The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

24
Resources of the North and South

The Knickerbocker Magazine

One of the most frequent arguments with which the newspapers attempt to reconcile their readers to the continuance of a war which is desolating large tracts of the country, destroying the prosperity of the nation, and pouring out like water the blood and treasure of the people, is that the superior resources of the North will soon compel the South to succumb; and that the restoration of the Union will repay all our losses and expenditures, while it will secure for us forever both against future wars of North and South, and against the aggression of European Powers. If we admit the premises to be correct, the conclusion by no means follows. Superior resources do not always decide the contest, particularly in wars of subjugation and invasion. For example, Spain at the time that she was the greatest maritime nation of Europe, and the most powerful, waged a war of eighty years' duration to subjugate her seven revolted provinces of the Netherlands. With her vastly superior resources and population she utterly failed, and the United Netherlands became a great power on the earth. The British North-American colonies, with a poor population of about three millions, threw off the yoke of the mother country, and braved her fury for seven long years in a devastating war, in which the sufferings and wretched condition of the troops led by Washington far exceeded the wants and privations of the forces now under Lee. George Washington was denounced as a traitor by the British government, and the inhabitants of the revolted colonies were stigmatized as "rebels." Had they failed, they would have been always regarded as traitors and rebels by the self-complacent British nation.

Rebellionl foul dishonoring word, Whose wrongful blight so oft hath stained
The holiest cause that tongue or sword
Of mortal ever lost or gained.

The Knickerbocker Magazine ( New York, November, 1862).

The argument that economic superiority foreordained Northern victory, proclaimed by propagandists in the North and echoed by later historians, was subjected to skeptical analysis in The Knickerbocker Magazine. The Knickerbocker's early indifference to the war had grown to open copperheadism after the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Its arguments pleased the Confederates.

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