Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 40.djvu/40

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36
Southern Historical Society Papers.

To explain, and to drop the figure. Certain great world tendencies, in the forward march of civilized mankind, are found in diverse yet complementary pairs; first one, then the other, predominating in alternate, pulsating cycles. Broadly speaking, the nineteenth century was an era of the predominance of the centripetal power in government, the ascendancy of the central political authority. The triumph of militant French democracy in the revolution of 1789 quickly merged into the imperial despotism of Napoleon, the erstwhile republican conqueror; this was succeeded by the return of the Bourbons to power. Just at this time our Latin neighbors to the south, not yet schooled for true liberty, broke away from enervated Spain; but we must remember that it was only the joining of hands of the United States and Britain, and the resultant raising of that shield of the Western World, the Monroe Doctrine, that checked the reactionist "Holy Alliance" of continental Europe in its project of forcible recovery of these revolted Spanish colonies—so, at least, it is supposed. The Second French Republic, born out of due time in the abortive convulsions of 1848, was speedily swallowed up by the Second Empire, which eventually gave place to the Third (and semi-monarchical) Republic. The great revolutionary upheavals of 1848 throughout Europe were generally suppressed. Within the next few years Kossuth and the cause of Hungarian independence went down before the imperial Hapsburgs; Poland in vain sought to regain her lost nationality; the former independent or autonomous principalities and electorates of Germany became welded into the modern German Empire with the ruthless Bismarck at the helm.

In the face of this ominous reaction in the Old World, the glorious ensign of confederated Southern independence was raised aloft in our own stormy sky. The dragon teeth of overweening, un-American imperialism sown by Webster thirty years before, bore their rich harvest of armed cohorts from the North, and the Southern Confederacy, latest and most promising of Freedom's growing family of happy nations, was swept from the face of the earth. And, significantly enough, in the midst of our struggle for independence, it was the fleet of autocratic