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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 179 pages of information about The Uprising of a Great People.

CHAPTER III.

WHAT THE ELECTION OF MR. LINCOLN SIGNIFIES.

I think that I have justified the fundamental idea of this work, and the title which I have given it.  If the slavery policy had achieved a new triumph; if the North had not elected its President, the first that has belonged to it in full since the existence of the Confederation; if supremacy had not ranged itself in fine on the side with force and justice, this unstable balance would have had its hour of downfall:  and what a downfall!  Of so much true liberty, of so much progress, of so many noble examples, what would have been left standing?  The secession of the South is not the secession of the North; affranchisement with four millions of slaves is not affranchisement with twenty millions; the crisis of 1861 is not that of 1865 or of 1869.  The United States, I repeat, with a profound and studied conviction,—­the United States have just been saved.

There are those who ask gravely whether the electors of Mr. Lincoln have a plan all ready to effect the abolition of slavery.  We answer that this is not in question.  Among the influential and earnest men of the victorious party, not one could be cited who would think of proposing any plan whatever of emancipation.  One thing alone is proposed:  to check the conquests of slavery.  That it shall not be extended, that it shall be confined within its present limits, is all that is sought to-day.  The policy of the founders of the Confederation has become that of their successors in turn; and to this policy, what can be objected?  Is not the sovereignty of the States respected? do they not remain free to regulate what concerns them? do they not preserve the right of postponing, so long as they deem proper, the solution of a dreaded problem? could not this solution be thought over and prepared by those who best know its elements?

The matter is, indeed, more complicated and difficult than is generally imagined.  Should we be imprudent enough to meddle with it, we might rightfully be blamed.  Here, summary proceedings are evidently not admissible.  Time and the spirit of Christianity must do their work by degrees; they will do it, be sure, provided the evil be circumscribed, provided the seat of the conflagration be hemmed in and prevented henceforth from spreading further.

Now, such is the great result acquired by the election of Mr. Lincoln; it is nothing more than this, but it is all this:  it is prudence in the present, and it is also the certainty of success in the future.  Emancipation is by no means decreed; it will not be for a long time, perhaps:  yet the principle of emancipation is established, irrevocably established in the sight of all.  Irrevocability has prodigious power over our minds:  without being conscious of it, we make way for it; we arrange in view of it our conduct, our plans, and even our doctrines.  Once fully convinced that its propagandism is checked,

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