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As one looks to-day over the sources of the history of the great Civil War, it seems plain that the responsible spokesmen of the Confederacy should have made overtures to the North for peace on the basis of an indissoluble union of the warring sections in the autumn of 1863. But the Southern leader who proposed reunion at that time would have been regarded as untrue to his cause or unduly timid.

Neither Jefferson Davis nor General Lee had any thought of surrender, though from the attitude of representatives of the United States it was plain that an offer to return to the Union would have been met with ample guaranties to the owners of slaves and full amnesty to those who had brought on the war. Alexander Stephens alone foresaw the outcome and began now to ask for a new national convention in which terms of restoration and permanent union should be fixed. Stephens was, however, already out of harmony with President Davis; and the State of Georgia, led by Joseph E. Brown, the Governor, and the Confederate Vice-President himself, was regarded by loyal Southerners as recalcitrant and therefore not authorized to propose solutions of the problem. The cup of Southern defeat and humiliation had not been drained to the bottom.

The Confederacy owed, at the end of the year 1863, $1,221,000,000; the State Governments, the counties and cities, probably owed as much more. Paper money, the only medium of exchange, was fast giving way to barter. One dollar in gold was worth twenty dollars in Confederate currency. The monthly wage of a common soldier was not sufficient to buy a bushel of wheat. People who lived in the cities converted their tiny yards into vegetable gardens; the planters no longer produced cotton and tobacco, but supplies for "their people" and for the armies. The annual export of cotton fell from 2,000,000 bales in 1860 to less than 200,000 in 1863, and most of this came from areas under Federal control. The yearly returns to the planters from foreign markets alone had fallen from the huge returns of 1860 to almost nothing in 1863, and with the disappearance of gold, or international money, from the South, the Governments, Confederate and State, found their systems of taxation breaking down. Early in 1864 taxes were made payable in corn, bacon, or wheat, not in paper money, which every one refused to accept at face value. Planters and farmers great and small were now required to contribute one tenth of their crops to the Government. This would have given to the armies an ample supply, but the railroads were already breaking down, while wagons and country roads were also unable to bear the unparalleled burden. It was a difficult situation. The States made it worse by resisting the authority of the Confederacy; while the Confederacy was unable either to raise money on loans or gather taxes in kind from farmers who preferred always to pay in "lawful money." The Confederacy was getting into debt beyond all chance of redemption, and the States were likewise mortgaged to the utmost limit of their credit before the end of the year 1864.

But the tax law of 1864 was only one of the burdens under which Southerners, who had never accustomed themselves to paying taxes in any large way, groaned. In 1862 General Lee had urged upon Davis a conscript law which would keep his ranks full. Congress grudgingly enacted the required legislation, and later more drastic laws were passed; but the simple people who occupied the remote mountain sections of the South and the small farmers and tenants of the sandy ridges or piney woods responded slowly when confronted by the officers of the law. Thousands positively refused service in the armies and resorted to the dense forests or swamps, where they were fed by friends and neighbors who refused to assist the government recruiting agents. In the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee these people were so numerous that the presence of troops was required to keep up the semblance of obedience to law. Local warfare was the result in many places. Unionists who had not been able to join the armies of the United States assisted those who refused to serve in the Confederate ranks. As time went on thousands of deserters joined the recalcitrants in the Southern hills, and during the last year of the war it was a serious problem of State and Confederate authorities what to do with these people, who now numbered quite a hundred thousand men.

Resistance to tax-gatherers and to recruiting officers, and the despondency which followed the disasters of 1863 and the tightening of the Federal blockade, led to dissatisfaction and even resistance in the loyal black belts. In North Carolina a peace movement, led by an able newspaper editor, W. W. Holden, gained the sympathies of Governor Vance, who had never liked Jefferson Davis nor really sympathized with the cause of secession. In Virginia the friends of John B. Floyd, who had been summarily dismissed from the army for his hasty surrender of Fort Donelson in 1862, aided by the followers of John M. Daniel, editor of the Richmond _Examiner_, did what they could to embarrass the Confederate President. The Rhett influence in South Carolina and the long-standing quarrel of Governor Brown of Georgia with Jefferson Davis still further weakened the arm of Confederate administration. Even William L. Yancey, the most fiery of the secessionist leaders of 1860, devoted all his eloquence and abilities, from 1861 to the time of his death in 1863, to attacking the Government of his own making. And to make matters worse, the supreme courts of North Carolina and Georgia undertook to annul the conscript law and other important acts of the Confederate Congress, and thus inaugurated a war of the judges which seriously undermined the prestige and the morale of the Confederate Government. Confederate officers enrolled men for the army only to have them released by state judges supported by their respective governors. All the influence and abilities of Lee and Davis were required to prevent a break-down in the spring of 1864, when the calls for more troops and additional supplies were so numerous and pressing. West Virginia was gone, Kentucky and Missouri, too, were wholly within the Federal lines; and most of Tennessee, half of Mississippi, and nearly all the region beyond the great river were lost to the Richmond Government. New Orleans and Norfolk were once more parts of the United States, while large strips of territory in eastern North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida were held in subjection by frowning gunboats.

[Illustration: The Confederacy in 1863]

A little cotton found its way through the beleaguered ports of Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington to Europe, and brought the lucky blockade runners and their owners rich returns. But trade was so small and the dangers of capture were so many that few could look with any real hope for a return of prosperity until the war was over. Europe must intervene if cotton and tobacco and sugar were to regain their kingly state. And this was the warmest wish of the Confederate chieftains. When the battle of Fredericksburg was fought, all the world thought that the desired recognition would come at once. James M. Mason, the commissioner to England, wrote home that a large majority of the House of Commons was willing to vote for acknowledging Southern independence, and Charles Francis Adams, the Minister of the United States, was of the same opinion. Gladstone, then one of the most popular members of the British Cabinet, and a majority of his colleagues favored the South. Palmerston declared, when the Emancipation Proclamation was read to him, that Lincoln abolished slavery where he had no power to do so and protected it where he had power to abolish it. Of the million voters in England at least three fourths seemed ready to vote for Southern recognition, and all the great manufacturers, the powerful merchants, the country gentry, and great nobles were openly contemptuous of the cause and policy of the North. Carlyle ridiculed the "Yankees," and Dickens made fun of Lincoln, Sumner, Chase, and the rest. It was apparently only a matter of weeks before Lord Palmerston would ask Parliament to authorize him to intervene in order to stop the "useless" bloodshed and slaughter of the war between the States.

In France the ruling class, the bankers, the industrialists, the higher clergy, and many of the party of free trade supported Napoleon III in his well-known friendliness for the South. Moreover, the Emperor was promoting a scheme to build for his Austrian friend, Maximilian, an empire in Mexico, where the perennial war of factions was hotly raging. Davis might aid such a move as a consideration for recognition, and certainly Seward was too busy with his own troubles to intervene on behalf of an "outworn" Monroe Doctrine. Slidell, the shrewd Confederate commissioner to France, led the Emperor to expect Southern support of his scheme, and at the same time borrowed millions of dollars in gold from rich Paris bankers and hurried it off to the famishing Confederacy. No revolutionary power ever had a fairer chance of winning its goal than did that of Davis and Lee in the autumn of 1862 and winter of 1863.

The unexpected often happens. While Charles Francis Adams was being coldly elbowed out of the salons of an unsympathetic English nobility, and when Confederate bonds were selling both in London and Paris at or near par, Secretary Chase sent Robert J. Walker, the former Mississippi repudiator and successful Secretary of the Treasury under Polk, to Europe for the purpose of breaking down Confederate credit and building up that of the United States.

The commissioner of the Treasury Department began the publication of a series of articles on the financial page of the London _Times_ which seemed to show that Davis had been responsible for the repudiation of a large issue of state bonds, many of them held in London, in 1843. All that Mason and Slidell could do did not remove the suspicion that the Confederate President would "repudiate" again. Men who had loaned large sums of money to Mississippi could not be made to understand that Walker himself had been the responsible agent of Mississippi in those days. From the beginning of this unpleasant advertising of former American financiering, in which Northern States had sinned quite as flagrantly as Southern, Confederate credit in Europe declined. Her bonds were soon withdrawn from the market. At the same time Walker succeeded in borrowing $250,000,000 from European bankers, and thus at a critical period he was able to prop the declining fortunes of his country. To say that Walker destroyed the credit of the Confederacy and at the same time restored that of the Union would be an exaggeration. But his services were of incalculable value to the nationalist cause. When, therefore, Napoleon asked England to join him in intervening between the warring parties of the United States there was other reason, besides the strong and vigorous activity of Charles Francis Adams, for the British Ministry to postpone or decline coöperation.

Thus the bright Confederate outlook of 1862 had become dark in May, 1864, when General Grant, who had been brought from the field of his brilliant operations in the West, took command of the army with which Meade had expelled Lee from Pennsylvania. But conditions were not encouraging in the North. Lincoln's popularity was still in eclipse. Congress was resentful of his failures. Charles Sumner was denouncing him every day in private and opposing him in public. Secretary Chase was using the machinery of his great office to deprive his chief of a renomination. The radicals of the East were still refusing their approval of a policy which compromised with slavery in the border States, and the Unionists of the Northwest were resentful toward a President who was making war upon slavery. The Democrats of the North were apparently stronger than ever, and their criticism of the Government for suspending the writ of _habeas corpus_ and for hundreds of arbitrary arrests gave conservative men pause. To all this must be added the resistance in 1863 to the military drafts, the riots, the extraordinary prosperity of business men which made recruiting, even with the aid of laws almost as drastic as those of the South, almost impossible. The cost in bounties to nation, state, and counties of one enlistment in 1864 was about $1000; and when a regiment was thus made up, a third of the men sometimes deserted within a few months and reënlisted under other names, thus securing a second or a third series of bounties.

Still the success of the Northern cause seemed to depend on the renomination of Lincoln, for any other Republican Unionist would certainly be defeated by the Democrats, who were fast uniting upon General McClellan, exceedingly popular with both War Democrats and those who had opposed the war from the beginning. If the outlook in the South was discouraging, that of the North was almost as depressing.

With public opinion keen, critical, and watchful, the great duel reopened in Virginia and Georgia in May, 1864. Grant attacked with an army of 120,000 men; Lee returned the blow with a force of about 60,000 seasoned and resolute soldiers. From May 3 to June 12 the two great generals fought over the tangled thickets and sandy ridges which extend from the Wilderness to Cold Harbor near Richmond, where McClellan had failed in 1862. Grant failed in every attempt to defeat his foe, and he lost in that short period about 54,000 brave men--an army almost equal in numbers to that which they opposed. The people and the papers of the North were demanding the removal of their last general; United States bonds and paper money were a drug on the stock market; it was reported that Grant was drinking deeply. Lincoln knew that to remove his general would be tantamount to surrender, for B. F. Butler, then on the lower James, would be the only and last resort, and Lee would make short work of that remarkable commander. There was a little encouragement in the fighting of Sherman against Joseph E. Johnston, who was yielding more and more of northern Georgia to his rival. But June and July, 1864, were the darkest hours of the Union cause and of Lincoln, its champion.

Lee now felt himself secure in his position near Malvern Hill, and expected daily to hear of the removal of his antagonist. But Grant, to the surprise of all, performed the greatest feat of his military career by safely placing all his army, still 120,000 strong, on the south side of the James River, where there were no intrenchments and no other obstacles to their marching upon Petersburg, the key to Richmond. This was done with incredible facility, June 16, 17, and 18, while Lee quietly waited for the enemy to attack him once more. While Lee thus rested on his arms, Grant carried his army through the open country east of Petersburg. Too late, June 18, the Confederate commander hastened all his forces to the new scene of war. Grant had played an incomparable ruse, and the Union army entered, with returning faith in its leader, upon the last phase of its great task--the ruin of Lee.

Meanwhile General Sherman, with a force of 80,000, had been driving Joseph E. Johnston, with 50,000 men, from Dalton in northern Georgia toward Atlanta. From May 4 until July 18 the two armies maneuvered and fought--each seeking without success to surprise the other. On the 17th of July Sherman crossed the Chattahoochee some twenty miles north of Atlanta. Georgia and the cotton belt of the lower South were in a panic. Davis, never quite satisfied with Johnston's operations, yielded to the clamors of Senators and Representatives, as well as military men, and removed the general. John B. Hood, the new commander, began at once a series of battles around the doomed city, losing in every encounter. Atlanta fell on September 2. Sherman was left in quiet possession of northern Georgia, while the Confederate army marched toward Nashville in the hope of forcing a retreat and perhaps of regaining Tennessee. With Grant at Petersburg, whose fall would compel the evacuation of Richmond, and Sherman the master of Georgia, for such was the meaning of Hood's movements, the days of the Confederacy seemed to be numbered.

Before these military successes had been gained, the leaders of the Union cause were compelled to nominate a candidate for the Presidency. Sumner, Greeley, William Cullen Bryant, and many other men of great influence opposed Lincoln's renomination. A convention of radical Republicans met at Cleveland during the last days of May. It nominated John C. Frémont for President. But the regular Republican Convention met a week later in Baltimore, formally disavowed its name, and assumed that of the National Union party. Its chairman was Robert J. Breckinridge, a Kentucky preacher and Unionist. Lincoln was renominated without opposition, and, as a bid to the border States, Andrew Johnson, Union Democrat of Tennessee, was nominated for Vice-President. However, the reverses of Grant in Virginia weakened the position of the Administration, and before the 1st of August trusted advisers of the Government telegraphed "The apathy of the public mind is fearful." The price of gold ranged during the summer from 200 to 285, and United States securities sold at less than half their face value. The President was compelled to order a draft of 500,000 men in July; the country met the order with a groan. Congress asked for the appointment of a day of fasting and penance, and Lincoln set the first Thursday in August as a "day of national humiliation and prayer." So portentous was the outlook that before the middle of August most of the eminent men in the Union party had lost all heart. Greeley wrote, "Lincoln is already beaten." A committee waited on the President to ask his formal withdrawal from the canvass.

Late in August, when the Unionist hopes were at their lowest, the Democrats met in Chicago. Governor Seymour, of New York, Representatives Pendleton, of Ohio, Voorhees, of Indiana, and the unpopular Clement L. Vallandigham were in charge of the proceedings. Southern leaders came over from Canada and even representatives of the Sons of Liberty, a group of Northwesterners who were resisting the National Administration, were participants in the convention. Vallandigham, a "peace-at-any-price" man, secured the passage of a resolution which declared the war a failure, but the War Democrats dictated the nomination and made George B. McClellan the candidate of the party. The general, who had fought some of the great battles of the war, repudiated the Vallandigham resolution, but accepted the proffered leadership. On the day the convention adjourned it seemed clear to the thoughtful men of the country that the Democrats would win the election, and that they would in that event bring the war to a close by acknowledging Southern independence.

But before the delegates had reached their homes, the telegraph announced the fall of Atlanta. Commodore Farragut had just taken Mobile after a long and heroic struggle. President Lincoln, a masterful manipulator of popular opinion, now called upon the country to assemble in their churches and give thanks to God for the splendid victories of Sherman and Farragut. Early in September General Phil Sheridan invaded the Shenandoah Valley, made famous by Jackson in the beginning of the war, and won a decisive victory at Winchester. Before the end of the month he had burned thousands of barns, slaughtered many thousands of cattle, and destroyed the newly harvested grain in all that rich region. His terse remark that a crow could not cross the Valley without taking with him his provisions received widespread applause, and showed what a desperate character the war had taken. Sherman, too, took up his march through the rich black belt of Georgia, destroying everything that came within his reach. The people of the North took heart, especially the stiff-backed Republicans who during the two years preceding had found little to approve in the measures of the Government. Sumner, who had called Lincoln the American Louis XVI; Thaddeus Stevens, who had declared that he knew only one Lincoln man in the House of Representatives; Horace Greeley, Secretary Chase, and even Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, all united now to praise the President and urge his cause before the country. The last great crisis of the war in the North had been passed. A decisive victory at the polls was the verdict of the people, and the homely, honest, and kindly Lincoln was commissioned to bring the war to a conclusion and then to reconstruct the Union.

The South observed movements in the North now with hopeful, now with regretful, scrutiny. As a desperate stroke Davis had sent Jacob Thompson to Canada to assist in the release of Confederate prisoners and to stir up the Sons of Liberty to rise against the Federal Government. In October raiding parties were sent into New England, and an effort was made to set fire to New York City in retaliation for the destruction of Southern property by order of Federal generals. These efforts proved abortive, perhaps adding many votes to the majority with which Lincoln was reëlected. And when the Confederate Congress reassembled in November the fortunes of the South were recognized as almost past remedy. Georgia did not rise to overwhelm Sherman; the supplies painfully collected in thousands of _dépôts_ could not be carried to Lee's army in Petersburg; the railroads were almost useless, and starvation confronted those who lived in the larger towns. Only a great and overwhelming victory over Grant could save the South, and that seemed impossible when thousands of Confederate soldiers had deserted their standards. With 40,000 men it was not likely that Lee could raise the siege of Petersburg or capture any large part of Grant's army of nearly 140,000.

In the hope of filling the thin ranks of the Southern armies, President Davis recommended to Congress the enlistment of the blacks; and to secure foreign recognition, he sent Duncan F. Kenner to Europe to offer emancipation of the slaves. But Congress regarded these moves with ill-concealed contempt and offered counter-solutions. Alexander Stephens, the Vice-President, led a movement to impeach Davis. Powerful influences in Virginia supported Stephens; in North Carolina, opposition to the Confederate authorities had been carried so far that such a proposal was regarded with approval. The Rhett party in South Carolina and the Joseph E. Brown following in Georgia were all ready to follow Stephens. A large section of public opinion had in fact been prepared in all these States for such a plan. A committee of Congress was formed and William C. Rives was sent to General Lee to inquire if he would take charge of the affairs of the Confederacy as sole dictator. Lee declined the dubious honor, and Congress, not knowing what else to do, undertook in early January, 1865, to carry out the recommendations of the President.

By the end of December, 1864, General Sherman had captured Savannah, and was ready to begin his march northward to support Grant. On the suggestion of Montgomery Blair, father of Postmaster-General Blair, a conference was arranged with the Federal authorities, to take place on a United States steamer in Hampton Roads. Lincoln and Seward thus met, on February 3, Alexander Stephens, former United States Judge Campbell, and Senator R. M. T. Hunter, all identified with the Confederate peace party. Satisfactory terms could not be agreed upon and the renewal of the conflict was ordered. As the commissioners passed through the lines, the news of their failure was conveyed to both armies, and these brave soldiers of many campaigns, having long since learned to respect each other, wept aloud. The failure of these negotiations confirmed Davis in his position and he now made one more appeal to the people of the South to save their cause by a popular uprising. Stephens and the rest lent their support to the call; but it was all in vain, for the sands of the Confederacy were almost run. General Sherman with 60,000 men was marching through South Carolina. Columbia was laid in ashes on the night of February 17, and the naked chimneys of the cotton belt from Atlanta to middle South Carolina marked the course of the Federal army. The people of North Carolina trembled at the approach of the victorious enemy. Joseph E. Johnston was finally restored to the command of the remnants of his former army and the local militia which undertook to delay the progress of the Federal forces. Well-to-do families fled to places of refuge; horses and cattle were driven to the best hiding-places that could be found; the silver plate and the little gold that remained among the people were buried under woodpiles or deserted houses. The negroes awaited with stolid curiosity the approach of the "Yankees," who were by this time vaguely recognized as the "deliverers"; while the poor whites were thankful that their poverty for once proved a blessing.

In February the Confederate Congress offered a certain number of slaves their liberty on condition of their fighting for Southern independence; but it was too late for any test of the radical policy. The new commissioner to Europe had hardly reached London before the collapse of his Government was seen to be imminent. The debts of the Confederate, state, and city governments of the South had grown so rapidly that no one knew just what they were; the armies of Lee and Johnston were forced to forage upon the country nearest at hand. Soldiers were barefoot, half-naked, and dispirited. Grant pressed steadily upon Lee at Petersburg, Sheridan approached Lee's rear from Lynchburg, Virginia, and B. F. Butler, with 40,000 men, threatened Richmond from the lower James River. To escape the toils of the enemy, Lee decided to retreat toward the west. Jefferson Davis received the dispatch which told of Lee's new purpose and advised the evacuation of the capital about noon on April 2. It was Sunday, and the people were at church. Rapidly the fateful news spread. An indescribable scene followed. Men, women, and children hastened out of the doomed city with the little clothing they could carry in their hands, or begged the owners of carts and wagons to come to their assistance. Thousands thus sought to escape the avenger, while the high officials of the Government and their families went away on the last train. Documents, private correspondence, stores of all sorts, tobacco, and other property were burned to prevent their falling into the hands of the hated enemy. Early Monday morning the city was deserted save by certain hangers-on, men and women, white and black, who hoped to pick up something from the wreckage of their neighbors' fortunes. The local government ordered the thousands of barrels of whiskey, still in the bar-rooms, emptied into the streets. People drank from the gutters, and drunkenness soon added to the difficulties of the situation. Federal troops entered the city, already in flames, and before nine o'clock the Union colors flew from the flagpole of the ancient capital of Virginia.

[Illustration: Map of regions which surrendered with Lee and Johnston April 1865]

Davis and his Cabinet escaped to Danville, Virginia, where they remained until the news of Lee's surrender at Appomattox reached them on April 10, when they retreated toward Charlotte, North Carolina. Lee had seen the inevitable, and on April 9, near the little village of Appomattox, he asked Grant for terms. The Union commander was generous, and allowed the 28,000 heroic Confederates to return to their homes, giving only their word of honor that they would keep the peace in the future. A few days later near Durham, North Carolina, Johnston surrendered to Sherman on similar terms to those which Grant had given Lee. The President and members of the defunct government of the Confederate States of America hastened on to Georgia, where Davis was captured on May 10 and sent to Fortress Monroe as a state prisoner. Other forces of the South, scattered over the wide area of their desolate country, surrendered during the month of May; and most people turned to cultivation of their crops in the hope that a bountiful nature might restore somewhat their broken fortunes. The bitter cup had been drained. The cause of the planters had gone down in irretrievable disaster. For forty years they had contended with their rivals of the North, and having staked all on the wager of battle they had lost. Just four years before they had entered with unsurpassed zeal and enthusiasm upon the gigantic task of winning their independence. They had made the greatest fight in history up to that time, lost the flower of their manhood and wealth untold. They now renewed once and for all time their allegiance to the Union which had up to that time been an experiment, a government of uncertain powers. More than three hundred thousand lives and not less than four billions of dollars had been sacrificed in the fight of the South. The planter culture, the semi-feudalism of the "old South," was annihilated, while the industrial and financial system of the East was triumphant. The cost to the North had been six hundred thousand lives and an expense to the governments, state and national, of at least five billion dollars. But the East was the mistress of the United States, and the social and economic ideals of that section were to be stamped permanently upon the country.

Bibliographical Note

J. K. Hosmer, _The Outcome of the Civil War_ (1900), in _American Nation_ Series; J. A. Woodburn, _The Life of Thaddeus Stevens_ (1913); E. P. Oberholtzer, _Jay Cooke, Financier of the Civil War_ (1907); J. C. Schwab, _The Confederate States, A Financial and Industrial History_ (1901); E. D. Fite, _Social and Industrial Conditions in the North During the Civil War_ (1910), W. F. Fox, _Regimental Losses in the American Civil War_ (1889).

Of special sectional value is W. D. Foulke's _The Life of Oliver P. Morton_ (1899). Henry Wilson's _The Rise and Fall of the Slave Power_ (1872-77); A. H. Stephens's _A Constitutional View of the Late War Between the States_ (1868-70) are typical of many others. Some of the best writers on the life and ideals of the old South are Mrs. Roger A. Pryor, _Reminiscences of Peace and War_ (1906), and _My Day_ (1911); Mrs. James Chesnut, _A Diary from Dixie_ (1905); Mrs. Clement C. Clay, _A Belle of the Sixties_ (1904); and Mrs. Myrta L. Avery, _Dixie after the War_ (1906). Mrs. Jefferson Davis's _A Memoir of Jefferson Davis_ (1890) is rather personal and profuse, but always more important than the more pretentious work of her husband, Jefferson Davis, in his _Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government_, already mentioned.

A rare source book for the South is J. B. Jones's _A Rebel War Clerk's Diary_ (1866), and an even more important one for the North is Gideon Welles's _Diary_ (1911). Edward McPherson's _Political History of the United States During the Great Rebellion_ (1865); William McDonald's _Select Statutes and Other Documents Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1861-98_ (1903); J. D. Richardson's _Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy_ (1905); and _Appleton's Annual Cyclopedia and Register, 1862-1903_, give the most important official documents and full accounts of public events as they occurred.