The course of a portion of the republican papers and their pulpit orators has raised a vitally important question as to the object and purpose of the war which the people of the North are now so unitedly and energetically preparing to prosecute against the rebels.—That question is this: Is this a war in support of the Government, the Constitution, the Union, and the dearly-purchased rights of a free people, or a negro crusade for the abolition of slavery? Whatever may have been the views of the people as to the causes of the war, or their opinions as to the proper remedy for the troubles out of which it has grown, there is no question that the great mass of them have responded to the summons to war with the distinct understanding that they were called upon to preserve national institutions and constitutional privileges, and not to destroy them—to sustain and perpetuate the Constitution and the Union, to uphold the Government, and to put down armed rebellion seeking their overthrow. If such is the real character and purpose of the war, it must and will be cordially supported and energetically aided by the united people of the North; but if it is an abolition crusade, designed to destroy the rights and institutions of the South recognized by the Constitution, then it is a wicked and treasonable war and will not be participated in by any man who loves the old Union, reveres the Constitution and has a patriot’s devotion to the Government and flag of our country.

We do not doubt that the President and his constitutional advisers entered upon this great contest with a single view to maintain[ing] the integrity of the Union, the authority of the Government, the perpetuity of the Constitution, the honor, rights, welfare and glory of the country, its flag and its people; and those who now seek to give it a different direction and purpose, have no countenance from those in authority. This we think is plain from the President’s own declarations, in the most important document ever issued by the Chief Magistrate of this Union—his first Proclamation. In that he declared the object of his call for troops to be to suppress rebellion and “to cause the laws to be duly executed,” and to “maintain the honor, integrity and the existence of our National Union,” and he further declared that “in every event” the utmost care should be observed to avoid any “interference with property.” To preserve the Union is to maintain the Constitution upon which it is founded; and this is thus solemnly declared to be the great end and purpose of the war. To make it an abolition crusade, is to overthrow the Constitution, to disregard and violate its spirit and letter. And it is thus that the people understood the matter; and this accounts for the unanimity and zeal with which they have responded to the call of the Government. And the action of the commanders of troops in refusing to aid or countenance slave insurrections and the escape of slaves, in their march through Maryland, shows very plainly their ideas of their duty in this respect; and there is reason to believe that their course has met the approval of the Government.

It may therefore be safely concluded that the Government gives no countenance to the attempt to pervert this great popular movement from its noble and patriotic purpose. That purpose is to suppress rebellion, and to preserve the Union, maintain the Constitution and uphold the Government; and for that object all patriotic men will most cordially unite in contributing their means and their personal services to the extent of their ability. And those who seek to turn this war into a crusade against slavery, or who thus represent it, are at heart and in effect as much traitors to their country and its Government as are the rebels who are openly engaged in the Devil’s work of attempting to overthrow that Government by force of arms.