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The Southern Confederacy [The Causes Of Civil War]
by [?]

Read May 11, 1909

More than a hundred years ago the American States rebelled against the tyranny of England, the mother country, and formed a Confederacy of and among themselves to work together for their own welfare and prosperity. It was granted by their Constitution, and by the States, that each or any individual State had the right under provocation, to withdraw from the pact.

Not quite fifty years ago the Southern States of this Union, having endured provocation after provocation, withdrew from their Northern oppressors, and formed themselves into the Confederacy, whose brief existence ran red with the best blood of her chivalrous land. War was not contemplated. A peaceable separation was desired. A peace conference was held to which representatives of the States were invited. Measure after measure was proposed, so that war might be averted. All were rejected. The recusant States must be whipped back into submission to the autocrats that would direct their affairs. With restricted territory, a minority of population, and home interests directly opposed to those of the over-riding North, what was there to hope for but continuous degradation? Our leaders have been accused of precipitating the war for their own personal ambition. It was another “Aaron Burr conspiracy.” Let us hear what they had to say about it.

Jefferson Davis, the fearless soldier and upright citizen–the man who by reason of his supreme fitness was a little later, chosen President of the Confederacy, said in his last speech before the United States Senate:

“Secession is to be justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. When you deny us the right to withdraw from a government which threatens our rights, we but tread in the paths of our fathers when we proclaim our independence. I am sure I but express the feelings of the people whom I represent, toward those whom you represent, when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceable relations with you, though we must part. This step is taken, not in hostility to others, not to injure any section of the country, not even for our own pecuniary benefit; but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit unshorn to our children.”

Alexander Hamilton Stephens, of Georgia, Vice President of the Confederacy, was a Whig, and like others of the leading statesmen, loved the Union. When the North began to control the new territories, and thus denied the South her legitimate share in the government thereof, Mr. Stephens made a long and powerful argument in the House of Representatives at Washington, some years before the Secession. He said in part:

“If you men of the North, by right of superior numbers, persist in ignoring the claims of the South, separation must follow; but why not in peace? We say as did the patriarch of old, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee * * * for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me If thou will take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand then I will go to the left.” In other words if we cannot enjoy this public domain in common, let us divide it. This is a fair proposition. * * * Unless these bitter and sectional feelings of the North be kept out of the National Halls, we must be prepared for the worst. Are your feelings too narrow to make concessions and deal justly by the whole country? Have you formed a fixed determination to carry your measures by numerical strength, and then enforce them by the bayonet? If so the consequences be upon your own head. You may think that the suppression of an outbreak of the Southern States would be a holiday job for a few of your Northern regiments, but you may find to your cost, in the end, that 7,000,000 of people, fighting for their rights, their homes, and their hearthstones, cannot be easily conquered. I submit the matter to your deliberate consideration.”