Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/223

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213
A Foreign View of the Civil War in America.

Our author, however, is by no means contented with the humble merits of painstaking research and accurate recital of facts. He is determined to show us that he can also reason, and accordingly, a little further on, favors us with his views upon the origin and structure of the Federal Government, in which he deals very summarily with the doctrine of States-rights and Mr. Calhoun, "the foremost statesman of South Carolina, who," he tells us, "soon came to be considered the palladium of the peculiar institutions of the Southern States." "It is sufficient," we are informed, "to sum up this doctrine in a few words, to show how specious and dangerous it was." Then follows a long passage, which we are sorry we have not space to quote, or, at least, to make copious extracts from, for the entertainment of such of our readers as may have time and patience to devote to their perusal. Certainly, in the sense in which Frederick the Great's verses were said to be "royal verses," this reasoning may be called princely reasoning. The great Southern political philosopher has little to dread from opponents like this.

We desire to call attention to but a single remark in the course of this argument, if indeed it can, by any stretch of courtesy, be so denominated. "The States themselves," says the author, in commenting upon the results of the States-rights theory, "would soon have been broken up by the claims of the counties of which they were composed to separate from them." In these few words is contained the root of the whole matter. Here is the pernicious fallacy which lies at the basis of the entire system of consolidation.

Unquestionably, it would appear to be a doctrine too utterly groundless, too palpably at variance with the plainest and most familiar facts, to require refutation, or even to be worthy of serious notice. And if it stood alone we might be inclined to pass it over, as merely another instance added to the long list of ludicrous mistakes with which ignorant and superficial travelers have adorned their works upon foreign countries. But the Count of Paris is here kept in countenance, not indeed by his own illustrious country-man, to whom he is most infelicitously and absurdly compared by his editor, but by Americans themselves, in whom this ignorant or willful misrepresentation is far more disgraceful. Exactly the same position, it will be remembered, was assumed by the late President Lincoln. Incredible as it seems that this should impose for a moment upon any human understanding, yet, as it has been made use of again and again by men whose station gave a certain weight and