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Salomon de Rothschild Tours America (1861)

The Joined Issue Submitted to Arbitrament by War


You see then, my dear cousin, that it is a question of life and death for the North. It will make the greatest sacrifices and will yield nothing. It is unanimous on this matter. Republicans and Democrats are fighting side by side, but from a different point of view.

The Republican, who, not through negrophile philanthropy, but in order to give the whites a greater extent of territory, restricts the extension of slavery, wants to push the slaves back into the confines of the cotton states, and to emancipate those of the central states. In the blindness of political passions, he believes himself strong enough to reach this goal. The Democrat fights for the reconstruction of the Union and for this reconstruction alone. He wants to give the South all possible concessions, provided that it re-enters the Union. He doesn't want to make a conquered country of it, but he doesn't want to have to fear further dangers from it.

The question has become such an embittered one, the facts falsified to such an extent by those who find their advantages in the civil war, that the two sections of the country do not know each other any more, and are completely unaware of their mutual intentions; and the farther they go, the less they will recognize them. Because of the immixture of party considerations, the point of departure will soon be forgotten, and, as I have already seen, it all becomes a question of personalities and of self-esteem.

I have traveled through the entire South, and I have found there a complete unanimity for secession. The more or less imaginary grievances against the North loom up larger and larger in the minds of the secessionists, and some very distinguished men, generally peaceful and calm, have told me that they would prefer to live under the liberal government of Louis Napoleon rather than to endure the unbearable oppression of the North. They say that they will fight to their last breath and will shed their last drop of blood and, what is most important, will spend their last cent. Besides, mediation by foreign powers will only aggravate the question. In the North, I have been told that if it is necessary, they will urge the slaves to insurrection and stir up a slave war in the South.

You see, then, that it is a struggle which has no way out. With minds so determined and principles so opposed, reunion is impossible and secession is no less so. The North, with its 20,000,000 inhabitants and much more money, will have the upper hand, but 8,000,000 inhabitants can prolong the fight for many years.

I see no possibility at all for a reconciliation, except through some entirely unforeseen event which may be among the decrees of Providence...