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“The Light Of A Great Revolution”

July 2024
2min read


“ I have always looked upon the struggle in America in the light of a great revolution … whoever … may be young enough to live to witness the ultimate consequences of this Civil War, will see, whenever the waters have subsided, a different America from that which was known to our fathers and even from that of which this generation has had so much experience. It will be an America of armies, of diplomacy, of Rival States and manouevring Cabinets, of frequent turbulence and probably of frequent wars. …”

—Benjamin Disraeli, from a speech in the House of Commons, 1863.


“That separation between North and South America … now being brought about by civil war I have long foreseen and foretold to be inevitable, and I venture to predict that the younger men here present will live to see not two, but at least four … separate and sovereign commonwealths arising out of those populations which a year ago united their Legislature under one President and carried their merchandise under a single flag. … I believe that such separations will be attended with happy results to the safety of Europe and the development of American civilization. If it could have been possible that, as population and wealth increased, all the vast continent of America, with her mighty seaboard and the fleets which her increasing ambition as well as her extending commerce would have formed and armed, could have remained under one form of government … why then America would have hung over Europe like a gathering and destructive thunder-cloud.”

—Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, author of The Last Days of Pompeii, in a speech delivered September 25, 1861.


“I shudder when I think with what lightness we amuse ourselves by carving up America. There will be two Confederacies, or rather three—that of the North, the South and the West! Such are the speeches that we carelessly throw out! How do we know that our enthusiasms may not become weapons in the hands of the champions of slavery …

“To speak only of our material interests, the civil war which is desolating America, is ruining the cotton production and calling forth sufferings in our Old World which will go on increasing. If the South had known in advance that it could not count on us, it is not probable that it would have attempted an insurrection. Its plan is to secure time for Europe to intervene. Europe needs its cotton. Europe is at its mercy. Europe is about to aid and recognize it, Europe will seize on the first pretext that offers; she will break the blockade and impose peace. Take away these convictions from the South and you will cause the weapons to fall from their hands. …

“One would have said that Europe leaped with joy at the thought of rending the United States in twain. From the first moment she seemed to cling to this idea and to be unwilling to renounce it. That the scheme may perhaps be realized, I have no wish to deny. There are some minds, enlightened in all else, upon which America produces the effect of a nightmare; they ask to be rid of it at any price; what wounds them in it is not only the real and serious evil which appears therein under various forms, but also, and perhaps chiefly, the good, the brilliant, the superior side of the United States. …

“The United States, it is exclaimed, will some day pretend to meddle in the affairs of the Old World, and to figure in the concert of great powers! Well, if this should be, what reasons would we have to put on mourning? There is no such thing as distance today; and since Europe meddles with America, America may meddle with Europe. …”

—Count Agénor de Gasparin, member of the French Chamber of Deputies, in his book, America Before Europe, 1862.


“The events which are now taking place and those which have already taken place in America are opening up a new and perhaps final phase in the conflict over slavery and are of tremendous importance. Outstanding developments in the contemporary history of the old world take second place when compared with the struggle that must precede the final reconciliation of white with black on American soil. Over there, two races—one might even say two humanities—are enclosed in a single arena in order to decide—by peaceful means or gun in hand—the greatest world problem.”

—From an article attributed to Feodor Dostoevsky, published in his brother’s magazine, Vremya, 1861.

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