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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/102

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

peoples ever entered into a strife so fiercely and so unanimously as did the rebels, men and women, to win their independence, and the loyalists, men and women, to save the Union. And yet, earnest as we were in the struggle, recruiting our armies by volunteers, by enlistments, and by conscriptions; putting into the field patriots and scholars, citizens and aliens, philanthropists, clergymen, and criminals, and finally thousands of negro slaves, so deeply is the sentiment grounded in the heart of all civilized and savage men that women must not be put into the actual peril of battle, that the North would have given up the Union and the South its independence rather than have called into the field a single company of arms-bearing women.

There is plausibility in the contention that the ballot and the rule that the minority must submit to the majority are nothing but a development of primitive war. War puts all questions to the arbitrament of strength, and in the actual trial non-combatants do not count. The ballot is the count of the potential fighters, and presupposes and discounts a virtual combat. The right to rule belonging to the superior strength, the array of the combatants declares which is the stronger.

All through the earlier periods of English history, when some ambitious or reforming chief wished to get an obnoxious law repealed, or to displace an odious minister, or to change a hated dynasty, instead of starting newspapers, holding public discussions, and canvassing the country for votes, he summoned his retainers and fellow-chieftains to arms, took the field, and began to lay siege to towns and strongholds. The Government turned out its army and its adherents and met the malcontents in battle. If it was strong enough to overcome them, the leaders were beheaded and their estates confiscated, while the defeated followers were punished and dispersed. If the rebels were victorious, a new order succeeded—a new ministry, a new national policy, perhaps a new dynasty. All the great changes in government in England were effected in just this way down to the middle of the last century. In Mexico and the South American republics, though they have written Constitutions and periodic elections, voting seems to be considered a slow method of redressing grievances; the actual working system is pronunciamientos—that is, armed revolts against the administration in power, and the real battle, not yet evolved into the modern ballot.

Now, when the two forces—the one for, the other against, the Government—stood confronting each other, what could be more sensible than to anticipate and discount the result of the fighting? "How many fighting men," asks the loyal general, summoning a conference, "have you on your side?" "Fifteen thousand," replies the rebel chief. "Then why fight it out? for I have but ten