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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XXI. Political Writing Since 1850

§ 12. National Theories During the War

The advent of war forced the nationalists to re-shape their political theories. The legal and constitutional proofs that the United States was a nation, advanced by Webster and his school, had not counteracted sectionalism; the conflict of arms threatened to demonstrate how baseless they were. Moreover the conduct of the war brought about a certain disregard, on the part of the government, of various limitations, rights, and liberties set forth in the Constitution. It is not strange, therefore, that a new basis for nationality was sought, not in the Constitution or the old political formulas, but in the hard school of necessity. Thus President Lincoln declared that “measures otherwise unconstitutional might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation of the constitution through the preservation of the Nation.” Pertinent also were the words of Sydney George Fisher written in 1852: “If the Union and the Government cannot be saved out of this terrible shock of war constitutionally, a Union and a government must be saved unconstitutionally.”