Harper's Weekly Editorials on Carl Schurz/“The New South”

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Mr. Carl Schurz's pamphlet upon The New South could not have been more timely in its appearance, nor could a more competent and trustworthy observer have undertaken to report upon the condition of the Southern States. The change of party control of the administration has revived — most unwisely, but, from a party point of view, not unnaturally — the party cries and appeals to party feeling of fifteen and twenty years ago. A stranger in the country might suppose from the tone and statements of the more unscrupulous party journals that the voters of the Union, including a large number of original antislavery Republicans, had petulantly intrusted the government to its enemies, who proposed to revenge their defeat in the field by disturbing all the settlements of reconstruction, and restoring, so far as possible, the situation of thirty years ago. This kind of feeling was carefully fostered during the late campaign by men who certainly ought to have known better, but who did not hesitate to give up to their party what was meant for their country.

The statements in such papers as we speak of in regard to the situation in the Southern States can not be trusted, because they are designed to produce a party effect. But the candor of Mr. Schurz, which is not denied, the judicial fairness of his mind, and the shrewdness of his observation, especially qualify him as a witness, and his testimony is very encouraging. He attributes the difficult situation of recent years in the Southern States to two chief causes — the utter overthrow of the industrial and social system with the absolute material exhaustion due to the waste of war, and the unhappy conduct of Andrew Johnson at the very time when the wisest and most generous statesmanship was indispensable. This combination of untoward circumstances renewed old jealousies and enmities between the late Union and Confederate sides which the humane and moderating genius of Lincoln would have assuaged and removed. But time has essentially modified the situation.

There is entire and cordial attachment to the Union in the Southern States, satisfaction with the disappearance of slavery, a very positive amelioration of feeling in regard to State sovereignty, a healthful revival of trade, a greater general disposition to industry, and an easier and much more hopeful relation of the two races. There is no common sectional object and interest more than in any other part of the country, and the complete failure of the evil prognostics of the consequences of Democratic success at the late election has dispelled the fear upon the part of the colored citizens that slavery might be restored. This is a condition in which evils that still remain can be most hopefully treated; and if intelligent and honest and patriotic citizens in other parts of the country will refuse to allow themselves to be swept away by party cries of “rebel brigadiers,” and “the gray above the blue,” and “Copperhead supremacy,” and “Rebels back again,” and remember that the mad passion of party is not patriotism, and that a real union of feeling is impossible if citizens of the Southern States, however loyal and sincere, are to be always hereafter stigmatized as enemies of the country because of the civil war, we shall acknowledge the situation that actually exists, and parties will once more represent real issues and not the furious animosities of a state of things which has passed away. Every American who desires that result may wisely read Mr. Schurz's very brief and suggestive pamphlet, and Decoration-day orators may ponder its statements with great benefit to their eloquent addresses.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1925. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).