The Spy of the Rebellion (Civil War History Series)
Many years have elapsed since the occurrence of the events which I am about to relate. Years that have been full of mighty import to the nation. A ... Show synopsis Many years have elapsed since the occurrence of the events which I am about to relate. Years that have been full of mighty import to the nation. A bitter, prolonged and bloody war has laid its desolating hands upon a once united country. For years the roar of cannon and the clash of steel reverberated through the bright valleys and the towering hills of the fruitful South. In those years when brother arose against his brother, when ties of kindred and association were broken asunder like frail reeds, glorious deeds were wrought and grand results have been accomplished. America has taught the world a lesson of bravery and endurance; the shackles have been stricken from the slave; an error of a century has been crushed, and freedom is now no longer an empty name, but a beautiful and enduring realism. To-day peace spreads her broad, sheltering arms over a reunited and enlightened nation. The roll of the drum and the tramp of armed men are now no longer heard. North and South have again clasped hands in a renewal of friendship and in a perpetuity of union. But a short time ago a Republican President elected by but a slight majority of the voters of this great community, left his peaceful home in the West and journeyed to the capital of the nation, to take the oath of office and to assume the high duties of a chief magistrate. As he passed through the towns and cities upon his route a general plaudit of welcome was his greeting, even noted political foes joining in the demonstrations. His road was arched with banners and his path was strewn with flowers. Everywhere he found an enthusiasm of welcome, a universal prayer for success, and the triumphal train entered the capital amid the ovations of the populace, which reached almost a climax of patriotic and effervescing joy. Twenty years ago witnessed a different condition of affairs. The political horizon was dark and obscured. The low mutterings of the storm that was soon to sweep over our country, and to deluge our fair land with fratricidal blood, were distinctly heard. Sectional differences were developing into widespread dissensions. Cherished institutions were threatened with dissolution, and political antagonism had aroused a contented people into a frenzy of hate. On the twenty-second of May, 1856, an American Senator was assaulted in the Senate-house by a political opponent for daring to give utterance to opinions that were hostile to the slave-holding interests of the South. Later in the same year a Republican candidate, with professed anti-slavery views, was nominated for the presidency, and although defeated, gave evidence of such political strength that Southern leaders became alarmed. At this time the Hon. Stephen A. Douglas was a prominent leader of the Democratic party, but through his opposition to what was known as the Lecompton Bill, he incurred the displeasure of his political friends of the South, who vainly endeavored to enact such legislation as would practically lead to his retirement from the party. In 1858 the famous contest between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas for the United States Senatorship from Illinois took place, and during its progress absorbed public attention throughout the country. The two candidates indulged in open discussions of questions of public policy, which were remarkable for their brilliancy and for the force and vigor with which their different views were uttered. It was during this canvass that Mr. Lincoln made the forcible and revolutionizing declaration that: "The Union cannot permanently endure half slave and half free." Mr. Lincoln was defeated, however, and Mr. Douglas was returned to the Senate, much against the wishes of those Democrats who desired the unlimited extension of the institution of Slavery. In the following year occurred the slave insurrection in Virginia, under the leadership of that bold abolitionist, John Brown.