The first gun of Civil War is heard, whose reverberations are yet to echo through the world. The signal is given of events of which no man can tell the end. A fearful responsibility is due to those who have brought this crisis upon the country.

War is not the last of calamities. If the Federal government were about to sacrifice its treasures and fleets and armies, to rebuke the Spanish usurpation in San Domingo; if this armament were intended to repel Mexican aggression or to assert our right to San Juan against English pretention, every citizen would gladly rally to the support of [the] government. But it is between the States of the Union that the war is to be declared, and its provocations are to be found in the aggressions of section against section, and the defiance of Constitutional guarantees. It is a Civil War that opens—a war whose successes are without glory, whose noblest deeds are without honor; for they are won in fratricidal conflict, and their cost is fraternal blood.

If this were even an actual, intelligent assertion of government authority, it would appeal to the moral sentiment of the country. If its object and result were to restore the Union, and re-establish the Constitution over these States, it might be worth all the sacrifices it imposed. For ourselves, we should place no impediment in its way, but bid it God speed to its end. Every Democrat in the North would take the same position.

But it cannot, in any event, have this effect. It cannot restore; it can only destroy. There are those who believe that it is the deliberate purpose of the Administration to terminate, in a war in which sectional passions shall be aroused to the utmost hate, the connection between the North and South—and to cut off all possible hope of reconstruction.

If this is the purpose of the Administration, they have lost no time in its execution. The deed of separation is sealed in the first blood shed in this conflict.