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Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839-1925 / Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles embracing a brief view of the Civil War, or, From New England to the Golden Gate: and the story of his Indian campaigns, with comments on the exploration, development and progress of our great western empire

Chapter II. The Great Civil War,   pp. 25-37 PDF (4.7 MB)

Page 26

had engaged the best thought of our most eminent statesmen. Closely
connected with this question in our political history was the long con-
tention over the existence or extension of the institution of human
   No political party had proclaimed any intention of interfering with the
labor system of any State. The impoYtant question was as to the future
status of labor in our great Western domain, then unsettled and unorgan-
ized; and this was the question which aroused the fiercest political contro-
versy and the bitterest personal animosity.
   Acrimonious and heated discussions in the press and in the halls of
legislation, had inflamed the passions and prejudices of the people until
peaceable solution of the questions at issue finally became impossible.
The storm clouds which had been gathering for years at last burst forth
in devastating fury in 1861. The election to the presidency of Abraham
Lincoln in 1860, upon a platform opposed to the further extension of slav-
ery, was the immediate occasion or excuse for the war. Earnest efforts for
the preservation of peace and unity were made by patriotic men, both
North and South, but without avail. Reason, argument, fraternal ties,
the mienmories of a common and glorious history, were all swept aside. A
few may have been actuated by political and military ambition, and other
selfish motives, but it is certain that the masses of our people on both
sides believed themselves to be contending for a principle-the great ques-
tion of the moral right or wrong of -human slavery.
   During these long years of fierce and incessant strife, through the
storm there stood at the helm of the ship of state a man of the people,
yet a most uncommnon man, patriotic, calmn, persistent, unmoved by
clamor, tender-hearted as a woman, yet an intellectual giant, and with a
devotion to his trust never surpassed in the history of the human race.
Abraham Lincoln is forever embalmed in the loving gratitude of the Amer-
ican people, and the sentiment is not bounded by partisan or sectional
   Side by side with Abraham-1 Lincoln in the early days of the great war
stood our most accomplished and distinguished general, the hero of two
foreign wars. To these two men, one born in Kentucky, the other in Vir-
ginia -Abraham Lincoln and Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott-more
than to any others, Am-nericans of that critical time, as well as the seventy
millions of to-day and the unnumbered millions of the future, are in-
debted for the salvation of their republic and the preservation of a free

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