaking out of civil war to interfere with my intention; but I should not purposely have chosen this period either for my book or for my visit. I say so much, in order that it may not be supposed that it is my special purpose to write an account of the struggle as far as it has yet been carried. My wish is to describe, as well as I can, the present social and political state of the country. This I should have attempted, with more personal satisfaction in the work, had there been no disruption between the North and South; but I have not allowed that disruption to deter me from an object which, if it were delayed, might probably never be carried out. I am therefore forced to take the subject in its present condition, and being so forced I must write of the war, of the causes which have led to it, and of its probable termination. But I wish it to be understood that it was not my selected task to do so, and is not now my primary object.

Thirty years ago my mother wrote a book about the Americans, to which I believe I may allude as a well-known and successful work without being guilty of any undue family conceit. That was essentially a woman’s book. She saw with a woman’s keen eye, and described with a woman’s light but graphic pen, the social defects and absurdities which our near relatives had adopted into their domestic life. All that she told was worth the telling, and the telling, if done successfully, was sure to produce a good result. I am satisfied that it did so. But she did not regard it as a part of her work to dilate on the nature and operation of those political arrangements which had produced the social absurdities which she saw, or to explain that though such absurdities were the natural result of those arrangements in their newness, the defects would certainly pass away, while the political arrangements, if good, would remain. Such a work is fitter for a man than for a woman, I am very far from thinking that it is a task which I can perform with satisfaction either to myself or to others. It is a work which some man will do who has earned a right by education, study, and success to rank himself among the political sages of his age. But I may perhaps be able to add something to the familiarity of Englishmen with Americans. The writings which have been most popular in England on the subject of the United States have hitherto dealt chiefly with social details; and though in most cases true and useful, have created laughter on one side of the Atlantic, and soreness on the other. if I could do anything to mitigate the soreness, if I could in any small degree add to the good feeling which should exist between two nations which ought to love each other so well, and which do hang upon each other so constantly, I should think that I had cause to be proud of my work.

But it is very hard to write about any country a book that does not represent the country described in a more or less ridiculous point of view. It is hard at least to do so in such a book as I must write. A de Tocqueville may do it. It may be done by any philosophico-political or politico-statistical, or statistico-scientific writer; but it can hardly be done by a man who professes to use a light pen, and to manufacture his article for the use of general readers. Such a writer may tell all that he sees of the beautiful; but he must also tell, if not all that he sees of the ludicrous, at any rate the most piquant part of it. How to do this without being offensive is the problem which a man with such a task before him has to solve. His first duty is owed to his readers, and consists mainly in this: that he shall tell the truth, and shall so tell that truth that what he has written may be readable. But a second duty is due to those of whom he writes; and he does not perform that duty well if he gives offense to those as to whom, on the summing up of the whole evidence for and against them in his own mind, he intends to give a favorable verdict. There are of course those against whom a writer does not intend to give a favorable verdict; people and places whom he desires to describe, on the peril of his own judgment, as bad, ill educated, ugly, and odious. In such cases his course is straightforward enough. His judgment may be in great peril, but his volume or chapter will be easily written. Ridicule and censure run glibly from the pen, and form themselves into sharp paragraphs which are pleasant to the reader. Whereas eulogy is commonly dull, and too frequently sounds as though it were false. There is much difficulty in expressing a verdict which is intended to be favorable; but which, though favorable, shall not be falsely eulogistic; and though true, not offensive.

Who has ever traveled in foreign countries without meeting excellent stories against the citizens of such countries? And how few can travel without hearing such stories against themselves! It is impossible for me to avoid telling of a very excellent gentleman whom I met before I had been in the United States a week, and who asked me whether lords in England ever spoke to men who were not lords. Nor can I omit the opening address of another gentleman to my wife. “You like our institutions, ma’am?” “Yes, indeed,” said my wife, not with all that eagerness of assent which the occasion perhaps required. “Ah,” said he, “I never yet met the down-trodden subject of a despot who did not hug his chains.” The first gentleman was certainly somewhat ignorant of our customs, and the second was rather abrupt in his condemnation of the political principles of a person whom he only first saw at that moment. It comes to me in the way of my trade to repeat such incidents; but I can tell stories which are quite as good against Englishmen. As, for instance, when I was tapped on the back in one of the galleries of Florence by a countryman of mine, and asked to show him where stood the medical Venus. Nor is anything that one can say of the inconveniences attendant upon travel in the United States to be beaten by what foreigners might truly say of us. I shall never forget the look of a Frenchman whom I found on a wet afternoon in the best inn of a provincial town in the west of England. He was seated on a horsehair-covered chair in the middle of a small, dingy, ill-furnished private sitting-room. No eloquence of mine could make intelligible to a Frenchman or an American the utter desolation of such an apartment. The world as then seen by that Frenchman offered him solace of no description. The air without was heavy, dull, and thick. The street beyond the window was dark and narrow. The room contained mahogany chairs covered with horse-hair, a mahogany table, rickety in its legs, and a mahogany sideboard ornamented with inverted glasses and old cruet-stands. The Frenchman had come to the house for shelter and food, and had been asked whether he was commercial. Whereupon he shook his head. “Did he want a sitting-room?” Yes, he did. “He was a leetle tired and vanted to seet.” Whereupon he was presumed to have ordered a private room, and was shown up to the Eden I have described. I found him there at death’s door. Nothing that I can say with reference to the social habits of the Americans can tell more against them than the story of that Frenchman’s fate tells against those of our country.

From which remarks I would wish to be understood as deprecating offense from my American friends, if in the course of my book should be found aught which may seem to argue against the excellence of their institutions and the grace of their social life. Of this at any rate I can assure them, in sober earnestness, that I admire what they have done in the world and for the world with a true and hearty admiration; and that whether or no all their institutions be at present excellent, and their social life all graceful, my wishes are that they should be so, and my convictions are that that improvement will come for which there may perhaps even yet be some little room.

And now touching this war which had broken out between the North and South before I left England. I would wish to explain what my feelings were; or rather what I believe the general feelings of England to have been before I found myself among the people by whom it was being waged. It is very difficult for the people of any one nation to realize the political relations of another, and to chew the cud and digest the bearings of those external politics. But it is unjust in the one to decide upon the political aspirations and doings of that other without such understanding. Constantly as the name of France is in our mouths, comparatively few Englishmen understand the way in which France is governed; that is, how far absolute despotism prevails, and how far the power of the one ruler is tempered, or, as it may be, hampered by the voices and influence of others. And as regards England, how seldom is it that in common society a foreigner is met who comprehends the nature of her political arrangements! To a Frenchman — I do not of course include great men who have made the subject a study — but to the ordinary intelligent Frenchman the thing is altogether incomprehensible. Language, it may be said, has much to do with that. But an American speaks English; and how often is an American met who has combined in his mind the idea of a monarch, so called, with that of a republic, properly so named — a combination of ideas which I take to be necessary to the understanding of English politics! The gentleman who scorned my wife for hugging her chains had certainly not done so, and yet he conceived that he had studied the subject. The matter is one most difficult of comprehension. How many Englishmen have failed to understand accurately their own constitution, or the true bearing of their own politics! But when this knowledge has been attained, it has generally been filtered into the mind slowly, and has come from the unconscious study of many years. An Englishman handles a newspaper for a quarter of an hour daily, and daily exchanges some few words in politics with those around him, till drop by drop the pleasant springs of his liberty creep into his mind and water his heart; and thus, earlier or later in life, according to the nature of his intelligence, he understands why it is that he is at all points a free man. But if this be so of our own politics; if it be so rare a thing to find a foreigner who understands them in all their niceties, why is it that we are so confident in our remarks on all the niceties of those of other nations?

I hope that I may not be misunderstood as saying that we should not discuss foreign politics in our press, our parliament, our public meetings, or our private houses. No man could be mad enough to preach such a doctrine. As regards our parliament, that is probably the best British school of foreign politics, seeing that the subject is not there often taken up by men who are absolutely ignorant, and that mistakes when made are subject to a correction which is both rough and ready. The press, though very liable to error, labors hard at its vocation in teaching foreign politics, and spares no expense in letting in daylight. If the light let in be sometimes moonshine, excuse may easily be made. Where so much is attempted, there must necessarily be some failure. But even the moonshine does good if it be not offensive moonshine. What I would deprecate is, that aptness at reproach which we assume; the readiness with scorn, the quiet words of insult, the instant judgment and condemnation with which we are so inclined to visit, not the great outward acts, but the smaller inward politics of our neighbors.

And do others spare us? will be the instant reply of all who may read this. In my counter reply I make bold to place myself and my country on very high ground, and to say that we, the older and therefore more experienced people as regards the United States, and the better governed as regards France, and the stronger as regards all the world beyond, should not throw mud again even though mud be thrown at us. I yield the path to a small chimney-sweeper as readily as to a lady; and forbear from an interchange of courtesies with a Billingsgate heroine, even though at heart I may have a proud consciousness that I should not altogether go to the wall in such an encounter.

I left England in August last — August, 1861. At that time, and for some months previous, I think that the general English feeling on the American question was as follows: “This wide-spread nationality of the United States, with its enormous territorial possessions and increasing population, has fallen asunder, torn to pieces by the weight of its own discordant parts — as a congregation when its size has become unwieldy will separate, and reform itself into two wholesome wholes. It is well that this should be so, for the people are not homogeneous, as a people should be who are called to live together as one nation. They have attempted to combine free-soil sentiments with the practice of slavery, and to make these two antagonists live together in peace and unity under the same roof; but, as we have long expected, they have failed. Now has come the period for separation; and if the people would only see this, and act in accordance with the circumstances which Providence and the inevitable hand of the world’s Ruler has prepared for them, all would be well. But they will not do this. They will go to war with each other. The South will make her demands for secession with an arrogance and instant pressure which exasperates the North; and the North, forgetting that an equable temper in such matters is the most powerful of all weapons, will not recognize the strength of its own position. It allows itself to be exasperated, and goes to war for that which if regained would only be injurious to it. Thus millions on millions sterling will be spent. A heavy debt will be incurred; and the North, which divided from the South might take its place among the greatest of nations, will throw itself back for half a century, and perhaps injure the splendor of its ultimate prospects. If only they would be wise, throw down their arms, and agree to part! But they will not.”

This was I think the general opinion when I left England. It would not, however, be necessary to go back many months to reach the time when Englishmen were saying how impossible it was that so great a national power should ignore its own greatness and destroy its own power by an internecine separation. But in August last all that had gone by, and we in England had realized the probability of actual secession.

To these feelings on the subject maybe added another, which was natural enough though perhaps not noble. “These western cocks have crowed loudly,” we said; “too loudly for the comfort of those who live after all at no such great distance from them. It is well that their combs should be clipped. Cocks who crow so very loudly are a nuisance. It might have gone so far that the clipping would become a work necessarily to be done from without. But it is ten times better for all parties that it should be done from within; and as the cocks are now clipping their own combs, in God’s name let them do it, and the whole world will be the quieter.” That, I say, was not a very noble idea; but it was natural enough, and certainly has done somewhat in mitigating that grief which the horrors of civil war and the want of cotton have caused to us in England.

Such certainly had been my belief as to the country. I speak here of my opinion as to the ultimate success of secession and the folly of the war, repudiating any concurrence of my own in the ignoble but natural sentiment alluded to in the last paragraph. I certainly did think that the Northern States, if wise, would have let the Southern States go. I had blamed Buchanan as a traitor for allowing the germ of secession to make any growth; and as I thought him a traitor then, so do I think him a traitor now. But I had also blamed Lincoln, or rather the government of which Mr. Lincoln in this matter is no more than the exponent, for his efforts to avoid that which is inevitable. In this I think that I— or as I believe I may say we, we Englishmen — were wrong. I do not see how the North, treated as it was and had been, could have submitted to secession without resistance. We all remember what Shakspeare says of the great armies which were led out to fight for a piece of ground not large enough to cover the bodies of those who would be slain in the battle; but I do not remember that Shakspeare says that the battle was on this account necessarily unreasonable. It is the old point of honor which, till it had been made absurd by certain changes of circumstances, was always grand and usually beneficent. These changes of circumstances have altered the manner in which appeal may be made, but have not altered the point of honor. Had the Southern States sought to obtain secession by constitutional means, they might or might not have been successful; but if successful, there would have been no war. I do not mean to brand all the Southern States with treason, nor do I intend to say that, having secession at heart, they could have obtained it by constitutional means. But I do intend to say that, acting as they did, demanding secession not constitutionally, but in opposition to the constitution, taking upon themselves the right of breaking up a nationality of which they formed only a part, and doing that without consent of the other part, opposition from the North and war was an inevitable consequence.

It is, I think, only necessary to look back to the Revolution by which the United States separated themselves from England to see this. There is hardly to be met, here and there, an Englishman who now regrets the loss of the revolted American colonies; who now thinks that civilization was retarded and the world injured by that revolt; who now conceives that England should have expended more treasure and more lives in the hope of retaining those colonies. It is agreed that the revolt was a good thing; that those who were then rebels became patriots by success, and that they deserved well of all coming ages of mankind. But not the less absolutely necessary was it that England should endeavor to hold her own. She was as the mother bird when the young bird will fly alone. She suffered those pangs which Nature calls upon mothers to endure.

As was the necessity of British opposition to American independence, so was the necessity of Northern opposition to Southern secession. I do not say that in other respects the two cases were parallel. The States separated from us because they would not endure taxation without representation — in other words, because they were old enough and big enough to go alone. The South is seceding from the North because the two are not homogeneous. They have different instincts, different appetites, different morals, and a different culture. It is well for one man to say that slavery has caused the separation, and for another to say that slavery has not caused it. Each in so saying speaks the truth. Slavery has caused it, seeing that slavery is the great point on which the two have agreed to differ. But slavery has not caused it, seeing that other points of difference are to be found in every circumstance and feature of the two people. The North and the South must ever be dissimilar. In the North labor will always be honorable, and because honorable, successful. In the South labor has ever been servile — at least in some sense — and therefore dishonorable; and because dishonorable, has not, to itself, been successful. In the South, I say, labor ever has been dishonorable; and I am driven to confess that I have not hitherto seen a sign of any change in the Creator’s fiat on this matter. That labor will be honorable all the world over as years advance and the millennium draws nigh, I for one never doubt.

So much for English opinion about America in August last. And now I will venture to say a word or two as to American feeling respecting this English opinion at that period. It will of course be remembered by all my readers that, at the beginning of the war, Lord Russell, who was then in the lower house, declared, as Foreign Secretary of State, that England would regard the North and South as belligerents, and would remain neutral as to both of them. This declaration gave violent offense to the North, and has been taken as indicating British sympathy with the cause of the seceders. I am not going to explain — indeed, it would be necessary that I should first understand — the laws of nations with regard to blockaded ports, privateering, ships and men and goods contraband of war, and all those semi-nautical, semi-military rules and axioms which it is necessary that all attorneys-general and such like should, at the present moment, have at their fingers’ end. But it must be evident to the most ignorant in those matters, among which large crowd I certainly include myself, that it was essentially necessary that Lord John Russell should at that time declare openly what England intended to do. It was essential that our seamen should know where they would be protected and where not, and that the course to be taken by England should be defined. Reticence in the matter was not within the power of the British government. It behooved the Foreign Secretary of State to declare openly that England intended to side either with one party or with the other, or else to remain neutral between them.

I had heard this matter discussed by Americans before I left England, and I have of course heard it discussed very frequently in America. There can be no doubt that the front of the offense given by England to the Northern States was this declaration of Lord John Russell’s. But it has been always made evident to me that the sin did not consist in the fact of England’s neutrality — in the fact of her regarding the two parties as belligerents — but in the open declaration made to the world by a Secretary of State that she did intend so to regard them. If another proof were wanting, this would afford another proof of the immense weight attached in America to all the proceedings and to all the feelings of England on this matter. The very anger of the North is a compliment paid by the North to England. But not the less is that anger unreasonable. To those in America who understand our constitution, it must be evident that our government cannot take official measures without a public avowal of such measures. France can do so. Russia can do so. The government of the United States can do so, and could do so even before this rupture. But the government of England cannot do so. All men connected with the government in England have felt themselves from time to time more or less hampered by the necessity of publicity. Our statesmen have been forced to fight their battles with the plan of their tactics open before their adversaries. But we in England are inclined to believe that the general result is good, and that battles so fought and so won will be fought with the honestest blows and won with the surest results. Reticence in this matter was not possible; and Lord John Russell, in making the open avowal which gave such offense to the Northern States, only did that which, as a servant of England, England required him to do.

“What would you in England have thought,” a gentleman of much weight in Boston said to me, “if, when you were in trouble in India, we had openly declared that we regarded your opponents there are as belligerents on equal terms with yourselves?” I was forced to say that, as far as I could see, there was no analogy between the two cases. In India an army had mutinied, and that an army composed of a subdued, if not a servile race. The analogy would have been fairer had it referred to any sympathy shown by us to insurgent negroes. But, nevertheless, had the army which mutinied in India been in possession of ports and sea-board; had they held in their hands vast commercial cities and great agricultural districts; had they owned ships and been masters of a wide-spread trade, America could have done nothing better toward us than have remained neutral in such a conflict and have regarded the parties as belligerents. The only question is whether she would have done so well by us. “But,” said my friend, in answer to all this, “we should not have proclaimed to the world that we regarded you and them as standing on an equal footing.” There again appeared the true gist of the offense. A word from England such as that spoken by Lord John Russell was of such weight to the South that the North could not endure to have it spoken. I did not say to that gentleman, but here I may say that, had such circumstances arisen as those conjectured, and had America spoken such a word, England would not have felt herself called upon to resent it.

But the fairer analogy lies between Ireland and the Southern States. The monster meetings and O’Connell’s triumphs are not so long gone by but that many of us can remember the first demand for secession made by Ireland, and the line which was then taken by American sympathies. It is not too much to say that America then believed that Ireland would secure secession, and that the great trust of the Irish repealers was in the moral aid which she did and would receive from America. “But our government proclaimed no sympathy with Ireland,” said my friend. No. The American government is not called on to make such proclamations, nor had Ireland ever taken upon herself the nature and labors of a belligerent.

That this anger on the part of the North is unreasonable, I cannot doubt. That it is unfortunate, grievous, and very bitter, I am quite sure. But I do not think that it is in any degree surprising. I am inclined to think that, did I belong to Boston as I do belong to London, I should share in the feeling, and rave as loudly as all men there have raved against the coldness of England. When men have on hand such a job of work as the North has now undertaken, they are always guided by their feelings rather than their reason. What two men ever had a quarrel in which each did not think that all the world, if just, would espouse his own side of the dispute? The North feels that it has been more than loyal to the South, and that the South has taken advantage of that over-loyalty to betray the North. “We have worked for them, and fought for them, and paid for them,” says the North. “By our labor we have raised their indolence to a par with our energy. While we have worked like men, we have allowed them to talk and bluster. We have warmed them in our bosom, and now they turn against us and sting us. The world sees that this is so. England, above all, must see it, and, seeing it, should speak out her true opinion.” The North is hot with such thoughts as these; and one cannot wonder that she should be angry with her friend when her friend, with an expression of certain easy good wishes, bids her fight out her own battles. The North has been unreasonable with England; but I believe that every reader of this page would have been as unreasonable had that reader been born in Massachusetts.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones are the dearly-beloved friends of my family. My wife and I have lived with Mrs. Jones on terms of intimacy which have been quite endearing. Jones has had the run of my house with perfect freedom; and in Mrs. Jones’s drawing-room I have always had my own arm-chair, and have been regaled with large breakfast-cups of tea, quite as though I were at home. But of a sudden Jones and his wife have fallen out, and there is for awhile in Jones Hall a cat-and-dog life that may end — in one hardly dare to surmise what calamity. Mrs. Jones begs that I will interfere with her husband, and Jones entreats the good offices of my wife in moderating the hot temper of his own. But we know better than that. If we interfere, the chances are that my dear friends will make it up and turn upon us. I grieve beyond measure in a general way at the temporary break up of the Jones-Hall happiness. I express general wishes that it may be temporary. But as for saying which is right or which is wrong — as to expressing special sympathy on either side in such a quarrel — it is out of the question. “My dear Jones, you must excuse me. Any news in the city today? Sugars have fallen; how are teas?” Of course Jones thinks that I’m a brute; but what can I do?

I have been somewhat surprised to find the trouble that has been taken by American orators, statesmen, and logicians to prove that this secession on the part of the South has been revolutionary — that is to say, that it has been undertaken and carried on not in compliance with the Constitution of the United States, but in defiance of it. This has been done over and over again by some of the greatest men of the North, and has been done most successfully. But what then? Of course the movement has been revolutionary and anti-constitutional. Nobody, no single Southerner, can really believe that the Constitution of the United States as framed in 1787, or altered since, intended to give to the separate States the power of seceding as they pleased. It is surely useless going through long arguments to prove this, seeing that it is absolutely proved by the absence of any clause giving such license to the separate States. Such license would have been destructive to the very idea of a great nationality. Where would New England have been, as a part of the United States, if New York, which stretches from the Atlantic to the borders of Canada, had been endowed with the power of cutting off the six Northern States from the rest of the Union? No one will for a moment doubt that the movement was revolutionary, and yet infinite pains are taken to prove a fact that is patent to every one.

It is revolutionary; but what then? Have the Northern States of the American Union taken upon themselves, in 1861, to proclaim their opinion that revolution is a sin? Are they going back to the divine right of any sovereignty? Are they going to tell the world that a nation or a people is bound to remain in any political status because that status is the recognized form of government under which such a people have lived? Is this to be the doctrine of United States citizens — of all people? And is this the doctrine preached now, of all times, when the King of Naples and the Italian dukes have just been dismissed from their thrones with such enchanting nonchalance because their people have not chosen to keep them? Of course the movement is revolutionary; and why not? It is agreed now among all men and all nations that any people may change its form of government to any other, if it wills to do so — and if it can do so.

There are two other points on which these Northern statesmen and logicians also insist, and these two other points are at any rate better worth an argument than that which touches the question of revolution. It being settled that secession on the part of the Southerners is revolution, it is argued, firstly, that no occasion for revolution had been given by the North to the South; and, secondly, that the South has been dishonest in its revolutionary tactics. Men certainly should not raise a revolution for nothing; and it may certainly be declared that whatever men do they should do honestly.

But in that matter of the cause and ground for revolution, it is so very easy for either party to put in a plea that shall be satisfactory to itself! Mr. and Mrs. Jones each had a separate story. Mr. Jones was sure that the right lay with him; but Mrs. Jones was no less sure. No doubt the North had done much for the South; had earned money for it; had fed it; and had, moreover, in a great measure fostered all its bad habits. It had not only been generous to the South, but over-indulgent. But also it had continually irritated the South by meddling with that which the Southerners believed to be a question absolutely private to themselves. The matter was illustrated to me by a New Hampshire man who was conversant with black bears. At the hotels in the New Hampshire mountains it is customary to find black bears chained to poles. These bears are caught among the hills, and are thus imprisoned for the amusement of the hotel guests. “Them Southerners,” said my friend, “are jist as one as that ’ere bear. We feeds him and gives him a house, and his belly is ollers full. But then, jist becase he’s a black bear, we’re ollers a poking him with sticks, and a’ course the beast is a kinder riled. He wants to be back to the mountains. He wouldn’t have his belly filled, but he’d have his own way. It’s jist so with them Southerners.”

It is of no use proving to any man or to any nation that they have got all they should want, if they have not got all that they do want. If a servant desires to go, it is of no avail to show him that he has all he can desire in his present place. The Northerners say that they have given no offense to the Southerners, and that therefore the South is wrong to raise a revolution. The very fact that the North is the North, is an offence to the South. As long as Mr. and Mrs. Jones were one in heart and one in feeling, having the same hopes and the same joys, it was well that they should remain together. But when it is proved that they cannot so live without tearing out each other’s eyes, Sir Cresswell Cresswell, the revolutionary institution of domestic life, interferes and separates them. This is the age of such separations. I do not wonder that the North should use its logic to show that it has received cause of offense but given none; but I do think that such logic is thrown away. The matter is not one for argument. The South has thought that it can do better without the North than with it; and if it has the power to separate itself, it must be conceded that it has the right.

And then as to that question of honesty. Whatever men do they certainly should do honestly. Speaking broadly, one may say that the rule applies to nations as strongly as to individuals, and should be observed in politics as accurately as in other matters. We must, however, confess that men who are scrupulous in their private dealings do too constantly drop those scruples when they handle public affairs, and especially when they handle them at stirring moments of great national changes. The name of Napoleon III. stands fair now before Europe, and yet he filched the French empire with a falsehood. The union of England and Ireland is a successful fact, but nevertheless it can hardly be said that it was honestly achieved. I heartily believe that the whole of Texas is improved in every sense by having been taken from Mexico and added to the Southern States, but I much doubt whether that annexation was accomplished with absolute honesty. We all reverence the name of Cavour, but Cavour did not consent to abandon Nice to France with clean hands. When men have political ends to gain they regard their opponents as adversaries, and then that old rule of war is brought to bear, deceit or valor — either may be used against a foe. Would it were not so! The rascally rule — rascally in reference to all political contests — is becoming less universal than it was. But it still exists with sufficient force to be urged as an excuse; and while it does exist it seems almost needless to show that a certain amount of fraud has been used by a certain party in a revolution. If the South be ultimately successful, the fraud of which it may have been guilty will be condoned by the world.

The Southern or Democratic party of the United States had, as all men know, been in power for many years. Either Southern Presidents had been elected, or Northern Presidents with Southern politics. The South for many years had had the disposition of military matters, and the power of distributing military appliances of all descriptions. It is now alleged by the North that a conspiracy had long been hatching in the South with the view of giving to the Southern States the power of secession whenever they might think fit to secede; and it is further alleged that President after President, for years back, has unduly sent the military treasure of the nation away from the North down to the South, in order that the South might be prepared when the day should come. That a President with Southern instincts should unduly favor the South, that he should strengthen the South, and feel that arms and ammunition were stored there with better effect than they could be stored in the North, is very probable. We all understand what is the bias of a man’s mind, and how strong that bias may become when the man is not especially scrupulous. But I do not believe that any President previous to Buchanan sent military materials to the South with the self-acknowledged purpose of using them against the Union. That Buchanan did so, or knowingly allowed this to be done, I do believe, and I think that Buchanan was a traitor to the country whose servant he was and whose pay he received.

And now, having said so much in the way of introduction, I will begin my journey.

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:43