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Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-Five

The Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1350, p. 637-638.

December 30, 1865


Not yet actually committed to the tomb of its predecessors, but within a span of its appointed term of existence, the year 1865 deserves a farewell notice. There have been many more memorable years in the present century--many that stand out more conspicuously as historical landmarks; and yet, perhaps, very few within whose limits the future philosophical exponents of the progress of our race will discover in greater abundance the germs of mighty changes....

Page 638

The political character of 1865 has been formed mainly by Transatlantic events. To our cousins across the water its history has been fuller of sensational passages than the best-written romance, carrying within it, moreover, an important moral. The last tidings which have reached us announce the adoption by three fourths of the States of the "constitutional amendment" abolishing slavery throughout the Union, thereby stamping the "peculiar domestic institution" as illegal whereever United States law is administered to the inhabitants. How powerfully and permanently this change will affect the destiny of the American Republic it would be rash to foretell; but its happy consequences will probably be felt long after the events which led to it have ceased to retain their hold upon national recollection. And yet what a series of startling facts is that which culminated in this result, and how large a proportion of it belongs to the present year! When, in December last, Abraham Lincoln's pathetic and prophetic Message was being read to Congress, General Sherman's march through Georgia was within a few days of being completed--a feat to the accomplishment of which may be traced the sudden and irremediable collapse of the Confederacy. We need not recapitulate the incidents which followed--the evacuation of Richmond, the surrender of General Lee, the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, the conciliatory policy of President Johnson--memory has not yet lost sight of the summits of that mountain-range of events, towering, as they do, high above the average level of the year's affairs. As they catch the eye of retrospection, awe overspreads the soul; and, as it turns from the past to the future, it breathes out a fervent prayer that the coming good may overtop the bygone evil....

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