Rebel Mode of Capturing Escaped Prisoners

[Rebel Mode of Capturing Escaped Prisoners]

Rebel Mode of Capturing Escaped Prisoners. From The Capture, the Prison Pen, and the Escape, by Willard Glazier, page 259. Engraving by H. C. Curtis.

A Straw That Shows the Wind: Harper’s Weekly, December 31, 1870, page 850

A Straw That Shows the Wind.

The resolution of Senator M‘Creery, of Kentucky, was properly characterized by Senator Sumner as an illustration of what may be expected if the Democratic party should return to power. The resolution proposed substantially that the remains of seventeen thousand Union soldiers should be removed from the Arlington estate, in order that the widow of Robert E. Lee should live there. Such a proposition was the grossest insult to the patriotism and good sense of the country, and therefore to the Senate, their representative, and the Senate almost unanimously resolved that it should not be received. The Democratic Senators were greatly confused by the motion of Mr. M‘Creery. As partisans they saw its effect. It was an unnecessary revelation of the real spirit of the party, and the party leaders know that the country is at least loyal, and that they can hope to succeed only by persuading the people that the party has renounced its sympathy with the spirit and the principles which produced the rebellion. Some of his Democratic friends, therefore, rebuked Mr. M‘Creery, who assumed all the responsibility of the resolution, and tried to withdraw it. But Senator Edmunds held him fast to the rules, and by the vote of fifty-nine to four the Senate refused to receive the resolution.

The Democratic press does not openly defend the resolution. But the manner in which it alludes to it shows how gladly it would defend it if it dared. The death of General Lee gave that press an opportunity to show the tendency of its sympathy, which it zealously improved. The extravagant eulogies which were heaped by the Democratic papers upon a man whose only claim to the notice of history is that he tried to destroy the government of the United States in order to establish a slave empire upon its ruins were very suggestive. And the fact, which is constantly refreshed in the public mind by such incidents, that the Democratic party is the next friend and mourner of the lost cause, should impress upon the country the great and controlling truth of the political situation. That truth is that the nation has entered a new epoch, with new principles and a new policy; that the principles are those of the Republican party; while the Democratic party is the representative of the era and the principles which have passed away. There is no evidence of any disposition upon the part of the Democratic party to accept the new situation, or to acquiesce in what has been accomplished. Its last national declaration was that the new order is unconstitutional and void, and its conduct, wherever it has the ascendency, shows an undiminished sympathy with a spirit which the country abhors.

And even were this not so—even had the same policy which led to the Delaware Democratic Senators to censure Senator M‘Creery‘s resolution persuaded the party to profess sympathy with the regenerated Union—it would still be impossible to say why a party of such composition and such a history should be intrusted with the administration of a policy which it had always opposed, and which is founded upon political principles which it has always derided. After the Revolution the government of the new Union was confided to the friends of the principles upon which it was established—the men whose convictions and ability had opened the new era to the country. After the war of 1812 the government was controlled for many a year by the party which had made the war, and which was in full harmony with its spirit. And now, the country having entered upon a new era more glorious than any in its history, and under the auspices of the Republican party, that party is the one which will deal with all questions in the spirit of the new time, and with the sympathy of profound conviction.

A party whose newspapers hate to speak with decency of Abraham Lincoln, but which quiver with adulation of Robert E. Lee, and from one of whose Senators proceeds the astounding proposition that the bones of Union soldiers shall be removed almost from under the shadow of the Capitol, that the widow of Lee may not be offended—a party which still believes the war to have been an outrage upon the “South,” and which would undo all of its great work that it can—is a party which does not comprehend the new America, which is not inspired by its faith, and whose restoration to power would be the sorest of national calamities.