From Niagara we determined to proceed Northwest — as far to the Northwest as we could go with any reasonable hope of finding American citizens in a state of political civilization, and perhaps guided also in some measure by our hopes as to hotel accommodation. Looking to these two matters, we resolved to get across to the Mississippi, and to go up that river as far as the town of St. Paul and the Falls of St. Anthony, which are some twelve miles above the town; then to descend the river as far as the States of Iowa on the west and Illinois on the east; and to return eastward through Chicago and the large cities on the southern shores of Lake Erie, from whence we would go across to Albany, the capital of New York state, and down the Hudson to New York, the capital of the Western World. For such a journey, in which scenery was one great object, we were rather late, as we did not leave Niagara till the 10th of October; but though the winters are extremely cold through all this portion of the American continent — fifteen, twenty, and even twenty-five degrees below zero being an ordinary state of the atmosphere in latitudes equal to those of Florence, Nice, and Turin — nevertheless the autumns are mild, the noonday being always warm, and the colors of the foliage are then in all their glory. I was also very anxious to ascertain, if it might be in my power to do so, with what spirit or true feeling as to the matter the work of recruiting for the now enormous army of the States was going on in those remote regions. That men should be on fire in Boston and New York, in Philadelphia and along the borders of secession, I could understand. I could understand also that they should be on fire throughout the cotton, sugar, and rice plantations of the South. But I could hardly understand that this political fervor should have communicated itself to the far-off farmers who had thinly spread themselves over the enormous wheat-growing districts of the Northwest. St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota, is nine hundred miles directly north of St. Louis, the most northern point to which slavery extends in the Western States of the Union; and the farming lands of Minnesota stretch away again for some hundreds of miles north and west of St. Paul. Could it be that those scanty and far-off pioneers of agriculture — those frontier farmers, who are nearly one-half German and nearly the other half Irish, would desert their clearings and ruin their chances of progress in the world for distant wars of which the causes must, as I thought, be to them unintelligible? I had been told that distance had but lent enchantment to the view, and that the war was even more popular in the remote and newly-settled States than in those which have been longer known as great political bodies. So I resolved that I would go and see.
It may be as well to explain here that that great political Union hitherto called the United States of America may be more properly divided into three than into two distinct interests, In England we have long heard of North and South as pitted against each other, and we have always understood that the Southern politicians, or Democrats, have prevailed over the Northern politicians, or Republicans, because they were assisted in their views by Northern men of mark who have held Southern principles — that is, by Northern men who have been willing to obtain political power by joining themselves to the Southern party. That, as far as I can understand, has been the general idea in England, and in a broad way it has been true, But as years have advanced, and as the States have extended themselves westward, a third large party has been formed, which sometimes rejoices to call itself The Great West; and though, at the present time, the West and the North are joined together against the South, the interests of the North and West are not, I think, more closely interwoven than are those of the West and South; and when the final settlement of this question shall be made, there will doubtless be great difficulty in satisfying the different aspirations and feelings of two great free-soil populations. The North, I think, will ultimately perceive that it will gain much by the secession of the South; but it will be very difficult to make the West believe that secession will suit its views.
I will attempt, in a rough way, to divide the States, as they seem to divide themselves, into these three parties. As to the majority of them, there is no difficulty in locating them; but this cannot be done with absolute certainty as to some few that lie on the borders.
New England consists of six States, of which all of course belong to the North. They are Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut — the six States which should be most dear to England, and in which the political success of the United States as a nation is to my eyes the most apparent. But even in them there was till quite of late a strong section so opposed to the Republican party as to give a material aid to the South. This, I think, was particularly so in New Hampshire, from whence President Pierce came. He had been one of the Senators from New Hampshire; and yet to him, as President, is affixed the disgrace — whether truly affixed or not I do not say — of having first used his power in secretly organizing those arrangements which led to secession and assisted at its birth. In Massachusetts itself, also, there was a strong Democratic party, of which Massachusetts now seems to be somewhat ashamed. Then, to make up the North, must be added the two great States of New York and Pennsylvania and the small State of New Jersey. The West will not agree even to this absolutely, seeing that they claim all territory west of the Alleghanies, and that a portion of Pennsylvania and some part also of New York lie westward of that range; but, in endeavoring to make these divisions ordinarily intelligible, I may say that the North consists of the nine States above named. But the North will also claim Maryland and Delaware, and the eastern half of Virginia. The North will claim them, though they are attached to the South by joint participation in the great social institution of slavery — for Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia are slave States — and I think that the North will ultimately make good its claim. Maryland and Delaware lie, as it were, behind the capital, and Eastern Virginia is close upon the capital. And these regions are not tropical in their climate or influences. They are and have been slave States, but will probably rid themselves of that taint, and become a portion of the free North.
The Southern or slave States, properly so called, are easily defined. They are Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The South will also claim Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia, Delaware, and Maryland, and will endeavor to prove its right to the claim by the fact of the social institution being the law of the land in those States. Of Delaware, Maryland, and Eastern Virginia, I have already spoken. Western Virginia is, I think, so little tainted with slavery that, as she stands even at present, she properly belongs to the West. As I now write, the struggle is going on in Kentucky and Missouri. In Missouri the slave population is barely more than a tenth of the whole, while in South Carolina and Mississippi it is more than half. And, therefore, I venture to count Missouri among the Western States, although slavery is still the law of the land within its borders. It is surrounded on three sides by free States of the West, and its soil, let us hope, must become free. Kentucky I must leave as doubtful, though I am inclined to believe that slavery will be abolished there also. Kentucky, at any rate, will never throw in its lot with the Southern States. As to Tennessee, it seceded heart and soul, and I fear that it must be accounted as Southern, although the Northern army has now, in May, 1862, possessed itself of the greater part of the State.
To the great West remains an enormous territory, of which, however, the population is as yet but scanty; though perhaps no portion of the world has increased so fast in population as have these Western States. The list is as follows: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas to which I would add Missouri, and probably the Western half of Virginia. We have then to account for the two already admitted States on the Pacific, California and Oregon, and also for the unadmitted Territories, Dacotah, Nebraska, Washington, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada. I should be refining too much for my present very general purpose, if I were to attempt to marshal these huge but thinly-populated regions in either rank. Of California and Oregon it may probably be said that it is their ambition to form themselves into a separate division — a division which may be called the farther West.
I know that all statistical statements are tedious, and I believe that but few readers believe them. I will, however, venture to give the populations of these States in the order I have named them, seeing that power in America depends almost entirely on population. The census of 1860 gave the following results:—
In the North:
Maine 619,000 New Hampshire 326,872 Vermont 325,827 Massachusetts 1,231,494 Rhode Island 174,621 Connecticut 460,670 New York 3,851,563 Pennsylvania 2,916,018 New Jersey 676,034 ---------- Total 10,582,099
In the South, the population of which must be divided into free and slave:
Free. Slave. Total. Texas 415,999 184,956 600,955 Louisiana 354,245 312,186 666,431 Arkansas 331,710 109,065 440,775 Mississippi 407,051 479,607 886,658 Alabama 520,444 435,473 955,917 Florida 81,885 63,809 145,694 Georgia 615,366 467,461 1,082,827 South Carolina 308,186 407,185 715,371 North Carolina 679,965 328,377 1,008,342 Tennessee 859,578 287,112 1,146,690 --------- --------- --------- Total 4,574,429 3,075,231 7,649,660
in the doubtful States:
Free. Slave. Total. Maryland 646,183 85,382 731,565 Delaware 110,548 1,805 112,353 Virginia 1,097,373 495,826 1,593,199 Kentucky 920,077 225,490 1,145,567 --------- ------- --------- Total 2,774,181 808,503 3,582,684
In the West:
Ohio 2,377,917 Indiana 1,350,802 Illinois 1,691,238 Michigan 754,291 Wisconsin 763,485 Minnesota 172,796 Iowa 682,002 Kansas 143,645 Missouri 1,204,214* --------- Total 9,140,390
* Of which number, in Missouri, 115,619 are slaves.
To these must be added, to make up the population of the United States as it stood in 1860 —
The separate District of Columbia, in which is included Washington, the seat of the Federal Government 75,321 California 384,770 Oregon 52,566 The Territories of-- Dacotah 4,839 Nebraska 28,892 Washington 11,624 Utah 49,000 New Mexico 98,024 Colorado 34,197 Nevada 6,857 ------- Total 741,090
And thus the total population may be given as follows:—
North 10,582,099 South 7,649,660 Doubtful 3,582,684 West 9,140,390 Outlying States and Territories 741,090 ---------- Total 31,695,923
Each of the three interests would consider itself wronged by the division above made, but the South would probably be the loudest in asserting its grievance. The South claims all the slave States, and would point to secession in Virginia to justify such claim, and would point also to Maryland and Baltimore, declaring that secession would be as strong there as at New Orleans, if secession were practicable. Maryland and Baltimore lie behind Washington, and are under the heels of the Northern troops, so that secession is not practicable; but the South would say that they have seceded in heart. In this the South would have some show of reason for its assertion; but nevertheless I shall best convey a true idea of the position of these States by classing them as doubtful. When secession shall have been accomplished — if ever it be accomplished — it will hardly be possible that they should adhere to the South.
It will be seen by the foregoing tables that the population of the West is nearly equal to that of the North, and that therefore Western power is almost as great as Northern. It is almost as great already, and as population in the West increases faster than it does in the North, the two will soon be equalized. They are already sufficiently on a par to enable them to fight on equal terms, and they will be prepared for fighting — political fighting, if no other — as soon as they have established their supremacy over a common enemy.
While I am on the subject of population I should explain — though the point is not one which concerns the present argument — that the numbers given, as they regard the South, include both the whites and the blacks, the free men and the slaves. The political power of the South is of course in the hands of the white race only, and the total white population should therefore be taken as the number indicating the Southern power. The political power of the South, however, as contrasted with that of the North, has, since the commencement of the Union, been much increased by the slave population. The slaves have been taken into account in determining the number of representatives which should be sent to Congress by each State. That number depends on the population but it was decided in 1787 that in counting up the number of representatives to which each State should be held to be entitled, five slaves should represent three white men. A Southern population, therefore, of five thousand free men and five thousand slaves would claim as many representatives as a Northern population of eight thousand free men, although the voting would be confined to the free population. This has ever since been the law of the United States.
The Western power is nearly equal to that of the North, and this fact, somewhat exaggerated in terms, is a frequent boast in the mouths of Western men. “We ran Fremont for President,” they say, “and had it not been for Northern men with Southern principles, we should have put him in the White House instead of the traitor Buchanan. If that had been done there would have been no secession.” How things might have gone had Fremont been elected in lieu of Buchanan, I will not pretend to say; but the nature of the argument shows the difference that exists between Northern and Western feeling. At the time that I was in the West, General Fremont was the great topic of public interest. Every newspaper was discussing his conduct, his ability as a soldier, his energy, and his fate. At that time General McClellan was in command at Washington on the Potomac, it being understood that he held his power directly under the President, free from the exercise of control on the part of the veteran General Scott, though at that time General Scott had not actually resigned his position as head of the army. And General Fremont, who some five years before had been “run” for President by the Western States, held another command of nearly equal independence in Missouri. He had been put over General Lyon in the Western command, and directly after this General Lyon had fallen in battle at Springfield, in the first action in which the opposing armies were engaged in the West. General Fremont at once proceeded to carry matters with a very high hand, On the 30th of August, 1861, he issued a proclamation by which he declared martial law at St. Louis, the city at which he held his headquarters, and indeed throughout the State of Missouri generally. In this proclamation he declared his intention of exercising a severity beyond that ever threatened, as I believe, in modern warfare. He defines the region presumed to be held by his army of occupation, drawing his lines across the State, and then declares “that all persons who shall be taken with arms in their hands within those lines shall be tried by court-martial, and if found guilty will be shot.” He then goes on to say that he will confiscate all the property of persons in the State who shall have taken up arms against the Union, or shall have taken part with the enemies of the Union, and that he will make free all slaves belonging to such persons. This proclamation was not approved at Washington, and was modified by the order of the President. It was understood also that he issued orders for military expenditure which were not recognized at Washington, and men began to understand that the army in the West was gradually assuming that irresponsible military position which, in disturbed countries and in times of civil war, has so frequently resulted in a military dictatorship. Then there arose a clamor for the removal of General Fremont. A semi-official account of his proceedings, which had reached Washington from an officer under his command, was made public, and also the correspondence which took place on the subject between the President and General Fremont’s wife. The officer in question was thereupon placed under arrest, but immediately released by orders from Washington. He then made official complaint of his general, sending forward a list of charges, in which Fremont was accused of rashness, incompetency, want of fidelity of the interests of the government, and disobedience to orders from headquarters. After awhile the Secretary of War himself proceeded from Washington to the quarters of General Fremont at St. Louis, and remained there for a day or two making, or pretending to make, inquiry into the matter. But when he returned he left the General still in command. During the whole month of October the papers were occupied in declaring in the morning that General Fremont had been recalled from his command, and in the evening that he was to remain. In the mean time they who befriended his cause, and this included the whole West, were hoping from day to day that he would settle the matter for himself and silence his accusers, by some great military success. General Price held the command opposed to him, and men said that Fremont would sweep General Price and his army down the valley of the Mississippi into the sea. But General Price would not be so swept, and it began to appear that a guerrilla warfare would prevail; that General Price, if driven southward, would reappear behind the backs of his pursuers, and that General Fremont would not accomplish all that was expected of him with that rapidity for which his friends had given him credit. So the newspapers still went on waging the war, and every morning General Fremont was recalled, and every evening they who had recalled him were shown up as having known nothing of the matter.
“Never mind; he is a pioneer man, and will do a’most anything he puts his hand to,” his friends in the West still said. “He understands the frontier.” Understanding the frontier is a great thing in Western America, across which the vanguard of civilization continues to march on in advance from year to year. “And it’s he that is bound to sweep slavery from off the face of this continent. He’s the man, and he’s about the only man.” I am not qualified to write the life of General Fremont, and can at present only make this slight reference to the details of his romantic career. That it has been full of romance, and that the man himself is endued with a singular energy, and a high, romantic idea of what may be done by power and will, there is no doubt. Five times he has crossed the Continent of North America from Missouri to Oregon and California, enduring great hardships in the service of advancing civilization and knowledge. That he has considerable talent, immense energy, and strong self-confidence, I believe. He is a frontier man — one of those who care nothing for danger, and who would dare anything with the hope of accomplishing a great career. But I have never heard that he has shown any practical knowledge of high military matters. It may be doubted whether a man of this stamp is well fitted to hold the command of a nation’s army for great national purposes. May it not even be presumed that a man of this class is of all men the least fitted for such a work? The officer required should be a man with two specialties — a specialty for military tactics and a specialty for national duty. The army in the West was far removed from headquarters in Washington, and it was peculiarly desirable that the general commanding it should be one possessing a strong idea of obedience to the control of his own government. Those frontier capabilities — that self-dependent energy for which his friends gave Fremont, and probably justly gave him, such unlimited credit — are exactly the qualities which are most dangerous in such a position.
I have endeavored to explain the circumstances of the Western command in Missouri as they existed at the time when I was in the Northwestern States, in order that the double action of the North and West may be understood. I, of course, was not in the secret of any official persons; but I could not but feel sure that the government in Washington would have been glad to have removed Fremont at once from the command, had they not feared that by so doing they would have created a schism, as it were, in their own camp, and have done much to break up the integrity or oneness of Northern loyalty. The Western people almost to a man desired abolition. The States there were sending out their tens of thousands of young men into the army with a prodigality as to their only source of wealth which they hardly recognized themselves, because this to them was a fight against slavery. The Western population has been increased to a wonderful degree by a German infusion — so much so that the Western towns appear to have been peopled with Germans. I found regiments of volunteers consisting wholly of Germans. And the Germans are all abolitionists. To all the men of the West the name of Fremont is dear. He is their hero and their Hercules. He is to cleanse the stables of the Southern king, and turn the waters of emancipation through the foul stalls of slavery. And therefore, though the Cabinet in Washington would have been glad for many reasons to have removed Fremont in October last, it was at first scared from committing itself to so strong a measure. At last, however, the charges made against him were too fully substantiated to allow of their being set on one side; and early in November, 1861, he was superseded. I shall be obliged to allude again to General Fremont’s career as I go on with my narrative.
At this time the North was looking for a victory on the Potomac; but they were no longer looking for it with that impatience which in the summer had led to the disgrace at Bull’s Run. They had recognized the fact that their troops must be equipped, drilled, and instructed; and they had also recognized the perhaps greater fact that their enemies were neither weak, cowardly, nor badly officered. I have always thought that the tone and manner with which the North bore the defeat at Bull’s Run was creditable to it. It was never denied, never explained away, never set down as trifling. “We have been whipped,” was what all Northerners said; “we’ve got an almighty whipping, and here we are.” I have heard many Englishmen complain of this — saying that the matter was taken almost as a joke, that no disgrace was felt, and that the licking was owned by a people who ought never to have allowed that they had been licked. To all this, however, I demur. Their only chance of speedy success consisted in their seeing and recognizing the truth. Had they confessed the whipping, and then sat down with their hands in their pockets — had they done as second-rate boys at school will do, declare that they had been licked, and then feel that all the trouble is over — they would indeed have been open to reproach. The old mother across the water would in such case have disowned her son. But they did the very reverse of this. “I have been whipped,” Jonathan said, and he immediately went into training under a new system for another fight.
And so all through September and October the great armies on the Potomac rested comparatively in quiet — the Northern forces drawing to themselves immense levies. The general confidence in McClellan was then very great; and the cautious measures by which he endeavored to bring his vast untrained body of men under discipline were such as did at that time recommend themselves to most military critics. Early in September the Northern party obtained a considerable advantage by taking the fort at Cape Hatteras, in North Carolina, situated on one of those long banks which lie along the shores of the Southern States; but, toward the end of October, they experienced a considerable reverse in an attack which was made on the secessionists by General Stone, and in which Colonel Baker was killed. Colonel Baker had been Senator for Oregon, and was well known as an orator. Taking all things together, however, nothing material had been done up to the end of October; and at that time Northern men were waiting — not perhaps impatiently, considering the great hopes and perhaps great fears which filled their hearts, but with eager expectation — for some event of which they might talk with pride.
The man to whom they had trusted all their hopes was young for so great a command. I think that, at this time, (October, 1861,) General McClellan was not yet thirty-five. He had served, early in life, in the Mexican war, having come originally from Pennsylvania, and having been educated at the military college at West Point. During our war with Russia he was sent to the Crimea by his own government, in conjunction with two other officers of the United States army, that they might learn all that was to be learned there as to military tactics, and report especially as to the manner in which fortifications were made and attacked. I have been informed that a very able report was sent in by them to the government on their return, and that this was drawn up by McClellan. But in America a man is not only a soldier, or always a soldier, nor is he always a clergyman if once a clergyman: he takes a spell at anything suitable that may be going. And in this way McClellan was, for some years, engaged on the Central Illinois Railway, and was for a considerable time the head manager of that concern. We all know with what suddenness he rose to the highest command in the army immediately after the defeat at Bull’s Run.
I have endeavored to describe what were the feelings of the West in the autumn of 1861 with regard to the war. The excitement and eagerness there were very great, and they were perhaps as great in the North. But in the North the matter seemed to me to be regarded from a different point of view. As a rule, the men of the North are not abolitionists. It is quite certain that they were not so before secession began. They hate slavery as we in England hate it; but they are aware, as also are we, that the disposition of four million of black men and women forms a question which cannot be solved by the chivalry of any modern Orlando. The property invested in these four million slaves forms the entire wealth of the South. If they could be wafted by a philanthropic breeze back to the shores of Africa — a breeze of which the philanthropy would certainly not be appreciated by those so wafted — the South would be a wilderness. The subject is one as full of difficulty as any with which the politicians of these days are tormented. The Northerners fully appreciate this, and, as a rule, are not abolitionists in the Western sense of the word. To them the war is recommended by precisely those feelings which animated us when we fought for our colonies — when we strove to put down American independence. Secession is rebellion against the government, and is all the more bitter to the North because that rebellion broke out at the first moment of Northern ascendency. “We submitted,” the North says, “to Southern Presidents, and Southern statesmen, and Southern councils, because we obeyed the vote of the people. But as to you — the voice of the people is nothing in your estimation! At the first moment in which the popular vote places at Washington a President with Northern feelings, you rebel. We submitted in your days; and, by Heaven! you shall submit in ours. We submitted loyally, through love of the law and the Constitution. You have disregarded the law and thrown over the Constitution. But you shall be made to submit, as a child is made to submit to its governor.”
It must also be remembered that on commercial questions the North and the West are divided. The Morrill tariff is as odious to the West as it is to the South. The South and West are both agricultural productive regions, desirous of sending cotton and corn to foreign countries, and of receiving back foreign manufactures on the best terms. But the North is a manufacturing country — a poor manufacturing country as regards excellence of manufacture — and therefore the more anxious to foster its own growth by protective laws. The Morrill tariff is very injurious to the West, and is odious there. I might add that its folly has already been so far recognized even in the North as to make it very generally odious there also.
So much I have said endeavoring to make it understood how far the North and West were united in feeling against the South in the autumn of 1861, and how far there existed between them a diversity of interests.
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