Agénor Gasparin.

The Uprising of a Great People The United States in 1861. to Which is Added a Word of Peace on the Difference Between England the United States online

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The edition of the _Uprising of a Great People_ which we issue herewith,
has been carefully revised to conform to the new edition of the original
work, just published at Paris. The author has corrected several errors
of fact, which were noted by American reviewers on the appearance of the
translation, and has also made sundry changes in the work, designed to
bring it down to the present time, and to adapt its counsels to the new
light that is breaking in upon us in the progress of events. These
changes, however, have been few, and relate chiefly to the policy of
emancipation, for so truly has this remarkable book proved a prophecy,
that the author, on reviewing it after a lapse of several eventful
months, can find nothing to strike out as having proved untrue. We are
indebted to the kindness of Count de Gasparin for one or two corrections
of trifling biographical misstatements in the translator's preface.

The pamphlet concerning the Trent affair, and the surrender of Messrs.
Mason and Slidell, which we append to this edition, will be read with
interest at the present crisis, as an able exposition of the views of
European statesmen on the international difficulty which has sprung so
unexpectedly upon us. While it justifies the surrender on the ground of
technical error, it utters a solemn warning in the name of Europe, that,
if the demand were a mere pretext to force us into a ruinous war, such a
proceeding will not again be tolerated. This pamphlet, entitled _Une
Parole de Paix_, is the article which appeared in the _Journal des
Débats_, December 11, 12, and 13, since published as a _brochure_, with
some additions.

This new edition is especially valuable, inasmuch as it seals the faith
of our noble friend and sympathizer. "A few months ago," says Count de
Gasparin, in his preface, "I believed in the uprising of a great people;
now I am sure of it." Let not the issue shame us by disappointing his


NEW YORK, _February_, 1862.

* * * * *



I have nothing to change in these pages. When I wrote them before the
breaking out of the American crisis, I foreboded, which was not
difficult, that the crisis would be long and grievous, that there would
be mistakes and reverses; but I foreboded, also, that through these
mistakes and reverses, an immense progress was about to come to light.
Some have undertaken to doubt it: at the sight of civil war, and the
evils which it necessarily entails, at the recital of one or two
defeats, they have hastened to raise their hands to Heaven, and to
proclaim in every key the ruin of the United States.

This is not the place to discuss judgments, sometimes superficial,
sometimes malevolent, which too often pass current among us; to examine
what has been, what should be the attitude of our Europe, what is our
responsibility, what are our interests and our duties. We alone, I am
ashamed to admit it, we alone run the risk of rendering doubtful the
final triumph of the good cause; we have not ceased to be, in spite of
ourselves, the only chance and the only hope of the champions of

Perhaps I shall enter ere long, in a new study, upon the important
subject which I confine myself to indicating here, and which
pre-occupies the government at Washington to such a degree that it seems
inclined to order defensive preparations in view of an unnatural
conflict between liberal America and ourselves. Everything may
happen - alas! the seemingly impossible like all else. It is not enough,
therefore, to declare this impossible and monstrous, it is not enough to
prove that the present state of feeling in Europe is far from giving
reason to foresee an intervention in favor of the South; it is necessary
to sap at the base these deplorable sophisms, more fully credited than
is imagined, which may, in due time, under the pressure of certain
industrial needs or of certain political combinations, urge France and
England into a course which is not their own.

For the present, I have only wished to repeat, with a strengthened
conviction, what I said a few months ago. I believed then in the
uprising of a great people; now I am sure of it.

VALLEYRES, _November_ 2, 1861.

* * * * *


At this moment, when we are anxiously scrutinizing every indication of
European feeling with respect to the American question, the advent of a
book, bearing the stamp of a close philosophical, political, and
practical study of the subject, and written, withal, in so hopeful a
spirit as to make us feel with the writer that whatever may result from
the present crisis must be for good, cannot fail to be of public
interest and utility. So truly prophetic is this work in its essence,
that we can hardly believe that it was written in great part amid the
mists that preceded the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln. All probabilities
appear to have been foreseen, and the unerring exactness with which
events have taken place hitherto precisely in the direction indicated by
the author, encourages us to believe that this will continue until his
predictions will have been fulfilled to the end. Clear-sighted,
philosophical, appreciative of American genius and accomplishment,
critical, yet charitable to tenderness, stigmatizing the fault, yet
forgiving the offender, cheering our nation onward by words of
encouragement, bravely spoken at the needed-moment, menacing Europe with
the scorn of posterity, if, forgetting her oft-repeated professions, she
dare forsake the side of liberty to traffic in principles; such is the
scope of what a late reviewer calls "the wisest book which has been
written upon America since De Tocqueville."

Few men are better qualified to judge American affairs than Count de
Gasparin. A many-sided man, combining the scholar, the statesman, the
politician, the man of letters, and the finished gentleman, possessed of
every advantage of culture, wealth, and position, he has devoted a long
life to the advocacy of liberty in all its forms, whether religious or
political, and has ended by making a profound study of American history
and politics, the accuracy of which is truly remarkable. A few facts
with respect to his career, kindly furnished by his personal friend,
Rev. Dr. Robert Baird, of New York, will be here in place.

Count Agénor Étiénne de Gasparin was born at Orange, July 4, 1810. His
family is Protestant, and of Corsican origin; his father was a man of
talent and position, who served for many years as Prefect of the
District of the Rhone, and afterwards as Minister of the Interior under
Louis Philippe, by whom he was highly esteemed. He received a liberal
education, and devoted himself especially to literature, till 1842, when
he was elected by the people of the island of Corsica to represent them
in the Chamber of Deputies. Here began his political career. At that
time, religious liberty was in danger of perishing in France, assailed
by the powerful opposition of the tribunals and the administration. De
Gasparin declared himself its champion, and, in an eloquent speech in
the Chamber of Deputies, which moved the audience to tears, he boldly
accused the courts of perverting the civil code in favor of religious
intolerance, and claimed unlimited freedom for evangelical preaching and
colportage. He also made strenuous efforts to effect the immediate
emancipation of slaves in the French colonies, and published several
essays on the subject. He devoted himself especially to the protection
of Protestantism, and founded in France the Society for the Protection
of Protestant interests, and the Free Protestant Church, yet, detesting
religious intolerance everywhere, he did not hesitate to denounce the
Protestant persecutions of Sweden as bitterly as he had done the
Catholic bigotry of France. He was head of the Cabinet in the Ministry
of the Interior while his father was Minister, and was in the Ministry
of Public Instruction under M. Guizot. In 1848, while travelling in the
East with his wife, a talented Swiss lady, the author of several works,
he received intelligence of the downfall of the government of Louis
Philippe. This event closed his public career. He addressed a letter of
condolence to the dethroned monarch, to whom he was warmly attached,
then retired to Switzerland to devote himself to literature and
philanthropy, being too warm an adherent of the Orleans dynasty to take
part in the new administration. Politically, he is, like Guizot, an
advocate of constitutional monarchy. Since the Revolution, he has
continued to reside in Switzerland. He has published numerous works on
philosophical and social questions, among which may be instanced:
_Esclavage et Traite; De l'Affranchissement des Esclaves; Intérêts
généraux du Protestantisme Français, Paganismet Christianisme, Des
tables tournantes, du surnaturel en général, et des esprits_, etc.

His present work, so hopeful and sympathizing, recommends itself to the
attention of the American public; and even those who may dissent from
some of his positions or conclusions, cannot but admire his vigorous
comprehension of the outlines of the subject, and be cheered by his
predictions of the future. As the expression of the opinion of an
intelligent, clear-sighted European, in a position to comprehend men and
things, concerning the storm which is now agitating the whole country,
it can scarcely fail of a hearty welcome. I commend the following
interpretation, which I have sought to make as conscientiously literal
as due regard to idioms of language would permit, to all true lovers of
liberty and of the Union, of whatever State, section, or nation.


NEW YORK, _June_ 15, 1861.

* * * * *


In publishing this study at the present time, I expose myself to the
blame of prudent men. I shall be told that I ought to have waited.

To have waited for what? Until there shall be no more great questions in
Europe to dispute our attention with the American question? Or until the
American question has shaped itself, and we are able to know clearly
what interests it will serve, in what consequences it will end?

I am not sorry, I confess, to applaud duty before it is recommended by
success. When success shall have come, men eager to celebrate it will
not be wanting, and I shall leave to them the care of demonstrating then
that the North has been in the right, that it has saved the United

To construct the philosophy of events after they have passed is very
interesting, without doubt, but the work to be accomplished to-day is
far more serious. The point in question is to sustain our friends when
they are in need of us; when their battle, far from being won, is
scarcely begun; the point in question is to give our support - the very
considerable support of European opinion - at the time when it can be of
service; the point in question is to assume our small share of
responsibility in one of the gravest conflicts of this age.

Let us enlist; for the Slave States, on their part, are losing no time.
They have profited well, I must admit, by the advantages assured to them
by the complicity of the ministers of Mr. Buchanan. In the face of the
inevitable indecision of a new government, around which care had been
taken to accumulate in advance every impossibility of acting, the
decided bearing of the extreme South, its airs of audacity and defiance
have had a certain éclat and a certain success. Already its partisans
raise their heads; they dare speak in its favor among us; they insult
free trade, by transforming it into an argument destined to serve the
interests of slavery. And shall we remain mute? Shall we listen to the
counsels of that false wisdom that always comes too late, so much does
it fear to declare itself too early? Shall we not feel impelled to show
in all its true light the sacred cause of liberty? Ah! I declare that
the blood boils in my veins; I have hastened and would gladly have
hastened still more. Circumstances independent of my will alone have
retarded a publication prepared more than a month ago.

ORANGE, _March_ 19, 1861.

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* * * * *


* * * * *


The title of this work will produce the effect of a paradox. The general
opinion is that the United States continued to pursue an upward course
until the election of Mr. Lincoln, and that since then they have been
declining. It is not difficult, and it is very necessary, to show that
this opinion is absolutely false. Before the recent victory of the
adversaries of slavery, the American Confederation, in spite of its
external progress and its apparent prosperity, was suffering from a
fearful malady which had well-nigh proved mortal; now, an operation has
taken place, the sufferings have increased, the gravity of the situation
is revealed for the first time, perhaps, to inattentive eyes. Does this
mean that the situation was not grave when it did not appear so? Does
this mean that we must deplore a violent crisis which alone can bring
the cure?

I do not deplore it - I admire it. I recognize in this energetic
reaction against the disease, the moral vigor of a people habituated to
the laborious struggles of liberty. The rising of a people is one of the
rarest and most marvellous prodigies presented by the annals of
humanity. Ordinarily, nations that begin to decline, decline constantly
more and more; a rare power of life is needed to retrieve their
position, and stop in its course a decay once begun.

We have a strange way of seconding the generous enterprise into which
the United States have entered with so much courage! We prophesy to them
nothing but misfortunes; we almost tell them that they have ceased to
exist; we give them to understand, that in electing Mr. Lincoln they
have renounced their greatness; that they have precipitated themselves
head foremost into an abyss; that they have ruined their prosperity,
sacrificed their future, rendered henceforth impossible the magnificent
character which was reserved to them. Mr. Buchanan, we seem to say, is
the last President of the Union.

This, thank God, is the reverse of the truth. But lately, indeed, the
United States were advancing to their ruin; but lately there was reason
to mourn in thinking of them; the steps might have been counted which
it remained for them to take to complete the union of their destiny with
that of an accursed and perishable institution - an institution which
corrupts and destroys every thing with which it comes in contact.
To-day, new prospects are opening to them; they will have to combat, to
labor, to suffer; the crime of a century is not repaired in a day; the
right path when long forsaken is not found again without effort; guilty
traditions and old complicities are not broken through without
sacrifices. It is none the less true, notwithstanding, that the hour of
effort and of sacrifice, grievous as it may be, is the very hour of
deliverance. The election of Mr. Lincoln will be one of the great dates
of American history; it closes the past, but it opens the future. With
it is about to commence, if the same spirit be maintained, and if
excessive concessions do not succeed in undoing all that has been done,
a new era, at once purer and greater than that which has just ended.

Let others accuse me of optimism; I willingly agree to it. I believe
that optimism is often right here below. We need hope; we need sometimes
to receive good news; we need to see sometimes the bright side of
things. The bright side is often the true side; if Love is blindfolded,
I see a triple bandage on the eyes of Hate. Kindliness has its
privileges; and I do not think myself in a worse position than another
to judge the United States because they inspire me with an earnest
sympathy; because, after having mourned their faults and trembled at
their perils, I have joyfully saluted the noble and manly policy of
which the election of Mr. Lincoln is the symptom. Is it not true, that
at the first news we all seemed to breathe a whiff of pure and free air
from the other side of the ocean?

It is a pleasure, in times like ours, to feel that certain principles
still live; that they will be obeyed, cost what it may; that questions
of conscience can yet sometimes weigh down questions of profit. The
abolition of slavery will be, I have always thought, the principal
conquest of the nineteenth century. This will be its recommendation in
the eyes of posterity, and the chief compensation for many of its
weaknesses. As for us old soldiers of emancipation, who have not ceased
to combat for it for twenty years and more, at the tribunal and
elsewhere, we shall be excused without doubt for seeing in the triumph
of our American friends something else than a subject of lamentation.



If they had not triumphed, do you know who would have gained the
victory? Slavery is only a word - a vile word, doubtless, but to which we
in time become habituated. To what do we not become habituated? We have
stores of indulgence and indifference for the social iniquities which
have found their way into the current of cotemporary civilization, and
which can invoke prescription. So we have come to speak of American
slavery with perfect sang froid. We are not, therefore, to stop at the
word, but to go straight to the thing; and the thing is this:

Every day, in all the Southern States, families are sold at retail: the
father to one, the mother to another, the son to a third, the young
daughter to a fourth; and the father, the mother, the children, are
scattered to the four winds of heaven; these hearts are broken, these
poor beings are given a prey to infamy and sorrow, these marriages are
ruptured, and adulterous unions are formed twenty leagues, a hundred
leagues away, in the bosom and with the assent of a Christian community.
Every day, too, the domestic slave-trade carries on its work; merchants
in human flesh ascend the Mississippi, to seek in the _producing_ States
wherewith to fill up the vacuum caused unceasingly by slavery in the
_consuming_ States; their ascent made, they scour the farms of Virginia
or of Kentucky, buying here a boy, there a girl; and other hearts are
torn, other families are dispersed, other nameless crimes are
accomplished coolly, simply, legally: it is the necessary revenue of the
one, it is the indispensable supply of the others. Must not the South
live, and how dares any one travesty a fact so simple? by what right was
penned that eloquent calumny called "Uncle Tom's Cabin"?

A calumny! I ask how any one would set to work to calumniate the customs
which I have just described. Say, then, that the laws of the South are a
calumny, that the official acts of the South are a calumny; for I affirm
that the simple reading of these acts and these laws, a glance at the
advertisements of a Southern journal, saddens the heart more, and
wounds the conscience deeper, than the most poignant pages of Mrs.
Harriet Beecher Stowe. I admit willingly that there are many masters who
are very kind and very good. I admit that there are some slaves who are
relatively happy. I cast aside unhesitatingly the stories of exceptional
cruelty; it is enough for me to see that these _happy_ slaves expose
themselves to a thousand deaths to escape a situation declared
"preferable to that of our workmen." It is enough for me to hear the
heart-rending cries of those women and young girls who, adjudged to the
highest and last bidder, become, by the law and in a Christian country,
the property, yes, the property (excuse the word, it is the true one) of
the debauchees, their purchasers. And remark here that the virtues of
the master are a weak guarantee: he may die, he may become bankrupt, and
nothing then can hinder his slaves from being sold into the hands of the
buyer who scours the country and makes his choice.

We should calumniate the South if we amused ourselves by making a
collection of atrocious deeds, in the same manner that we should
calumniate France by seeking in the _Police Gazette_ for the description
of her social state. There is, notwithstanding, this difference between
the iniquities of slavery and our own: the first are almost always
unpunished, while the second are repressed by the courts. An institution
which permits evil, creates it in a great measure: in saying that men
are things, it necessarily engenders more crimes, more acts of violence,
more cowardly deeds, than the imagination of romancers will ever invent.
When a class has neither the right to complain, nor to defend itself,
nor to testify in law; when it cannot make its voice heard in any
manner, we may be excused for not taking in earnest the idyls chanted on
its felicity. We must be ignorant at once of the heart of man and of
history to preserve the slightest doubt on this point. I add that those
who, like me, have had in their hands the documents of our colonial
slavery, have become terribly suspicious, and are likely to look with a
skeptical eye on these Arcadian descriptions, the worth of which they
can appreciate.

Once more, I do not contest the humanity of many masters, but I remember
that there were humane masters too in Martinique, Guadeloupe, and
Bourbon; yet this did not prevent the discovery, on a rigid scrutiny,
sometimes of excesses, as fearful as inevitable, of the discretionary
power; at others, of a systematic depravation, and this to such a point
that in one of our colonies the custom of regular unions had become
absolutely unknown to the slaves.

I cannot help believing that man is the same everywhere. Never, in any
time or in any latitude, has it been given him to possess his fellow,
without fearful misfortunes having resulted to both. Have we not heard
celebrated the delightful mildness of Spanish slavery in Cuba?
Travellers entertained by the Creoles usually return enchanted with it.
Yet, notwithstanding, it is found that on quitting the cities and
penetrating into the plantations, the most barbarous system of labor is
discovered that exists in the entire world. Cuba devours her black
population so rapidly that she is unceasingly obliged to purchase
negroes from abroad; and these, being once on the island, have not
before them an average life exceeding ten years! In the United States,
the planters of the extreme South are also obliged to renew their supply
of negroes; but, as they have recourse to the domestic instead of the
African trade, and as the domestic trade furnishes slaves at an
excessively high price, it follows that motives of interest oppose the
adoption of the destructive system of Cuba. Other higher motives also
oppose it, I am certain; and I am far from comparing the system of
Louisiana or the Carolinas to that which prevails in the Spanish island.
We exaggerate nothing, however; and whatever may be the points of
difference, we may hold it as certain that those of resemblance are
still more numerous: the tree is the same, it cannot but bear the same

It must be affirmed, besides, that slavery is peculiarly odious on that
soil where the equality of mankind has been inscribed with so much eclat
at the head of a celebrated constitution. Liberty imposes obligations;
there is at the bottom of the human conscience something which will

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Online LibraryAgénor GasparinThe Uprising of a Great People The United States in 1861. to Which is Added a Word of Peace on the Difference Between England the United States → online text (page 1 of 15)