Party Government in the United States of America

By William Milligan Sloane | Go to book overview

XV
THE CIVIL WAR 1861-1865

The quality of the Republican party--Problems of the administration--The awakening of the North--Financial and military measures--The fugitive-slave question--Loose-construction legislation --The Emancipation Proclamation--Suspension of Habeas Corpus --Conventions and elections--Exhaustion of rebellion.

THE normal course of party evolution had been steadily thwarted in proportion as the slave power grew stronger and more exacting. The construction of the Constitution, both in the courts and in politics, was strongly influenced by the wants of but one portion of the party. The effort to supply these on the doctrine of strict adhesion to the language of the federal pact had wrought disaster to each successive party which desired the benefit of its implications. Once again a loose-construction party of substantial dimensions was in power. Its victory was not due to numbers, for the opposition had nearly a million more votes in the election; nor was it due to its attitude toward the Constitution. Its control was due to moral forces--the duty to prevent the expansion of slavery, the duty to preserve the Union. These obligations had divided the hostile forces; there was no majority mandate of the popular will except to preserve the Union without the spread of a labor system growing more and more abhorrent in exact proportion as its supporters ex-

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