Page:Boissonnas, Un Vaincu, English, 1875.djvu/58

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President Lincoln himself said, “The principle of the Union is alone at stake, not slavery.” The Vice-President, Johnson, who was to succeed him, talked the same language, “This country belongs to the White man, and the White man alone must dominate.” No one could, at that time, foresee how one′s own mind would evolve and what convictions he would reach in 4 years of bloody ordeals. During the conflict, and through the fight itself, convictions grew. Convictions grew stronger, and in each party reached extreme exaltation.

Colonel Lee was then one of those to whom the future was completely veiled. He was residing in Texas, in his command post. He hadn′t left it for two years. Isolated, in the middle of the Indians, away from every political current, hardly informed of events, he wrote to Mistress Lee :

“Fort Mason, Texas, 23d January, 1861… I received Everett′s ‘Life of Washington’ which you sent me, and enjoyed its perusal. How his spirit would be grieved could he see the wreck of his mighty labors. I will not, however, permit myself to believe, until all the ground for hope is gone, that the fruit of his noble deeds will be destroyed, and that his precious advice and virtuous example will so soon be forgotten by his countrymen. As far as I can judge by the papers, we are between a state of anarchy and civil war. May God avert both of these evils from us !… I see that four States have declared themselves out of the Union ; four more will apparently follow their example. Then, if the border States