declared themselves, either by official acts or by the expression of public opinion, it appeared to be rather in favor of the Southern insurgents than of the established Government. The contest had till then assumed no higher character than that of one portion of a great nation striving to secede from the main body of the same and establish a separate independence; and in an effort of that character, if no higher principle be involved, the sympathy of the world is usually with the weaker party.
In such a conjuncture the best and wisest among us saw before them a protracted war, a doubtful issue. The bravest confessed to themselves that we had need of all our resources, even to the uttermost in order to avert the breaking up of the great American Union into such petty discordant sovereignties as are to be found in more southern portions of our hemisphere, into belligerent fragments, with the standing and influence, perhaps, of Venezuela or Costa Rica, of Nicaragua or Ecuador.
We had need of all our resources, even to the uttermost. Had we at that time employed them all? He we not up to that time left in the hands of our enemies, with scarcely an effort to disturb it, one of the chief elements of their military strength? Nay, an element so overwhelmingly influential in its practi, according to its management against us or in our favor, might be the ultimate issue of the war-defeat if we neglected it, victory if we improved the opportunity? Let us look closely to this.
By the census of 1860 the number of white males between the ages of eighteen and forty-five is, in the loyal States, about 4,000,000; in the disloyal States about 1,300,000; let us say about three to one. The disparity seems great, but as a basis of military strength, the calculation is wholly fallacious, for the disloyal States contained when the insurrection broke out 3,500,000 people a who were not insurgents, who did not voluntarily assist in the rebellion, but who were compelled by force to render it most efficient aid.
Out of the above 4,000,000 the North had to provide soldiers and (with inconsiderable exceptions, not usually extending to field labor) laborers also.
Not so in the South. Her 1,300,000 had more than their own number to aid them, in military as well as agricultural labor. For as, among slaves, both sexes are employed from an early age to a late period of life in the field, the number of laborers out of 3,500,000 slaves may fairly be put at 2,000,000. Let us estimate 300,000 of these as employed in domestic service and other occupations followed by women among us, and we have 1,700,000 plantation hands, male and female, each one of whom counts against a Northern laborer on farm or in workshop or a Northern soldier laboring on entrenchment or fortification, each one of whom, staying at those to labor, liberates a white man for active military duty in the field. To 1,300,000 add 1,700,000, and we have 3,000,000 as the total in the insurgent States of numerical force available in this war-that is, of soldiers to fight and laborers to support the nation while fighting. Then, supposing the negroes all loyal to their masters, or at least remaining to labor for them, the comparative military strength, so far as it is indicated by population, was as four in the North to three in the South.
a The eleven States who passed ordinances of secession contained, by the census of 1860, 3,521,110 slaves.
23 R R-SERIES III, VOL IV