How Shall We End the War?
We have frequently printed extracts from rebel journals, quotations from their orators, and statements of our own citizens who have opportunities for knowing the drift of popular sentiment in the south, to show that peace might be established and the Union restored under the old constitution, if the administration really desired such a consummation. In their attempt to deny that the war is not being prosecuted for the abolition of slavery, but really for a restoration of the Union, the administration press have urged that Mr. Lincoln cannot reach the people of the south directly; but that when Jeff. Davis and the rebel leaders make proffers of peace, they will be considered. To which we reply, that at least no harm could result from proffers, on our part, of liberal terms to the rebel states; that if such proffers were made and rejected by the rebel authorities, the dissatisfaction existing at the south would be immensely increased, and the growth of a reconstruction party, amongst the people and soldiers, be rendered certain and rapid. And now, in the hour of our prosperity and their extremity, is the most favorable season imaginable for making fair and honorable attempts to secure their return to their allegiance and the constitution.
But the administration journals, with singular unanimity, are urging that the abolition of slavery (which they declare to be the cause of the war) shall be the condition precedent of the rebellious states' return to the Union. Every one of these journals, which has any word to say upon the possibilities of reconstruction, declares that upon no other terms should restoration be permitted and peace concluded. Some of the mildest are willing that the emancipation must be provided for before the armies of the Union are recalled and disbanded. Mr. Stanton, the president's real premier in the cabinet, does no hesitate to declare that, so far as he has power in the matter, the war shall be prosecuted until every slave in Dixie is made free; and the teachings of the administration party throughout are to the same purport. Mr. Whiting, under direction of his masters, has just published that may be fairly regarded as a semi-official declaration of the views of the administration on this subject, in which it is maintained that no terms of settlement are to be listened to which do not include the total extinction of slavery.
Coming from the "solicitor of the war department," this document has somewhat more significance than the private views of Wm. Whiting, esquire; and we repeat, it may justly be assumed to represent the leaning of the entire administration upon this great question. It is by no means the first time the president has adopted this Yankee experiment of throwing out such semi-official declarations, which may easily be adopted or repudiated-as feelers to discover the state of the public temper on any given subject.
But let us suppose the people of the north were willing (which they are not) to prosecute this war until even this coveted result, on the part of the abolitionists, was attained — how then are we to arrange terms of peace with the rebels — upon these or any terms? A short time since, communication with Alexander Stevens was refused, when our "government" had no positive knowledge that he did not come clothed with powers to surrender slavery, surrender Jeff. Davis, surrender the entire rebel establishment, to make peace. They would not hear what he had to say. And the New York Times, which speaks the views of the president and his cabinet as clearly and as fully as any paper in America, says:
It has never been proposed, either formally or otherwise, by any secretary or head of department, to offer terms, or accept terms, or discuss terms or peace or of reconstruction with the authorities of the rebel confederacy. We venture to say that neither the president nor any one of his secretaries would consent even to accept a surrender at the hands of Jefferson Davis, or of the organized government which he represents, if it came in such shape as to involve, directly or by implication, the right of that government to speak for the people of the rebel states.
The Times then proceeds to satisfy our minds by informing us how, in its opinion, peace may be restored. It is in this fashion:
When the people of the rebel states are disposed for peace they can secure it by refusing to fight and by resisting the rebel government which may seek to coerce them into fighting longer; and when they desire a restoration of the Union and a resumption of their former rights and privileges under it, they have only to resume their allegiance to its constitution and laws, and to make war, at the requirement of its authorities, upon all who attempt to overthrown them. They must do this as individuals, as citizens of the United States, and subject to all the pains and penalties they may have incurred by past violations of those laws.
We fancy "the people of the rebel states" will be highly encouraged by this gratifying statement, which prophesies an early end of their sufferings and of the rebellion. We think we see "individuals" in Jeff.'s dominions "making war" upon Jeff.'s authority. If this is the only crumb of comfort we can extend to our southern brethren, their case is indeed a hard one. They were persistently told, at the outset of the rebellion, that do what they would, they could not get out of the Union; their secession ordinances, their declarations of independence, and the like, were mere waste paper. They still continued to be part and parcel of the United States. But now, when they wish to enter once more upon the enjoyment of their rights and privileges as citizens of the United States, subject to the constitution and laws thereof, they are told they are outside now, and cant' get in any more except upon such terms as the abolitionists choose to impose.
We were not previously aware that this war was a war against people. We supposed it was a war against rebellion. But it seems we were mistaken. Our gracious president and his supporters now inform us that not only must the rebellion be put down, but slavery must be extinguished; and after all that the people of the states whose governments have declared against the Union must lay down their arms one by one, or turn them against the rulers exercising authority over them. Did it never occur to Mr. Lincoln that Jeff. Davis' power throughout the rebel states is as absolute and material as his own up north? And suppose one of "the people" in Illinois should "make war" against our own authorities, what would be his fate?
We cannot do better than to adopt the language of the N. Y. World on this very subject. That able journal says "the sum of this is, that the administration will continue a bloody civil war indefinitely, on a mere point of etiquette. It will not even accept a surrender at the hands of the confederate government, by whose action the people of the south would consider themselves bound. According to the hopeful method here propounded, the southern people, almost every man of whom is subject to the pains and penalties of treason and liable to be hung under the laws of the United States, must likewise incur the hazard of execution for treason by the confederate government before any thought of peace can by entertained. * * * * *
"This is, no doubt, a dextrous party stratagem; but in any other view such fastidiousness is more nice than wise. Washington was a man who never consciously abdicated the slightest modieum of personal or official dignity, but he was troubled with no such superfine notions as these. At the time of the whisky insurrection, he, accompanied by Hamilton, went into western Pennsylvania, and treated in person with the leaders of an armed rebellion, and when he returned to Philadelphia he left authority to continue such negotiation. The consequence was that the insurrection was quelled without actual bloodshed. But Mr. Lincoln finds a more congenial model in the contemporary superciliousness of the Czar of Russia, in his treatment of Poland, than in the example of the first and purest of American presidents."
The simple truth about the matter is, that if the southern states return in time to participate in a presidential election, the republican party is doomed. And their administration has not sufficient patriotism to sacrifice its party for the sake of the country.
And there is an end.