Nonfiction > Walt Whitman > Prose Works > I. Specimen Days > 18. National Uprising and Volunteering
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Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Prose Works. 1892.
  
I. Specimen Days
18. National Uprising and Volunteering
  
I HAVE said somewhere that the three Presidentiads preceding 1861 show’d how the weakness and wickedness of rulers are just as eligible here in America under republican, as in Europe under dynastic influences. But what can I say of that prompt and splendid wrestling with secession slavery, the arch-enemy personified, the instant he unmistakably show’d his face? The volcanic upheaval of the nation, after that firing on the flag at Charleston, proved for certain something which had been previously in great doubt, and at once substantially settled the question of disunion. In my judgment it will remain as the grandest and most encouraging spectacle yet vouchsafed in any age, old or new, to political progress and democracy. It was not for what came to the surface merely—though that was important—but what it indicated below, which was of eternal importance. Down in the abysms of New World humanity there had form’d and harden’d a primal hard-pan of national Union will, determin’d and in the majority, refusing to be tamper’d with or argued against, confronting all emergencies, and capable at any time of bursting all surface bonds, and breaking out like an earthquake. It is, indeed, the best lesson of the century, or of America, and it is a mighty privilege to have been part of it. (Two great spectacles, immortal proofs of democracy, unequall’d in all the history of the past, are furnish’d by the secession war—one at the beginning, the other at its close. Those are, the general, voluntary, arm’d upheaval, and the peaceful and harmonious disbanding of the armies in the summer of 1865.)   1

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