While Colonel Lee exercised, as we have seen, his distant command in Texas, the disagreements which had long existed between the northern and southern states had taken a new character of extreme gravity, and one was beginning to wonder what would happen if neither of the two parties had the patriotic wisdom of adopting a policy of concessions.
We must try to understand what were the causes of this antagonism which was soon to unleash a civil war on a nation, up till then, so privileged.
The vast country, gradually built of states united to one another, does no longer resemble what it was when a few weak colonies, repelling the yoke of England, formed the kernel of a colossal power. Originally, 13 states, close to one another, had had the same needs -- the same interests. They had been united by the feeling of their weakness and of the danger of this weakness. But, the rapid increase of their population, the emigration into new territories situated under widely separated latitudes, had simultaneously given birth to different, or contradictory interests, and liberated the minds from a beneficial fear by putting the new power above any threat.
Like all greatness, extension in size presents its own dangers. While, in the north, Maine shares the fogs of Newfoundland or the long winters of Quebec, Florida is close to the tropics and sags under its deadly heat.