The Proper Use of our Victory.
"What will he do with it?" is a question which, with a change of the first pronoun to suit the circumstances, nations and individuals may ask upon the recurrence of good or evil fortune, with as much of interest and propriety, as Bulwer inquired into the probable action of his hero. We have gained "a famous victory." What shall we do with it? It is as yet incomplete, but an earnest, it is hoped, of ultimate and decided success. How many thousands of lives may yet be required to reach the devoutly wish for consummation, the corpses strewn along the track of the contending armies from the Wilderness to their present position, may afford us data for determining.
Now in the midst of victories so important, and when the armies of Grant are closing on the wasted forces of Lee, and Sherman is driving Johnston from one position to another, it is the appropriate time for offering to the Confederates, as terms of peace, the purposes declared by Congress, the President, and the people of the northern States as the objects of the war when it first began. Such action would not be more magnanimous than politic. It could not, under the circumstances, be construed as springing from fear or doubt of our ability to enforce such terms. This objection could no longer be urged, and, if the representations of the administration party respecting the exhaustion of the Confederacy are correct, there can be no doubt that they would be willingly accepted.
If they should be rejected, what have we lost in the proffer, if indeed the restoration of the Union is the end sought to be adcomplished? Can the administration and its partisans answer? Should the Confederates refuse to accept them, their continuis of course optional with us. We may modify or change them at pleasure, and this fact would present, as we believe, an unanswerable argument for their acceptance. If they should reject such terms under the disasters now pressing upon them, they would be debarred from complaint if others and more severe be imposed, should the hopes of victory now justly entertained be fully realized.
Here is an excellent opportunity to test the "loyalty" and "Unionism" of the "loyal Union party." To those who boast of the exclusive possession of these qualities is now afforded an occasion for proving their truthfulness and sincerity. Do you want the Union restored, gentlemen? You can attain your wish in this regard by notifying the Confederate government that peace will be made on the basis of the Crittenden resolution. This is now hardly a question for doubt. Do you want the Union restored, not as it was, but with the theories of Garrison and Whiting Unionists! Your "loyalty" is not to the Union but to the theories of these men. You know you can get, without a continuance of the war and the dangers and burdens accompanying it, the Union of the constitution. You do not know that you can get the Garrison and Whiting Union.
If you can get it, is it so much more desirable than the one fashioned by Washington [unknown half line] it is worth the risk of losing the latter, and the enormous expenditure of treasure and life necessary for its attainment? Do you wish a people united by fraternal feeling and mutual interest? Offer the South, in the time of our victory and its defeat, such terms as a brave and generous people should extend to one equally brave and generous, and you may bridge the horrid chasm which hatred and bloodshed have opened between the sections. Continue the war for the enforcement of the theories of Garrison and Whiting, and the hatred now existing will be perpetuated while the history of the contest remains.
You dread national bankruptcy, a further depreciation of the currency, and an increase of the national debt. These may be avoided by an instant peace. Will you risk all these in your devotion to Garrisonism and Whitingism? The first you say is a self-executing power. Some of you even that it has killed the institution it opposes, and those less confident in the death of slavery agree in saying that the ism by its inherent moral force will kill it. Your theory is, that even if its constitutional privileges are restored, it is shore of so much of its power that it cannot long survive.
Your theories and party platforms are not worth as much as was one day of the life of the gallant Wadsworth, who, although a member of your party, yet held his first duty to the maintenance of the constitution whose authority he was in the field to vindicate. They were not worth one drop of the blood which flowed from the fatal wound of Sedgwick, or one moment of torture to the humblest patriot soldier who has fallen in the battles of Grant and Lee. What are they, then, in comparison with the vast aggregate of woe and death their attempted enforcement has caused, or the desolation which will attend their continuance as the terms of peace.