The Tragic Conflict: The Civil War and Reconstruction

By William B. Hesseltine | Go to book overview

35
The New National Mind

Harper's New Monthly Magazine

The nation was becoming rich to an enormous extent, and in the ten years from 1850 to 1860, the estimated cash value of farms under cultivation had gone up from $3,271,575,426 to $6,645,045,007, an increase of 103 per cent in ten years. The amount of capital invested in farm implements and machinery in 1860 was $246,118,141, being an increase of over ninety-four millions in ten years, or more than 63 per cent; while our population during that period increased only at the rate of 35.5 per cent. Something is said of the training, the practical training, of the mind of our people in thought as well as toil, by the fact that the manufacture of farm implements in 1860 amounted to $17,487,960 -- an increase of 160 per cent in ten years on the whole, and of 325.05 per cent in the Western States. The South concerned itself little with this enterprise and its important educational bearings.... and slavery could not make the South very winning to the inventors and workmen who have so thriven in the regions of liberty where labor is so much respected and in such close relations with thought and public spirit.

The war found our people busy with their immense work of agriculture, mechanism, and commerce; and bent upon money-making as never before. The great conflict did not take them from their activity, but changed its field or its motive, and put a grand national enthusiasm into the place of their industrial utilitarianism. Everywhere throughout the Free States they had been learning to put mind into material implements; and iron, brass, wood, leather, and stone were made servants of thought. Their vast mechanical force stood ready to pass from the arts of peace to the arts of war; and plows, reapers, mowers, spindles, lathes, engines, furnaces, rolling-mills, foundries, seemed to rush like living creatures to arms, at the call of our President, and to fight against the rebellion, as the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. They clothed and fed our army, made our bridges and roads, furnished swords, muskets, and cannon of unexampled excellence, and sent forth against the insurgents a navy that startled the world, and made every resource of invention and science tell in the

"New Aspects of the American Mind," Harper,s New Monthly Magazine ( New York, May, 1867), Vol. 34, pp.795-800.

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