The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXVI
REGENERATION

"EVIL is good in the making," says the optimist philosopher. Even the more sober view of life reveals

That men may rise on stepping-stones Of their dead selves to higher things.

Out of the calamities and horrors of war came to the nation a larger life. Communities had been lifted out of pettiness, churches had half forgotten their sectarianism, to millions of souls a sublimer meaning in life had been disclosed. Lowell said it in two lines:

Earth's biggest country's got her soul, And risen up earth's greatest nation.

The South had suffered far more than the North, and the South reaped the larger profit. The fallacy of the old Southern civilization had been the idea that labor is a curse and is to be shirked on to somebody else. Overthrow and impoverishment brought labor as a necessity to every one, and slowly it was revealed as a blessing.

When General Lee, stately in figure and bearing and splendid in dress, met in surrender the sturdy Grant, in worn and homely service uniform, it was emblematic of the yielding of the aristocratic order to the industrial democracy. There was significance in the victor's kindly words,-- "Let your soldiers keep their horses; they will need them when they get home for the spring plowing." That was

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