1864: “Our Terrible Civil War”

Near Wilmington, 13 Oct. 1864

…You refer to our terrible civil war. I wish so much we could talk it over together—the subject is too vast to attempt even to allude to it in the brief space of a letter. We feel here how little the subject is understood in Europe, because our political institutions have never been comprehended there. One sentiment across the water seems quite pervasive and I perceive you share in it, viz., that we cannot be a united people again. Why should we be an exception to the world’s history and to your own history in this respect? Is there bad blood between England and Scotland now? Is not Ireland united with you? How is it across the Channel? Has Louis Napoleon more devoted adherents than in Brittany? Your historians tell us there was a dead body or wounded man in every hamlet in La Vendee during the civil war that desolated in that country—where the forests were burned in order to extinguish the last haunts of the opposition…

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