July 30, 1863: Europe won’t allow reunion

Emperor Maximilian's firing squad
Emperor Maximilian’s Firing Squad

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A really interesting argument is presented in the Richmond Daily Dispatch: the European powers won’t permit the north and south to reunite, because the resulting country would be too powerful. The editor seems pretty happy with the idea that the divided countries would be weak. Admittedly, his population projections are a bit overstated; US population actually didn’t reach 200 million until around 1960. Still, the prediction of world hegemony was prescient.


Will the Western Powers of Europe permit the Union to be restored?

To this question we answer never. They may be indifferent spectators of the torrents of blood which have flowed, are now flowing, and will hereafter flow in this terrible war but they know their own interest far too well, and are disposed to follow it far too closely ever to permit are union fraught with a danger to them, which is greater than all the other dangers combined with which they are or can be threatened Great Britain, with that keen sagacity for which she is so remarkable where her own interests are concerned, discovered this danger soon after she had acknowledged our independence, and the early history of the Union is filled with accounts of British intrigues to break it up. In this she very nearly succeeded during the war of 1812, when at least half the Yankees were disposed to throw off their allegiance and unite with Canada and would have actually done so had the proper occasion over offered.

Let us for a moment reflect what would be the inevitable consequences of a reconstruction and then we shall be able to understand how powerful are the motives of the great Powers for not punishing it. The Union at the last census, (1860) to the best of our recollection contained about 28,600,000 of inhabitants. From the time of its establishment it had always doubled its population every twenty three years. Supposing it to have 25,000,000 now, (which is a moderate estimate) in twenty three years from this time — that is to say in 1886, it will number 50,000,000, in 1909, 100,000,000, and in 1932, 200,000,000. Only think of a single nation of 200,000,000 of men, descendants of Europeans, and civilized after the European fashion! The bare array of figures makes the brain reel. In France the proportion of the standing army to the population is one to fifty. The proportion would not be less in this restored Union, and the world would behold the astounding spectacle of a standing army reaching the enormous figure of four millions of men — What power could resist such an army what nation would dare to assert its most indubitable rights in presence of it? It must be recollected, too, that from this time forward the policy of the Yankee Government is to be highly aggressive. It designs to go on conquering until nothing shall be left for its arms to be tried upon. It hates England with a deadly battered, and it has not much more love for France than it has for England. It hates the former because it has not openly taken up arms in its favor. It hates the latter because it has treated the Monroe doctrine with contempt and taken possession of Mexico in denounce of its threats and remonstrances. Let the Union be restored, and France will be driven from Mexico, while Great Britain may had it impossible to hold Canada.

The resources of the country would be fully adequate to the enormous population it would contain in the next seventy years. Let the Union be restored, and let it exist seventy years and it will have conquered and possessed every foot of land from Hudson’s Bay is Cape Horn. Its population of 200,000,000 and its army of 4,000,000 will call for a fleet of at least 10,000 steamers. What, then will become of British India, of China, of Asia down to the Dardanelles? What will become of England herself, of France, of all Europe, one century from this time, when the Union if allowed to be restored and to run its natural course will have 400,000,000 of inhabitants. If the United States had already become a subject of alarm to Great Britain when they counted but five millions of inhabitants, and when their Government was guided by the pacific policy of Jefferson, what must be not apprehensions with regard to such a power as this must inevitably become if its career be not stopped short, animated by the fierce passions of an all triumphant democracy, and turning to avenge what they are taught to consider their wrongs?

It is true that such a civilized nation as that we have just depicted never has existed yet and never can exist. The Roman Empire, in a most populous days, never numbered more than 150,000,000 of inhabitants Russia is supposed to count about 80,000,000. The British dominions in India are commonly reckoned at about 200,000,000, but the Duke of Wellington said in a speech in the House of Lords, that the estimates of population in India were always 100 per cent too high. China is rated at 400,000,000 probably it has half Now, Rome was an aggregate of nationalities, comprising all the people that lived in the countries lying between the Euphrates and the Pillars of Hercules and between. Poland and Egypt. Russia extends entirely across Europe and Asia, and consists of at least fifty nationalities, many of them barbarous tribes. India is inhabited by a sent barbarous race, and so is China. Now here is a nation promising to number 400,000,000 in a century, all under one Government, and speaking one language. It evidently cannot hold together — The thing is preposterous. It has already been broken in fragments, and England and France will take care that the fragments shall not be unite. One hundred years is scarcely a day in national life, and they see what a nation this would be in one hundred years and how completely it would rule the world. The least opportunity that could be desired is now presented them, and Seward and Lincoln may do what they can they can never reunite the broken fragments. Instead of reuniting in fact, they are much more apt to keep on in the process of disintegration. The Northwest and separate from the East, and the Pacific country from the Atlantic.

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