The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

27
The Political Revolution

The ( Columbus) Crisis

As in the progress of events and by the consent of Administration organs, we have at last drifted into some consideration of what shall be the end of war, if it is to ever end at all, and the question of "reconstruction," it is an opportune moment for all hands to think about what kind of a government we have had, and what kind of a government we want.

With an implicit confidence that an overwhelming majority of the American people neither desire nor expect any fundamental change in the character of the institutions under which we so long happily flourished, the conviction is a sequence that there can be no danger of such change but through the ignorance or inattention of the people as to the organic nature of those institutions. To assist in cultivating their intelligence up to the standard of their instinctive devotion to the characteristics of American freedom, no repetition can be too frequent, no illustration of those characteristics too varied.

It cannot escape the attention of the most strenuous disciple of the abnegation or abeyance of all questions of the policy of the Administration till "the rebellion is crushed" that the advocacy of this sentiment is consentaneous with a persistent depreciation of State power, and a concurrent exaggeration of Federal authority. This fact is patent to both the adherents and antagonists of the political organization in accordance with the views of which the Government is attempted to be guided. What bearing then the maintenance or overthrow of State importance has in our political system, it is of immense importance to elucidate and determine. If State identity -- preponderating State sovereignty -- has coexisted with our national prosperity and been an essential feature in its promotion, it is wise to appreciate the fact. If to Federal autocracy and State degradation, our past glory

The Crisis ( Columbus, Ohio, August 26, 1863).

Samuel A. Medary, old "wheel-horse of the Ohio Democracy," had been briefly governor of Kansas, Territory under Buchanan. Long an editor of the Ohio Statesman, he returned to Columbus at the outbreak of the war to publish the Crisis. His penetrating analyses of Republican plans and procedure gave him importance as an intellectual leader of the Copperhead faction of the Democratic Party. His editorials were widely copied in the Democratic press, and romldly denounced in the Republican.

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