Who is to Blame?
The enemy are in Pennsylvania. The nation's capital is seriously menaced with capture. Our chief cities are threatened by a victorious rebel army. Loyal citizens are being plundered of their property, and the blood-red demon of war is stamping his hoof upon the valleys of the north. The army of the Potomac, confessedly the "finest on the planet," has been twice dreadfully defeated. Every energy of the nation is called forth to save it from destruction.
Who is responsible for this state of affairs? Let the partisan report of the congressional committee on the conduct of the war, all of whom are warm friends of the president, and vigorous supporters of his administration, answer:
"The administration called by the people to the head of the government, in this the most critical period of the nation's history, was more promptly and fully supported than that of any other government of which history has preserved any record. The call of the president for money and men had been more than complied with; no legislation which he had deemed necessary had been denied by congress; and the people had most nobly and generously supported and sustained what their representatives had promised in their name. The same congress, fresh from their constituents, had again met, and there could be no doubt that as they had before acted, so would they continue to act. It needs but to refer to the history of the congress just closed, its prompt and thorough action, clothing the executive with the fullest power, placing at his disposal all the resources of men and money which this nation possessed, to prove that your committee judged rightly that congress needed no prompting from them to do its entire duty. Not upon those whose duty it was to provide the means necessary to put down the rebellion, but upon those whose duty it was to rightfully apply those means, and the agents they employed for that purpose, rests the blame, if any, that the hopes of the nation have not been realized, and its expectations have been so long disappointed."
We have also Lyman Trumbull's testimony to the same effect.
The nation sees that its strength has been criminally frittered away; its armies placed in the hands of notorious incompetents, who have led them to useless slaughter; its treasure squandered to fill the pockets of heartless contractors and greedy cormorants who delight in preying on the life blood of the country. Under these circumstances, the manifestation of a deep and ominous indignation by the people against these unfaithful servants, is a virtue; fulsome and persistent displays of obsequious servility and praise is crime.
The administration has heard the voice of the people, at first in tones of advice and entreaty, now speaking the accents of anger and warning; it has heeded them no more than the idle whisperings of the summer wind, or the voice of the waters rippling upon the shore. It has thrown itself into the arms of men who never loved their country, and who, to-day, would sooner see the Union perish than that it should be reconstructed on any basis than that they would dictate. These miserable intriguers have dictated the policies of the war, and in most cases the commanders of our armies. They have no sympathies in common with the people; they care nothing for popular desire or popular opinion; careless of all but the success of their one-sided, peculiar theories, they trample over everything that stands in the way of their success. With them, the management of the war is the stepping-stone to power. Their selfish ambition so fills the range of their vision as totally to exclude the country and its welfare.
There is absolutely no hope that the existing state of affairs will be changed. The hydraheaded administration — for it is a mistake which no American will fall into, to suppose that the nation has now one single head — is resolute in adhering to its policies, careless of consequences. Nothing but imminent personal peril will induce them to abandon these policies, and accede to the popular demand. In the midst of their fierce political fanaticism, they display the most pitiable imbecility in military affairs. General after general of their selection demonstrates his incapacity, and one after another is chosen to succeed, as it were by chance. Merit and soldiery ability has long ceased to govern in the choice of commanders, and as intimated a moment since, these qualities will not be regarded until regard for their own safety renders their consideration imperative.
Truly, the nation is passing "under the cloud and through the sea," and without some prudential interposition the rebel Pharaoh will not be destroyed. In the determination that the negroes shall be freed, a nation of Anglo-Saxons will be enslaved.