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separated. I might use stronger language. It is a part of the political question; and now that Reconstruction seems about to be accomplished, it is that enduring part which still remains.
Our present responsibilities, whether political or financial, have a common origin in that vast Rebellion, when the people of eleven States, maddened by Slavery, rose against the Nation. As the Rebellion was without example in its declared object, so it was without example in the extent and intensity of its operations. It sought nothing less than the dismemberment of our Nation and the establishment of a new power with Slavery as its quickening principle. The desperate means enlisted by such a cause could be encountered only by the most strenuous exertions in the name of Country and of Human Rights. Here was Slavery, barbarous, brutal, vindictive, warring for recognition. The tempest or tornado can typify only feebly the ravage that ensued. There were days of darkness and despair, when the national existence was in peril. Rebel armies menaced the Capitol, and Slavery seemed about to vindicate its wicked supremacy.
Looking at the scene in its political aspects, we behold one class of disorders, and looking at it in its financial aspects, we behold still another, — both together constituting a fearful sum-total, where financial disorder mingles with political. Turn, first, to the political, and you will see States, one after another, renouncing their relations with the Nation, and constituting a new government, under the name of Confederacy, with a new Constitution, making Slavery its corner-stone, - all of which they sought to maintain by arms, while, in aggra
vation of these perils, Foreign Powers gave ominous signs of speedy recognition and support. Look next to the financial side, and you will see business in some places entirely prostrate, in others suddenly assuming new forms; immense interests destroyed; property annihilated; the whole people turned from the thoughts of peace to the thoughts of war; vast armies set on foot, in which the youthful and strong were changed from producers to destroyers, while life itself was consumed ; an unprecedented taxation, commensurate with the unprecedented exigency; and all this followed by the common incidents of war in other countries and times, first, the creation of a national debt, and, secondly, the substitution of inconvertible paper as a currency. In this catalogue of calamities, political and financial, who shall say which was the worst ? Certainly it is difficult to distinguish between them. One grew out of the other, so that they belong together and constitute one group, all derived ultimately from the Rebellion, and directly depending upon it. So long as Slavery continued in arms, each and all waxed in vastness; and now, so long as any of these remain, they testify to this same unnatural crime. The tax-gatherer, taking so much from honest industry, was born of the Rebellion. Inconvertible paper, deranging the business of the country at home and abroad, had the same monstrous birth. Our enormous taxation is only a prolongation of the Rebellion. Every green back is red with the blood of fellowcitizens.
To repair these calamities, political and financial, the first stage was the overthrow of the Rebellion in the field, thus enabling the Nation to reduce its armaments, to arrest its accumulating debt, and to cease anxiety on
account of foreign intervention so constantly menaced. Thus relieved, we were brought to a resting-place, and the Nation found itself in condition to begin the work of restoration.
Foremost came the suppression of Slavery, in which the Rebellion had its origin. Common prudence, to say nothing of common humanity, required this consummation, without which there would have been a short-lived truce only. So great a change necessarily involved other changes, while there was the ever-present duty to obtain from the defeated Rebels, if not indemnity for the past, at least security for the future. It was impossible to stop with the suppression of Slavery. That whole barbarous code of wrong and outrage, whose first article was the denial of all rights to an oppressed race, was grossly inconsistent with the new order of things. It was necessary that it should yield to the Equal Rights of All, promised by the Declaration of Independence. The citizen, lifted from Slavery, must be secured in all his rights, civil and political. Loyal governments, republican in form, must be substituted for Rebel governments. All this being done, the States, thus transformed, will assume once more their ancient relations to the Nation. This is the work of Political Reconstruction, constituting the new stage after the overthrow of the Rebellion.
Meanwhile there has been an effort and a longing for Financial Reconstruction also, — sometimes without sufficiently reflecting that there can be small chance for any success in this direction until after Political Reconstruction. Here also we must follow Nature,
and restore by removing the disturbing cause. This is the natural process. Vain all attempt to reconstruct the national finances while the Rebellion was stil in
This must be obvious to all. Vain also while Slavery still domineered. Vain also while Equal Rights are without a sure defence against the oppress
Vain also while the Nation still palpitates with its efforts to obtain security for the future. Vain also until the States are all once more harmonious in their native spheres, like the planets, receiving and dispensing light.
Nothing is more sensitive than Credit, which is the essential element of financial restoration. A breath will make it flutter.. How can you expect to restore the national credit, now unnaturally sensitive, while the Nation is still uneasy from those Rebel pretensions which have cost so much? Security is the first condition of Financial Reconstruction; and I am at a loss to find any road to it, except through Political Reconstruction. All this seems so plain that I ought to apologize for dwelling on it. And yet there are many, who, while professing a desire for an improvement in our financial condition, perversely turn their backs upon the only means by which this can be accomplished. Never was there equal folly. Language cannot picture it. Every denial of Equal Rights, every impediment to a just reconstruction in conformity with the Declaration of Independence, every pretension of a “white man's government” in horrid mockery of self-evident truths declared by our fathers, and of that brotherhood of mankind declared by the Sermon on Mars Hill, is a bar to that Financial Reconstruction without which the Rebellion still lingers among us. So long as a dollar of irredeem
able paper is forced upon the country, the Rebellion still lives, in its spurious progeny.
Party organization and Presidential antagonism have thus far stood in the way, while at each stage individual perverseness has played its part. The President has set himself obstinately against Political Reconstruction; so also has the Democratic Party; others have followed, according to the prejudices of their nature, and so the national finances have suffered. Not the least of the offences of Andrew Johnson is the adverse influence he has exerted on this question. All that he has done from the beginning has tended to protract the Rebellion and to extend the disorder of our finances. And yet there are many not indifferent to the latter who have looked with indifference upon his criminal conduct. So far as their personal interests depended on an improved condition of the finances, they have already suffered; but it is hard that the country should suffer also. Andrew Johnson has postponed specie payments, and his supporters of all degrees must share the responsibility.
Such is my confidence in the resources of our country, in the industry of its people, and in the grandeur of its destinies, that I cannot doubt the transcendent future. Alas that it should be interrupted by unwise counsels, even for a day! Financial Reconstruction is postponed only. It must come at last. Here I have no panacea that is not as simple as Nature. I know of no device or trick or medicine by which this cure can be accomplished. It will come with the general health of the body politic. It will come with the renovated life of the Nation, when it is once more complete in form, when every part is in sympathy with the whole, and the Rebellion, with all its offspring, is trampled out