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in patriotism, genius and fortitude to those whom they overcame. It was certain to be demonstrated that the military disadvantages which beset the Union cause were fully equal to those which confronted the Confederates, and that the disaffection of the Northern people went a long way towards equalizing the respective powers.

Besides this our Northern public has only recently had the opportunity of scanning the rebellion from the inside. The truth is that public sentiment had grown so strong in favor of the superiority of Southern statesmanship and Southern strategy, that it became almost imperative to explain why they did not succeed. This made it incumbent on every man of high rank in the army or government of the Confederacy to excuse himself and show that, wherever the fault might rest, he, at least, was not responsible for the failure of the attempt at dismemberment. The chief executive himself set the example. His elaborate apology for the ill-success of the Confederate cause awakened little attention, as the Northern press, like the Northern people, had not sufficient interest in the subject to question its accuracy or rebut its conclusions. Not so, however, the subordinates on whom he weakly and ungenerously sought to cast the stigma of failure. Each one of these made haste to repel the insinuation of default.

With the revival of interest in the events of the war and the conduct and capacity of the leaders of the opposing armies has come also an inclination to revise and readjust our estimates of the political leaders and forces of that time. This, too, was inevitable in the very nature of things. To these contemporaries, the better part of whose activities pertained to a period ante-dating the civil war, such a thing as a just estimate of its leaders, either civil or military, was evidently impossible. The events which occur while men are rising to the zenith of their power, and which constitute the chief elements of whatever fame they may achieve, very naturally color the estimates they make of those who were opponents or co-workers.

Histories, sketches, and memoirs have not been rare since the guns of Moultrie thundered against Fort Sumter. Few men of any note during the period immediately following have escaped the stylus of the literary assassin, while very many have insisted on giving their fame the coup de grâce of autobiographic defense.

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in patriotism, genius and fortitude to those whom they overcame. It was certain to be demonstrated that the military disadvantages which beset the Union cause were fully equal to those which confronted the Confederates, and that the disaffection of the Northern people went a long way towards equalizing the respective powers.

Besides this our Northern public has only recently had the opportunity of scanning the rebellion from the inside. The truth is that public sentiment had grown so strong in favor of the superiority of Southern statesmanship and Southern strategy, that it became almost imperative to explain why they did not succeed. This made it incumbent on every man of high rank in the army or government of the Confederacy to excuse himself and show that, wherever the fault might rest, he, at least, was not responsible for the failure of the attempt at dismemberment. The chief executive himself set the example. His elaborate apology for the ill-success of the Confederate cause awakened little attention, as the Northern press, like the Northern people, had not sufficient interest in the subject to question its accuracy or rebut its conclusions. Not so, however, the subordinates on whom he weakly and ungenerously sought to cast the stigma of failure. Each one of these made haste to repel the insinuation of default.

With the revival of interest in the events of the war and the conduct and capacity of the leaders of the opposing armies has come also an inclination to revise and readjust our estimates of

The character of these works has changed from time to time wit the change in public sentiment already indicated. The earlie ones were yet marked with the heat of conflict and its anteceder struggles. Greeley's “ American Conflict” showed, with th ghastly clearness of a side-lighted photograph, the view of on whose whole goul had been absorbed by the “ Anti-Slavery" idea Alexander H. Stephens's “War between the States” is its compan ion piece of antipodal irrelevance. Each was written in justifica tion of views which subsequent events made comparatively unim portant. Sherman's “ Memoirs" were red with the glow of battl and full of the reckless abandon that characterized the yet recen march through Georgia. Gen. Joe Johnston, besides writing in self-defense, was yet suffering from the sense of galling injustic on the part of the Confederate executive, and is constitutionally inclined to stand in the shadow of his own greatness. Gen Badeau's fertile pen was justly prolix in defense of his great chief but the field was too near for him to maintain a due perspective. Dodge's “Bird's Eye View” declared the causes of conflict to be immaterial. Vice-President Wilson gave a ponderous history of the “ Anti-Slavery Conflict,” constructed upon the theory that the rebellion was only an insignificant sequel—the physical result of the antecedent struggle.

It is only within a very recent time-hardly more than a few months indeed—that the attention of the American people has been turned in serious earnest in this direction. The younger portion have awakened to a positive and active interest in the events in which their fathers participated or witnessed, animated by that pride which always exalts the exploits of an ancestor, while the gurvivors of those who fought have passed the period of satiety and are fast approaching the reminiscent stage which occupies itself in “reviewing the rear.”

The prime cause of such a re-awakening at this time is not far to seek. The financial misfortunes of General Grant turned the national attention upon himself, and the physical sufferings which followed hard upon them, as if a persistent evil fate pursued the simple-minded soldier to his tomb, intensified our sympathy. When the hand that had so firmly held the sword, took up the pen with the same grim determination to re-conquer a competence for his family with which it had undertaken the suppression of the rebellion, our attention was divided between

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the political leaders and forces of that time. This, too, was inevitable in the very nature of things. To these contemporaries, the better part of whose activities pertained to a period ante-dating che civil war, such a thing as a just estimate of its leaders, either civil or military, was evidently impossible. The events which occur while men are rising to the zenith of their power, and vhich constitute the chief elements of whatever fame they may chieve, very naturally color the estimates they make of those ho were opponents or co-workers,

Histories, sketches, and memoirs have not been rare since the uns of Moultrie thundered against Fort Sumter. Few men of ny note during the period immediately following have escaped ne stylus of the literary assassin, while very many have insisted a giving their fame the coup de grâce of autobiographic defense.

the suffering hero and the events which made his name memorable. The result has been that the people have greedily consumed everything accessible on this subject. And what a wealth of rich material has been supplied. The President of the republic whose brief but glorious life began and ended with his official tenure, has put in his reserpt of defense against his enemies and of accusation against his subordinates. Grant has given us his artless commentary, written in the agony of dissolution, but obedient to the injunction of his great superior, “ with malice towards none and with charity for all.” Mr. Blaine has compiled his curiously skillful “Twenty Years.” General Logan has told of the war and its causes. The celebrated series of war articles in the Century is approaching the end of its second year with undiminished interest. And these are only a small portion of the literature the last two years has given us on the subject.

This inquiry is as yet chiefly confined to particular men and specific events, but these are too closely connected with the great underlying question of right and wrong that affected the two opposing ideas to permit that to be long neglected. Inspired by an unparalleled benignity, the American people have hitherto consented to keep in the background the chief question involved in determination of the contrasted statesmen and leaders. They have been willing to consider Lee and Jackson and Johnston in contrast with Grant and Sherman and Thomas, from a purely military standpoint, as if they were merely players in a great game of chess, in which skill alone, and not manhood, was to be taken into account as if the question of loyalty to the Nation were a mere accident, for which the one class were entitled to no credit and the other deserving of no disparagement. This has gone so far that there was even a tendency to forget altogether the fact that a war could not be waged for the preservation of the Union unless some one was responsible for the attempt to destroy it.

Posterity will hold that the first duty of every man, North and South alike, was the active and zealous support of the Union

It will no more excuse apathy than it will condone hostility. It may, indeed, admit sincerity of purpose and honesty of conviction as a mitigating circumstance, but by no means a justification. It will say of one class, they thought they were right, but were wrong; of the other, they not only thought themselves in

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the right, but were right. History does not excuse errors. The present may condone faults, but the future is relentless in its condemnation of wrong.

In nothing is the truth of what has been said more clearly shown than in the revision of the popular estimate of the central figure of that time. Twenty-six years ago the first life of Abraham Lincoln was written. It was a campaign book intended to say all that could be said of its subject, and pass lightly over anything that might be considered detrimental to his popularity. This biographical introduction to the American people was followed by many others in the same vein. Except his own speeches we had no other knowledge of the man until he came to assume the executive control of the nation. In these latter, indeed, the true man shone and the instinct of the people recognized it. Yet despite their strengh, simplicity and marvelous diction, he came to the discharge of his great task entirely uncomprehended by the intellect and culture of the land. To friend and foe alike he was only a lucky accident—a western circuit lawyer, noted for his power to wheedle backwoods juries and lead the coarse mirth that flowed about the tavern fire. His life was simple, honest, able and his record singularly clear from public or private wrong.

Doubtless a vast majority of the Republican party, when once they found themselves successful, regretted that instead of the inexperienced backwoodsman, they did not have in the Presidential chair the scholarly and veteran Seward, or the astute and plausible Chase. In truth, it was mainly because these men were called into his Cabinet that the party gave that confidence to his Administration at the outset that it did. They had the most unswerving confidence in his purity, and almost equal confidence in their skill. They believed him incapable of intentional wrong, and thought his advisers would show him how to do right.

With modifications, this estimate of his character has continued until recent times. While justice has been done to his patriotism, patience, and humanity, it is only recently that his intellectual capacity has been generally recognized and admitted, whether by friend or foe. Even the lives of Lincoln published after his death hare, until recently, proceeded more or less upon this hypothesis. Dr. Holland's work is devoted chiefly to the laudation of his motive, and leaves the impression that he was favored by Providence because of his beneficence and simplicity, as fools are specially cared for. Mr. Raymond's “Life," which is expressly

“ valuable, as showing his relation to the cabal in the Army of the Potomac and the difficulties that surrounded him in the selection of commanders and the administration of the army, still leaves a feeling of pity for the “Great Uncouth," who, innocent of the ways of the world, had strayed from the wilds of Illinois into that den of lions, the capital of the United States, to be torn and baffled by those stronger and wiser.

These and kindred works induced the general belief that he was the tool now of one cabinet officer and now of another; controlled now by this cabal and anon by that. The fact that he was able to harmonize his cabinet at all was believed to be dependent on a sort of low cunning by which he played one against the other. This impression was deepened by the unique biography bearing the imprimatur of Mr. Ward H. Lamon, which seems to have been written with the sole purpose of belittling every quality of its subject, except his power to deceive.

Within a few years, however, a broader knowledge resulting from fuller investigation—the connotation of views and philosophic study of his character, have made necessary the revision of the accepted judgment.

The works in regard to the central character of the epoch of rebellion which have recently appeared, are among the most significant fruits of this renaissance of national thought.

A little more than a year ago the most distinguished of living Confederate generals declared, in an article in one of our great magazines, that Mr. Lincoln “was a man matchless among forty millions in his fitness for the place he held and the task he had to perform.” So far as is known, no one, even among his countrymen of the South, has dared to take issue with him. On the contrary, one scarce less distinguished than himself in the support of the Confederate cause, openly laments that the chief executive of that evanescent republic was not his equal, and attributes to that fact the ill success of the rebellion.

Soon after one of our leading journals, referring to this revision of opinion in regard to Lincoln, said: “ The people of the country, and especially those living at the East, are just beginning to appreciate the intellectual character of Abraham Lincoln.” A half decade ago either of these utterances would have caused a smile, if not a sneer.

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