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tion of Breckenridge, were designed to secure the election of a Republican candidate, and thereby to force the Southern States into secession. The mode in which the rebellion commenced is in contrast with the colonial resistance to the authority of the mother country. The Colonists entered upon their rebellion by a fair, open, and manful opposition to measures of hardship and oppression. Three members of the Cabinet of Mr. Buchanan prepared the way for secession by a traitorous misuse of their official position, and a scandalous violation of their official oaths. Most of the Senators and Representatives of the States which have seceded conspired with them. The treason was concocted while the conspirators were in the service of the United States, and receiving pay from the United States, thus showing them to be worthy compeers of Benedict Arnold. The legitimate result of the argument by which secession was supported, if the argument were correct, would be that the State itself which had seceded resumed thereby her State rights and State possessions. Secession, upon its own theory, would carry nothing with it belonging to the United States. But the secession argument is as flexible as india-rubber. The position that the Constitution is a political compact of confederation for political purposes, which is made the basis upon which the right of secession exists, is forthwith converted into an allegation that the compact is in the nature of a partnership, in which, if there is not a regular account of profit and loss to be stated, there is, according to the new Confederate law of partnership, a right of dissolution at the pleasure of any one partner, notwithstanding the contract made it perpetual; and upon the dissolution there is to be a division of stock, by which the Confederacy, which was not a partner, but born since the dissolution, is to be entitled to a share of the territories owned by the United States, to all the islands and fortifications, with their munitions of war,
which may be found along the coasts of the seceding States, and to the mints and sub-treasuries, and all the money and machinery therein. We must understand that these things are not claimed and taken under a right of revolution, which would give no claim except to that portion of government property which might fall into the hands of the insurgents, and be appropriated under the law of force; but this claim is made under the alleged right of secession, which, as we have seen, is described as the reserved right of a State to withdraw peaceably, by a repeal of the act by which it came into the Union. The colonial resistance to the mother country was coupled with no such claim of partition of territory.
We refer to but one other matter to complete the contrast between the Revolution of 1776 and this rebellion. By the second article of the treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1783, it was agreed, among other things, that the boundary of the United States, from the northwestern point or corner, should be “a line to be drawn along the middle of the said river Mississippi until it shall intersect the northernmost part of the thirty-first degree of north latitude"; and by the eighth article of the same treaty it was stipulated, that the navigation of the river, from its source to the ocean, should forever remain open to the subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of the United States. Great Britain has other means of access to her colonial possessions in America, and makes little if any use of the Mississippi to communicate with them. The stipulation of the treaty is, and has been, of very little practical importance to her, except as regards the navigation of that part of it which at the time of the treaty was in the possession of Spain. Spain then held Louisiana, lying on both sides of the river south of the thirty-first degree; but, having been afterward transferred to France, it came into the possession of the United States by the treaty of Paris, April 30, 1803. There are various provisions in the acts and laws
of the United States to secure the free navigation of the Mississippi to all the citizens of the United States, particularly in the acts for the admission of the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Missouri into the Union. The act for the admission of Louisiana contains the following clause: —
“Provided, that it shall be taken as a condition upon which the said State is incorporated in the Union, that the river Mississippi, and the navigable rivers and waters leading into the same, and into the Gulf of Mexico, shall be common highways, and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the said State as to the inhabitants of other States and the Territories of the United States, without any tax, duty, impost, or toll therefor, imposed by the said State; and that the above condition, and also all other the conditions and terms contained in the third section of the act, the title whereof is hereinbefore recited, shall be considered, deemed, and taken fundamental conditions and terms upon which the said State is incorporated in the Union.”
We are not clear that it may not be technically and legally maintained that Louisiana, by a breach of this condition, has “become felo de se,” and may be treated as having returned to her territorial status.
Now it is well known that almost the first act after the secession of Mississippi was the planting of a battery or batteries at Vicksburg, if we mistake not, in the first instance, and an interruption of all commerce on the river, except at the pleasure of the Secession authorities, resulting shortly in its being entirely closed. It was intended as a measure of coercion against the Northwest, to the prosperity of which the navigation is of vital importance, and it must be opened again, and held free to all, according to the treaty, laws, acts, ordinances, and conditions by which it was supposed to be originally secured. If the rebellion shall be successful, the river, from the northern line of Tennessee downward, is within the jurisdiction of a foreign state or states. The laws and conditions to Secure the free navigation of it become a dead
letter, and the whole Northwest will be thus far “subjugated,” and hold their title to the use of the river, from that time forth, at the pleasure of the seceding States. The case stands thus. If the rebellion is suppressed, and the seceding States are “subjugated,” they return to their places in the Union with all the rights and privileges which they had before, unless by the tenacity of their resistance they aid the Abolitionists in getting up another revolution, founded on immediate emancipation, through conquest or State suicide, and a prostration of State rights, not warranted by the Constitution. If, on the other hand, the secession becomes a successful revolution, the United States, and particularly the Northwestern States, are really brought into subjection, and hold their rights to the navigation of this great medium of internal commerce, and even of foreign commerce through the Gulf, at the pleasure of the Confederacy. We pass from the general character of the rebellion, as it exhibited itself at the outset, to a brief consideration of the conduct of the war. With respect to active warfare in the field, it must be admitted that the generalship exhibited by the rebel commanders, particularly in the month of August just passed, will not suffer by a comparison with that of the commanders of the United States. But here we must not overlook the fact, that, from their geographical position, their superior knowledge of the topography of the theatre of the active hostilities, and their greater resources for obtaining information respecting military movements by the aid of the inhabitants, they have had largely the advantage. There have been no better soldiers in the field than the greater portion of the troops of the Union. There have been too many of the officers who have obtained their commissions through political or personal favoritism. The partial lack of success in the conduct of the war on the part of the United States, has been owing mainly to other causes than those immediately connected with operations in the field. We supposed, when Mr. Cameron vacated the War Office, that it was to be filled by one who, with the broad views of a statesman, discarding all considerations but those of country, would, by a vigorous prosecution of the war, conquer a constitutional peace. But we were mistaken, and reminded strongly of the frogs who desired a king. It is alleged that there have been jealousies among the generals of the army, causing disaster. Gray wrote in his Elegy:
“The paths of glory lead but to the grave.”
Since the time of General Jackson, however, the American version has been that they lead to the Presidency; and, as might have been expected, on the breaking out of the rebellion there was a great demand for major-generalships and other generalships, colonelships, and other -ships, not merely by those who had made arms a study, and whose proper business it was, therefore, to suppress the rebellion, but by others, who were desirous of getting into those paths, and by their hangers-on, who were earnest that they should do so. If Mr. Secretary Stanton has had a determination that no general in the field should eclipse the glories of the War Office, the measures which have been taken in reference to field operations have been well adapted to prevent any of the competitors from being covered with glory. One of the uninitiated may, indeed, be astonished to find how one general may be played off against another, and one kingdom (that is, military department) may be divided against itself, until none of them can stand; and by such operations, assuredly, the Satan of the rebellion is not to be cast out. When we see a Secretary of War, in an order out of the regular course, complimenting a general who, by a forced march of the order of dash, is said to have put one fifth of his command in the hospital, and in