CHAPTER XX. FROM BOSTON TO WASHINGTON.
From Boston, on the 27th of November, my wife returned to England, leaving me to prosecute my journey southward to Washington by myself. I shall never forget the political feeling which prevailed in Boston at that time, or the discussions on the subject of Slidell and Mason, in which I felt myself bound to take a part. Up to that period I confess that my sympathies had been strongly with the Northern side in the general question; and so they were still, as far as I could divest the matter of its English bearings. I have always thought, and do think, that a war for the suppression of the Southern rebellion could not have been avoided by the North without an absolute loss of its political prestige. Mr. Lincoln was elected President of the United States in the autumn of 1860, and any steps taken by him or his party toward a peaceable solution of the difficulties which broke out immediately on his election must have been taken before he entered upon his office. South Carolina threatened secession as soon as Mr. Lincoln's election was known, while yet there were four months left of Mr. Buchanan's government. That Mr. Buchanan might, during those four months, have prevented secession, few men, I think, will doubt when the history of the time shall be written. But instead of doing so he consummated secession. Mr. Buchanan is a Northern man, a Pennsylvanian; but he was opposed to the party which had brought in Mr. Lincoln, having thriven as a politician by his adherence to Southern principles. Now, when the struggle came, he could not forget his party in his duty as President. General Jackson's position was much the same when Mr. Calhoun, on the question of the tariff, endeavored to produce secession in South Carolina thirty years ago, in 1832 - excepting in this, that Jackson was himself a Southern man. But Jackson had a strong conception of the position which he held as President of the United States. He put his foot on secession and crushed it, forcing Mr. Calhoun, as Senator from South Carolina, to vote for that compromise as to the tariff which the government of the day proposed. South Carolina was as eager in 1832 for secession as she was in 1859-60; but the government was in the hands of a strong man and an honest one. Mr. Calhoun would have been hung had he carried out his threats. But Mr. Buchanan had neither the power nor the honesty of General Jackson, and thus secession was in fact consummated during his Presidency.