The Continental Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 4, April, 1862 Devoted To Literature And National Policy

by: Various

Language: English
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The War Between Freedom And Slavery In Missouri.

It is admitted that no man can write the history of his own times with such fullness and impartiality as shall entitle his record to the unquestioning credence and acceptance of posterity. Men are necessarily actors in the scenes amid which they live. If not personally taking an active part in the conduct of public affairs, they have friends who are, and in whose success or failure their own welfare is in some way bound up. The bias which interest always gives will necessarily attach to their judgment of current events, and the leading actors by whom these events are controlled. Cotemporaneous history, for this reason, will always be found partisan history—not entitled to, and, if intelligently and honestly written, not exacting, the implicit faith of those who shall come after; but simply establishing that certain classes of people, of whom the writer was one, acted under the conviction that they owed certain duties to themselves and their country. It will be for the future compiler of the world's history, who shall see the end of present struggles, to determine the justice of the causes of controversy, and the wisdom and honesty of the parties that acted adversely. To such after judgment, with a full knowledge of present reproach as a partisan, the writer of this article commends the brief sketch he will present of the beginning and military treatment of the great Rebellion in the State of Missouri. He will not attempt to make an episode of any part of this history, because of the supposed vigor or brilliancy of the martial deeds occurring in the time. Least of all would he take the 'Hundred Days,' which another pen has chosen for special distinction, as representing the period of heroism in that war-trampled State. Any 'hundred days' of the rebellion in Missouri have had their corresponding nights; and no one can be bold enough yet to say that the day of permanent triumph has dawned. Humiliation has alternated with success so far; and the most stunning defeats of the war in the West marked the beginning and the close of the hundred days named for honor. This fact should teach modesty and caution. For while justice to men requires us to admit that the greatest abilities do not always command success, devotion to principle forbids that a noble cause should be obscured to become the mere background of a scene in which an actor and popular idol is the chief figure. It is with a consciousness of such partialities as are common to men, but with an honest purpose, so far as the writer is able, to subordinate men to principles, that this review of the origin and chief incidents of the rebellion in Missouri is begun.

The close connection of the State of Missouri with the slavery agitation that has now ripened into a rebellion against the government of the United States, is a singular historical fact. The admission of the State into the Union was the occasion of vitalizing the question of slavery extension and fixing it as a permanent element in the politics of the country....