The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview
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Northern Invasions

E. E. Hale

Northern invasions, when successful, advance the civilization of the world.

It would not be difficult to present from all history a mass of illustrations of this thesis well-nigh sufficient in themselves to establish it. And there is no doubt that the principles of human nature, which appear in those illustrations, can be set in such order as to prove the thesis beyond a question. The softness of Southern climate produces, in the long run, gentleness, effeminacy, and indolence, or passionate rather than persevering effort. It produces, again, the palliatives or disguises of these traits which are found in formal religions, and in institutions of caste or slavery. The rigor of Northern climate produces, on the other hand, in the long rum, hardy physical constitutions among men, with determined individuality of character. It produces, therefore, freedom even to democracy in politics's, protestantism even to rationalism in religion, and grim perseverance even to the bitter end in war. A certain stern morality, often amounting to asceticism, is imposed on Northern constitutions.... Nobody pretends, of course, that war itself does anything final in the advance of civilization....

War, in itself, does nothing but plough -- but immediately on the end of the war, in any locality, he who succeeds begins on the harrowing and the planting. And because God is, and directs all such affairs, it is wonderful to see how short is the June which in His world covers all such furrows as His ploughmen make with new beauty. It is to the methods of that new harvest that the President has boldly led our attention in his admirable Proclamation of Amnesty. It is to the details of it that each loyal man has to look already....

The President, with courage which does him infinite honor, leads the

E.E HALE, "NORTHERN INVASIONS," Atlantic Monthly ( Boston, February, 1864), Vol. 13, pp. 245-250.

Lincoln's Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, in December, 1863, offered to recognized State governments in the South which had been organized by ten per cent of the voters of 1860. the President's political opponents saw in the proposal a scheme for making "rotten boroughs," under Lincoln's control, in the South. some of his sup- porters saw opportunities for extending both Northern culture and Northern economic organization to the area.


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