The Continental Monthly, Vol. 5, No. 1, January, 1864 online

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Literature and National Policy.



New York:


ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by JOHN F. TROW,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.


├ćnone; a Tale of Slave Life in Rome, 287, 385, 500, 619

American Finances and Resources. By Hon. Robert J. Walker, 40, 249,
324, 489

An Army: Its Organization and Movements. By Lieut.-Col.
C. W. Tolles, A. Q. M., 707

An Hour in the Gallery of the National Academy of Design - Thirty-ninth
Annual Exhibition, 684

An Indian Love-Song. By Edwin R. Johnson, 361

Aphorisms. By Rev. Asa Colton, 413, 450, 482, 595, 680, 706

A Pair of Stockings. From the Army, 597

Aspiro - A Fable, 158

A Summer's Night. From the Polish of Count S. Krasinski, translated
by Prof. Podbielski, 543

A Tragedy of Error, 204

A Universal Language. By S. P. Andrews, 595

A Vigil with St. Louis. By E. Fonton, 70

Benedict of Nursla, and the Order of the Benedictines.
By Rev. Ph. Schaff, 451

Buckle, Draper, and a Science of History. By Edward B. Freeland, 161

Carl Friedrich Neumann, the German Historian of our Country.
By Professor Andrew Ten Brook, 295

Clouds. By Mrs. Martha Walker Cook, 265

Diary of Frances Krasinska; or, Life in Poland during the 18th
Century, 27, 180

Dr. Fox's Prescription. By E. R. Johnson, 717

Editor's Table, 118, 245, 354, 487, 605, 721

English and American Taxation. By Egbert Hurd, 405

Ernest Renan's Theory. By Hugh Miller Thompson, 609

'Feed My Lambs,' 663

Glorious! By L. G. W., 459

Hannah Thurston, 456

Hints to the American Farmer, 584

Jefferson Davis and Repudiation of Arkansas Bonds. By Hon.
Robert J. Walker, 478

Language a Type of the Universe. By Stephen Pearl Andrews, 691

Lies, and How to Kill Them. By Hugh Miller Thompson, 437

Literary Notices, 116, 243, 362, 483, 601, 719

Madagascar. By W. H. Whitmore, 65

Music a Science. By Lucia D. Pychowska, 575

National Friendships, 239

North and South. By Charles Wm. Butler, 241

'Nos Amis les Cosaques.' By M. Heilprin, 216

'Our Article,' 20

Our Domestic Relations; or, How to Treat the Rebel States.
By Charles Russell, 511

Our Government and the Blacks. By William H. Kimball, 431

Out of Prison. By Kate Putnam, 436

Palmer, the American Sculptor. By L. J. Bigelow, 258

Petroleum. By Rev. S. M. Eaton, 187

Reason, Rhyme, and Rhythm. Compiled and written by Mrs. Martha
Walker Cook, 14

Retrospective. By Rev. Dr. Henry, 1

Sir Charles Lyell on the Antiquity of Man. By a Presbyterian
Clergyman, 369

Sketches of American Life and Scenery. By Lucia D. Pychowska, 9, 270, 425

Sleeping. By Hugh Miller Thompson, 716

Temptation. From the Polish of Count Sigismund Krasinski, 53

The Andes. By William G. Dix, 229

The Angels of War, 203

The Conscription Act of March 3d, 1864. By L. M. Haverstik, 110

The Decline of England. By S. J. Bayard, 48

The Development of American Architecture. By A. W. Colgate, 466

The Dove. By Mrs. Martha Walker Cook, 625

The English Press. By Nicholas Rowe, London, 100, 139, 564

The Great American Crisis. By Stephen P. Andrews, 87, 300

The Great Lakes to St. Paul. By Robert Dodge, 397

The Great Struggle, 34

The House in the Lane. By Miss Virginia Townsend, 573

The Isle of Springs. By Rev. C. C. Starbuck, 461

The Issues of the War. By John Stahl Patterson, Quarter-master
Sergeant, 20th Ohio Battery, 287

The Lessons of the Wood. By George W. Bungay, 26

The Love Lucifer. By S. Leavitt, 319, 414

The March of Life. By Clarence Frederick Buhler, 649

The Mechanical Tendency in Modern Society. By John A. French, 351

The Mississippi River and its Peculiarities. By De B. R. Keim, 629

The Mound Builder. By January Searle, 517

The Red Man's Plea, 160

The Treasury Report and Mr. Sec'y Chase. By Hon. Frederick
P. Stanton, 151

The Unkind Word, 690

The War a Contest for Ideas. By Henry Everett Russell, 578

The Wild Azalea. By E. W. C., 596

The Young Author's Dream. By Edwin R. Johnson, 395

Thistle-Down. By Frances Lamartine, 318

Thomas De Quincey and His Writings. By L. W. Spring, 650

Thomas Jefferson, as Seen in the Light of 1863. By J. Sheldon, 129

Thought. By Virginia Vaughan, 577

Union Not to be Maintained by Force. By Hon. Frederick P. Stanton, 73

Was He Successful? By Richard B. Kimball, 80, 221, 341, 445





VOL. V. - JANUARY, 1864. - No. I.


Time makes many dark things clear, and often in a wonderfully short and
decisive way. So we said hopefully two years and more ago in regard to
one of the unsolved problems which then pressed on the minds of
thoughtful men - how, namely, it was to fare with slavery in the progress
and sequel of the war. The history of our national struggle has
illustrated the truth and justified the hope. Time has quite nearly
solved that problem and some others almost equally perplexing. The
stream of historical causes has borne the nation onward on the bosom of
its inevitable flow, until we can now almost see clear through to the
end; at any rate, we have reached a point where we can look backward and
forward with perhaps greater advantage than at any former period. What
changes of opinion have been wrought! How many doubts resolved! How many
fears dispelled! How many old prejudices and preconceived notions have
been abandoned! How many vexed questions put at rest! How many things
have safely got an established place among accepted and almost generally
acceptable facts, which were once matters of loyal foreboding and of
disloyal denunciation! No man of good sense and loyalty now doubts the
rightfulness and wisdom of depriving the rebels of the aid derived from
their slaves, and making them an element of strength on our side; while
the fact that the enfranchised slaves make good soldiers, is put beyond
question by an amenability to military discipline and a bravery in
battle not surpassed by any troops in the world.


The work of subduing the rebellion has gone slowly as compared with the
impatient demands of an indignant people at the outset; but not slowly
if you consider the vast theatre of the war, the immense extent of the
lines of military operations, and the prodigious advantages possessed by
the rebels at the beginning - partly advantages such as always attend the
first outbreak of a revolutionary conspiracy long matured in secret
against an unsuspecting and unprepared Government, and partly the
extraordinary and peculiar advantages that accrued to them from the
traitorous complicity of Buchanan's Administration, through which the
conspirators were enabled to rob the national treasury, strip the
Government of arms, and possess themselves of national forts, arsenals,
and munitions of war, before the conflict began.


But either way the war has not gone too slowly with reference to its
great end - the establishment of a durable peace. If the rebellion had
been crushed at once by overwhelming force, it would have been crushed
only to break out anew. Slavery would have been left unimpaired, and
that would inevitably have entailed another conflict in no long time. In
the interest of slavery the rebels have drawn the sword; let slavery
perish by the sword. In the interest of slavery they have attempted to
overthrow the National Government and to dismember the national domain;
let slavery be overthrown to maintain the Government and to preserve the
integrity of the nation. Let the cause of the war perish with the war.
Not until slavery is extinguished can there be a lasting peace; for not
until then can the conditions of true national unity begin to exist.
What wise and good man would wish to save it from extinction? It is as
incompatible with the highest prosperity of the South as it is with a
true national union between the South and the North. Once extinguished,
there will be a thousand-fold increase in every element of Southern
welfare, economical, social, and moral; and possibilities of national
wealth and strength, greatness and glory, above every nation on the
globe, will be established. Let slavery go down. Let us rejoice that in
the progress and sequel of this war, it must and will go down.


Looking back, we can now see that much that was trying to the patience
of the loyal masses of the North in the early stages of the war, has
only served to make it more certain that what ought to be will be. Time
has done justice to the idiotic policy of fighting the rebellion with
one hand and with the other upholding the institution that constituted
at once its motive and its strength. Time has brought policy and justice
to shake hands together at the right moment on the same road, and made
that respectable and acceptable as a military necessity which was once
repudiated as a fanaticism. Time has brought out the President's
Emancipation Proclamation, and established it on a firm basis in the
judgment and consent of all wise and true loyal men, North and South - to
the great discomfiture of sundry politicians - the utterances of some of
whom not long ago can be no otherwise taken than as the revelation and
despairing death wail of disconcerted schemes. Strange that men whose
whole lives have been passed in forecasting public opinion for their
political uses, should have rushed upon the thick bosses of the great
shield of the public will, which begirts the President and his
Emancipation Proclamation; - for certainly all the railing at
_radicalism_, which we heard in certain quarters last summer, was in
fact nothing but the expression of disappointment and chagrin at the
emancipation policy of the President, and that too at a time when that
policy had come to be accepted by the great body of the loyal people of
the nation (including all the eminent Southern loyalists), as not only
indispensable to the national salvation, but desirable in every view.
Strange that at such a time, and among those once active and influential
in the formation of the Republican party - a party born of the roused
spirit of resistance to slavery aggressions - there should have been
found a single person unable to discern and to accept the inevitable
logic of events which was to make the extinction of slavery the only
wise, practicable, and truly loyal stand point. Strange that any
Republican should be disposed to put a stop to the 'irrepressible
conflict.' It was too late in the day to attempt the organization of a
great, victorious Conservative party by splitting up the old
organizations. The old organizations may fall to pieces. It is best,
perhaps, they should - but not to form a Conservative party. Conservatism
is not now to the popular taste. It means nothing but the saving of
slavery, and the great body of the loyal people now feel absolved from
all obligation to save it; they do not care to have it saved; and the
vaticinations of those prophets of evil who predicted disaster and ruin
to the national cause from the emancipation policy of the Government
excite no consternation in the loyal heart of the nation.

In a review of the conduct of the war, how little reason appears for
regret and how much for satisfaction in regard to all the great measures
of the Government!


The successful working of the _financial system_ has demonstrated the
wisdom of its principles. Instead of following the old wretched way of
throwing an immense amount of stocks into market at a sacrifice of
fifteen to thirty per cent., the Government has got all the money it
wanted at half or a little more than half the usual rate of interest. It
would have been better if the currency had been made to consist wholly
of United States legal-tender notes, fundable in six per cent.,
bonds - with a proper provision for the interest and for a sinking fund.

But the financial system adopted is a matter of satisfaction, apart from
its admirable success in furnishing the Government with the means to
carry on the war: it is the inauguration of sounder principles on
currency than have heretofore prevailed, which, if unfolded and carried
legitimately out, will give the country the best currency in the
world - perfectly secured, uniform in value at every point, and liable to
no disastrous expansions and contractions. The notion that any great
industrial, manufacturing, and commercial nation can conduct its
business - any more than it can carry on a great war - with a specie
currency alone, is indeed exploded; but the notion that a paper currency
to be safe must be based on specie, still prevails - although the
currency furnished by the thousands of banks scattered throughout the
country has never been really based upon the actual possession of specie
to the extent of more than _one fifth_ of the amount in circulation. It
may be the doctrine will never come to prevail that a specie basis in
whole or in part is no more indispensable to a sound and safe paper
currency than an exclusive specie currency is possible or desirable in a
country like this. It may be that the people will never come to believe
that a legal-tender paper currency, issued exclusively by the National
Government - based upon the credit of the nation, constituting a lien
upon all the property of the country, and proportioned in amount of
issue to the needs of the people for it as an instrument of
exchange - would, for all home uses, possess in full perfection the
nature, functions, and powers of money. It is a subject we do not
propose to discuss. It is enough now to say that the notes of the United
States, fundable in national six per cent. bonds, and drawing interest
as they do semi-annually in gold, must be admitted by everybody to be as
safe a currency as the banks as a whole have ever supplied, and to
possess other advantages which make them incomparably a better currency
than that of local banks.

The high price to which gold has been carried by gambling speculators,
is not to be taken as indicating a proportionate want of confidence in
the success of the national cause and in the intrinsic value of the
national securities. It indicates nothing of the sort - at any rate,
whatever it may be taken to indicate, it is none the less true that
United States six per cent. bonds were from the first eagerly sought for
and taken as investments at the rate of a million a day - faster indeed
than the Government could at first supply them; with a constantly
augmenting demand, until in the last week of October _thirty-six_
millions were disposed of - leaving only one hundred and fifty millions
unsold, which will doubtless all be taken before this paper is
published. Comment on this is entirely needless.


In the conduct of our _foreign relations_, certain official declarations
in the early part of the war on the policy and purpose of Government in
carrying it on, are to be regretted as gratuitous and unfortunate. It is
to be regretted also that the capture of the _Trent_ and the seizure of
Mason and Slidell was not at once disavowed as being contrary to our
doctrine on neutral rights, and the rebel emissaries surrendered without
waiting for reclamation on the part of the British Government; or, if it
was thought best to await that reclamation as containing a virtual
concession of our doctrine, it would have been better - more dignified
and effective - if the reply had been limited to a simple statement that
the surrender was necessitated by the principles always maintained by
our Government, and not by a reclamation which the British Government,
by its own construction of public law and by its own practice, was not
entitled to make, but which being made, might now, it was to be hoped,
be taken as an abandonment in the future of the ground heretofore
maintained by that Government.


There has been some dissatisfaction with the conduct of our official
communications with Great Britain and France respecting the question on
belligerent rights and neutral obligations which the rebellion has
raised. But there are points of no inconsiderable difficulty and
delicacy involved in these questions, which a great many people, in
their natural displeasure against the English and French, have failed to
consider. Our Government deserves the credit of having consulted the
interests without compromising the dignity of the nation. Admitting the
conduct of the British and French Governments in recognizing the rebels
as belligerents to be as unfriendly and as unrequired by the obligations
of public law as it is generally held to be among us, that would not
make it right or wise for our Government to depart from the tone of
moderation. We can no more make it a matter for official complaint and
demand against these Governments, than we could the unfriendly tone of
many of their newspapers and Parliamentary orators. We might say to
them: We take it as unkindly in you to do as you have done; but if they
will continue to do so, we have nothing for it but to submit. Even if we
could have afforded it, we could not rightly have gone to war with them
for doing what we ourselves - through the necessity of our
circumstances - have been compelled in effect to do, and what they,
though not forced by any such necessity, had yet a right - and in their
own opinion were obliged - by public law to do. We could not have made it
a cause of war, and therefore it would have been worse than idle to
indulge in a style of official representation which means war if it
means anything.


The question of the rebel cruisers on the high seas is a question by
itself. The anger excited among us by the injuries we have suffered from
these vessels is not strange; nor is it strange that our anger should
beget a disposition to quarrel with Great Britain and France for
conceding the rights of lawful belligerents to the perpetrators of such
atrocities. The rebels have no courts of admiralty, carry their prizes
to no ports, submit them to no lawful adjudication - but capture,
plunder, and burn private vessels in mid ocean. Such proceedings by the
laws of nations are undoubtedly piratical in their nature. We have a
right so to hold and declare. We may think that Great Britain and France
are bound so to hold and declare. But what then? Should they have
ordered their men of war to cruise against these rebel cruisers or to
capture every one which they might chance to encounter, and to send them
home for trial? We may think they were bound in vindication of public
law to do so; but could we make their not doing so a matter of formal
complaint and a cause of war? There are a number of things to be well
considered before any one should permit himself to quarrel with our
Government for not quarrelling with Great Britain and France on this


But the conduct of the British Government in allowing her ports to be
made the basis of these nefarious operations - in permitting vessels of
whose character and purpose there could be no doubt to be built in her
ports - not to be delivered in any Confederate port, but in effect armed
and manned from her ports to go immediately to cruise against our
commerce on the high seas - is an outrageous violation of the obligations
of neutrals, for which that Government may justly be held responsible.
It is a responsibility which no technical pleading about the
insufficiency of British laws, either in matter of prohibition or rules
of evidence, can avoid. Great Britain is bound to have laws and rules of
evidence which will enable her effectually to discharge her neutral
obligations; whether she has or not, does not alter her responsibility
to us. Her conduct may rightfully be made a matter of official
complaint, and of war too - if satisfaction and reparation be refused. It
is a case in which our rights and dignity are concerned; and it is to be
presumed that our Government will not fail to vindicate them.[1]


The action of _Congress_ has in everything been nobly patriotic in
spirit, and in nearly everything it has wisely and adequately met the
exigencies of the crisis.

But we are compelled to hold the Confiscation Act, in the form in which
it was passed, as a mistake.[2] If the clause of the Constitution
prohibiting 'attainder of treason to work forfeiture except during the
life of the person attainted,' be necessarily applicable to the
Confiscation Act, it seems to us impossible to avoid the conclusion that
the act is unconstitutional. So far as the language of the prohibition
is decisive of anything, it must be taken to include all sorts of
property, real as well as personal - the term _forfeiture_ certainly
having that extent of application in the old English law and practice,
from which the framers of our Constitution took it, and there is nothing
elsewhere in the Constitution or in its history to warrant any other
construction. So the Congress of 1790 understood it in the act
declaring the punishment of treason and some other high crimes. As to
the _perpetuity_ of forfeiture, it seems equally necessary to hold that
it is prohibited by the clause of the Constitution in question. Such is
undeniably the first and obvious meaning of the terms. It has been
argued indeed that it was not the intention of the framers of the
Constitution to prohibit perpetual forfeiture of property from being
'declared' by Congress, but only to prohibit 'attainder of treason' from
'working' of itself that effect by necessary consequence - as it did
under the Common Law of England. It has also been argued that the
constitutional restriction does not relate to perpetuity of forfeiture,
but only requires that the forfeiture or act of alienation take place,
have effect, and be accomplished 'during the life of the person
attainted,' and not after his death.

But this reasoning is more subtile than satisfactory. A fair
consideration of the subject leaves little room for doubt that the
framers of the Constitution had in view and intended to prohibit
everything which under the old English common law followed upon
'attainder of treason' - to prohibit forfeiture in perpetuity of property
of every sort, no less than 'bills of attainder,' 'corruption of blood,'
and barbarities of punishment, such as disembowelling, quartering, etc.

If therefore the constitutional restriction on forfeiture apply to the
Confiscation Law, it makes the law unconstitutional, in so far as it
enacts the _perpetual_ forfeiture of the personal estate of rebels; and
the discrimination made in regard to their real estate does not save the
constitutionality of the act.

If, therefore, the Confiscation Law is to be held as constitutional, it
can be so, as it seems to us, only on the ground that it does not fall
within the scope of the constitutional prohibition in question. This
ground may be maintained by asserting that the constitutional
prohibition of perpetual forfeiture applies only to cases of 'attainder
of treason,' that is, according to Blackstone, of 'judgment of death for
treason,' and that cases under this act are not such; that the
limitations applicable to ordinary judicial proceedings against traitors
are not applicable here; that the Confiscation Act seizes the property
of rebels not in their quality of criminals, but of public enemies; that
it is not an act for the punishment of treason, but for weakening and
subduing an armed rebellion, and securing indemnification for the costs
and damages it has entailed - in short, not a penal statute, but a war
measure; and that the Constitution which gives Congress the right to
make war for the suppression of the rebellion, and to subject the lives
of rebels to the laws of war, gives it the right to subject their

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