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Title: The Life of Jefferson Davis
Author: Alfriend, Frank H.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Life of Jefferson Davis" ***


[Illustration: Jefferson Davis]


  Late Editor of The Southern Literary Messenger._






Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by FRANK H.
ALFRIEND, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States, for the District of Virginia.


In offering this volume to the public, the occasion is embraced to avow,
with unfeigned candor, a painful sense of the inadequate manner in which
the design has been executed. Emboldened rather by his own earnest
convictions, than by confidence in his capacity, the author has undertaken
to contribute to American History, an extended narration of the more
prominent incidents in the life of JEFFERSON DAVIS. Whatever may be the
decision of the reader upon the merits of the performance, the author has
the satisfaction arising from a conscientious endeavor to subserve the
ends of truth. In pursuit of the purpose to write _facts_ only, to the aid
of familiar acquaintance with many of the topics discussed, and to
information derived from the most accurate sources, has been brought
laborious investigation of numerous interesting papers, which his
avocation made accessible. It is therefore claimed that no statement is to
be found in this volume, which is not generally conceded to be true, or
which is not a conclusion amply justified by indisputable evidence.

Nor is it to be fairly alleged that the work exhibits undue sectional
bias. As a Southern man, who, in common with his countrymen of the South,
was taught to believe the principles underlying the movement for Southern
independence, the only possible basis of Republicanism, the author has
regarded, as a worthy incentive, the desire to vindicate, as best he
might, the motives and conduct of the South and its late leader.

Disclaiming the purpose of promoting sectional bitterness, or of a
wholesale indictment of the Northern people, he deems it needless to dwell
upon the obvious propriety of discrimination. Holding in utter abhorrence
the authors of those outrages, wanton barbarities and petty persecutions,
of which her people were the victims, the South yet feels the respect of
an honorable enemy for those distinguished soldiers, Buell, Hancock,
McClellan and others, who served efficiently the cause in which they were
employed, and still illustrated the practices of Christian warfare. To
fitly characterize the remorseless faction in antagonism to the sentiments
of these honorable men, it is only necessary to recall the malice which
assails a "lost cause" with every form of detraction, and aspires to crown
a triumph of arms with the degradation and despair of a conquered people.

In his especial solicitude for a favorable appreciation of his efforts, by
his Southern countrymen, the author has striven to avoid affront to those
considerations of delicacy which yet affect many incidents of the late
war. He has not sought to revive, unnecessarily, questions upon which
Southern sentiment was divided, and has rarely assailed the motives or
capacity of individuals in recognized antagonism to the policy of
President Davis. Perhaps a different course would have imparted interest
to his work, and have more clearly established the vindication of its
subject. But besides being wholly repugnant to the tastes of the author,
it would have been in marked conflict with the consistent aim of Mr.
Davis' career, which was to heal, not to aggravate, the differences of the

A large part of the labor, which would otherwise have devolved upon this
enterprise, if adequately performed, had already been supplied by the
writings of Professor Bledsoe. To the profound erudition and philosophical
genius of that eminent writer, as conspicuously displayed in his work
entitled, "Is Davis a Traitor?" the South may, with confidence, intrust
its claims upon the esteem of posterity.

The author heartily acknowledges the intelligent aid, and generous
encouragement, which he has received from his publishers.

JANUARY, 1868.


INTRODUCTION. (Page 13-19.)


CHAPTER I. (Page 20-33.)


CHAPTER II. (Page 34-48.)


CHAPTER III. (Page 49-67.)


CHAPTER IV. (Page 68-84.)


CHAPTER V. (Page 85-97.)


CHAPTER VI. (Page 98-191.)


CHAPTER VII. (Page 192-232.)


CHAPTER VIII. (Page 233-265.)


CHAPTER IX. (Page 266-293.)


CHAPTER X. (Page 294-325.)


CHAPTER XI. (Page 326-360.)


CHAPTER XII. (Page 361-389.)


CHAPTER XIII. (Page 390-421.)


CHAPTER XIV. (Page 422-449.)


CHAPTER XV. (Page 450-476.)


CHAPTER XVI. (Page 477-501.)


CHAPTER XVII. (Page 502-532.)


CHAPTER XVIII. (Page 533-562.)


CHAPTER XIX. (Page 563-589.)


CHAPTER XX. (Page 590-613.)


CHAPTER XXI. (Page 614-636.)


CHAPTER XXII. (Page 637-645.)





To future generations the period in American history, of most absorbing
interest and profound inquiry, will be that embracing the incipiency,
progress, and termination of the revolution which had its most pronounced
phase in the memorable war of 1861. Historians rarely concur in their
estimates of the limits of a revolution, and usually we find quite as much
divergence in their views of the scope of its operations, as in their
speculations as to its origin and causes, and their statements of its
incidents and results. If, however, it is difficult to assign, with minute
accuracy, the exact limits and proper scope of those grand trains of
consecutive events, which swerve society from the beaten track of ages,
divert nations from the old path of progress into what seems to be the
direction of a new destiny, and often transform the aspect of continents,
it is comparatively an easy task to reach a reliable statement of their
more salient and conspicuous incidents. It is in this aspect that the
Titanic conflict, which had its beginning with the booming of the guns in
Charleston harbor in April, 1861, and its crowning catastrophe at
Appomattox Court-house in April, 1865, will be chiefly attractive to the
future student. As a point of departure from the hitherto unbroken
monotony of American history, the beginning of a new order of things, the
extinction of important elements of previous national existence, embracing
much that was consecrated in the popular affections; in short, as a
complete political and social transformation, an abrupt, but thorough
perversion of the government from its original purposes and previous
policy, this period must take its place, with important suggestions of
theory and illustration, among the most impressive lessons of history.

The profound interest which shall center upon the period that we have
under consideration, must necessarily subject to a rigid investigation the
lives, characters, and conduct of those to whom were allotted conspicuous
parts in the great drama. It is both a natural and reasonable test that
the world applies in seeking to solve, through the qualities and
capacities of those who direct great measures of governmental policy, the
merits of the movements themselves. The late President of the United
States, Mr. Lincoln, avowed his inability to escape the judgment of
history, and the bare statement sufficiently describes the inevitable
necessity, not only of his own situation, but of all who bore a prominent
part on either side of the great controversy.

JEFFERSON DAVIS confronts posterity burdened with the disadvantage of
having been the leader of an unsuccessful political movement. "Nothing
succeeds like success," was the pithy maxim of Talleyrand, to whose astute
observation nothing was more obvious than the disposition of mankind to
make success the touchstone of merit. It is, nevertheless, a vulgar and
often an erroneous criterion. What could be more absurd than to determine
by such a test the comparative valor, generalship, and military character
of the two contestants in the late war? Concede its applicability,
however, and we exalt the soldiership of the North above all precedent,
and consign the unequaled valor of the Southern soldiery to reproach,
instead of the deathless fame which shall survive them. To such a judgment
every battle-field of the war gives emphatic and indignant contradiction.
History abounds with evidence of the influence of accident and of
extraneous circumstances, in the decision of results, which, if controlled
by the question of merit, as understood by the predominant sense of
mankind, would have borne a vastly different character.

But, in addition to the disparaging influence of the failure of the cause
which he represented, Mr. Davis has encountered an unparalleled degree of
personal hate, partizan rancor, of malignant and gratuitous
misrepresentation, the result, to a great extent, of old partizan
rivalries and jealousies, engendered in former periods of the history of
the Union, and also of the spirit of domestic disaffection and agitation
which inevitably arises against every administration of public affairs,
especially at times of unusual danger and embarrassment.[1] The almost
fanatical hatred of the Northern masses against Mr. Davis, as the wicked
leader of a causeless rebellion against the Government of his country, as
a conspirator against the peace and happiness of his fellow-citizens, and
as a relentless monster, who tortured and starved prisoners of war,
springs from the persistent calumnies of such leaders of Northern opinion,
as have an ignoble purpose of vindictive hatred to gratify by the
invention of these atrocious charges. Yet this feeling of the North hardly
exceeds in violence, the resentment with which it was sought to inflame
the Southern people against him, at critical stages of the war, as an
unworthy leader, whose incapacity, pragmatism, nepotism, and vanity were
rushing them into material and political perdition. Of popular
disaffection to the Confederate cause, or dislike of Mr. Davis, there was
an insignificantly small element, never dangerous in the sense of
attempted revolt against the authorities, but often hurtful, because it
constituted the basis of support to such prominent men as fancied their
personal ambition, or _amour propre_, offended by the President. A
misfortune of the South was that there were not a few such characters, and
their influence upon certain occasions was as baleful to the public
interests as their animus was malignant against Mr. Davis. Hoping to
advance themselves by misrepresentations of him, during the war they
persistently charged upon him every disaster, and do not scruple to impute
to his blame those final failures so largely traceable to themselves. A
patriotic regard for the public safety imposed silence upon Mr. Davis
while the war continued, and a magnanimity which they have neither
deserved nor appreciated, coupled with a proper sense of personal dignity,
have impelled him since to refrain from refutation of misstatements
utterly scandalous and inexcusable.

The distinguished English statesman,[2] who, during the progress of the
late war, declared that "Mr. Jefferson Davis had created a nation," stated
more than the truth, though he hardly exaggerated the flattering estimate
which the intelligent public of Europe places upon the unsurpassed ability
and energy with which the limited resources of the South, as compared with
those of her enemies, were, for the most part, wielded by the Confederate
administration. Nor, indeed, would such an estimate have been too
extravagant to be entertained by his own countrymen, had the South
achieved her independence by any stroke of mere good fortune, such as
repeatedly favored her adversaries at critical moments of the war, when,
apparently, the most trifling incidents regulated the balance. More than
once the South stood upon the very threshold of the full fruition of her
aspirations for independence and nationality. Had Jackson not fallen at
Chancellorsville, the Federal Army of the Potomac, the bulwark of the
Union in the Atlantic States, would have disappeared into history under
circumstances far different from those which marked its dissolution two
years later. At Gettysburg the Confederacy was truthfully said to have
been "within a stone's-throw of peace." If at these fateful moments the
treacherous scales of fortune had not strangely turned, and in the very
flush of triumph, who doubts that now and hereafter there would have come
from Southern hearts, an ascription of praise to Jefferson Davis, no less
earnest than to his illustrious colaborers? At all events, it is
undeniable that, as the Confederate arms prospered, so the affection of
the people for Mr. Davis was always more enthusiastic and demonstrative.
Only in moments of extreme public depression could the malcontents obtain
even a patient audience of their assaults upon the chosen President of
the Confederacy.

The people of the late Confederate States, whose destinies Jefferson Davis
directed during four years, the most momentous in their history, are
competent witnesses as to the fidelity, ability, and devotion with which
he discharged the trust confided to him.

Their judgment is revealed in the affectionate confidence with which,
during their struggle for liberty, they upheld him, and in the joyful
acclaim, which echoed from the Potomac to the Rio Grande upon the
announcement of his release from his vicarious captivity. As he was the
chosen representative of the power, the will, and the aspirations of a
chivalrous people, so they will prove themselves the jealous custodians of
his fame. Be the verdict of posterity as it may, they will not shrink from
their share of the odium, and will be common participants with him in the
award of eulogy. There is more than an unreasoning presentiment, something
more tangible than vague hope, in the calm and cheerful confidence with
which both look forward to that ample vindication of truth which always
follows candid and impartial inquiry.

That time will triumphantly vindicate Mr. Davis is as certain, as that it
will dispel the twilight mazes which yet obscure the grand effort of
patriotism which he directed. The rank luxuriance of prejudice, asperity,
and falsehood must eventually yield to the irresistible progress of reason
and truth. Bribery, perjury, every appliance which the most subtle
ingenuity of eager and unscrupulous malice could invent, have been
exhausted in the vain effort to make infamous, in the sight of mankind, a
noble cause, by imputation of personal odium upon its most distinguished
representative. Day by day he rises beyond the reach of calumny, and his
character expands into the fair proportions of the grandest ideals of
excellence. An adamantine heroism of the _antique_ pattern; purity exalted
to an altitude beyond conception even of the vulgar mind; devotion which
shrank from no sacrifice and quailed before no peril, were qualities
giving tone to the genius, which, wielding the inadequate means of a
feeble Confederacy, for years, withstood the shock of powerful invasion,
baffled and humiliated a nation, unlimited in resources, and in spite of
disastrous failure, lends unexampled dignity to the cause in which it was



Jefferson Davis was born on the third day of June, 1808, in that portion
of Christian County, Kentucky, which, by subsequent act of the
Legislature, was made Todd County. His father, Samuel Davis, a planter,
during the Revolutionary war served as an officer in the mounted force of
Georgia, an organization of local troops. Subsequently to the Revolution
Samuel Davis removed to Kentucky, and continued to reside in that state
until a few years after the birth of his son JEFFERSON, when he removed
with his family to the neighborhood of Woodville, Wilkinson County, in the
then territory of Mississippi. At the period of his father's removal to
Mississippi, Jefferson was a child of tender years. After having enjoyed
the benefits of a partial academic training at home, he was sent, at an
earlier age than is usual, to Transylvania University, Kentucky, where he
remained until he reached the age of sixteen. In 1824 he was appointed,
by President Monroe, a cadet at the West Point Military Academy.

Among his contemporaries at the academy were Robert E. Lee, Joseph E.
Johnston, Albert Sidney Johnston, Leonidas Polk, John B. Magruder, and
others who have since earned distinction. Ordinary merit could not have
commanded in such an association of talent and character the position
which Davis held as a cadet. A fellow-cadet thus speaks of him: "Jefferson
Davis was distinguished in the corps for his manly bearing, his high-toned
and lofty character. His figure was very soldier-like and rather robust;
his step springy, resembling the tread of an Indian 'brave' on the
war-path." He graduated in June, 1828, receiving the customary appointment
of Brevet Second Lieutenant, which is conferred upon the graduates of the
academy. Assigned to the infantry, he served with such fidelity in that
branch of the service, and with such especial distinction as a staff
officer on the North-western frontier in 1831-32, that he was promoted to
the rank of First Lieutenant and Adjutant of a new regiment of dragoons in
March, 1833.

About this period the Indians, on various portions of the frontier,
stimulated by dissatisfaction with the course of the Government concerning
certain claims and guarantees, which had been accorded them in previous
treaties, were excessively annoying, and the Government was forced to
resort to energetic military measures to suppress them. Lieutenant Davis
had ample opportunity for the exhibition of his high soldierly qualities,
cool courage, and admirable self-possession, in the Black Hawk war, during
which he was frequently employed in duties of an important and dangerous
character. During the captivity of Black Hawk, that famous Indian
chieftain and warrior is said to have conceived a very strong attachment
for Lieutenant Davis, whose gallantry and pleasing amenities of bearing
greatly impressed the captive enemy. After his transfer to the dragoons,
Lieutenant Davis saw two years of very active service in the various
expeditions against the Pawnees, Camanches, and other Indian tribes, and
accompanied the first expedition which successfully penetrated the
strongholds of the savages, and conquered a peace by reducing them to

Though attached to the profession of arms, for which he has on repeated
occasions, during his subsequent life, evinced an almost passionate
fondness and a most unusual aptitude, Lieutenant Davis resigned his
commission in June, 1835, and returning to Mississippi devoted his
attention to the cultivation of cotton and to the assiduous pursuit of
letters. Not long after his resignation, he had married the daughter of
Col. Zachary Taylor, under whose eye he was destined, in a few years, to
win such immortal renown upon the fields of Mexico. Living upon his
plantation in great seclusion, he devoted himself with zeal and enthusiasm
to those studies which were to qualify him for the eminent position in
politics and statesmanship which he had resolved to assume. In that
retirement were sown the seed, whose abundant fruits were seen in those
splendid specimens of senatorial and popular eloquence, at once models of
taste and exhibitions of intellectual power; in the pure, terse, and
elegant English of his matchless state papers, which will forever be the
delight of scholars and the study of statesmen, and in that elevated and
enlightened statesmanship, which scorning the low ambition of demagogues
and striving always for the ends of patriotism and principle, illumines,
for more than a score of years, the legislative history of the Union.

The period of Mr. Davis' retirement is embraced within the interval of
his withdrawal from the army, in 1835, and the beginning of his active
participation in the local politics of Mississippi, in 1843, a term of
eight years. The diligent application with which he was employed daring
these years of seclusion constituted a most fortunate preparation for the
distinguished career upon which he at once entered. There is not, in the
whole range of American biography, an instance of more thorough
preparation, of more ample intellectual discipline, and elaborate
education for political life.

The _trade_ of politics is an avocation familiar to Americans, and in the
more ordinary maneuvers of party tactics, in that lower species of
political strategy which, in our party vocabulary, is aptly termed
"wire-pulling," our politicians may boast an eminence in their class not
surpassed in the most corrupt ages of the most profligate political
establishments which have ever existed. Statesmanship, in that broad and
elevated conception which suggests the noblest models among those who have
adorned and illustrated the science of government, combining those higher
attributes of administrative capacity which are realized equally in a
pure, sound, and just polity, and in a free, prosperous, and contented
community, is a subject utterly unexplored by American politicians at the
outset of their career, and is comparatively an after-thought with those
intrusted with the most responsible duties of state.

The political training of Mr. Davis was pursued upon a basis very
different from the American model. It has been more akin to the English
method, under which the faculties and the tastes are first cultivated, and
the mind qualified by all the light which theory and previous example
afford for the practical labors which are before it. The tastes and habits
formed during those eight years of retirement have adhered to Mr. Davis
in his subsequent life. When not engrossed by the absorbing cares of
state, he has, with rare enthusiasm and satisfaction, resorted to those
refining pleasures which are accessible only to intellects which have
known the elevating influences of culture.

Emerging from his seclusion in 1843, when the initiatory measures of party
organization were in course of preparation for the gubernatorial canvass
of that year and the Presidential campaign of the next, he immediately
assumed a prominent position among the leaders of the Democratic party in
Mississippi. At this time, probably, no state in the Union, of equal
population, excelled Mississippi in the number and distinction of her
brilliant politicians. Especially was this true of Vicksburg, and of the
general neighborhood in which Mr. Davis resided.[3] The genius of Seargent
S. Prentiss was then in its meridian splendor, and his reputation and
popularity were coëxtensive with the Union. Besides Prentiss were Foote,
Thompson, Claiborne, Gholson, Brown, and many others, all comparatively
young men, who have since achieved professional or political distinction.
The appearance of Mr. Davis was soon recognized as the addition of a star
of no unworthy effulgence to this brilliant galaxy.

The Democratic State Convention, held for the purpose of organization for
the gubernatorial canvass, and for the appointment of delegates to the
National Convention, assembled at Jackson in the summer of 1843. From the
meeting of this convention, which Mr. Davis attended as a delegate, may be
dated the beginning of his political life. In the course of its
deliberations he delivered his first public address, which immediately
attracted toward him much attention, and a most partial consideration by
his party associates. The occasion is interesting from this circumstance,
and as indicating that consistent political bias which, beginning in early
manhood, constituted the controlling inspiration of a long career of
eminent public service. The undoubted preference of the convention, as of
an overwhelming majority of the masses of the Southern Democracy, was for
Mr. Van Buren, and its entire action in the selection of delegates, and
formal expressions of feeling, was in accordance with this
well-ascertained preference. To a proposition instructing the delegates to
the National Convention, to support the nomination of Mr. Van Buren so
long as there was a reasonable hope of his selection by the party, Mr.
Davis proposed an amendment instructing the delegates to support Mr.
Calhoun as the second choice of the Democracy of Mississippi, in the event
of such a contingency as should render clearly hopeless the choice of Mr.
Van Buren. In response to an inquiry from an acquaintance if his amendment
was meant in good faith, and did not contemplate detriment to the
interests of Mr. Van Buren, Mr. Davis rose and addressed the convention in
explanation of his purpose, and in terms of such earnest and appropriate
eulogy of Mr. Calhoun and his principles as to elicit the most
enthusiastic commendation.

So favorable was the impression which Mr. Davis made upon his party, and
so rapid his progress as a popular speaker, that in the Presidential
campaign of 1844, the Democracy conferred upon him the distinction of a
place upon its electoral ticket. In this canvass he acquired great
reputation, and established himself immovably in the confidence and
admiration of the people of Mississippi.

This seems an appropriate point from which to glance prospectively at the
political principles and party associations of Mr. Davis in his after
career. Until its virtual dissolution at Charleston, in 1860, he was an
earnest and consistent member of the Democratic party. To those who are
familiar with the party nomenclature of the country, no inconsistency with
this assertion will appear involved in the statement, that he has also
been an ardent disciple of the doctrine of States' Rights. The Democratic
party and the States' Rights party were indeed identical, when a
profession of political faith in this country was significant of something
ennobling upon the score of principle, something higher than a mere
aspiration for the spoils of office. When, in subsequent years, to the
large majority of its leaders, the chief significance of a party triumph,
consisted in its being the occasion of a new division of the spoils, many
of the most eminent statesmen of the South became in a measure indifferent
to its success. Its prurient aspiration for the rewards of place provoked
the sarcasm of Mr. Calhoun, that it "was held together by the cohesive
power of the public plunder," and the still more caustic satire of John
Randolph, of Roanoke, that it had "seven principles: five loaves and two

Nevertheless, in its spirit thoroughly national, catholic in all its
impulses, for many years shaping its policy in harmony with the protection
of Southern institutions, and with few features of sectionalism in its
organization, it worthily commanded the preference of a large majority of
the Southern people. To this organization Mr. Davis adhered until the
inception of the late conflict, supporting its Presidential nominations,
in the main favoring such public measures as were incorporated in the
policy of the party, and he was, for several years prior to the war, by
no means the least prominent of those named in connection with its choice
for the Presidency in 1860.

It is no part of the task which has been undertaken in these pages to
sketch the mutations of political parties, or to trace the historical
order and significance of events, save in their immediate and
indispensable connection with our appropriate subject. So closely
identified, however, has been the public life of Mr. Davis with the
question of States' Rights, so ardent has been his profession of that
faith, and so able and zealous was he in its advocacy and practice, that
his life virtually becomes an epitome of the most important incidents in
the development of this great historical question. His earliest appearance
upon the arena of politics was at a period when the various issues which
were submitted to the arbitrament of arms in the late war began to assume
a practical shape of most portentous aspect. The address which first
challenged public attention, and that extensive interest which has rarely
been withdrawn since, was an emphatic indorsement of the political
philosophy of Mr. Calhoun and a glowing panegyric upon the character and
principles of that immortal statesman and expounder. Unreservedly
committing himself, then, he has steadfastly held to the States' Rights
creed, as the basis of his political faith and the guide of his public

If it be true that the decision of the sword only establishes facts, and
does not determine questions of principle, then the principle of States'
Rights will be commemorated as something more valuable, than as the mere
pretext upon which a few agitators inaugurated an unjustifiable revolt for
the overthrow of the Government of the Union. Nothing is more likely than
that many who recently rejoiced at its suppression by physical force, may
mourn its departure as of that one vital inspiration, which alone could
have averted the decay of the public liberties. Practically a "dead
letter" now in the partizan slang of the demagogues who rule the hour,
since its prostration by military power in the service of the antipodal
principle of consolidation, it will live forever as the motive and
occasion of a struggle, unparalleled in its heroism and sacrifices in
behalf of constitutional liberty.

There is little ground for wonder at the total ignorance and persistent
misconception in the mind of Europe, at the commencement of the war, of
the motives and purposes of the Confederates in seeking a dissolution of
the Union, when we consider the limited information and perverted views of
the Northern people and politicians respecting the nature of the Federal
Government and the intentions of its authors. Naturally enough, perhaps,
the North, seeing in the Union the source of its marvelous material
prosperity, and with an astute appreciation of its ability, by its
rapidly-growing numerical majority, to pervert the Government to any
purpose of sectional aggression agreeable to its ambition or interests,
refused to tolerate, as either rational or honest, any theory that
contemplated disunion as possible in any contingency. In their willful
ignorance and misapprehension most Northern orators and writers denounced
the doctrines of States' Rights as _new inventions_--as innovations upon
the faith of the fathers of the Republic--and professed to regard the most
enlightened and patriotic statesmen of the South, the pupils and followers
of illustrious Virginians and Carolinians of the Revolutionary era, as
agitators, conspirators, and plotters of treason against the Union. Upon
the score of antiquity, States' Rights principles have a claim to
respectability--not for a moment to be compared with the wretched devices
of expediency or the hybrid products of political atheism, to which the
brazen audacity and hypocrisy of the times apply the misnomer of

They are, in fact, older than the Union, and antedate, not only the
present Constitution, but even the famous Articles of Confederation, under
which our forefathers fought through the first Revolution. The Congress
which adopted the Declaration of Independence emphatically negatived a
proposition looking to consolidation, offered by New Hampshire on the 15th
of June, 1776, that the Thirteen Colonies be declared a "free and
independent State," and expressly affirmed their separate sovereignty by
declaring them to be "free and independent States." The declaration of the
Articles of Confederation was still more explicit--that "each State
retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power,
jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly
delegated to the United States in Congress assembled." The Convention of
1787 clearly designed the present Constitution to be the instrument of a
closer association of the States than had been effected by the Articles of
Confederation, but the proof is exceedingly meager of any general desire
that it should establish a consolidated nationality.

At this early period the antagonism of the two schools of American
politics was plainly discernible. The conflict of faith is easily
indicated. The advocates of States' Rights regarded the Union as a
_compact between the States_--something more than a mere league formed for
purposes of mutual safety, but still a strictly _voluntary_ association of
Sovereignties, in which certain general powers were specifically delegated
to the Union; and all others not so delegated were reserved by the States
in their separate characters. The advocates of Consolidation considered
the Union a _National_ Government--in other words, a centralized power--to
which the several States occupied the relation of separate provinces.

The famous resolutions of '98, adopted respectively by the Virginia and
Kentucky Legislatures, were the formal declarations of principles upon
which the States' Rights party was distinctly organized under Mr.
Jefferson, whom it successfully supported for the Presidency against the
elder Adams at the expiration of the term of the latter. With the progress
of time the practical significance of these opposing principles became
more and more apparent, and their respective followers strove, with
constantly-increasing energy, to make their party creed paramount in the
policy of the Government. A majority of the Northern people embraced the
idea of a perpetual Union, whose authority was supreme over all the
States, and regulated by the will of a numerical majority, which majority,
it should be observed, they had already secured, and were yearly
increasing in an enormous ratio. The South, in the course of years, with
even more unanimity, clung to the idea of State Sovereignty, and the
interpretation of the Government as one of limited powers, as its shield
and bulwark against the Northern majority in the collision which it was
foreseen the aggressive spirit of the latter would eventually occasion.

A common and totally erroneous impression of the Northern mind is that
John C. Calhoun _invented_ the idea of State Sovereignty for selfish and
unpatriotic designs, and as the pretext of a morbid hatred to the Union.
That eminent statesman and sincere patriot never asserted any claim to the
paternity of the faith which he professed. It is true that, in a certain
sense, he was the founder of the States' Rights party as it existed in his
day, and which survived him to make a last unsuccessful struggle to save
first the Union, and, failing in that, to rescue the imperiled liberties
of the South. During the eventful life of Mr. Calhoun the question of the
relative powers of the Federal and State Governments assumed a more
practical bearing than before, and his far-reaching sagacity was
illustrated in his efforts to avert the impending evils of consolidation.
He was the authoritative exponent and revered leader of the votaries of
those principles which he advocated, but did not originate or invent, and
sought to apply as the legitimate and safe solution of the circumstances
by which he was surrounded.

Equally absurd and unfounded with the pretense, asserted at the North, of
the novelty of the idea of State Sovereignty and its incompatibility with
the spirit of the Constitution, was the charge so persistently iterated
against Mr. Calhoun and his followers, of disunionism; of a restless,
morbid discontent, which sought continually revenge for imaginary wrongs
in a dissolution of the Union. To the contrary we have the irrefutable
arguments of Mr. Calhoun himself in favor of the superior efficacy of the
States' Rights interpretation, as an agency for the preservation of the
Union as it was designed to exist by its authors. So far from having an
anarchical or disorganizing tendency, he, on all occasions, maintained
that his theory was "the only solid foundation of our system and the Union

To this faith the public life of Jefferson Davis has been dedicated. For
more than twenty years he sought to illustrate it in the realization of a
splendid but barren vision of a time-honored and time-strengthened Union,
consecrated in the common affections and joint aspirations of a people,
now, alas! united only in name.

During the period of their public service together, Mr. Davis received a
large share of the confidence and regard of Mr. Calhoun, and when the
death of the latter deprived the South of the counsels of an illustrious
public servant, Mr. Davis, though comparatively a young man, stood
foremost as heir to the mantle of the great apostle of States' Rights.[4]



The Presidential canvass of 1844 was one of the most memorable and
exciting in the annals of American politics. By its results the popular
verdict was rendered upon vital questions involved in the administrative
and legislative policy of the Government. The Democratic party was fully
committed to the annexation of Texas, with the prospect of war with Mexico
as an almost inevitable condition of the acquisition of that immense
territory, desirable to the Union at large, but especially popular with
the South, for obvious and sufficient reasons. But apart from the signal
victory achieved by the Democracy, in favor of this and other leading
measures of that party, the election of 1844 had an incidental
significance, which the country generally recognized, in its final and
irrevocable disappointment of the Presidential aspirations of Henry Clay.
This canvass, too, has a peculiar historical interest in the demonstration
which it gave of the real popular strength of the respective parties
which had so long divided the country. Comparatively few temporary issues,
of a character to excite strong popular feeling respecting either party or
its candidates, were made, and there was a square and obstinate battle of
Democracy against Whiggery, of what Governor Wise called the old-fashioned
"Thomas-Jefferson-Simon-Snyder-red-waistcoat-Democracy," against Henry
Clay and his "American System."

The canvass was remarkable not only for its duration and the ardor with
which it was conducted, but for its unsurpassed exhibitions of "stump
oratory." The best men of both parties were summoned to the fierce
conflict; and many were the youthful paladins, hitherto unknown to fame,
who won their golden spurs upon this their first battle-field. Mr. Davis
had borne a leading part in support of Polk and Dallas and Texas
annexation in Mississippi. His services were not of a character to be
forgotten by his party, nor did an intelligent and appreciative public
fail to discover in the young man whose eloquence and manly bearing had so
enlisted their admiration, such abilities and acquirements as qualified
him to represent the honor of his State in any capacity which they might
intrust to his keeping.

Of Mississippi it might have been said, as of Virginia, that "the sun of
her Democracy knew no setting." If possible, however, the State was more
closely than ever confirmed in her Democratic moorings by the decisive
results of the election in 1844. When Mr. Davis received the appropriate
acknowledgment of popular appreciation in his election to the House of
Representatives, in November, 1845, Mississippi sent an unbroken
Democratic delegation to Washington. His associates were Messrs. Roberts
and Jacob Thompson (afterward Secretary of the Interior under Mr.
Buchanan) in the House, and Messrs. Foote and Speight in the Senate.

On Monday, December 8, 1845, Mr. Davis was qualified as a member of the
House of Representatives, and from that day dates his eventful and
brilliant legislative career. The Twenty-ninth Congress was charged with
some of the gravest duties of legislation. The questions of the tariff,
the Oregon excitement, during which war with England was so imminent, and
the settlement of important details pertaining to the Texas question, were
the absorbing concerns which engaged its attention until the provisions
and appropriations necessary to the successful prosecution of the Mexican
war imposed still more serious labors. The records of this Congress reveal
many interesting facts concerning individuals who have since figured
prominently in the history of the country. The fact to which we have
alluded of the unusual interest which had been exhibited in the recent
Presidential contest, doubtless had a considerable influence in the choice
of members of Congress in the various States, and largely contributed to
its elevated standard of ability.

The debates in the House of Representatives of the Twenty-ninth Congress,
are unsurpassed in ability and eloquence by those of any preceding or
subsequent session of that body, and upon its rolls are to be found many
names, now national in reputation, which were then but recently introduced
to public attention. Stephen A. Douglas, the most thoroughly
representative American politician of his time, uniting to a more than
average proportion of the respectability of his class, his full share of
its vicious characteristics, politic, adroit, and ambitious, was
comparatively a new member, and, at this time, in the morning of his
reputation. R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, a statesman of sound judgment
and accurate information, who based his arguments upon the facts, and
reduced the complicated problems of governmental economy to the conditions
of a mathematical demonstration, had not yet been transferred to the
Senate. James A. Seddon, the safe theorist, whose study, like Edmund
Burke's, was "_rerum cognoscere causas_," the acute dialectician, who, in
his mental characteristics, no less than in his principles, was so closely
allied to Mr. Calhoun, was, like Jefferson Davis, for the first time a
member of Congress. Andrew Johnson was then a member of the House and at
the outset of his remarkable career; and in addition to these were
Brinkerhoff, Washington Hunt, Dromgoole, George S. Houston, and a score of
others, whose names recall interesting reminiscences of the day in which
they figured.

To a man of ordinary purpose, or doubtful of himself, the prospect of
competition with such men, at the very outset of his public career, would
not have been encouraging. But there are men, designed by nature, to
rejoice at, rather than to shrink from those arduous and hazardous
positions to which their responsibilities summon them. An attribute of
genius is the consciousness of strength, and that sublime confidence in
the success of its own efforts, which doubly assures victory in the battle
of life. It was with an assurance of triumph, far different from the
harlequin-like effrontery which is often witnessed in the political arena,
that Jefferson Davis advanced to contest the awards of intellectual
distinction. With the activity and vigor of the disciplined gladiator,
with the _gaudia certaminis_ beaming in every feature, with the calm
confidence of the trained statesman, and yet with all the radiant _elan_
of a youthful knight contending for his spurs at Templestowe, he pursued
his brief but impressive career in the lower house of Congress.

As a member of the House of Representatives Mr. Davis rapidly and steadily
won upon the good opinion of his associates, and the favorable estimate of
him, entertained by his constituents and friends, was confirmed by his
greatly advanced reputation at the period of his withdrawal from Congress
in the ensuing summer. He became prominent, less by the frequency with
which he claimed the attention of the House, than by the accuracy of his
information, the substantial value of his suggestions and the easy dignity
of his demeanor. His speeches, though not comparable with his senatorial
efforts, were characterized by great perspicuity, argumentative force, and
propriety of taste, and frequently rose to the dignity of true eloquence.
They, in every instance, gave promise of that rhetorical finish, power of
statement, unity of thought and logical coherence, which, in subsequent
years, were so appropriately illustrated on other theaters of intellectual
effort. Mr. Davis participated prominently in the debates upon the Oregon
excitement, Native Americanism, and the various other contemporary topics
of interest, which were then before Congress, but was especially prominent
in the discussion of military affairs, the interests and requirements of
the army, and the measures devised for the prosecution of the Mexican war.
Upon the latter subjects his experience was of great practical value.

On the 19th of December, 1845, he offered the following resolutions:
"_Resolved_, That the Committee on Military Affairs be instructed to
inquire into the expediency of converting a portion of the forts of the
United States into schools for military instruction, on the basis of
substituting their present garrisons of enlisted men, by detachments
furnished from each State of our Union, in the ratio of their several
representation in the Congress of the United States."

"_Resolved_, That the Committee on the Post-office and Post-roads be
required to inquire into the expediency of establishing a direct daily
mail route from Montgomery, Alabama, to Jackson, Mississippi."

The occasion of these motions was the first upon which he occupied the
floor of the House.

On the 29th of December, Mr. Davis spoke in a very earnest and impressive
manner upon Native Americanism, which he strongly opposed, and on
subsequent occasions addressed the House in favor of the bill to receive
arms, barracks, fortifications, and other public property, the cession of
which to the Federal Government, by Texas, had been provided to take place
upon its admission to the Union; in favor of the proposition to raise
additional regiments of riflemen; in opposition to appropriations for
improvement of rivers and harbors; upon the Oregon question, and in favor
of a resolution of thanks to General Taylor and his army.

The extracts from his speech on the Oregon question, and the speech in
favor of thanks to General Taylor and his army, which is here given in
full, are taken from the reports of the _Congressional Globe_. The
intelligent reader will appreciate their real value, as to accuracy,
without any suggestion from us.

On February 6, 1846, the House, having resolved itself into Committee of
the Whole, and having under consideration the joint resolution of notice
to the British Government concerning the abrogation of the Convention
between the United States and Great Britain respecting the territory of
Oregon, Mr. Davis spoke at some length, and in an attractive and
instructive style, upon the subject before the House. A great portion of
the speech consists of interesting historical details, evincing a most
accurate acquaintance with the subject, and giving a clear and valuable
analysis of facts. We have space for only brief extracts, which are
sufficient to reveal Mr. Davis' position upon this important question:

... "Sir, why has the South been assailed in this discussion? Has it been
with the hope of sowing dissensions between us and our Western friends?
Thus far, I think, it has failed. Why the frequent reference to the
conduct of the South on the Texas question? Sir, those who have made
reflections on the South as having sustained Texas annexation from
sectional views have been of those who opposed that great measure and are
most eager for this. The suspicion is but natural in them. But, sir, let
me tell them that this doctrine of the political balance between different
portions of the Union is no Southern doctrine. We, sir, advocated the
annexation of Texas from high national considerations. It was not a mere
Southern question; it lay coterminous to the Western States, and extended
as far north as the forty-second degree of latitude. Nor, sir, do we wish
to divide the territory of Oregon; we would preserve it all for the
extension of our Union. We would not arrest the onward progress of our
pioneers; we would not, as has been done in this debate, ask why our
citizens have left the repose of civil government and gone to Oregon? We
find in it but that energy which has heretofore been characteristic of our
people, and which has developed much that has illustrated our history. It
is the onward progress of our people toward the Pacific which alone can
arrest their westward march, and on the banks of which, to use the
language of our lamented Linn, the pioneer will sit down to weep that
there are no more forests to subdue.... It is, as the representative of a
high-spirited and patriotic people, that I am called on to resist this
war clamor. My constituents need no such excitements to prepare their
hearts for all that patriotism demands. Whenever the honor of the country
demands redress; whenever its territory is invaded--if, then, it shall be
sought to intimidate by the fiery cross of St. George--if, then, we are
threatened with the unfolding of English banners if we resent or
resist--from the gulf shore to the banks of that great river, throughout
out the length and breadth--Mississippi will come. And whether the
question be one of Northern or Southern, of Eastern or Western aggression,
we will not stop to count the cost, but act as becomes the descendants of
those who, in the war of the Revolution, engaged in unequal strife to aid
our brethren of the North in redressing their injuries.... We turn from
present hostility to former friendship--from recent defection to the time
when Massachusetts and Virginia, the stronger brothers of our family,
stood foremost and united to defend our common rights. From sire to son
has descended the love of our Union in our hearts, as in our history are
mingled the names of Concord and Camden, of Yorktown and Saratoga, of
Moultrie and Plattsburgh, of Chippewa and Erie, of Bowyer and Guildford,
and New Orleans and Bunker Hill. Grouped together, they form a monument to
the common glory of our common country; and where is the Southern man who
would wish that monument were less by one of the Northern names that
constitute the mass? Who, standing on the ground made sacred by the blood
of Warren, could allow sectional feeling to curb his enthusiasm as he
looked upon that obelisk which rises a monument to freedom's and his
country's triumph, and stands a type of the time, the men and event that
it commemorates; built of material that mocks the waves of time, without
niche or molding for parasite or creeping thing to rest on, and pointing
like a finger to the sky, to raise man's thoughts to philanthropic and
noble deeds."

It is well known that, upon this subject, there was considerable division
among the Democracy. The effort to commit the party, as a unit, to a
position which would have inevitably produced war with England signally
failed. The country had not then reached its present pitch of arrogant
inflation, which emboldens it to seek opportunity for exhibition in the
vainglorious role of braggadocio. Mr. Davis, upon this and other
occasions, significantly rebuked the demagogical clamor which would have
precipitated the country into a calamitous war. His reply, on the 17th of
April, 1846, to Stephen A. Douglas, who was among the leading instigators
of the war-feeling in the House, is exceedingly forcible and spirited.

The following speech in favor of the resolution of thanks to General
Taylor, the officers and men of his army, for their recent successes on
the Rio Grande, was delivered May 28, 1846:

"As a friend to the army, he rejoiced at the evidence, now afforded, of a
disposition in this House to deal justly, to feel generously toward those
to whom the honor of our flag has been intrusted. Too often and too long
had we listened to harsh and invidious reflections upon our gallant little
army and the accomplished officers who command it. A partial opportunity
had been offered to exhibit their soldierly qualities in their true light,
and he trusted these aspersions were hushed--hushed now forever. As an
American, whose heart promptly responds to all which illustrates our
national character, and adds new glory to our national name, he rejoiced
with exceeding joy at the recent triumph of our arms. Yet it is no more
than he expected from the gallant soldiers who hold our post upon the Rio
Grande--no more than, when occasion offers, they will achieve again. It
was the triumph of American courage, professional skill, and that
patriotic pride which blooms in the breast of our educated soldier, and
which droops not under the withering scoff of political revilers.

"These men will feel, deeply feel, the expression of your gratitude. It
will nerve their hearts in the hour of future conflicts, to know that
their country honors and acknowledges their devotion. It will shed a
solace on the dying moments of those who fall, to be assured their country
mourns their loss. This is the meed for which the soldier bleeds and dies.
This he will remember long after the paltry pittance of one month's extra
pay has been forgotten.

"Beyond this expression of the nation's thanks, he liked the _principle_
of the proposition offered by the gentleman from South Carolina. We have a
pension system providing for the disabled soldier, but he seeks well and
wisely to extend it to all who may be wounded, however slightly. It is a
reward offered to those who seek for danger, who first and foremost plunge
into the fight. It has been this incentive, extended so as to cover all
feats of gallantry, that has so often crowned the British arms with
victory, and caused their prowess to be recognized in every quarter of the
globe. It was the sure and high reward of gallantry, the confident
reliance upon their nation's gratitude, which led Napoleon's armies over
Europe, conquering and to conquer; and it was these influences which, in
an earlier time, rendered the Roman arms invincible, and brought their
eagle back victorious from every land on which it gazed. Sir, let not that
parsimony (for he did not deem it economy) prevent us from adopting a
system which in war will add so much to the efficiency of troops. Instead
of seeking to fill the ranks of your army by increased pay, let the
soldier feel that a liberal pension will relieve him from the fear of want
in the event of disability, provide for his family in the event of death,
and that he wins his way to gratitude and the reward of his countrymen by
periling all for honor in the field.

"The achievement which we now propose to honor richly deserves it. Seldom,
sir, in the annals of military history has there been one in which
desperate daring and military skill were more happily combined. The enemy
selected his own ground, and united to the advantage of a strong position
a numerical majority of three to one. Driven from his first position by an
attack in which it is hard to say whether professional skill or manly
courage is to be more admired, he retired and posted his artillery on a
narrow defile, to sweep the ground over which our troops were compelled to
pass. There, posted in strength three times greater than our own, they
waited the approach of our gallant little army.

"General Taylor knew the danger and destitution of the band he left to
hold his camp opposite Matamoras, and he paused for no regular approaches,
but opened his field artillery, and dashed with sword and bayonet on the
foe. A single charge left him master of their battery, and the number of
slain attests the skill and discipline of his army. Mr. D. referred to a
gentleman who, a short time since, expressed extreme distrust in our army,
and poured out the vials of his denunciation upon the graduates of the
Military Academy, He hoped now the gentleman will withdraw these
denunciations; that now he will learn the value of military science; that
he will see, in the location, the construction, the defenses of the
bastioned field-works opposite Matamoras, the utility, the necessity of a
military education. Let him compare the few men who held that with the
army who assailed it; let him mark the comparative safety with which they
stood within that temporary work; let him consider why the guns along its
ramparts were preserved, whilst they silenced the batteries of the enemy;
why that intrenchment stands unharmed by Mexican shot, whilst its guns
have crumbled the stone walls in Matamoras to the ground, and then say
whether he believes a blacksmith or a tailor could have secured the same
results. He trusted the gentleman would be convinced that arms, like every
occupation, requires to be studied before it can be understood; and from
these things to which he had called his attention, he will learn the power
and advantage of military science. He would make but one other allusion to
the remarks of the gentleman he had noticed, who said nine-tenths of the
graduates of the Military Academy abandoned the service of the United
States. If he would take the trouble to examine the records upon this
point, he doubted not he would be surprised at the extent of his mistake.
There he would learn that a majority of all the graduates are still in
service; and if he would push his inquiry a little further, he would find
that a large majority of the commissioned officers who bled in the action
of the 8th and 9th were graduates of that academy.

"He would not enter into a discussion on the military at this time. His
pride, his gratification arose from the success of our arms. Much was due
to the courage which Americans have displayed on many battle-fields in
former times; but this courage, characteristic of our people, and
pervading all sections and all classes, could never have availed so much
had it not been combined with military science. And the occasion seemed
suited to enforce this lesson on the minds of those who have been
accustomed, in season and out of season, to rail at the scientific
attainments of our officers.

"The influence of military skill--the advantage of discipline in the
troops--the power derived from the science of war, increases with the
increased size of the contending armies. With two thousand we had beaten
six thousand; with twenty thousand we would far more easily beat sixty
thousand, because the general must be an educated soldier who wields large
bodies of men, and the troops, to act efficiently, must be disciplined and
commanded by able officers. He but said what he had long thought and often
said, when he expressed his confidence in the ability of our officers to
meet those of any service--favorably to compare, in all that constitutes
the soldier, with any army in the world; and as the field widened for the
exhibition, so would their merits shine more brightly still.

"With many of the officers now serving on the Rio Grande he had enjoyed a
personal acquaintance, and hesitated not to say that all which skill, and
courage, and patriotism could perform, might be expected from them. He had
forborne to speak of the general commanding on the Rio Grande on any
former occasion; but he would now say to those who had expressed distrust,
that the world held not a soldier better qualified for the service he was
engaged in than General Taylor. Trained from his youth to arms, having
spent the greater portion of his life on our frontier, his experience
peculiarly fits him for the command he holds. Such as his conduct was in
Fort Harrison, on the Upper Mississippi, in Florida, and on the Rio
Grande, will it be wherever he meets the enemy of his country.

"Those soldiers, to whom so many have applied depreciatory epithets, upon
whom it has been so often said no reliance could be placed, they too will
be found, in every emergency renewing such feats as have recently graced
our arms, bearing the American flag to honorable triumphs, or falling
beneath its folds, as devotees to our common cause, to die a soldier's

"He rejoiced that the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Black) had shown
himself so ready to pay this tribute to our army. He hoped not a voice
would be raised in opposition to it--that nothing but the stern regret
which is prompted by remembrance of those who bravely fought and nobly
died will break the joy, the pride, the patriotic gratulation with which
we hail this triumph of our brethren on the Rio Grande."

A striking feature of these two speeches, as, indeed, of all Mr. Davis'
Congressional speeches, is the strong and outspoken _national_ feeling
which pervades them. It is a part of the history of these times, that
while Jefferson Davis eloquently avowed a noble and generous sympathy with
his heroic compatriots in Mexico, a prominent Northern politician bespoke
for the American army, "a welcome with bloody hands to hospitable graves."
When, a few months afterwards, the names of Jefferson Davis and his
Mississippi Rifles were baptized in blood amid those frowning redoubts at
Monterey, and when, upon the ensanguined plain of Buena Vista, he fell
stricken in the very moment of victory, just as his genius and the valor
of his comrades had broken that last, furious onset of the Mexican
lancers, New England and her leaders stood indifferent spectators of the
scene.[5] Yet the same New England bounded eagerly to the conquest and
spoliation of their countrymen, and the same leaders clamored valiantly
for the humiliation, for the blood even, of Jefferson Davis, _as a traitor
and a rebel. Quosque tandem._

An interesting sequel of this speech was the debate, which it occasioned
two days afterwards, between Mr. Davis and Andrew Johnson, now President
of the United States. Mr. Johnson, who boasts so proudly of his plebeian
origin, and is yet said to be morbidly sensitive of the slightest allusion
to it by others, excepted to Mr. Davis' reference to the "tailor and
blacksmith," warmly eulogized those callings and mechanical avocations in
general, and took occasion to expatiate extensively upon the virtue and
intelligence of the masses. Mr. Davis, whose language is clearly not
susceptible of any interpretation disparaging to "blacksmiths and
tailors," disclaimed the imputation, saying that he had designed merely to
illustrate his argument, that the profession of arms, to be understood,
must be studied, and that a mechanic could no more fill the place of an
educated soldier, than could the latter supply the qualifications of the
former. Mr. Johnson, however, was resolved to seize the opportunity for a
panegyric upon the populace, and no explanations could avail. The _Globe_
reports this debate as, "in all its stages, not being of an entirely
pleasant nature."

As an appropriate conclusion to this sketch of Mr. Davis' career in the
House of Representatives, we quote the following extract from an
interesting work,[6] published some years since: "John Quincy Adams had a
habit of always observing new members. He would sit near them on the
occasion of their Congressional _debut_, closely eyeing and attentively
listening if the speech pleased him, but quickly departing if it did not.
When Davis first arose in the House, the Ex-President took a seat close
by. Davis proceeded, and Adams did not move. The one continued speaking
and the other listening; and those who knew Mr. Adams' habits were fully
aware that the new member had deeply impressed him. At the close of the
speech the 'Old Man Eloquent' crossed over to some friends and said, 'That
young man, gentlemen, is no ordinary man. He will make his mark yet, mind



The name of Davis is inseparable from those lettered glories of the
American Union, which were the brilliant trophies of the Mexican war. In
those bright annals it was engraven with unfading lustre upon the
conquering banners of the Republic, and his genius and valor were rewarded
with a fame which rests securely upon the laurels of Monterey and Buena

Jefferson Davis is a born soldier. Even if we could forget the glories of
the assault upon Teneria and El Diablo, and banish the thrilling
recollection of that movement at Buena Vista, the genius, novelty, and
intrepidity of which electrified the world of military science, and
extorted the enthusiastic admiration of the victor of Waterloo, we must
yet recognize the impress of those rare gifts and graces which are the
titles to authority. The erect yet easy carriage, the true martial dignity
of bearing, which is altogether removed from the supercilious _hauteur_
of the mere martinet, the almost fascinating expression of _suaviter in
modo_, which yet does not for an instant conceal the _fortiter in re_,
constitute in him that imperial semblance, to which the mind involuntarily
concedes the right to supreme command. It is impossible, in the presence
of Mr. Davis, to deny this recognition of his intuitive soldiership. Not
only is obvious to the eye the commanding mien of the soldier, but the
order, the discipline of the educated soldier, whose nature, stern and
unflinching, was yet plastic to receive the impressions of an art with
which it felt an intuitive alliance. This military precision is
characteristic of Mr. Davis in every aspect in which he appears. There is
the constant fixedness of gaze upon the object to be reached, and the
cautious calculation of the chances of success with the means and forces
ready at hand; a constant regard for bases of supply and a proper concern
for lines of retreat, and, above all, the prompt and vigorous execution,
if success be practicable and the attack determined upon. Even in his
oratory and statesmanship are these characteristics evinced. In the former
there is far more of rhetorical order, harmony, and symmetry, than of
rhetorical ornament and display; and in the latter there is purpose,
consistency, and method, with little regard for the shifts of expediency
and the suggestions of hap-hazard temerity.

The attachment of Mr. Davis for the profession of arms is little less than
a passion--an inspiration. True, he voluntarily abandoned the army, at an
age when military life is most attractive to men, but the field of
politics was far more inviting to a commendable aspiration for fame, than
the army at a season of profound peace. But a more potent consideration,
of a domestic nature, urged his withdrawal from military life. He was
about to be married, and preferred not to remain in the army after having
assumed the responsibilities of that relation. His speeches in the House
of Representatives, indicating his earnest interest in military affairs,
his solicitude in behalf of the army, his enthusiastic championship of the
Military Academy, and his thorough information respecting all subjects
pertaining to the military interests of the country, show his ambitious
and absorbing study of his favorite science.

In common with an overwhelming majority of the Southern people, he had
favored the annexation of Texas, and cordially sustained Mr. Polk's
Administration, in all the measures which were necessary to the triumphant
success of its policy. While in the midst of his useful labors, as a
member of Congress, in promoting the war policy of the Government, he
received, with delight, the announcement of his selection to the command
of the First Regiment of Mississippi Volunteers. He immediately resigned
his seat in Congress and started to take command of his regiment, after
obtaining for it, with great difficulty, the rifles which were afterwards
used with such deadly effect upon the enemy. Overtaking his men, who were
already _en route_ for the scene of action, at New Orleans, by midsummer
he had reinforced General Taylor on the Rio Grande.

The incidents of the Mexican war are too fresh in the recollection of the
country to justify here a detailed narrative of the operations of the
gallant army of General Taylor in its progress toward the interior from
the scenes of its splendid exploits at Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma.
For several weeks after the arrival of Colonel Davis and his
Mississippians, active hostilities were suspended. When the preparations
for the campaign were completed, the army advanced, and reached Walnut
Springs, about three miles from Monterey, on the 19th of September, 1846.
Two days afterwards began those series of actions which finally resulted
in the capitulation of a fortified city of great strength, and defended
with obstinate valor. Of the part borne in these brilliant operations
which so exalted the glory of the American name, and immortalized the
heroism of Southern volunteers, by Colonel Davis and his "Mississippi
Rifles," an able and graphic pen shall relate the story:

"In the storming of Monterey, Colonel Davis and his riflemen played a most
gallant part. The storming of one of its strongest forts (Teneria) on the
21st of September was a desperate and hard-fought fight. The Mexicans had
dealt such death by their cross-fires that they ran up a new flag in
exultation, and in defiance of the assault which, at this time, was being
made in front and rear. The Fourth Infantry, in the advance, had been
terribly cut up, but the Mississippians and Tennesseeans steadily pressed
forward, under a galling fire of copper grape. They approached to within a
hundred yards of the fort, when they were lost in a volume of smoke.
McClung,[7] inciting a company which formerly had been under his command,
dashed on, followed by Captain Willis. Anticipating General Quitman,
Colonel Davis, about the same time, gave the order to charge. With wild
desperation, his men followed him. The escalade was made with the fury of
a tempest, the men flinging themselves upon the guns of the enemy. Sword
in hand, McClung has sprung over the ditch. After him dashes Davis,
cheering on the Mississippians, and then Campbell, with his Tennesseeans
and others, brothers in the fight, and rivals for its honors. Then was
wild work. The assault was irresistible. The Mexicans, terror-stricken,
fled like an Alpine village from the avalanche, and, taking position in a
strongly-fortified building, some seventy-five yards in the rear, opened a
heavy fire of musketry. But, like their mighty river, nothing could stay
the Mississippians. They are after the Mexicans. Davis and McClung are
simultaneously masters of the fortifications, having got in by different
entrances. In the fervor of victory the brigade does not halt, but, led on
by Colonel Davis, are preparing to charge on the second post, (El Diablo,)
about three hundred yards in the rear, when they are restrained by
Quitman. This desperate conflict lasted over two hours. The charge of the
Mississippi Rifle Regiment, without bayonets, upon Fort Teneria, gained
for the State a triumph which stands unparalleled.

"Placed in possession of El Diablo, on the dawn of the 23d Colonel Davis
was exposed to a sharp fire from a half-moon redoubt, about one hundred
and fifty yards distant, which was connected with heavy stone buildings
and walls adjoining a block of the city. Returning the fire, he proceeded,
with eight men, to reconnoitre the ground in advance. Having reported, he
was ordered, with three companies of his regiment and one of Tennesseeans,
to advance on the works.

"When they reached the half-moon work a tremendous fire was opened from
the stone buildings in the rear. Taking a less-exposed position, Davis was
reinforced, and, the balance of the Mississippians coming up, the
engagement became general in the street, while, from the house-tops, a
heavy fire was kept up by the Mexicans. 'The gallant Davis, leading the
advance with detached parties, was rapidly entering the city, penetrating
into buildings, and gradually driving the enemy from the position,' when
General Henderson and the Texan Rangers dismounted, entered the city, and,
through musketry and grape, made their way to the advance. The conflict
increased, and still Davis continued to lead his command through the
streets to within a square of the Grand Plaza, when, the afternoon being
far advanced, General Taylor withdrew the Americans to the captured

Thus, in their first engagement, the Mississippians and their commander
achieved a reputation which shall endure so long as men commemorate deeds
of heroism and devotion. Veteran troops, trained to despise death by the
dangers of a score of battles, have been immortalized in song and story
for exploits inferior to those of the "Mississippi Rifles" at Monterey.
Colonel Davis became one of the idols of the army, and took a prominent
place among the heroes of the war. The nation rang with the fame of "Davis
and his Mississippi Rifles;" the journals of the day were largely occupied
with graphic descriptions of their exploits; and the reports of superior
officers contributed their proud testimony to the history of the country,
to the chivalrous daring and consummate skill of Colonel Davis. A becoming
acknowledgment of his conduct was made by General Taylor in assigning him
a place on the commission of officers appointed to arrange with the
Mexicans the terms of capitulation. The result of the negotiations,
though approved by General Taylor, was not approved by the Administration,
which ordered a termination of the armistice agreed upon by the
commissioners from the respective armies and a speedy resumption of
hostilities. The terms of capitulation were assailed by many, who thought
them too lenient to the Mexicans; among others, by General Quitman, the
warm, personal, and political friend of Colonel Davis. A very important
portion of the history of the war consists of the latter's defense of the
terms of surrender and his memoranda of the incidents occurring in the
conferences with the Mexican officers.

To sustain the proud prestige of Monterey--if possible to surpass it,
became henceforth the aspiration of the Mississippians. But the name of
Mississippi was to be made radiant with a new glory, beside which the
lustre of Monterey paled, as did the dawn of Lodi by the full-orbed
splendor of Austerlitz. All the world knows of the conduct of Jefferson
Davis at Buena Vista. How he virtually won a battle, which, considering
the disparity of the contending forces, must forever be a marvel to the
student of military science; how like Dessaix, at Marengo, he thought
there was "still time to win another battle," even when a portion of our
line was broken and in inglorious retreat, and acting upon the impulse
rescued victory from the jaws of defeat; saving an army from destruction,
and flooding with a blaze of triumph a field shrouded with the gloom of
disaster, are memories forever enshrined in the Temple of Fame. Americans
can never weary of listening to the thrilling incidents of that
ever-memorable day. By the South, the lesson of Buena Vista and kindred
scenes of the valor of her children, can never be forgotton. In these days
of her humiliation and despair, their proud memories throng upon her, as
do a thousand noble emotions upon the modern Greek, who stands upon the
sacred ground of Marathon and Plætea.

The following vivid and powerful description of the more prominent
incidents of the battle is from the pen of Hon. J. F. H. Claiborne, of

"The battle had been raging sometime with fluctuating fortunes, and was
setting against us, when General Taylor, with Colonel Davis and others,
arrived on the field. Several regiments (which were subsequently rallied
and fought bravely) were in full retreat. O'Brien, after having his men
and horses completely cut up, had been compelled to draw off his guns, and
Bragg, with almost superhuman energy, was sustaining the brunt of the
fight. Many officers of distinction had fallen. Colonel Davis rode forward
to examine the position of the enemy, and concluding that the best way to
arrest our fugitives would be to make a bold demonstration, he resolved at
once to attack the enemy, there posted in force, immediately in front,
supported by cavalry, and two divisions in reserve in his rear. It was a
resolution bold almost to rashness, but the emergency was pressing. With a
handful of Indiana volunteers, who still stood by their brave old colonel
(Bowles) and his own regiment, he advanced at double-quick time, firing as
he advanced. His own brave fellows fell fast under the rolling musketry of
the enemy, but their rapid and fatal volleys carried dismay and death into
the adverse ranks. A deep ravine separated the combatants. Leaping into
it, the Mississippians soon appeared on the other side, and with a shout
that was heard over the battle-field, they poured in a well-directed fire,
and rushed upon the enemy. Their deadly aim and wild enthusiasm were
irresistible. The Mexicans fled in confusion to their reserves, and Davis
seized the commanding position they had occupied. He next fell upon a
party of cavalry and compelled it to fly, with the loss of their leader
and other officers. Immediately afterwards a brigade of lancers, one
thousand strong, were seen approaching at a gallop, in beautiful array,
with sounding bugles and fluttering pennons. It was an appalling
spectacle, but not a man flinched from his position. The time between our
devoted band and eternity seemed brief indeed. But conscious that the eye
of the army was upon them, that the honor of Mississippi was at stake, and
knowing that, if they gave way, or were ridden down, our unprotected
batteries in the rear, upon which the fortunes of the day depended, would
be captured, each man resolved to die in his place sooner than retreat.
Not the Spartan martyrs at Thermopylæ--not the sacred battalion of
Epaminondas--not the Tenth Legion of Julius Cæsar--not the Old Guard of
Napoleon--ever evinced more fortitude than these young volunteers in a
crisis when death seemed inevitable. They stood like statues, as frigid
and motionless as the marble itself. Impressed with this extraordinary
firmness, when they had anticipated panic and flight, the lancers advanced
more deliberately, as though they saw, for the first time, the dark shadow
of the fate that was impending over them. Colonel Davis had thrown his men
into the form of a reëntering angle, (familiarly known as his famous V
movement,) both flanks resting on ravines, the lancers coming down on the
intervening ridge. This exposed them to a converging fire, and the moment
they came within rifle range each man singled out his object, and the
whole head of the column fell. A more deadly fire never was delivered, and
the brilliant array recoiled and retreated, paralyzed and dismayed.

"Shortly afterwards the Mexicans, having concentrated a large force on the
right for their final attack, Colonel Davis was ordered in that direction.
His regiment had been in action all day, exhausted by thirst and fatigue,
much reduced by the carnage of the morning engagement, and many in the
ranks suffering from wounds, yet the noble fellows moved at double-quick
time. Bowles' little band of Indiana volunteers still acted with them.
After marching several hundred yards they perceived the Mexican infantry
advancing, in three lines, upon Bragg's battery, which, though entirely
unsupported, held its position with a resolution worthy of his fame. The
pressure upon him stimulated the Mississippians. They increased their
speed, and when the enemy were within one hundred yards of the battery and
confident of its capture, they took him in flank and reverse, and poured
in a raking and destructive fire. This broke his right line, and the rest
soon gave way and fell back precipitately. Here Colonel Davis was severely

The wound here alluded to was from a musket ball in the heel, and was
exceedingly painful, though Colonel Davis refused to leave the field until
the action was over. For some time grave apprehensions were entertained
lest it should prove dangerous by the setting in of erysipelas.

General Taylor, who was deeply impressed with the large share of credit
due to Colonel Davis, in his official report of the battle, says: "The
Mississippi Riflemen, under Colonel Davis, were highly conspicuous for
their gallantry and steadiness, and sustained throughout the engagement,
the reputation of veteran troops. Brought into action against an immensely
superior force, they maintained themselves for a long time, unsupported
and with heavy loss, and held an important part of the field until
reinforced. Colonel Davis, though severely wounded, remained in the saddle
until the close of the action. His distinguished coolness and gallantry,
at the head of his regiment on this day, entitle him to the particular
notice of the Government."

The report of Colonel Davis, of the operations of his regiment, is highly
important as a description of the most important features of the action,
and as an explanation of his celebrated strategic movement. We omit such
portions as embrace mere details not relevant to our purpose.

    "SALTILLO, MEXICO, 2d March, 1847.

    "SIR: In compliance with your note of yesterday, I have the honor to
    present the following report of the service of the Mississippi
    Riflemen on the 23d ultimo:

    "Early in the morning of that day the regiment was drawn out from the
    head-quarters encampment, which stood in advance of and overlooked the
    town of Saltillo. Conformably to instructions, two companies were
    detached for the protection of that encampment, and to defend the
    adjacent entrance of the town. The remaining eight companies were put
    in march to return to the position of the preceding day, now known as
    the battle-field of Buena Vista. We had approached to within about two
    miles of that position, when the report of artillery firing, which
    reached us, gave assurance that a battle had commenced. Excited by the
    sound, the regiment pressed rapidly forward, manifesting, upon this,
    as upon other occasions, their more than willingness to meet the
    enemy. At the first convenient place the column was halted for the
    purpose of filling their canteens with water; and the march being
    resumed, was directed toward the position which had been indicated to
    me, on the previous evening, as the post of our regiment. As we
    approached the scene of action, horsemen, recognized as of our troops,
    were seen running, dispersed and confusedly from the field; and our
    first view of the line of battle presented the mortifying spectacle of
    a regiment of infantry flying disorganized from before the enemy.
    These sights, so well calculated to destroy confidence and dispirit
    troops just coming into action, it is my pride and pleasure to
    believe, only nerved the resolution of the regiment I have the honor
    to command.

    "Our order of march was in column of companies, advancing by their
    centers. The point which had just been abandoned by the regiment
    alluded to, was now taken as our direction. I rode forward to examine
    the ground upon which we were going to operate, and in passing through
    the fugitives, appealed to them to return with us and renew the fight,
    pointing to our regiment as a mass of men behind which they might
    securely form.

    "With a few honorable exceptions, the appeal was as unheeded, as were
    the offers which, I am informed, were made by our men to give their
    canteens of water to those who complained of thirst, on condition that
    they would go back. General Wool was upon the ground making great
    efforts to rally the men who had given way. I approached him and asked
    if he would send another regiment to sustain me in an attack upon the
    enemy before us. He was alone, and, after promising the support, went
    in person to send it. Upon further examination, I found that the slope
    we were ascending was intersected by a deep ravine, which, uniting
    obliquely with a still larger one on our right, formed between them a
    point of land difficult of access by us, but which, spreading in a
    plain toward the base of the mountain, had easy communication with
    the main body of the enemy. This position, important from its natural
    strength, derived a far greater value from the relation it bore to our
    order of battle and line of communication with the rear. The enemy, in
    number many times greater than ourselves, supported by strong
    reserves, flanked by cavalry and elated by recent success, was
    advancing upon it. The moment seemed to me critical and the occasion
    to require whatever sacrifice it might cost to check the enemy.

    "My regiment, having continued to advance, was near at hand. I met and
    formed it rapidly into order of battle; the line then advanced in
    double-quick time, until within the estimated range of our rifles,
    when it was halted, and ordered to 'fire advancing.'

    "The progress of the enemy was arrested. We crossed the difficult
    chasm before us, under a galling fire, and in good order renewed the
    attack upon the other side. The contest was severe--the destruction
    great upon both sides. We steadily advanced, and, as the distance
    diminished, the ratio of loss increased rapidly against the enemy; he
    yielded, and was driven back on his reserves. A plain now lay behind
    us--the enemy's cavalry had passed around our right flank, which
    rested on the main ravine, and gone to our rear. The support I had
    expected to join us was nowhere to be seen. I therefore ordered the
    regiment to retire, and went in person to find the cavalry, which,
    after passing round our right, had been concealed by the inequality of
    the ground. I found them at the first point where the bank was
    practicable for horsemen, in the act of descending into the ravine--no
    doubt for the purpose of charging upon our rear. The nearest of our
    men ran quickly to my call, attacked this body, and dispersed it with
    some loss. I think their commander was among the killed.

    "The regiment was formed again in line of battle behind the first
    ravine we had crossed; soon after which we were joined upon our left
    by Lieutenant Kilbourn, with a piece of light artillery, and Colonel
    Lane's (the Third) regiment of Indiana volunteers.... We had proceeded
    but a short distance when I saw a large body of cavalry debouche from
    his cover upon the left of the position from which we had retired, and
    advance rapidly upon us. The Mississippi regiment was filed to the
    right, and fronted in line across the plain; the Indiana regiment was
    formed on the bank of the ravine, in advance of our right flank, by
    which a reëntering angle was presented to the enemy. Whilst this
    preparation was being made, Sergeant-Major Miller, of our regiment,
    was sent to Captain Sherman for one or more pieces of artillery from
    his battery.

    "The enemy, who was now seen to be a body of richly-caparisoned
    lancers, came forward rapidly, and in beautiful order--the files and
    ranks so closed as to look like a mass of men and horses. Perfect
    silence and the greatest steadiness prevailed in both lines of our
    troops, as they stood at shouldered arms waiting an attack. Confident
    of success, and anxious to obtain the full advantage of a cross-fire
    at a short distance, I repeatedly called to the men not to shoot.

    "As the enemy approached, his speed regularly diminished, until, when,
    within eighty or a hundred yards, he had drawn up to a walk, and
    seemed about to halt. A few files fired without orders, and both lines
    then instantly poured in a volley so destructive that the mass yielded
    to the blow and the survivors fled.... At this time, the enemy made
    his last attack upon the right, and I received the General's order to
    march to that portion of the field. The broken character of the
    intervening ground concealed the scene of action from our view; but
    the heavy firing of musketry formed a sufficient guide for our course.
    After marching two or three hundred yards, we saw the enemy's infantry
    advancing in three lines upon Captain Bragg's battery; which, though
    entirely unsupported, resolutely held its position, and met the attack
    with a fire worthy the former achievements of that battery, and of the
    reputation of its present meritorious commander. We pressed on,
    climbed the rocky slope of the plain on which this combat occurred,
    reached its brow so as to take the enemy in flank and reverse when he
    was about one hundred yards from the battery. Our first fire--raking
    each of his lines, and opened close upon his flank--was eminently
    destructive. His right gave way, and he fled in confusion.

    "In this, the last contest of the day, my regiment equaled--it was
    impossible to exceed--my expectations. Though worn down by many hours
    of fatigue and thirst, the ranks thinned by our heavy loss in the
    morning, they yet advanced upon the enemy with the alacrity and
    eagerness of men fresh to the combat. In every approbatory sense of
    these remarks I wish to be included a party of Colonel Bowles' Indiana
    regiment, which served with us during the greater part of the day,
    under the immediate command of an officer from that regiment, whose
    gallantry attracted my particular attention, but whose name, I regret,
    is unknown to me. When hostile demonstrations had ceased, I retired to
    a tent upon the field for surgical aid, having been wounded by a
    musket ball when we first went into action.... Every part of the
    action having been fought under the eye of the commanding General, the
    importance and manner of any service it was our fortune to render,
    will be best estimated by him. But in view of my own responsibility,
    it may be permitted me to say, in relation to our first attack upon
    the enemy, that I considered the necessity absolute and immediate. No
    one could have failed to perceive the hazard. The enemy, in greatly
    disproportionate numbers, was rapidly advancing. We saw no friendly
    troops coming to our support, and probably none except myself expected
    reinforcement. Under such circumstances, the men cheerfully, ardently
    entered into the conflict; and though we lost, in that single
    engagement, more than thirty killed and forty wounded, the regiment
    never faltered nor moved, except as it was ordered. Had the expected
    reinforcement arrived, we could have prevented the enemy's cavalry
    from passing to our rear, results more decisive might have been
    obtained, and a part of our loss have been avoided....

    "I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

            "_Colonel Mississippi Rifles_.

    "MAJOR W. W. S. BLISS, _Assistant Adjutant-General_."

The reputation earned by Colonel Davis at Buena Vista could not fail to
provoke the assaults of envy. An effort, equally unwarranted and
unsuccessful, has since been made to deprive him of a portion of his
merited fame of having conceived and executed a movement decisive of the
battle. It has been pretended, in disparagement of the strategy of Colonel
Davis, that his celebrated V movement (for so it is, and will always be
known) had not the merit of originality, and besides was forced upon him
by the circumstances in which he was placed, and especially by the
conformation of the ground, which would not admit of a different
disposition of his troops. Such a judgment is merely hypercritical. There
is no account in military history, from the campaigns of Cæsar to those of
Napoleon, of such a tactical conception, unless we include a
slightly-analogous case at Waterloo. The movement in the latter
engagement, however, differs essentially from that executed by Davis at
Buena Vista. A party of Hanoverian cavalry, assailed by French huzzars, at
the intersection of two roads, by forming a salient, repulsed their
assailants almost as effectually as did the reëntrant angle of the
Mississippians at Buena Vista. As to the second criticism, it is certainly
a novel accusation against an officer, that he should, by a quick
appreciation of his situation, avail himself of the only possible means by
which he could not only extricate his own command from imminent peril of
destruction, but also avert a blow delivered at the safety of the entire

In a lecture on "The Expatriated Irish in Europe and America," delivered
in Boston, February 11, 1858, the Hon. Caleb Cushing thus alludes to this
subject: "In another of the dramatic incidents of that field, a man of
Celtic race (Jefferson Davis) at the head of the Rifles of Mississippi,
had ventured to do that of which there is, perhaps, but one other example
in the military history of modern times. In the desperate conflicts of the
Crimea, at the battle of Inkermann, in one of those desperate charges,
there was a British officer who ventured to receive the charge of the
enemy without the precaution of having his men formed in a hollow square.
They were drawn up in two lines, meeting at a point like an open fan, and
received the charge of the Russians at the muzzle of their guns, and
repelled it. Sir Colin Campbell, for this feat of arms, among others, was
selected as the man to retrieve the fallen fortunes of England in India.
He did, however, but imitate what Jefferson Davis had previously done in
Mexico, who, in that trying hour, when, with one last desperate effort to
break the line of the American army, the cavalry of Mexico was
concentrated in one charge against the American line; then, I say,
Jefferson Davis commanded his men to form in two lines, extended as I have
shown, and receive that charge of the Mexican horse, with a plunging fire
from the right and left from the Mississippi Rifles, which repelled, and
repelled for the last time, the charge of the hosts of Mexico."

These puerile criticisms, however, were unavailing against the concurrent
testimony of Taylor, Quitman, and Lane, and the grateful plaudits of the
army, to shake the popular judgment, which rarely fails, in the end, to
discriminate between the false glare of cheaply-earned glory and the just
renown of true heroism.

The term of enlistment of his regiment having expired, Colonel Davis, in
July, 1847, just twelve months after the resignation of his seat in the
House of Representatives, returned to the United States. His progress
toward his home was attended by a series of congratulatory receptions, the
people every-where assembling _en masse_ to do honor to the "Hero of Buena
Vista." Mississippi extended a triumphant greeting to her
soldier-statesman, who, resigning the civic trust which she had confided
to his keeping, had carried her flag in triumph amid the thunders of
battle and the wastes of carnage, carving the name of Mississippi in an
inscription of enduring renown.

During his journey homeward, there occurred a most impressive illustration
of that strict devotion to principle which, above all other
considerations, is the real solution of every act of his life, public and
private. While in New Orleans, Colonel Davis was offered, by President
Polk, a commission as Brigadier-General of Volunteers, an honor which he
unhesitatingly declined, on the ground that no such commission could be
conferred by Federal authority, either by appointment of the President or
by act of Congress. As an advocate of States' Rights, he could not
countenance, even for the gratification of his own ambition, a plain
infraction of the rights of the States, to which respectively, the
Constitution reserves the appointment of officers of the militia.[9] The
soldier's pride in deserved promotion for distinguished services, could
not induce the statesman to forego his convictions of Constitutional
right. The declination of this high distinction was entirely consistent
with his opinions previously entertained and expressed. Before he resigned
his seat in the House of Representatives, the bill authorizing such
appointments by the President was introduced, and rapidly pressed to its
passage. Mr. Davis detected the Constitutional infraction which it
involved, and opposed it. He designed to address the House, but was
suddenly called away from Washington, and before leaving had an
understanding with the Chairman of the Committee from which the bill had
come, that it would not be called up before the ensuing Monday. On his
return, however, he found that the friends of the measure had forced its
passage on the previous Saturday.

This is but one in a thousand evidences of an incorruptible loyalty to his
convictions, which would dare face all opposition and has braved all
reproach. It is an attribute of true greatness in the character of
Jefferson Davis, which not even his enemies have called in question, to
which candor must ever accord the tribute of infinite admiration.



Within less than two months from his return to Mississippi, Colonel Davis
was appointed by the Governor of the State to fill the vacancy in the
United States Senate occasioned by the death of General Speight. At a
subsequent session of the Legislature, the selection of the Governor was
confirmed by his unanimous election for the residue of the unexpired term.
Seldom has there been a tender of public honor more deserved by the
recipient, and more cheerfully accorded by the constituent body. It was
the grateful tribute of popular appreciation to the hero who had risked
his life for the glory of his country, and the worthy recognition of
abilities which had been proven adequate to the responsibilities of the
highest civic trust. Doubtless Colonel Davis owed much of the signal
unanimity and enthusiasm which accompanied this expression of popular
favor to his brilliant services in Mexico. The military passion is strong
in the human breast, and the sentiment of homage to prowess, illustrated
on the battle-field and in the face of danger, is one of the few
chivalrous instincts which survive the influence of the sordid vices and
vulgarisms of human nature. In all ages men have declaimed and reasoned
against the expediency of confiding civil authority to the keeping of
soldiers, and have cautioned the masses against the risk of entrusting the
public liberties to the stern and dictatorial will educated in the rugged
discipline and habits of the camp. Yet the masses, in all time, will
continue their awards of distinction to martial exploits with a fervor not
characteristic of their recognition of any other public service.

But the tribute had a higher motive, if possible, than the generous
impulse of gratitude to the "Hero of Buena Vista," in the universal
conviction of his eminent fitness for the position. His service in the
House of Representatives, brief as it was, had designated him, months
before his Mexican laurels had been earned, as a man, not only of mark,
but of promise; of decided and progressive intellectual power; of
pronounced mental and moral individuality.

Of all the public men of America, Jefferson Davis is the least indebted
for his long and noble career of distinction to adventitious influences or
merely temporary popular impulses. The sources of his strength have been
the elements of his character and the resources of his genius. Never
hoping to _stumble_ upon success, by a stolid indifference amid the
fluctuations of fortune, nor engaged in the role of the trimmer, who
adjusts his conduct conformably with every turn of the popular current,
his hopes of success have rested upon the merits of principle alone. He
has succeeded in all things _where success was possible_, and failed, at
last, in contradiction of every lesson of previous experience, with the
light of all history pleading his vindication, and to the disappointment
of the nearly unanimous judgment of disinterested mankind.

A peculiar feature in the public career of Mr. Davis was its steady and
consecutive development. He has accepted service, always and only, in
obedience to the concurrent confidence of his fellow-citizens in his
peculiar qualifications for the emergency. From the beginning he gave the
promise of those high capacities which the fervid eulogy of Grattan
accorded to Chatham--to "strike a blow in the world that should resound
through its history." His first election to Congress was the spontaneous
acknowledgment of the profound impression produced by his earliest
intellectual efforts. The consummate triumph of his genius and valor at
Buena Vista did not exceed the anticipations of his friends, who knew the
ardor and assiduity of his devotion to his cherished science, and now in
the noble arena of the American Senate his star was still to be in the

At the first session of the Thirtieth Congress, Jefferson Davis took his
seat as a Senator of the United States from the State of Mississippi. The
entire period of his connection with the Senate, from 1847 to 1851, and
from 1857 to 1861, scarcely comprises eight years; but those were years
pregnant with the fate of a nation, and in their brief progress he stood
in that august body the equal of giant intellects, and grappled, with the
power and skill of a master, the great ideas and events of those
momentous days. Mr. Davis could safely trust, whatever of ambition he may
cherish for the distinguished consideration of posterity, to a faithful
record of his service in the Senate. His senatorial fame is a beautiful
harmony of the most pronounced and attractive features of the best
parliamentary models. He was as intrepid and defiant as Chatham, but as
scholarly as Brougham; as elegant and perspicuous in diction as Canning,
and often as profound and philosophical in his comprehension of general
principles as Burke; when roused by a sense of injury, or by the force of
his earnest conviction, as much the incarnation of fervor and zeal as
Grattan, but, like Fox, subtle, ready, and always armed _cap a pie_ for
the quick encounters of debate.

Among all the eminent associates of Mr. Davis in that body, there were
very few who possessed his peculiar qualifications for its most
distinguished honors. His character, no less than his demeanor, may be
aptly termed senatorial, and his bearing was always attuned to his noble
conception of the Senate as an august assemblage of the embassadors of
sovereign States. He carried to the Senate the loftiest sense of the
dignity and responsibility of his trust, and convictions upon political
questions, which were the result of the most thorough and elaborate
investigation. Never for one instant varying from the principles of his
creed, he never doubted as to the course of duty; profound, accurate in
information, there was no question pertaining to the science of government
or its administration that he did not illuminate with a light, clear,
powerful, and original.

It has been remarked of Mr. Davis' style as a speaker, that it is "orderly
rather than ornate," and the remark is correct so far as it relates to the
mere statement of the conditions of the discussion. For mere rhetorical
glitter, Mr. Davis' speeches afford but poor models, but for clear logic
and convincing argument, apt illustration, bold and original imagery, and
genuine pathos, they are unsurpassed by any ever delivered in the American
Senate. Though the Senate was, undoubtedly, his appropriate arena as an
orator, and though it may well be doubted whether he was rivaled in
senatorial eloquence by any contemporary, Mr. Davis is hardly less gifted
in the attributes of popular eloquence. Upon great occasions he will move
a large crowd with an irresistible power. As a popular orator, he does not
seek to sway and toss the will with violent and passionate emotion, but
his eloquence is more a triumph of argument aided by an enlistment of
passion and persuasion to reason and conviction. He has less of the
characteristics of Mirabeau, than of that higher type of eloquence, of
which Cicero, Burke, and George Canning were representatives, and which is
pervaded by passion, subordinated to the severer tribunal of intellect. It
was the privilege of the writer, on repeated occasions, during the late
war, to witness the triumph of Mr. Davis' eloquence over a popular
assemblage. Usually the theme and the occasion were worthy of the orator,
and difficult indeed would it be to realize a nobler vision of the majesty
of intellect. To a current of thought, perennial and inexhaustible,
compact, logical and irresistible, was added a fire that threw its warmth
into the coldest bosom, and infused a glow of light into the very core of
the subject. His voice, flexible and articulate, reaching any compass that
was requisite, attitude and gestures, all conspired to give power and
expression to his language, and the hearer was impressed as though in the
presence of the very transfiguration of eloquence. The printed efforts of
Mr. Davis will not only live as memorials of parliamentary and popular
eloquence, but as invaluable stores of information to the political and
historical student. They epitomize some of the most important periods of
American history, and embrace the amplest discussion of an extended range
of subjects pertaining to almost every science.

The development in Mr. Davis of the high and rare qualities, requisite to
parliamentary leadership, was rapid and decisive. His nature instinctively
aspires to influence and power, and under no circumstances could it rest
contented in an attitude of inferiority. Independence, originality, and
intrepidity, added to earnest and intelligent conviction; unwavering
devotion to principle and purpose; a will stern and inexorable, and a
disposition frank, courteous, and generous, are features of character
which rarely fail to make a representative man. After the death of Mr.
Calhoun, he was incomparably the ablest exponent of States' Rights
principles, and even during the life of that great publicist, Mr. Davis,
almost equally with him, shared the labors and responsibilities of
leadership. His personal courage is of that knightly order, which in an
age of chivalry would have sought the trophies of the tourney, and his
moral heroism fixed him immovably upon the solid rock of principle,
indifferent to the inconvenience of being in a minority and in no dread of
the storms of popular passion. His faith in his principles was no less
earnest than his confidence in his ability to triumphantly defend them. In
the midst of the agitation and excitement of 1850, Henry Clay, the Great
Compromiser, whose brilliant but erring genius so long and fatally led
estray, from the correct understanding of the vital issue at stake between
the North and the South, a numerous party of noble and true-hearted
Southern gentlemen, furnished the occasion of an impressive illustration
of this quality. Turning, in debate, to the Mississippi Senator, he
notified the latter of his purpose, at some future day, to debate with him
elaborately, an important question of principle. "Now is the moment," was
the reply of the intrepid Davis, ever eager to champion his beloved and
imperiled South, equally against her avowed enemies, and the not less
fatal policy of those who were but too willing to compromise upon an issue
vital to her rights and dignity. And what a shock of arms might then have
been witnessed, could Clay have dispelled thirty years of his ripe
three-score and ten! Each would have found a foeman worthy of his steel.
In answer to this bold defiance, Clay, like Hotspur, would have rushed to
the charge, with visor up and lance _couchant_; and Davis, another
Saladin, no less frank than his adversary, but far more dexterous, would
have met him with a flash of that Damascus scymetar, whose first blow
severed the neck of the foeman.

That would have been a bold ambition that could demand a formal tender of
leadership from the brilliant array of gallant gentlemen, ripe scholars,
distinguished orators and statesmen, who, for twenty years before the war,
were the valiant champions in Congress of the principles and aspirations
of the South. Yet few will deny the preëminence of Mr. Davis, in the eye
of the country and the world, among States' Rights leaders. Equally with
Mr. Calhoun, as the leader of a great intellectual movement, he stamped
his impress upon the enduring tablets of time.

Like Mr. Calhoun, too, Mr. Davis gave little evidence of capacity or taste
for mere party tactics. Neither would have performed the duties of
drill-sergeant, in local organizations, for the purposes of a political
canvass, so well as hundreds of men of far lighter calibre and less
stability. Happily, both sought and found a more congenial field of

The unexpired term, for which Mr. Davis had been elected in 1847, ended in
1851, and, though he was immediately reëlected, in consequence of his
subsequent resignation his first service in the Senate ended with the term
for which he had first been elected. A recurrence to the records of
Congress will exhibit the eventful nature of this period, especially in
its conclusion. In the earlier portion of his senatorial service, Mr.
Davis participated conspicuously in debate and in the general business of
legislation. Here, as in the House of Representatives, his views upon
military affairs were always received with marked respect, and no measure
looking to the improvement of the army failed to receive his cordial

The extensive conquests of the army in Mexico, and the necessity of
maintaining the authority of the Federal Government in the conquered
country until the objects of the war could be consummated, created
considerable embarrassment. Upon this subject Mr. Davis spoke frequently
and intelligently. His sagacity indicated a policy equally protective of
the advantages which the valor of the army had achieved, and humane to the
conquered. In a debate with Mr. John Bell, in February, 1848, he defined
himself as favoring such a military occupation as would "prevent the
General Government of Mexico, against which this war had been directed,
from reëstablishing its power and again concentrating the scattered
fragments of its army to renew active hostilities against us." He
disclaimed the motive, in this policy, of territorial acquisition, and
earnestly deprecated interference with the political institutions of the
Mexicans. The estimate entertained by the Senate, of his judgment and
information upon military subjects, was indicated by his almost unanimous
election, (thirty-two for Mr. Davis, and five for all others,) during the
session of the Thirty-first Congress, as Chairman of the Committee on
Military Affairs. His speeches on the subject of offering congratulations
to the French people upon their recent successful political revolution,
resulting in the establishment of a republican form of government, the
proposed organization of the territorial government of Oregon, upon
various subjects of practical and scientific interest, and his incidental
discussions of the subject of slavery, were able, eloquent, and

The session of Congress in 1849 and 1850 brought with it a most angry and
menacing renewal of sectional agitation. Previous events and innumerable
indications of popular sentiment had clearly revealed to candid minds,
every-where, that the increasing sectional preponderance of the North, and
its growing hostility to slavery, portended results utterly ruinous to the
rights and institutions of the South. To the South it was literally a
question of vitality, to secure some competent check upon the aggressive
strength of the North. To maintain any thing like a sectional balance, the
South must necessarily secure to her institutions, at least, a fair share
of the common domain to be hereafter created into States. The immense
territorial acquisitions resulting from the Mexican war were now the
subjects of controversy. After a contest, protracted through several
months, and eliciting the most violent exhibitions of sectional feeling, a
plan of adjustment, under the auspices chiefly of Henry Clay, whose fatal
gift was to preserve, for a time, the peace of the country by the
concession of the most precious and vital rights of his section to an
insolent and insatiate fanaticism, was finally reached. This settlement,
known, by way of distinction, as the "Compromise of 1850," averting for
the time the dangers of disunion and civil war, met the approval of the
advocates of expediency, but was opposed, with heroic pertinacity, by Mr.
Davis and his associates of the States' Rights party. They saw the
hollowness of its pretended justice, its utter worthlessness as a
guarantee to the South, and sought to defeat it--first in Congress, and
afterwards by the popular voice. But the sentiment of attachment to the
Union triumphed over every consideration of interest, principle, even
security, and the snare succeeded. Again the South receded, again received
the stone instead of the asked-for loaf, and again did she _compromise_
her most sacred rights and dearest interests, receiving, in return, the
reluctant and insincere guarantee of the recovery of her stolen slaves.

The folly of the South in assenting to this adjustment is now obvious to
the dullest understanding, and subsequent events were swift to vindicate
the wisdom, patriotism, and foresight of Mr. Davis and those who sustained
him in opposition to the much-vaunted Union-saving compromise. Yet, they
were no more disunionists in 1850 than rebels and traitors in 1861. The
charge of disunionism was freely iterated against them, and not without
effect, even in their own section, where the sentimental attachment to the
Union was stronger, just as its sacrifices in behalf of the Union were
greater, than those of the North. Jefferson Davis never was a disunionist,
not even in his subsequent approval of secession, in the sense of a wanton
and treasonable disposition to sever the bonds of that association of
co-equal sovereignties which the founders of the Federal Government
bequeathed to their posterity.

His action, at all times, has been thoroughly consistent with his
declared opinions, and with the earnest attachment to the Union, avowed in
his congressional speeches and in his public addresses every-where. In
1850 and in 1861 his course was the logical sequence of his opinions,
maintained and asserted from his introduction to public life. To save the
Union, upon the only basis upon which it could rest as a guarantee of
liberty,--the basis of absolute equality among the States; to blend
Federal power and States' Rights, was the grand, paramount object to which
all his aspirations and all his investigations of political science were
directed. Repudiating the power of a State to nullify an act of Congress,
and yet not surrender its normal relations as a member of the Union, he
always asserted the right of secession, in the last resort, as an
original, inherent, and vital attribute of State Sovereignty. The Federal
Government, to his mind, was a mere agent of the States, created by them
for a few general and intestate purposes, but having in it no principle
subversive of the paramount sovereignty of the States. Rapidly extending
its power by enactments of Congress and judicial constructions, he
foresaw, and sought to counteract, its tendency to obliterate all State
individuality, and ultimately absorb into its own keeping the liberties of
the people. With dread and indignation, he contemplated its progress
towards that _monstrum horrendum_, a consolidated democracy--the Union of
to-day, in which we see that the _will of the majority is the sole measure
of its powers_.

Such was his consistency, and such his sagacity, as vindicated in the
light of subsequent events, and patent to the eyes of the world to-day.
Who can now doubt which was the better and more logical theory? Clay said:
"I owe allegiance to two sovereignties, and only two: one is to the
sovereignty of this Union, and the other is to the sovereignty of the
State of Kentucky." Thus he held to the paradox of an _imperium in
imperio_, that obvious absurdity in our system of government, a divided
sovereignty. In his ardent Unionism, the great exponent of expediency
disavowed allegiance to the _South_, though still holding to his
allegiance to Kentucky. But suppose Kentucky asserts her sovereignty, and
chooses to unite with the South, what, then, becomes of State Sovereignty
and State allegiance? Just here was the _hiatus_ in Clay's logic, and,
closely pressed by Davis, he emphatically declared his _first_ allegiance
to the Union as the supreme authority; and the State Sovereignty of Clay's
conception was seen to be as intangible and unreal as the "baseless fabric
of a vision."

Far more fair in its semblance, noble in its proportions, and beautiful in
its harmonies, was the ideal of Davis. In his speech on the compromise
measures, July 31, 1850, he said:

    "Give to each section of the Union justice; give to every citizen of
    the United States his rights as guaranteed by the Constitution; leave
    this Confederacy to rest upon that basis from which it arose--the
    fraternal feelings of the people--and I, for one, have no fear of its
    perpetuity; none that it will not survive beyond the limits of human
    speculation, expanding and hardening with the lapse of time, to extend
    its blessings to ages unnumbered, and a people innumerable; to include
    within its empire all the useful products of the earth, and exemplify
    the capacity of a confederacy, with general, well-defined powers, to
    extend illimitably without impairing its harmony or its strength."

The grounds of Mr. Davis' opposition to the so-called "Compromise"
programme of Mr. Clay were far otherwise than a factious and impracticable
hostility to an amicable adjustment of sectional differences. He
conscientiously doubted the disposition of the North to abstain from all
future interference with Southern institutions, and he detected and
exposed the utter want of efficacy of the compromise measures as an
assurance of protection against future aggression. He abhorred the
substitution of expediency for principle; could see no _compromise_ where
one side simply _surrendered_ what the other had no right to demand, and
correctly estimated this settlement, like those which had preceded it, as
but an invitation to still more intolerable exactions by an implacable
sectional majority. While discussing, in private conversation with Mr.
Clay, the merits of Mr. Webster's memorable speech of the 7th of March,
1850, a few days after its delivery, he briefly, but sufficiently defined
his position. "Come," said Mr. Clay, "my young friend; join us in these
measures of pacification. Let us rally Congress and the people to their
support, and they will assure to the country thirty years of peace. By
that time" (turning to John M. Berrien, who was a party to the
conversation) "you and I will be under the sod, and my young friend may
then have trouble again." "No," said Davis, "I can not consent to transfer
to posterity a question which is as much ours as theirs, when it is
evident that the sectional inequality, as it will be greater then than
now, will render hopeless the attainment of justice."

His clear, penetrating glance discovered, under the guise of a friendly
and pacific purpose, the insidious presence so mischievous to Southern
interests, just as George Mason, more than fifty years before, had seen
the "poison under the wing of the Federal Constitution." While the bill
for the organization of the Territory of New Mexico was pending, the
vigilance and sagacity of Mr. Davis elicited the most flattering
commendation from his Southern associates. In this bill there was a
general grant, in loose and ambiguous phraseology, of legislative power,
with a reservation that no law should be passed "in respect to African
slavery." Strangely enough, this provision, though obviously involving an
inhibition against the enactment of laws for the protection of Southern
property, escaped general detection. Mr. Davis promptly exposed its
purpose, and offered an amendment, striking out the restraint against
legislation "in respect to African slavery," and prohibiting the enactment
of any law interfering "with those rights of property growing out of the
institution of African slavery as it exists in any of the States of this
Union." To meet the concurrence of other Senators, the amendment was
variously modified, until, as explained by Mr. Davis, it embodied "the
general proposition that the Territorial Legislature should not be
prevented from passing the laws necessary for the protection of the rights
of property of every kind which might be legally and constitutionally held
in that territory." It is needless to say that so just a proposition,
affording equal protection to Southern with Northern institutions, was

While there was little in Mr. Clay's plan of pacification to recommend it
to Southern support, beyond the merely temporary staving off of a
dissolution of the Union and civil war, it embodied propositions utterly
incompatible with the security of the South. Mr. Davis especially and
persistently combated its provision for the abolition of the slave-trade
in the District of Columbia, and the concession that slavery did not
legally exist in the newly-acquired territory. His position upon the
general issues involved can not be more clearly and forcibly stated than
in his own language:

    "But, sir, we are called upon to receive this as a measure of
    compromise!--as a measure in which we of the minority are to receive
    something. A measure of compromise! I look upon it as a modest mode of
    taking that, the claim to which has been more boldly asserted by
    others; and that I may be understood upon this question, and that my
    position may go forth to the country in the same columns that convey
    the sentiments of the Senator from Kentucky, I here assert that never
    will I take less than the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific
    Ocean, with specific right to hold slaves in the territory below that
    line; and that before such territories are admitted into the Union as
    States, slaves may be taken there from any of the United States, at
    the option of the owners. I can never consent to give additional power
    to a majority to commit further aggression upon the minority in this
    Union; and I will never consent to any proposition which will have
    such a tendency without a full guarantee or counteracting measure is
    connected with it."

The parliamentary annals of the Union embrace no period more prolific of
grand intellectual efforts than the debates incident to this gigantic
struggle. The prominence of Mr. Davis, with his extreme ardor in behalf of
the rights and interests of his section, brought him constantly into
conflict with the most eminent leaders of both the great political
parties, who had cordially agreed to ignore all minor issues and unite in
the paramount purpose of saving the Union. Cass, Douglas, Bright,
Dickinson, and King, earnestly coöperated with Clay, Webster, and other
Whig champions, in the advocacy of the measures of compromise. That Davis,
younger in years and experience than most of these distinguished men,
amply sustained his honorable and responsible role as the foremost
champion of the South, contemporary public opinion and the Congressional
records give abundant testimony. The great compromise chieftain, between
whom and Davis occurred such obstinate and protracted encounters in
debate, delighted to testify his respect for the talents and intrepidity
of his "young friend," which was his habitual salutation to Davis. Despite
the pronounced antagonism between them, on all measures of public policy,
and their comparatively brief acquaintance, Mr. Clay repeatedly evinced,
in a most touching manner, his warm regard for one who had been the
companion-in-arms and cherished friend of a noble son,[10] who lost his
life on the same field, upon which Davis won such deathless distinction.
"My poor boy," were his words to the latter, upon his return from Mexico,
"usually occupied about one-half of his letters home in praising you." A
still more touching incident, illustrative of his friendly regard, at the
moment not understood by those present, occurred, in the heat of
discussion during the exciting period, which we have had under
consideration. Replying to Davis, said Mr. Clay: "My friend from
Mississippi--and I trust that he will permit me to call him my friend, for
between us there is a tie, the nature of which we both well understand."
At this moment the utterance of the aged statesman became tremulous with
emotion, and, bowing his head, his eyes were seen to fill with tears. This
friendship was warmly reciprocated by Mr. Davis, and its recollections are
among those the most highly-cherished of his public life.

With the defeat of those who had opposed the compromise, terminated, for
the present, Southern resistance in Congress, though it did not for an
instant check Northern aggression. Yet many prominent public characters at
the South, and, as the sequel demonstrated, indorsed by popular
sentiment, avowed themselves fully satisfied with a mere show of triumph
and pretense of justice--a few paltry concessions, not worth the parchment
upon which they were written. In the meantime, upon another arena, Mr.
Davis entered upon a gallant struggle, in opposition to a policy from
which he foresaw and predicted a fruitful yield of disaster in the



But, though the battle had been fought and won in Congress, and it was
evident, at an early date, that the weight of great names in favor of the
Compromise, aided by the ever-timid counsels of capital and commerce,
would command for that measure the overwhelming support of the country,
the States' Rights men were resolved upon a test of popular sentiment.
Accordingly, in South Carolina and Mississippi, States at all times the
most advanced in Southern feeling, the opponents of the Compromise
organized, as did its friends also. The issue, though substantially the
same, was presented in a somewhat different form in these two States.

In South Carolina, where public sentiment was always singularly unanimous,
upon all questions affecting the honor and interests of the South, and in
entire accord as to the mode and measure of redress for the grievances of
the States, the propriety of resistance was a foregone conclusion. The
only question was, whether South Carolina should act separately, or await
the coöperation of other Southern States. The party of coöperation
triumphed in the election of members to a State convention, by the
decisive popular majority of seven thousand votes.

In Mississippi the issue was one of _resistance_ or _acquiescence_. The
States' Rights, or resistance party, embraced four-fifths of the Democracy
of the State and a small accession of States' Rights Whigs; while the
Union, or Compromise party, was composed of the Clay Whigs and a fraction
of the Democracy.

The Legislature provided an election for members of a State convention to
consider the subject of Federal aggressions, to be held in September,
1851, and, in the ensuing November the regular election of Governor
occurred. Much interest centred upon the gubernatorial contest, and the
State was for months previous to the election the scene of great
excitement. General John A. Quitman, one of the most distinguished
officers of the army, during the Mexican war, a man of the loftiest
character, a reliable statesman, and sterling patriot, was nominated by
the States' Rights Convention. Mr. Henry S. Foote, then a Senator from
Mississippi, and an active supporter of the Compromise measures, was the
candidate of the Union party. While an exceedingly animated canvass
between these candidates was still in progress, the election for members
of the convention resulted in an aggregate majority of seven thousand five
hundred votes for the Union candidates. General Quitman, disappointed by
such an unexpected and decisive exhibition of public sentiment, and
viewing it as the forerunner of the result of the gubernatorial election
in November, withdrew from the contest.

Mr. Davis, who had already been elected for a second term to the Senate,
was now looked to as almost the sole dependence of the States' Rights men,
and they summoned him to take the field as the adversary of Mr. Foote.
There was little inducement, had he consulted selfish considerations, to
relinquish a high position, already secured, and become the leader of a
forlorn hope. Though greatly enfeebled in health, and at that time an
acute sufferer, he accepted the nomination. His sense of duty and devotion
to his principles triumphed even over his physical infirmities, and,
resigning his seat in the Senate, he entered upon the canvass.

The result was, as had been foreseen, the defeat of Mr. Davis. Mr. Foote,
a man of more than average ability, and of varied and extensive
attainments, whose excessive garrulity and total want of discretion
disqualified him for usefulness as a member of a legislative body, or for
any practical end of statesmanship, was, nevertheless, an adroit party
tactician. With great dexterity he had conducted the canvass with General
Quitman, by skillfully evading the real issue, introducing side questions,
and thus breaking the force of the plain and statesman-like arguments of
his more open and less dexterous adversary. When Mr. Davis entered the
field, under all the disadvantages to which we have alluded, the election
of Foote was almost universally conceded. Had the canvass lasted a few
weeks, however, the result, in all probability, would have been different.
The popularity of Mr. Davis was indicated by the paltry majority (nine
hundred and ninety-nine votes) given against him, as compared with the
Union majority at the election in September, for members of the
convention. Under all the circumstances, his friends rightly viewed it as
a personal triumph, and he emerged from the contest with increased
reputation and public regard.

The results of these appeals to popular judgment were scarcely less
decisive, in favor of the Compromise, than had been its congressional
victory. It was evident that the Southern people were yet far from being
ready for organized and practical resistance, and were not likely to be,
until some flagrant outrage should arouse their resentment.

Mr. Davis was now in retirement, and, though abiding the decision of
Mississippi, he was yet avowedly determined to devote his energies to the
efficient organization of the States' Rights party for future struggles.
Yet nothing was farther from his purpose than a factious agitation. His
aim was to secure for the States' Rights principle a moral and numerical
support in the ranks of the Democracy, which should enable its friends to
wield an appropriate influence upon the policy of that party. He
contemplated no organization outside of the Democracy, for the promotion
of disunionism _per se_; and, in the Presidential canvass of 1852,
separated himself from many of his closest personal and political friends,
who had nominated the Presidential ticket of Troup and Quitman, upon the
distinctive platform of States' Rights and separation.

The nomination of Franklin Pierce, upon the Baltimore platform, met his
cordial approbation, and received his active support. With General Pierce,
Mr. Davis held the most friendly relations, and in his constitutional
opinions he had entire confidence. His support of the platform was quite
as consistent as his advocacy of the nominee. Both indorsed, with
emphasis, the Compromise, which he had opposed, but which Mississippi had
ratified, and both avowed their acceptance of it, as a _finality_, beyond
which there was to be no farther agitation of the slavery question. In
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Tennessee he participated actively in the
canvass, and rendered most efficient service to his party, especially in
the two latter States.

General Pierce indicated his estimate of Davis, by a prompt tender of a
position in his Cabinet. Considering himself committed to the fortunes of
his principles in Mississippi, he preferred to "remain and fight the issue
out there," and reluctantly declined. Subsequently the President-elect
addressed him a letter expressing a desire that, upon personal grounds at
least, Mr. Davis should be present at his inauguration. After he had
reached Washington the tender of a Cabinet appointment was repeated. The
obvious advantages to the States' Rights party of representation in the
Government, an argument earnestly urged upon him by prominent Southern
statesmen, at length overcame his personal preference, and he accepted the
position of Secretary of War.

With the policy of President Pierce's administration, Secretary Davis was,
of course, fully identified. Whatever of influence and sympathy he could
command, were employed in promoting its success, and between the President
and himself there was an uninterrupted harmony of personal and official
intercourse. Indeed the glory of this administration and the explanation
of its title to that high award which it earned from impartial criticism,
for its courageous pursuit of an upright, constitutional policy, was the
characteristic unity which prevailed between its head and his advisers.
During the four years of its existence the Cabinet of President Pierce
continued unchanged, at its close the head of each department surrendering
the seals of office which he had received at its inauguration. The history
of no other administration is adorned with such an instance of cordial and
unbroken coöperation, and the fact is equally creditable to the sagacity
of General Pierce in the selection of his advisers, and his consummate
tact in the reconciliation of those antagonisms, which are hardly to be
avoided in the operations of the complicated machinery of Government.

A common statement of its enemies, that the administration must eventually
break down by disorganization, in consequence of the utterly discordant
elements which composed it, was never realized. At one time Mr. Marcy, the
Secretary of State, was the wily Macchiavelli, against whose intrigues the
rest of the Cabinet was in arms, while Mr. Davis was charged with playing
alternately the roles of Richelieu and Marplot.

Of all American executives, Franklin Pierce is preëminently entitled to
the designation of the constitutional President. The great covenant of
American liberty, so ruthlessly despoiled in these degenerate days, when
opportunity and pretext are the sufficient justification of flagrant
violations of justice, was the guide whose precepts he followed without
deviation. His Northern birth and training did not swerve from his
obligations to extend an equal protection to the interests of other
sections, the patriotic executive, whom posterity will delight to honor,
for his wisdom, purity, and impartiality, just in proportion as those
qualities provoke the clamor of the dominant ignorance and passion of

In a Cabinet, noted for its ability, of which William L. Marcy was the
Premier, and Caleb Cushing the Attorney-General, Secretary Davis occupied
a position worthy of his abilities and his previous reputation, and
peculiarly gratifying to his military tastes. It is no disparagement of
his associates to say that his strongly-marked character commanded a
constant and emphatic recognition in the policy of the Government.

Under his control the department of war was greatly advanced in dignity
and importance, receiving a character far more distinctive and independent
of other branches of the Government than it had previously claimed. He
infused into all its operations an energy till then unknown, introducing
improvements so extensive and comprehensive as to occasion apprehension of
an almost too powerful and independent system of military organization. It
is a fact universally conceded that his administration of the War Office
was incomparably superior to that of any official who has filled that
position--contributing more to the promotion of efficiency in the army, to
the advancement of those great national establishments so vital to the
security of the nation, and to the systematic, practical management of the
details of the office. In reviewing Mr. Davis' conduct of this important
department of the Government, the splendid improvements which he
inaugurated, his earnest and unceasing labors in behalf of the efficiency
of the army, it is impossible to overestimate his eminent services to the
Union, which even at that time his traducers and those of the South would
pretend he was plotting to destroy. In the Cabinet, as in the Senate,
there was no measure of national advantage to which he did not give his
cordial support, no great national institution which he would not have
fostered with generous and timely sympathy; nothing to which he was not
zealously committed, promising to redound to the glory, prosperity, and
perpetuity of that Union, in whose service he had been trained, whose
uniform he had proudly worn, and beneath whose banner he had braved a
soldier's death.

Secretary Davis made many recommendations contemplating radical
alterations in the military system of the Union. One of his first measures
was a recommendation for the thorough revision of the army regulations.
He opposed the placing of officers, at an early period of service,
permanently upon the staff, and advocated a system, which, he contended,
would improve the discipline and efficiency of officers, "whereby the
right of command should follow rank by one certain rule." The increase of
the medical corps; the introduction of camels; the introduction of the
light infantry or rifle system of tactics, rifled muskets, and the
Minie-ball were all measures advocated by Secretary Davis, and discussed
in his official papers with a force and intelligence that make them highly
valuable to the military student. He urged a thorough exploration of the
Western frontier, and important changes in the arrangement of defenses
against the Indians, demonstrating the inefficiency of the system of small
forts for the purposes of war with the savages. To obviate, in a measure,
the expense, and almost useless trouble, of locating military posts in
advance of settlement, he suggested the plan of maintaining large
garrisons at certain points, situated favorably for obtaining supplies and
accessible by steamboat or railway. From these posts strong detachments
could be supplied and equipped for service in the Indian country. His
efforts were most strenuous to obtain an increase of pay to officers of
the army, and pensions to the widows and orphans of officers and men, upon
a basis similar to that of the navy.

During the Crimean war, Secretary Davis sent a commission, of which
Major-General McClellan, then a captain of cavalry, was a member, to study
and report upon the science of war and the condition of European armies,
as illustrated in the operations incident to that struggle. At his
suggestion four new regiments--two of cavalry--were added to the army, and
numerous appropriations made for the construction of new forts,
improvements in small arms, and the accumulation of munitions of war.

The Presidential term of Pierce expired on the 4th of March, 1857, and
with it terminated the connection of Mr. Davis with the executive branch
of the Government. He retired with the hearty respect of his associates,
and in the enjoyment of the most confiding friendship with the late head
of the Government, a feeling which is cherished by both, with unabated
warmth, at this day. All parties concurred in pronouncing Mr. Davis'
conduct of his department successful, able, and brilliant, and in the
midst of the tide of misrepresentation, with which, during and since the
war, it has been sought to overwhelm his reputation, the least candid of
his accusers have been compelled to this reluctant confession.

Incidental to the late administration, but by no means traceable to its
influence, had been legislation by Congress of a most important character,
which was to give a powerful impulse to agencies long tending to the
destruction of the Union. The election of Pierce had been carried with a
unanimity unprecedented, upon the distinct pledge of the acceptance of the
Compromise as a _finality_. The country, for months subsequently, reposed
in profound quiet, produced by its confidence in an approaching season of
unequaled prosperity, and exempt from all danger of political agitation.
This hallucination was destined to be speedily and rudely dispelled by
events, which afford striking evidence of how completely the peace and
happiness of the American people have always been at the mercy of aspiring
and unscrupulous demagogues. Mr. Stephen A. Douglas must ever be held,
equally by both sections, responsible for the disastrous agitation, which
followed his introduction of certain measures, under the pretense of a
sentimental justice, or a concession of principle to the South, but in
reality prompted by his personal ambition, and which greatly aided to
precipitate the catastrophe of disunion.

Upon the application of the Territory of Nebraska for admission into the
Union, Senator Douglas, from the Committee on Territories, submitted a
bill creating the two Territories of Nebraska and Kansas, and affirming
the supersession of the Missouri restriction of 1820, which prohibited
slavery north of 36° 30', by the Compromise of 1850. It declared the
Missouri restriction inconsistent with the principle of _non-intervention_
by Congress with territorial affairs, which had been adopted in the
settlement of 1850, and therefore inoperative.

This bill was apparently a mere concession of principle to the South, not
likely to be of much practical value, but still gratifying, as it gave to
her citizens the right to carry their property into districts from which
it had been hitherto inhibited. Passing both houses of Congress, in 1854,
it was approved by the Pierce administration,[11] sanctioned by the
Democracy generally, and greeted by the South as a triumph. It was not
imagined that a victory, so purely sentimental and intangible, could be
accepted by the North, as a pretext for violent eruptions of sectional
jealousy, and least of all did the South believe its author capable of the
subsequent duplicity with which, by specious arguments and verbal
ingenuity, he claimed for the measure, a construction far more insidious,
but not less fatal to her interests, than the designs of proclaimed
Abolitionists. The immediate result was a tempest of excitement in the
Northern States, in the midst of which the so-called Republican party, for
the first time, appeared as a formidable contestant in political
struggles, and defeated the Democracy in almost every State election. The
latter, with extreme difficulty, elected Mr. Buchanan to the Presidency
two years afterwards.

In the meantime, while his term of office as Secretary of War was still
unexpired, Mr. Davis had been elected, by the Legislature of Mississippi,
to the Senate, for the term beginning March 4, 1857. On his return home,
he was received by the Democracy of the State with distinguished honors.
Dinners, receptions, and public entertainments of various kinds were
tendered him; and, during the summer and autumn, previous to his departure
for Washington, he addressed numerous large popular gatherings with his
accustomed force and boldness upon pending issues. These addresses
commanded universal attention, and were highly commended for their able,
dispassionate, and statesman-like character.

His speech at Pass Christian, while on his journey to Washington, was a
masterly and eloquent review of the condition of the country, with its
causes and remedies. He attributed the national difficulties chiefly to
the puritanical intolerance and growing disregard of constitutional
obligations of the North. These influences seriously menaced the safety of
the Union, for which he had no hope, unless in the event of a reaction in
Northern sentiment, or of such resolute action by a united South as should
compel her enemies to respect their constitutional duties. To the latter
policy he looked as the best guarantee of the security of the South and
the preservation of the Union. Interference by one State with the
institutions of another could not, under any circumstances, be tolerated,
even though resistance should eventually result in a dissolution of the
Union. The latter event was possible--indeed, might become necessary--but
should never be undertaken save in the last extremity. He would not
disguise the profound emotion with which he contemplated the possibility
of disunion. The fondest reminiscences of his life were associated with
the Union, into whose military service, while yet a boy, he had entered.
In his matured manhood he had followed its flag to victory; had seen its
graceful folds wave in the peaceful pageant, and, again, its colors
conspicuous amid the triumphs of the battle-field; he had seen that flag
in the East, brightened by the sun at its rising, and, in the West, gilded
by his declining rays--and the tearing of one star from its azure field
would be to him as would the loss of a child to a bereaved parent.

This speech--one of the most eloquent he has ever made--was received by
his audience with unbounded enthusiasm, and was approvingly noticed by the
press of both sections.

At Mississippi City he delivered an address in explanation of his personal
course, and in vindication of the administration of which he had lately
been a member. He had obeyed the will of Mississippi, respecting the
legislation of 1850, though against his convictions, and, in the present
disorders in Kansas, he saw the fruits of the unwise substitution of
expediency for principle. Of President Pierce he could speak only in terms
of eulogy, defended his vetoes of bills "for internal improvements and
eleemosynary purposes," depicting, in passages of rare and fervent
eloquence, his heroic adherence to the Constitution, elevated patriotism,
and distinguished virtues. Contrasting the conduct of the Fillmore and
Pierce administrations concerning the Cuban question, he avowed his belief
that Cuba would then be in possession of the United States had Congress
sustained General Pierce in his prompt and decided suggestions as to the
Black Warrior difficulty.

Mr. Davis expressed his approbation of the course pursued by the late
administration with reference to Nicaragua. "Unlawful expeditions" should
be suppressed, though he should rejoice at the establishment of American
institutions in Central America, and maintained the right of the United
States to a paramount influence in the affairs of the continent, with
which European interference should be, at all times, promptly checked.

When the Thirty-fifth Congress assembled in December, 1857, the Kansas
question had already developed a difficult and critical phase. The rock
upon which Mr. Buchanan's administration was to split had been
encountered, and the wedge prepared, with which the Democratic party was
destined to be torn asunder.



Mr. Davis returned to the Senate at a period marked by agitation, no less
menacing to the Union than that which had so seriously threatened it in
1850. His health at this time was exceedingly infirm, and for several
months he was so much prostrated by his protracted sufferings, that a
proper regard for the suggestions of prudence would have justified his
entire abstinence from the labors and excitements of this stormy period.
Again and again, however, did his heroic devotion carry him from his sick
bed to the capitol, to engage in the death-struggle of the South, with her
leagued enemies, for safety in the Union, which she was still loath to
abandon, even under the pressure of intolerable wrong. Frequently, with
attenuated frame and bandaged eyes, he was to be seen in the Senate, at
moments critical in the fierce sectional conflict; and at the final
struggle upon the Kansas question, not even the earnest admonitions of his
physician, that to leave his chamber would probably be followed by the
most dangerous results, were availing to induce his absence from the

The opening events of the first session of the Thirty-fifth Congress, (the
first incidental to the administration of Mr. Buchanan,) were far from
being auspicious of the continued unity of the Democratic party, which,
for several years past, the intelligence of the country had correctly
appreciated as an essential condition to the preservation of the Union.

Mainly through the undivided support given him by the South, Mr. Buchanan
was elected upon the Cincinnati platform of 1856, which was a
re-affirmation of the cardinal tenets of the Democratic faith, involving
also emphatic approval of the Kansas-Nebraska legislation two years
previous. Not until months after his inauguration were there any
indications of hostility to his administration within the ranks of his own
party. Nor had there been any avowed difference of construction as to the
end and effect of the legislation of 1854. The rare unanimity with which
the South had been rallied to the support of the Democracy was based upon
the unreserved admission, by all parties, that the Kansas-Nebraska act
was designedly friendly in its _spirit_, at all events, to Southern
interests. No Southern statesman, for a moment, dreamed that it was
capable of an interpretation unfriendly to his section. That the plain
purpose of the bill was to remove the subject of slavery outside the
bounds of congressional discussion, and to place it in the disposition of
the States separately, and in the _Territories_, _when organizing for
admission as States_, was regarded by the South as the leading vital
principle which challenged her enthusiastic support. Such, indeed, was the
doctrine asserted by the entire Democratic party of the South, enunciated
by the administration, and tacitly approved by the Northern Democracy.
Very soon, however, after the meeting of Congress, the action of Senator
Douglas revealed him as the instrument of disorganization in his party. To
a proper understanding of his motives and conduct at this conjuncture, a
brief statement of his antecedents is essential.

Stephen A. Douglas was now in the meridian of life and the full maturity
of his unquestionably vigorous intellectual powers. For twenty-five years
he had been prominent in the arena of politics, and as a member of
Congress his course had been so eminently politic and judicious as to make
him a favorite with the Democracy, both North and South. To an unexampled
degree his public life illustrated the combination of those
characteristics of the demagogue, a fertile ingenuity, facile
accommodation to circumstances, and wonderful gifts of the _ad captandum_
species of oratory, so captivating to the populace, which in America
peculiarly constitute the attributes of the "rising man." Douglas was not
wanting in noble and attractive qualities of manhood. His courage was
undoubted, his generosity was princely in its munificence to his personal
friends, and he frequently manifested a lofty magnanimity. In his early
youth, deprived of the advantages of fortune and position, the discipline
of his career was not propitious to the development of the higher
qualities of statesmanship--with which, indeed, he was scantily endowed by
nature. It is as the accomplished politician, subtle, ready, fearless, and
indefatigable, that he must be remembered. In this latter character he was

Not less than Davis was Douglas a representative man, yet no two men were
more essentially dissimilar, and no two lives ever actuated by aspirations
and instincts more unlike. Douglas was the representative of
expediency--Davis the exponent of principles. In his party associations
Douglas would tolerate the largest latitude of individual opinion, while
Davis was always for a policy clearly defined and unmistakable; and upon a
matter of vital principle, like Percy, would reluctantly surrender even
the "ninth part of a hair." To maintain the united action of the
Democratic party on election day, to defeat its opponents, to secure the
rewards of success, Douglas would allow a thousand different constructions
of the party creed by as many factions. Davis, on the other hand, would,
and eventually did, approve the dissolution of the party, when it refused
an open, manly enunciation of its faith. For mere party success Douglas
cared every thing, and Davis nothing, save as it ensured the triumph of
Constitutional principles. Both loved the Union and sought its perpetuity,
but by different methods; Douglas by never-ending compromises of a
quarrel, which he should have known that the North would never permit to
be amicably settled; by staving off and ignoring issues which were to be
solved only by being squarely met. Davis, too, was not unwilling to
compromise, but he wearied of perpetual concession by the South, in the
meanwhile the North continuing its hostility, both open and insidious,
and urged a settlement of all differences upon a basis of simple and exact
justice to both sections.

Douglas was preëminently the representative politician of his section, and
throughout his career was a favorite with that boastful, bloated, and
mongrel element, which is violently called the "American people," and
which is the ruling element in elections in the Northern cities. In
character and conduct he embodied many of its materialistic and
socialistic ideas, its false conception of liberty, its pernicious dogmas
of equality, and not a little of its rowdyism.

Davis was the champion of the South, her civilization, lights, honor, and
dignity. He was the fitting and adequate exponent of a civilization which
rested upon an intellectual and æsthetical development, upon lofty and
generous sentiments of manhood, a dignified conservatism, and the proud
associations of ancestral distinction in the history of the Union. Always
the Senator in the sense of the ideal of dignity and courtesy which is
suggested by that title, he was also the _gentleman_ upon all occasions;
never condescending to flatter or soothe the mob, or to court popular
favor, he lost none of that polished and distinguished manner, in the
presence of a "fierce Democracie," which made him the ornament of the
highest school of oratory and statesmanship of his country.

The ambition of Douglas was unbounded. The recognized leader, for several
years, of the Northern Democracy, his many fine personal qualities and
courageous resistance of the ultra Abolitionists secured for him a
considerable number of supporters in the Southern wing of that party. The
Presidency was the goal of his ambition, and for twenty years his course
had been sedulously adjusted to the attainment of that most coveted of
prizes to the American politician. On repeated occasions he had been
flattered by a highly complimentary vote in the nominating conventions of
the Democracy. Hitherto he had been compelled to yield his pretensions in
favor of older members of his party or upon considerations of temporary
availability. It was evident, however, that in order to be President, he
must secure the nomination in 1860. The continued ascendancy of the
Democracy was no longer, as heretofore, a foregone conclusion, and,
besides, there were others equally aspiring and available. His
Presidential aspirations appeared, indeed, to be without hope or resource,
save through the agency of some adroit _coup d'etat_, by which the
truculent and dominant free-soil sentiment of the North, which he had so
much affronted by his bid for Southern support in the introduction of the
Kansas-Nebraska bill, could be conciliated. In Illinois, his own State,
the Abolition strength was alarmingly on the increase, and to secure his
return to the Senate at the election to be held in 1858, an object of
prime importance in the promotion of his more ambitious pretensions, he
did not scruple to assume a position, falsifying his previous record,
wantonly insulting and defiant to his Southern associates, and in bold
antagonism to a Democratic administration. The sequel of this rash and
ill-judged course was the overthrow of his own political fortunes, the
disintegration of his party, and the attempted dissolution of the Union.

The earliest recommendations of Mr. Buchanan, respecting the Kansas
controversy, which, several months since, had developed in that Territory
into a species of predatory warfare, marked by deeds of violence and
atrocity, between the Abolition and Pro-slavery parties, were signalized
by a coalition of the followers of Douglas with the Abolitionists and
other opponents of the administration. The speedy pacification of the
disorders in Kansas, by the prompt admission of that Territory, was the
condition essential to the success of Mr. Buchanan's entire policy. He
accordingly recommended the admission of Kansas into the Union, with the
"Lecompton" constitution, which had been adopted in September, 1857, by
the decisive vote of six thousand two hundred and twenty-six in favor of
that constitution, with slavery, and five hundred and nine for it, without
slavery. A rival instrument, adopted by an election notoriously held
exclusively under the control of Abolitionists, prohibiting slavery, was
likewise presented.

For months the controversy was waged in Congress between the friends of
the administration and its enemies, and finally resulted in a practical
triumph of the Free-soil principle. The Anti-Lecompton coalition of
Douglas and the Abolitionists, aided by the defection of a few Southern
members, successfully embarrassed the policy of the administration by
defeating its recommendations, and eventually carried a measure acceptable
to Northern sentiments and interests.

Mr. Douglas thus triumphed over a Democratic administration, at the same
time giving a shock to the unity of the Democratic party, from which it
has never recovered, and effectually neutralized its power as a breakwater
of the Union against the waves of sectional dispute. The alienation
between himself and his former associates was destined never to be
adjusted, as indeed it never should have been, in consideration of his
inexcusable recreancy to the immemorial faith of his party. Mr. Douglas
simply abandoned the South, at the very first moment when his aid was
seriously demanded. Nay, more; he carried with him a quiver of Parthian
arrows, which he discharged into her bosom at a most critical moment in
her unequal contest.

It is not to be denied that Mr. Douglas' new interpretation of the
Kansas-Nebraska act was urged by himself and his advocates as having a
merit not to be overlooked by the North, in its suggestion of a method of
restricting slavery, presenting superior advantages. "Squatter
sovereignty," as advocated by Mr. Douglas, proposing the decision of the
slavery question by the people of the Territories, while yet unprepared to
ask admission as States, was far more effectual in its plans against
slavery, and only less prompt and open, than the designs of the
Abolitionists. It would enable the "Emigrant Aid Societies," and imported
janizaries of Abolition to exclude the institutions of the South from the
Territories, the joint possessions of the two sections, acquired by an
enormously disproportionate sacrifice on the part of the South, with a
certainty not to be realized, for years to come, perhaps, from the
Abolition policy of congressional prohibition.[12] According to Mr.
Douglas' theory, the existence of slavery in all the Territories was to
depend upon the verdict of a few hundred settlers or "squatters" upon the
public lands. It practically conceded to Northern interests and ideas
every State to be hereafter admitted, and under the operation of such a
policy it was not difficult to anticipate the fate of slavery, at last
even in the States.

From the inception of this controversy until its close Mr. Davis was fully
committed to the policy of Mr. Buchanan, and his position was in perfect
harmony with that of all the leading statesmen of the South. Less
prominent, perhaps, in debate, from his constant ill-health during the
first session, than at any other period of his public life, he was still
zealous and influential.

An interesting incident of the session was a discussion between Mr. Davis
and Mr. Fessenden, of Maine, a Senator second only to Mr. Seward among
Abolition leaders, in point of intellect, and behind none in his truculent
animosity to Southern institutions. Reviewing the message of Mr. Buchanan
with great severity, Fessenden took occasion to discuss elaborately the
slavery question, with all its incidental issues. Mr. Davis replied, not
at great length, but with much force and spirit. The discussion terminated
with the following colloquy, which is interesting chiefly in its personal

    "MR. FESSENDEN. ... Sir, I have avowed no disunion sentiments on this
    floor--neither here nor elsewhere. Can the honorable gentleman from
    Mississippi say as much?

    "MR. DAVIS. Yes.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I am glad to hear it, then.

    "MR. DAVIS. Yes. I have long sought for a respectable man who would
    allege the contrary.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I make no allegation. I asked if he could say as much.
    I am glad to hear him say so, because I must say to him that the
    newspapers have represented him as making a speech in Mississippi, in
    which he said he came into General Pierce's cabinet a disunion man. If
    he never made it, very well.

    "MR. DAVIS. I will thank you to produce that newspaper.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I can not produce it, but I can produce an extract
    from it in another paper.

    "MR. DAVIS. An extract! then that falsifies the text.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I am very glad to hear the Senator say so. I made no
    accusation--I put the question to him. If he denies it, very well. I
    only say that, with all the force and energy with which he denies it,
    so do I. The accusation never has been made against me before. On what
    ground does the Senator now put it?...

    "MR. DAVIS. Does the Senator ask me for an answer?

    "MR. FESSENDEN. Certainly, if the Senator feels disposed to give one.

    "MR. DAVIS. If you ask me for an answer, it is easy. I said your
    position was fruitful of such a result. I did not say you avowed the
    object--nothing of the sort, but the reverse....

    "MR. FESSENDEN. That is a matter of opinion, on which I have a right
    to entertain my view as well as the Senator his....

    "MR. DAVIS. Mr. President, I rise principally for the purpose of
    saying that I do not know whence springs this habit of talking about
    intimidation. I am not the first person toward whom a reply has been
    made, that we are not to carry our ends by intimidation. I try to
    intimidate nobody; I threaten nobody; and I do not believe--let me say
    it once for all--that any body is afraid of me--and I do not want any
    body to be afraid of me.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I am. [Laughter.]

    "MR. DAVIS. I am sorry to hear it; and if the Senator is really so, I
    shall never speak to him in decided terms again.

    "MR. FESSENDEN. I speak of it only in an intellectual point of view.

    "MR. DAVIS. Then, sir, the Senator was in a Pickwickian sense when he
    began; there were no threats, no intimidations, and he is just where
    he would have been if he had said nothing." [Laughter.]...

While the Kansas question was pending in Congress, a sketch of Mr. Davis,
in connection with two other prominent Southern Senators, which appeared
in the correspondence of a leading journal, was extensively copied in the
newspapers of the day. We extract that portion which relates specially to
Mr. Davis. The portrait is from the pen of one who had no sympathy with
his political views:


    [Correspondence of the Missouri Democrat.]

    "WASHINGTON CITY, January 21.

    "Yesterday, when Hale was speaking, the right side of the chamber was
    empty, (as it generally is during the delivery of an antislavery
    speech,) with the exception of a group of three who sat near the
    centre of the vacant space. This remarkable group, which wore the air
    if not the ensigns of power, authority, and public care, was composed
    of Senators Davis, Hunter, and Toombs. They were engaged in an earnest
    colloquy, which, however, was foreign to the argument Hale was
    elaborating; for though the connection of their words was broken
    before it reached the gallery, their voices were distinctly audible,
    and gave signs of their abstraction. They were thinking aloud. If they
    had met together, under the supervision of some artist gifted with the
    faculty of illustrating history and character by attitude and
    expression, who designed to paint them, in fresco, on the walls of the
    new Senate chamber, the combination could not have been more
    appropriately arranged than chance arranged it on this occasion.
    Toombs sits among the opposition on the left, Hunter and Davis on the
    right; and the fact that the two first came to Davis' seat--the one
    gravitating to it from a remote, the other from a near point--may be
    held to indicate which of the three is the preponderating body in the
    system, if preponderance there be; and whose figure should occupy the
    foreground of the picture if any precedence is to be accorded. Davis
    sat erect and composed; Hunter, listening, rested his head on his
    hand; and Toombs, inclining forward, was speaking vehemently. Their
    respective attitudes were no bad illustration of their individuality.
    Davis impressed the spectator, who observed the easy but authoritative
    bearing with which he put aside or assented to Toomb's suggestions,
    with the notion of some slight superiority, some hardly-acknowledged
    leadership; and Hunter's attentiveness and impassibility were
    characteristic of his nature, for his profundity of intellect wears
    the guise of stolidity, and his continuous industry that of inertia;
    while Toomb's quick utterance and restless head bespoke his nervous
    temperament and activity of mind. But, though each is different from
    either of the others, the three have several attributes in common.
    They are equally eminent as statesmen and debaters; they are devoted
    to the same cause; they are equals in rank, and rivals in ambition;
    and they are about the same age, and none of them--let young America
    take notice--wears either beard or mustache. I come again to the
    traits which distinguish them from each other. In face and form, Davis
    represents the Norman type with singular fidelity, if my conception of
    that type be correct. He is tall and sinewy, with fair hair, gray
    eyes, which are clear rather than bright, high forehead, straight
    nose, thin, compressed lips, and pointed chin. His cheek bones are
    hollow, and the vicinity of his mouth is deeply furrowed with
    intersecting lines. Leanness of face, length and sharpness of feature,
    and length of limb, and intensity of expression, rendered acute by
    angular, facial outline, are the general characteristics of his

The controversy, excited by the question of the admission of Kansas, can
not be viewed as having terminated with the mere practical decision of her
status, as a State tolerating or prohibiting slavery. Southern men had
freely admitted the improbability of the permanent abiding of the
institution in that Territory, or elsewhere, north of the line of 36° 30',
and their defeat had a far more alarming significance than the exclusion
of slavery from soil where the laws of nature opposed its location.
Important conclusions were deducible from the lesson of Kansas, which the
South must have been smitten with voluntary blindness not to have
accepted. Of the purpose of the Republican party, never to consent to the
admission of additional slave States, there was added to constantly
accumulating proof from other sources, the bold declarations of Abolition
members of Congress. Recent experience clearly demonstrated that the South
could no longer rely upon the Northern Democracy in support of the
plainest guarantees of the Constitution, for the protection of her
property, when they were in conflict with the dominant fanaticism of that
section. Accordingly, the Southern Democracy, wisely and bravely resolved,
and the unfortunate issue should not prejudge their action, to require of
their Northern associates, as the condition of continued coöperation, a
pledge of better faith in the future.

It was in the progress of events, which may be justly called the sequel of
the Kansas controversy, that Mr. Davis was most conspicuous during his
second service in the Senate. His course was such as might have been
anticipated from his zealous and vigilant regard for constitutional
principles, and the rights and interests of his section. His feeble health
had prevented his frequent participation in the struggles incidental to
the Kansas question, but in those subsequent struggles, which marked the
dissolution of the Democratic party, he was the constant, bold, and able
adversary of Douglas. The ingenious sophistries of the latter were
subjected to no more searching and scathing refutations than those with
which Davis met his every attempt at their illustration.

At this period the position of Mr. Davis was no less prominent than in
1850, though his speeches were less frequent and voluminous. Upon both
occasions his elevation was an ample reward to honorable ambition, but
would have been perilous in the extreme had he been deficient in those
great and rare qualities which were necessary to its maintenance. Among
his numerous contests with the distinguished exponents of the sentiment in
opposition to the South, none are more memorable than his collisions with

Of these the most striking occurred on the 23d of February, 1859, and on
the 16th and 17th of May, 1860. To have matched Douglas with an ordinary
contestant, must always have resulted in disaster; it would have been to
renew the contest of Athelstane against Ivanhoe. Douglas was accustomed to
testify, cheerfully, to the power of Davis, as evinced in their senatorial
struggles; and it is very certain that at no other hands did he fare so
badly, unless an exception be made in favor of the remarkable speech of
Senator Benjamin, of Louisiana. The latter was an adept in the strategy of
debate, a parliamentary Suchet.

The 23d of February, 1859, was the occasion of a protracted battle between
Davis and Douglas, lasting from midday until nearly night. This speech of
Mr. Davis is, in many respects, inferior to his higher oratorical efforts,
realizing less of the forms of oratory which he usually illustrated so
happily, and is wanting somewhat in that symmetry, harmony, and comeliness
in all its features, with which his senatorial efforts are generally
wrought to the perfection of expression. The circumstances under which it
was delivered, however, fully meet this criticism, and show a most
remarkable readiness for the instantaneous and hurried grapple of debate,
and this latter quality was the strong point of Douglas' oratory. The
latter had replied at great length, and with evident preparation, to a
speech made by Mr. Davis' colleague (Mr. Brown), who was not present
during Douglas' rejoinder. Without hesitation Mr. Davis assumed the place
of his absent colleague, and the result was a running debate, lasting
several hours, and exhibiting on both sides all the vivacious readiness of
a gladiatorial combat.

In their ordinary and characteristic speeches there was an antithesis, no
less marked than in their characters as men. Douglas was peculiarly
_American_ in his style of speaking. He dealt largely in the _argumentum
ad hominem_; was very adroit in pointing out immaterial inconsistencies in
his antagonists; he rarely discussed general principles; always avoided
questions of abstract political science, and struggled to force the entire
question into juxtaposition with the practical considerations of the
immediate present.

In nearly all of Davis' speeches is recognized the pervasion of intellect,
which is preserved even in his most impassioned passages. He goes to the
very "foundations of jurisprudence," illustrates by historical example,
and throws upon his subject the full radiance of that noble light which is
shed by diligent inquiry into the abstract truths of political and moral
science. Strength, animation, energy without vehemence, classical
elegance, and a luminous simplicity, are features in Mr. Davis' oratory
which rendered him one of the most finished, logical, and effective of
contemporary parliamentary speakers.

During the Thirty-sixth Congress, which assembled in December, 1859, Mr.
Davis was the recognized leader of the Democratic majority of the Senate.
His efforts, during this session, were probably the ablest of his life,
and never did his great powers of analysis and generalization appear to
greater advantage. On the second of February, 1860, Mr. Davis presented a
series of seven resolves, which embodied the views of the administration,
of an overwhelming majority of the Democratic members of the Senate, and
of the Southern Democracy, and were opposed by Mr. Douglas (though absent
from the Senate by sickness), Mr. Pugh, and by the Abolition Senators.
They are important as the substantial expression of the doctrines upon
which the Southern Democracy were already prepared to insist at the
approaching National Convention.

The _first_ resolution affirms the sovereignty of the States and their
delegation of authority to the Federal Government, to secure each State
against _domestic_ no less than foreign dangers. This resolution was
designed with special reference to the recent outrages of John Brown and
his associate conspirators, several of whom had expiated their crimes upon
the gallows, at the hands of the authorities of Virginia.

Resolution _second_ affirms the recognition of slavery as property by the
Constitution, and that all efforts to injure it by citizens of
non-slaveholding States are violations of faith.

_Third_ insists upon the absolute equality of the States.

The _fourth_ resolution of the series, which embodied the material point
of difference between Mr. Douglas and the majority of Democratic Senators,
was modified, as stated by Mr. Davis, "after conference with friends," and
finally made to read thus:

    "_Resolved_, That neither Congress nor a Territorial Legislature,
    whether by direct legislation, or legislation of an indirect and
    unfriendly character, possesses power to annul or impair the
    constitutional right of any citizen of the United States to take his
    slave property into the common Territories, and there hold and enjoy
    the same while the territorial condition remains."

_Fifth_ declares it the duty of Congress to supply any needed protection
to constitutional rights in a Territory, provided the executive and
judicial authority has not the adequate means.

The _sixth_ resolution was an emphatic repudiation of what Mr. Douglas, by
an ingenious perversion of terms, and a bold array of sophisms, was
pleased to designate "popular sovereignty"--reading thus:

    "_Resolved_, That the inhabitants of a Territory of the United States,
    when they rightfully form a constitution to be admitted as a State
    into the Union, may then, for the first time, like the people of a
    State when forming a new constitution, decide for themselves whether
    slavery, as a domestic institution, shall be maintained or prohibited
    within their jurisdiction; and 'they shall be admitted into the Union,
    with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the
    time of their admission.'"

The _seventh_ and last of the series affirmed the validity and sanctity of
the Fugitive Slave Law, and denounced all acts, whether of individuals or
of State Legislatures, to defeat its action.

The struggle upon these resolutions lasted more than three months, the
Senate not reaching a vote upon the first of the series until May 24,
1860. They constituted substantially the platform presented by the South
at the Charleston Democratic Convention, in April, and upon which, after
the withdrawal of the Southern delegations, the Presidential ticket of
Breckinridge and Lane was nominated, and supported in the ensuing canvass,
receiving the electoral votes of eleven States of the South.

It was alleged against these resolutions, and the general principle of
protection to Southern property in the Territories, which their advocates
demanded should be asserted in the Democratic creed, that they involved a
new issue, raised for factious purposes, and were not sanctioned by any
previous action of the party. This, even if it had been true, which
assuredly it was not, constituted no sufficient reason for denying a plain
constitutional right.

But, however sustained might have been this charge of inconsistency
against other Southern leaders, it had no application to Davis. Indeed,
Douglas unequivocally admitted that the position assumed by Davis in 1860
was precisely that to which he had held for twenty years previous. While
the Oregon Bill was pending in the Senate, on the 23d of June, 1848, Mr.
Davis offered this amendment:

    "_Provided_, That nothing contained in this act shall be so construed
    as to authorize the prohibition of domestic slavery in said Territory
    whilst it remains in the condition of a Territory of the United

Eleven years afterwards, in his address before the Mississippi Democratic
Convention, July 5, 1859, he said:

    "But if the rules of proceeding remain unchanged, then all the
    remedies of the civil law would be available for the protection of
    property in slaves; or if the language of the organic act, by
    specifying chancery and common-law jurisdiction, denies to us the more
    ample remedies of the civil law, then those known to the common law
    are certainly in force; and these, I have been assured by the highest
    authority, will be found sufficient. If this be so, then we are
    content; if it should prove otherwise, then we but ask what justice
    can not deny--the legislation needful to enable the General Government
    to perform its legitimate functions; and, in the meantime, we deny the
    power of Congress to abridge or to destroy our constitutional rights,
    or of the Territorial Legislature to obstruct the remedies known to
    the common law of the United States."

In 1848 he advocated General Cass' election _in spite_ of the Nicholson
letter, and not because he either approved or failed to detect the
dangerous heresies which it contained. As a choice of evils, he preferred
Cass, even upon the Nicholson letter, to General Taylor, his
father-in-law, both because Cass was the choice of his own party, and he
distrusted the influences which he foresaw would govern the administration
of Taylor.

The attention of Mr. Davis was far from being confined to the slavery
question and the issues which grew out of it during the important period
which we have sketched. His extensive acquaintance with the practical
labors of legislation, and his uniformly thorough information upon all
questions of domestic economy, foreign affairs, the finances, and the
army, were amply exemplified, to the great benefit of the country.

During the debate in the Thirty-fifth Congress, on the bill proposing the
issue of $20,000,000 of Treasury notes, which he opposed, he avowed
himself in favor of the abolition of custom-houses, and the disbanding of
the army of retainers employed to collect the import duties. Free trade
was always an important article of his political creed. He valued its
fraternizing effects upon mankind, its advantages to the laboring classes;
and held that, under a system of free trade, the Government would not be
defrauded. He traced the financial distress of the country, in the
"crisis" of 1857, to its commercial dependence on New York, whose
embarrassments must, so long as that dependence continued, always afflict
the country at large. The army, as on previous occasions, received a
large share of his attention, and he advocated its increase on a plan
similar to that of Mr. Calhoun, when Secretary of War under President
Monroe, providing a skeleton organization in peace, capable of expansion
in the event of war. The fishing bounties he opposed, as being obnoxious
to the objections urged against class legislation.

In the summer of 1858, during the recess of Congress, Mr. Davis visited
the North, with a view to the recuperation of his health. Sailing from
Baltimore to Boston, he traversed a considerable portion of New England,
and sojourned for some time in Portland, Maine. His health was materially
benefited by the bracing salubrity of that delightful locality, and, both
here and at other points, he was received with demonstrations of profound
respect. Upon several occasions he was persuaded to deliver public
addresses, which were largely read and criticized. They were every-where
commended for their admirable catholicity of sentiment, and not less for
their bold assertions of principles than for their emphatic avowals of
attachment to the union of the States. His speech at Portland, Maine,[13]
was especially admired for its statesman-like dignity, and was singularly
free from partisan or sectional temper. In his journey through the States
of Massachusetts and New York, he was tendered distinguished honors, and
addressed the people of the leading cities. On the 10th of October, he
spoke in Faneuil Hall, Boston, and, on the 19th, he addressed an immense
Democratic ratification meeting in New York.

The following is an extract from his address upon the latter occasion:

    "To each community belongs the right to decide for itself what
    institutions it will have--to each people sovereign in their own
    sphere. It belongs only to them to decide what shall be property. You
    have decided it for yourselves, Mississippi has done so. Who has the
    right to gainsay it? [Applause.] It was the assertion of the right of
    independence--of that very right which led your fathers into the war
    of the Revolution. [Applause.] It is that which constitutes the
    doctrine of State Rights, on which it is my pleasure to stand.
    Congress has no power to determine what shall be property anywhere.
    Congress has only such grants as are contained in the Constitution;
    and it conferred no power to rule with despotic hands over the
    independence of the Territories."

The second session of the Thirty-fifth Congress was comparatively
uneventful. Mr. Davis was an influential advocate of the Pacific Railroad
by the Southern route. His most elaborate effort during this session was
his argument against the French Spoliation Bill--denying that the failure
of the Government, in its earlier history, to prosecute the just claims of
American citizens on the Government of France, made it incumbent upon the
present generation to satisfy the obligations of justice incurred in the

In reply to an invitation to attend the Webster Birthday Festival, held in
Boston, in January, 1859, Mr. Davis wrote as follows:

    "At a time when partisans avow the purpose to obliterate the landmarks
    of our fathers, and fanaticism assails the barriers they erected for
    the protection of rights coeval with and essential to the existence of
    the Union--when Federal offices have been sought by inciting
    constituencies to hostile aggressions, and exercised, not as a trust
    for the common welfare, but as the means of disturbing domestic
    tranquillity--when oaths to support the Constitution have been taken
    with a mental reservation to disregard its spirit, and subvert the
    purposes for which it was established--surely it becomes all who are
    faithful to the compact of our Union, and who are resolved to maintain
    and preserve it, to compare differences on questions of mere
    expediency, and, forming deep around the institutions we inherited,
    stand united to uphold, with unfaltering intent, a banner on which is
    inscribed the Constitutional Union of free, equal, and independent

    "May the vows of 'love and allegiance,' which you propose to renew as
    a fitting tribute to the memory of the illustrious statesman whose
    birth you commemorate, find an echo in the heart of every patriot in
    our land, and tend to the revival of that fraternity which bore our
    fathers through the Revolution to the consummation of the independence
    they transmitted to us, and the establishment of the more perfect
    Union which their wisdom devised to bless their posterity for ever!

    "Though deprived of the pleasure of mingling my affectionate memories
    and aspirations with yours, I send you my cordial greeting to the
    friends of the Constitution, and ask to be enrolled among those whose
    mission is, by fraternity and good faith to every constitutional
    obligation, to insure that, from the Aroostook to San Diego, from Key
    West to Puget's Sound, the grand arch of our political temple shall
    stand unshaken."

In the meantime a variety of events measurably added to the vehemence of
the sectional dispute, which never, for a moment, had exhibited any
abatement since the opening of the Kansas _imbroglio_. The antagonism
between the two sections, becoming more and more pronounced each day,
rapidly developed the true character of the struggle, as one for existence
on the part of the South, against the revolutionary designs of the North.
Mr. Seward, the Ajax of Black Republicanism, the founder and leader of
the party organized for the destruction of Southern institutions, in the
fall of 1858, at the city of Rochester, for the first time proclaimed his
revolutionary doctrine of an "irrepressible conflict" between the
civilizations of the two sections. This announcement, from such a source,
could only be accepted by the South as a menace to her peace and security.
Such was her construction of it.

In his address before the Mississippi Democratic Convention, in July,
1859, from which we have already quoted, Mr. Davis said:

    "We have witnessed the organization of a party seeking the possession
    of the Government, not for the common good, not for their own
    particular benefit, but as the means of executing a hostile purpose
    against a portion of the States."

Approaching more directly the doctrine of Mr. Seward, he said:

    "The success of such a party would indeed produce an 'irrepressible
    conflict.' To you would be presented the question, Will you allow the
    Constitutional Union to be changed into the despotism of a majority?
    Will you become the subjects of a hostile Government? or will you,
    outside of the Union, assert the equality, the liberty and sovereignty
    to which you were born? For myself I say, as I said on a former
    occasion, in the contingency of the election of a President on the
    platform of Mr. Seward's Rochester speech, let the Union be dissolved.
    Let the 'great, but not the greatest, evil' come; for, as did the
    great and good Calhoun, from whom is drawn that expression of value, I
    love and venerate the Union of these States, but I love liberty and
    Mississippi more."

When Congress assembled, in December, 1859, the lawless expedition of
John Brown had greatly accelerated the inevitable climax of disunion.
Thenceforward the incipient revolution was, to a great extent, transferred
from the hands of Congress, whose action was but lightly regarded in
comparison with the animated scenes which marked the State conventions and
popular assemblages, held with reference to the approaching presidential

Mr. Davis approved the test made at the Charleston Convention, by the
Southern Democracy, as to the construction of the Cincinnati platform, and
the demand for a more explicit announcement of the position of the party
concerning slavery in the Territories. His speech, in reply to Judge
Douglas, on the 16th and 17th of May, 1860, is a vindication of Southern
action at Charleston, and an exhaustive discussion of all the phases of
the issue upon which the Democracy had divided.

Events soon demonstrated the irreconcilable nature of the antagonism which
had severed this giant organization. It had simply realized the destiny of
political parties. In one generation they rise, as a virtue and a
necessity, to remedy disorders and reform abuses; in another generation,
they are themselves the apologists of corruption and the perpetrators of
wrong. The Democratic party became insensible to the appeals of principle,
and its fifty years' lease of power terminated, not speedily to be


[From the Eastern Argus.]

We are gratified in being able to offer our readers a faithful and quite
full report of the speech of Hon. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi, on the
occasion of the serenade given him by the citizens of Portland, without
distinction of party, on Friday evening last. It will be read with
interest and pleasure, and we can not doubt that every sentiment, uttered
by the distinguished Mississippian, will find a hearty response and
approval from the citizens of Maine. The occasion was indeed a pleasing, a
hopeful one. It was in every respect the expression of generous
sentiments, of kindness, hospitality, friendly regard, and the brotherhood
of American citizenship. Prominent men of all parties were present, and
the expression, without exception, so far as we have heard, has been that
of unmingled gratification; and the scene was equally pleasant to look
upon. The beautiful mansion of Rensallaer Cram, Esq., directly opposite to
Madame Blanchard's, was illuminated, and the light thrown from the windows
of the two houses revealed to view the large and perfectly orderly
assemblage with which Park and Danforth Streets were crowded. We regret
that our readers can get no idea of the musical voice and inspiring
eloquence of the speaker from a report of his remarks; but it is the best
we can do for them. After the music had ceased, Mr. Davis appeared upon
the steps, and as soon as the prolonged applause with which he was greeted
had subsided, he spoke in substance as follows:

FELLOW-CITIZENS: Accept my sincere thanks for this manifestation of your
kindness. Vanity does not lead me so far to misconceive your purpose as to
appropriate the demonstration to myself; but it is not the less gratifying
to me to be made the medium through which Maine tenders an expression of
regard to her sister, Mississippi. It is, moreover, with feelings of
profound gratification that I witness this indication of that national
sentiment and fraternity which made us, and which alone can keep us, one
people. At a period but as yesterday, when compared with the life of
nations, these States were separate, and, in some respects, opposing
colonies, their only relation to each other was that of a common
allegiance to the Government of Great Britain. So separate, indeed almost
hostile, was their attitude, that when General Stark, of Bennington
memory, was captured by savages on the headwaters of the Kennebec, he was
subsequently taken by them to Albany, where they went to sell furs, and
again led away a captive, without interference on the part of the
inhabitants of that neighboring colony to demand or obtain his release.
United as we now are, were a citizen of the United States, as an act of
hostility to our country, imprisoned or slain in any quarter of the world,
whether on land or sea, the people of each and every State of the Union,
with one heart and with one voice, would demand redress, and woe be to him
against whom a brother's blood cried to us from the ground. Such is the
fruit of the wisdom and the justice with which our fathers bound
contending colonies into confederation, and blended different habits and
rival interests into a harmonious whole, so that, shoulder to shoulder,
they entered on the trial of the Revolution, and step with step trod its
thorny paths until they reached the height of national independence, and
founded the constitutional representative liberty which is our birthright.

When the mother country entered upon her career of oppression, in
disregard of chartered and constitutional rights, our forefathers did not
stop to measure the exact weight of the burden, or to ask whether the
pressure bore most upon this colony or upon that, but saw in it the
infraction of a great principle, the denial of a common right, in defense
of which they made common cause--Massachusetts, Virginia, and South
Carolina vieing with each other as to who should be foremost in the
struggle, where the penalty of failure would be a dishonorable grave.
Tempered by the trials and sacrifices of the Revolution, dignified by its
noble purposes, elevated by its brilliant triumphs, endeared to each other
by its glorious memories, they abandoned the Confederacy, not to fly apart
when the outward pressure of hostile fleets and armies were removed, but
to draw closer their embrace in the formation of a more perfect Union.

By such men, thus trained and ennobled, our Constitution was framed. It
stands a monument of principle, of forecast, and, above all, of that
liberality which made each willing to sacrifice local interest, individual
prejudice, or temporary good to the general welfare and the perpetuity of
the republican institutions which they had passed through fire and blood
to secure. The grants were as broad as were necessary for the functions of
the general agent, and the mutual concessions were twice blessed, blessing
him who gave and him who received. Whatever was necessary for domestic
government--requisite in the social organization of each community--was
retained by the States and the people thereof; and these it was made the
duty of all to defend and maintain. Such, in very general terms, is the
rich political legacy our fathers bequeathed to us. Shall we preserve and
transmit it to posterity? Yes, yes, the heart responds; and the judgment
answers, the task is easily performed. It but requires that each should
attend to that which most concerns him, and on which alone he has rightful
power to decide and to act; that each should adhere to the terms of a
written compact, and that all should coöperate for that which interest,
duty, and honor demand.

For the general affairs of our country, both foreign and domestic, we have
a national Executive and a national Legislature. Representatives and
Senators are chosen by districts and by States, but their acts affect the
whole country, and their obligations are to the whole people. He who,
holding either seat, would confine his investigations to the mere
interests of his immediate constituents, would be derelict to his plain
duty; and he who would legislate in hostility to any section, would be
morally unfit for the station, and surely an unsafe depository, if not a
treacherous guardian, of the inheritance with which we are blessed. No one
more than myself recognizes the binding force of the allegiance which the
citizen owes to the State of his citizenship, but that State being a party
to our compact, a member of the Union, fealty to the Federal Constitution
is not in opposition to, but flows from the allegiance due to one of the
United States. Washington was not less a Virginian when he commanded at
Boston, nor did Gates or Greene weaken the bonds which bound them to their
several States by their campaigns in the South. In proportion as a citizen
loves his own State, will he strive to honor by preserving her name and
her fame free from the tarnish of having failed to observe her obligations
and to fulfill her duties to her sister States. Each page of our history
is illustrated by the names and deeds of those who have well understood
and discharged the obligation. Have we so degenerated that we can no
longer emulate their virtues? Have the purposes for which our Union was
formed lost their value? Has patriotism ceased to be a virtue, and is
narrow sectionalism no longer to be counted a crime? Shall the North not
rejoice that the progress of agriculture in the South has given to her
great staple the controlling influence of the commerce of the world, and
put manufacturing nations under bond to keep the peace with the United
States? Shall the South not exult in the fact that the industry and
persevering intelligence of the North has placed her mechanical skill in
the front ranks of the civilized world--that our mother country, whose
haughty Minister, some eighty odd years ago, declared that not a hob-nail
should be made in the colonies, which are now the United States, was
brought, some four years ago, to recognize our preëminence by sending a
commission to examine our workshops and our machinery, to perfect their
own manufacture of the arms requisite for their defense? Do not our whole
people, interior and seaboard, North, South, East and West, alike feel
proud of the hardihood, the enterprise, the skill, and the courage of the
Yankee sailor, who has borne our flag far as the ocean bears its foam, and
caused the name and character of the United States to be known and
respected wherever there is wealth enough to woo commerce and intelligence
to honor merit? So long as we preserve and appreciate the achievements of
Jefferson and Adams, of Franklin and Madison, of Hamilton, of Hancock, and
of Rutledge, men who labored for the whole country, and lived for mankind,
we can not sink to the petty strife which would sap the foundations and
destroy the political fabric our fathers erected and bequeathed as an
inheritance to our posterity forever.

Since the formation of the Constitution a vast extension of territory, and
the varied relations arising therefrom, have presented problems which
could not have been foreseen. It is just cause for admiration, even
wonder, that the provisions of the fundamental law should have been so
fully adequate to all the wants of government, new in its organization,
and new in many of the principles on which it was founded. Whatever fears
may have once existed as to the consequences of territorial expansion must
give way before the evidence which the past affords. The General
Government, strictly confined to its delegated functions, and the State
left in the undisturbed exercise of all else, we have a theory and
practice which fits our Government for immeasurable domain, and might,
under a millennium of nations, embrace mankind.

From the slope of the Atlantic our population, with ceaseless tide, has
poured into the wide and fertile valley of the Mississippi, with eddying
whirl has passed to the coast of the Pacific; from the West and the East
the tides are rushing toward each other, and the mind is carried to the
day when all the cultivable land will be inhabited, and the American
people will sigh for more wildernesses to conquer. But there is here a
physico-political problem presented for our solution. Were it purely
physical your past triumphs would leave but little doubt of your capacity
to solve it. A community which, when less than twenty thousand, conceived
the grand project of crossing the White Mountains, and unaided, save by
the stimulus which jeers and prophecies of failure gave, successfully
executed the Herculean work, might well be impatient if it were suggested
that a physical problem was before us too difficult for mastery. The
history of man teaches that high mountains and wide deserts have resisted
the permanent extension of empire, and have formed the immutable
boundaries of States. From time to time, under some able leader, have the
hordes of the upper plains of Asia swept over the adjacent country, and
rolled their conquering columns over Southern Europe. Yet, after the lapse
of a few generations, the physical law, to which I have referred, has
asserted its supremacy, and the boundaries of those States differ little
now from those which were obtained three thousand years ago.

Rome flew her conquering eagles over the then known world, and has now
subsided into the little territory on which the great city was originally
built. The Alps and the Pyranees have been unable to restrain imperial
France; but her expansion was a feverish action, her advance and her
retreat were tracked with blood, and those mountain ridges are the
reëstablished limits of her empire. Shall the Rocky Mountains prove a
dividing barrier to us? Were ours a central consolidated Government,
instead of a Union of sovereign States, our fate might be learned from the
history of other nations. Thanks to the wisdom and independent spirit of
our forefathers, this is not the case. Each State having sole charge of
its local interests and domestic affairs, the problem, which to others has
been insoluble, to us is made easy. Rapid, safe, and easy communication
between the Atlantic and the Pacific will give co-intelligence, unity of
interest, and coöperation among all parts of our continent-wide Republic.
The net-work of railroads which bind the North and the South, the slope of
the Atlantic and the valley of the Mississippi, together testify that our
people have the power to perform, in that regard, whatever it is their
will to do.

We require a railroad to the States of the Pacific for present uses; the
time no doubt will come when we shall have need of two or three, it may
be, more. Because of the desert character of the interior country the work
will be difficult and expensive. It will require the efforts of a united
people. The bickerings of little politicians, the jealousies of sections
must give way to dignity of purpose and zeal for the common good. If the
object be obstructed by contention and division as to whether the route
shall be Northern, Southern, or Central, the handwriting is on the wall,
and it requires little skill to see that failure is the interpretation of
the inscription. You are practical people, and may ask, How is that
contest to be avoided? By taking the question out of the hands of
politicians altogether. Let the Government give such aid as it is proper
for it to render to the company which shall propose the most feasible
plan; then leave to capitalists with judgment, sharpened by interest, the
selection of the route, and the difficulties will diminish, as did those
which you overcame when you connected your harbor with the Canadian

It would be to trespass on your kindness and to violate the proprieties of
the occasion were I to detain the vast concourse which stands before me by
entering on the discussion of controverted topics, or by further indulging
in the expression of such reflections as circumstances suggest. I came to
your city in quest of health and repose. From the moment I entered it you
have showered upon me kindness and hospitality. Though my experience has
taught me to anticipate good rather than evil from my fellow-man, it had
not prepared me to expect such unremitting attention as has here been
bestowed. I have been jocularly asked in relation to my coming here,
whether I had secured a guarantee for my safety, and lo! I have found it.
I stand in the midst of thousands of my fellow-citizens. But, my friends,
I came neither distrusting nor apprehensive, of which you have proof in
the fact that I brought with me the objects of tenderest affection and
solicitude, my wife and my children; they have shared with me your
hospitality, and will alike remain your debtors. If, at some future time,
when I am mingled with the dust, and the arm of my infant son has been
nerved for deeds of manhood, the storm of war should burst upon your city,
I feel that, relying upon his inheriting the instincts of his ancestors
and mine, I may pledge him in that perilous hour to stand by your side in
the defense of your hearth-stones, and in maintaining the honor of a flag
whose constellation, though torn and smoked in many a battle by sea and
land, has never been stained with dishonor, and will, I trust, forever fly
as free as the breeze which unfolds it.

A stranger to you, the salubrity of your location, and the beauty of its
scenery were not wholly unknown to me, nor were there wanting associations
which busy memory connected with your people. You will pardon me for
alluding to one whose genius shed a lustre upon all it touched, and whose
qualities gathered about him hosts of friends wherever he was known.
Prentiss, a native of Portland, lived from youth to middle age in the
county of my residence; and the inquiries which have been made show me
that the youth excited the interest which the greatness of the man
justified, and that his memory thus remains a link to connect your home
with mine. A cursory view, when passing through your town on former
occasions, had impressed me with the great advantages of your harbor, its
easy entrance, its depth, and its extensive accommodations for shipping.
But its advantages and its facilities, as they have been developed by
closer inspection, have grown upon me, until I realize that it is no
boast, but the language of sober truth, which, in the present state of
commerce, pronounces them unequaled in any harbor of our country.

And surely no place could be more inviting to an invalid who sought refuge
from the heat of Southern summer. Here waving elms offer him shaded walks,
and magnificent residences, surrounded by flowers, fill the mind with
ideas of comfort and rest. If, weary of constant contact with his
fellow-men, he seeks a deeper seclusion, there, in the background of this
grand amphitheater, lie the eternal mountains, frowning with brow of rock
and cap of snow upon smiling fields beneath, and there in its recesses may
be found as much wildness and as much of solitude as the pilgrim, weary of
the cares of life, can desire. If he turn to the front, your capacious
harbor, studded with green islands of ever-varying light and shade, and
enlightened by all the stirring evidences of commercial activity, offer
him the mingled charms of busy life and nature's calm repose. A few miles
further, and he may sit upon the quiet shore to listen to the murmuring
wave until the troubled spirit sinks to rest; and in the little sail that
vanishes on the illimitable sea we find the type of the voyage which he is
soon to take, when, his ephemeral existence closed, he embarks for that
better state which lies beyond the grave.

Richly endowed as you are by nature in all which contributes to pleasure
and to usefulness, the stranger can not pass without paying a tribute to
the much which your energy has achieved for yourselves. Where else will
one find a more happy union of magnificence and comfort? Where better
arrangements to facilitate commerce? Where so much of industry with so
little noise and bustle? Where, in a phrase, so much effected in
proportion to the means employed? We hear the puff of the engine, the roll
of the wheel, the ring of the ax and the saw, but the stormy, passionate
exclamation so often mingled with the sounds are nowhere heard. Yet
neither these nor other things which I have mentioned, attractive though
they be, have been to me the chief charm which I have found among you. Far
above all these, I place the gentle kindness, the cordial welcome, the
hearty grasp which made me feel truly and at once, though wandering afar,
that I was still at home. My friends, I thank you for this additional
manifestation of your good-will.


[The Senate resumed the consideration of the resolutions submitted by Mr.
Davis on the first of March, relative to State rights, the institution of
slavery in the States, and the rights of citizens of the several States in
the Territories.]

MR. DOUGLAS having concluded his speech--

MR. DAVIS arose and said:

_Mr. President_: When the Senator from Illinois commenced his speech, he
announced his object to be to answer to an arraignment, or, as he also
termed it, an indictment, which he said I had made against him. He
therefore caused extracts to be read from my remarks to the Senate. Those
extracts announce that I have been the uniform opponent of what is called
squatter sovereignty, and that, having opposed it heretofore, I was now,
least of all, disposed to give it quarter. At a subsequent period, the
fact was stated that the Senator from Illinois and myself had been opposed
to each other, on those questions which I considered as most distinctly
involving Southern interests in 1850. He has not answered to the
allegation. He has not attempted to show that he did not stand in that
position. It is true he has associated himself with Mr. Clay, and, before
closing, I will show that the association does not belong to him; that
upon those test questions they did not vote together. He then, somewhat
vauntingly, reminded me that he was with the victorious party, asserted
that the Democracy of the country then sustained his doctrine, and that I
was thus outside of that organization. With Mr. Clay! If he had been with
him, he would have been in good company; but the old Jackson Democracy
will be a little surprised to learn that Clay was the leader of our party,
and that a man proves his allegiance to it by showing how closely he
followed in the footsteps of Henry Clay.

When the Senator opened his argument, by declaring his purpose to be fair
and courteous, I little supposed that an explanation made by me in favor
of the Secretary of State, and which could not at all disturb the line of
his argument, would have been followed by the rude announcement that he
could not permit interruption thereafter. A Senator has the right to claim
exemption from interruption if he will follow the thread of his argument,
direct his discourse to the question at issue, and confine himself to it;
but if he makes up a medley of arraignments of the men who have been in
public life for ten years past, and addressing individuals in his
presence, he should permit an interruption to be made for correction as
often as he misrepresents their position. It would have devolved on me
more than once, if I had been responsible for his frequent references to
me, to correct him and show that he misstated facts; but as he would not
permit himself to be interrupted, I am not responsible for any thing he
has imputed to me.

The Senator commenced with a disclaimer of any purpose to follow what he
considered a bad practice of arraigning Senators here on matters for which
they stood responsible to their constituents; but straightway proceeded to
make a general arraignment of the present and the absent. I believe I
constitute the only exception to whom he granted consistency, and that at
the expense of party association, and, he would have it, at the expense of
sound judgment. He not only arraigned individuals, but even
States--Florida, Alabama, and Georgia--were brought to answer at the bar
of the Senate for the resolutions they had passed; Virginia was held
responsible for her policy; Mississippi received his critical notice.
Pray, sir, what had all this to do with the question? Especially, what had
all this to do with what he styled an indictment against him? It is a mere
resort to a species of declamation which has not been heard to-day for the
first time; a pretext to put himself in the attitude of a persecuted man,
and, like the satyr's guest, blowing hot and cold in the same breath, in
the midst of his complaint of persecution, vaunts his supreme power. If
his opponents be the very small minority which he describes, what fear has
he of persecution or proscription?

Can he not draw a distinction between one who says: "I give no quarter to
an idea," and one who proclaims the policy of putting the advocates of
that idea to the sword? Such was his figurative language. That figure of
the sword, however, it seemed, as he progressed in his development,
referred to the one thought always floating through his brain--exclusion
from the spoils of office, for, at last, it seemed to narrow down to the
supposition that no man who agreed with him was, with our consent, to be
either a Cabinet officer or a collector. Who has advanced any such
doctrine? Have I, at this or any other period of my acquaintance with him,
done any thing to justify him in attributing that opinion to me? I pause
for his answer.

MR. DOUGLAS. I do not exactly understand the Senator. I have no complaint
to make of the Senator from Mississippi of ever having been unkind or
ungenerous towards me, if that is what he means to say.

MR. DAVIS. Have I ever promulgated a doctrine which indicated that if my
friends were in power, I would sacrifice every other wing of the
Democratic party?

MR. DOUGLAS. I understood the making of a test on this issue against me
would reach every other man that held my opinions; and, therefore, if I
was not sound enough to hold office, no man agreeing with me would be; and
hence, every man of my opinions would be excluded.

MR. DAVIS. Ah, Mr. President; I believe I now have caught the clue to the
argument; it was not before apprehended. I was among those who thought the
Senator, with his opinions, ought not to be chairman of the Committee on
Territories. This, I suppose, then, is the whole imposition. But have I
not said to the Senator, at least once, that I had no disposition to
question his Democracy; that I did not wish to withhold from him any
tribute which was due to his talent and his worth? Did I not offer to
resign the only chairmanship of a committee I had if the Senate would
confer it upon him? Then, where is this spirit of proscription, the
complaint of which has constituted some hours of his speech? If others
have manifested it, I do not know it; and as the single expression of "no
quarter to the doctrine of squatter sovereignty" was the basis of his
whole allegation, I took it for granted his reference to a purpose to do
him and his friends such wrong must have been intended for me.

The fact that the Senator criticised the idea of the States prescribing
the terms on which they will act in a party convention recognized to be
representative, is suggestive of an extreme misconception of relative
position; and the presumption with which the Senator censured what he was
pleased to term "the seceders," suggested to me a representation of the
air of the great monarch of France when, feeling royalty and power all
concentrated in his own person, he used the familiar yet remarkable
expression, "the State, that's me." Does the Senator consider it a modest
thing in him to announce to the Democratic Convention on what terms he
will accept the nomination; but presumptuous in a State to declare the
principle on which she will give him her vote? It is an advance on Louis

Nothing but the most egregious vanity, something far surpassing even the
bursting condition of swollen pride, could have induced the Senator to
believe that I could not speak of squatter sovereignty without meaning

Towards the Senator, personally, I have never manifested
hostility--indeed, could not, because I have ever felt kindly. Many years
of association, very frequent coöperation, manly support from him in times
of trial, are all remembered by me gratefully. The Senator, therefore, had
no right to assume that I was making war upon him. I addressed myself to
a doctrine of which he was not the founder, though he was one of the early
disciples; but he proved an unprofitable follower, for he became
rebellious, and ruined the logic of the doctrine. It was logical in Mr.
Cass's mind; he claimed the power to be inherent in the people who settled
a new Territory, and by this inherent power he held that they might
proceed to form government and to exercise its functions. There was logic
in that--logic up to the point of sovereignty. Not so with the Senator. He
says the inhabitants of the Territories derive their power to form a
government from the consent of Congress; that when we decide that there
are enough of them to constitute a government, and enact an organic law,
then they have power to legislate according to their will. This power
being derived from an act of Congress--a limited agency tied down to the
narrow sphere of the constitutional grant--is made, by that supposition,
the bestower of sovereignty on its creature.

I had occasion the other day to refer to the higher law as it made its
first appearance on earth--the occasion when the tempter entered the
garden of Eden. There is another phase of it. Whoever attempts to
interpose between the supreme law of the Creator and the creature, whether
it be in the regions of morals or politics, proclaims a theory that wars
upon every principle of government. When Congress, the agent for the
States, within the limits of its authority, forms, as it were, a
territorial constitution by its organic act, he who steps in and proclaims
to the settlers in that Territory that they have the right to overturn the
Government, to usurp to themselves powers not delegated, is preaching the
higher law in the domain of politics, which is only less mischievous than
its other form, because the other involves both politics and morals in one
ruinous confusion.

The Senator spoke of the denial of Democratic fellowship to him. After
what has been said and acknowledged by the Senator, it is not to be
supposed that it could have any application to me. It may be proper to
add, I know of no such denial on the part of other Democratic Senators.
Far be it from me to vaunt the fact of being in a majority, and to hold
him to the hard rule he prescribes to us, of surrendering an opinion where
we may happen to have been in a minority. Were I to return now to him the
measure with which he metes to us, when he assumes that a majority in the
Charleston Convention has a right to prescribe what shall be our tenets, I
might, in reply to him, say, as a sincere adherent of the Democratic
party, how can you oppose the resolutions pending before the Senate? If
twenty-seven majority in a body of three hundred and three constituent
members had, as he assumes, the power to lay down a binding law, what is
to be said of him who, with a single adherent, stands up against the whole
of his Democratic associates? He must be outside of the party, according
to his enunciation; he must be wandering in the dark regions to which he
consigns the followers of Mr. Yancey.

The Senator said he had no taste for references to things which were
personal, and then proceeded to discuss that of which he showed himself
profoundly ignorant--the condition of things in Mississippi. It is
disagreeable for me to bring before the Senate matters which belong to my
constituents and myself, and I should not do so but for the fact of their
introduction into the Senator's elaborate speech, which is no doubt to be
spread over all parts of the country. The Senator, by some means or other,
has the name of very many citizens of Mississippi, and as there is nothing
in our condition to attract his special attention, his speech is probably
to be sent over a wide field of correspondence; and it is, therefore, the
more incumbent on me to notice his attempt to give a history of affairs
that were transacted in Mississippi. He first announces that Mississippi
rebuked the idea of intervention asserted in 1850; then that Mississippi
rejected my appeal; that Mississippi voted on the issue made up by the
compromise measure of 1850, and vaunts it as an approval of that
legislation of which he was the advocate and I the opponent. Now,
Mississippi did none of these things. Mississippi instructed her Senators,
and I obeyed her instructions. I introduced into this body the resolutions
which directed my course. On that occasion I vindicated Mississippi, and
especially the Southern rights men, from the falsehood of that day, and
reiterated now, of a purpose to dissolve the Union. I vindicated her by
extracts from the proceedings as well of her convention as of her primary
assemblies; and my remarks on that occasion, as fully as the events to
which he referred in terms of undeserved compliment, justified the Senator
in saying to-day that he knew I had always been faithful to the Government
of which I was a part.

Acting under the instructions from Mississippi--not merely voting and
yielding reluctant compliance; but, according to my ideas of the
obligation of a Senator, laboring industriously and zealously to carry out
the instructions which my State gave me, I took and maintained the
position I held in relation to the measures of 1850. As it was with me a
cordial service, I went home to vindicate the position which was hers, as
well as my own. Shortly after that a canvass was opened, in which a
distinguished gentlemen of our party, who had not been a member of
Congress, was nominated for Governor. Questions other than the compromise
measures of 1850 arose in that canvass; they were discussed in a great
degree to the exclusion of a consideration of the merits of the action of
Congress in 1850; and, at the election in September, for delegates to a
convention, we had fallen from a party majority of some eight thousand to
a minority of nearly the same number. It was after the decision of the
question involved in calling a convention--after our party was
defeated--after the candidate for Governor had retired, that the Democracy
of Mississippi called upon me to bear their standard. It was esteemed a
forlorn hope, therefore an obligation of honor not to decline the
invitation. But so far as the action in the Senate in 1850 was concerned,
if it had any effect, it must have been the reverse of that assumed, as,
in the subsequent election for State officers on the first Monday in
November, this majority of nearly eight thousand against us was reduced to
about one thousand.

But when this convention assembled, though a large majority of the members
belonged to the party which the Senator has been pleased to term the
"Submissionists"--a name which they always rejected--this convention of
the party most adverse to me, when they came to act on the subject said,
after citing the "compromise" measures of the Congress of 1850:

    "And connected with them, the rejection of the proposition to exclude
    slavery from the Territories of the United States, and to abolish it
    in the District of Columbia; and, _while they do not entirely
    approve_, will abide by it as a permanent adjustment of this sectional
    controversy, so long as the same, in all its features, shall be
    faithfully adhered to and enforced."

Then they go on to recite six different causes, for which they will resort
to the most extreme remedies which we had supposed ever could be
necessary. The case only requires that I should say that the party to
which I belonged did not then, nor at any previous time, propose to go out
of the Union, but to have a Southern convention for consultation as to
future contingencies, threatened and anticipated. It was at last narrowed
down to the question, whether we should meet South Carolina and consult
with her. Honoring that gallant State for the magnanimity she had
manifested in the first efforts for the creation of the Government, in the
preliminaries to the struggle for independence, when she, a favored
colony, feeling no oppression, nursed by the mother country, cherished in
every method, yet agreed with Massachusetts, then oppressed, to assert the
great principle of community independence, and to carry it to the extent
of war--honoring her for her unvarying defense of the Constitution
throughout her whole course--believing that she was true to her faith, and
would redeem all her pledges--feeling that a friendly hand might
restrain, while, if left to herself, her pride might precipitate her on
the trial of separation, I did desire to meet South Carolina in
convention, though nobody but ourselves should be there to join her.

But, to close the matter, this convention, in its seventh resolution,
after stating all those questions on which it would resist, declared:

    "That, as the people of Mississippi, in the opinion of this
    convention, desire all further agitation of the slavery question to
    cease, and have acted upon and decided the foregoing questions,
    thereby making it the duty of this convention to pass no act in the
    perview and spirit of the law under which it is called, this
    convention deems it unnecessary to refer to the people, for approval
    or disapproval, at the ballot-box, its action in the premises."

So that when the Senator appealed to this as evidence of what the people
of Mississippi had done, he was ignorant of the fact that the delegates of
the people of Mississippi did not agree with him; that their resolutions
did not sustain the view which he took, and that the people of Mississippi
never acted on them. If, then, there had been good taste in the
intervention of this local question, there was certainly very bad judgment
in hazarding his statements on a subject of which he was so little

The Senator here, as in relation to our friends at Charleston, takes kind
care of us--supposes we do not know what we are about, but that he, with
his superior discrimination, sees what must necessarily result from what
we are doing; he says that, at Charleston, they--innocent people--did not
intend to destroy the Government; but he warns them that, if they do what
they propose, they will destroy it; and so he says we of Mississippi, not
desiring to break up the Union, nevertheless pursued a course which would
have had that result if it had not been checked. Where does he get all
this information? I have been in every State of the Union except
two--three now, since Oregon has been admitted--but I have never seen a
man who had as much personal knowledge. It is equally surprising that his
facts should be so contrary to the record.

We believed then, as I believe now, that this Union, as a compact entered
into between the States, was to be preserved by good faith, and by a close
observance of the terms on which we were united. We believed then, as I
believe now, that the party which rested upon the basis of truth;
promulgated its opinions, and had them tested in the alembic of public
opinion, adopted the only path of safety. I can not respect such a
doctrine as that which says, "You may construe the Constitution your way,
and I will construe it mine; we will waive the merit of these two
constructions, and harmonize together until the courts decide the question
between us." A man is bound to have an opinion upon any political subject
upon which he is called to act; it is skulking his responsibility for a
citizen to say, "Let us express no opinion; I will agree that you may have
yours, and I will have mine; we will coöperate politically together; we
will beat the opposition, divide the spoils, and leave it to the court to
decide the question between us."

I do not believe that this is the path of safety; I am sure it is not the
way of honor. I believe it devolves on us, who are principally sufferers
from the danger to which this policy has exposed us, to affirm the truth
boldly, and let the people decide after the promulgation of our opinions.
Our Government, resting as it does upon public opinion and popular
consent, was not formed to deceive the people, nor does it regard the men
in office as a governing class. We, the functionaries, should derive our
opinions from the people. To know what their opinion is, it is necessary
that we should pronounce, in unmistakable language, what we ourselves

My position is, that there is no portion of our country where the people
are not sufficiently intelligent to discriminate between right and wrong,
and no portion where the sense of justice does not predominate. I,
therefore, have been always willing to unfurl our flag to its innermost
fold--to nail it to the mast, with all our principles plainly inscribed
upon it. Believing that we ask nothing but what the Constitution was
intended to confer--nothing but that which, as equals, we are entitled to
receive--I am willing that our case should be plainly stated to those who
have to decide it, and await, for good or for evil, their verdict.

For two days, the Senator spoke nominally upon the resolutions, and upon
the territorial question; but, like the witness in the French comedy, who,
when called upon to testify, commenced before the creation, and was
stopped by the judge, who told him to come down, for a beginning, to the
deluge, he commenced so far back, and narrated so minutely, that he never
got chronologically down to the point before us.

What is the question on which the Democracy are divided? Are we called
upon to settle what every body said from 1847 down to this date? Have the
Democracy divided on that? Have they divided on the resolutions of the
States in 1840, or 1844, or 1848? Have the Democracy undertaken to review
the position taken in 1854, that there should be a latitude of
construction upon a particular point of constitutional law while they did
await the decision of the Supreme Court? No, sir; the question is changed
from before to after the event; the call is on every man to come forward
now, after the Supreme Court has given all it could render upon a
political subject, and state that his creed is adherence to the rule thus
expounded in accordance with previous agreement.

The Senator tells us that he will abide by the decision of the Supreme
Court; but it was fairly to be inferred, from what he said, that, in the
Dred Scott case, he held that they had only decided that a negro could not
sue in a Federal Court. Was this the entertainment to which we were
invited? Was the proclaimed boon of allowing the question to go to
judicial decision, no more than that, one after another, each law might be
tested, and that, one after another, each case, under every law, might be
tried, and that after centuries should roll away, we might hope for the
period when, every case exhausted, the decision of our constitutional
right and of the federal duty would be complete? Or was it that we were to
get rid of the controversy which had divided the country for thirty years;
that we were to reach a conclusion beyond which we could see the region of
peace; that tranquillity was to be obtained by getting a decision on a
constitutional question which had been discussed until it was seen that,
legislatively, it could not or would not be decided? If, then, the Supreme
Court has judicially announced that Congress can not prohibit the
introduction of slave property into a Territory, and that no one deriving
authority from Congress can do so, and the Senator from Illinois holds
that the inhabitants derive their power from the organic act of Congress,
what restrains his acknowledgment of our right to go into the Territories,
and his recognition of the case being closed by the opinion of the court?
I can understand how one who has followed to its logical consequences the
original doctrine of squatter sovereignty might still stand out, and say
this inherent right can not be taken away by judicial decision; but is not
one who claims to derive the power of the territorial legislation from a
law of Congress, and who finds the opinion of the court conclusive as to
Congress, and to all deriving their authority from it, estopped from any
further argument?

Much of what the Senator said about the condition of public affairs can
only be regarded as the presentation of his own case, and requires no
notice from me. His witticism upon the honorable Senator, the Chairman of
the Committee on the Judiciary [Mr. Bayard], who is now absent, because of
the size of the State which he represents, reminds one that it was
mentioned as an evidence of the stupidity of a German, that he questioned
the greatness of Napoleon because he was born in the little island of
Corsica. I know not what views the Senator entertained when he measured
the capacity of the Senator from Delaware by the size of that State, or
the dignity of his action at Charleston by the number of his constituents.
If there be any political feature which stands more prominently out than
another in the Union, it is the equality of the States. Our stars have no
variant size; they shine with no unequal brilliancy. A Senator from
Delaware holds a position entitled to the same respect, as such, as the
Senator from any other State of the Union. More than that, the character,
the conduct, the information, the capacity of that Senator might claim
respect, if he was not entitled to it from his position.

Twice on this occasion, and more than the same number of times heretofore,
has the Senator referred to the great benefit derived from that provision
which grants a trial in the local court, an appeal to the Supreme Court of
the Territory, and an appeal from thence to the Supreme Court of the
United States, on every question involving title to slaves. I wish to say
that whatever merit attaches to that belongs to a Senator to whom the
advocates of negro slavery have not often been in the habit of
acknowledging their obligations--the Senator from New Hampshire [Mr.
Hale], who introduced it in 1850 as an amendment to the New Mexico Bill.
We adopted it as a fair proposition, equally acceptable upon one side and
the other. On its adoption, no one voted against it. That proposition was
incorporated in the Kansas Bill, but unless we acknowledge obligations to
the Senator from New Hampshire, how shall they be accorded for that to the
Senator from Illinois?

I am asked whether the resolutions of the Senate can have the force of
law. Of course not. The Senate, however, is an independent member of the
Government, and from its organization should be peculiarly watchful of
State rights. Before the meeting of the Charleston Convention, it was
untruly stated that these resolutions were concocted to affect the action
of the Charleston Convention. Now we are asked if they are to affect the
Baltimore Convention. They were not designed for the one; they are not
pressed in view of the other. They were introduced to obtain an
expression of the opinion of the Senate, a proceeding quite frequent in
the history of this body. It was believed that they would have a
beneficial effect, and that they were stated in terms which would show the
public the error of supposing that there was a purpose on the part of the
Democracy, or of the South, to enact what was called a slave code for the
Territories of the United States. It was believed that the assertion of
sound principles at this time would direct public opinion, and might be
fruitful of such reuniting, harmonizing results as we all desire, and
which the public need. Whether it is to have this effect or not; whether
at last we are to be shorn of our national strength by personal or
sectional strife, depends upon the conduct of those who have it in their
power to control the result. The Democratic party, in its history,
presents a high example of nationality; its power and its usefulness has
been its co-extension with the Union. The Democrats of the Northern States
who vote for these resolutions, but affirm that which we have so often
announced with pride, that there was a political opinion which pervaded
the whole country; there was a party capable to save the Union, because it
belonged to all the States. If the two Democratic Senators who alone have
declared their opposition should so vote, to that extent the effect would
be impaired, and they will stand in that isolation to which the Senator
points as a consequence so dreadful to the Southern men at Charleston.

    [Here Mr. Davis gave way for a motion to adjourn, and on the 17th

MR. DAVIS. At the close of the session of yesterday, I was speaking of the
hope entertained that the Democratic party would yet be united; that the
party which had so long wielded the destinies of the country, for its
honor, for its glory, and its progress, was not about to be checked midway
in its career--to be buried in a premature grave; but that it was to go
on, with concentrated energy, toward the great ends for which it has
striven since 1800, by a long pull, and a strong pull, and a pull
altogether, to bring the ship of State into that quiet harbor where

  "Vessels safe, without their hawsers, ride."

This was a hope, however, not founded on any supposition that we were to
escape from the issues which are presented--a hope not based on the
proposition that every man should have his own construction of our creed,
and that we should unite together merely for success; but that the party,
as heretofore, in each succeeding quadrennial convention, would add to the
resolutions of the preceding one such declarations as passing events
indicated, and the exigencies of the country demanded.

In the last four years a division has arisen in the Democratic party, upon
the construction of one of the articles of its creed. It behooves us, in
that state of the case, to decide what the true construction is; for, if
the party be not a union of men upon principle, the sooner it is dissolved
the better; and if it be such a union, why shall not those principles be
defined, so as to remove doubt or cavil, and be applied in every emergency
to meet the demands of each succeeding case? Thus only can we avoid
division in council and confusion in action.

The Senator from Illinois, who preceded me, announced that he had
performed a pleasing duty in defending the Democratic party. That party
might well cry out, Save me from my defender. It was a defense of the
party by the arraignment of its prominent members. It was the preservation
of the body by the destruction of its head--for the President of the
United States is, for the time being, the head of the party that placed
him in position; and the head of the party thus in position can not be
destroyed without the disintegration of the members and the destruction of
the body itself. I suppose the Senator, however, was at his favorite
amusement of "shooting at the lump." The "lump" heretofore has been those
Democratic Senators who dissented from him: this time he involved
Democrats all over the country. Not even the presiding officer, whose
position seals his lips, could escape him. And here let me say that I
found nothing in the extract read from that gentleman's address, which,
construed as was no doubt intended, does not meet my approval; but if
tried by the modern lexicon of the Senator, it might be rendered a
contradiction to his avowed opinions, and by the same mode of expounding,
non-intervention would be a sin of which the whole Democracy might be
convicted, under the indictment of squatter sovereignty. The language
quoted from the address of the Vice-President is to be construed as
understood at the time, at the place, and by men such as the one who used

With that force which usually enters into his addresses--with even more
than his usual eloquence--the Senator referred to the scene which awaited
him upon his return to Chicago, when, as represented, he met an infuriated
mob, who assailed him for having maintained the measures of 1850--those
compromises which, in the Northern section, it was urged had been passed
in the interest of the South. But, pray, what one of those measures was it
which excited the mob so described? Only one, I believe, was put in issue
at the North--the fugitive slave law; that one he did not vote for. But it
was the part of manliness to say that, though absent and not voting for
it, he approved of it. Such, I believe, was his commendable course on that
occasion. I give him, therefore, all due credit for not escaping from a
responsibility to which they might not have held him. Are we to give
perpetual thanks to any one because he did not yield to so senseless a
clamor, but conceded to us that small measure of constitutional
right--because he has complied with a requirement so plain that my regret
is that it ever required congressional intervention to enforce it? It
belonged to the honor of the States to execute that clause of the
Constitution. They should have executed it without congressional
intervention; congressional action should only have been useful to give
that uniformity of proceeding which State action could not have secured.

Concurring in the depicted evil of the destruction of the Democratic
organization, it must be admitted that such consequence is the inevitable
result of a radical difference of principle. The Senator laments the
disease, but instead of healing, aggravates it. While pleading the evils
of the disruption of the party, it is quite apparent that, in his mind,
there is another still greater calamity; for, through all his arraignment
of others, all his self-laudation, all his complaints of persecution, like
an air through its variations, appears and re-appears the action of the
Charleston Convention. That seemed to be the beginning and the end of his
solicitude. The oft-told tale of his removal from the chairmanship of the
Committee on Territories had to be renewed and connected with that
convention, and even assumed as the basis on which his strength was
founded in that convention. I think the Senator did himself injustice. I
think his long Career and distinguished labors, his admitted capacity for
good hereafter, constitute a better reason for the support which he
received, than the fact that his associates in the Senate had not chosen
to put him in a particular position in the organization of this body. It
is enough that that fact did not divert support from him; and I am aware
of none of his associates here who have forced it upon public attention
with a view to affect him.

He claims that an arraignment made against his Democracy has been answered
by the action of a majority of the Convention at Charleston; and then
proceeds to inform the minority men that he would scorn to be the
candidate of a party unless he received a majority of its votes. There was
no use in making that declaration; it requires not only a majority, but,
under our ruling, a vote of two-thirds, for a nomination. It was
unnecessary for any body to feel scorn toward that which he could not
receive. Other unfortunate wights might mourn the event; it belonged to
the Senator from Illinois to scorn it. The remark of Mr. Lowndes, which
has been so often quoted, and which, beautiful in itself, has acquired
additional value by time, that the Presidency was an office neither to be
sought nor declined, has no application, therefore, to the Senator, for,
under certain contingencies, he says he would decline it. It does not
devolve on me to decide whether he has sought it or not.

But, sir, what is the danger which now besets the Democratic party? Is it,
as has been asserted, the doctrine of intervention by Congress, and is
that doctrine new? Is the idea that protection, by Congress, to all rights
of person or property, wherever it has jurisdiction, so dangerous that, in
the language employed by the Senator, it would sweep the Democratic party
from the face of the earth? For what was our Government instituted? Why
did the States confer upon the Federal Government the great functions
which it possesses? For protection--mainly for protection beyond the
municipal power of the States. I shall have occasion, in the progress of
my remarks, to cite some authority, and to trace this from a very early
period. I will first, however, notice an assault which the Senator has
thought proper to make upon certain States, one of which is, in part,
represented by myself. He says they are seceders, bolters, because they
withdrew from a party convention when it failed to announce their
principles. There can be no tie to bind me to a party beyond my will. I
will admit no bond that holds me to a party a day longer than I agree to
its principles. When men meet together to confer, and ascertain whether or
not they do agree, and find that they differ--radically, essentially,
irreconcilably differ--what belongs to an honorable position except to
part? They can not consistently act together any longer. It devolves upon
them frankly to announce the difference, and each to pursue his separate

The letter of Mr. Yancey--acknowledged to be a private letter, an
unguarded letter, but which, somehow or other, got into the press--was
read to sustain this general accusation against what are called the Cotton
States. I do not pretend to judge how far the Senator has the right here
to read a private letter, which, without the authority of the writer, has
gone into the public press. It is one of those questions which every man's
sense of propriety must, in his own case, decide. Whether or not the use
of that letter was justifiable, how is it to be assumed that the Southern
States are bound by any opinion there enunciated? How to be asserted that
we, the residents in those States, have pinned our faith to the sleeve of
any man, and that we will follow his behest, no matter whither he may go?
But was this the only source of information, or was the impression
otherwise sustained? Did Mr. Yancey, in his speech delivered at
Charleston, justify the conclusions which the Senator draws from this
letter? Did he admit them to be correct? There he might have found the
latest evidence, and the best authority. Speaking to that point, Mr.
Yancey said:

    "It has been charged, in order to demoralize whatever influence we
    might be entitled to, either from our personal or political
    characteristics, or as representatives of the State of Alabama, that
    we are disruptionists, disunionists _per se_; that we desire to break
    up the party in the State of Alabama--to break up the party of the
    Union, and to dissolve the Union itself. Each and all of these
    allegations, come from what quarter they may, I pronounce to be false.
    There is no disunionist, that I know of, in the delegation from the
    State of Alabama. There is no disruptionist that I know of; and if
    there are factionists in our delegation, they could not have got in
    there, with the knowledge upon the part of our State Convention that
    they were of so unenviable a character. We come here with two great
    purposes: first, to save the constitutional rights of the South, if it
    lay in our power to do so. We desire to save the South by the best
    means that present themselves to us; and the State of Alabama believes
    that the best means now in existence is the organization of the
    Democratic party, if we shall be able to persuade it to adopt the
    constitutional basis upon which we think the South alone can be

He further says:

    "We have come here, then, with the twofold purpose of saving the
    country and saving the Democracy; and if the Democracy will not lend
    itself to that high, holy, and elevated purpose; if it can not elevate
    itself above the mere question of how perfect shall be its mere
    personal organization, and how wide-spread shall be its mere voting
    success, then we say to you, gentlemen, mournfully and regretfully,
    that, in the opinion of the State of Alabama, and, I believe, of the
    whole South, you have failed in your mission, and it will be our duty
    to go forth, and make an appeal to the loyalty of the country to stand
    by that Constitution which party organizations have deliberately
    rejected." [Applause.]

Mr. Yancey answers for himself. It was needless to go back to old letters.
Here were his remarks delivered before the convention, speaking to the
point in issue, and answering both as to his purposes and as to the
motives of those with whom he conferred and acted.

The Senator next cited the resolutions of the State of Alabama; and here
he seemed to rest the main point in his argument. The Senator said that
Alabama, in 1856, had demanded of the Democratic convention,
non-intervention, and that, in 1860, she had retired from the convention
because it insisted upon non-intervention. He read one of the resolutions
of the Alabama Convention of 1856; but the one which bore upon the point
was not read. The one which was conclusive as to the position of Alabama
then, and its relation to her position now, was exactly the one that was
omitted--I read from the resolutions of this year--was as follows:

    "_Resolved, further_, That we re-affirm so much of the first
    resolution of the platform adopted in the convention by the Democracy
    of this State, on the 8th of January, 1856, as relates to the subject
    of slavery, to-wit."

It then goes on to quote from that resolution of 1856, as follows:

    "The unqualified right of the people of the slaveholding States to
    the protection of their property in the States, in the Territories,
    and in the wilderness, in which territorial governments are as yet

That was the resolution of 1856; and like it was one of February, 1848:

    "That it is the duty of the General Government by all proper
    legislation, to secure an entry into those Territories to all the
    citizens of the United States, together with their property, of every
    description; and that the same shall be protected by the United
    States, while the Territories are under its authority."

So stands the record of that State which is now held responsible for
retiring, and is alleged to have withdrawn because she received now what,
in former times, she had demanded as the full measure of her rights. Did
she receive it? The argument could only be made by concealing the fact
that her resolutions of 1848 and 1856 asserted the right to protection,
and claimed it from the General Government. What, then, is the necessary
inference? That, in the Cincinnati platform, they believed they obtained
that which they asserted, or that which necessarily involved it. So much
for the point of faith; so much for the point of consistency in the
assertion of right. But if it were otherwise; if they had neglected to
assert a right; would that destroy it? If they had failed at some time to
claim this protection, are they to be estopped, in all time to come, from
claiming it? Constitutional right is eternal--not to be sacrificed by any
body of men. A single man may revive it at any period of the existence of
the Constitution. So the argument would be worthless, if the facts were as
stated. That they are not so stated, is shown by the record.

Here allow me to say, in all sincerity, that I dislike thus to speak about
conventions; it does not belong to the duties of the Senate; we did not
assemble here to make a President, except in the single contingency of a
failure by the people and by the House of Representatives to elect. When
that contingency arrives, the question will be before us. I am sorry that
it should have been prematurely introduced. But since the action of the
recent convention at Charleston is presented as the basis of argument, it
may be as well to refer to it, and see what it is. The majority report,
presented by seventeen States of the Union, and those the States most
reliable to give Democratic votes--the States counted so certain to give
Democratic votes that they have been regarded as a fixed basis, a nucleus
to which others were to be attracted--these seventeen States reported to
the convention a series of resolutions, one of which asserted the right to
protection. A minority of States reported another series, excluding the
avowal of the right--not exactly denying it, but not avowing it--and a
second minority report was submitted, being the Cincinnati platform, pure
and simple. It is true that a majority of delegates adopted the minority
report, but not a majority of States, nor does it appear, by an analysis
of the votes, and the best evidence I have been able to obtain, that it
was by a majority of delegates, if each had been left to his own choice;
but that, by one of those ingenious arrangements--one of those incidents
which, among jurists, is described as the favor the vigilant receives from
the law--it so happened that, in certain States, the delegates were
instructed to vote as a unit; in other States they were not; so that,
wherever they were instructed to vote as a unit, the vote must so be cast,
and wherever they were not, they might disintegrate. Thus minorities were
bound in one instance, and released in another; and, by a comparison made
by those who had an opportunity to know, it appears that the minority
report could not have got a majority of the delegates, if each delegate
had been permitted to cast his own vote in the Convention. Neither could
it have obtained, as appears by the action of the committee, in a majority
of the States, if they had been spoken as such. So that this vaunt as to
the effect of the adoption of the platform by a majority, seems to have
very little of substance in it. Again, I find that, after this adoption
of a platform, a delegate from Tennessee offered a resolution:

    "That all the citizens of the United States have an equal right to
    settle, with their property, in the Territories of the United States;
    and that, under the decision of the Supreme Court of the United
    States, which we recognize as a correct exposition of the Constitution
    of the United States, neither their rights of person or property can
    be destroyed or impaired by congressional or territorial legislation."

It does not appear that a vote was taken on it. There is a current belief
that it would have been adopted. If it had been, it would have been an
acknowledgment by the Democracy, in convention assembled, that the
question had been settled by the decisions of the Supreme Court. But in
the progress of the convention, when they came to balloting, it appears,
by an analysis of the vote for candidates, that the Senator from Illinois
received from seventeen undoubted Democratic States of the Union, casting
one hundred and twenty-seven electoral votes, but eleven votes. It is not
such a great triumph, then, in the Democratic view, as is claimed. It does
not suffice to add up the number of votes where they do not avail. It is
not fair to bring the votes of Vermont, where I believe nobody expects we
shall be successful, and count them for a particular candidate. The
electoral votes--and these alone, tell upon the result; and it appears
that in those States which have been counted certain to cast their
electoral votes for the candidate who might have been nominated at that
convention, the Senator received but eleven. This is but meagre claim to
bind us to his car as the successful champion of the majority. This is but
small basis for the boast that his hopes were gratified, that he would not
receive the nomination unless sustained by a majority of the party, and
that his opinions had received the indorsement of the Democracy.

My devotion to the party is life-long. If the assertion be allowable, it
may be said that I inherited my political principles. I derive them from a
revolutionary father--one of the earnest friends of Mr. Jefferson; who,
after the revolution which achieved our independence, bore his full part
in the civil revolution of 1800, which emancipated us from federal
usurpation and consolidation. I therefore have all that devotion to party
which belongs to habitual reverence and confidence. But, sir, that
devotion to party rests on the assumption that it is to maintain sound
principles; that it is to strive hereafter, as heretofore, to carry out
the great cardinal creed in which the Democratic party was founded. When
the resolutions of 1798 and 1799 are discarded; when we fly from the
extreme of monarchy to land in the danger to republics, anarchy, and the
Democratic party says its arm is paralyzed--can not be raised to maintain
constitutional rights, my devotion to its organization is at an end. It
fails thenceforward in the purposes for which it was established; and if
there be a constitutional party in the land which, in the language of Mr.
Jefferson, would find in the vigor of the Federal Government the best hope
for our liberty and security, to that party I should attach myself
whenever that sad contingency arose.

The resolutions of 1798 and 1799, though directed against usurpation, were
equally directed against the dangers of anarchy. Their principles are
alike applicable to both. Their cardinal creed was a Federal Government,
according to the grants conferred upon it, and these righteously
administered. It is not fair to the men who taught us the lessons of
Democracy that they should be held responsible for a theory which leaves
the Federal Government, as one who has abdicated all authority, to stand
at the mercy of local usurpations. Least of all does their teaching
maintain that this Government has no power over the Territories; that this
Government has no obligation to protect the rights of person and property
in the Territories; for, among the first acts under the Constitution, was
one which both asserted and exercised the power.

After the adoption of the Constitution, in 1789, an act was passed, to
which reference is frequently made as being a confirmation of the
ordinance of 1787; and this has been repeated so often that it has
received general belief. There was a constitutional provision which
required all obligations and engagements under the confederation to hold
good under the Constitution. If there was an obligation or an engagement
growing out of the ordinance of 1787, out of the deed of cession by
Virginia, it was transmitted to the Government established under the
Constitution; but that Congress under the Constitution gave it no
vitality--that they added no force to it, is apparent from the fact which
is so often relied upon as authority. It was in view of this fact, in full
remembrance of this and of other facts connected with it, that Mr. Madison
said, in relation to passing regulations for the Territories, that
"Congress did not regard the interdiction of slavery among the needful
regulations contemplated by the Constitution, since, in none of the
territorial governments created by them, was such an interdict found." I
am aware that Justice McLean has viewed this as an historical error of Mr.
Madison. I shall not assume to decide between such high authorities. The
act is as follows:

    "_An Act to provide for the government of the Territory north-west of
    the Ohio River._

    "WHEREAS, In order that the ordinance of the United States in Congress
    assembled, for the government of the territory north-west of the river
    Ohio, may continue to have full effect, it is requisite that certain
    provisions should be made so as to adapt the same to the present
    Constitution of the United States.

    "SECTION 1. _Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
    of the United States of America in Congress assembled_, That, in all
    cases in which, by the said ordinance, any information is to be given,
    or communication made, by the governor of the said Territory to the
    United States in Congress assembled, or to any of their officers, it
    shall be the duty of the said governor to give such information, and
    to make such communication, to the President of the United States; and
    the President shall nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent
    of the Senate, shall appoint all officers which, by the said
    ordinance, were to have been appointed by the United States in
    Congress assembled; and all officers so appointed shall be
    commissioned by him; and in all cases where the United States in
    Congress assembled might, by the said ordinance, make any commission,
    or remove from any office, the President is hereby declared to have
    the same powers to revocation and removal.

    "SEC. 2. _And be it further enacted_, That in the case of the death,
    removal, resignation, or necessary absence of the governor of the said
    Territory, the secretary thereof shall be, and he is hereby authorized
    and required to execute all the powers and perform all the duties of
    the governor during the vacancy occasioned by the removal,
    resignation, or necessary absence of the said governor.

    "Approved August 7, 1789."

All that is to be found in this act which favors the supposition and
frequent assertion that, under the Constitution, the ordinance of 1787 was
ratified and confirmed is to be found in the preamble, and that preamble
so vaguely alludes to it that the idea is refuted by reference to an act
which followed soon afterwards--the act of 1793--from which I will read a
single section:

    "SEC. 3. _And be it further enacted_, That when a person held to labor
    in any of the United States, or in either of the Territories on the
    north-west or south of the river Ohio, under the laws thereof, shall
    escape into any other of the said States or Territories, the person to
    whom such service or labor may be due, his agent, or attorney, is
    hereby empowered to seize or arrest such fugitive from labor," etc.

Is it not apparent that, when the Congress legislated in 1793, they
recognized the existence of slavery and protected that kind of property in
the territory north-west of the river Ohio, and is it not conclusive that
they did not intend, by the act of 1789, to confirm, ratify, and give
effect to the ordinance of 1787, which would have excluded it?

This doctrine of protection, then, is not new. It goes back to the
foundation of the Government. It is traceable down through all the early
controversies; and they arose at least as early as 1790. It is found in
the messages of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, and in the legislation of
Congress; and also in the messages of the elder Adams. There was not one
of the first four Presidents of the United States who did not recognize
this obligation of protection, who did not assert this power on the part
of the Federal Government; and not one of them ever attempted to pervert
it to a power to destroy. If division in the Democratic party is to arise
now, because of this doctrine, it is not from the change by those who
assert it, but of those who deny it. It is not from the introduction of a
new feature in the theory of our Government, but from the denial of that
which was recognized in its very beginning.

As I understood the main argument of the Senator, it was based upon the
general postulate that the Democratic Convention of 1848 recognized a new
doctrine, a doctrine which inhibited the General Government from
interfering in any way, either for the protection of property or
otherwise, with the local affairs of a Territory; he held the party
responsible for all the opinions entertained by the candidate in 1848,
because the party had nominated him, and he quoted the record to show what
States, by voting for him, had committed themselves to the doctrine of the
"Nicholson letter." He even quoted South Carolina, represented by that man
who became famous for a single act, and, as South Carolinians said,
without authority at home to sustain it. But this was cited as pledging
the faith of South Carolina to the doctrine of the "Nicholson letter;"
and, worse than all, the Senator did this, though he knew that the
doctrine of the "Nicholson letter" was the subject of controversy for
years subsequently; that, what was the true construction of that letter,
entered into the canvass in the Southern States; that the construction
which Mr. Cass himself placed upon it at a subsequent period was there
denied; and the Senator might have remembered, if he had chosen to
recollect so unimportant a thing, that I once had to explain to him, ten
years ago, the fact that I repudiated the doctrine of that letter at the
time it was published, and that the Democracy of Mississippi had well-nigh
crucified me for the construction which I placed upon it; there were men
mean enough to suspect that the construction I gave to the Nicholson
letter was prompted by the confidence and affection I felt for General
Taylor. At a subsequent period, however, Mr. Cass thoroughly reviewed it.
He uttered, for him, very harsh language against all who had doubted the
true construction of his letter, and he construed it just as I had done
during the canvass of 1848. It remains only to add that I supported Mr.
Cass, not because of the doctrine of the Nicholson letter, but in despite
of it; because I believed a Democratic President, with a Democratic
cabinet and Democratic counselors in the two houses of Congress, and he as
honest a man as I believed Mr. Cass to be, would be a safer reliance than
his opponent, who personally possessed my confidence as much as any man
living, but who was of and must draw his advisers from a party, the tenets
of which I believed to be opposed to the interests of the country as they
were to all my political convictions.

I little thought at that time that my advocacy of Mr. Cass, upon such
grounds as these, or his support by the State of which I am a citizen,
would at any future day be quoted as an indorsement of the opinions
contained in the Nicholson letter, as those opinions were afterwards
defined. But it is not only upon this letter, but equally upon the
resolutions of the convention as constructive of that letter, that he
rested his argument. I will here say to the Senator that if, at any time,
I do him the least injustice, speaking as I do from such notes as I could
take while he progressed, I will thank him to correct me.

But this letter entered into the canvass; there was a doubt about its
construction; there were men who asserted that they had positive authority
for saying that it meant that the people of a Territory could only exclude
slavery when the Territory should form a constitution and be admitted as a
State. This doubt continued to hang over the construction, and it was that
doubt alone which secured Mr. Cass the vote of Mississippi. If the true
construction had been certainly known he would have had no chance to get
it. Our majority went down from thousands to hundreds, as it was. In
Alabama the decrease was greater. It was not that the doctrine was
countenanced, but the doubt as to the true meaning of the letter, and the
constantly reiterated assertion that it only meant the Territories when
they should be admitted as States, enabled him to carry those States.

But if I mistook the Senator there, I think probably I did not on another
point: that he claimed the support of certain Southern men for Mr.
Richardson as Speaker of the House to be by them an acknowledgment of the
doctrine of squatter sovereignty.

I suppose those Southern men who voted for Mr. Richardson voted for him as
I did for Mr. Cass, in despite of his opinions on that question, because
they preferred Mr. Richardson to Mr. Banks, even with squatter
sovereignty. They considered that the latter was carrying an amount of
heresies which greatly exceeded the value of squatter sovereignty. It was
a choice of evils--not an indorsement of his opinions. Neither did they
this year indorse the opinions on that point of Mr. McClernand when they
voted for him. According to the Senator's argument I could show him that
Illinois was committed to the doctrine of federal protection to property
in the Territories and the remedy of secession as a State right; committed
irrevocably, unmistakably, with no right to plead any ignorance of the
political creed of the individual, or the meaning of his words.

In 1852--I refer to it with pride--Illinois did me the honor to vote
consistently for me for the Vice-Presidency, up to the time of
adjournment; though in 1850, and in 1851, I had done all these acts which
have been spoken of, and the Senator has admitted my consistency, in
opinions which were avowed with at least such perspicuity as left nobody
in doubt as to my opinion. Did Illinois then adopt my theory of protection
in the Territories, or of the right of State secession? No, sir. I hold
them to no such consequences. Some of the old inhabitants of Illinois may
have remembered me when their northern frontier was a wilderness, when
they and I had kind relations in the face of hostile Indians. Some of them
may have remembered me, and, I believe, kindly, as associated with them,
at a later period, on the fields of Mexico. The Senator himself, I know,
remembered kindly his association with me in the halls of Congress. It was
these bonds which gave me the confidence of the State of Illinois. I never
misconstrued it. I never pretended to put them in the attitude of adopting
all my opinions. Never required it, never desired it, save as in so far as
wishing all men would agree with me, confidently believing my position to
be true. At a later period, and when these questions were more important
in the public mind, when public attention has been more directed to them,
when public opinion has been more matured, at the very time when the
Senator claims that his doctrine culminated, the State of Illinois voted
for a gentleman for Vice-President at Cincinnati who held the same
opinions with myself, or, if there was a difference, held them to a
greater extreme--I mean General Quitman.

MR. DOUGLAS. We made no test on any one.

MR. DAVIS. Then, how did the South become responsible for the doctrine of
General Cass, by consenting to his nomination in 1848, and supporting his
election? But at a later period, down to the present session, what is the
position in which the Senator places his friends--those sterling
Democrats, uncompromising Anti-Know-Nothings; men who give no quarter to
the American party, and yet who voted this year for Mr. Smith, of North
Carolina, to be Speaker of the House of Representatives. Is the Senator
answered? Does he not see that there is no justice in assuming a vote for
an individual to be the entire adoption of his opinions?

He cited, in this connection, a resolution of 1848, as having been framed
to cover the doctrines of the Nicholson letter; and he claimed thus to
have shown that the convention not only understood it, but adopted it, and
made it the party creed, and that we were bound to it from that period
forward. He even had that resolution of 1848 read, in order that there
should be, at no future time, any question as to the principle which the
party then avowed; that it should be fixed as a starting point in all the
future progress of Democracy. I was surprised at the importance the
Senator attached to that resolution of 1848, because it was not new; it
was not framed to meet the opinions of the Nicholson letter, but came down
from a period as remote as 1840; was copied into the platform of 1844, and
again into that of 1848, being the expression which the condition of the
country in 1840 had induced--a declaration of opinion growing out of the
agitation in the two houses of Congress at that day, and the fearful
strides which antislavery was making, and which Mr. Calhoun had labored to
check by the declaration of constitutional truths, as set forth in his
Senate resolutions of 1837-'8.

That there may be no mistake on this point, and particularly as the
Senator attached special importance to it, I will turn to the platform of
1840, and read from it, so that it shall be found to be--

MR. DOUGLAS. It is conceded.

MR. DAVIS. The Senator concedes the fact, that the resolution of 1848 was
a copy of that of 1840, and with the concession falls his argument. The
platforms of 1840 and 1844 were re-affirmed in 1848; and, consequently,
the resolution of '48 being identical with that of '40, was not a
construction of the letter written in 1847.

True to its instincts and to its practices, the Democratic party, from
time to time, continued to add to their "platform" whatever was needful
for action by the Government in the condition of the country. Thus, in
1844, they re-asserted the platform of 1840; and they added thereto,
because of a question then pending, that--

    "The re-annexation of Texas, at the earliest practicable period, is a
    great American measure, which the convention recommend to the cordial
    support of the Democracy of the Union."

In 1848 they re-adopted the resolutions of 1844; and were not a little
laughed at for keeping up the question of Texas after it had been annexed.
In 1852 a new question had arisen; the measures of 1850 had presented,
with great force to the public mind, the necessity for some expression of
opinion upon the disturbing questions which the measures of 1850 had been
designed to quiet. Therefore, in 1852, the party, true to its obligation
to announce its principles, and to meet issues as they arise, said:

    "_Resolved_, That the foregoing proposition (referring to the
    resolution of 1848) covers, and was intended to embrace, the whole
    subject of slavery agitation in Congress; and, therefore, the
    Democratic party in the Union, standing on this national platform,
    will abide by and adhere to a faithful execution of the act known as
    the compromise measure, settled by the last Congress, the act for
    reclaiming fugitives from labor included; which act, being designed to
    carry out an express provision of the Constitution, can not, with
    fidelity thereto, be repealed, or so changed as to destroy or impair
    its efficacy.

    "_Resolved_, That the Democratic party will restrain all attempts at
    renewing, in Congress or out of it, the agitation of the slave
    question, under whatever shape or color the attempt may be made."

This was the addition made in 1852, and it was made because of the
agitation which then prevailed through the country against the fugitive
slave act, and it was because the fugitive slave act, and that alone, was
assailed, that the Democratic convention met the issue on that measure
specifically, and for the same reason it received the approbation of the
Southern States. Had this been considered as the indorsement of the slave
trade bill for the District of Columbia, it would not have received their
approval. The agitation was in relation to recovering fugitive slaves, and
the Democratic party boldly and truly met the living issue, and declared
its position upon it.

In 1856 other questions had arisen. It was necessary to meet them. The
convention did meet them, and met them in a manner which was satisfactory,
because it was believed to be full. I will not weary the Senate by reading
the resolutions of 1856; they are familiar to every body. I only quote a
portion of them:

    "The American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles contained
    in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and
    Nebraska as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the 'slavery
    question' upon which the great national idea of the people of this
    whole country can repose in its determined conservatism of the
    Union--non-interference by Congress with slavery in State and
    Territory, or in the District of Columbia.

    "That, by the uniform application of this Democratic principle to the
    organization of Territories, and to the admission of new States, with
    or without domestic slavery, as they may elect, the equal rights of
    all States will be preserved intact, the original compacts of the
    Constitution maintained inviolate, and the perpetuity and expansion of
    this Union insured to its utmost capacity of embracing, in peace and
    harmony, every future American State that may be constituted or
    annexed with a republican form of government."

Pray, what can this mean? Squatter sovereignty? Incapacity of the Federal
Government to enact any law for the protection of slave property anywhere?
Could that be in the face of a struggle that we were constantly carrying
on against the opponents of the fugitive slave law? Could that be, in the
face of the fact that a majority had trodden down our constitutional
rights in the District of Columbia, by legislating in relation to that
particular character of property, and that they had failed to redeem a
promise they had sacredly made to pass a law for the protection of slave
property, so as to punish any one who should seduce, or entice, or abduct
it from an owner in this District?

With all these things fresh in mind, what did they mean? They meant that
Congress should not decide the question, whether that institution should
exist within a Territory or not. They did not mean to withdraw from the
inhabitants of the District of Columbia that protection to which they were
entitled, and which is almost annually given by legislation; and yet
States and Territories and the District of Columbia are all grouped
together, as the points upon which this idea rests, and to which it is
directed. It meant that Congress was not to legislate to interfere with
the rights of property anywhere; not to attempt to decide what should be
the institutions maintained anywhere; but surely not to disclaim the right
to protect property, whether on sea or on land, wherever the Federal
Government had jurisdiction and power. But some stress has been laid upon
the resolution, which says that this principle should be applied to

    "The organization of the Territories, and to the admission of new
    States, with or without domestic slavery, as they may elect."

What does "may elect" mean? Does it refer to organization of the
Territory? Who may elect? Congress organizes the Territories. Did it mean
that the Territories were to elect? It does not say so. What does it say?

    "That by the uniform application of this Democratic principle to the
    organization of Territories, and to the admission of new States, with
    or without domestic slavery, as they may elect."

And here it met a question which had disturbed the peace of the country,
and well-nigh destroyed the Union--the right of a State holding slaves to
be admitted into the Union. It was declared here that the State so
admitted should elect whether it would or would not have slaves. There is
nothing in that which logically applies to the organization of a
Territory. But if this be in doubt, let us come to the last resolution,
which says:

    "We recognize the right of the people of all the Territories,
    including Kansas and Nebraska, acting through the legally and
    fairly-expressed will of a majority of actual residents--"

Does it stop there? No--

    "and whenever the number of their inhabitants justifies it, to form a
    constitution, with or without domestic slavery, and be admitted into
    the Union upon terms of perfect equality with the other States."

If there had been any doubt before as to what "may elect" referred to,
this resolution certainly removed it. It is clear they meant, that when a
Territory had a sufficient number of inhabitants, and came to form a
constitution, then it might decide the question as it pleased. From that
doctrine, I know no Democrat who now dissents.

I have thus, because of the assertion that this was a new idea attempted
to be interjected into the Democratic creed, gone over some portion of its
history. Important by its connection with the existing agitation, and last
in the series, is an act with the ushering in of which the Senator is more
familiar than myself, and on which he made remarks, to which, it is
probable, some of those who acted with him, will reply. I wish merely to
say, in relation to the Kansas-Nebraska act, that there are expressions in
it which seem to me not of doubtful meaning, such as, "in all cases
involving title to slaves, or involving the question of personal freedom,"
there should be a trial before the courts, and without reference to the
amount involved, an appeal to the Supreme Court of the Territory, and from
thence to the Supreme Court of the United States. If there was no right of
property there; if we had no right to recognize it there; if some
sovereign was to determine whether it existed or not, why did we say that
the Supreme Court of the United States, in the last resort, should decide
the question? If it was an admitted thing, by that bill, that the
Territorial Legislature should decide it, why did we provide for taking
the case to the Supreme Court? If it had been believed then, as it is
asserted now, that a Territory possessed all the power of a State; that
the inhabitants of a Territory could meet in convention and decide the
question as the people of a State might do, there was nothing to be
carried to the Supreme Court. You can not appeal from the decision of a
constitutional convention of a State to the Supreme Court of the United
States, to decide whether slave property shall be prohibited or admitted
within the limits of a State; and if they rest on the same footing, what
is the meaning of that clause of the bill?

But this organic law further provides, just as the resolution of the
convention had done, that when a legal majority of the residents of either
Territory formed a constitution, then, at their will, they might recognize
or exclude slavery, and come into the Union as co-equal States. This fixes
the period, defines the time at which the territorial inhabitants may
perform this act, and clearly forbids the idea that it was intended, by
those who enacted the law, to acknowledge that power to be existent in the
inhabitants of a Territory during their territorial condition. If I am
mistaken in this; if there was a contemporaneous construction of it
differing from this, the Senators who sit around me and who were then
members of the body, will not fail to remember it.

The Senator asserts that, in relation to this point, those who acted with
him have changed, and claims for himself to have been consistent. If this
be so, it proves nothing as to the present, and only individual opinions
as to the past. I do not regard consistency as a very high virtue;
neither, it appears, does he; for he told us that if it could be shown to
him that he was in error on any point, he would change his opinion. How
could that be? Who would undertake to show the Senator that he was in
error? Who would undertake to measure the altitude of the Colossus who
bestrides the world, and announces for, and of, and by himself, "We, the
Democracy," as though, in his person, all that remained of the party was
now concentrated! Other men are permitted to change, because other men may
be mistaken; and if they are honest, when convicted of their error, they
must change, but how can one expect to convince the Senator, who, where
all is change, stands changeless still?

In the course of his reply to me--if indeed it may be called such; it
seemed to be rather a review of every thing except what I had said--he set
me the bad example of going into the canvass in my own State. It is the
first, I trust it will be the last time, I shall follow his example; and
now only to the extent of the occasion, where criticism was invited by
unusual publicity. In the canvass which the Senator had with his opponent,
Mr. Lincoln, and the debates of which have been published in a book, we
find much which, if it be consistent with his course as I had known it,
only proves to me how little able I was to understand his meaning in
former times.

The Kansas-Nebraska Bill having agreed the right for which I contend to be
the subject of judicial decision; it having specially provided the mode
and facilitated the process by which that right should be brought to the
courts and finally decided; not allowing any check to be interposed
because of amount, that bill having continued the provision which had been
introduced into the New Mexico Bill, how are we to understand the
Senator's declarations, that, let the Supreme Court decide as they may,
the inhabitants of a Territory may lawfully admit or exclude slavery as
they please? What a hollow promise was given to us in the provision
referring this vexed question to judicial decision, in order that we might
reach a point on which we might peacefully rest, if the inhabitants of the
Territories for which Congress had legislated could still decide the
question and set aside any decision of the Supreme Court, and do this
lawfully. I ask, was it not to give us a stone, when he promised us bread;
to incorporate a provision in the organic act securing the right of appeal
to the courts, if, as now stated, those courts were known to be powerless
to grant a remedy?

Here there is a very broad distinction to be drawn between the power of
the inhabitants of a Territory, or of any local community, lawfully to do
a thing, and forcibly to do it. If the Senator had said, that whatever
might be the decision of the Supreme Court, whatever might be the laws of
Congress, whatever might be the laws of the Territories, in the face of an
infuriated mob, such as he described on another occasion, it would be
impossible for a man to hold a slave against their will, he would but have
avowed the truism that in our country the law waits upon public opinion.
But he says that they can do it lawfully. If his position had been such as
I have just stated, it would have struck me as the opinion I had always
supposed him to entertain. More than that, it would have struck me as the
opinion which no one could gainsay; which, at any time, I would have been
ready to admit. Nothing is more clear than that no law could prevail in
our country, where force, as a governmental mean, is almost unknown,
against a pervading sentiment in the community. Every body admits that;
and it was in that view of the case that this question has been so often
declared to be a mere abstraction. It is an abstraction so far as any one
would expect in security to hold against the fixed purpose and
all-pervading will of the community, whether territorial or other, a
species of property, ambulatory, liable, because it has mind enough to go,
to be enticed away whenever freed from physical restraint, and which would
be nearly valueless if so restrained. It may be an abstraction as a
practical question of pecuniary advantage, but it is not the less dear to
those who assert the constitutional right. It would constitute a very good
reason why no one should ever say there was an attempt to force slavery on
an unwilling people, but no reason why the right should not be recognized
by the Federal Government as one belonging to the equal privileges and
immunities of every citizen of the United States.

But the main point of the Senator's argument--and it deserved to be so,
because it is the main question now in the public mind--was, what is the
meaning of non-intervention? He defined it to be synonymous with squatter
sovereignty, or with popular sovereignty....

The Senator and myself do not seem to be getting any nearer together;
because the very thing which he describes constitutes the only case in
which I would admit the necessity, and, consequently, the propriety of the
people acting without authority. If men were cast upon a desert island,
the sovereignty of which was unknown, over which no jurisdiction was
exercised, they would find themselves necessitated to establish rules
which should subsist between themselves; and so the people of California,
when the Congress failed to give them a government; when it refused to
enact a territorial law; when, paralyzed by the power of contending
factions, it left the immigrants to work their own unhappy way; they had a
right--a right growing out of the necessity of the case--to make rules for
the government of their local affairs. But this was not sovereignty. It
was the exercise, between man and man, of a social function necessary to
preserve peace in the absence of any controlling power--essential to
conserve the relations of person and property. The sovereignty, if it
existed in any organization or government of the world, remained there
still; and whenever that sovereignty extended itself over them, whether
shipwrecked mariners, or adventurous Americans--whether cast off by the
sea, or whether finding their weary way across the desert plains which
lie west of the Mississippi--whenever the hand of the Government holding
sovereign jurisdiction was laid upon them, they became subject; their
sovereign control of their own affairs ceased. In our case, the directing
hand of the Government is laid upon them at the moment of the enactment of
an organic law. Therefore, the very point at which the Senator begins his
sovereignty, is the point at which the necessity, and, in my view, the
claim ceases.

But suppose that a territorial legislature, acting under an organic law,
not defining their municipal powers further than has been general in such
laws, should pass a law to exclude slave property, would the Senator vote
to repeal it?

MR. DOUGLAS. I will answer. I would not, because the Democratic party is
pledged to non-intervention; because, furthermore, whether such an act is
constitutional or not is a judicial question. If it is unconstitutional,
the court will so decide, and it will be null and void without repeal. If
it is constitutional, the people have a right to pass it. If
unconstitutional, it is void, and the court will ascertain the fact; and
we pledged our honors to abide the decision....

MR. DAVIS. If it will not embarrass the Senator, I would ask him if, as
Chief Executive of the United States, he would sign a bill to protect
slave property in State, Territory, or District of Columbia--an act of

MR. DOUGLAS. It will be time enough for me, or any other man, to say what
bills he will sign, when he is in a position to exercise the power.

MR. DAVIS. The Senator has a right to make me that answer. I was only
leading on to a fair understanding of the Senator and myself about

I think it now appears that, in the minds of the gentlemen,
non-intervention is a shadowy, unsubstantial doctrine, which has its
application according to the circumstances of the case. It ceased to
apply when it was necessary to annul an act in Kansas in relation to the
political rights of the inhabitants. It had no application when it was
necessary to declare that the old French laws should not be revived in the
Territory of Kansas after the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; but it
rose an insurmountable barrier when we proposed to sweep away the Mexican
decrees, usages, or laws, and leave the Constitution and laws of the
United States unfettered in their operation in the Territory acquired from
Mexico. It thus seems to have a constantly varying application, and, as I
have not yet reached a good definition, one which quite satisfies me, I
must take it as I find it in the Senator's speech, in which he says
Alabama asserted the doctrine of non-intervention in 1856. The Alabama
resolutions of 1856 asserted the right to protection, and the duty of the
Federal Government to give it. So, if he stands upon the resolutions of
Alabama in 1856, non-intervention is very good doctrine, and exactly
agrees with what I believe--no assumption, by the Federal Government, of
any powers over the municipal territorial governments which is not
necessary; that the hand of Federal power shall be laid as lightly as
possible upon any territorial community; that its laws shall be limited to
the necessities of each case; that it shall leave the inhabitants as
unfettered in the determination of their local legislation as the rights
of the people of the States will permit, and the duty of the General
Government will allow. But when non-intervention is pressed to the point
of depriving the arm of the Federal Government of its one great function
of protection, then it is the doctrine which we denounce--which we call
squatter sovereignty; the renunciation by Congress, and the turning over
to the inhabitants a sovereignty which, rightfully, it does not belong to
the one to grant or the other to claim, and, further and worse, thus to
divest the Federal Government of a duty which the Constitution requires it
to perform.

To show that this view is not new--that it does not rest singly on the
resolutions of Alabama, I will refer to a subject, the action upon which
has already been quoted in this debate--the Oregon Bill. During the
discussion of the Oregon Bill, I offered in the Senate, June 23, 1848, an
amendment which I will read:

    "_Provided_, That nothing contained in this act shall be so construed
    as to authorize the prohibition of domestic slavery in said Territory,
    whilst it remains in the condition of a Territory of the United

Upon this, I will cite the authority of Mr. Calhoun, in his speech on the
Oregon Bill, June 27, 1848:

    "The twelfth section of this bill is intended to assert and maintain
    this demand of the non-slaveholding States, while it remains a
    Territory, not openly or directly, but indirectly, by extending the
    provisions of the bill for the establishment of the Iowa Territory to
    this, and by ratifying the acts of the informal and self-constituted
    government of Oregon, which, among others, contains one prohibiting
    the introduction of slavery. It thus, in reality, adopts what is
    called the Wilmot proviso, not only for Oregon, but, as the Bill now
    stands, for New Mexico and California. The amendment, on the contrary,
    moved by the Senator from Mississippi, near me [Mr. Davis], is
    intended to assert and maintain the position of the slave-holding
    States. It leaves the Territory free and open to all the citizens of
    the United States, and would overrule, if adopted, the act of the
    self-constituted Territory of Oregon, and the twelfth section, as far
    as it relates to the subject under consideration. We have thus fairly
    presented the grounds taken by the non-slave-holding and the
    slave-holding States, or as I shall call them, for the sake of
    brevity, the Northern and Southern States, in their whole extent, for
    discussion."--_Appendix to Congressional Globe, Thirtieth Congress,
    first Session_, p. 868.

I will quote also one of the speeches which he made near the close of his
life, at a time when he was so far wasted by disease that it was necessary
for him to ask the Senator from Virginia, who sits before me [Mr. Mason],
to read the speech which his tameless spirit impelled him to compose, but
which he was physically unable to deliver; and once again he came to the
Senate chamber, when standing yet more nearly on the confines of death; he
rose, his heart failing in its functions, his voice faltered, but his will
was so strong that he could not realize that the icy hand was upon him,
and he erroneously thought he was oppressed by the weight of his overcoat.
True to his devotion to the principles he had always advocated, clinging,
to the last hour of his life, to the duty to maintain the rights of his
constituents, still he was here, and his honored, though feeble, voice was
raised for the maintenance of the great principle to which his life had
been devoted. From the speech I read as follows:

    "The plan of the administration can not save the Union, because it can
    have no effect whatever towards satisfying the States composing the
    Southern section of the Union, that they can, consistently with safety
    and honor, remain in the Union. It is, in fact, but a modification of
    the Wilmot proviso. It proposes to effect the same object--to exclude
    the South from all territory acquired by the Mexican treaty. It is
    well known that the South is united against the Wilmot proviso, and
    has committed itself, by solemn resolutions, to resist should it be
    adopted. Its opposition _is not to the name_, but that which it
    _proposes to effect_. That, the Southern States hold to be
    unconstitutional, unjust, inconsistent with their equality as members
    of the common Union, and calculated to destroy irretrievably the
    equilibrium between the two sections. These objections equally apply
    to what, for brevity, I will call the executive proviso. There is no
    difference between it and the Wilmot, except in the mode of effecting
    the object; and in that respect, I must say that the latter is much
    the least objectionable. It goes to its object openly, boldly, and
    distinctly. It claims for Congress unlimited power over the
    Territories, and proposes to assert it over the territories acquired
    from Mexico by a positive prohibition of slavery. Not so the executive
    proviso. It takes an indirect course, and, in order to elude the
    Wilmot proviso, and thereby avoid encountering the united and
    determined resistance of the South, it denies, by implication, the
    authority of Congress to legislate for the Territories, and claims
    the right as belonging exclusively to the inhabitants of the
    Territories. But to effect the object of excluding the South, it takes
    care, in the meantime, to let in immigrants freely from the Northern
    States, and all other quarters, except from the South, which it takes
    special care to exclude by holding up to them the danger of having
    their slaves liberated under the Mexican laws. The necessary
    consequence is to exclude the South from the Territories, just as
    effectually as would the Wilmot proviso. The only difference, in this
    respect, is, that what one proposes to effect directly and openly, the
    other proposes to effect indirectly and covertly.

    "But the executive proviso is more objectionable than the Wilmot in
    another and more important particular. The latter, to effect its
    object, inflicts a dangerous wound upon the Constitution, by depriving
    the Southern States, as joint partners and owners of the Territories,
    of their rights in them; but it inflicts no greater wound than is
    absolutely necessary to effect its object. The former, on the
    contrary, while it inflicts the same wound, inflicts others equally
    great, and, if possible, greater, as I shall next proceed to explain.

    "In claiming the right for the inhabitants, instead of Congress, to
    legislate for the Territories, the executive proviso assumes that the
    sovereignty over the Territories is vested in the former, or, to
    express it in the language used in a resolution offered by one of the
    Senators from Texas [General Houston, now absent], they 'have the same
    inherent right of self-government as the people in the States.' The
    assumption is utterly unfounded, unconstitutional, without example,
    and contrary to the entire practice of the Government, from its
    commencement to the present time, as I shall proceed to
    show."--_Calhoun's Works_, vol. 4, p. 562.

MR. DAVIS. I find that I must abridge, by abstaining from the reading of
extracts. When this question arose in 1820, Nathaniel Macon, by many
considered the wisest man of his day, held the proposed interference to be
unauthorized and innovative. In arguing against the Missouri Compromise,
as it was called--the attempt by Congress to prescribe where slaves might
or might not be held--the exercise, by the Federal Government north of a
certain point, of usurped power by an act of inhibition, Mr. Macon said
our true policy was that which had thus far guided the country in safety:
the policy of non-intervention. By non-intervention he meant the absence
of hostile legislation, not the absence of governmental protection. Our
doctrine on this point is not new, but that of our opponents is so.

The Senator from Illinois assumes that the congressional acts of 1850
meant no legislation in relation to slave property; while, in the face of
that declaration, stand the laws enacted in that year, and the promise of
another, which has not been enacted--laws directed to the question of
slavery and slave property; one even declaring, in certain contingencies,
as a penalty on the owner, the emancipation of his slave in the District
of Columbia. If no action upon the question was the prevailing opinion,
what does the legislation mean? Was it non-action in the District of
Columbia? Be it remembered, the resolution of the Cincinnati platform
says, "Non-interference, by Congress, with slavery in State and Territory,
or in the District of Columbia." They are all upon the same footing.

Again, he said that the Badger amendment was a declaration of no
protection to slave property. The Badger amendment declares that the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise shall not revive the laws or usages
which preëxisted that compromise; and the history of the times, so far as
I understand it, is, that it intended to assure those gentlemen who feared
that the laws of France would be revived in the Territories of Kansas and
Nebraska, by the repeal of the act of 1820, and that they would be held
responsible for having, by congressional act, established slavery. The
Southern men did not desire Congress to establish slavery. It has been our
uniform declaration that we denied the power of the Federal Government
either to establish or prohibit it; that we claimed for it protection as
property recognized by the Constitution, and we claimed the right for it,
as property, to go, and to receive federal protection wherever the
jurisdiction of the United States is exclusive. We claim that the
Constitution of the United States, in recognizing this property, making it
the basis of representation, put it, not upon the footing which it holds
between foreign nations, but upon the basis of the compact or union of the
States; that, under the delegated grant to regulate commerce between the
States, it did not belong to a State; therefore, without breach of
contract, they can not, by any regulation, prohibit transit, and the
compact provided that they should not change the character of master and
slave in the case of a fugitive. Could Congress surrender, for the States
and their citizens, the claim and protection for those or other
constitutional rights, against invasion by a State? If not, surely it can
not be done in the case of a Territory, a possession of the States. The
word "protecting," in that amendment, referred to laws which
preëxisted--laws which it was not designed, by the Democrats, to revive
when they declared the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; and, therefore,
I think, did not affect the question of constitutional right and of
federal power and duty.

In all these territorial bills we have the language "subject to the
Constitution;" that is to say, that the inhabitants are to manage their
local affairs in their own way, subject to the Constitution; which, I
suppose, might be rendered thus: "In their own way, provided their own way
shall be somebody else's way;" for "subject to the Constitution" means, in
accordance with an instrument with which the territorial inhabitants had
nothing to do; with the construction of which they were not concerned; in
the adoption of which they had no part, and in relation to which it has
sometimes been questioned whether they had any responsibility. My own
views, as the Senator is aware from previous discussions, (and it is
needless to repeat,) are that the Constitution is co-extensive with the
United States; that the designation includes the Territories, that they
are necessarily subject to the Constitution. But if they be subject to
the Constitution, and subject to the organic act, that is the language
used; that organic act being the law of Congress, that Constitution being
the compact of the States--the territorial inhabitants having no lot or
part in one or the other, save as they are imposed upon them--where is
their claim to sovereignty? Where is their right to do as they please? The
States have a compact, and the agent of the States gives to the
Territories a species of constitution in the organic act, which endures
and binds them until they throw off what the Senator on another occasion
termed the minority condition, and assume the majority condition as a
State. The remark to which I refer was on the bill to admit Iowa and
Florida into the Union. The Senator then said:

    "The father may bind the son during his minority, but the moment that
    he (the son) attains his majority, his fetters are severed, and he is
    free to regulate his own conduct. So, sir, with the Territories; they
    are subject to the jurisdiction and control of Congress during
    infancy, their minority; but when they attain their majority, and
    obtain admission into the Union, they are free from all restraints and
    restrictions, except such as the Constitution of the United States
    imposes upon each and all of the States."

This was the doctrine of territorial sovereignty--perhaps that is the
phrase--at that period. At a later period, in March, 1856, the Senator

    "The sovereignty of a Territory remains in abeyance, suspended in the
    United States in trust for the people, until they shall be admitted
    into the Union as a State. In the meantime, they are admitted to enjoy
    and exercise all the rights and privileges of self-government, in
    subordination to the Constitution of the United States, and in
    obedience to the organic law passed by Congress in pursuance of that

If it be admitted--and I believe there is no issue between the Senator and
myself on that point--that the Congress of the United States have no
right to pass a law excluding slaves from a Territory, or determining in
the Territory the relation of master and slave, of parent and child, of
guardian and ward; that they have no right anywhere to decide what is
property, but are only bound to protect such rights as preëxisted the
formation of the Union--to perform such functions as are intrusted to them
as the agent of the States--then how can Congress, thus fettered, confer
upon a corporation of its creation--upon a territorial legislature, by an
organic act, a power to determine what shall be property within the limits
of such Territory?

But, again, if it were admitted that the territorial inhabitants did
possess this sovereignty: that they had the right to do as they pleased on
all subjects, then would arise the question, if they were authorized,
through their representatives, thus to act, whence came the opposition to
what was called the Lecompton Constitution? How did Congress, under this
state of facts, get the right to inquire whether those representatives in
that case really expressed the will of the people. Still more; how did
Congress get the right to decide that those representatives must submit
their action to a popular vote in a manner not prescribed by the people of
the Territory, however eminently it may have been advisable, convenient,
and proper in the judgment of the Congress of the United States? What
revisory function had we, if they, through their representatives, had full
power to act on all such subjects whatsoever?

I have necessarily, in answering the Senator, gone somewhat into the
_argumentum ad hominem_. Though it is not entirely exhausted, I think
enough has been said to show the Senate in what the difference between us
consists. If it be necessary further to illustrate it, I might ask how did
he propose to annul the organic act for Utah, if the recognition by the
Congress of a sufficient number of inhabitants to justify the organization
of a territorial government transferred the sovereignty to the
inhabitants of the Territory? If sovereignty passed by the recognition of
the fact, how did he propose, by congressional act, to annul the
territorial existence of Utah?

It is this confusion of ideas, it is this confounding of terms, this
changing of language, this applying of new meanings to words, out of
which, I think, a large portion of the dispute arises. For instance, it is
claimed that President Pierce, in using the phrase "existing and incipient
States," meant to include all Territories, and thus that he had bound me
to a doctrine which precluded my strictures on what I termed squatter
sovereignty. This all arises from the misuse of language. An incipient
State, according to my idea, is the territorial condition at the moment it
changes into that of a State. It is when the people assemble in convention
to form a constitution as a State, that they are in the condition of an
incipient State. Various names were applied to the Territories at an
earlier period. Sometimes they were called "new States," because they were
expected to be States; sometimes they were called "States in embryo," and
it requires a determination of the language that is employed before it is
possible to arrive at any conclusion as to the differences of
understanding between gentlemen. Therefore, it was, and, I think, very
properly, (but not, as the Senator supposed, to catechise him,) that I
asked him what he meant by non-intervention, before I commenced these

In the same line of errors was the confusion which resulted in his
assuming that the evils I described as growing out of his doctrine on the
plains of Kansas, were a denunciation, on my part, of the bill called the
Kansas-Nebraska Bill. At the time that bill passed, I did not foresee all
the evils which have resulted from the doctrine based upon it, but which I
do not think the bill sustains. I am not willing now to turn on those who
were in a position which compelled them to act, made them responsible, and
to divest myself of any responsibility which belongs to any opinion I
entertained. I will not seek to judge after the fact and hold the measure
up against those who had to judge before. Therefore I will frankly avow
that I should have sustained that bill if I had been in the Senate; but I
did not foresee or apprehend such evils as immediately grew up on the
plains of Kansas. I looked then, as our fathers had looked before, to the
settlement of the question of what institutions should exist there, as one
to be determined by soil and climate, and by the pleasure of those who
should voluntarily go into the country. Such, however, was not the case.
The form of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill invited to a controversy--not
foreseen. I was not charging the Senator with any responsibility for it,
but the variation of its terms invited contending parties to meet on the
plains of Kansas, and had well-nigh eventuated in civil war. The great
respect which even the most lawless of those adventurers in Kansas had for
the name and the laws of the United States, served, by the timely
interposition of the Federal force and laws, to restrain the excited
masses and prevented violence from assuming larger proportions than
combats between squads of adventurers.

This brings me in the line of rejoinder, to the meaning of the phrase,
"the people of a Territory, like those of a State, should decide for
themselves," etc., the language quoted against the President in the
remarks of the Senator. This, it was announced, was squatter sovereignty
in its broadest sense; and it was added, that the present Executive was
elected to the high office he holds on that construction of the platform.
Now, I do not know how it is that the Senator has the power to decide why
the people voted for a candidate. I rather suppose, among the many
millions who did vote, there must have been a variety of reasons, and that
it is not in the power of any one man to declare what determined the
result. But waiving that, is it squatter sovereignty in its broadest
sense? Is it a declaration that the inhabitants of a Territory can
exercise all the powers of a State? It says that, "like the people of a
State," they may decide for themselves. Then how do the people of a State
decide the question of what shall be property within the State? Every one
knows that it is by calling a convention, and that the people, represented
in convention, and forming a constitution their fundamental law, do this.
Every one knows that, under the constitutions and bills of rights which
prevail in the republican States of this Union, no legislature is invested
with that power. If this be the mode which is prescribed in the
States--the modes which the States must pursue--I ask you, in the name of
common sense, can the language of the President be construed to mean that
a territorial legislature may do what it is admitted the legislature of a
State can not; or that the inhabitants of a Territory can assemble a
convention, and form a fundamental law overriding the organic act, to
which the Senator has already acknowledged they stand subject until they
be admitted as a State?

We of the South, I know, are arraigned, and many believe justly, for
starting a new question which distracts the Democratic party. I have
endeavored, therefore, to show that it is not new. I have also asserted,
what I think is clear, that if it were new, but yet a constitutional
right, it is not only our province, but our duty to assert it--to assert
it whenever or wherever that right is controverted. It is asserted now
with more force than at a former period, for the simple reason that it is
now denied, to an extent which has never been known before. We do not
seek, in the cant language of the day, to force slavery on an unwilling
people. We know full well there is no power to do it; and our limited
observation has not yet made us acquainted with the man who was likely to
have a slave forced upon him, or who could get one without paying a very
high price for him. He must first have the will, and, secondly, he must
put money in his purse to enable him to get one. They are too valuable
among those by whom they are now owned, to be forced upon any body. Not
admitting the correctness of the doctrine which the Senator promulgated
in his magazine article in relation to a local character of slave
property, I recognise the laws of nature, and that immigration will follow
in the lines where any species of labor may be most profitably employed;
all, therefore, we have asked--fulfillment of the original compact of our
fathers--was that there should be no discrimination; that all property
should be equally protected; that we should be permitted to go into every
portion of the United States save where some sovereign power has said
slaves shall not be held, and to take with us our slave property in like
manner as we would take any other; no more than that. For that, our
Government has contended on the high seas against foreign powers. That has
entered into our negotiations, and has been recognized by every government
against whom a claim has been asserted. Where our property was captured on
the land during the period of an invasion, Great Britain, by treaty,
restored it, or paid for it. Wherever it has suffered loss on the high
seas, down to a very recent period, we have received indemnity; and where
we have not, it was only because the power and duty of the Federal
Government was sacrificed to this miserable strife in relation to
property, with the existence of which, those making the interference had
no municipal connection, or moral responsibility.

I do not admit that sovereignty necessarily exists in the Federal
Government or in a territorial government. I deny the Senator's
proposition, which is broadly laid down, of the necessity which must exist
for it in the one place or the other. I hold that sovereignty exists only
in a State, or in the United States in their associated capacity, to whom
sovereignty may be transferred, but that their agent is incapable of
receiving it, and, still more, of transferring it to territorial

I was sorry for some of the remarks which he thought it necessary to make,
as to the position of the South on this question, and for his assertion
that the resolutions of the convention of 1848 put the pro-slavery men
and the Abolitionists on the same ground. I think it was altogether
unjust. I did not think it quite belonged to him to make it. I was aware
that his opponent, in that canvass to which I referred, had made a
prophecy that he was, sooner or later, to land in the ranks of the
Republicans. Even if I had believed it, I would not have chosen--and it is
due to candor to say I do not believe----....

MR. DAVIS. Well, it is unimportant. I feel myself constrained, because I
promised to do it, to refer to some portion of the joint record of the
Senator and myself in 1850, or, as I have consumed so much time, I would
avoid it. In that same magazine article, to which I have referred, the
Senator took occasion to refer to some part which I had taken in the
legislation of 1850; and I must say he presented me unfairly. He put me in
the attitude of one who was seeking to discriminate, and left himself in
the position of one who was willing to give equal protection to all kinds
of property. In that magazine article the Senator represents Mr. Davis, of
Mississippi, as having endeavored to discriminate in favor of slave
property, and Mr. Chase, of Ohio, as having made a like attempt against
it; and he leaves himself, by his argument, in the attitude of one who
concurred with Mr. Clay in opposition to both propositions.

I offered an amendment to the compromise bill of 1850, which was to strike
out the words "in respect to," and insert "and introduce or exclude," and
after the word "slavery" to insert the following:

    "_Provided_, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to
    prevent said territorial legislature passing such laws as may be
    necessary for the protection of the rights of property of any kind
    which may have been or may be hereafter, conformably to the
    Constitution and laws of the United States, held in, or introduced
    into, said Territory."

Mr. Chase's amendment is in these words:

    "_Provided further_, That nothing herein contained shall be construed
    as authorizing or permitting the introduction of slavery, or the
    holding of persons as property within said Territory."

Whilst the quotation in the magazine article left me in the position
already stated, the debates which had occurred between us necessarily
informed the Senator that it was not my position, for I brought him in
that debate to acknowledge it.

On that occasion, I argued for my amendment as an obligation of the
Government to remove obstructions; to give the fair operation to
constitutional right; and so far from the Senator having stood with Mr.
Clay against all these propositions, the fact appears, on page 1134 of the
_Globe_, that, upon the vote on Chase's amendment, Douglas voted for it,
and Davis and Clay voted against it; that upon the vote on Davis'
amendment, Clay and Davis voted for it, and Douglas voted against it.

MR. DOUGLAS. The Senator should add, that that vote was given under the
very instructions to which he referred the other day, and which are well
known to the Senate, and are on the table.

MR. DAVIS. I was aware that the Senator had voted for Mr. Seward's
amendment, the "Wilmot proviso," under these instructions, but I receive
his explanation. Mr. Berrien offered an amendment to change the provision,
which said there should be no legislation in respect to slavery, so as to
make it read, "there shall be no legislation establishing or prohibiting
African slavery." Mr. Clay voted for that; so did Mr. Davis. Mr. Douglas
voted against it. Mr. Hale offered an amendment to Mr. Berrien's
amendment, to add the word "allowing." Here Mr. Douglas voted for Mr.
Hale's amendment, and against Davis and Clay. Then a proposition was made
to continue the Mexican laws against slavery until repealed by Congress. I
think I proved--at least I did to my own satisfaction--that there was no
such Mexican law; that it was a decree, and that the legislation which
occurred under it had never been executed. But that proposition by Mr.
Baldwin, which was to continue the Mexican laws in force, was brought to
a vote, and again Mr. Douglas voted for it, and Mr. Davis and Mr. Clay
voted against it. When another proposition was brought forward to amend by
"removing the obstructions of Mexican laws and usages to any right of
person or property by the citizens of the United States in the Territories
aforesaid," I do not find the Senator's name among those who voted,
though, by reference to the Appendix, I learned he was present immediately
afterwards, by his speaking to another amendment.

Thus we find the Senator differing from me on this question, as was
stated; but we do not find him concurring with Mr. Clay, as was stated;
and we do not find the proposition which I introduced, and which was
mentioned in the magazine article, receiving the joint opposition of
himself and Mr. Clay; and yet his remarks in the Senate the other day went
upon the same theory, that Mr. Clay and himself had been coöperating. Now,
the fact of the case is, that they agreed in supporting the final passage
of the bill, and I was against it. I was one of the few Southern men who
resisted, in all its stages, what was called the compromise, or omnibus
bill. I have consumed the time of the Senate by this reference, made as
brief as I could, on account of the remarks the Senator had made.

Coupled with this arraignment of myself, at a time when he says he had
leisure to discuss the question with the Attorney-General, but when there
was nothing in my position certainly to provoke the revision of my course
in Congress, is his like review of it in the Senate. As I understood his
remarks, for I did not find them in the _Congressional Globe_ the next
morning, he vaunted his own consistency and admitted mine, but claimed his
to be inside and mine outside of the Democratic organization. Is it so?
Will our votes on test questions sustain it? The list of yeas and nays
would, on the points referred to, exhibit quite the reverse. And it
strikes me that, on the recent demonstrations we have had, when the
Democratic administration was, as it were, put on its trial in relation
to its policy in Kansas, the Senator's associations, rather than mine,
were outside of the Democratic organization. How is it, on the pending
question--the declaration of great principles of political creed--the
Senator's position is outside of the Senate's Democracy, and mine in it,
so that I do not see with what justice he attempts that discrimination
between him and me? That the difference exists, that it involves a
division greater or less in Democratic ranks, is a personal regret, and I
think a public misfortune. It gives me, therefore, no pleasure to dwell
upon it, and it is now dismissed.

Mr. President, after having for forty years been engaged in bitter
controversy over a question relating to common property of the States, we
have reached the point where the issue is presented in a form in which it
becomes us to meet it according to existing facts; where it has ceased to
be a question to be decided on the footing of authority, and by reference
to history. We have decided that too long had this question been
disturbing the peace and endangering the Union, and it was resolved to
provide for its settlement by treating it as a judicial question. Now,
will it be said, after Congress provided for the adjustment of this
question by the courts, and after the courts had a case brought before
them, and expressed an opinion covering the controversy, that no
additional latitude is to be given to the application of the decision of
the court, though Congress had referred it specially to them; that it is
to be treated simply and technically as a question of _meum et tuum_, such
as might have arisen if there had been no such legislation by Congress?
Surely it does not become those who have pointed us to that provision as
the peace-offering, as the means for final adjustment, now to say that it
meant nothing more than that the courts would go on hereafter, as
heretofore, to try questions of property.

The courts have decided the question so far as they could decide any
political question. A case arose in relation to property in a slave held
within a Territory where a law of Congress declared that such property
should not be held. The whole case was before them; every thing, except
the mere technical point that the law was not enacted by a territorial
legislature. Why, then, if we are to abide by the decision of the Supreme
Court in any future case, do they maintain this controversy on the mere
technical point which now divides, disturbs, distracts, destroys the
efficiency and the power of the Democratic party? To the Senator, I know,
as a question of property, it is a matter of no consequence. I should do
him injustice if I left any one to infer that I treated his argument as
one made by a man prejudiced against the character of property involved in
the question. That is not his position; but I assert that he is pursuing
an _ignis fatuus_--not a light caught from the Constitution--but a vapor
which has arisen from the corrupting cess-pools of sectional strife, of
faction, and individual rivalry. Measured by any standard of common sense,
its magnitude would be too small to disturb the adjustment of the balance
of our country. There can be no appeal to humanity made upon this basis.
Least of all could it be made to one who, like the Senator and myself, has
seen this species of property in its sparse condition on the north-western
frontier, and seen it go out without disturbing the tranquillity of the
community, as it had previously existed without injury to any one, if not
to the benefit of the individual who held it. He has no apprehension, he
can have none, that it is to retard the political prosperity of the future
States--now the Territories. He can have no apprehension that in that
country, to which they never would be carried except for domestic
purposes, they could ever so accumulate as to constitute a great political
element. He knows, and every man who has had experience and judgment must
admit, that the few who may be so carried there have nothing to fear but
the climate, and that living in that close connection which belongs to one
or half a dozen of them in a family, the kindest relations which it is
possible to exist between master and dependent, exist between these
domestics and their owners.

There is a relation belonging to this species of property, unlike that of
the apprentice or the hired man, which awakens whatever there is of
kindness or of nobility of soul in the heart of him who owns it; this can
only be alienated, obscured, or destroyed by collecting this species of
property into such masses that the owner is not personally acquainted with
the individuals who compose it. In the relation, however, which can exist
in the north-western Territories, the mere domestic connection of one,
two, or, at most, half a dozen servants in a family, associating with the
children as they grow up, attending upon age as it declines, there can be
nothing against which either philanthropy or humanity can make an appeal.
Not even the emancipationist could raise his voice, for this is the high
road and the open gate to the condition in which the masters would, from
interest, in a few years, desire the emancipation of every one who may
thus be taken to the north-western frontier.

Mr. President, I briefly and reluctantly referred, because the subject had
been introduced, to the attitude of Mississippi on a former occasion. I
will now as briefly say, that in 1851, and in 1860, Mississippi was, and
is, ready to make every concession which it becomes her to make to the
welfare and the safety of the Union. If, on a former occasion, she hoped
too much from fraternity, the responsibility for her disappointment rests
upon those who fail to fulfill her expectations. She still clings to the
Government as our fathers formed it. She is ready to-day and to-morrow, as
in her past, and though brief, yet brilliant history, to maintain that
Government in all its power, and to vindicate its honor with all the means
she possesses. I say brilliant history; for it was in the very morning of
her existence that her sons, on the plains of New Orleans, were announced,
in general orders to have been the admiration of one army and the wonder
of the other. That we had a division in relation to the measures enacted
in 1850, is true; that the Southern rights men became the minority in the
election which resulted, is true; but no figure of speech could warrant
the Senator in speaking of them as subdued; as coming to him or any body
else for quarter. I deemed it offensive when it was uttered, and the scorn
with which I repelled it at the instant, time has only softened to
contempt. Our flag was never borne from the field. We had carried it in
the face of defeat, with a knowledge that defeat awaited it; but scarcely
had the smoke of the battle passed away which proclaimed another victor,
before the general voice admitted that the field again was ours; I have
not seen a sagacious, reflecting man, who was cognizant of the events as
they transpired at the time, who does not say that, within two weeks after
the election, our party was in a majority; and the next election which
occurred showed that we possessed the State beyond controversy. How we
have wielded that power it is not for me to say. I trust others may see
forbearance in our conduct--that, with a determination to insist upon our
constitutional rights, then and now, there is an unwavering desire to
maintain the Government, and to uphold the Democratic party.

We believe now, as we have asserted on former occasions, that the best
hope for the perpetuity of our institutions depends upon the coöperation,
the harmony, the zealous action of the Democratic party. We cling to that
party from conviction, that its principles and its aims are those of truth
and the country, as we cling to the Union for the fulfillment of the
purposes for which it was formed. Whenever we shall be taught that the
Democratic party is recreant to its principles; whenever we shall learn
that it can not be relied upon to maintain the great measures which
constitute its vitality, I, for one, shall be ready to leave it. And so,
when we declare our tenacious adherence to the Union, it is the Union of
the Constitution. If the compact between the States is to be trampled into
the dust; if anarchy is to be substituted for the usurpation and
consolidation which threatened the Government at an earlier period; if the
Union is to become powerless for the purposes for which it was
established, and we are vainly to appeal to it for protection, then, sir,
conscious of the rectitude of our course, the justice of our cause,
self-reliant, yet humbly, confidingly trusting in the arm that guided and
protected our fathers, we look beyond the confines of the Union for the
maintenance of our rights. A habitual reverence and cherished affection
for the Government will bind us to it longer than our interests would
suggest or require; but he is a poor student of the world's history who
does not understand that communities at last must yield to the dictates of
their interests. That the affection, the mutual desire for the mutual
good, which existed among our fathers, may be weakened in succeeding
generations by the denial of right, and hostile demonstration, until the
equality guaranteed, but not secured within the Union, may be sought for
without it, must be evident to even a careless observer of our race. It is
time to be up and doing. There is yet time to remove the causes of
dissension and alienation which are now distracting, and have for years
past divided the country.

If the Senator correctly described me as having, at a former period,
against my own preferences and opinions, acquiesced in the decision of my
party; if when I had youth, when physical vigor gave promise of many days,
and the future was painted in the colors of hope, I could thus surrender
my own convictions, my own prejudices, and coöperate with my political
friends, according to their views, as to the best method of promoting the
public good; now, when the years of my future can not be many, and
experience has sobered the hopeful tints of youth's gilding; when,
approaching the evening of life, the shadows are reversed, and the mind
turns retrospectively, it is not to be supposed that I would abandon
lightly, or idly put on trial, the party to which I have steadily adhered.
It is rather to be assumed that conservatism, which belongs to the
timidity or caution of increasing years, would lead me to cling to--to be
supported by, rather than to cast off, the organization with which I have
been so long connected. If I am driven to consider the necessity of
separating myself from those old and dear relations, of discarding the
accustomed support, under circumstances such as I have described, might
not my friends who differ from me pause and inquire whether there is not
something involved in it which calls for their careful revision?

I desire no divided flag for the Democratic party, seek not to depreciate
the power of the Senator, or take from him any thing of that confidence he
feels in the large army which follows his standard. I prefer that his
banner should lie in its silken folds to feed the moth; but if it
unrestrainedly rustles, impatient to be unfurled, we who have not invited
the conflict, shrink not from the trial; we will plant our flag on every
hill and plain; it shall overlook the Atlantic and welcome the sun as he
rises from its dancing waters; it shall wave its adieu as he sinks to
repose in the quiet Pacific.

Our principles are national; they belong to every State of the Union; and
though elections may be lost by their assertion, they constitute the only
foundation on which we can maintain power, on which we can again rise to
the dignity the Democracy once possessed. Does not the Senator from
Illinois see in the sectional character of the vote he received, that his
opinions are not acceptable to every portion of the country? Is not the
fact that the resolutions adopted by seventeen States, on which the
greatest reliance must be placed for Democratic support, are in opposition
to the dogma to which he still clings, a warning that if he persists and
succeeds in forcing his theory upon the Democratic party, its days are
numbered? We ask only for the Constitution. We ask of the Democracy only
from time to time to declare, as current exigencies may indicate, what the
Constitution was intended to secure and provide. Our flag bears no new
device. Upon its folds our principles are written in living light; all
proclaiming the constitutional Union, justice, equality, and fraternity of
our ocean-bound domain, for a limitless future.



As had been foreseen, and, indeed, as was the inevitable sequence of the
disruption of the Democratic party, Abraham Lincoln, the candidate of the
Republican party, was, in November, 1860, elected President of the United
States. This was the supreme and sufficient incitement to the adoption of
the dreaded resort of disunion. As the _occasion_ which finally brought
the South to the attitude of resistance, the event acquires vast
historical importance.

When it is conceded that Mr. Lincoln was elected in accordance with the
_forms_ of the Constitution, having received a majority of electoral
votes; that the mere ceremony of election was attended by no unusual
circumstances, we concede every possible ground upon which can be based an
argument denying its ample justification of the course pursued by the
South. Such an argument, however, leads to a wholly untenable conclusion,
and may be easily exposed in its hypocritical evasion of the real
question. We are here required to note the distinction between _cause_ and
_occasion_. As the final consummation of tendencies, long indicating the
result of disunion, this event has an appropriate place in the
recapitulation of those influences, and can be rightly estimated only in
connection with their operation.

Trite observations upon the influence of passion and prejudice, over
contemporary judgment, are not necessary to a due conception of the
obstacles which, for the present, exclude candor from the discussion of
the late movement for Southern independence. In the face of the disastrous
overthrow of that movement, the wrecked hopes and fortunes of those who
participated in it, discussion is chiefly serviceable, as it throws
additional light upon the development of those eternal principles in whose
ceaseless struggles men are only temporary agents.

History and biography are here most intimately blended; beginning from
the same stand-point, they encounter common difficulties, and aim to
explore the same general grounds of observation. So far as a verdict--from
whatever tribunal, whether rendered at the bar of justice or in the award
of popular opinion, when the embers of recent strife are still fiercely
glowing--can affect the dispassionate judgment of History, the Southern
people can not be separated, either in fact or in sentiment, from
Jefferson Davis. He was the illustrious compatriot of six millions of
freemen, who struck for nationality and independence, and lost--as did
Greece and Poland before them; or he and they were alike insurgents,
equally guilty of the crime of treason.

With an adroitness which does credit to the characteristic charlatanism of
the North, an infinite variety of special questions and side issues have
been interwoven with the narrative of the late war, for the obvious
purpose of confounding the judgment of mankind regarding the great
question which really constitutes the gravamen of the controversy.
Conspicuous among these efforts, from both audacity and plausibility, are
appeals to the sympathies of the world, in consideration of the abolition
of slavery, which it is well known was merely an incident, and not the
avowed design of the war.

Persistent in its introduction of the _moral_ question of slavery, the
North seeks to shield itself from the reproach justly visited upon its
perpetration of an atrocious political crime, by an insolent intrusion of
a false claim to the championship of humanity. Whatever may be the
decision of Time upon the merits of slavery, it is in vain for the North
to seek escape from its responsibility for an institution, protected and
sustained by a government which was the joint creation of Southern and
Northern hands.

The attempted dissolution of the Union by the South was a movement
involving moral and political considerations, not unlike those incidental
to revolutions in general, yet presenting certain peculiar
characteristics, traceable to the inherent and distinctive features of the
American political system. These latter considerations constitute a vital
part of its justification. The South did not appeal only to the
inalienable right of revolution, which is the natural guarantee of
resistance to wrong and oppression. Nor did the States, severally, as they
assumed to sever their connection with the Union, announce a purpose of
constitutional revolution, or adopt a course inviting or justifying
violence. Mr. Davis and those who coöperated with him, neither by the acts
of secession, nor the subsequent confederation of the States under a new
government, could have committed _treason_ against Mr. Lincoln, since they
were not his subjects. Nor yet were they traitors to the Government of the
United States, since the States of which they were citizens had rescinded
the grant of powers voluntarily made by them to that Government, and begun
to exercise them in conjunction with other powers which they had withheld
by express reservation.

It is impossible to conceive a movement, contemplating such important
political changes, more entirely unattended by displays of violence,
passion, and disorder. A simple assertion, with due solemnity, by each
State, of its sovereignty--a heritage which it had never surrendered, but
which had been respected by innumerable forms of recognition in the
history of the Union--and the exercise of those attributes of sovereignty,
which are too palpable to require that they shall be indicated, was the
peaceable method resorted to of terminating a political alliance which had
become injurious to the highest interests of one of the parties. Could
there have been a more becoming and dignified exercise of the vaunted
right of self-government? It is that right to which America is so
conspicuously committed, and which has been such an inexhaustible theme
for the tawdry rhetoric of Northern eloquence.

Even in the insolence of its triumph, the North feels the necessity of at
least a decent pretext for its destruction of the cardinal feature in the
American system of government--the sovereignty of the States. With
habitual want of candor, Northern writers pretend that the Constitution of
the United States does not affirm the sovereignty of the States, and that,
therefore, secession was treason against that Constitution to which they
had subscribed; in other words, the created does not give authority to the
creator--_i. e._, the Constitution, which the States created, does not
accredit sovereignty to the States, and, therefore, the States are not
sovereign. It is not pretended that the States were not, each of them,
originally independent powers, since they were so recognized by Great
Britain, in the plainest terms, at the termination of the first
revolution. Nor is it asserted that the union of the States, under the
title of United States, was the occasion of any surrender of their
individual sovereignty, as it was then declared that "each State retains
its sovereignty, freedom, and independence." A conclusive demonstration of
the retention of sovereignty by the States is seen in the entire failure
of the Constitution, either by direct assertion or by implication, to
claim its surrender to the Union.

If the sovereignty of the States be conceded, the South stands justified
as having exercised an unquestionable right. It was never formally denied,
even at the North, until Mr. Webster, in his debate with Mr. Calhoun,
affirmed the doctrine of the supremacy of the Union, to which conclusion
the Northern masses sprung with alacrity, as an available justification
for compelling the submission of the South to the outrages which they had
already commenced.

Volumes of testimony have been adduced, proving the theory of State
sovereignty to have been the overwhelmingly predominant belief among the
statesmen most prominent in the establishment of the Union, and in shaping
the policy of the Government in its earlier history. Argument proved an
unavailing offset to the stern decrees of the sword, and is quite
unnecessary so long as the unanswerable logic of Calhoun, Davis, and a
score of Southern statesmen remains upon the national records--a perpetual
challenge, as yet unaccepted, to the boasted intellect of the North, and a
significant warning of the final adjudication of the centuries. We shall
intrude no argument of our own in support of State sovereignty, upon which
rests the vindication of the South and her leaders. Before us are the
apposite and conclusive assumptions of men who have been the revered
sources of political inspiration among Americans.

The _Federalist_, that most powerful vindication of the Constitution, and
earnest plea for its adoption by the States, assumes that it was a
"compact," to which "the States, as distinct and independent sovereigns,"
were the parties. Yet this doctrine, the basis upon which rests the august
handiwork of Madison and Hamilton, the "architects of the Constitution,"
when applied by Davis and his compatriots, becomes treason! Such is the
extremity to which despotism, in its wretched plea of expediency, is
driven; and the candid, enlightened American of to-day realizes, in his
country, a land in which "truth is treason, and history is rebellion."

Chief-Justice Marshall, the great judicial luminary of America, and an
authority not usually summoned to the support of doctrines hostile to the
assumptions of Federal power, gave most emphatic testimony to the
propriety of the States' Rights view of the relations of State and Federal
authority. In the Virginia Convention which ratified the Constitution, he
said: "The State governments did not derive their powers from the General
Government. But each government derived its powers from the people, and
each was to act according to the powers given it. Would any gentleman deny
this? He demanded, if powers not given were retained by implication? Could
any man say, no? Could any man say that this power was not retained by the
States, since it was not given away?" The view so earnestly urged by
Marshall, was not only avowed generally, but Virginia, Massachusetts, and
Pennsylvania insisted upon a written declaration, in the Constitution, of
the principle that certain attributes of sovereignty, which they did not
delegate to the Union, were retained by the States.

Mr. Madison, whose great abilities were taxed to the utmost to secure the
ratification of the Constitution by Virginia, vigorously and earnestly
defended it against the allegation that it created a consolidated
government. With the utmost difficulty, he secured a majority of ten
votes, in the Virginia Convention, in favor of the Constitution, which his
rival, Patrick Henry, denounced as destructive of State sovereignty.

Defining the expression, "We, the people," Mr. Madison said: "The parties
to it were the people, but not the people as composing one great society,
but the people as composing '_thirteen sovereignties_.'" To quote Mr.
Madison again: "If it were a consolidated government, the assent of a
majority of the people would be sufficient to establish it. But it was to
be binding on the people of a State only by their own separate consent."
Under the influence of these arguments, and others of the same import from
Mr. Madison, whom she thought, from his close relations to the
Constitution, high authority upon all questions pertaining to its
character, Virginia finally acceded to the Union. It is especially
noteworthy, however, that Virginia, when becoming a party to the
Constitution, expressly affirmed, in the most solemn manner, the right to
"resume" her grants of power to the Federal Government.

In deference to the accumulated evidence upon this subject, came the
unqualified statement, from eminent Northern authority,[14] that, "This
right [of secession] must be considered an ingredient in the original
composition of the General Government, which, though not expressed, was
mutually understood."

But whatever may be thought of the prescriptive and inherent right of
sovereignty, exercised by the South in withdrawing from the Union, as
deducible from the peculiar nature of the American system, and as
expounded by the founders of that system, there can be no question as to
its entire accordance with the _spirit_ of American polity. Authority is
abundant in support of the assertion that, not even in the North, previous
to the inception of the present revolution, was the idea of a constrained
connection with the Union entertained. From every source of Northern
opinion has come indignant repudiation of a coerced association of
communities, originally united by a common pledge of fealty to the right
of self-government.

Upon this subject Mr. John Quincy Adams spoke in language of
characteristic fervor: "The indissoluble link of union between the people
of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in
the _right_, but in the _heart_. If the day should ever come (may heaven
avert it!) when the affections of the people of these States shall be
alienated from each other--when the fraternal spirit shall give way to
cold indifference, or collision of interest shall fester into hatred, the
bands of political association will not long hold together parties no
longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly
sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited
States to part in friendship from each other than to be held together by

Even Mr. Lincoln, whose statesmanship is not likely to be commemorated for
its profundity or scholarship, fully comprehended the exaggerated
reverence of the American mind for the "sacred right of self-government."
Now that his homely phrases are dignified by the Northern masses with the
sanctity of the utterances of Deity, assuredly there should be no
apprehension that his opinions may not be deemed conclusive. In 1848, Mr.
Lincoln said: "Any people whatever have the right to abolish the existing
government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most
valuable, a most sacred right."

A brave affirmation was this of the doctrine of the Declaration of
Independence, that "Governments derive their just powers from the consent
of the governed;" and one which would have commanded the united applause
of the North, then and now, had the application concerned Hungary, Poland,
Greece, or Mexico. But, with reference to the South, there was a most
important modification of this admirable principle of equity and humanity.
When asked, "Why not let the South go?" Abraham Lincoln, _the President_,
in 1861, said: "_Let the South go! Where, then, shall we get our
revenue?_" And the united North reëchoed: "_Let the South go! Where, then,
shall we look for the bounties and monopolies which have so enriched us at
the expense of those improvident, unsuspecting Southerners? Where shall we
find again such patient victims of spoliation?_"

Mr. Horace Greeley frequently and emphatically, previous to the war,
affirmed the right of changing its political association asserted by the
South. Three days after the election of Mr. Lincoln, in November, 1860,
his paper, the New York _Tribune_, said: "If the Cotton States shall
become satisfied that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we
insist on letting them go in peace.... We must ever resist the right of
any State to remain in the Union, and nullify or defy the laws thereof.
_To withdraw from the Union is quite another matter; and whenever any
considerable section of our Union shall deliberately resolve to go out, we
shall resist all coercive measures designed to keep it in._ We hope never
to live in a Republic whereof one section is pinned to another by
bayonets." On the 17th of December, 1860, the _Tribune_ said: "If it [the
Declaration of Independence] justifies the secession of three millions of
colonists in 1776, _we do not see why it would not justify the secession
of five millions of Southerners from the Federal Union in 1861_."

Such are a few illustrations, to which might be added innumerable
quotations, of the same import, from the most prominent sources of
Northern opinion. Never has there been a question so capable of positive
solution and easy comprehension, when subjected to the test of candid
investigation, and never so successful a purpose to exclude the
illumination of facts by persistent and ingenious misrepresentation. The
North has reason for its extravagant exultation at the skill and audacity
with which the brazen front of hypocrisy, for a time, at least, has
successfully sustained, in the name of humanity and liberty, the most
monstrous imposition and transparent counterfeit of virtue ever designed
upon an intelligent age.

To the triumphant historical vindication of the South, there remains only
the essential condition of a clear and truthful statement of the
provocations which impelled her to adopt that long-deferred remedy, which
is the last refuge of a people whose liberties are imperiled. Secession,
however strong in its prescriptive or implied justification as a
principle, was not to be undertaken from caprice, or trivial causes of

Abuses, numerous, serious, and consecutive, were required before disunion
became either desirable or acceptable to the South. The native
conservatism of the Southern character renders it peculiarly averse to
agitation; to this were added social features, the safety of which would
be greatly imperiled by civil war, and thus a train of influences tended
to make Southern soil, of all others, the least favorable to the growth of
revolutionary principles.

In the development of this volume, we have glanced at the progress of
those sectional differences, at various periods precipitated by the
insolent aggressions of Abolitionism, which steadily depreciated the
value of the Union in Southern estimation. Continued aggressions by her
enemies; their Punic faith, illustrated in a series of violated pledges,
and habitual disregard of the conditions of the covenant which bound South
and North together; petty outrages, taunts and insults, emanating from
every possible source of public expression at the North, for many years
had banished fraternal feeling and precluded those interchanges of comity
between the sections which were the indispensable requisites to national
harmony. It is undeniable, that for years previous to secession, the
sentimental attachment to the Union, which was the distinctive
characteristic of Southern patriotism--unlike the coarse, utilitarian
estimate of the Union as a source of pecuniary profit, which constituted
its value to the North--had been greatly impaired. Since 1850, and to a
considerable extent during the preceding decade, the most sagacious
statesmen of the South contemplated disunion as an event almost
inevitable, unless averted by a contingency of very improbable occurrence.
There must be an awakening by the North to a more just appreciation of its
constitutional and patriotic obligations, or an unmanly submission by the
South, to a condition of degrading inferiority, in a government to whose
construction, prosperity, and distinction, she had contributed more than a
proportionate share of influence.

Chief among the considerations which admonished the South of the perils
which environed her situation in the Union, was the total destruction of
that sectional balance, which had been wisely adjusted by its founders, as
the safeguard of the weaker against the stronger influence. Having in mind
the wise saying of Aristotle, that "the weak always desire what is equal
and just, but the powerful pay no regard to it," the statesmen of 1787
designedly shaped the chart of government with a view to the preservation
of equality. The struggle between the weaker element, naturally contending
in behalf of the equilibrium, and the stronger striving for its overthrow,
was, at an early period, distinctly foreshadowed. With characteristic
prevision, Alexander Hamilton, probably the foremost statesman of his day,
foretold the nature of this contest over the principle of equality. Said
that sagacious publicist: "The truth is, it is a contest for power, not
for liberty."

This contest, indeed, so long waged, was, many years since, decided
overwhelmingly against the South. In 1850, the Northern majority in the
House of Representatives, the popular branch of the government, had
increased from a majority, in 1790, of five votes, to fifty-four. Years
before, the legislation of Congress assumed that sectional bias, which was
undeviatingly adhered to for the purpose, and with ample success, of the
material depression of the South. Under the baleful influences of hostile
legislation, of tariffs aimed directly at her commercial prosperity, of
bounties for fostering multifarious Northern interests, her position in
the Union was helpless and deplorable in the extreme. Yet, like a
rock-bound Prometheus, with the insidious elements of destruction gnawing
at her vitals, the South suffered herself to be chained by an influence of
sentiment, of association, and reminiscence to the Union, fully conscious
of the growing rapacity of her despoiler and of her own hopeless decline.
Her infatuation was indeed marvelous, in trusting to the dawning of
justice and generosity in a fierce, vindictive, and remorseless sectional

The alarming portents of ultimately complete material prostration, to be
consummated by these perversions of the purposes of the Union, were
terribly significant, in view of the venom which actuated the enemies of
the South. The sectional balance was hopelessly gone; Southern material
prosperity destroyed by sectional legislation; not a check, originally
provided by the Constitution for the protection of the weaker section, but
had been virtually obliterated; Northern perfidy illustrated in the
violation of every compact which, in operation, proved favorable to the
South, while the latter was held to a rigid fidelity in all agreements
favorable to her enemies; the nullification, by the legislatures of half
the Northern States, of Federal laws for the protection of Southern
property, are a few of those grievances which presented to the South the
hard and inexorable alternative of resistance, or abject submission to
endless insult and outrage.

A Southern Senator,[15] announcing the secession of his State, and his own
consequent withdrawal from the Senate, stated the question in a form,
which even then had the authority of history.

    "Not a decade, nor scarce a lustrum, has elapsed (since Alabama became
    a State) that has not been strongly marked by proofs of the growth and
    power of that antislavery spirit of the Northern people, which seeks
    the overthrow of that domestic institution of the South, which is not
    only the chief source of her prosperity, but the very basis of her
    social order and State polity. It is to-day the master-spirit of the
    Northern States, and had before the secession of Alabama, of
    Mississippi, of Florida, or of South Carolina, severed most of the
    bonds of the Union. It denied us Christian communion, because it could
    not endure what it calls the moral leprosy of slave-holding; it
    refused us permission to sojourn, or even to pass through the North
    with our property; it claimed freedom for the slave, if brought by
    his master into a Northern State; it violated the Constitution, and
    treaties, and laws of Congress, because designed to protect that
    property; it refused us any share of lands acquired mainly by our
    diplomacy, and blood, and treasure; it refused our property any
    shelter or security beneath the flag of a common government; it robbed
    us of our property, and refused to restore it; it refused to deliver
    criminals against our laws, who fled to the North with our property or
    our blood upon their hands; it threatened us by solemn legislative
    acts, with ignominious punishment, if we pursued our property into a
    Northern State; it murdered Southern men when seeking the recovery of
    their property on Northern soil; it invaded the borders of Southern
    States, poisoned their wells, burnt their dwellings, and murdered
    their people; it denounced us by deliberate resolves of popular
    meetings, of party conventions, and of religious, and even legislative
    assemblies, as habitual violators of the laws of God and the rights of
    humanity; it exerted all the moral and physical agencies that human
    ingenuity can devise, or diabolical malice can employ, to heap odium
    and infamy upon us, and to make us a by-word of hissing and of scorn
    throughout the civilized world."

There was no room for uncertainty as to the significance of the election
of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency, in 1860, by a party exclusively
sectional in organization, and upon a platform, which virtually declared
the Union, as then constituted, in opposition to justice, humanity, and

The real danger to the South, involved in this election, was that it was a
_sectional_ triumph--a victory of North over South, in a contest where the
South risked every thing, the North nothing. From time immemorial sincere
patriots of both sections had deprecated the formation of sectional
parties, organized upon geographical interests, or upon ideas confined to
limited portions of the Union. Washington, in his farewell injunction,
admonished his countrymen of the deplorable results which must follow the
presentation of such issues.

The Chicago platform was more than a menace to the South; it was a
defiance of law, a declaration of war upon the Constitution. The election
of Lincoln was both a legal and moral severance of the bonds of Union.
While he received the united vote of the North, save New Jersey, he did
not receive one electoral vote from the South. His shaping of his
administration was consistent with the character of the party which
elected him. All his constitutional advisers were Northern men or Southern
Abolitionists; social outlaws in their own section, in consequence of
their notorious personal depravity, and infidelity to their immediate
fellow-citizens. Of like character were the subordinate appointments of
the Federal Government in Southern communities.

Nor was there reason to doubt the policy of the Government under its new
management. Mr. Lincoln had been sufficiently communicative of his own
bitter hostility to Southern institutions. In fact, with much show of
justice, his admirers claimed for him the original suggestion of the idea
of an "irrepressible conflict," afterwards so elaborately pronounced by
William H. Seward. Public announcements, from prominent speakers of the
successful party, amply revealed the feast to which the South was invited.
Wendell Phillips, the most able, eloquent, and sagacious of the original
Abolitionists, thus pointedly defined the situation: "No man has a right
to be surprised at this state of things. It is just what we have attempted
to bring about. It is the first sectional party ever organized in this
country. It does not know its own face, and calls itself national; but it
is not national--it is sectional. The Republican party is a party of the
North pledged against the South."

Such was the complexion to which political affairs were brought by the
election of Abraham Lincoln. There remained hardly a hope, even for future
security or domestic tranquillity to the South, except in withdrawal from
an association, in which she had become an inferior and an outcast--an
object of oppression, outrage, and contumely. From a relentless Abolition
majority she could expect no favors; and the Northern Democracy, so long
her ally, for common purposes of party, had cowered before the storm of
fanaticism, and repudiated the first demand made upon its fidelity to

Congress assembled on the first Monday of December, 1860, a few weeks
subsequent to the Presidential election. Never had that body met under
circumstances of such gravity. Universal foreboding of peril to the nation
was mingled with hope of such action, as would avert the impending
calamities of disunion and civil war. There were few indications, at the
opening of the session, of conciliatory sentiments; from the
representatives of both sections came open defiance, and Northern members
of both houses were more than ever bold in the utterance of insult and
menace. Before the opening of the session, President Buchanan received
from Mr. Davis the most satisfactory assurances of his coöperation with
the administration in a pacific policy, having for its object the
settlement of the national difficulties upon terms promotive of the peace
of the country, and assuring the security of the South.[16] To such a
settlement the efforts of Mr. Davis were addressed so long as there was
the slightest ground for the indulgence of hope.

This session of Congress, the last which was held previous to the
commencement of civil war, is chiefly interesting as the historical record
of those patriotic efforts which were made to save the Union, and as
furnishing incontestible proof of the guilt of those who, by their
persistent refusal of all conciliatory propositions, are justly
responsible for the calamities which were to befall the country. Happily
for the reputation of Mr. Davis, the proof is authentic and conclusive in
his favor upon these important questions. There is no portion of his
career in which statesmanship, patriotism, and a noble appreciation of the
claims of humanity shine forth more conspicuously. So overwhelming is the
evidence that, in these last days of the Union, he was false to none of
these high considerations, that the most mendacious assailants of himself
and the cause he lately represented have not yet ventured to call it in

A disposition is frequently evinced to plead for him immunity from the
responsibility of his position, as the leader of the Confederate movement,
upon the score of his consistent Unionism, manifested in the prevailing
conservatism of his course as a politician. He needs no such palliation.
His devotion to the Union of the American fathers was as unquestionable as
was that of Washington. His patriotism was illustrated by every mode of
exemplification in the service of country. To substantiate his attachment
to that association of States, designed by the fathers, sublime in its
objects of mutual fidelity, generous sympathies, justice, and equality, no
elaborate statement is required, nor could formal vindication strengthen
its defenses.[17] He never arrayed himself against such a Union, but,
abhorring that perverted instrument of sectional aggression, which the
Government had become, he did accompany and lead his fellow-citizens in
their exercise of the highest privilege of freemen.

He was always prepared to follow the principles of States' Rights to their
logical consequences, and was yet consistent in his attachment to the
Union. Thus he was a firm believer in the absolute sovereignty of the
States, and of the enjoyment, by the States, of all the attributes of
sovereignty, including, necessarily, the right of secession. He had never
urged the expediency of secession, though, upon repeated occasions, he had
foreshadowed its probable necessity in the future, as the only remedy
remaining to the South in certain contingencies. In the Senate, in 1850,
he thus alluded to the possibility of a successful organization of a
sectional party: "The danger is one of our own times, and it is that
sectional division of the people which has created the necessity of
looking to the question of the balance of power, and which carries with
it, when disturbed, the danger of disunion."

In 1859, again, he proclaimed, in unequivocal terms, his course in the
event of the success of a party indorsing the Rochester pronunciamento of
Mr. Seward. Yet his course, subsequent to the election of Mr. Lincoln,
was directed entirely in the interest of moderation. Having little hope of
concession from the enemies of the South, in the moment of their
overwhelming victory, he yet anxiously, earnestly entered that last
struggle for the Constitution, before it passed into the keeping of
iconoclasts, who were pledged to its destruction.

His zeal in behalf of pacification was actuated by considerations of
humanity, no less ennobling than his impulse of disinterested patriotism.
Regarding a long and bloody war as the certain result of dissolution, he
anxiously sought to avert that calamitous result, and stood pledged to the
acceptance of any basis of settlement which should guarantee the safety
and honor of the South. At no time, however, did he advocate submission.
His language in the Senate is explicit. Speaking of the secession of
Mississippi, he said: "I, however, may be permitted to say, that I do
think she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred
with her people before that act was taken, counseled them then that, if
the state of things which they apprehended should exist when the
convention met, they should take the action which they have now adopted."

During the session, numerous efforts at compromise were made, in every
instance emanating from Southern Representatives or Northern Democrats,
the dominant party of the North declining all tenders of pacification, and
offering no terms of conciliation in return. It is unnecessary to trace
the progress of these abortive efforts, which, in the main, received the
support of feeble minorities, and had, from their inception, no prospect
of adoption.

There was one proposition, and probably only one, which embodied a
competent basis of settlement, and was entitled to favor. This was called
the "Crittenden Compromise," and originated with the venerable Kentucky
Senator, by whose name it is designated. For a time it seemed that the
demonstrations of popular sentiment in its favor, especially the
well-ascertained readiness of a large majority of the Southern people to
accept it, and its exceedingly practical nature, as a _final_ settlement
of the slavery question, would eventually secure its adoption by Congress.
The result was a disappointment of this patriotic expectation, and a
conclusive demonstration of the purpose of the Republican party to consent
to no settlement which the South could accept.

An examination of the Crittenden proposition will reveal a most striking
illustration of the ever-present spirit of accommodation, in matters
affecting the safety of the Union, which, even in its last hours, was
characteristic of the leaders and people of the South, and of the narrow,
selfish, and exacting sectionalism of the North. In reality, it was little
short of a surrender, in its ample concessions, to the encroachments of

The resolutions introduced by Mr. Crittenden, in the Senate, on the 18th
of December, 1860, contemplated amendments to the Constitution having the
following objects: The prohibition of slavery in all Territories north of
the old Missouri Compromise line, and providing protection for it south of
that line; a denial of the power of Congress to abolish slavery in the
District of Columbia, or in ports, arsenels, dock-yards, or wherever else
the Federal Government exercised jurisdiction; remuneration to owners of
escaped slaves by communities in which the Federal laws, providing
rendition of slaves, might be violently obstructed. Such were the material
features of the "Crittenden Compromise."

It will be seen at a glance how absurd was the misnomer of "compromise"
applied to so one-sided a settlement. The South was required, by its
provisions, to abandon the sacred right of protection to her property,
guaranteed by the Constitution and unequivocally re-affirmed by the
highest judicial tribunal in the land. The Supreme Court, in the Dred
Scott case, had already decided the right to take slaves into all the
Territories, while the Crittenden proposition prohibited it entirely in
the major portion of the common Territory, and merely tolerated it in the
residue. The Constitution, as expounded by the Supreme Court, guaranteed
the right of introduction and protection of slavery in all the
Territories, in whatever latitude, as the common property of the States.
The Crittenden amendment proposed to confine this right to Territory south
of 36° 30', prohibiting, in the meanwhile, slavery _forever_ north of that
line, and in regions where its legal existence had been emphatically
affirmed by that august tribunal, the Supreme Court. If adopted, it would
have yielded every thing to Abolition rapacity, save a mere abstraction.
Of all the vast territory yet remaining to be hereafter divided into
States, only in New Mexico did it propose even to tolerate slavery, and in
that locality the laws of nature precluded its permanent establishment.

A few days after its introduction in the Senate, the Crittenden amendment
was proposed by its author to a special committee of thirteen, created on
motion of Senator Powell, of Kentucky, for the consideration of all
questions pertaining to the pending national difficulties. This committee
was composed of the most eminent and influential Senators, embracing five
leading Republicans, five Southern Senators, and Messrs. Bright, Bigler,
and Douglas, on behalf of the Northern Democracy. Mr. Davis, originally
appointed, at first declined to serve, but finally consented, in
compliance with the urgent requests of other Senators. At the first
meeting of the committee, 21st December, it was "resolved that no
proposition shall be reported as adopted, unless sustained by a majority
of each of the classes of the committee; Senators of the Republican party
to constitute one class, and Senators of the other parties to constitute
the other class."

This resolution was necessary, in consequence of the obvious futility of
any settlement which did not meet the approval of a majority of the
Republican Senators. In this Committee the Crittenden proposition was
defeated. Not one of the Republican Senators voted for it, and Messrs.
Davis and Toombs likewise voted against it when it was ascertained that it
would not receive the sanction of a majority of the Republican Senators.

Despite its unfairness as a measure of settlement, and its great injustice
to the South, Mr. Davis would have accepted it, as would a large majority
of Southern Senators, as a _finality_, if the Republican Senators had
tendered it. This, however, the latter were determined not to do, nor did
a single Republican Senator, at any time during the session, express even
a desire that any action, conciliatory to the South, should be
adopted.[18] Insolent, dictatorial, and defiant, they proclaimed their
purpose, at all hazards, to assert the authority of the Government, and
their acts clearly indicated their stern purpose to refuse every
proposition contemplating concession or compromise. In substitution of the
Crittenden adjustment, they voted solidly for the amendment of Senator
Clarke, of New Hampshire, which denied the necessity of amendments to the
Constitution, which ought to be obeyed rather than amended, and declared
that the remedy for present difficulties was to be sought in a stern
enforcement of the laws, rather than in assurances to peculiar ideas and
guarantees to peculiar interests. This palpable defiance, and emphatic
avowal of a purpose to concede nothing to Southern demands, was indorsed
by the action of Republican caucusses of both houses of Congress, by
resolutions of State Legislatures, and by tenders of men and means to
compel the submission of the South. The entire Republican party were
clearly committed to the purpose, avowed by Mr. Salmon P. Chase, in a
letter from the Peace Congress, to Portsmouth, Ohio, to "use the power
while they had it, and prevent a settlement."[19]

On the 31st December, 1860, the Committee of Thirteen reported to the
Senate their inability to "agree upon any general plan of adjustment," and
thus, with the arrival of the new year, had vanished the last hope of
preserving the peace of the country. The failure of the Crittenden
proposition was decisive of the question of pacification; no other plan of
adjustment, that was presented, having either its merits or its practical

Southern resistance came none too soon for Northern power, hate, and
lust, but far too late for the precious goal of independence. Delay had
been fatal, and the golden opportunity long since lost. But there was
still time to emulate the glorious examples of the past. With marvelous
calmness and dauntless intrepidity, a heroic race prepared an exhibition
of noble devotion and willing sacrifice, the contemplation of which
revives the memories of Thermopylæ.

Comparatively of little moment, now, is the question, whether the
acceptance of this basis of adjustment by the South would have been
consistent with discretion. In the end the result, in all likelihood,
would have been the same. Had a settlement been reached in 1861, Southern
liberties must eventually have perished, through the influences of
corruption and the demoralization engendered by continued submission to
wrong, no less effectually than by their overthrow in that gallant
struggle of arms, which terminated with such fatal results. But there
still remains the question of responsibility for those horrors of civil
strife, which the failure of the Crittenden amendment soon precipitated
upon the country. Those crimson spots which stain the subsequent history
of the Republic, are traceable to no parricidal hand raised by the South.
No historical question has received more satisfactory decision than this;
and the South is acquitted even by the testimony of her enemies. It is
unnecessary to give the evidence of Southern men, when there is such ample
testimony from those who deprecated and condemned the subsequent course of
the South.

Senator Douglas, on the 3d January, 1861, only three days after the report
of the Committee of Thirteen had been submitted, and within hearing of its
members, thus expressed himself in the course of an address to the

    "If you of the Republican side are not willing to accept this [a
    proposition of his own] nor the proposition of the Senator from
    Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden,] pray tell us what are you willing to do? I
    address the inquiry to the Republicans alone, for the reason, that in
    the Committee of Thirteen, a few days ago, every member from the
    South, including those from the Cotton States [Messrs. Toombs and
    Davis,] expressed their readiness to accept the proposition of my
    venerable friend from Kentucky [Mr. Crittenden] as a final settlement
    of the controversy, if tendered and sustained by the Republican
    members. Hence, the sole responsibility of our disagreement, and the
    only difficulty in the way of an amicable adjustment, is with the
    Republican party."

Again, on the 2d March, 1861, Mr. Douglas re-affirmed this important
statement. Said he:

    "The Senator has said that if the Crittenden proposition could have
    been passed early in the session, it would have saved all the States
    except South Carolina. I firmly believe it would. While the Crittenden
    proposition was not in accordance with my cherished views, I avowed my
    readiness and eagerness to accept it, in order to save the Union, if
    we could unite upon it. No man has labored harder than I have to get
    it passed. I can confirm the Senator's declaration that Senator Davis
    himself, when on the Committee of Thirteen, was ready at all times to
    compromise on the Crittenden proposition. I will go further, and say
    that Mr. Toombs was also ready to do so."

Hon. S. S. Cox, for several years an able and eloquent member of Congress
from Ohio, has made a most interesting statement upon this subject:

    The vote on the Crittenden proposition was well defined, but is not so
    well understood. From the frequency of inquiries since the war as to
    this latter vote, the people were eager to know upon whom to fix the
    responsibility of its failure. It may as well be stated that all other
    propositions, whether of the Peace Convention or the Border State
    _project_, or the measures of the committees, were comparatively of no
    moment; for the Crittenden proposition was the only one which could
    have arrested the struggle. It would have received a larger vote than
    any other. It would have had more effect in moderating Southern
    excitement. Even Davis, Toombs, and others of the Gulf States, would
    have accepted it. I have talked with Mr. Crittenden frequently on this
    point. Not only has he confirmed the public declarations of Douglas
    and Pugh, and the speech of Toombs himself, to this effect, but he
    said it was so understood in committee. At one time, while the
    committee was in session, he said: "Mr. Toombs, will this compromise,
    as a remedy for all wrongs and apprehensions, be acceptable to you?"
    Mr. Toombs, with some profanity, replied: "Not by a good deal; but my
    State will accept it, and I will follow my State to ----." And he did.

    I will not open the question whether it was wise then to offer
    accommodations. It may not be profitable now to ask whether the
    millions of young men whose bodies are maimed, or whose bones are
    decaying under the sod of the South, and the heavy load of public debt
    under which we sweat and toil, have their compensation in black
    liberty. Nor will I discuss whether the blacks have been bettered by
    their precipitate freedom, passing, as so many have, from slavery,
    through starvation and suffering, to death. There is no comfort in the
    reflection that the negroes will be exterminated with the
    extermination of slavery. The real point is, could not this Union have
    been made permanent by timely settlement, instead of cemented by
    fraternal blood and military rule? By an equitable partition of the
    territory this was possible. We had then 1,200,000 square miles. The
    Crittenden proposition would have given the North 900,000 of these
    square miles, and applied the Chicago doctrines to that quantity. It
    would have left the remaining fourth substantially to be carved out
    as free or slave States, at the option of the people when the States
    were admitted. This proposition the radicals denounced. It has been
    stated, to rid the Republicans of the odium of not averting the war
    when that was possible, that the Northern members tendered to the
    Southern the Crittenden compromise, which the South rejected. This is
    untrue. It was tendered by Southern Senators and Northern Democrats to
    the Republicans. It was voted upon but once in the House, when it
    received eighty votes against one hundred and thirteen. These eighty
    votes were exclusively Democrats and Southern Americans, like Gilmer,
    Vance, and others. Mr. Briggs, of New York, was the only one not a
    Democrat who voted for it. He had been an old Whig, and never a
    Republican. The Republican roll, beginning with Adams and ending with
    Woodruff, was a unit against it. Intermingled with them was one
    Southern extremist (General Hindman) who desired no settlement. There
    were many Southern men who did not vote, believing that unless the
    Republicans, who were just acceding to power, favored it, its adoption
    would be a delusion.

    The plan adopted by the Republican Senators to defeat it was by
    amendment and postponement. On the 14th and 15th of January they cast
    all their votes against its being taken up; and on the 16th, when it
    came up, Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, moved to strike it out, and
    insert something which he knew would neither be successful nor
    acceptable. The vote on Clark's amendment was 25 to 23; every "aye"
    being a Republican, and every "no," except Kennedy and Crittenden
    (Americans), being Democrats.

    When this result was announced universal gloom prevailed. The people
    favored this compromise. Petitions by thousands of citizens were
    showered upon Congress for its passage. Had it received a majority
    only, they would have rallied and sustained those who desired peace
    and union. One more earnest appeal was made to the Republicans.
    General Cameron answered it by moving a reconsideration. His motion
    came up on the 18th, when he voted against his own motion. It was
    carried, however, over the votes of the Republicans, although Wigfall
    voted with them. When it was again up on the second of March, 1861,
    the Southern States were nearly all gone. Even then it was lost by one
    vote only. But on that occasion all the Democrats were for, and all
    the Republicans against it. The truth is, there was nothing but sneers
    and skepticism from the Republicans at any settlement. They broke down
    every proposition. They took the elements of conciliation out of the
    Peace Convention before it assembled. Senators Harlan and Chandler
    were especially active in preparing that convention for a failure. If
    every Southern man and every Northern Democrat had voted for this
    proposition, it would have required some nine Republicans for the
    requisite two-thirds. Where were they? Dreaming with Mr. Seward of a
    sixty days' struggle, or arranging for the division of the patronage
    of administration. The only Southern Senators who seemed against any
    settlement were Iverson and Wigfall; that no man will challenge if he
    will refer to the _Globe_ (1st part, Thirty-fifth Congress, page 270)
    for the testimony of Douglas and Pugh, and to Mr. Bigler's Bucks
    County speech, September 17, 1863. The latter knew it to be true when
    he said that--

        "When the struggle was at its height in Georgia, between Robert
        Toombs for secession, and A. H. Stephens against it, had those men
        in the Committee of Thirteen, who are now so blameless in their
        own estimation, given us their votes, or even three of them,
        Stephens would have defeated Toombs, and secession would have been
        prostrated. I heard Mr. Toombs say to Mr. Douglas that the result
        in Georgia was staked on the action of the Committee of Thirteen.
        If it accepted the Crittenden proposition, Stephens would defeat
        him; if not, he would carry the State out by 40,000 majority. The
        three votes from the Republican side would have carried it at any
        time; but union and peace in the balance against the Chicago
        platform were sure to be found wanting."

    If other testimony were wanting, I would ask a suspension of judgment
    until those facts, better known to Southern men, transpire. The
    intercourse about to be reëstablished between the sections will
    cumulate the proof. It will also bring to the light many facts showing
    that, while President Buchanan was working for the Peace Conference,
    while Virginia had been gained to our side with her ablest men, there
    were even then in the Cabinet those who not only encouraged revolt,
    but foiled by letter and speech the efforts of the Unionists at
    Washington and Richmond. These letters and acts are referred to in the
    recent speech of General Blair. They will be, and should be brought
    into the sunshine, if only to vindicate the true Union men of that
    dark hour, and to condemn those who have since made so much pretension
    with so much zealotry, coupled with unexampled cruelty and tyranny.

    In the light of subsequent events that policy was developed. It was
    the destruction of slavery at the peril of war and disunion; or, as
    Senator Douglas expressed it, "a disruption of the Union, believing it
    would draw after it, as an inevitable consequence, civil war, servile
    insurrections, and finally the utter extermination of slavery in all
    the Southern States."

While these fruitless efforts at compromise were in progress at
Washington, public sentiment in the South, especially in the Cotton
States, was rapidly reaching a point of exasperation, which refused to
brook longer delay in the vain hope of justice from the exultant and
unyielding North. In several of the States, so excited was popular
feeling, that within a few weeks what was originally merely a purpose of
resistance, intensified into a determination of absolute national
independence and permanent separation. South Carolina, on the 20th
December, 1860, adopted her ordinance of secession, and thus bravely gave
the example, which other States speedily followed.

The work of secession, so thoroughly started by the opening of the new
year, was not accomplished without a severe struggle in several of the
Cotton States, in which contest, those who advocated unconditional
separation were greatly assisted by the defiant position of the Republican
party. The more sagacious Southern leaders foresaw the inevitable failure
of the movement of separation, unless it should be sustained by an
extensive coöperation among the Southern States. To secure the united
action of the Cotton States, at least, was essential to give the movement
strength and dignity. Mr. Davis, who advocated secession only in the event
of the failure to obtain reasonable guarantees, and had never proposed to
abandon the Union without an effort to save it, was a most earnest and
influential advocate of the policy of coöperation. Of great historical
importance is the fact, that the counsels of himself and those who acted
with him, were adopted in preference to a more hasty policy, which,
however ample the provocation to immediate action, would have deprived the
South of the potent justification of having forborne until "endurance
ceased to be a virtue."

In a letter written a few days after the election of Mr. Lincoln, he thus
expressed his views:

    WARREN COUNTY, MISS., NOV. 10, 1860.

    Hon. R. B. RHETT, JR.--_Dear Sir_: I had the honor to receive, last
    night, yours of the 27th ult., and hasten to reply to the inquiries
    propounded. Reports of the election leave little doubt that the event
    you anticipated has occurred, that electors have been chosen, securing
    the election of Lincoln, and I will answer on that supposition.

    My home is so isolated that I have had no intercourse with those who
    might have aided me in forming an opinion as to the effect produced on
    the mind of our people by the result of the recent election, and the
    impressions which I communicate are founded upon antecedent

    1. I doubt not that the Governor of Mississippi has convoked the
    Legislature to assemble within the present month, to decide upon the
    course which the State should adopt in the present emergency. Whether
    the Legislature will direct the call of a convention of the State, or
    appoint delegates to a convention of such Southern States as may be
    willing to consult together for the adoption of a Southern plan of
    action, is doubtful.

    2. If a convention of the State were assembled, the proposition to
    secede from the Union, independently of support from neighboring
    States, would probably fail.

    3. If South Carolina should first secede, and she alone should take
    such action, the position of Mississippi would not probably be changed
    by that fact. A powerful obstacle to the separate action of
    Mississippi is the want of a port; from which follows the consequence
    that her trade, being still conducted through the ports of the Union,
    her revenue would be diverted from her own support to that of a
    foreign government; and being geographically unconnected with South
    Carolina, an alliance with her would not vary that state of the case.

    4. The propriety of separate secession by South Carolina depends so
    much upon collateral questions that I find it difficult to respond to
    your last inquiry, for the want of knowledge which would enable me to
    estimate the value of the elements involved in the issue, though
    exterior to your State. Georgia is necessary to connect you with
    Alabama, and thus to make effectual the coöperation of Mississippi. If
    Georgia would be lost by immediate action, but could be gained by
    delay, it seems clear to me that you should wait. If the secession of
    South Carolina should be followed by an attempt to coerce her back
    into the Union, that act of usurpation, folly, and wickedness would
    enlist every true Southern man for her defense. If it were attempted
    to blockade her ports and destroy her trade, a like result would be
    produced, and the commercial world would probably be added to her
    allies. It is probable that neither of those measures would be adopted
    by any administration, but that Federal ships would be sent to collect
    the duties on imports outside of the bar; that the commercial nations
    would feel little interest in that; and the Southern States would have
    little power to counteract it.

    The planting States have a common interest of such magnitude, that
    their union, sooner or later, for the protection of that interest, is
    certain. United they will have ample power for their own protection,
    and their exports will make for them allies of all commercial and
    manufacturing powers.

    The new States have a heterogeneous population, and will be slower and
    less unanimous than those in which there is less of the Northern
    element in the body politic, but interest controls the policy of
    States, and finally all the planting communities must reach the same
    conclusion. _My opinion is, therefore, as it has been, in favor of
    seeking to bring those States into coöperation before asking for a
    popular decision upon a new policy and relation to the nations of the
    earth._ If South Carolina should resolve to secede before that
    coöperation can be obtained, to go out leaving Georgia, and Alabama,
    and Louisiana in the Union, and without any reason to suppose they
    will follow her, there appears to me to be no advantage in waiting
    until the Government has passed into hostile hands, and men have
    become familiarized to that injurious and offensive perversion of the
    General Government from the ends for which it was established. I have
    written with the freedom and carelessness of private correspondence,
    and regret that I could not give more precise information.

        Very respectfully, yours, etc.,
            JEFFERSON DAVIS.

Mr. Davis remained in the Senate, a friend of peace, and, until the last
moment, laboring for adjustment, when he received the summons of
Mississippi, forbidding the longer exercise of the trust which she had
given to his keeping. Mississippi seceded on the 9th of January, 1861. Mr.
Davis, receiving formal announcement of the event, withdrew on the 21st,
after pronouncing an impressive valedictory to the Senate. Its dignified,
courteous, and statesman-like character has challenged the unqualified
eulogy of the enlightened world.

    JAN. 21, 1861.

    MR. DAVIS. I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the
    Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of
    Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people, in convention
    assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under
    these circumstances, of course, my functions are terminated here. It
    has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in the Senate
    to announce that fact to my associates, and I will say but very little
    more. The occasion does not invite me to go into argument; and my
    physical condition would not permit me to do so, if otherwise; and yet
    it seems to become me to say something on the part of a State I here
    represent, on an occasion so solemn as this.

    It is known to Senators who have served with me here, that I have, for
    many years, advocated, as an essential attribute of State sovereignty,
    the right of a State to secede from the Union. Therefore, if I had not
    believed there was justifiable cause; if I had thought that
    Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation, or without an
    existing necessity, I should still, under my theory of the Government,
    because of my allegiance to the State of which I am a citizen, have
    been bound by her action. I, however, may be permitted to say that I
    do think she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I
    conferred with her people before that act was taken, counseled them
    then that if the state of things which they apprehended should exist
    when the convention met, they should take the action which they have
    now adopted.

    I hope none who hear me will confound this expression of mine with the
    advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union, and to
    disregard its constitutional obligations by the nullification of the
    law. Such is not my theory. Nullification and secession, so often
    confounded, are, indeed, antagonistic principles. Nullification is a
    remedy which it is sought to apply within the Union, and against the
    agent of the States. It is only to be justified when the agent has
    violated his constitutional obligations, and a State, assuming to
    judge for itself, denies the right of the agent thus to act, and
    appeals to the other States of the Union for a decision; but when the
    States themselves, and when the people of the States, have so acted as
    to convince us that they will not regard our constitutional rights,
    then, and then for the first time, arises the doctrine of secession in
    its practical application.

    A great man, who now reposes with his fathers, and who has often been
    arraigned for a want of fealty to the Union, advocated the doctrine of
    nullification because it preserved the Union. It was because of his
    deep-seated attachment to the Union--his determination to find some
    remedy for existing ills short of a severance of the ties which bound
    South Carolina to the other States, that Mr. Calhoun advocated the
    doctrine of nullification, which he proclaimed to be peaceful--to be
    within the limits of State power, not to disturb the Union, but only
    to be a means of bringing the agent before the tribunal of the States
    for their judgment.

    Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be
    justified upon the basis that the States are sovereign. There was a
    time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again, when a
    better comprehension of the theory of our Government, and the
    inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent any one
    from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus may reclaim the
    grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.

    I, therefore, say I concur in the action of the people of Mississippi,
    believing it to be necessary and proper, and should have been bound by
    their action if my belief had been otherwise; and this brings me to
    the important point which I wish, on this last occasion, to present to
    the Senate. It is by this confounding of nullification and secession,
    that the name of a great man, whose ashes now mingle with his mother
    earth, has been evoked to justify coercion against a seceded State.
    The phrase, "to execute the laws," was an expression which General
    Jackson applied to the case of a State refusing to obey the laws while
    yet a member of the Union. That is not the case which is now
    presented. The laws are to be executed over the United States, and
    upon the people of the United States. They have no relation to any
    foreign country. It is a perversion of terms--at least it is a great
    misapprehension of the case--which cites that expression for
    application to a State which has withdrawn from the Union. You may
    make war on a foreign State. If it be the purpose of gentlemen, they
    may make war against a State which has withdrawn from the Union; but
    there are no laws of the United States to be executed within the
    limits of a seceded State. A State, finding herself in the condition
    in which Mississippi has judged she is--in which her safety requires
    that she should provide for the maintenance of her rights out of the
    Union--surrenders all the benefits (and they are known to be many),
    deprives herself of the advantages (and they are known to be great),
    severs all the ties of affection (and they are close and enduring),
    which have bound her to the Union; and thus divesting herself of every
    benefit--taking upon herself every burden--she claims to be exempt
    from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her

    I well remember an occasion when Massachusetts was arraigned before
    the bar of the Senate, and when the doctrine of coercion was rife, and
    to be applied against her, because of the rescue of a fugitive slave
    in Boston. My opinion then was the same that it is now. Not in a
    spirit of egotism, but to show that I am not influenced, in my
    opinion, because the case is my own, I refer to that time and that
    occasion, as containing the opinion which I then entertained, and on
    which my present conduct is based. I then said that if Massachusetts,
    following her through a stated line of conduct, choose to take the
    last step which separates her from the Union, it is her right to go,
    and I will neither vote one dollar nor one man to coerce her back; but
    will say to her, God speed, in memory of the kind associations which
    once existed between her and the other States.

    It has been a conviction of pressing necessity--it has been a belief
    that we are to be deprived, in the Union, of the rights which our
    fathers bequeathed to us--which has brought Mississippi into her
    present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are
    created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her
    social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has
    been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races.
    The Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the
    circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were
    declaring their independence; the people of those communities were
    asserting that no man was born, to use the language of Mr. Jefferson,
    booted and spurred, to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were
    created equal--meaning the men of the political community; that there
    was no divine right to rule; that no man inherited the right to
    govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended
    to families; but that all stations were equally within the grasp of
    each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they
    announced; these were the purposes for which they made their
    declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was
    directed. They have no reference to the slave; else, how happened it,
    that, among the items of arraignment against George III, was, that he
    endeavored to do just what the North has been endeavoring of late to
    do, to stir up insurrection among our slaves. Had the Declaration
    announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the prince to
    be arraigned for raising up insurrection among them? And how was this
    to be enumerated among the high crimes which caused the colonies to
    sever their connection with the mother country? When our Constitution
    was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable; for there we
    find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they
    were not put upon the footing of equality with white men--not even
    upon that of paupers and convicts; but, so far as representation was
    concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be
    represented in the numerical proportion of three-fifths.

    Then, Senators, we recur to the compact which binds us together; we
    recur to the principles upon which our Government was founded; and
    when you deny them, and when you deny to us the right to withdraw from
    a government, which, thus perverted, threatens to be destructive of
    our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim
    our independence, and take the hazard. This is done, 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
    duty to transmit unshorn to our children.

    I find in myself, perhaps, a type of the general feeling of my
    constituents toward yours. I am sure I feel no hostility toward you,
    Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever
    sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I can not now
    say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well; and such, I am sure,
    is the feeling of the people whom I represent toward those whom you
    represent. I, therefore, feel that I but express their desire, when I
    say I hope, and they hope, for peaceable relations with you, though we
    must part. They may be mutually beneficial to us in the future, as
    they have been in the past, if you so will it. The reverse may bring
    disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it
    thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered them from
    the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and
    thus, putting our trust in God, and in our firm hearts and strong
    arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.

    In the course of my service here, associated, at different times, with
    a great variety of Senators, I see now around me some with whom I have
    served long; there have been points of collision, but whatever of
    offense there has been to me, I leave here--I carry with me no hostile
    remembrance. Whatever offense I have given, which has not been
    redressed, or for which satisfaction has not been demanded, I have,
    Senators, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my apology for any
    pain which, in the heat of discussion, I have inflicted. I go hence
    unincumbered of the remembrance of any injury received, and having
    discharged the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any
    injury offered.

    Mr. President and Senators, having made the announcement which the
    occasion seemed to me to require, it only remains for me to bid you a
    final adieu.

A frequent accusation alleged against Mr. Davis and other Southern
Senators who adopted his course of a formal withdrawal from the Senate, is
that they thus gave the Republican party control of the Senate, and
voluntarily surrendered its power to the hostile administration soon to be
inaugurated. It is a sufficient answer to this statement that the mere
admission that the administration was hostile to Southern interests, and
menacing to Southern safety and honor, or even that the South had good
reason for so believing, is to fix the responsibility of disunion
elsewhere than upon the Southern leaders.

To have retained his seat under such circumstances would have been
altogether inconsistent with Mr. Davis' conception of the nature of the
position. He was committed, by public announcement, to a very different
view of the obligations of the representative of a State in the Federal
Congress. Holding it to be a point of honor not to occupy such a relation,
with the object of hostility to the Government, years ago he announced, in
connection with an allusion to a calumnious insinuation, that he would
answer in monosyllables the man who would charge him with being a

Entertaining his view of the character of the American political system,
of which the foundation was the doctrine of a paramount allegiance of the
citizen to his State, when Mississippi withdrew from the Union, he had no
other alternative than to vacate the position which he held by her
commission, and which was, at once, the sign of the equality and
sovereignty of the States, and of the adherence of each to the league by
which she was united to the others. To represent a State adhering to the
Union, and use the position to make war upon the Government, or to retain
a seat in Congress when the State had, by its sovereign fiat, revoked its
grants, and withdrawn from the league, were offenses belonging to the last
stage of decadence in political morality and personal honor.

Retiring from the Senate, Mr. Davis returned, within a few days
thereafter, to his residence in Mississippi. The State was not unmindful
of the necessity of preparations for a war which, though not deemed
inevitable, was yet extremely probable. Mr. Davis was honored by an
appointment to the command of the militia of the State, with the rank of
Major-General. His retirement upon his plantation thus promised to be of
short duration, but before he could assume the responsibilities which
Mississippi, in this reiteration of her confidence, had conferred, the
voice of millions invoked his guidance of their destinies in the hazardous
experiment of independent national existence.

Secession, in its rapid progress, confirmed the threadbare theory of the
progressive tendency of revolutionary movements. Acquiring impetus as it
advanced, before the first of February, 1861, six States had declared
themselves no longer members of the Union.[20] Representatives from these
States met, in convention, at Montgomery, Alabama, on 4th February, 1861,
for the purpose of forming a provisional government. On the 8th February,
this body adopted a constitution, and proclaimed an addition to the family
of nations, under the title of THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA.

The next day the Congress of the Confederate States announced its choice
of the two highest constitutional officers of the new Government:

    President, JEFFERSON DAVIS, of Mississippi.

    Vice-President, ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS, of Georgia.



Thus, without the disorder of anarchy, and without the violence of armed
conflict, a new and imposing structure of state was speedily erected from
the separated fragments. The event was indeed unparalleled, and, to the
mind of the world, unused to the novel spectacle of the dismemberment of
an empire, except as the consummation of years of bloodshed, its
philosophy was difficult of comprehension.

The sixth of November, 1860, was the ominous day upon which the
revolution, so long threatened, and so often deferred by Southern
concession and sacrifice, was inaugurated. Upon that day, with the
election of Abraham Lincoln, was opened a new volume in American history.
Upon that day, the American Union, "formed to establish justice," resting
upon the principle of equality as its foundation-stone, passed under the
control of an arrogant majority, pledged to its perversion, to the
oppression of nearly one-half its members. From the profession of
fraternity, and the outward pretense of comity, it passed under the
domination of principles whose origin was discord and whose logical result
was dissolution.

The answer of those who were threatened most seriously by this subversion
of the Government of their fathers, though well considered, neither
debated with passion, nor concluded with rashness, was worthy of men--the
descendants of the authors of American Independence, and educated in that
political school which teaches the assertion of the rights of the few
against the power of the many. A manly resistance, such as only threatened
degradation inspires in the bosoms of freemen, which the insolence of
faction had long defied and a conscious physical superiority had haughtily
derided, was, at length, thoroughly aroused. Within a few months, the
revolutionary movement, begun in November, and pressed, by its authors, to
its inevitable consequences, had reached the important result of a
withdrawal of nearly one-fourth of the States constituting the American

The new government, in the incidents attending its construction and
setting in operation, fully vindicated the earnest and conscientious
convictions of the people who had called it into existence. The absence of
tumult and of all passionate display, at Montgomery, was in marked
contrast with the indecent exultation witnessed at Washington from the
adherents of the incoming administration. The calmness, moderation, and
evident earnestness of purpose which prevailed at the South, and was thus
manifested by those who were intrusted with the framing of the new
government, impressed the world to an extent that prepared it to entertain
a sympathy for the Southern cause not to have been expected from the
prevalent, though erroneous, impressions of foreigners respecting the
merits of the sectional quarrel in America.

That secession was not a revolutionary movement, but merely the necessary
defense of a people threatened with material ruin and political
degradation, by a revolution which had already been consummated, was amply
demonstrated by its immediate consequences. The Confederate leaders, at
Montgomery, exhibited an almost religious veneration for the spirit,
forms, and associations of the government which they had abandoned. The
strict adherence of the Montgomery Constitution to the features of the
Federal instrument, indicates the absurdity of the impression that it was
a proclamation of revolution; and the circumstances of its adoption are
totally inconsistent with a correct conception of the conduct of an
insurgent body.

It was a signal improvement upon the original American Constitution, and
the few alterations made were commended by enlightened and conservative
intellects every-where, as necessary changes in the perfection of the
American polity. The object sought, and successfully consummated, was to
embody every valuable principle of the old Constitution with certain
remedial provisions for the correction of obvious evils, which experience
had fully indicated. Among these changes, which were universally
recognized as of the utmost value, were provisions making the Presidential
term six years, instead of four, as under the old system, and precluding
reëlection; permitting cabinet ministers to participate in the debates of
Congress, and the virtual abolition of the pernicious system of removing
all officials, of whatever degree, upon each advent of a new
administration. The Confederate Constitution positively prohibited the
African slave-trade, which the Federal Constitution had failed to do. A
striking provision, and one never before avowed in any similar instrument,
was the prohibition of duties for the purpose of protection. There was,
indeed, nothing whatever in the Montgomery instrument which a candid and
enlightened public sentiment, even at the North, might not have fully
approved, excepting the ample and avowed protection to property in slaves.
This, it was claimed, was not an alteration of the old Constitution, but
merely a formal interpretation of its obvious purpose.

In no respect was the action of the new Confederacy deemed more fortunate
than in the selection of its leader. That, in the choice of Mr. Davis as
President, the Congress only responded to the preconceived choice of the
Southern people, was attested by the spontaneous acclamation with which
the announcement was received. Even those who had been in doubt as to the
proper personage to endow with the powers and responsibilities of a
position, at once the most onerous, and, looking to the contingencies of
the early future, a long and sanguinary war, with the chances of a
disastrous termination, the most precarious of modern times, yielded
hearty recognition of the wise selection of the Congress.

The responsibilities and difficulties of the trust, did not suggest to Mr.
Davis hesitation as to its acceptance. If this, the highest distinction
which public appreciation had yet tendered him should prove a forlorn
hope, his sense of duty would no more permit hesitation than in the
assumption of more cheaply-earned honors. Entertaining no purpose of
inglorious ease, amid the trials and perils, which, with a prevision,
rare, indeed, at that period, he already anticipated, his own preference
was for a different station of public service. Months subsequently he
indicated the post of danger as the post of duty to which he had aspired
in that gigantic struggle through which his country must pass to the
assurance of independence. "I then imagined," said he, "that it might be
my fortune again to lead Mississippians in the field, and to be with them
where danger was to be braved and glory won. I thought to find that place
which I believed to be suited to my capacity--that of an officer in the
service of the State of Mississippi."[21]

Of the public conviction as to his preëminent fitness, there could not be
a question. His character, his abilities, his military education and
experience, had long been recognized throughout the Union, and his exalted
reputation was a source of just pride to the South. No Southern statesman
presented so admirable a combination of purity, dignity, firmness,
devotion, and skill--qualities for which there is an inexorable demand in
revolutionary periods. William Tell, with his cross-bow and apple, to the
rustic simplicity of the Swiss, was the very embodiment of the genius of
liberty. Far beyond any influence of fiction was the magic potency of the
red shirt and felt hat of Garibaldi to imaginative Italy; and Washington,
as Lamartine said, with his sword and the law, was the symbol standing
erect at the cradle of American liberty. Equally with the greatest of
these prototypes was Jefferson Davis, the symbol of the noble aspirations
of the proud, impulsive, chivalrous race which confided to him the conduct
of its destinies through the wilderness of revolution to the goal of
independence and nationality beyond. He did not seek the position; had not
been conspicuous in flaming exhortations to popular assemblies; had not
employed any of the arts of the demagogue--of flattery or cajolery of the
masses into a false and extravagant estimate of his qualities; but before
the world were his character, fame, and services, in unadorned simplicity,
painted only in the severe colors of truth. It was the tribute to virtue,
most to be valued when unsought; the award of honor, only appropriate when
merited and becomingly worn.

Mr. Davis' assumption of his trust was characterized by a dignity, absence
of ostentation, and profound appreciation of its delicate nature, in the
highest degree imposing. From it was augured such a worthy administration
of public affairs as would secure for the Confederacy, if permitted the
blessings of peace, an enviable position among the nations of the earth.
But his first announcement of its policy indicated his appreciation of the
danger of war, in which its utmost exertions would be required to
vindicate the independence which the States had declared. To the heroic
maintenance of that position he committed himself by the most emphatic
avowals; and in whatever contingency, whether of peace or war, his purpose
was one of deathless resistence to any denial of the right of
self-government, which his fellow-citizens had exercised.

Informed of his election, Mr. Davis immediately left his home for the seat
of government. Along the route to Montgomery he was greeted, by the
people, with every possible demonstration of patriotic enthusiasm and
personal regard. In response to these demonstrations, he at several
points addressed the people in terms of characteristic eloquence, dignity
and moderation.

Proud, indeed, must ever be, to the Southern people, the contrast of the
noble bearing of their chosen ruler with the display of vulgarity
attending the journey of Mr. Lincoln from Springfield to Washington. These
two men--the one with the calm dignity of the statesman and the polished
bearing of the gentleman; the other with coarse jests and buffoonery, upon
the eve of the most important event in their individual history, and
pregnant with significance to millions--were no bad indices of the
civilization of their respective sections.

Arriving in Montgomery, Mr. Davis was inaugurated on the 18th February,
with a simplicity of ceremony, an absence of personal inflation, and a
degree of popular enthusiasm, which well befitted the formal assertion of
true republican liberty, equally protected against the license of mobs and
the usurpations of tyrants. The ceremonies of inauguration were little
more than the taking of the oath of office and the delivery of the
inaugural address. The inaugural of President Davis is unquestionably of
the highest order of state papers. As a model of composition, it is rarely
equaled; and its statement of the position of the South, the grievances
which had led to the assumption of that position, her hopes, aspirations,
and purposes, has never been surpassed in power and perspicuity, by any
similar document.

    MONDAY, FEB. 18, 1861.

    _Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederate States of America;
    Friends and Fellow-Citizens_:

    Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Executive of
    the Provisional Government which you have instituted, I approach the
    discharge of the duties assigned to me with an humble distrust of my
    abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in the wisdom of those who
    are to guide and aid me in the administration of public affairs, and
    an abiding faith in the virtue and patriotism of the people.

    Looking forward to the speedy establishment of a permanent government
    to take the place of this, and which, by its greater moral and
    physical power, will be better able to combat with the many
    difficulties which arise from the conflicting interests of separate
    nations, I enter upon the duties of the office, to which I have been
    chosen, with the hope that the beginning of our career, as a
    Confederacy, may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to our
    enjoyment of the separate existence and independence which we have
    asserted, and, with the blessing of Providence, intend to maintain.
    Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the
    history of nations, illustrates the American idea that governments
    rest upon the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the
    people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become
    destructive of the ends for which they were established.

    The declared purpose of the compact of union from which we have
    withdrawn, was "to establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity,
    provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and
    secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity;" and when,
    in the judgment of the sovereign States now composing this
    Confederacy, it had been perverted from the purposes for which it was
    ordained, and had ceased to answer the ends for which it was
    established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot-box, declared, that so
    far as they were concerned, the government created by that compact
    should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted a right which the
    Declaration of Independence of 1776 had defined to be inalienable. Of
    the time and occasion for its exercise, they, as sovereigns, were the
    final judges, each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict
    of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct, and He, who
    knows the hearts of men, will judge of the sincerity with which we
    labored to preserve the government of our fathers in its spirit. The
    right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the States, and which has
    been affirmed and re-affirmed in the bills of rights of States
    subsequently admitted into the Union of 1789, undeniably recognizes in
    the people the power to resume the authority delegated for the
    purposes of government. Thus the sovereign States, here represented,
    proceeded to form this Confederacy, and it is by abuse of language
    that their act has been denominated a revolution. They formed a new
    alliance, but within each State its government has remained, and the
    rights of person and property have not been disturbed. The agent,
    through whom they communicated with foreign nations, is changed; but
    this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.

    Sustained by the consciousness that the transition from the former
    Union to the present Confederacy, has not proceeded from a disregard
    on our part of just obligations, or any failure to perform any
    constitutional duty; moved by no interest or passion to invade the
    rights of others; anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all
    nations, if we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that
    posterity will acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it. Doubly
    justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton
    aggression on the part of others, there can be no cause to doubt that
    the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States
    will be found equal to any measures of defense which honor and
    security may require.

    An agricultural people, whose chief interest is the export of a
    commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is
    peace and the freest trade which our necessities will permit. It is
    alike our interest, and that of all those to whom we would sell and
    from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable
    restrictions upon the interchange of commodities. There can be but
    little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating
    community, such as the North-eastern States of the American Union. It
    must follow, therefore, that a mutual interest would invite good will
    and kind offices. If, however, passion or the lust of dominion should
    cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must
    prepare to meet the emergency, and to maintain, by the final
    arbitrament of the sword, the position which we have assumed among the
    nations of the earth. We have entered upon the career of independence,
    and it must be inflexibly pursued. Through many years of controversy
    with our late associates, the Northern States, we have vainly
    endeavored to secure tranquillity, and to obtain respect for the
    rights to which we were entitled. As a necessity, not a choice, we
    have resorted to the remedy of separation; and henceforth our energies
    must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs, and the perpetuity
    of the Confederacy which we have formed. If a just perception of
    mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our separate
    political career, my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled; but
    if this be denied to us, and the integrity of our territory and
    jurisdiction be assailed, it will but remain for us, with firm
    resolve, to appeal to arms and invoke the blessings of Providence on a
    just cause.

    As a consequence of our new condition, and with a view to meet
    anticipated wants, it will be necessary to provide for the speedy and
    efficient organization of branches of the Executive Department,
    having special charge of foreign intercourse, finance, military
    affairs, and the postal service.

    For purposes of defense, the Confederate States may, under ordinary
    circumstances, rely mainly upon the militia; but it is deemed
    advisable, in the present condition of affairs, that there should be a
    well-instructed and disciplined army, more numerous than would usually
    be required on a peace establishment. I also suggest that, for the
    protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas, a navy
    adapted to those objects will be required. These necessities have
    doubtless engaged the attention of Congress.

    With a Constitution differing only from that of our fathers, in so far
    as it is explanatory of their well-known intent, freed from the
    sectional conflicts which have interfered with the pursuit of the
    general welfare, it is not unreasonable to expect that States, from
    which we have recently parted, may seek to unite their fortunes with
    ours under the government which we have instituted. For this your
    Constitution makes adequate provision; but beyond this, if I mistake
    not the judgment and will of the people, a reunion with the States
    from which we have separated is neither practicable nor desirable. To
    increase the power, develop the resources, and promote the happiness
    of the Confederacy, it is requisite that there should be so much of
    homogeneity that the welfare of every portion shall be the aim of the
    whole. Where this does not exist, antagonisms are engendered which
    must and should result in separation.

    Actuated solely by the desire to preserve our own rights and promote
    our own welfare, the separation of the Confederate States has been
    marked by no aggression upon others, and followed by no domestic
    convulsion. Our industrial pursuits have received no check; the
    cultivation of our fields has progressed as heretofore; and even
    should we be involved in war, there would be no considerable
    diminution in the production of the staples which have constituted our
    exports, and in which the commercial world has an interest scarcely
    less than our own. This common interest of the producer and consumer
    can only be interrupted by an exterior force, which should obstruct
    its transmission to foreign markets--a course of conduct which would
    be as unjust toward us as it would be detrimental to manufacturing and
    commercial interests abroad. Should reason guide the action of the
    Government from which we have separated, a policy so detrimental to
    the civilized world, the Northern States included, could not be
    dictated by even the strongest desire to inflict injury upon us; but
    if otherwise, a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, and the
    suffering of millions will bear testimony to the folly and wickedness
    of our aggressors. In the meantime, there will remain to us, besides
    the ordinary means before suggested, the well-known resources for
    retaliation upon the commerce of an enemy.

    Experience in public stations, of subordinate grade to this which your
    kindness has conferred, has taught me that care, and toil, and
    disappointment, are the price of official elevation. You will see many
    errors to forgive, many deficiencies to tolerate, but you shall not
    find in me either a want of zeal or fidelity to the cause that is to
    me highest in hope and of most enduring affection. Your generosity has
    bestowed upon me an undeserved distinction--one which I neither sought
    nor desired. Upon the continuance of that sentiment, and upon your
    wisdom and patriotism, I rely to direct and support me in the
    performance of the duty required at my hands.

    We have changed the constituent parts but not the system of our
    Government. The Constitution formed by our fathers is that of these
    Confederate States, in their exposition of it; and, in the judicial
    construction it has received, we have a light which reveals its true

    Thus instructed as to the just interpretation of the instrument, and
    ever remembering that all offices are but trusts held for the people,
    and that delegated powers are to be strictly construed, I will hope,
    by due diligence in the performance of my duties, though I may
    disappoint your expectations, yet to retain, when retiring, something
    of the good-will and confidence which welcomed my entrance into

    It is joyous, in the midst of perilous times, to look around upon a
    people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and
    actuates the whole--where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in
    the balance against honor, and right, and liberty, and equality.
    Obstacles may retard--they can not long prevent--the progress of a
    movement sanctified by its justice, and sustained by a virtuous
    people. Reverently let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and
    protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which, by his
    blessing, they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to
    their posterity, and with a continuance of His favor, ever gratefully
    acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and
    to prosperity.

Working in great harmony between its executive and legislative
departments, the new government, within a very few weeks, presented an
extraordinary spectacle of compact organization, though in all its parts
it was yet purely provisional. The Cabinet announced by the President,
embraced, for the most part, names well known to the country in connection
with important public trusts. It may not be inappropriate to speak briefly
here of those who sustained to President Davis the close relations of
constitutional advisers.

Mr. Robert Toombs, the Secretary of State, was indebted for his
appointment not less to the position of his State, the first in rank in
the Confederacy, than to the public appreciation of his abilities. For
several years he had represented Georgia in the United States Senate, and
in that body his reputation was very high as a debater and orator. His
oratory, however, was a good index of his mind and disposition, strong and
impassioned, but desultory, vehement and blustering. Mr. Toombs had
contributed largely to prepare the people of Georgia for secession, and
his fierce and persistent eloquence had greatly accelerated the movement.
His capacity for agitation and destruction was indeed immeasurably
superior to any qualification that he may have had for reconstructing the
broken and scattered fragments of the governmental column. Restless,
arrogant, and intolerant--a born destructive and inveterate agitator--Mr.
Toombs speedily demonstrated his deficiency in statesmanship. His
connection with the Confederate Cabinet was of brief duration, and his
subsequent military service undistinguished. The War Department--the
second post of distinction in the Cabinet--was given to Alabama, the
second State of the Confederacy, in the person of Mr. Leroy P. Walker. His
connection with the Government, like that of Mr. Toombs, was brief, and
wholly unmarked by evidence of fitness. Mr. Memminger, of South Carolina,
the Secretary of the Treasury, made an exceedingly unpopular officer, and,
as the sequel demonstrated, was incompetent to the delicate task of
financial management. The Attorney-General, Mr. Benjamin, of Louisiana, an
eminent lawyer and a prominent Senator, was, beyond all question, the
ablest of Mr. Davis' Cabinet. He was a man of marvelous intellectual
resources, an orator, a lawyer, and gifted, to an unexampled degree, in
the varied attributes, entering into the _savior faire_ of politics and
diplomacy. Mr. Benjamin continued the trusted counselor of President Davis
during the whole period of his authority. Mr. Mallory, of Florida, was the
Secretary of the Navy--a gentleman of excellent sense, unpretending
manners, who probably conducted his department as successfully as was
possible, with the limited naval resources of the South. The Post-office
Department was given to Mr. Reagan, of Texas, noted for his fidelity,
industry, and good sense.

The Cabinet of President Davis was destined to many changes in the
progress of subsequent events. Of those originally appointed, Messrs.
Benjamin, Mallory, and Reagan continued their connection with the
Confederate Government during the entire period of its existence. The
brief experiment of Confederate independence was fruitful in illustrations
of the important truth that political distinction achieved in the ordinary
struggles of parties, in times of profound peace, is not the sure
guarantee of the possession of those especial and peculiar qualifications
which befit the circumstances of revolution. That President Davis, in the
selection of some of his advisers, was at fault, is to be ascribed rather
to the novelty and necessities of the public situation than to errors of
his judgment. Not only must public sentiment respecting men be to some
extent consulted, but the test of experience must, necessarily, after all,
determine the question of fitness, where all were untried.

Jefferson Davis now occupied a position in the highest sense historical.
It was plain that his name was destined to be indelibly associated with a
series of incidents forming a most thrilling and instructive episode in
political history. As the exponent of a theory of constitutional
principles never asserted, and unknown save through the inspiration of the
genius of American Liberty, and as the head of a Government whose birth
and destiny must enter conspicuously into all future questions of popular
government, he stood, in a double sense, the central figure in a most
striking phase of the drama of human progress. Splendid as had been
American history until that day, it was now to contribute, still more
generously, to the illumination of the great truths of political science.

The issue was again to be joined between constitutional freedom and the
odious despotism of an enthroned mob. On the one side were asserted the
principles of regulated liberty, without which free government can never
be stable--order, allegiance, and reverence for law and authority. On the
other, the wild passions of an infuriated populace, hurling down the
restraints of law, shattering constitutions; and when its frenzied lust
had been satiated by the destruction of every accessible image of virtue
and order, transferring supreme power from its polluted grasp to the hands
of demagogues--capable agents of the depraved will which invests them with

Such was really a faithful contrast of the two powers which were now
inaugurated in what had been the United States. It was still the old Greek
question of the "few or the many," the "King Numbers" of the North against
the conservatism of the South. The old contest was to be revived, of Cleon
and Nicias, in the Athenian Agora, and struggling on through the political
battle-fields of free governments in all ages.

It is not an abuse of language to characterize the North as realizing the
_ultra_ theory of popular government. Its political fabric rests
exclusively upon the Utopian conception of an intelligence and integrity
in the masses which they have never been known to possess. Carrying out
its pernicious construction of the doctrine of the Declaration of
Independence, that "all men are born free and equal," it professes to hold
in light esteem the obvious distinctions of race, property, and color.
Earnestly devoted to the successful illustration of the experiment of
Democracy, it has sedulously directed its social and political development
to the overthrow of caste, the obliteration of necessary social
distinctions, and the practical assertion of the principle of absolute
social, political, and personal equality among all men. The election of
Lincoln was the grand, decisive triumph of these tendencies. He went into
power as the avowed champion of the interests of the poor and laboring
classes, which he declared to be in conflict with those of the
slave-holding aristocrats of the South. Entirely undistinguished, with no
political record, his popularity was based upon his vulgar antecedents--no
slight recommendation to the populace, gratified at the prospective
promotion of one of its own class.

A free society, politically, in which wealth and distinction were debarred
to none, the aristocratic influences of slavery were the propitious
inducements in the South, to the cultivation of that personal dignity
which marks the refinement of rank, in contradistinction to the vulgar
pretensions and affectation of a mere aristocracy of money. The patrician
society of the South sought the noblest type of republicanism--regulated
liberty--beyond the influence of ignorant and fanatical mobs, that perfect
order which reposes securely upon virtue, intelligence, and interested
attachment, which all human experience teaches are the only reliable
safeguards of freedom.

The noblest achievement of constitutional liberty would have been the
realization of the Southern ideal of republicanism. The success and
beneficence of such a government would have been in perfect accord with
the philosophy of history. Every nation to which has been guaranteed a
free constitution is indebted for its liberal features to its educated,
patrician classes, while all the decayed republics of history owed their
downfall to the corruption and excesses of an "unbridled Democracy."

Of such a government, Jefferson Davis was the appropriately chosen head.
An ardent republican, in the truest and noblest sense of that abused term,
a foe to absolutism and radicalism in every shape, he was the noblest
product of a conservatism in which the elements of distinction were
ability, intelligence, refinement, and social position. When, added to
this representative quality, are considered his splendid career of public
service, and his varied talents, exemplified on almost every field of
exertion, it must be conceded that no ruler was ever more worthily invited
to the head of a nation, and assuredly none ever was invited with such
unanimity of popular acclaim.

We have said that Jefferson Davis must ever appear to the eye of mankind
the historic representative of the Confederate cause. The North can not,
assuredly, reject this decision, since it made him the vicarious sufferer
for what it affected to consider the sins of a nation. Through him, it
actually accomplished that from which the great abilities of Edmund Burke
recoiled in confession of impotent endeavor, the indictment of an entire
people. Those Southern men who have rashly and ungenerously assailed him
as responsible for the failure of the South to win its independence, can
not complain if the verdict of history shall be that the genius of its
leader was worthy of a noble cause, whose fate the laws of nature, not the
resources or the impotence of one man, determined. The star of Napoleon
went down upon the disastrous field of Waterloo, and the millions that he
had liberated passed again under the domination of tyrants whom they
despised. But would the most stupid Bourbon partisan, therefore, call in
question the mighty genius of Napoleon? It is a glorious memory to
France, that her illustrious sovereign, aided by the valor of her
children, defied for twenty years, the arms of combined Europe, but she
has no blush that those energies were not equal to an indefinite
resistance. That the South, struggling against mortal odds, with her
comparatively feeble resources constantly diminishing with each prodigious
effort, finally succumbed to an enemy inexhaustible in strength and
reinforced by the world, is no testimony against either the valor or the
skill with which her struggle was directed. Like Washington, Davis was
embarrassed, in a hazardous cause, with defection, distrust, and
discontent. But, unlike Washington, Davis did not receive the assistance
of a powerful ally at the moment when aid could be most serviceably

Recurring to the early history of the Confederacy, during the brief season
when Montgomery was its seat of government, and especially to its
unwritten details, there seems wanting no auspicious omen to presage for
it future security and renown. The cause and its leader equally challenged
the enthused sympathies of a patriotic people, and all that patriotism was
ready to sacrifice for the one was cheerfully confided to the other.
Hopefully, almost joyously, the young Confederacy began its short-lived
career. Those were the halcyon days of that cheap patriotism and ferocious
valor which delights to vaunt itself beyond the sound of "war's rude
alarms." Every aspect of the situation appears tinged with the _couleur de
rose_. In fancied security of certain independence, achieved without the
harsh resort of arms, demagogues boasted that they courted a trial of
strength with the North, as an opportunity for the display of Southern
prowess. Men who subsequently were noted for unscrupulous assaults upon
the Confederate administration, and, since the war, for their ready
prostration before the Northern juggernaut, were then loud in "never
surrender" proclamations of eternal separation from the North.

Such was not an appropriate season for expressing grave and painful doubts
of the President's fitness for his high trust. No whisper was then heard
of his want of appreciation of his situation. There was no intimation then
that he failed to discern the future, or refused to provide against the
perils that menaced the Confederacy, and were so obvious to more sagacious
minds. Sensational newspaper correspondents, professing to base their
accounts upon reliable hints from the executive quarter, were profuse in
their panegyrics upon his indefatigable industry, his vigilance,
penetration, and marvelous intuition of Yankee designs. They vied with
each other in telling the world, especially the North, of the stupendous
preparations which the Government was making in anticipation of a possible
attempt at coercion by the Lincoln government. It was evident, from the
outgivings of every source of opinion, that the Confederates trusting much
to the merits of their cause and their own valor, yet largely depended for
the successful issue of their assertion of independence upon the
soldier-statesman, who, charged with many public duties, had never proven
either unwilling or incapable in any trust. The time for censure was not
yet at hand. Incompetent generals and recreant politicians were not yet in
want of a scape-goat upon which to throw their own delinquencies. Harsh
and censorious criticism was reserved for a more opportune period, when
the Confederacy, like a wearied gladiator, whose spirit was invincible,
reeled under the exhaustion of a dozen successive combats, with as many
fresh adversaries.

The high administrative capacity of Mr. Davis had received a most
fortunate discipline in his brilliant conduct of the Federal War
Department. That service was a valuable auxiliary to his efficiency as the
executive head of a new government, whose safety was, from its incipiency,
to depend upon the resources of that rarest phase of genius, the combined
capacity for civil and military administration. The complex machinery of
government, even when moving smoothly in the accustomed grooves, imposes
not only severe labor, but is frequently a painful tax upon the faculties
of those most familiar with its workings. When to the labor of
comprehension is added the task of construction and organization from
comparative chaos, such as prevailed at Montgomery, and as prevails
every-where, as the result of political change, the difficulties are
increased tenfold. Creation must then precede order. Organization is to be
perfected before administration can be successfully attempted. It is this
task of organization which has invoked some of the most splendid displays
of genius, and interposed the obstacles which have occasioned its severest
disappointments. Universal testimony awards to Napoleon, for his wonderful
ingenuity in penetrating social necessities and meeting civil emergencies,
a merit not inferior to his unrivaled genius for war. Frederick the Great,
in times of peace, exhibited a vicious pragmatism which rendered his civil
rule contemptible when contrasted with his military success.

The underlying secret of all successful administration is the union of the
advantages flowing from unity of purpose, and those resulting from
division of labor--so necessary to exact and intelligent execution.
President Davis, throughout his administration, sought the attainment of
this aim. Confiding the various departments to men of at least reputed
talents and integrity, he yet exercised that constant supervision which
was inseparable from his responsibilities, and exacted by public
expectation, and this without arrogance or dictation. Disingenuous
criticism has alleged that, by an assumption of autocracy, he united in
himself all the powers and prerogatives of government, and thus professes
to hold him alone responsible for the loss of his country's liberties. A
score of years, or even a decade hence, and he will be exalted as the
all-informing mind which directed, vitalized, and inspired the noblest
struggle of republicanism known to ancient or modern story.

At the organization of the Confederate Government, his individual taste,
capacity and experience, were fortunately coincident with the necessities
of the situation in urging upon President Davis a thorough and efficient
military establishment upon a war footing. The necessity of thorough
preparation for war with the United States was never lost sight of by him.
Whatever his efforts to avert that calamity, its probabilities were too
menacing not to challenge unremitting precautions. In the War Department
and military legislation of the Confederacy was felt the infusion of his
energy and system, and were realized the fruits of his labors. There can
be no more splendid monument of his genius than that superb specimen of
scientific mechanism, the army of the Confederate States. Its nucleus was
prepared in those few weeks' respite from actual war, passed by the
Confederate Government, at Montgomery; and the framework then established
was subsequently enlarged upon, until it was developed into a model of
military anatomy--of complex, yet harmonious organism--seldom rivaled and
never surpassed in the history of war. Whatever may be said of defective
features exhibited in the Confederate military organization, in the
numerous and varied campaigns of the war, those defects are not to be
attributed to the original system. Whatever may be alleged against its
lax discipline--that morbid influence which so fearfully enervated its
efficiency, neutralized valor and strategy, and made the war a series of
magnificent but valueless successes, the shadow without the substance of
victory--the fault was in the execution, not in the original conception.
However admirably tempered the blade, that must be a skillful hand which
would efficiently wield it.

A graduate of West Point and a practical as well as theoretical soldier,
President Davis naturally and, as the war demonstrated, wisely inclined in
his military administration to those theories which regard war as a
science difficult and laborious of mastery. His marked and judicious
partiality for _educated soldiers_ was often the ground of censorious
comment during the war, but this will hardly be adjudged a fault now.
"West Point" was amply vindicated by the experience of both armies,
against the sneers of those who affected such extreme admiration for the
"native genius" of citizen-soldiers. With a few notable exceptions in the
Confederate army (and here is to be considered the peculiar genius for war
of the South), and scarcely one worth mention in the armies of the North,
the achievements of educated officers, and those of officers from civil
life, are so utterly disproportionate as to forbid comparison.

The paramount object of all Confederate diplomacy was to secure a
recognition of the new Government by the Government of the United States.
If war with the United States could be averted, the Confederacy was, for
all time, a fixed fact. At an early period President Davis instituted
efforts to secure by negotiation possession of certain fortifications and
other property of the Federal Government located within the limits of the
seceded States. Arsenals, located in the interior, had, in many instances,
been seized by the State troops previous to the formation of the
Confederate Government. Happily, those in authority at these places,
appreciating the folly of resistance in a situation utterly helpless, had
avoided a needless shedding of blood, by a prompt compliance with the
demands of the State authorities.

When the Confederate Government went into operation, there were but two
fortifications within the limits of its jurisdiction in the possession of
Federal garrisons: Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, and Fort Pickens,
off Pensacola, Florida. These two positions were of the utmost value to
the Confederacy, viewed as to location, and their peaceable acquisition
was of increased importance in consideration of the obstinate defense of
which they were capable. The continued occupation of these positions by
Federal forces was, in the highest degree, inconsistent with the dignity
of the Confederacy after it had proclaimed a distinct and independent
nationality. Moreover, in the present temper of the dominant party in the
United States, a large majority of which favored coercion of the South
back into the Union, Federal occupancy of these forts was a menace to the
safety of the Confederacy.

It is easy to appreciate the delicate character of the diplomacy now
required by the situation of the Confederacy. Without at all acquiescing
in the Federal possession of Sumter and Pickens--on the contrary,
asserting the right of the Confederacy to those places, and avowing its
willingness to give adequate compensation whenever they should be
surrendered--it was yet necessary to avoid affront to a respectable
minority at the North, influenced, apparently, by pacific intentions. In
short, it became the settled policy of the Confederate Government to
postpone collision with the Federal Government until the latest possible
moment--until obvious considerations of public safety should impel a
resort to hostile measures.

President Buchanan, whose term of office expired March 4, 1861, after
numerous badly disguised attempts at duplicity with the Confederate
authorities, or more properly, with the authorities of some of the States
constituting the Confederacy, and after a contemptibly weak and driveling
policy of evasion, had left the negotiations between the two Governments
in a most unsatisfactory and confused condition. A brief summary of Mr.
Buchanan's conduct affords a most singular exhibition of mingled
imbecility, timidity, and disingenuousness. His course, until the meeting
of Congress, in December, 1860, was understood to be in thorough accord
with that of the States' Rights party of the South. In that party were his
most trusted advisers, both in and out of the Cabinet, and it had given to
his administration a consistent and cordial support. Like them, he was
pledged to the preservation of a _constitutional Union_, and also to a
full recognition of the perils which menaced the South, resulting from the
late sectional triumph. In his opening message he condemned the exercise
of secession as unauthorized and illegal, but denied emphatically the
right of coercion. Yet, in the sequel, he proved, equally with the
Republican party, an enemy to peaceable secession.

When South Carolina was preparing for secession, Mr. Buchanan entered into
a solemn understanding with a delegation of several of her most prominent
citizens, that, upon condition that the people and authorities of that
State should refrain from hostile demonstrations, no reinforcements
should be sent to the forts in Charleston harbor, and that "_their
relative military status should remain as at present_." Yet, when Major
Anderson, in positive violation of this agreement, removed his forces from
the weaker forts to Fort Sumter, Mr. Buchanan refused to order him back.
Having broken one stipulation, he now determined to disregard the other,
and, under the pretense of "provisioning a starving garrison," Mr.
Buchanan attempted to send troops to Sumter.[22]

But the conduct of Mr. Buchanan, weak, offensive, and disgusting, as it
was to both North and South, becomes simply pitiable, when contrasted with
the greater magnitude of the perfidy of the Lincoln government.

The two Presidents, Davis and Lincoln, were inaugurated within a fortnight
of each other--the first on the 18th of February, the latter on the 4th of
March. Between them the question of peace or war must, after all,
depend--for, however pacific might have been Mr. Buchanan's policy, it
would fail, should Lincoln adopt a belligerent course. Considerable hope
was, at times, indulged, that the negotiations with Mr. Lincoln and his
Cabinet would at least be marked with a better display of candor than had
commemorated the policy of his predecessor. These negotiations, as
fruitless as those attempted in Congress during the preceding winter, for
the prevention of secession, were to involve a question of even more
moment. The direct issue of peace or war was now pending. It is
confidently and successfully maintained by the South, that in the grave
question of responsibility for actual bloodshed, her vindication is as
clear and incontestable as must ever be her acquittal of the
responsibility of disunion. War with the United States was deprecated by
official declaration of the Confederate States as "a policy detrimental to
the civilized world." Most impressive is the declaration of President
Davis' inaugural: "Sustained by the consciousness that the transition from
the former Union to the present Confederacy has not proceeded from a
disregard, on our part, of just obligations, or any failure to perform any
constitutional duty--moved by no interest or passion to invade the rights
of others--anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations, _if
we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that posterity will
acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it_."

President Davis was at all times most solicitous for peace, and adopted
every expedient of negotiation that could promote that end. Heartily
responding to the wishes of the Congress and people of the Confederacy, he
appointed, in February, an embassy to the Government at Washington. The
resolution of Congress, asking that the embassy should be sent, explains
its object to be the "negotiating friendly relations between that
Government and the Confederate States of America, and for the settlement
of all questions of disagreement between the two governments upon
principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith."

Two of these commissioners, Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth, arrived in
Washington on the 5th of March, the day succeeding Mr. Lincoln's
inauguration. Wishing to allow the President abundant opportunity for the
discharge of the urgent official duties necessarily crowding upon him at
such a season, the Confederate commissioners did not immediately press
their mission upon his attention. At first giving merely an informal
announcement of their arrival, they waited until the 12th of March before
making an official presentation of their mission. On that day they
addressed a formal communication to the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward,
announcing their authority to settle with the Federal Government all
claims of public property arising from the separation of the States from
the Union, and to negotiate for the withdrawal of the Federal forces from
Forts Sumter and Pickens.

Here begins a record of perfidy, the parallel of which is not to be found
in the history of the world. Mr. Seward, while declining to recognize the
Confederate commissioners officially, yet frequently held confidential
communication with them, by which the faith of the two Governments was
fully pledged to a line of policy, by what should certainly be the
strongest form of assurance--the personal honor of their representatives.
In verbal interviews, the commissioners were frequently assured of a
pacific policy by the Federal Government, that Fort Sumter would be
evacuated, that the _status_ at Fort Pickens should not be changed, and
that no departure from these pacific intentions would be made without due
notice to the Confederate Government.

The commissioners, conformably to the spirit of their Government, to
avoid, if possible, collision with the United States, made an important
concession in these interviews in consenting to waive all questions of
form. It was alleged that formal negotiations with them, in an official
capacity, would seriously jeopardize the success of Mr. Lincoln's
manipulation of public sentiment at the North, which, it was further
confidentially alleged, he was sedulously educating to concurrence with
his own friendly purposes toward the Confederates. By this cunning device
and the unscrupulous employment of deception and falsehood in his
interviews with the commissioners, Mr. Seward accomplished the double
purpose of successful imposition upon the credulity of the commissioners
and evasion of official recognition of the Confederate embassy.

In the meantime, while these negotiations were pending, and in the midst
of these friendly assurances, the Lincoln administration was secretly
preparing hostile measures, and, as was clearly demonstrated by subsequent
revelations, had never seriously entertained any of the propositions
submitted by the Confederate Government. Resolved not to evacuate Fort
Sumter, the Federal Government, while amusing the Confederate
commissioners with cunning dalliance, had for weeks been meditating the
feasibility of reënforcing it. To pass the numerous batteries erected by
the Confederates in Charleston harbor was clearly a task of the utmost
difficulty, if, indeed, possible. So complete was the cordon of
Confederate batteries which had been in course of preparation for many
weeks, that the beleaguered fortress was evidently doomed whenever the
Confederates were provoked to fire upon it. The evacuation of Fort Sumter
was clearly a military necessity, so pronounced by the highest military
authority in the United States, and so regarded by the intelligent public
of the North. Never had a Government so auspicious an opportunity to save
the needless effusion of blood, and to avert indefinitely, if not finally,
the calamity of war.

Such a result was, however, farthest from the wishes of Mr. Lincoln and
the majority of his Cabinet. Reinforcement of Fort Sumter being out of the
question, it became the study of the Federal authorities to devise a
convenient and effective pretext by which the North could be united in a
war of subjugation against the South, and for the extermination of
slavery. To this end an expedition was ordered to Charleston, for the
purpose of supplying the garrison of Sumter with provisions, _peaceably or
forcibly_, as events might decide. As it was well known that the
Confederate authorities would not permit the execution of the object of
this expedition, it was clearly a measure of hostility, prepared and
conducted, too, under the most dishonorable circumstances of secrecy and
falsehood as to its destination.

In the meantime the Federal authorities continued to practice the base
policy of deception with the Confederate commissioners. Upon one occasion
Mr. Seward declared that Fort Sumter would be evacuated before a letter,
then ready to be mailed, could reach President Davis at Montgomery. Five
days afterward, General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate forces in
Charleston harbor, telegraphed the commissioners at Washington the ominous
intelligence that the Federal commandant was actively strengthening Fort
Sumter. The commissioners were again soothed with Mr. Seward's renewed
assurances of the positive intention of his government to evacuate the
fort. As late as the 7th of April Mr. Seward gave the emphatic assurance:
"Faith as to Sumter fully kept: wait and see." _This was the date of the
sailing of the Federal fleet with a strong military force on board._[23]
The just characterization, by President Davis, of these deceptions, was,
that "the crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an example so
wanting in courtesy, in candor, and directness, as was the course of the
United States Government toward our commissioners in Washington."[24]

The expedition was some hours on its way,[25] when its purpose to
provision the fort was announced to the Governor of South Carolina by an
agent of the United States. This announcement was telegraphed to
Montgomery by General Beauregard, who also asked for instructions. His
government replied, that if the message was authentic, a demand should be
made for the surrender of the fort to the Confederate forces; and in the
event of refusal, its reduction should be undertaken. On the 11th of April
the demand was made and refused.[26] In obedience to the orders of his
government General Beauregard opened fire upon Fort Sumter early on the
morning of the 12th April. On the 13th the fort surrendered.

The calculations of Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet, as to the result to be
produced by the attack on Fort Sumter, provoked by their deliberate and
dishonest design, were not disappointed. A furious and instantaneous rush
to arms by the North followed the intelligence of the surrender of the
fort, and revealed the ferocious lust with which it had awaited the signal
to begin the crusade against the liberties and property of the South. As
no possible trait of guilt had been wanting in the means employed to
precipitate hostilities, so no conceivable feature of atrocity was to be
wanting in the conduct of a war by the North, produced by its own avarice,
perfidy, and lust of dominion.

The brief recapitulation which we have given sufficiently exposes the
pretexts upon which the North began the war of coercion. Assuming that the
national dignity had been insulted, and the national honor violated, by an
attack upon the flag of the Union, under the impious profession of
vindicating the law, the North drew its sword against the sovereignty of
the States. It had procured the assault upon Sumter--that essential step
to the desired frenzy of the masses. By a shallow device, the South had
been provoked to initiate resistance--that long-sought pretext which
should justify the most barbaric invasion of modern times. Yet, under this
flimsy imposition, the North cloaks its crime, and exults in its
anticipated immunity from those execrations which have been the reward of
similar examples of turpitude. The spirit of inquiry is not to be thus
deftly eluded, nor the avenging sentence of history so easily perverted.
The question shall not be, who fired the first shot? but, _who offered the
first aggression? who first indicated the purpose of hostility?_ We are
not required to await the bursting forth of the flames over our heads,
when the fell intent of the incendiary is revealed to our sight. The
menace of the murderer justifies his intended victim in eluding the blow
while the steel is uplifted.

Jefferson Davis signed the order for the reduction of Fort Sumter, but he
did not thereby invoke the calamities of war. That act was simply the
patriot's defiance to the menace of tyranny. It was the choice of the
freeman between resistance and shame.



Events quickly followed the surrender of Fort Sumter, foreshadowing the
violence and magnitude of the strife about to be joined between the
sundered sections of America. If the North showed itself prompt and
enthusiastic to recognize the signal of conquest and spoliation, the South
was tenfold more resolute and confident in its triple armor of right. If
the adroit appeals of Mr. Lincoln's adherents, in behalf of an "insulted
flag," and an "outraged national dignity," broke down the barriers of
party, and united the Northern masses in an imagined crusade of patriotism
for the rescue of the Union, the occasion brought to the Confederacy
accessions of strength, which, if they did not ensure a successful
defense, established the fact of protracted resistance.

Mr. Lincoln and his advisers promptly seized upon the favorable
opportunity presented by the fanatical excitement prevalent throughout the
North. Within forty-eight hours after the intelligence of the bloodless
encounter of Sumter was flashed over the land, his proclamation of war
against the seceded States was read by thousands of excited people.[27] A
flimsy and indefensible perversion of an act, passed by Congress, in 1795,
which simply provided the raising of armed _posses_ "in aid of the civil
authorities," was the shallow pretext, under which was masked the real
design of a war which was to terminate in the destruction of the
sovereignty of the States. Beginning with this clear usurpation of the
power of Congress, which is alone authorized to declare war, and
proclaiming a purpose to "maintain the honor, the integrity, and
existence" of the Union, "and the perpetuity of popular government," the
work of conquest was begun.

The _role_ undertaken by the Federal government was embarrassed by many
difficulties. It had not yet relinquished the hope of retaining the Border
States firm in their adhesion to the Union. As yet the action of those
States had indicated no purpose of separation from the North, unless in
the event of direct interference by the Federal authorities with their
domestic concerns, or in the event of a war of subjugation against the
seceded States. Popular feeling in all the Border States was unmistakably
resolved against the policy of coercion, and in several instances State
Legislatures had declared a purpose to make common cause with the seceded
States, whenever the Federal authorities should appeal to force against
them. It was difficult indeed for the latter to reconcile their hostile
purposes against the Confederate States with the professions of peaceful
intentions which they so freely tendered to the Border States. Well
pleased, however, with the uniform success of its policy of duplicity, the
Federal administration adhered to its "treacherous amusement of double and
triple negotiations," hoping to amuse the Border States, by pacifying
assurances, until its schemes of coercion could be thoroughly
prepared.[28] But the sham was too transparent to deceive. Friendly
assurances and protestations of a desire to avoid the effusion of blood
were not to be accepted in the face of gigantic martial preparations.

An immediate consequence of Mr. Lincoln's proclamation of war, and
invocation of an army of seventy-five thousand men, for the subjugation of
the Cotton States, was to throw the mighty energies and heroic spirit of
Virginia, hitherto neutral and hesitating, into hearty sympathy with the
Confederacy. The sublime courage and devotion of this noble State,
manifested by the circumstances of her accession to the cause of her
sister States, have been the theme of repeated, but not extravagant
eulogy. With a full conviction of her own peculiar perils in a war which
she had zealously striven to prevent; from which, whatever its
eventualities, she had little to hope, and with a perfect prevision of
the ruin which was to ravage her bosom, Virginia proudly assumed the post
of leadership and of peril in the struggle for those immortal principles,
of which her soil was the nursery and her illustrious sons the foremost
champions. The historic _prestige_ of Virginia was heightened by this act
of supreme devotion, and the value of her influence was speedily
demonstrated by the enthusiastic accession of other States to the cause
which she had espoused. The ordinance of secession, adopted by the
Virginia Convention, was followed immediately by a temporary alliance[29]
with the Confederate States, and in a few weeks afterward the Confederacy
embraced, in addition to its original members, Virginia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, and Arkansas, each of which, by formal State action, ratified
the Confederate constitution.

The arbitrary acts of the Federal government, in Maryland and Missouri,
not only vindicated the course of those States which had interpreted its
policy as one of subjugation, but greatly strengthened the already
preponderant Southern sympathies of those two commonwealths. Increasing by
consecutive proclamations his demands for troops, Mr. Lincoln soon had
nearly two hundred thousand men under arms. These troops assembled under
false pretenses at different points, were used for purposes of glaring
despotism; overawing the pronounced Southern feeling of the people by
military arrests, by licentious and violent demonstrations of the
soldiery. Missouri was soon in open revolt against the Federal
authorities, and in Maryland a general uprising was prevented by the
thorough precautions which had been adopted, rendering clearly hopeless
such an undertaking. The Legislature of Missouri, unquestionably
representing a large majority of her citizens, eventually adopted an
ordinance of secession and ratified the constitution of the Confederate
States. Kentucky, vainly attempting a policy of neutrality, was divided in
sentiment and in strength between the contestants. A portion of her
citizens, residing within the Confederate lines, several months after the
beginning of the war, declared the State out of the Union, and associated
Kentucky with the Confederacy.

Such were the immediate consequences resulting from the capture of Fort
Sumter. All hopes of peace vanished in the rush of events which daily
contributed new elements to the incipient strife, and with constant
reinforcements of strength and feeling to each of the contending parties,
there was wanting no omen of a struggle bloody and exhaustive beyond all
previous example.

There were phases of the situation not to be lightly appreciated by so
thoughtful a statesman as President Davis, which did not encourage that
sanguine conviction, so extravagantly indulged in by many popular leaders,
of an overwhelming and immediate triumph of the Southern cause. The
immense disparity of physical resources, as was abundantly shown by the
lessons of history, could be neutralized by a wise public administration,
by superior valor, and by that high sense of public virtue, in its
original Roman sense of fortitude, endurance, and willing sacrifice in the
cause of country, which is the last and sure defense of a nation's
liberties. Nor were those important advantages of the South, to the value
of which historical precedents have so conclusively testified--a conscious
rectitude of purpose--a supreme conviction that theirs was the better
cause, and that, besides, it was a war for home and family, to be fought
mainly upon their own soil--to be overlooked in an intelligent estimate of
the relative strength of the belligerents.

It was not a failure to recognize these great advantages which forbade
wise and reflective Southern statesmen to indulge in those grotesque
exhibitions of braggadocio, with which demagogues amused excited crowds at
railway stations and upon street-corners. There was an element of weakness
in the South, which, looking to the contingencies of the future, and
remembering the incertitude of war, might prove the source of serious
danger. This was the absence of that unity in the South, to which all her
statesmen had looked forward, whenever actual battle should be joined
between the defenders and assailants of Southern liberties. To see a
"UNITED SOUTH," had been for years the dream of Calhoun's noble intellect.
Davis, with equal energy and ability, had striven for such united action
by the South as would command peace and security in the Union, or
independence beyond its limits. But now the battle was joined, and the
dream was not to be realized.

Kentucky was hopelessly divided, and though, from the overwhelming
majority of her people in sympathy with the South, were to come thousands
of gallant soldiers, the Confederacy was to be denied the powerful aid
which the brave heart and mighty resources of united Kentucky should have
thrown into the scale. Missouri, in consequence of her geographical
position, peculiarly assailable by the North-western States, and by
divisions among her population, was similarly situated; while Maryland, a
gallant and patriotic State, not less than South Carolina devoted to the
independence of the South, was securely shackled at the first
demonstration, by her people, of sympathy with their invaded countrymen.

But not only was there a failure to realize united action by those States,
which, by geographical contiguity, no less than by identity of political
institutions, constituted what was designated as THE SOUTH. There was by
no means a thoroughly harmonious sentiment among the people of those
States which had joined the Southern alliance. This was conspicuously the
case in Western Virginia and Eastern Tennessee.[30] Though apparently
insignificant in the midst of the general enthusiasm which prevailed in
the early months of the war, these and other instances of local
disaffection were to prove, at more than one critical period, fruitful of
embarrassment. Intelligence of Confederate disasters was always the signal
for exhibitions of that covert disloyalty which Confederate success
compelled to concealment. Always ready to assist the invaders of their
country, the so-called "Union men" of the South were valuable auxiliaries
to the Federal armies as spies, and as secret enemies to the cause of the
patriots; but they were not more hurtful and insidious in these capacities
than as the nucleus around which crystallized, under the direction of
disappointed demagogues, the various elements of discontent which were
subsequently developed.

Yet in both sections was the outward seeming at least of an undivided war
sentiment. The Union party of the South, as it had previously existed--a
powerful political organization, embracing a majority of the people of the
Border States--did not more immediately disappear, as the certainty of war
was developed, than did the party of peace at the North. The Northern
Democracy did not, for a moment, strive to breast the popular current, but
its leaders, the life-long allies of the South, committed, by a thousand
declarations to the cause of States' Rights, eagerly vied with the
Republican leaders in threats of vengeance against the South. The
Dickinsons, Everetts, Cochranes, Logans, and Butlers--hitherto the
professed friends and advocates of the South--with that pliant
accommodation to circumstances, so befitting the instincts of the
demagogue, in their harangues to howling mobs, proclaimed themselves the
advocates of a ruthless and indiscriminate warfare upon a people who had
been driven, by intolerable wrongs, into patriotic resistance.

We have already described the attitude and condition of the Confederate
Government at Montgomery previous to the attack upon Fort Sumter. The
honorable exertions of President Davis, cordially approved by Congress and
the people, to avoid a collision of arms, were disappointed, and events
had now verified his life-long conviction, that the exercise of their
sovereignty, by the States, would be attended by a war involving their
existence. Sustained by an unlimited popular confidence, with a
comparatively perfected organization, and with every possible preparation
that the difficulties of its situation would permit, the Government met,
with commendable composure, the shock of arms which its chief had foreseen
to be inevitable.

The proclamation of President Lincoln, declaring war upon the Confederate
States, was promptly responded to by President Davis, in official
announcements, appropriately recognizing the condition of public affairs,
and inviting energetic preparations for immediate hostilities. He at once
called upon the various States for quotas of volunteers for the public
defense. By public proclamation, he invited applications for privateering
service, in which armed vessels might assist in the public defense on the
high seas; under letters of marque and reprisal granted by Congress.[31]

In every instance, and by all classes of citizens, an enthusiastic
response was given to the demands of the Government. Individuals and
corporations entered into a generous and patriotic rivalry in the tender
of aid to the cause. Wealthy citizens donated large sums of money or
supplies, while railroad and transportation companies tendered valuable
assistance in the conveyance of troops and stores. An enthusiastic desire
to enter the public service was manifested in every community. Men
decrepit from age, or infirm from disease, were importunate in demanding
any service suitable to their condition. Volunteering progressed so
actively that a few weeks only sufficed to show that the Confederacy--for
the present at least--would not want soldiers. In all the States the
responses to the call for volunteers exceeded the quotas.

Congress assembled in special session, in obedience to a proclamation of
the President, on the 29th of April. The message was an eminently
characteristic document, and made a profound impression both in Europe and
the United States. Its calm and clear statements were in marked contrast
with the wild elements of war convulsing the country. Europe was not less
amazed and delighted with its dignity and force, than was the North
impressed with the earnest terms in which the purpose of resistance was
announced. He reviewed and established the doctrine of secession, detailed
the facts showing the bad faith of the Northern government about Fort
Sumter, and the necessity for its capture; spoke in terms of keen, yet
dignified satire of Lincoln's proclamation, which attempted to treat seven
sovereign States united in a confederacy, and holding five millions of
people and a half million of square miles of territory, as "combinations,"
which he proposed to suppress by a _posse comitatus_ of seventy-five
thousand men; congratulated the Congress on the probable accession of
other slave States; informed them that the State Department had sent three
commissioners to England, France, Russia and Belgium, to seek the
recognition of the Confederate States; advised legislation for the
employment of privateers for measures of defense, and for perfecting the
government organization; and concluded with these impressive words: "We
feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of
mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor and
independence; we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any
kind from the States with whom we were lately confederated. All we seek is
to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now
attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, this we must resist to the
direst extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned, the sword
will drop from our grasp, and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of
amity and commerce that can not but be materially beneficial. So long as
this pretension is maintained, with firm reliance on that divine power
which covers with its protection the just cause, we will continue the
struggle for our inherent right to freedom, independence, and

The geographical position of Virginia clearly indicated that State as the
Flanders of the war. Within her boundaries was necessarily to be located
the first line of Confederate defense, and also to be found more than one
favorable _point d'appui_ for the invading forces. To the aid of important
geographical and physical considerations, moral and political necessities
were superadded, to urge a prompt and vigorous assistance to Virginia, in
the heroic effort which she was preparing for her deliverance. With the
eye of the soldier and the appreciation of the statesman, President Davis
urged the immediate removal of the seat of government to the neighborhood
of the seat of war. On the 20th of May the seat of the Confederate
Government was transferred from Montgomery to Richmond, the capital of
Virginia, and within a few days afterward Mr. Davis reached the latter

The transfer of the Confederate capital to Richmond was an event affecting
the direction, character, and destinies of the war to such an extent as
entitles it to be considered one of its salient incidents. As a measure of
policy, it has been variously viewed, and has involved some interesting
discussion of military and strategic considerations. In the progress of
events during the war, its wisdom was generally recognized, and in the
calmer judgment of the present there is scarcely a dissenting voice to the
prevailing opinion that it was a master-stroke of political sagacity and
military forecast.

High military authority has been quoted in support of the opinion opposed
to locating the Confederate capital at Richmond. Ingeniously enough it was
alleged that such a step involved fighting on the exterior of the circle
instead of the centre, and that thus the great advantage to the party
conducting operations upon an interior line would be surrendered. It was
also tolerably certain that the North would aim, in its invasion, at the
Confederate capital as the vital objective point of its campaigns; and to
transfer the capital to a point so far north as Richmond, greatly
diminished the enemy's difficulties--first, as to space; and secondly, by
shortening his line of transportation and supply.

But these views were the conclusions of a purely strategic judgment,
overlooking entirely moral and political considerations involved, nor are
they by any means exhaustive of the argument as to the military aspects of
the situation. The courageous and unselfish action of Virginia deserved a
response of similar spirit from the Confederacy. Virginia had voluntarily
become the outpost of the South, and her people needed the presence among
them of that authority which was to wield her great resources, organize
her energies, and give counsel to her courage. Her people invited the
Government to join them and make the battle for the common deliverance of
the South around their homesteads. To accept this invitation was a step no
less characteristic of President Davis than was his prompt, decisive
action in the crisis at Buena Vista. It had the combined advantage of bold
defiance and prudent calculation. This bold courting of the issue by the
infant power, at the very outset of hostilities, was the foundation of
that brilliant _prestige_ which marked its earlier history. To an
adversary intoxicated with an overweening sense of numerical superiority,
and a brutal reliance upon his superior strength, this defiant planting of
the standard in front of his first line was a significant warning of the
difficulties of the task which he had undertaken.

President Davis has never seen reason to regret the transfer of the
Government to Richmond. It bound Virginia, by indissoluble ties to the
fortunes of the Confederacy, and was the beginning of an affection for
himself, among her citizens, which it was their pride to exhibit in the
face of calamities common to him and to themselves. Not even in his own
gallant State of Mississippi are the genius, virtues, and fame of
Jefferson Davis cherished with a more tender association than in Virginia.

A brief résumé of events will now assist to a clear understanding of the
situation of affairs when President Davis reached Richmond in the latter
part of May. Virginia, a week previously, had, by formal vote of her
people, ratified the ordinance of secession adopted by her convention.
When the convention passed the ordinance of secession on the 17th of
April, the State authorities, with commendable discretion, prepared to
make important seizures of arms, stores, etc., the property of the Federal
Government within the limits of the State. Governor Letcher--well known
for his steadfast devotion to the Union, and for his honorable zeal to
preserve it--in this trying crisis of the State, was nobly faithful to his
Virginian instincts, and mindful of the honorable part which devolved upon
Virginia's Governor.

The capture of two places of special importance was sought by expeditions
arranged with secrecy and ingenuity, but resulting, in both instances, in
only partial success. These places were Gosport Navy-yard--famous for its
dry-dock, shops, ammunition, arms, timber, rope-walks, and other
appurtenances of an extensive naval establishment--and Harper's Ferry, on
the Potomac, with its extensive armory and arsenal, large collection of
arms, and valuable machinery. At the latter place, the Federal commander,
by an unworthy subterfuge, obtained a delay in the attack which the
Virginians were about to make, and took advantage of a parley, to attempt
the destruction, by fire, of the buildings and machinery. Much valuable
property was destroyed, but the State secured machinery, which was
afterward turned to most important account, and many excellent arms for
her rapidly gathering volunteers. The attempted destruction, by the
Federals, at Gosport, was imperfectly executed. Among the prizes captured
here was the steam frigate Merrimac, nearly finished, but greatly damaged
by fire. Within a very few months this vessel was destined to a
performance, conspicuous for all time in the annals of naval warfare.

The authorities of North Carolina--a State which had clung with
unsurpassed fidelity to the Federal Union--acted with a vigor which well
befitted a community conspicuous, in the first American revolution, for
the fidelity of its patriotism. Slow to reach her conclusions, North
Carolina was fully up to the demands of the occasion, in her preparation
for a struggle, during which her revolutionary fame was to be excelled by
a second dedication of her blood and energies to the cause of liberty. On
the 21st of May, North Carolina, by unanimous vote of her convention,
adopted an ordinance of secession. Her brave Governor (Ellis) whose
services were too soon lost to his State and country, had previously
caused the seizure of Forts Macon and Caswell, and the arsenal at
Fayetteville, with nearly sixty thousand arms, of which half were of the
most approved construction.

On the 19th of April occurred a collision between citizens of Baltimore
and Massachusetts soldiers, _en route_ to the Federal capital, followed by
such a stringent policy as made clearly hopeless the open coöperation of
Maryland, unless by successful invasion of the Confederate forces.

Missouri, under the guidance of Jackson, Price, and other able and
resolute leaders, was preparing a heroic resistance, but under
difficulties greater than were experienced in any other Southern State,
against the domination established upon her soil.

When President Davis reached Richmond he found Virginia in an advanced
state of preparation. Thirty thousand troops were in camps of instruction,
or upon duty at Norfolk, upon the peninsula of James and York Rivers, and
at different points upon the northern boundary of the State. In supreme
command was General Robert E. Lee, the friend and former classmate of the
President at West Point; and, under him, Colonel John B. Magruder, also
his associate at West Point, and other officers of promise and ability,
seeking service in defense of their native State and the South. As the
several States acceded to the Confederacy, their troops, arms, stores,
etc., were turned over to the Confederate authorities, and officers were
assigned rank in the Confederate service by a rule, regulated by the rank
which they had held in the Federal army.

In accordance with this rule, General Lee was third on the list of full
generals appointed by President Davis--General Cooper being first, and
General Albert Sydney Johnston being second. General Lee had been first
commissioned, after the tender of his resignation in the Federal service,
a Major-General of Virginia forces. Until he was commissioned full
general, by President Davis, in June, 1861, he continued to act as the
general commanding the Virginia forces, and was invested also with the
direction of the Confederate troops which were arriving daily from the
States south. His authority was as follows:

    "MONTGOMERY, May 10, 1861.

    "_To Major-General R. E. Lee_: To prevent confusion, you will assume
    control of the forces of the Confederate States in Virginia, and
    assign them to such duties as you may indicate, until further orders;
    for which this will be your authority.

        "L. P. WALKER, _Secretary of War_."

It would be impossible to overestimate the services of General Lee in the
preparation of the Virginia troops for the field, and in preparing the
general defense of the State by the location and disposition of the
Confederate forces as they arrived in Virginia. His distinguished services
afterwards are hardly better evidence of his genius as a soldier, than the
results of his arduous labor at this trying period, and in a position of
comparative obscurity. President Davis fully indicated his confidence in
the counsels of Lee by his constant retention of him at his side. The
South has probably not yet appreciated the extent to which the genius of
Lee, in coöperation with that of Davis, aided in those earlier
achievements of the war, which secured the immediate preservation of the
Confederacy, and earned so flattering a reputation for others.

With the establishment of the Confederate authority in Virginia,
reinforcements from other States were constantly added to her own levies,
and by the middle of June, more than fifty thousand men were in arms for
her defense. As yet, collisions between the opposing forces had been rare,
and totally indecisive. A force of raw volunteers, unorganized and
imperfectly armed, was surprised in Western Virginia, by a movement of
considerable vigor on the part of the Federal commander, and the patriots,
under Colonel Porterfield, compelled to retreat. At Great Bethel, near
Fortress Monroe, a few hundred Virginians and North Carolinians, under
Colonel Magruder, handsomely repulsed a large column of Federal troops,
attempting to advance up the peninsula. In the then uneducated popular
idea of military operations, the fight at Bethel was magnified to an
extent greatly beyond its real importance. It had, nevertheless, a timely
significance, in its evidence of the spirit of the Confederate soldiery.
President Davis was pleased to recognize this fact in a congratulatory
letter to Governor Ellis, commending the conduct of the North Carolinians
who were engaged in the fight.

These minor affairs were preliminary incidents to the thrilling events,
upon a more extended scale of operations, and upon a more important
theatre, which were to make memorable the approaching midsummer. Pending
the preparations, active and extensive on both sides, for the coming grand
encounter, there was a marked pause in military operations, attended by an
agreeable subsidence of the feverish excitement of which war is so
productive. The struggle for the mastery in Virginia, which it was plain
would decide the present fate of the Southern movement, was destined also
to decide, in a large measure, the extent and duration of the war. Viewed
in its historical significance, it becomes chiefly important as a stage of
the revolution indicating a new departure, and an altered direction of
events. Preparation was now to be displaced by action. Skirmishes were to
be followed by heavy engagements, and the high prestige of the South was
now to be subjected to its first test, in that long series of cruel
encounters, between valor and endurance on one side, and mere weight of
numbers on the other.

Preliminary to the narrative of these important events, appropriately
arises one phase of that historical question which involves the
statesmanship, the forecast, and the general fitness of Jefferson Davis
in the position which he now occupied, and under the circumstances by
which he was surrounded.

It would be a superfluous and unprofitable task to consider in detail the
numerous allegations, trivial and serious, made against President Davis by
his assailants, in support of their professed belief in his responsibility
for the failure of the Confederate cause. When facts are perverted,
history distorted, and prejudice, rather than truth, is the governing
influence, such allegations will be sufficiently numerous, even though
they be not well sustained. Nor yet is it maintained that President Davis
committed no errors in the long and trying term of his administration. It
is very certain that no such defense, asserting his infallibility, would
be approved by him. But the real historical significance of the question
of Mr. Davis' capacity for his office may be reduced to very simple
dimensions. Conceding him to be mortal, we concede that he is fallible.
Then the question arises, Were his errors sufficiently numerous and
serious, unaided by other and greater causes, to have occasioned the
failure of the South in the late war? Again, conceding still more
liberally to his assailants, were those errors the chief causes of a
failure, which might have been avoided, despite all other adverse
influences, disadvantages, and obstacles, if a different administrative
policy had prevailed?

The subject now has no value, save in its historical sense, and in that
sense its value must be determined from the stand-point just indicated. At
least it is in that aspect that we propose to consider it, whenever its
discussion shall be appropriate in these pages. The consideration will be
modified by many collateral questions which must incidentally arise. It
may be necessary to ask if no other Southern leader, entrusted with great
responsibilities, and enjoying uninterrupted popular favor, during and
since the war, committed mistakes quite as serious and frequent as did the
President, in proportion to the multiplicity of his cares? It may be
appropriate, too, to consider the influence that these mistakes of others
exerted upon those final disasters for which he alone is held responsible.
These questions we propose to consider, each in its appropriate place, and
with becoming candor. If we shall not meet the arguments and allegations
employed against Mr. Davis with a spirit more ingenuous than has seemed to
actuate his assailants, our success must be poor, indeed.

Those who profess to consider President Davis wanting in the necessary
qualifications for his position, dwell with especial emphasis upon what
they are pleased to characterize his failure in the early months of the
war, to foresee its character, duration and magnitude, and the consequent
imperfect preparation of the Confederate Government. It is asserted that
he was utterly blind to all the indications of a long and obstinate
struggle, urged upon his attention by a more sagacious statesmanship than
his own; that he was persistent and arrogant in his prophecies of a
struggle, short, brilliant, and overwhelming in favor of the South, even
after the war had commenced; and that before the bombardment of Sumter he
was no less positive in his convictions that there would be no war; that
he was, in short, stupidly unreasoning and inactive, deaf alike to
entreaties, arguments, and facts.

If, indeed, it could be established that during the era of secession (the
interval between November, 1860, and April, 1861), Mr. Davis had cherished
expectations of peaceable separation, and that during that portion of his
presidential term embraced before the assault upon Sumter, relying upon
this prospect of peace, he had failed to prepare for war, then, indeed,
would his responsibility be great; but it would be shared by every
contemporary statesman of the South, almost, if not quite, without an
exception. History may palliate the amazing infatuation of the Southern
masses at this period, but surely its verdict must be a contemptuous
condemnation of that vaunted statesmanship which scouted war as the result
of secession, as an impossibility, and its anticipation as the product of
timidity. But President Davis is not driven to the extremity of seeking so
poor a refuge as the common and universal blindness and weakness of that
critical period. Recognizing the justice of that test which demands of the
true statesman a prescience beyond the average vision, it is believed that
his defense may be made easy and triumphant.

Candid investigation will demonstrate the fact that Davis, among Southern
statesmen, was an almost solitary exception in his rejection of the
dominant sentiment of the times. The remarkable consistency of his public
life is in no respect better sustained than in his oft-repeated
apprehensions of eventual war between the sections. His dread of disunion
arose from his dread of civil war, and the latter he always urged to be
the necessary consequence of the former. Striving to save the Union upon a
just and constitutional basis, he yet habitually admonished the South of
the inevitable result of disunion, and coupled his admonitions with
earnest exhortations of thorough preparation for the most serious
emergency in its history. His speeches, addresses, and letters, furnish
irrefutable testimony of his apprehension of civil war as an inevitable
concomitant of disunion. _Not one line, or one sentence, written or
uttered by him in the entire period of his public career, can be so
construed as to indicate a different conviction._ Believing that he
foresaw the impending conflict, he strove with indefatigable energy and
incomparable ability, in company with Calhoun, in 1850, to place the South
in a position which would then have rescued her liberties. If the warning
voice of the South, proclaiming the inexorable decree of disunion, unless
her constitutional rights were fully and forever secured, had then been
disregarded, at least her _resistance_ must have been more effectual than
it could become by postponement. In innumerable passages of rare
eloquence, he has left an imperishable record of patriotic devotion to a
constitutional union, and touching proofs of the emotion with which he
contemplated the evils which were to follow its destruction. The words of
his farewell address to the Senate, ("putting our trust in God, and in our
firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may")
do not more clearly indicate the calm determination with which he would
meet the peril, than his appreciation of its serious nature.

When it is alleged that the inadequate preparation of the South, during
the period which we have characterized as the era of secession, enters as
a most important feature in the explanation of her failure, a proposition
is boldly asserted, which is, at least, debatable; but its discussion does
not devolve upon us.[33] Mr. Davis is assuredly not to be held justly
accountable for what the various States failed to do while he was at his
post of duty in the Senate, and in no manner controlling their action. No
responsibility can attach to him beyond the action of the Confederate
Government, save in the case of his own State, and whatever preparation
Mississippi made was at his instance. By what law of justice or logic can
Mr. Davis be made accountable for the inadequate preparation of Georgia,
(assuming that Georgia _was_ unprepared, or had omitted any preparation
that was possible under the circumstances), which then had the full
benefit of the counsels of reputed statesmen like Messrs. Toombs,
Stephens, and Brown? or of South Carolina, under the counsels of Messrs.
Rhett and Orr, and the _Charleston Mercury_? Of Alabama, led by the
brilliant genius of Mr. Yancey? Yet, upon the aggregate resources and
means of defense of these and the other States must depend the safety of
the Confederacy. While Mr. Davis was yet in Washington, striving against
hope to avert the dreaded issue, many of the States, under the guidance of
their leading men, were passing ordinances of secession. Assuredly, then,
he is not to be censured for any lack of preparation at this period. Yet
no very close examination of the record is necessary to establish the
fact, that those who have since been most forward in denying the prevision
of statesmanship to Davis, were then, by their own showing, precipitating
their several States into secession, totally unprepared for a war, the
very possibility of which they derided.

The responsibility of Mr. Davis can date only from his inauguration as
President of the Confederate States, on February 18, 1861. Between that
date and the actual breaking out of war was an interval of _less than two
months_. Within this period the results accomplished were certainly all
that could have been anticipated, and all that ever were accomplished by
any government yet in its infancy, within the same space of time. The
organization of the Government had been perfected, efforts made to secure
intercourse with foreign nations, and the civil administration completed
in all important features. With the aid of that master genius for
organization, General Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General of the
Confederate army, the basis of a military organization, upon which the
most splendid armies of modern history were speedily created, was
prepared; troops were called into the field; and the Confederacy, in
proportion to its means, was actually placed, _in two months_, upon a war
footing, not inferior to that of the enemy at the outbreak of hostilities.

The unprejudiced Northern or European reader, whose admiration has been
freely expressed for the valor and endurance of the South, and for the
skillful use of its comparatively limited resources, may well be amazed at
the censures of Mr. Davis, from Southern sources.

But what was his error after assumption of the Presidency? More important
still, what is the evidence? So far as we have been able to gather the
evidence, it consists in the fact that President Davis did not urge the
indiscriminate purchase of arms in Europe, or wherever else they might
have been obtained. The intelligent foreign reader can only be amazed
that, upon this single fact--for it is the only _fact_ alleged--rests the
charge that President Davis did not make adequate preparation for war. The
answer is very simple, and indisputable. First, the Confederate
Government, from the date of its organization, endeavored constantly to
purchase _serviceable_ arms wherever they could be obtained. Second, the
Confederate Government had given extensive orders to Northern
manufactories (because they were nearest) at Chickopee and elsewhere, some
of which were filled and the arms received, while, in other cases, they
were seized by the Federal authorities after the commencement of
hostilities while _en route_ South. Third, there were very few serviceable
arms to be purchased in Europe; and in support of this assertion we have
only to recall the enormous swindles practised on the Federal Government
in its purchase of arms in Europe at this period. Arms were offered, in
some instances, to the Government, and rejected, because President Davis,
while Secretary of War, had become acquainted with their worthlessness;
and thus, while certain speculations were disappointed, the means of the
Government were not squandered. An examination of the records will
demonstrate the fact that the Confederate Ordnance Bureau, under Colonel
Gorgas, was conducted with signal judgment and ability. From the beginning
to the end, it was managed with a success which entitles it to be
considered probably the most ably conducted bureau of the Government.

But not only do the recorded events of the period vindicate Mr. Davis from
the accusations of a tardy and delinquent policy in providing for the
threatened emergency of war; they are fully conclusive as to the energetic
provision made when hostilities were opened. Nothing can be more emphatic
in its enunciation of a bold, vigorous policy than President Davis'
message to the Confederate Congress, assembled by special convocation, on
the 29th of April:[34] "There are now in the field at Charleston,
Pensacola, Forts Morgan, Jackson, St. Philip, and Pulaski, nineteen
thousand men, and sixteen thousand are now _en route_ for Virginia. _It is
proposed to organize and hold in readiness for instant action, in view of
the present exigencies of the country, an army of one hundred thousand
men._" Surely we must look elsewhere than to such an announcement as this,
for evidence in support of this pretended absence of foresight, and
inappreciation of the extent and character of the approaching struggle.
This, be it remembered, was in Davis' first response to the Federal
declaration of war, only two weeks after the fall of Sumter, and when
President Lincoln had, as yet, called for but seventy-five thousand men.
This was the spirit in which President Davis began the contest, and the
results which immediately followed, in months of brilliant and consecutive
triumphs, demonstrated the ample provision made for the emergency.[35]

In marked contrast with this vigorous policy were the silly vaporings of
demagogues, prating of Southern invincibility against a world in arms,
protesting that the North, under no circumstances, could be induced to
fight, and scouting a longer duration of a war with "Yankees," than six
months at the farthest. That such was the dominant conviction at
Montgomery, no contemporary authority will deny. An eminent Virginian, a
commissioner from his own State to the Confederate Congress, was amazed to
hear laughed at as an excellent joke, his congratulations to that body,
upon the wise determination to locate the seat of government at Richmond,
in close proximity to the seat of war. The grave legislators at
Montgomery, at least, had not yet comprehended that there was to be war.

But perhaps we are in fault, in thus offering the evidence of
uncontradicted facts and obvious conclusions, where only vague inferences
and unsupported allegations are urged to the contrary. There are graver
questions yet to be encountered, far better justifying difference of
opinion, and affording better ground for discussion of the philosophy of
the Southern failure. Censure of those who have had the conduct of a
ruined cause is as inevitable as the criticism which ever waits upon
history; but it is not, therefore, always just. A great soldier,[36] who
has but recently contributed a chapter to history, thrilling in interest
and inestimable in importance, when congratulated since upon his brilliant
triumphs, touchingly replied: "How would it have been if success--this
unexampled success--had not crowned our undertaking? Would not this
undeserved exaltation have been so much unreasonable criticism and
undeserved blame?"

To a certain class of Southern critics, we commend the magnanimous
sentiment of an illustrious fellow-countryman,[37] now mourning, in
exile, the afflictions of his country: "As for myself, I have not
undertaken to speculate as to the causes of our failure, as I have seen
abundant reason for it in the tremendous odds brought against us. Having
had some means of judging, I will, however, say that, in my opinion, both
President Davis and General Lee, in their respective spheres, did all for
the success of our cause which it was possible for mortal men to do; and
it is a great privilege and comfort for me so to believe, and to have been
able to bring with me, into exile, a profound love and veneration for
those great men."



Whatever crudities may appear in the general plans of warfare, adopted by
the American belligerents in 1861, when tested by the maxims which have
obtained in other wars, waged upon different theatres of action, and for
different purposes, at least there was not wanting a palpable and
definitive shape. With remarkable rapidity and precision, the military
situation was adjusted to the attainment of certain general objects, which
continued, during the successive stages of the war, to be pursued, with
varying fortune, by the respective contestants.

The incipient campaign of the war was peculiarly regulated and determined
by the paramount aims which had impelled the respective parties to arms.
Of necessity, the campaign, on the part of the North, must be offensive,
while the South, in a defensive attitude, must prepare to parry the blows
of her assailant. The pretext of the North was to assert the "national
authority" over what it was pleased to term "rebellious" territory. The
_animus_ of the South was to repel an invasion which menaced her liberties
and firesides. Whatever advantages may have belonged to the position of
the South were not overlooked by those who were charged with her defense;
and it may safely be claimed, in view of the immediate and overwhelming
result in her favor, that whatever compensation, for obvious
disadvantages, she had anticipated from the resources of skillful
leadership, was fairly rendered.

The two Governments, at Washington and at Richmond, were then more
directly chargeable with the actual results in the field than at
subsequent periods. The army had then become less independent of the
Government. Its organic structure was undeveloped, and it had not yet
become identified with those commanders whose history was hereafter to be
so interwoven with its own. In a general sense, it may be remarked, that
the connection of President Davis with all the campaigns of the
Confederate army, was that which the country designed it should be, when,
in consequence of his military aptitude and experience, it placed him in
charge of the public administration. Moreover, it was consistent with that
inevitable responsibility which attached to the office of chief executive.
Ignorant and intemperate partisans have labored to prove his
responsibility for those casualties of war, which are utterly beyond human
calculations, and to trace to his influence disasters of the battle-field,
with which he could by no possibility have been connected. As is usual in
such cases, these criticisms are made with a total forgetfulness of the
unintentional tribute, which is accorded to Mr. Davis, in ascribing to him
the chief responsibility for a military administration, which the world
declares to have had few parallels in its history.

When President Davis reached Richmond, from Montgomery, the military
situation had already assumed a well-defined shape. The plans of defense,
adopted by the Virginian authorities, mainly under the direction of
General Lee, and carried into partial execution before the alliance with
the Confederacy had been formally consummated, were adhered to by the
Confederate Government. President Davis, as we have seen, fully impressed
with the demands of the exigency, immediately upon his arrival, addressed
himself, with characteristic vigor and promptitude, to such measures as
would secure a successful campaign. In the meantime, the preparations of
the Federal Government were equally vigorous, and by no means indefinite
in their aims.

Whatever may be the comparative merits, when placed in antithetical
juxtaposition, of the plans of campaign adopted by the two Governments in
1861, or whatever may be alleged of the blunders and mishaps of the
Federal scheme of warfare, there could be no question of the full
comprehension of the necessities of the situation by the veteran commander
of the Federal armies. We are not called upon here to give an opinion of
General Scott in his personal or political relations, but that combination
of sagacious military minds, upon which devolved the defense of Southern
liberties, was not likely to commit the error of a disparaging estimate of
his abilities.

General Scott, far in advance of the prevailing opinion at the North,
dreamed of no holiday enterprise. He well knew that Southern valor,
directed by leaders whose names were identified with the proudest
_prestige_ of America, and enlisted in the defense of principles which
were the dearest convictions and traditions of the Southern heart, was not
to be crushed in a "three-months'" wrestle of arms. Accordingly, his
preparations were for _war_ in its broadest and most terrible sense; a war
between powerful nationalities; a war in which, though sustained by
inexhaustible resources and popular enthusiasm, he had yet to contend with
a race essentially military in its instincts, earnest in conviction, led
by men whose capacities he had amply tested, and aided by defensive
position, vast extent of territory, and by those numerous obstacles in the
way of conquest, which must have been apparent to the eye of an
experienced soldier.

The attitude of the Confederate Government was necessarily defensive.
History would be searched in vain for examples justifying an invasion by a
people entirely agricultural in habits and resources, weak in numbers, and
with a government not yet organized three months, of a powerful
manufacturing and commercial nation, of dense population, and great wealth
and resources. Without supplies, equipment and transportation, and without
the time or opportunity to obtain them, successful invasion of the North,
however attractive to the popular imagination, was clearly impossible.
Viewed from the more educated stand-point, furnished by the later
developments of the war, the crude ideas, from which arose the popular
aspiration of at once "carrying the war into Africa," are ludicrous in the
extreme. Indeed, there can be little doubt that the defensive, subjected
to such modifications as the casualties of war render proper and necessary
in all plans, whether offensive or defensive, was at all times the true
policy of the South. Certain it is, that, upon two occasions, essaying
the offensive under the most favorable circumstances, and under their
greatest commander, the Confederates were overtaken by disaster. There can
be no just criterion, furnished by European wars, by which to test the
Confederate military policy in the main. Parallels between the American
civil war and those waged by Frederick the Great and Napoleon are
inadmissable. Not only were circumstances entirely dissimilar, but able
military critics have indicated physical peculiarities, forbidding the
unexceptional application to American warfare, of maxims which, elsewhere,
are undisputed.

Nevertheless, war as a science must be worse than useless, unless its
underlying principles have universal application. Nor is it maintained
that there were no circumstances which would have justified a departure
from the usually defensive policy of the Confederates. Upon two occasions
the main army of the South, having successfully encountered upon its own
soil the most prodigious efforts of the enemy's strength, sought to follow
him in the moment of his recoil. The Confederate invasion of 1862,
culminating at Antietam, and that of 1863, culminating at Gettysburg, were
undertaken with the purpose of destroying, upon his own soil, an enemy
already defeated. Each of these endeavors was based upon sound principles;
and there is no little palliation for the disaster, in either case, in
reflecting how great would have been the results of success. Much of the
philosophy of the war in Virginia is to be explained by the fact of the
thoroughly aggressive character, as soldiers, of President Davis and
General Lee. These two directing minds, by whose combined genius and will,
the fortunes of the Confederacy were so long upheld, in full and cordial
coöperation during the entire war, were in nothing more harmonious, than
in the desire for an aggressive campaign, whenever it could be undertaken
with a reasonable promise of success. Hence, the history of the army of
Northern Virginia develops, throughout, that military policy which is
known as the "defensive with offensive returns."

After the conclusion of the alliance between Virginia and the Confederate
States, which placed all "military operations, offensive and defensive, in
Virginia," under the control of the Confederate President, troops from the
other Southern States had been thrown northward with astonishing rapidity.
As rapidly as they arrived, regiments were sent to the various localities
where it had been thought expedient to establish a defensive force. These
posts were distributed with a view to their strategic bearing upon
particular sections of territory, which it was deemed necessary to defend,
and also with reference to their strategic connection with each other, and
with the chain of combinations making the general plan of defense.

In the early summer, the distribution of the Southern forces in Virginia
was as follows: At Manassas Junction, thirty-five miles south-west from
Washington, and the point of intersection of the lines of railroad running
southward to Richmond, and to the Shenandoah Valley, was a force, to the
command of which General Beauregard was transferred from the charge of the
defenses of Charleston. Manassas Junction was obviously a strategic point
of the first importance, as the centre of the railroad system of Northern
Virginia, and as a base of operations threatening Washington, and
immediately across the path of any overland expedition against Richmond.
The favorable estimate of General Beauregard's abilities entertained by
the President, added to the popularity which followed his services at
Charleston, occasioned his assignment to what was obviously to be the most
important theatre of operations.

Auxiliary to the command of Beauregard, but operating independently of
that officer, was a force at Harper's Ferry, on the Potomac, commanded by
General Joseph E. Johnston, an officer of reputed skill, who had earned
honorable distinction in Mexico, and enjoyed high rank and reputation in
the Federal service. This force had a mission second in value only to that
of the army at Manassas. It was charged with the defense of the rich and
populous Shenandoah Valley, teeming with supplies, and inhabited by a
hardy and patriotic population. Its position was intermediate between the
forces operating in Western Virginia, and those in front of Washington,
and threatening to the enemy's line of communication westward _via_ the
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.

In Western Virginia were the commands of Generals Wise and Garnett,
respectively, in the Kanawha Valley, and upon the main line of
communication between the sections east and west of the Alleghany
mountains. The forces of Wise and Garnett were designed for the double
purpose of defending the sections of territory in which they were
respectively located, and for the aid and encouragement of the patriotic
portion of the population, then under the joint domination of the Union
men and Federal soldiers.

Under Magruder, promoted for his victory at Bethel, was a comparatively
small force, holding the peninsula of James and York Rivers, the direct
route to Richmond from the coast; and at Norfolk were several thousand
men, under command of General Huger.

No very acute analysis is required to penetrate the motives of this
distribution of forces in the face of the plain necessities of the
situation. Yet a vast amount of conceit has been expended in glittering
verbiage, aiming to exhibit the early partiality of President Davis for
the weak policy of dispersion, and that aversion to the "concentration" of
troops, for overwhelming victories, to be followed by decisive results,
which, it is alleged, adhered to his military policy to the last. To this
cant about "concentration," a sufficient answer relative to this
disposition of troops is, that it has the sanction of Lee's great name, to
say nothing of the complete success that followed it. There was no phase
of the situation, either then or for months afterward, which could have
justified for any result, then attainable by "concentration," the
surrendering to the enemy of vast sections of country, which, then and
subsequently, fed the army and supplied thousands of soldiers. Popular
confidence, so indispensable to a government under such circumstances, was
not to be won by such a policy, at the very incipiency of the contest.
Were the patriots of Western Virginia, thousands of whom made heroic
sacrifices, to be abandoned without an effort for their rescue? Magruder
and Huger, too, had duties of no insignificant character to perform.
Fortress Monroe, commanding the tributaries of the Chesapeake--the avenues
leading to the very heart of Virginia, to the doors of Richmond, and the
rear of the armies upon the northern borders--presented, during the entire
war, an insuperable difficulty in the defense of Virginia. More than once
it was the impregnable asylum for discomfited Federal hosts; and as a base
of operations for the enemy, there was no period of the war when it did
not challenge a vigilant observation from Richmond. To the efficient,
bold, and skillful defense of the peninsula, by Magruder, the Confederate
capital owed its safety for twelve months, not less than to the
successful defense made upon the Potomac border. Dependent upon the
command of Huger was the defense, not only of Norfolk and Portsmouth, but
of an extensive back country, besides the naval defenses then in
preparation at Gosport.

But in addition to these important objects, is to be remembered the
inexperience of both officers and men, totally disqualifying them for
those prompt and vigorous movements for which they were subsequently
distinguished. Discipline and organization were yet to be supplied. The
army at Manassas in July, 1861, at Centreville, in the ensuing autumn, or
even in front of Richmond, in the summer of 1862, was altogether a
different instrument from that compact force, which the genius of Lee had
welded, when he threw it, with crushing impetus, upon the columns of
Hooker at Chancellorsville. But, after all, as will be abundantly
exhibited hereafter, concentration was preëminently the characteristic of
the Confederate military policy. Especially did the present campaign, in
all its parts, hinge upon the successful execution of this principle.

Confronting the command of Beauregard, at Manassas, was a considerable
Federal army, under General McDowell, covering Washington, and threatening
an advance along the line of the Orange and Alexandria and Virginia
Central Railroads. Under General Patterson another large Federal force
confronted General Johnston, and threatened the Shenandoah Valley. General
McClellan, with a force greatly outnumbering the small commands opposed to
him, operated in Western Virginia--the common name of the section of
country embraced between the Ohio and Cheat Rivers, and the Baltimore and
Ohio Railroad and the Great Kanawha and Gauley Rivers. A heavy force at
Fortress Monroe, threatening, with incursions, the entire tide-water
section of the State, sufficiently occupied the commands of Magruder and

The Confederate plan of campaign, approved in the early summer, in its
leading features was adhered to with pertinacity and success. This plan,
jointly approved by the Government and the two commanders upon whom its
execution devolved, contemplated defensive operations, and the union, at
the critical moment, of the forces of Beauregard and Johnston, for the
destruction of McDowell's command, whenever it should begin its march
southward. President Davis and General Lee, at Richmond, were in regular
communication with the two commanders in the field, and all operations
were directed with a view to the destruction of the main body of the

General Scott, upon the Federal side, also looked to the coöperation of
Patterson with McDowell, and expected him either to defeat Johnston, or to
so employ him as to prevent his reinforcement of Beauregard, when the
latter should be assailed by the overwhelming force of McDowell. The
remoteness of Magruder and Huger, and the impossibility of sufficient
secrecy in the transfer of any portion of their commands to the theatre of
operations, placed them outside of the calculation. The same may be said
of the Confederate forces in Western Virginia. Apprehension of danger from
the command of McClellan was experienced by the Confederate authorities,
especially after the disastrous defeat of General Garnett. There can be
little doubt, however, that the Government and people of the North
considered their army, immediately upon the ground, ample for the
contemplated work, and did not feel the necessity of looking elsewhere for

The small force at Manassas, when General Beauregard assumed command, was
increased by subsequent accessions, until, by the middle of July, it
numbered about twenty thousand men. His duties were a vigilant observation
of the enemy and such defensive preparations as were necessary. The pivot
of the campaign was elsewhere. If Patterson could successfully occupy
Johnston until the crisis at Manassas was passed, the result was doubtful,
at least; but if Johnston, at the required moment, could elude his
adversary, and reinforce Beauregard, the probabilities were most promising
to the Confederates. In the sequel, this proved a result far more easily
attained than had been hoped for. The campaign thus became a series of
maneuvres, with the Confederates in possession of the decided advantage of
an interior line.

General Patterson, apparently imbecile or bewildered, committed a series
of blunders, to be accounted for upon no possible hypothesis accrediting
to him even ordinary acquaintance with the palpable principles of the
science of war. What his repeated advances, retreats, and flank movements
could have been designed to accomplish, it is difficult to imagine, as his
situation plainly prevented his escape from Johnston and reinforcement of
McDowell, before Johnston could reach Beauregard. General Patterson's
failure to _attack_ Johnston preordained the disaster to McDowell on the
21st of July. Johnston, aided by the vigilance and daring of the
"indefatigable" Stuart, was fully apprised of every movement of his
adversary. With comparatively little difficulty he escaped from his front,
and, in accordance with the plan previously indicated, reinforced
Beauregard with the greater portion of his force.

With the details of the overwhelming disaster to the Federal arms, at
Manassas, on the 21st of July, we are not here interested. Our aim has
been to glance briefly at the relations sustained by President Davis to
the preliminary campaign which culminated in success so brilliant and
valuable. In accordance with his preconceived purpose to be present, if
possible, at the consummation of plans in which he felt so profound an
interest, President Davis left Richmond on Sunday morning, July 21st, for
the scene of the expected battle. Reaching the battle-field while the
struggle was still in progress, it was his privilege to witness the
flight, in utter confusion and dismay, of the Federal hosts in their first
serious conflict with the patriot army. His presence upon the field was
the inspiration of unbounded enthusiasm among the troops, to whom his name
and bearing were the symbols of victory. His dispatch from the
battle-field, on Sunday night, will long be remembered by those who
gathered from it their first intelligence of the great victory:

    "MANASSAS JUNCTION, Sunday Night.

    "Night has closed upon a hard-fought field. Our forces were
    victorious. The enemy were routed, and precipitately fled, abandoning
    a large amount of arms, knapsacks, and baggage. The ground was strewn
    for miles with those killed, and the farmhouses and ground around were
    filled with the wounded. Pursuit was continued along several routes
    towards Leesburg and Centreville, until darkness covered the
    fugitives. We have captured many field batteries and stands of arms,
    and one of the United States flags. Many prisoners have been taken.
    Too high praise can not be bestowed, whether for the skill of the
    principal officers, or the gallantry of all our troops. The battle was
    mainly fought on our left. Our force was 15,000; that of the enemy
    estimated at 35,000.

        "JEFF'N DAVIS."

He remained at Manassas, in consultation with Generals Beauregard and
Johnston, until the morning of Tuesday, July 23d. The return of the
President to Richmond was the occasion of renewed patriotic rejoicings. An
immense crowd awaited at the railroad depot, in expectancy of his arrival,
and both there and at his hotel occurred most enthusiastic demonstrations
of popular delight at the success of the army, and of public regard for
himself.[38] At night Mr. Davis addressed, with thrilling effect, an
immense audience, from a window of the Spottswood Hotel, recounting some
of the incidents of the battle, which he declared to be a decisive
victory, if followed by energetic measures, and counseled moderation and
forbearance in victory, with unrelaxed preparations for future trials. It
was upon this occasion that he uttered the memorable injunction, "Never be
haughty to the humble, or humble to the haughty."

The immediate and palpable consequence of the victory of Manassas was the
rescue of the Confederacy from the peril by which, for weeks, it had been
threatened. The South was now plainly a power, capable of fighting ably
and vigorously, and with greatly improved prospects of success, for the
independence which it had asserted. Time was to develop a far greater
value in this wonderful success than was then made available. A few days
only were required to exhibit, what at first appeared merely a thorough
repulse of the Federal army, as an overwhelming rout, capable of being
followed to such results as might have changed even the fate of a nation.
Not many weeks sufficed to convince the Southern people of the fact which
must ever dwell among their saddest associations, that an opportunity,
inestimable in value, and almost unparalleled in its flattering
inducements to a people situated as they were, had been utterly
unappreciated and irrevocably lost.

In the numerous accounts which have been written, representing all shades
of opinion from different stand-points on both sides, and from the wide
discussion which has resulted, history can be at no loss for material upon
which to base an intelligent estimate of this battle, and of the extent to
which the victors reaped the advantages of success. Differences of opinion
have prevailed, and will, in all probability, continue to prevail,
respecting the purely military questions involved in the discussion of the
absence of such a vigorous, pertinacious, and unrelenting pursuit by the
Confederates as was necessary to secure the fruits of a decisive victory.
But the stubborn conviction, nevertheless, remains, and will never be
eradicated from the Southern mind--that, barring the immediate security to
the Confederate capital, Manassas was but a barren victory, where results
of a most decisive character were within easy reach. Nor is this popular
impression unsustained by such competent military authority, as will
command respect for its judgment, upon those aspects of the question, upon
which a military judgment is alone valuable.

So emphatic became the public condemnation of the inactivity of the army,
and especially when, by subsequent information, was revealed the real
condition of the enemy after his overwhelming disaster, that inquiry was
naturally made as to the authorship of such an erroneous policy. The
presence of President Davis, both during a portion of the battle and
during the day following, was promptly seized upon as affording a clue to
the mystery. For months he rested under the suspicion of having, by
peremptory order, stopped the pursuit of the enemy, in the face of the
protestations of his generals, who would have pressed it to the extent of
attainable results.

How such an impression--_so utterly in conflict with the facts_--could
have obtained, by whom, or for what purpose it was disseminated, it is now
needless to inquire. The slander was, at length, after having been
circulated to the injury of Mr. Davis throughout the country, so
conclusively answered as to receive not even the pretense of belief, save
from an unscrupulous partisanship, at all times deaf to facts which could
not be perverted injuriously to the President. It nevertheless had served
a purpose, in preparing the popular mind for those constantly iterated
charges of "executive interference," in the plans and dispositions of the
armies of the Confederacy, which followed at subsequent stages of the war.

It may be asked, Why did Mr. Davis suffer this suspicion, when the proof
of its injustice might have been so easily adduced? This inquiry would
indicate an imperfect acquaintance with that devoted patriotism and
knightly magnanimity which belong to his character. Any explanation
acquitting himself, must have thrown the responsibility upon Generals
Johnston and Beauregard, and he preferred rather to suffer an undeserved
reproach, than to excite distrust of two officers, then enjoying the
largest degree of popular confidence. With him, selfish considerations
were never permitted to outweigh the interests of the country. Actuated by
this impulse, he, in more than one instance, where the names of men high
in public favor were used in his disparagement, refused, even in
self-defense, that retaliation, which must have hurt the cause in
proportion as it diminished confidence in its prominent representatives.
Mr. Davis, with that decorum which has equally illustrated his public and
private life, recognized the special propriety of a denial of these
injurious rumors _from other sources_, fully apprized of their falsity,
and from which such an acquittal of himself would have come with becoming
candor and grace.

Justice, proverbially slow, has been tardy indeed in its awards to Mr.
Davis; but in this instance, as it must inevitably in others, it has come
time enough for his historical vindication. The reader, uninformed as to
the merits of this question, will be content with a limited statement from
the mass of testimony, which has ultimately acquitted Mr. Davis of having
prevented the pursuit of the Federal army after its overthrow upon the
field of Manasses. In a publication, presenting an elaborate indictment
against Mr. Davis, as the main instrument of the downfall of the
Confederacy, written since the war, is found the following admission: "As
is known, he (President Davis) was at Manasses the evening of the 21st
July, 1861. Until a late hour that night he was engaged with Generals
Johnston and Beauregard, at the quarters of the latter, in discussing the
momentous achievements of the day, the extent of which was not as yet
recognized at all by him or his generals. Much gratified with known
results, his bearing was eminently proper. He certainly expressed no
opposition to any forward movement; nor at the time displayed a
disposition to interpose his opinion or authority touching operations and
plans of campaign."[39]

General Johnston, in a communication published since the war, assumes the
responsibility of the failure to pursue, and, with the advantage of
retrospect, defends that course with cogent reasoning and an interesting
statement of facts. Says General Johnston: "'The substantial fruit' of
this victory was the preservation of the Confederacy. No more could have
been hoped for. The pursuit of the enemy was not continued because our
cavalry (a very small force) _was driven back_ by the 'solid resistance'
of the United States infantry. Its rearguard was an entire division, which
had not been engaged, and was twelve or fifteen times more numerous than
our two little bodies of cavalry. The infantry was not required to
continue the pursuit, because it would have been harassing it to no
purpose. It is well known that infantry, unencumbered by baggage trains,
can easily escape pursuing cavalry."

That no farther results were to be hoped for than the arrest of the
Federal advance toward Richmond, he endeavors to demonstrate as follows:
"A movement upon Washington was out of the question. We could not have
carried the intrenchments by assault, and had none of the means to besiege
them. Our assault would have been repulsed, and the enemy, then become the
victorious party, would have resumed their march to Richmond; but if we
had captured the intrenchments, a river, a mile wide, lay between them and
Washington, commanded by the guns of a Federal fleet. If we had taken
Alexandria, which stands on low and level ground, those guns would have
driven us out in a few hours, at the same time killing our friends, the
inhabitants. We could not cross the Potomac, and therefore it was
impracticable to conquer the hostile capital, or emancipate oppressed

But these statements, ample, as far as they go, in the vindication of Mr.
Davis, only partially tell the story of Manassas. They do not fully
describe his real relation to the question, though we are far from
imputing to General Johnston an intentional omission. A statement of Mr.
Davis' views was not necessarily germane to General Johnston's explanation
of his own conduct. His purpose is to establish the reasons which induced
him to decline pursuit of the enemy, or rather, which, in his judgment,
made pursuit impracticable. Nor is it germane to our purpose to discuss
these reasons; to attempt either a demonstration of their fallacy or an
argument in their support. They have not been accepted as conclusive
either by the public, or by unanimous military judgment.

The great name of Stonewall Jackson, himself an actor in the most
thrilling scenes of that wonderful triumph of Southern valor, and dating
from that day his record upon the "bead-roll of fame," is authoritatively
given in opposition to the policy which General Johnston approves. In
this connection, we can not forbear to quote the biographer of that
illustrious man, in passages showing that wondrous intuition of great
soldiership, more distinctive, perhaps, of Jackson, than of any commander
of the present century, excepting only Napoleon. Professor Dabney says:
"Jackson, describing the manifest rout of the enemy, remarked to the
physicians, that he believed 'with ten thousand fresh men he could go into
the city of Washington.'" Again, after a most graphic picture of the
condition of the Federal army, its demoralization, panic, and utter
incapacity to meet an attack by the victorious Confederates, and an able
statement of the inducements to a vigorous pursuit, the biographer of
General Jackson makes this impressive statement: "With these views of the
campaign, General Jackson earnestly concurred. His sense of official
propriety sealed his lips; and when the more impatient spirits inquired,
day after day, why they were not led after the enemy, his only answer was
to say: 'That is the affair of the commanding generals.' But to his
confidential friends he afterward declared, when no longer under the
orders of those officers, that their inaction was a deplorable blunder;
and this opinion he was subsequently accustomed to assert with a warmth
and emphasis unusual in his guarded manner."[40]

Mr. Davis was far from approving the inaction which followed Manassas. He
confidently expected a different use of the victory. When called away by
the pressing nature of his official duties at Richmond, he left the army
with a heart elastic with hope, at what he considered the certainty of
even more glorious and valuable achievements. His speech at the depot in
Richmond, which we have given elsewhere, is evidence of his exultant
anticipations. The speech at the Spottswood, entering more into details,
still better authenticates his hopes of an immediate and successful
advance.[41] There could be no misinterpretation of the ardor with which,
in glowing sentences, he predicted the immediate and consecutive triumphs
of what he proudly termed the "gallant little army."

Indeed, before leaving Manassas, President Davis favored the most vigorous
pursuit practicable. On the evening of the battle, while the victory was
assured, but by no means complete, he urged that the enemy, still on the
field, (Heintzelman's troops, as subsequently appeared,) be warmly
pressed, as was successfully done. During the night following the
engagement he made a disposition of a portion of the troops, with a view
to an advance in the morning. These troops were removed, but not by
himself, to meet an apprehended attack upon the head-quarters of the army.
An advance on Monday, the 22d July, was out of the question, in
consequence of the heavy rain.

It is not to be understood that President Davis fully appreciated, on
Sunday night, the 21st, the overwhelming rout of the Federal army, nor
that he advocated, as practicable, an immediate movement in pursuit, by
the entire army. No one could have anticipated the utter disorganization
attending the flight of the Federals. He had, too, positive evidence of
the confusion prevailing among portions of the Southern troops. Summoned
by a message from a youthful connection, who was mortally wounded, Mr.
Davis rode over a large portion of the field, in a vain search for the
regiment to which the young man was attached. Upon his return, he
accidentally met an officer who directed him to the locality of the
regiment, where he found the corpse of his relative. The evidences of
disorganization, upon which General Johnston dwells with so much force and
emphasis, were indeed palpable, but Mr. Davis confidently believed that an
efficient pursuit might be made by such commands as were in comparatively
good condition. Such were his impressions then, and that he contemplated
immediate activity as the sequel of Manassas, is a matter of indisputable

That Mr. Davis did not insist upon the undeferred execution of his own
views, is proof less of his approval of the course pursued, than of an
absence of that pragmatic disposition with which he was afterwards so
persistently charged. His subsequent hearty tributes to Beauregard and
Johnston, and prompt recognition of their services, show how far he was
elevated above that mean intolerance, which would have made him incapable
of according merit to the opinions and actions of others, when averse to
his own conclusions.

This determined spirit of misrepresentation of the motives and conduct of
the President, beginning thus early--respecting the origin of which we
shall have more to say hereafter--was to prove productive of the most
serious embarrassments to the Confederate cause. The first great success
in arms achieved by the South, was to originate questions tending to
excite distrust in the capacity of the Executive, and subsequently
distrust of his treatment of those who were under his authority.
Misrepresentation was not to cease with the attempt already mentioned to
impair public confidence in Mr. Davis. A pragmatic interference with the
plans of his generals was persistently charged upon him. The almost
uninterrupted inactivity of the main army in Virginia, following the
battle of Manassas, by which the enemy was permitted, without molestation,
to organize a new army--a subject of constant and exasperated censure by
the public--was falsely attributed to Mr. Davis' interference with
Generals Johnston and Beauregard. It is a sad evidence of the license
characteristic of a purely partisan criticism, that this falsely alleged
interference has even been ascribed to the instigations of a mean envy of
the popularity of those officers.

The purely personal differences of public men are not the proper
subject-matter of historical discussion. In the prosecution of our
endeavor to give an intelligent and candid narrative of the events of the
war, in so far as President Davis was connected with them, we shall have
occasion to dwell upon those differences between himself and others
respecting important questions of policy which are known to have existed.
We do not see that the personal relations of President Davis with Generals
Johnston and Beauregard, are here a subject of appropriate inquiry. Nor
are those minor questions of detail as to the organization of the army,
which arose between them, of such significance as to justify elaborate
discussion here. That President Davis chose to exercise those plain
privileges with which the Constitution invested him; that he should have
consulted that military knowledge which his education and service had
taught him; that he should make available his valuable experience as
Minister of War; and that he should have failed to interpret the acts of
Congress agreeably to the tastes of generals in the field, rather than
according to his own judgment, is certainly singular evidence upon which
to base charges of "pragmatism," "persecution," and "envy" of those

While the main struggle in Virginia was yet undecided, the Confederate
force, under General Garnett, in Western Virginia, had been disastrously
defeated by the Federal army of General McClellan. The Confederate
commander, a brave and promising officer, was killed, in a gallant
endeavor to protect the retreat of his command. This achievement of
General McClellan, though attributable mainly to his vastly superior
force, was attended by evidences of skill, which indicated him as a
prominent figure in the events of the immediate future. In the midst of
the gloom and disappointment consequent upon the disaster at Manassas,
General McClellan appeared to the Northern Government and masses to be an
officer specially recommended, by his late success, for the important
charge of the army designed to protect the capital. He was immediately
summoned to Washington, and placed in charge of its defenses. With rare
capacity for general military administration, and with especial aptitude
for organization, General McClellan addressed himself with vigor and
success to the work assigned him. Under his direction, the defenses of
Washington were speedily put in admirable condition, and within a few
months, he had created an army which, in discipline, organization, and
equipment, would have compared favorably with the best armies of the

General McClellan was too sagacious and prudent a commander to repeat the
errors of his predecessor. He was evidently determined not to undertake an
aggressive campaign until his preparations were completed. During the
progress of those preparations, he endeavored also to provide against
those aggressive movements which he evidently anticipated from his
adversaries. But the autumn and winter were to pass away without any
serious demonstration by the Confederate commanders, and with but one
important movement of the enemy.

In the early fall, Generals Johnston and Beauregard advanced to a position
in close proximity to the Federal capital. Unable, however, to provoke an
engagement with the Federal commander, whose present purposes were purely
defensive and preparatory, the Confederate army withdrew from the front of
Washington, and retired within its former lines about Manassas and

In the latter part of October, an engagement of some importance occurred
near Leesburg, occasioned by an attempt of General McClellan to throw a
force across the Potomac, doubtless with the view of an advance on the
Confederate left wing. The numbers engaged in this engagement were
comparatively small, which rendered more remarkable its sanguinary
character. Nearly the entire Federal force, though outnumbering more than
two to one the Confederate force, was captured or destroyed. There was
good reason to regard this movement as preliminary to a general advance of
the Federal army. The battle of Leesburg was very dispiriting in its
effects upon the North, and equally re-assuring to the Southern Government
and people. No other operations of note occurred during the autumn and
winter upon the lines of the Lower Potomac.

General Jackson, who by a circumstance which is now well known to the
world, had acquired at Manassas the _sobriquet_ of "Stonewall," in
September, 1861, was made a Major-General. Late in December, in charge of
a considerable force, he executed, with indifferent success, a movement
against detachments of the enemy in the neighborhood of Romney, and other
points along the Upper Potomac.

The disasters sustained by the Confederates in Western Virginia, in the
early summer, were not repaired by the transfer of General Lee to that
quarter. A large and valuable section of country remained as the enemy's
trophy, almost undisputed at the termination of the campaign. The
reputation of General Lee suffered severely from the absence of that
success which was anticipated from his presence in command. It is a
noteworthy circumstance that when, a few months afterward, the President
placed Lee in command of the main army of Virginia, his ill-success in
Western Virginia was alleged as conclusive evidence of his unfitness for
the position to which "executive partiality" had assigned him.

In the meantime, upon the distant theatre of Missouri, the war had assumed
a most interesting phase. Many months before the legally-elected
legislature of that State adopted an ordinance of secession, Missouri was
contributing valuable aid to the struggling Confederacy. Driven by the
oppressive course of the Federal Government into resistance, in spite of
their efforts to save their State from the destructive presence of war,
the Southern men of Missouri organized under the leadership of General
Sterling Price and Governor Jackson. Accessions of men from all portions
of the State were constantly made to the patriot forces, and, within a few
weeks, a large force was upon the southern border, animated by an
enthusiastic desire to undertake the redemption of their homes.

But the Missourians, though sufficiently numerous to constitute an
effective army, were confronted by difficulties which would have appalled
men of less heroic purpose, or enlisted in an inferior cause. Hostilities
had been precipitated upon them while they were entirely
unprepared--wanting arms, ammunition, and other indispensable material of
war. The remoteness of Missouri from the seat of government, and the
inadequate transportation, prevented that prompt and efficient aid by the
Confederate authorities which it was equally their interest and
inclination to afford. Nevertheless, with almost miraculous rapidity, the
army of General Price was organized, and supplied with such material as he
could obtain.

The Federal commander, in his march southward from St. Louis, pursued,
with considerable vigor, the various detachments of the patriots who were
hastening to the standards of Price. After several minor engagements, in
which the Missourians displayed the most devoted heroism, a considerable
battle was fought, early in August, near Springfield, in the south-western
corner of the State, in which the Federal army was disastrously defeated,
and its commander killed. In this battle, the Missouri forces were aided
by a Confederate force, under General McCulloch, which had advanced
northward from Arkansas. Later in the year, General Price advanced through
the central portion of the State, receiving large additions to his army,
and captured the largest garrison of Federal troops in Northern Missouri.
Having accomplished these valuable aims, he, with great skill and daring,
effected a safe retreat to the south-western frontier. President Davis, in
a message to Congress, echoed the hearty appreciation of the Southern
people, in a special tribute to the valor and devotion of the southern
population of Missouri.

Kentucky also had become the theatre of hostilities. The Federal
Government, recognizing the neutrality of Kentucky so long as was
necessary to mature their plans for her subjugation, finally insisted upon
making her a party to the war, and invaded her territory with a view to
operations against the Confederacy. President Davis thus stated the
motives of the policy adopted by the Confederate Government respecting

    "Finding that the Confederate States were about to be invaded through
    Kentucky, and that her people, after being deceived into a mistaken
    security, were unarmed, and in danger of being subjugated by the
    Federal forces, our armies were marched into that State to repel the
    enemy, and prevent their occupation of certain strategic points, which
    would have given them great advantages in the contest--a step which
    was justified, not only by the necessities of self-defense on the part
    of the Confederate States, but also by a desire to aid the people of
    Kentucky. It was never intended by the Confederate Government to
    conquer or coerce the people of that State; but, on the contrary, it
    was declared by our Generals that they would withdraw their troops if
    the Federal Government would do likewise. Proclamation was also made
    of the desire to respect the neutrality of Kentucky, and the
    intention, by the wishes of her people, as soon as they were free to
    express their opinions.

    "These declarations were approved by me; and I should regard it as one
    of the best effects of the march of our troops into Kentucky, if it
    should end in giving to her people liberty of choice, and a free
    opportunity to decide their own destiny, according to their own will."

Not long after the occupation of various points in Kentucky, by the
respective armies, an engagement occurred at Belmont, on the Missouri
shore, near Columbus, resulting in the defeat of the Federal force
engaged. The Confederate forces engaged were a portion of the command of
General Polk, and the defeated Federal commander was General U. S. Grant.

Before the first year of the war terminated, the Confederates experienced
reverses resulting from the naval superiority of the enemy. Expeditions
were undertaken against the Carolina coast, and were successful to the
extent of securing a permanent lodgment of the Federal forces.

In the month of November the forcible seizure, by a Federal naval officer,
of the persons of Messrs. John Slidell and James M. Mason, commissioners,
respectively, from the Confederate States to France and England, and, at
the time, passengers on an English steamer, excited strong hope of those
complications between the United States and European powers which were
reasonably anticipated by the South. This act was a palpable outrage and
violation alike of international law and comity. It was, nevertheless,
indorsed by public sentiment at the North, in manifold forms of

In England, the intelligence of an outrage upon the national flag was
received with outbursts of popular indignation, which compelled the
Government to make a resentful demand upon the United States. The course
of the English Government was characteristic of the nation which it
represented. There was neither discussion nor parley, but a simple
imperative demand for the surrender of the commissioners and their

Never was so deep a humiliation imposed upon a people as that imposed by
the course of the Federal authorities upon the North. The prisoners, over
whose capture the whole North had but recently exulted, as at the
realization of the fruits of a brilliant victory, were surrendered
immediately. Mr. Seward even declared that they were surrendered
"cheerfully," and in accordance with the "most cherished principles of
American statesmanship," and advanced an argument in favor of complying
with the demands of the British Government, far more to have been expected
from a British diplomatist, than from the leading statesman of a people
who had promptly indorsed the outrage.

This concession of the Federal Government was the first of numerous
disappointments in store for the Southern people, in the hope, so
universally indulged, of foreign intervention. Expectation of immediate
complications between England and the United States, received great
encouragement from the earlier phase of the "Trent affair," as was called
the seizure of Messrs. Mason and Slidell. Consequent upon the
correspondence between the Governments of England and the United States,
growing out of the "Trent affair," were announcements in Parliament, which
should have discouraged the anticipation of interference by England, at
least with the cabinet then in power. Lord John Russell declared that the
blockade of the Southern ports was effective, in spite of abundant
evidence, and in spite, even, of the declarations of the British consul at
Charleston to the contrary. This concession was intended, doubtless, as a
salvo to the North for its deep humiliation, and was, indeed, rightly
construed as an evidence of the real sympathies of the British cabinet in
the American struggle. In this aspect, it was an assurance of no little

At the election, in November, Mr. Davis, without opposition, was chosen
the first President of the Confederacy, under the permanent government,
which was soon to succeed the provisional organization. Mr. Stephens was
reëlected Vice-President.

In his message to the provisional Congress, at the beginning of its last
session, the President thus sketched the situation at the close of the
first year of the war:

    "_To the Congress of the Confederate States_:

    "The few weeks which have elapsed since your adjournment have brought
    us so near the close of the year, that we are now able to sum up its
    general results. The retrospect is such as should fill the hearts of
    our people with gratitude to Providence for his kind interposition in
    their behalf. Abundant yields have rewarded the labor of the
    agriculturist, whilst the manufacturing interest of the Confederate
    States was never so prosperous as now. The necessities of the times
    have called into existence new branches of manufactures, and given a
    fresh impulse to the activity of those heretofore in operation. The
    means of the Confederate States for manufacturing the necessaries and
    comforts of life, within themselves, increase as the conflict
    continues, and we are rapidly becoming independent of the rest of the
    world, for the supply of such military stores and munitions as are
    indispensable for war.

    "The operations of the army, soon to be partially interrupted by the
    approaching winter, have afforded a protection to the country, and
    shed a lustre upon its arms, through the trying vicissitudes of more
    than one arduous campaign, which entitle our brave volunteers to our
    praise and our gratitude.

    "From its commencement up to the present period, the war has been
    enlarging its proportions and extending its boundaries, so as to
    include new fields. The conflict now extends from the shores of the
    Chesapeake to the confines of Missouri and Arizona; yet sudden calls
    from the remotest points for military aid have been met with
    promptness enough, not only to avert disaster in the face of superior
    numbers, but also to roll back the tide of invasion from the border.

    "When the war commenced, the enemy were possessed of certain strategic
    points and strong places within the Confederate States. They greatly
    exceeded us in numbers, in available resources, and in the supplies
    necessary for war. Military establishments had been long organized,
    and were complete; the navy, and, for the most part, the army, once
    common to both, were in their possession. To meet all this, we had to
    create, not only an army in the face of war itself, but also military
    establishments necessary to equip and place it in the field. It ought,
    indeed, to be a subject of gratulation that the spirit of the
    volunteers and the patriotism of the people have enabled us, under
    Providence, to grapple successfully with these difficulties.

    "A succession of glorious victories at Bethel, Bull Run, Manassas,
    Springfield, Lexington, Leesburg, and Belmont, has checked the wicked
    invasion which greed of gain, and the unhallowed lust of power,
    brought upon our soil, and has proved that numbers cease to avail,
    when directed against a people fighting for the sacred right of
    self-government and the privileges of freemen. After seven months of
    war, the enemy have not only failed to extend their occupancy of our
    soil, but new States and Territories have been added to our
    Confederacy; while, instead of their threatened march of unchecked
    conquest, they have been driven, at more than one point, to assume the
    defensive; and, upon a fair comparison between the two belligerents,
    as to men, military means, and financial condition, the Confederate
    States are relatively much stronger now than when the struggle



When President Davis held his first New-Year's reception, as the chief
magistrate of the infant Confederacy, there were not wanting signs of the
approaching shadows, which were to throw in temporary eclipse the
brilliant foreground of the first year of the war. Richmond was then in
its exultant spirit, its gayety, festivity, and show, the type of that
fatal confidence in Southern invincibility, which, in a few weeks of
disaster, was brought to grief and humiliation.

In that numerous and brilliant assemblage, representing the various
branches of the new government, civil, naval, and military, members of
Congress and of State Legislatures, and admiring citizens, eager to make
formal tender of their esteem to the first President of the South, there
were few who discerned the omens of the coming storm, which was to shake
its foundation, the power of which that occasion was an imposing symbol.
Perhaps there were as few who could penetrate his assuring exterior of
grace, gentleness, and dignity, and share the anxiety with which, even in
the midst of popular adulation, he contemplated the approach of that stern
trial for which the country was so deficient in preparation.

With singular accord of opinion, writers, who had an _inside_ view of the
Southern conduct of the war, have commented upon the disasters consequent
upon the period of fancied security and relaxed exertions which followed
the battle of Manassas. We can not share, however, the shallow and
unphilosophical conclusion which pronounces the glorious triumph of
Manassas a calamity to the South. The temporary salvation of the
Confederacy, guaranteed by that victory, was not its only fruit. Manassas
gave a stamp of _prestige_ to Southern valor and soldiership, which not
even a deluge of subsequent disasters could efface. It gave an
imperishable record and an undying incentive to resolution.

Yet it is not to be questioned that the public apathy, engendered by an
exaggerated estimate of the value of the numerous and consecutive
triumphs of the preceding summer and autumn, was measurably productive of
evil consequences. Encouraged by the press, in many instances, the
Southern people saw, in the comparatively easy triumphs of their superior
valor over undisciplined Northern mobs--for which Manassas, Belmont,
Leesburg, and similar engagements constituted the mere apprenticeship of
war--the auguries significant of a speedy attainment of their
independence. Inflated orators and boastful editorials proclaimed the
absolute certainty of early interference of foreign powers, in behalf of
the South, as the source of the indispensable staples of cotton and
tobacco. In the face of the enormous preparations of the enemy, his
monster armies, numbering, in December, 1861, more than six hundred
thousand men; his numerous fleets for sea-board operations, and iron-clad
floating batteries for the interior streams, comparatively insignificant
successes were pointed to as sufficient proofs of the inability of the
enemy to make any serious impression upon Southern territory.

The Richmond _Examiner_, which had early evinced a disposition hostile to
President Davis and his administration, the ablest and most influential
journal of the South, destined to furnish both the brains and inspiration
in support of future opposition, was conspicuous in its contempt for the
fighting qualities of the North, and vehement in its prophesies of good
fortune for the Confederacy. Late in December, the _Examiner_, commenting
upon recent intelligence from the North, said: "All other topics become
trifles beside the tidings of England which occupies this journal, and all
commentary that diverts public attention from that single point is
impertinence. The effect of the outrage of the Trent on the public
sentiment of Great Britain more than fulfills the prophesy that we made
when the arrest of the Confederate ministers was a fresh event. All legal
quibbling and selfish calculation has been consumed like straw in the
burning sense of incredible insult. The Palmerston cabinet has been forced
to immediate and decisive measures; and a peremptory order to Lord Lyons
comes with the steamer that brings the news to the American shore. He is
directed to demand the unconditional surrender of Messrs. Mason and
Slidell, to place them in the position they were found beneath the British
flag, and a complete disavowal of their seizure as an authorized act.
_Now, the Northern Government has placed itself in such a position that it
can do none of these things. The Abolitionist element of the Northern
States would go straight to revolution at the least movement toward a
surrender of the captives_; the arrest was made by the deliberately
written orders of the Government, already avowed and published beyond the
hope of apology or possibility of retraction.

"The United States can do absolutely nothing but refuse the demands of
Great Britain, and abide the consequences of that refusal. What they will
be can be clearly foretold: _first, there will be the diplomatic rupture;
Lord Lyons will demand his passports, and Mr. Adams will be sent away from
London; then will follow an immediate recognition of the Southern
Confederacy, with encouragement and aid in fitting out its vessels, and
supplying their wants in the British ports and islands. Lastly, a war will
be evolved from these two events._"

Continuing its comments upon what it terms the "raving madness" of the
North, the _Examiner_ says: "Then came the proclamation of Lincoln.
Nothing but insanity could have dictated it; and without it the secession
of Virginia was impossible. _Then their crazy attempt to subdue a country
not less difficult to conquer than Russia itself, with an armed mob of

In the contemplation of the pleasing sketch which its imagination had
executed, the _Examiner_ asks: "_Spectators of these events, who can doubt
that the Almighty fiat has gone forth against the American Union, or that
the Southern Confederacy is decreed by the Divine Wisdom?_" It declares
that the "dullest worldling, the coolest Atheist, the most hardened cynic,
might be struck with awe by the startling and continued interposition of a
power beyond the control or cognizance of men in these affairs;" and
triumphantly asks: "Who thought, when the Trent was announced to sail,
that on its deck, and in the trough of the weltering Atlantic, the key of
the blockade would be lost?"

The natural and inevitable result of the assurances tendered to the
people, was to lull the patriotic ardor which marked the first great
uprising for defense, when two hundred thousand men sprung to arms. There
can be no justice in holding the Confederate Government responsible for
the popular apathy, which it had no agency in producing, or for the
weakness of the armies, which, next to the naval weakness of the South,
was the immediate cause of the disasters of the early months of 1862.

Since the commencement of hostilities, the Government had been
indefatigable in its efforts to promote enlistments of _volunteers for the
war_, instead of the twelve-months' system, which could be adequate for
the demands of a temporary exigency only, and not for such a terrific
struggle as must result from the temper and resources of the two
contestants. Volunteering was as yet the only method of raising troops
sanctioned by law, or likely to meet popular approval. The country was not
yet prepared for an enforced levy of troops; and it is only necessary to
remember the opposition, in certain quarters, to the execution of the
subsequent conscription law, adopted under the pressure of disasters which
made its necessity plain and inevitable, to conjecture the temper in which
such a measure would have been met, in the over-confident and foolishly
exultant tone of the press and public in the winter of 1861.

Mr. Davis especially sought to disabuse the public mind of its fallacious
hope of a short contest, by his efforts to place the military resources of
the South upon a footing capable of indefinite resistance to an attempt at
conquest, which was to end only with the success or exhaustion of the
North. Conscious of the perpetual disorganization and decimation of the
armies which must result from the system of short enlistments, he had,
early in the war, attracted unfriendly criticism by his refusal of any
more six or twelve-months' volunteers than were necessary to meet the
shock of the enemy's first advance. It was clear to his mind that, under
the wretched system of short enlistments, which he characterized as a
"frightful cause of disaster," the country must, at some period of the
war, be virtually without an army. Such was the case in January and
February, 1862, when the enemy eagerly pressed his immense advantage while
the process of furloughs and reënlistments was in progress, and the army
almost completely disorganized.

Such a crisis was inevitable, and had it not occurred then, it would
merely have been deferred, to be encountered at a period when the capacity
of the Confederacy was even less adequate for its perils. The lesson was
not without its value, since it drove the country and the press to a
recognition of the fact that independence was not to be won by shifts and
dalliance, by temporary expedients, and by spasmodic popular uprisings for
temporary exigencies.

The efforts of the Government were unceasing to prepare for the tremendous
onset of the enemy in almost every quarter of the Confederacy, which it
must have been blind, indeed, not to anticipate. The responses to the
calls of the Government were neither in numbers nor enthusiasm
encouraging. The people were blind in their confidence, and deaf to
appeals admonishing them of perils which, in their fancied security, they
believed impossible of realization. But this soothing sense of security
was soon to have a terrible awakening. The Confederate Government had
recognized the peculiar perils menacing the western section of its
territory. There for weeks rested the anxious gaze of President Davis, and
thence were to come the first notes of alarm--the immediate premonitions
of disaster.

Immediately, upon the occupation of Kentucky by the Confederate forces,
had begun the development of a plan of defense by the Southern generals.
The command of General Polk, constituting the Confederate left, was at
Columbus. On the upper waters of the Cumberland River, in South-eastern
Kentucky, was a small force constituting the Confederate right, commanded
first by General Zollicoffer, and afterward by General Crittenden. At
Bowling Green, with Green River in front, and communicating by railway
with Nashville and the South, was the main Confederate force in Kentucky,
commanded by General Buckner until the arrival of General Albert Sidney
Johnston, whom President Davis had commissioned a full general in the
Confederate service, and assigned to the command of the Western

Apart from the historical interest which belongs to the name of Albert
Sidney Johnston, and from the dramatic incident of his death at the very
climax of a splendid victory, which immediately paled into disaster upon
his fall, as the long and valued friend of Jefferson Davis, he is
entitled to special mention in the biography of the latter.

Albert Sidney Johnston was born in Mason County, Kentucky, in 1803. He
graduated at West Point in 1826; was commissioned as Lieutenant of
infantry; served in the Black Hawk war with distinction; resigned and
settled in Texas in 1836. He volunteered as a private in her armies soon
after the battle of San Jacinto. His merit soon raised him from the ranks,
and he was appointed senior Brigadier-General, and succeeded General
Houston in the command of the Texan army. In 1838 he was appointed Texan
Secretary of War, and in 1839 organized an expedition against the hostile
Cherokees, in which he routed them completely in a battle on the river
Neches. He warmly advocated the annexation of Texas to the United States,
and after this union was effected, he took part in the Mexican war. His
services at the siege of Monterey drew upon him the public favor and the
thanks of General Butler. He continued in the army, and in 1857, was sent
by President Buchanan as Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army to
subdue the Mormons. His successful advance in the Great Salt Lake City,
and the skill and address with which he conducted a difficult enterprise,
largely increased his fame. When the war commenced between the North and
South, he was in California, but when he learned the progress of the
revolution, he resigned his commission and set out from San Francisco, to
penetrate by land to Richmond, a distance of two thousand three hundred

The safe arrival of General Albert Sidney Johnston, within the lines of
the Confederacy, was greeted with a degree of public acclamation hardly
less enthusiastic than would have signalized the intelligence of a great
victory. It was known that the Federal authorities, anxious to prevent so
distinguished and valuable an accession to the generalship of the South,
were intent upon his capture. For weeks popular expectation had been
strained, in eager gaze, for tidings of the distinguished commander, who,
beset by innumerable perils and obstacles, was making his way across the
continent, not less eager to join his countrymen, than were they to feel
the weight of his noble blade in the unequal combat.

Few of the eminent soldiers, who had sought service under the banners of
the Confederacy, had a more brilliant record of actual service; and to the
advantages of reputation, General Johnston added those graces and
distinctions of person with which the imagination invests the ideal
commander. He was considerably past middle age; his height exceeded six
feet, his frame was large and sinewy; his every movement and posture
indicated vigorous and athletic manhood. The general expression of his
striking face was grave and composed, but inviting rather than austere.

The arrival of General Johnston in Richmond, early in September, was a
source of peculiar congratulation to President Davis. Between these
illustrious men had existed, for many years, an endearment, born of close
association, common trials and triumphs, and mutual confidence, which
rendered most auspicious their coöperation in the cause of Southern

"Albert Sidney Johnston," says Professor Bledsoe, in a recent publication,
"who, take him all in all, was the simplest, bravest, grandest man we have
ever known, once said to the present writer: 'There is no measuring such a
man as Davis;' and this high tribute had a fitting counterpart in that
which Davis paid Johnston, when discussing, in the Federal Senate, the
Utah expedition. Said he ... 'I hold that the country is indebted to the
administration for having selected the man who is at the head of the
expedition; who, as a soldier, has not a superior in the army or out of
it; and whose judgment, whose art, whose knowledge is equal to this or any
other emergency; a man of such decision, such resolution that his
country's honor can never be tarnished in his hands; a man of such
calmness, such kindness, that a deluded people can never suffer by
harshness from him.'"

President Davis immediately tendered to General Johnston the command of
one of the two grand military divisions of the Confederacy, and he as
promptly repaired to the scene of his duties.

The general features of General Johnston's policy contemplated a line of
defense running from the Mississippi through the region immediately
covering Nashville to Cumberland Gap--the key to the defense of East
Tennessee and South-western Virginia, and thus to the most vital line of
communication in the South. It is easy to conceive the large force
requisite for so important and difficult a task, against the immense
armies of Grant and Buell, numbering, in the aggregate, more than one
hundred thousand men. Despite the earnest appeals of General Johnston, and
notwithstanding that upon the successful maintenance of his position
depended the successful defense of the entire southern and south-western
sections of the Confederacy, his force, at the last of January, 1862, did
not exceed twenty-six thousand men. Informed of his perilous situation,
the Confederate Government could do no more than second the appeals and
remonstrances of General Johnston. Slight accessions were made to his
force from the States which were menaced, but, as results speedily
demonstrated, he was unable to meet the enemy with an adequate force at
any one of the vital points of his defensive line.

In the immediate front of General Johnston's position was the army of
Buell, estimated at forty thousand men, which, during the entire winter,
was in training for its meditated advance along the line of the railroad
in the direction of Nashville. Under Grant, at Cairo, was an army of more
than fifty thousand men, which, in coöperation with a formidable naval
force, was designed to operate against Nashville, and, by securing
possession of the line of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, to hold
Kentucky and West Tennessee. General Johnston's position was indeed a
cruel dilemma, and was sufficiently explained in a letter to President
Davis, representing the inadequacy of his force, for either front of
attack, upon a line whose every point demanded ample defense. Only a
self-denying patriotism could have induced General Johnston to occupy his
false position before the public, which accredited to him an army ample
even for aggressive warfare. With an almost certain prospect of disaster,
he nevertheless resolved to make the supreme effort which alone could
avert it.

His plan was to meet Grant's attack upon Nashville with sixteen thousand
men, hoping, in the meanwhile, by boldly confronting Buell with the
residue of his forces, to hold in check the enemy in his immediate front.
During the winter, by a skillful disposition of his forces and adroit
maneuvers, he deceived the enemy as to his real strength, and thus
deferred the threatened advance until the month of February.

The month of January, 1862, was to witness the first check to the arms of
the Confederacy, after seven months of uninterrupted victory. The scene of
the disaster was near Somerset, Kentucky. The forces engaged were
inconsiderable as compared with the conflicts of a few weeks later, but
the result was disheartening to the impatient temper of the South, not yet
chastened by the severe trials of adversity. General Crittenden was badly
defeated, though, as is probable, through no erroneous calculation or
defective generalship on his part. A melancholy feature of the disaster
was the death of General Zollicoffer. With the repulse and retreat of the
Confederate forces after the battle of Fishing Creek, as the action was
called, followed the virtual possession of South-eastern Kentucky by the
Federal army. The Confederate line of defense in Kentucky was thus broken,
and the value of other positions materially impaired.

Early in February the infantry columns of Grant and the gunboats of
Commodore Foote commenced the ascent of the Tennessee River. The immediate
object of assault was Fort Henry, an imperfectly constructed
fortification, on the east bank of the river, near the dividing line of
Kentucky and Tennessee. After a signal display of gallantry by its
commander, General Tilghman, the fort was surrendered, the main body of
the forces defending it having been previously sent to Fort Donelson, the
principal defense of the Cumberland River. The capture of Fort Henry
opened the Tennessee River, penetrating the States of Tennessee and
Alabama, and navigable for steamers for more than two hundred miles, to
the unchecked advance of the enemy.

General Grant promptly advanced to attack Fort Donelson. After a series of
bloody engagements and a siege of several days, Fort Donelson was
surrendered, with the garrison of more than nine thousand men. This result
was indeed a heavy blow to the Confederacy, and produced a most alarming
crisis in the military affairs of the Western Department. General
Johnston was near Nashville, with the force which had lately held Bowling
Green, the latter place having been evacuated during the progress of the
fight at Fort Donelson. Nashville was immediately evacuated, and the
remnant of General Johnston's army retreated southward, first to
Murfreesboro', Tennessee, and afterwards crossed the Tennessee, at
Decatur, Alabama.

In January, General Beauregard had been transferred from Virginia to
Kentucky, and, at the time of the surrender of Nashville, was in command
of the forces in the neighborhood of Columbus, Kentucky, which protected
the passage of the Mississippi. The entire Confederate line of defense in
Kentucky and Tennessee having been lost with the surrender of Forts Henry
and Donelson, its various posts became untenable. In a subsequent portion
of this narrative, we shall trace the results of the Confederate endeavor
to establish a new line of defense in the West by a judicious and masterly
combination of forces.

Meanwhile, the preparations of the enemy in the East were even more
formidable and threatening than in the West. It was in Virginia that the
"elastic spirit" of the North, as the Richmond _Examiner_ termed the
alacrity of the consecutive popular uprisings in favor of the war at the
North, was chiefly ambitious and hopeful of decisive results in favor of
the Union. Here was to be sought retrieval of the national honor lost at
Manassas; here was the capital of the Confederacy, which, once taken, the
"rebellion would collapse." The energy and administrative ability of
General McClellan had accomplished great results in the creation of a fine
army and the security of the capital. But, with the opening of the season
favorable to military operations, he was expected to accomplish far more
decisive results--nothing less than the capture of Richmond, the expulsion
of the Confederate authority from Virginia, and the destruction of the
Confederate army at Manassas.

Until the opening of spring, military operations in Virginia were attended
by no events of importance. But the East was not to be without its
contribution to the unvarying tide of Confederate disaster. In the month
of February, Roanoke Island, upon the sea-line of North Carolina, defended
by General Wise, with a single brigade, was assaulted by a powerful
combined naval and military expedition, under General Burnside, and
surrendered, with its garrison. This success opened to the enemy the
sounds and inlets of that region, with their tributary streams, and gave
him easy access to a productive country and important communications.

It was not difficult to estimate correctly the serious nature of these
successive reverses covering nearly every field of important operations.
They were of a character alarming, indeed, in immediate consequences, and,
necessarily, largely affecting the destiny of the war in its future
stages. Retreat, evacuation, and surrender seemed the irremediable
tendency of affairs every-where. Thousands of prisoners were in the hands
of the enemy, the capital of the most important State in the West
occupied, the Confederate centre was broken, the great water-avenues of
the south-west open to the enemy, the campaign transferred from the heart
of Kentucky to the northern borders of the Gulf States, and hardly an
available line was left for the recovery of the lost territory.

Within a few weeks the extravagant hopes of the South were brought to the
verge of extreme apprehension. The public mind was not to be soothed by
the affected indifference of the press to calamities, the magnitude of
which was too palpable, in the presence of actual invasion of nearly one
half the Southern territory, and of imminent perils threatening the speedy
culmination of adverse fortune to the Confederacy. Richmond, which, during
the war, was at all times the reflex of the hopes and aspirations of the
South, was the scene of gloom and despondency, in painful contrast with
the ardent and gratulatory tone so lately prevalent.

Popular disappointment rarely fails in its search for scapegoats upon
which to visit responsibility for misfortunes. A noticeable result of the
Confederate reverses in the beginning of 1862 was the speedy evolution of
an organized hostility to the administration of President Davis. The
season was eminently propitious for outward demonstrations of feeling,
heretofore suppressed, in consequence of the brilliant success, until
recently, attending the movement for Southern independence. The universal
and characteristic disposition of the masses to receive, with favor,
censure of their rulers, and to charge public calamities to official
failure and maladministration, was an inviting inducement, in this period
of public gloom, to the indulgence of partisan aspirations and personal

To one familiar with the political history of the South during the decade
previous to secession, there could be no difficulty in penetrating the
various motives, instigating to union, for a common purpose, the
heterogeneous elements of this opposition. Prominent among its leaders
were men, the life-long opponents of the President, notorious for their
want of adhesion to any principle or object for its own sake, and
especially lukewarm, at all times, upon issues vitally affecting the
safety of the South. These men could not forget, even when their
allegiance had been avowed to the sacred cause of country and liberty, the
rancor engendered in the old contests of party. Some, in addition to
disappointed political ambition, arising from the failure of the President
to tender them the foremost places in the Government, had personal
resentments to gratify. Much the larger portion of the opposition, which
continued, until the last moments of the Confederacy, to assail the
Government, had its origin in these influences, and they speedily
attracted all restless and impracticable characters--born Jacobins,
malcontents by the decree of nature, and others of the class who are
"never at home save in the attitude of contradiction."

At first feeble in influence, this faction, by pertinacious and
unscrupulous efforts, eventually became a source of embarrassment, and
promoted the wide-spread division and distrust which, in the latter days
of the Confederacy, were so ominous of the approaching catastrophe. Its
earliest shafts were ostensibly not aimed at the President, since there
was no evidence that the popular affection for Mr. Davis would brook
assaults upon him, but assumed the shape of accusations against his
constitutional advisers. A deliberate movement, cloaked in the disguise of
respectful remonstrance and petition, sustained by demagogical
speeches--which, though artfully designed, in many instances revealed the
secret venom--was arranged, upon the assembling of the First Congress
under the permanent Government, to revolutionize the cabinet of President

Mr. Benjamin, the Secretary of War, and Mr. Mallory, Secretary of the
Navy, were the objects of especial and most envenomed assault. They were
assailed in Congress, and by a portion of the Richmond press, as directly
chargeable with the late reverses. Yet it should have been plain that the
most serious of these disasters were attributable chiefly to the
overwhelming naval preponderance of the enemy--an advantage not to have
been obviated entirely by any degree of foresight on the part of the
Confederate naval secretary--and by a deficiency of soldiers, for which
the country itself, and not Mr. Benjamin, was to be censured.

The indisputable facts in the case were ample in the vindication of Mr.
Mallory, as to the insufficient defenses of the Western rivers, now in
Federal possession. The obvious dangers of the Cumberland and Tennessee
Rivers, as an avenue of access to the heart of the South, were not
overlooked by the Government. The channels of these rivers are navigable
during a large portion of the year, and the two streams gradually approach
each other, as they pass from Tennessee into Kentucky, on their course to
the Ohio, coming at one point within less than three miles of each other,
and emptying their waters only ten miles apart. The facilities afforded by
their proximity for combined military and naval operations, were
necessarily apparent. The Government contemplated the defense of these
streams by floating defenses the only means by which they could be
debarred to the enemy. The Provisional Congress, however, by a most
singular and fatal oversight of the recommendation of the Government, made
no appropriation for floating defenses on the Tennessee and Cumberland,
until the opportunity to prepare them had passed.

It authorized the President to cause to be constructed thirteen steam
gunboats _for sea-coast defense_, and such floating defenses for the
Mississippi River as he might deem best adapted to the purpose; but no
provision was made for armed steamers on the large Western interior rivers
until the month of January, 1862, when an act was approved appropriating
one million of dollars, to be expended for this purpose, at the discretion
of the President, by the Secretary of War, or of the Navy, as he might
direct. This was less than _four weeks_ before the actual advance of the
Federal gunboats, and was, of course, too late for the needed armaments.
The appropriation of one hundred thousand dollars, for equipment and
repairs of vessels of the Confederate navy, hardly sufficed to enable the
Secretary of that department to maintain a few frail steamers on the
Tennessee, hastily prepared from commercial or passenger boats, and very
imperfectly armed.

A congressional investigating committee censured Mr. Benjamin and General
Huger as responsible for the capture of Roanoke Island and its garrison.
The latter affair was indeed a disaster not to be lightly palliated, and
was one of those inexplicable mishaps, which, upon retrospection, we see
should have been avoided, though it is at least doubtful who is justly
censurable. It is, however, only just to state that no view of the Roanoke
Island disaster has ever been presented to the writer, which did not
acquit General Wise of all blame. His exculpation was complete before
every tribunal of opinion.

Whatever may have been the real merit of these issues made against
Secretaries Mallory and Benjamin, it is very certain that those two
gentlemen continued to be the objects of marked disfavor from those
members of Congress, and that portion of the Richmond press known to be
hostile to the administration of Mr. Davis. Popular prejudice is
proverbially unreasoning, and it was indeed singular to note how promptly
the public echoed the assaults of the hostile press against these
officials, upon subsequent occasions, when they were held accountable for
disasters with which they had no possible connection.[43]

This period of Confederate misfortunes gave the first verification of a
fact which afterward had frequent illustration, that the resolution of the
South, so indomitable in actual contest, staggered under the weight of
reverses. The history of the war was a record of the variations of the
Southern mind between extreme elation and immoderate depression.
Extravagant exultation over success, and immoderate despondency over
disaster, usually followed each other in prompt succession.
Overestimating, in many instances, the importance of its own victories,
the South quite as frequently exaggerated the value of those won by the
enemy. There was thus a constant departure from the middle ground of
dispassionate judgment, which would have accurately measured the real
situation; making available its opportunities, by a vigorous prosecution
of advantage, and overcoming difficulties by energetic preparation.

But this despondency happily gave place to renewed determination, as the
success of the enemy brought him nearer the homes of the South, and made
more imminent the evils of subjugation. A grand and noble popular
reanimation was the response to the renewed vigor and resolution of the

When the Confederate Government was organized at Montgomery, the operation
of the provisional constitution was limited to the period of one year, to
be superseded by the permanent government. No material alteration of the
political organism was found necessary, nor was there any change in the
_personnel_ of the administration--Mr. Davis having been unanimously
chosen President at the election in November, and retaining his
administration as it existed at the close of the functions of the
provisional constitution. Though the change was thus merely nominal, the
occasion was replete with historic interest to the people whose liberties
were involved in the fate of the government, now declared "permanent." It
was, indeed, an assumption of a new character--a declaration, with renewed
emphasis, of the high and peerless enterprise of independent national
existence; an introduction to a future, promising a speedy fulfillment of
inestimable blessings or "woes unnumbered."

On the 18th of February, 1862, the first Congress, under the permanent
constitution of the Confederate States, assembled in the capitol at
Richmond. On the 22d occurred the ceremony of the inauguration of
President Davis.

To the citizens of Richmond and others who were spectators, the scene in
Capitol Square, on that memorable morning, was marked by gloomy
surroundings, the recollection of which recalls, with sad interest,
suggestive omens, which then seemed to betoken the adverse fate of the
Confederacy. The season was one of unusual rigor, and the preceding month
of public calamity and distress had been fitly commemorated by a
protracted series of dark and cheerless days. Never, within the
recollection of the writer, had there been a day in Richmond so severe,
uncomfortable, and gloomy, as the day appointed for the ceremony of
inauguration. For days previous heavy clouds had foreshadowed the rain,
which fell continuously during the preceding night, and which seemed to
increase in volume on the morning of the ceremony. The occasion was in
singular contrast with that which, a year previous, had witnessed the
installment of the provisional government--upon a day whose genial
sunshine seemed prophetic of a bright future for the infant power then
launched upon its voyage.

But however wanting in composure may have been the public mind, and
whatever the perils of the situation, the voice of their twice-chosen
chief quickly infused into the heart of the people, that unabated zeal and
unconquerable resolution, with which he proclaimed himself devoted anew to
the deliverance of his country. The inaugural address was a noble and
inspiring appeal to the patriotism of the land. Its eloquent, candid, and
patriotic tone won all hearts; and even the unfriendly press and
politicians accorded commendation to the dignity and candor with which the
President avowed his official responsibility; the manly frankness with
which he defended departments of the government unjustly assailed; and the
assuring, defiant courage, with which he invited all classes of his
countrymen to join him in the supreme sacrifice, should it become

The inaugural ceremonies were as simple and appropriate as those witnessed
at Montgomery a year previous. The members of the Confederate Senate and
House of Representatives, with the members of the Virginia Legislature,
awaited in the hall of the House of Delegates the arrival of the
President. In consequence of the limited capacity of the hall,
comparatively few spectators--a majority of them ladies--witnessed the
proceedings there. Immediately fronting the chair of the speaker were the
ladies of Mr. Davis' household, attended by relatives and friends. In
close proximity were members of the cabinet.

A contemporary account thus mentions this scene: "It was a grave and great
assemblage. Time-honored men were there, who had witnessed ceremony after
ceremony of inauguration in the palmiest days of the old confederation;
those who had been at the inauguration of the iron-willed Jackson; men
who, in their fiery Southern ardor, had thrown down the gauntlet of
defiance in the halls of Federal legislation, and in the face of the enemy
avowed their determination to be free; and finally witnessed the
enthroning of a republican despot in their country's chair of state. All
were there; and silent tears were seen coursing down the cheeks of
gray-haired men, while the determined will stood out in every feature."

The appearance of the President was singularly imposing, though there were
visible traces of his profound emotion, and a pallor, painful to look
upon, reminded the spectator of his recent severe indisposition. His dress
was a plain citizen's suit of black. Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, temporary
President of the Confederate Senate, occupied the right of the platform;
Mr. Bocock, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the left. When
President Davis, accompanied by Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, Chairman of
the Committee of Arrangements, on the part of the Senate, reached the hall
and passed to the chair of the Speaker, subdued applause, becoming the
place and the occasion, greeted him. A short time sufficed to carry into
effect the previously arranged programme, and the distinguished procession
moved to the Washington monument, where a stand was prepared for the

Hon. James Lyons, of Virginia, Chairman of the House Committee of
Arrangements, called the assemblage to order, and an eloquent and
appropriate prayer was offered by Bishop Johns, of the Diocese of
Virginia. The President, having received a most enthusiastic welcome from
the assemblage, with a clear and measured accent, delivered his inaugural

    FELLOW-CITIZENS: On this, the birthday of the man most identified with
    the establishment of American independence, and beneath the monument
    erected to commemorate his heroic virtues and those of his
    compatriots, we have assembled, to usher into existence the permanent
    government of the Confederate States. Through this instrumentality,
    under the favor of Divine Providence, we hope to perpetuate the
    principles of our revolutionary fathers. The day, the memory, and the
    purpose seem fitly associated.

    It is with mingled feelings of humility and pride that I appear to
    take, in the presence of the people, and before high Heaven, the oath
    prescribed as a qualification for the exalted station to which the
    unanimous voice of the people has called me. Deeply sensible of all
    that is implied by this manifestation of the people's confidence, I am
    yet more profoundly impressed by the vast responsibility of the
    office, and humbly feel my own unworthiness.

    In return for their kindness, I can only offer assurances of the
    gratitude with which it is received, and can but pledge a zealous
    devotion of every faculty to the service of those who have chosen me
    as their Chief Magistrate.

    When a long course of class legislation, directed not to the general
    welfare, but to the aggrandizement of the Northern section of the
    Union, culminated in a warfare on the domestic institutions of the
    Southern States; when the dogmas of a sectional party, substituted for
    the provisions of the constitutional compact, threatened to destroy
    the sovereign rights of the States, six of those States, withdrawing
    from the Union, confederated together to exercise the right and
    perform the duty of instituting a government which would better
    secure the liberties for the preservation of which that Union was

    Whatever of hope some may have entertained that a returning sense of
    justice would remove the danger with which our rights were threatened,
    and render it possible to preserve the Union of the Constitution, must
    have been dispelled by the malignity and barbarity of the Northern
    States in the prosecution of the existing war. The confidence of the
    most hopeful among us must have been destroyed by the disregard they
    have recently exhibited for all the time-honored bulwarks of civil and
    religious liberty. Bastiles filled with prisoners, arrested without
    civil process, or indictment duly found; the writ of _habeas corpus_
    suspended by executive mandate; a State Legislature controlled by the
    imprisonment of members whose avowed principles suggested to the
    Federal executive that there might be another added to the list of
    seceded States; elections held under threats of a military power;
    civil officers, peaceful citizens, and gentle women incarcerated for
    opinion's sake, proclaimed the incapacity of our late associates to
    administer a government as free, liberal, and humane as that
    established for our common use.

    For proof of the sincerity of our purpose to maintain our ancient
    institutions, we may point to the Constitution of the Confederacy and
    the laws enacted under it, as well as to the fact that, through all
    the necessities of an unequal struggle, there has been no act, on our
    part, to impair personal liberty or the freedom of speech, of thought,
    or of the press. The courts have been open, the judicial functions
    fully executed, and every right of the peaceful citizen maintained as
    securely as if a war of invasion had not disturbed the land.

    The people of the States now confederated became convinced that the
    Government of the United States had fallen into the hands of a
    sectional majority, who would pervert the most sacred of all trusts to
    the destruction of the rights which it was pledged to protect. They
    believed that to remain longer in the Union would subject them to a
    continuance of a disparaging discrimination, submission to which would
    be inconsistent to their welfare and intolerable to a proud people.
    They, therefore, determined to sever its bonds, and establish a new
    confederacy for themselves.

    The experiment, instituted by our revolutionary fathers, of a
    voluntary union of sovereign States, for purposes specified in a
    solemn compact, had been prevented by those who, feeling power and
    forgetting right, were determined to respect no law but their own
    will. The Government had ceased to answer the ends for which it had
    been ordained and established. To save ourselves from a revolution
    which, in its silent but rapid progress, was about to place us under
    the despotism of numbers, and to preserve, in spirit as well as in
    form, a system of government we believed to be peculiarly fitted to
    our condition and full of promise for mankind, we determined to make a
    new association, composed of States homogeneous in interest, in
    policy, and in feeling.

    True to our traditions of peace and love of justice, we sent
    commissioners to the United States to propose a fair and amicable
    settlement of all questions of public debt or property which might be
    in dispute. But the Government at Washington, denying our right to
    self-government, refused even to listen to any proposals for a
    peaceful separation. Nothing was then left to us but to prepare for

    The first year in our history has been the most eventful in the annals
    of this continent. A new government has been established, and its
    machinery put in operation, over an area exceeding seven hundred
    thousand square miles. The great principles upon which we have been
    willing to hazard every thing that is dear to man have made conquests
    for us which could never have been achieved by the sword. Our
    Confederacy has grown from six to thirteen States; and Maryland,
    already united to us by hallowed memories and material interests,
    will, I believe, when able to speak with unstifled voice, connect her
    destiny with the South. Our people have rallied, with unexampled
    unanimity, to the support of the great principles of constitutional
    government, with firm resolve to perpetuate by arms the rights which
    they could not peacefully secure. A million of men, it is estimated,
    are now standing in hostile array, and waging war along a frontier of
    thousands of miles; battles have been fought, sieges have been
    conducted, and, although the contest is not ended, and the tide for
    the moment is against us, the final result in our favor is not

    The period is near at hand when our foes must sink under the immense
    load of debt which they have incurred--a debt which, in their efforts
    to subjugate us, has already attained such fearful dimensions as will
    subject them to burdens which must continue to oppress them for
    generations to come.

    We, too, have had our trials and difficulties. That we are to escape
    them in the future is not to be hoped. It was to be expected, when we
    entered upon this war, that it would expose our people to sacrifices,
    and cost them much both of money and blood. But we knew the value of
    the object for which we struggled, and understood the nature of the
    war in which we were engaged. Nothing could be so bad as failure, and
    any sacrifice would be cheap as the price of success in such a

    But the picture has its lights as well as its shadows. This great
    strife has awakened in the people the highest emotions and qualities
    of the human soul. It is cultivating feelings of patriotism, virtue,
    and courage. Instances of self-sacrifice and of generous devotion to
    the noble cause for which we are contending are rife throughout the
    land. Never has a people evinced a more determined spirit than that
    now animating men, women, and children in every part of our country.
    Upon the first call, the men fly to arms; and wives and mothers send
    their husbands and sons to battle without a murmur of regret.

    It was, perhaps, in the ordination of Providence that we were to be
    taught the value of our liberties by the price which we pay for them.

    The recollections of this great contest, with all its common
    traditions of glory, of sacrifices, and of blood, will be the bond of
    harmony and enduring affection amongst the people, producing unity in
    policy, fraternity in sentiment, and joint effort in war.

    Nor have the material sacrifices of the past year been made without
    some corresponding benefits. If the acquiescence of foreign nations in
    a pretended blockade has deprived us of our commerce with them, it is
    fast making us a self-supporting and an independent people. The
    blockade, if effectual and permanent, could only serve to divert our
    industry from the production of articles for export, and employ it in
    supplying commodities for domestic use.

    It is a satisfaction that we have maintained the war by our unaided
    exertions. We have neither asked nor received assistance from any
    quarter. Yet the interest involved is not wholly our own. The world at
    large is concerned in opening our markets to its commerce. When the
    independence of the Confederate States is recognized by the nations of
    the earth, and we are free to follow our interests and inclinations by
    cultivating foreign trade, the Southern States will offer to
    manufacturing nations the most favorable markets which ever invited
    their commerce. Cotton, sugar, rice, tobacco, provisions, timber, and
    naval stores will furnish attractive exchanges. Nor would the
    constancy of these supplies be likely to be disturbed by war. Our
    confederate strength will be too great to attempt aggression; and
    never was there a people whose interests and principles committed them
    so fully to a peaceful policy as those of the Confederate States. By
    the character of their productions, they are too deeply interested in
    foreign commerce wantonly to disturb it. War of conquest they can not
    wage, because the Constitution of their Confederacy admits of no
    coerced association. Civil war there can not be between States held
    together by their volition only. This rule of voluntary association,
    which can not fail to be conservative, by securing just and impartial
    government at home, does not diminish the security of the obligations
    by which the Confederate States may be bound to foreign nations. In
    proof of this, it is to be remembered that, at the first moment of
    asserting their right of secession, these States proposed a settlement
    on the basis of a common liability for the obligations of the General

    Fellow-citizens, after the struggles of ages had consecrated the right
    of the Englishman to constitutional representative government, our
    colonial ancestors were forced to vindicate that birthright by an
    appeal to arms. Success crowned their efforts, and they provided for
    their posterity a peaceful remedy against future aggression.

    The tyranny of an unbridled majority, the most odious and least
    responsible form of despotism, has denied us both the right and the
    remedy. Therefore we are in arms to renew such sacrifices as our
    fathers made to the holy cause of constitutional liberty. At the
    darkest hour of our struggle, the provisional gives place to the
    permanent government. After a series of successes and victories, which
    covered our arms with glory, we have recently met with serious
    disasters. But, in the heart of a people resolved to be free, these
    disasters tend but to stimulate to increased resistance.

    To show ourselves worthy of the inheritance bequeathed to us by the
    patriots of the Revolution, we must emulate that heroic devotion which
    made reverse to them but the crucible in which their patriotism was

    With confidence in the wisdom and virtue of those who will share with
    me the responsibility, and aid me in the conduct of public affairs;
    securely relying on the patriotism and courage of the people, of which
    the present war has furnished so many examples, I deeply feel the
    weight of the responsibilities I now, with unaffected diffidence, am
    about to assume; and, fully realizing the inadequacy of human power to
    guide and to sustain, my hope is reverently fixed on Him, whose favor
    is ever vouchsafed to the cause which is just. With humble gratitude
    and adoration, acknowledging the Providence which has so visibly
    protected the Confederacy during its brief but eventful career, to
    Thee, O God! I trustingly commit myself, and prayerfully invoke Thy
    blessing on my country and its cause.

The effect of this address upon the public was electrical. The anxious and
dispirited assemblage, which, for more than an hour previous to the
arrival of the President, had braved the inclement sky and traversed the
almost impassable avenues of Capitol Square, in eager longing for
re-assuring words from him upon whose courage and will so much depended,
was not disappointed. A consciousness of a burden removed, of doubts
dispelled, of the re-assured feeling, which comes with strengthened
conviction that confidence has not been misplaced, animated and thrilled
the crowd as it caught the impressive tones and gestures of the speaker.
In the memory of every beholder must forever dwell the imposing presence
of Mr. Davis, as, with uplifted hands, he pronounced the beautiful and
appropriate petition to Providence, which forms the peroration.

       *       *       *       *       *

The message sent by President Davis to Congress, a few days after the
inauguration, is hardly inferior in importance, as a historical document,
to the inaugural address. In view of its explanations of the earlier
policy of the Confederate Government, of the causes of recent disasters,
and indications of important changes in the future conduct of the war, we
present entire this first message of Mr. Davis to the First Congress
assembled under the permanent Constitution:

    _To the Senate and House of Representatives of the Confederate

    In obedience to the constitutional provision, requiring the President,
    from time to time, to give to the Congress information of the state of
    the Confederacy, and recommend to their consideration such measures as
    he shall judge necessary and expedient, I have to communicate that,
    since my message at the last session of the Provisional Congress,
    events have demonstrated that the Government had attempted more than
    it had power successfully to achieve. Hence, in the effort to protect,
    by our arms, the whole of the territory of the Confederate States,
    sea-board and inland, we have been so exposed as recently to encounter
    serious disasters. When the Confederacy was formed, the States
    composing it were, by the peculiar character of their pursuits, and a
    misplaced confidence in their former associates, to a great extent,
    destitute of the means for the prosecution of the war on so gigantic a
    scale as that which it has attained. The workshops and artisans were
    mainly to be found in the Northern States, and one of the first duties
    which devolved upon this Government was to establish the necessary
    manufactories, and in the meantime to obtain, by purchase from abroad,
    as far as practicable, whatever was required for the public defense.
    No effort has been spared to effect both these ends, and though the
    results have not equaled our hopes, it is believed that an impartial
    judgment will, upon full investigation, award to the various
    departments of the Government credit for having done all which human
    power and foresight enabled them to accomplish.

    The valor and devotion of the people have not only sustained the
    efforts of the Government, but have gone far to supply its

    The active state of military preparations among the nations of Europe,
    in April last, the date when our agents first went abroad, interposed
    unavoidable delays in the procurement of arms, and the want of a navy
    has greatly impeded our efforts to import military supplies of all

    I have hoped for several days to receive official reports in relation
    to our discomfiture at Roanoke Island, and the fall of Fort Donelson.
    They have not yet reached me, and I am, therefore, unable to
    communicate to you such information of those events, and the
    consequences resulting from them, as would enable me to make
    recommendations founded upon the changed condition which they have
    produced. Enough is known of the surrender of Roanoke Island to make
    us feel that it was deeply humiliating, however imperfect may have
    been the preparations for defense. The hope is still entertained that
    our reported losses at Fort Donelson have been greatly exaggerated,
    inasmuch as I am not only unwilling, but unable to believe that a
    large army of our people have surrendered without a desperate effort
    to cut their way through investing forces, whatever may have been
    their number, and to endeavor to make a junction with other divisions
    of the army. But in the absence of that exact information which can
    only be afforded by official reports, it would be premature to pass
    judgment, and my own is reserved, as I trust yours will be, until that
    information is received. In the meantime, strenuous efforts have been
    made to throw forward reinforcements to the armies at the positions
    threatened, and I can not doubt that the bitter disappointments we
    have borne, by nerving the people to still greater exertions, will
    speedily secure results more accordant with our just expectation, and
    as favorable to our cause as those which marked the earlier periods of
    the war.

    The reports of the Secretaries of War and the Navy will exhibit the
    mass of resources for the conduct of the war which we have been
    enabled to accumulate, notwithstanding the very serious difficulties
    against which we have contended.

    They afford the cheering hope that our resources, limited as they were
    at the beginning of the contest, will, during its progress, become
    developed to such an extent as fully to meet our future wants.

    The policy of enlistment for short terms, against which I have
    steadily contended from the commencement of the war, has, in my
    judgment, contributed, in no immaterial degree, to the recent reverses
    which we have suffered, and even now renders it difficult to furnish
    you an accurate statement of the army. When the war first broke out,
    many of our people could with difficulty be persuaded that it would be
    long or serious. It was not deemed possible that any thing so insane
    as a persistent attempt to subjugate these States could be made--still
    less that the delusion would so far prevail as to give to the war the
    vast proportions which it has assumed. The people, incredulous of a
    long war, were naturally averse to long enlistment, and the early
    legislation of Congress rendered it impracticable to obtain volunteers
    for a greater period than twelve months. Now, that it has become
    probable that the war will be continued through a series of years, our
    high-spirited and gallant soldiers, while generally reënlisting, are,
    from the fact of having entered the service for a short term,
    compelled, in many instances, to go home to make the necessary
    arrangements for their families during their prolonged absence.

    The quotas of new regiments for the war, called for from the different
    States, are in rapid progress of organization. The whole body of our
    new levies and reënlisted men will probably be ready in the ranks
    within the next thirty days. But, in the meantime, it is exceedingly
    difficult to give an accurate statement of the number of our forces in
    the field. They may, in general terms, be stated at four hundred
    regiments of infantry, with a proportionate force of cavalry and
    artillery, the details of which will be shown by the report of the
    Secretary of War. I deem it proper to advert to the fact that the
    process of furloughs and reënlistment in progress for the last month
    had so far disorganized and weakened our forces as to impair our
    ability for successful defense; but I heartily congratulate you that
    this evil, which I had foreseen and was powerless to prevent, may now
    be said to be substantially at an end, and that we shall not again,
    during the war, be exposed to seeing our strength diminished by this
    fruitful cause of disaster--short enlistments.

    The people of the Confederate States, being principally engaged in
    agricultural pursuits, were unprovided at the commencement of
    hostilities with ships, ship-yards, materials for ship-building, or
    skilled mechanics and seamen, in sufficient numbers to make the prompt
    creation of the navy a practicable task, even if the required
    appropriations had been made for the purpose. Notwithstanding our very
    limited resources, however, the report of the Secretary will exhibit
    to you a satisfactory progress in preparation, and a certainty of
    early completion of vessels of a number and class on which we may
    confidently rely for contesting the vaunted control of the enemy over
    our waters.

    The financial system, devised by the wisdom of your predecessors, has
    proved adequate to supplying all the wants of the Government,
    notwithstanding the unexpected and very large increase of expenditures
    resulting from the great augmentation in the necessary means of
    defense. The report of the Secretary of the Treasury will exhibit the
    gratifying fact that we have no floating debt; that the credit of the
    Government is unimpaired, and that the total expenditure of the
    Government for the year has been, in round numbers, one hundred and
    seventy millions of dollars--less than one-third the sum wasted by the
    enemy in his vain effort to conquer us--less than the value of a
    single article of export--the cotton crop of the year.

    The report of the Postmaster-General will show the condition of that
    department to be steadily improving--its revenue increasing, and
    already affording the assurance that it will be self-sustaining at the
    date required by the Constitution, while affording ample mail
    facilities for the people.

    In the Department of Justice, which includes the Patent Office and
    Public Printing, some legislative provision will be required, which
    will be specifically stated in the report of the head of that

    I invite the attention of Congress to the duty of organizing a Supreme
    Court of the Confederate States, in accordance with the mandate of the

    I refer you to my message communicated to the Provisional Congress in
    November last, for such further information touching the condition of
    public affairs, as it might be useful to lay before you; the short
    interval which has since elapsed not having produced any material
    changes in that condition, other than those to which reference has
    already been made.

    In conclusion, I cordially welcome representatives who, recently
    chosen by the people, are fully imbued with their views and feelings,
    and can so ably advise me as to the needful provisions for the public
    service. I assure you of my hearty coöperation in all your efforts for
    the common welfare of the country.


The message, not less than the inaugural address, was received with many
evidences of public reanimation. The following extracts indicate the state
of feeling in Richmond at this period:


    (From the Richmond Whig, Feb. 20, 1862.)

    The President makes a candid and frank confession of our recent
    reverses. Very justly, he does not regard them as vital to our cause;
    but they will entail a long war upon us. That long war ensures our
    independence, and the ultimate confusion and ruin of the Yankees....

The _Examiner_, of the same date, in the opening paragraph of its leader,

    The President's Message is a manly and dignified document, but, like
    the inaugural, it contains not a solitary word indicating the plan or
    policy of the Government. Far from objecting to this characteristic,
    we think it eminently proper that the executive should keep its
    counsels from the public eye, and that the Congress should withdraw
    its deliberations from the public ear. What is wanted from the one is
    distinct and peremptory _orders_; and from the other, decisive and
    adequate provisions for the public safety. The duty of the country is
    unhesitating obedience; of the soldiers, the courage that prefers
    death in glory, like Jennings Wise....



We have briefly indicated the causes which now elevated the Southern
people to a more intelligent appreciation of the nature and necessities of
the struggle in which they were engaged. There was reason for the
congratulation which President Davis experienced at the unmistakable
evidences of the awakening of the public mind to the stern duties which,
from the beginning, he had sedulously inculcated.

The progress of the war had already developed the existence of numerous
errors upon both sides, and had exploded many cherished theories having
possession of the popular mind of each section, with reference to the
power, resources, and spirit of its antagonist. Both parties had entered
into the contest with the firm conviction of certain triumph, and with the
purpose to make the struggle as short as possible. The war-cry of the
North was "Let it be short, sharp, and decisive;" and they appealed to
their numbers, wealth, and sectional hatred, as elements of superiority,
which would inevitably end the war in their favor in a few months. The
South was equally disposed to a speedy conclusion. With the masses of the
South and the majority of their advisers, the predominant idea and
aspiration was to teach the enemy, by prompt and heavy blows, the
impossibility of successful invasion, and thus shorten the period of
bloodshed. Thus both, from a necessity which neither was able to avoid,
began with gigantic preparations, hoping, by a few mighty conflicts of
arms, and one lavish sacrifice of life and treasure, to bring to prompt
arbitrament an issue which was the growth of a century.

But the aroused spirit of sectional strife was not to be appeased by a
single holocaust. The American people, a youthful giant, totally
uneducated in the experience of war, having never yet tested their
strength and dimensions, would not consent that the game of empire should
be decided by a single dramatic _denouement_, a Waterloo, a Solferino, or
Sadowa. Manassas had been the bitter but beneficent chastisement of the
North, and the reproof was accepted with that wonderful elasticity, which
afterwards amazed the world with its manifestations after the most
disheartening failures. A rebuke no less signal waited upon the South, and
its correcting influence immediately exhibited a temper which was the
temporary salvation of the Confederacy, and the inspiration to a series of
campaigns among the most memorable in the annals of warfare.

With the inauguration of the permanent government came not only renewed
resolution in the prosecution of the war, but a more positive recognition
and adoption of the views of President Davis. We have elsewhere described
the antagonism between those views and the theory of the leaders at
Montgomery, shared by the press and people of the South, which derided any
other hypothesis than a six-months' war, with the certainty of
independence. Whatever weight may be accredited to the statements which we
have made in demonstration of Mr. Davis' conviction, that the war would be
one of unexampled magnitude and long duration; whatever may be the
rational inference from his opposition to a military system contemplating
a war lasting six or twelve months; whatever the credence extended to his
own subsequent declarations of the difficulties preventing the complete
preparation for the emergency, which he contemplated,[44] at least there
was no room for misconception of his expectations as to the war in its
future stages.

Congratulating the Confederate Congress upon the auspicious awakening of
the popular mind from dangerous delusions, even through the hard
experience of adversity, he admonishes Congress and the country to
prepare for a "_war lasting through a term of years_." But a few weeks
later and he invited the Legislature of Virginia to contemplate a possible
duration of the war for twenty years upon the soil of that State. In all
his declarations, public and private, was evidenced the adherence to that
original conviction of a struggle long, bloody, and exhaustive, and with
varying fortune, which had prompted the heroic assurance, at his first
inauguration at Montgomery, of an "inflexible" pursuit of the object of

President Davis sufficiently exposed, in his first message to the new
Congress, the evil consequences of the pernicious military system under
which the war had thus far been conducted. Indeed, its evils were
apparent, and the country responded to the urgent appeals of the President
for a more efficient organization of the armies of the Confederacy--one
that should insure a force sufficient to meet the present exigency and to
provide for future defense. It was with considerable reluctance that he
finally recommended the adoption of the act of conscription.
Constitutional scruples were at least debatable, but there could be no
question as to the appearance of bad faith by the Government, with the
patriotic volunteers, who had responded at the first call to arms, and who
were now compelled to remain in the field, by a law adopted, just as their
term of service was expiring. Yet this was the class necessarily
constituting the majority of those who would be subject to the operation
of the law, as they were a majority, or an approximate majority, of the
arms-bearing population.

To one so peculiarly jealous of encroachments by the central power upon
the privileges of the States, the proposition had additional objections.
Mr. Davis had hoped to avoid the necessity of a measure, so much after the
manner of military despotism, and sought to take advantage of the
patriotic ardor exhibited upon the first rush to arms, by inducing
enlistments for the war. Especially distasteful was a resort to compulsion
into the ranks, in a war the success of which necessarily depended upon
the voluntary and patriotic aid of the people, while the enemy, without
difficulty, raised a half million of men for their schemes of conquest.

Second to the object of independence only, the controlling aspiration of
President Davis was, that the war might not terminate in the destruction
of civil liberty. With evident pride, he proclaimed the honorable fact
that, "through all the necessities of an unequal struggle, there has been
no act on our part to impair personal liberty or the freedom of speech, of
thought, or of the press."[45] His consistent regard for civil liberty was
preserved even in instances where additions to the executive authority
would result. The rôle of Louis Quatorze, of Frankenstein, or of Cæsar,
presented no attractions to the republican executive, whose position and
authority were, themselves, a protest against the exercise of arbitrary
and ungranted powers.

It is a striking evidence of the contempt for consistency, manifested by
Mr. Davis' assailants, that these virtues, so commendable in the executive
of a free people, should then have actually constituted the ground of
accusation, by those who subsequently charged him with an ambition to
unite in himself all the departments of the Government. There arose, at
this time, a demagogical demand for a "Dictator"--that morbid aspiration
characteristic of men of weak nerve and deficient fortitude, which vainly
seeks to make Government more powerful for good purposes, by removing all
restraints upon its power to do evil.

Emphatic in the assertion of the authority conferred by the Constitution
upon his position, President Davis was no less persistent in his refusal
to countenance the investiture of himself with dictatorial powers.

But the stern and pressing exigencies of the times outweighed
considerations of even the gravest import, and induced a resort to that
measure which the President had hoped to avoid, but upon which now
depended the salvation of the country. In accordance with the
recommendation of the President, Congress, on the 16th of April, 1862,
adopted the conscription law, which was thenceforward, with many material
modifications rendered necessary by circumstances, the basis of the
military system of the Confederacy. This law placed at the disposal of the
President, during the war, every citizen not belonging to a class
exempted, between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five, thus annulling all
contracts made with volunteers for short terms. By this act, the States
surrendered their control over such of their citizens as came within the
terms of the act, and in each State were located camps of instruction, for
the reception and training of conscripts. There were other features of the
conscription law, having in view an increased solidity and harmony of the
army organization.

It is impossible to overestimate the immediate benefits realized to the
Confederacy from this legislation. The incipient disorganization of the
army, consequent upon the numerous furloughs granted to such of the men as
would reënlist for the war, was instantly checked; large additions were
made to commands already in the field, and the discipline and general
frame-work of the army greatly improved.

Second in importance to the adoption of the act of conscription only,
among the accessions of strength to the military system of the Confederacy
at this period, was the appointment of General Lee to the general command
of the armies, "under the direction of the President."[46]

The nature of the position thus assigned to one whom the concurrent
criticism of his age pronounces the most eminent of American commanders,
has been much misunderstood, and with its discussion has been associated
much injurious misrepresentation of President Davis.

General Lee, after the failure of his campaign in North-western Virginia,
in the autumn of 1861, became the object of a vast amount of disparaging
criticism. His case was, indeed, in marked coincidence with that of Sidney
Johnston. Both were distinguished in the Federal service; previous to the
war they were generally conceded to be the ablest officers of that
service; both were known to have been the classmates of Jefferson Davis
and his intimate friends. In their first campaigns, both were adjudged, by
the hot and impulsive temper of the time, to have committed gross and
signal failure. Neither had many apologists. Johnston was declared an
imbecile--a mere martinet, without any of the qualities of true
generalship; and Lee was pronounced incompetent for higher duties than the
clerical performances of the War Office.

President Davis alone remained firm in behalf of these two men, whom a few
months sufficed to triumphantly vindicate. What nobler vindication should
he himself claim than that, through his firmness and discernment, was
given the needed opportunity to the three great soldiers--Lee, Sidney
Johnston, and Stonewall Jackson--who, above all others, have illustrated
American warfare.[47]

It has been erroneously supposed and asserted, that General Lee was
assigned the position of commanding general at the special instance of
Congress, and in obedience to the proclaimed will of the people. Whatever
may have been the concurrence of the Confederate Congress in the selection
made by President Davis of Lee for that position, there is no ground for
the hypothesis that the Southern people welcomed this promotion of General
Lee as an assurance of good fortune in the future conduct of the war.

Indeed, the act of Congress, creating the office of commanding general,
was adopted at the special suggestion of the President, who immediately
assigned Lee to the discharge of its duties. Congress designed General Lee
to be Minister of War, and, with a view to the promotion of that purpose,
repealed a provision which deprived of his rank in the army, a general
assigned to the control of the War Office. But President Davis clearly
understood the broad and palpable distinction, between the talents
requisite for successful administration of that department of the
Government, and the genius of a great soldier. He had too just an
appreciation of the high military qualities of Lee, to consent to their
virtual entombment in a civil position. In accordance with these
suggestions, the President obtained the adoption of the necessary
legislation, and conferred upon General Lee the control and supervision of
the purely military affairs and operations of the war administration. Thus
it was neither in compliance with the action of Congress, nor in deference
to the popular will, that President Davis selected an appropriate sphere
for the genius of Lee, where it "soon dawned upon the admiration of
mankind, and retained its effulgence undimmed to the last."[48]

The terms of the order assigning General Lee to duty, "under the direction
of the President," have been construed to signify, that it was not
designed that he should exercise those appropriate functions which
obviously appertain to the position of commanding-general. It has been
argued that the President thus created Lee a sort of "chief of staff," or
ornamental attaché of his military household, with a purely complimentary
and meaningless title. The selections made by Mr. Davis, of Lee first,
and, subsequently, of Bragg, as incumbents of the position, sufficiently
repel this absurd conclusion. It is true that the President did not
delegate to these officers his constitutional functions as
commander-in-chief, but to assist and advise him, in the discharge of
those arduous and laborious functions, required no ordinary skill and
experience. The well-known confidence, reposed by the President in
General Lee, may accurately measure the influence of the latter, upon the
Confederate military administration.

In the progress of those events, which have thus far engrossed our
attention, notable changes had occurred in the cabinet. Early in the
summer of 1861, Mr. Toombs had surrendered the portfolio of State, and Mr.
Hunter, a former United States Senator from Virginia, whose name was
prominently associated with the political history of the Union for more
than twenty years, was placed at the head of the Confederate
administration. During the ensuing winter, Mr. Hunter retired from the
cabinet, and was transferred to the Confederate Senate.

Mr. Benjamin, originally Attorney-General, had been temporarily assigned
to the War Department, upon the resignation of Mr. Walker, who was the
first incumbent. The connection of Mr. Benjamin with the War Office
continued for several months, when he was transferred to the Department of
State, where he remained until the overthrow of the Confederacy. The
period of his administration of the War Department measures an important
space in the history of the Confederacy. It was a period marked by
numerous, consecutive, and appalling disasters, and, as has been already
seen, Mr. Benjamin did not escape the penalty of official position during
a season of public calamity. We have glanced briefly at the question of
his official responsibility, not with a view of his vindication, though we
have denied the justice of the unlimited reproach, which pursued both
himself and Secretary Mallory, long after even the pretext had

The censure of Mr. Benjamin was based upon the assumption that he was
responsible for reverses, which a more skillful and attentive management
would have avoided. Yet the facts establish the declaration of Mr. Davis
that those reverses were unavoidable. They, indeed, simply foreshadowed
the fact, which the country soon after realized, of the immense
disadvantage of the Confederate forces in all cases where the naval
facilities of the enemy could be made available. Can it be successfully
maintained that another in the place of Mr. Benjamin would have prevented
the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, of Roanoke Island, of Newbern, of
Memphis, of Island No. 10, and of New Orleans? General Randolph, the
successor of Mr. Benjamin, is universally conceded to have made a
competent secretary of war during his brief term; yet will it be
maintained that had General Randolph, instead of Mr. Benjamin, been the
successor of Mr. Walker, that all, or any of those disasters would have
been prevented?

Mr. Benjamin can hardly be deemed less fortunate than his successors.
Messrs. Randolph and Breckinridge were, perhaps, fortunate in the brief
period of their responsibility, or they, too, might have shared the public
censure so freely lavished upon Messrs. Walker, Benjamin, and Seddon.

Perhaps no more thankless position was ever assumed by an official than
the management of the War Department of the Confederate States. The
difficult problem propounded by Themistocles--"to make a small state a
great one"--was of easy solution, compared to that presented the luckless
incumbent of an office, in which the abundance of responsibilities and
embarrassments was commensurate only with the poverty of resources with
which to meet them. To create an army from a population of between five
and six millions, able to successfully cope with an adversary supported by
a home population of twenty-five millions, aided by the inexhaustible
reserves of Europe; with blockaded ports, a newly-organized Government,
and a country of limited manufacturing means; to match in the material of
war the wealthiest and most productive nation in the world; to maintain
the strength and efficiency of an army decimated by its own unnumbered
victories, and from a population depleted by successive conscriptions, was
the encouraging task devolving upon President Davis and his Secretary of
War. It is, at least, reasonable to doubt whether even the genius of
Napoleon, or of Carnot, was ever summoned to such an enterprise.

No allegation was made more freely and persistently against Mr. Davis than
that of favoritism. At times he was represented as a merciless,
inexorable, capricious master, who would tolerate neither intelligence nor
independence in his subordinates, who were required to be the subservient
agents of his will. Again, he was declared an imbecile puppet in the hands
of Mr. Benjamin, who, with an amazing protean adaptability, assumed the
character of Richelieu, Mazarin, Wolsey, or Jeffreys, as might meet the
convenience of the censors. At all times, however, the public was urged to
believe Mr. Davis was engaged in devising rewards for unworthy favorites,
who, while obsequious to his whims, insolent in the enjoyment of his
bounty, and secure under the executive ægis, were surely carrying the
cause to perdition.

This allegation of favoritism was assumed to have a conspicuous
illustration in the case of Mr. Benjamin, for whom the President retained
his partiality even after he had been censured by Congress, and when his
unpopularity was not to be concealed. The same motive was affirmed,
however, in the selection of his other advisers; and to obviate the
necessity of detail hereafter, we will dispose of this subject at once.

Despite the persistent assertion to the contrary, the fact is
indisputable, that, in the selection of no single member of his cabinet,
did Jefferson Davis make use of the opportunity to reward either a friend
or a partisan. In no case did personal favor even remotely influence his
choice, save in the appointment of Mr. Seddon as Secretary of War--an
appointment made with the universal acclaim of the public and the
newspapers. James A. Seddon and Jefferson Davis were, indeed, friends of
twenty years' standing; but, besides, Mr. Seddon was recommended not more
by the confidence of the President, than by the unlimited confidence of
the country in his intellect, integrity, and patriotism.

Personal details are frequently not to be denied an important historical
bearing, and the motives of Mr. Davis, in the choice of his cabinet, claim
no insignificant page in his official history. We have briefly adverted
elsewhere to some of these considerations.

When the Confederate cabinet was organized at Montgomery, Robert Toombs
was placed at its head; yet between Davis and Toombs there had not been
close intimacy, hardly mutual confidence--certainly nothing like ardent
friendship. But Mr. Toombs represented an overwhelming majority of the
people of Georgia, the wealthiest and largest State of the Confederacy at
that period, as determined at their last election. He was peculiarly the
representative public man of Georgia; the most prominent citizen of his
State, repeatedly selected for its highest honors, and then a reputed
statesman. When Mr. Toombs resigned, his successor was Mr. Hunter, who had
served with Mr. Davis in the Senate, and in whose qualifications the
President had confidence. They had both been friends of Mr. Calhoun, and
disciples of his political school. Political accord by no means signifies
personal intimacy, and while Mr. Hunter has many admirers, and was greatly
respected in Virginia and in the Senate, he has not been generally
accredited with marked sympathetic tendencies.

Mr. Benjamin was originally made Attorney-General, because of his high
legal reputation, and because Louisiana was entitled to a representative
in the cabinet, but not because of personal considerations, since his
relations with Mr. Davis were neither intimate nor cordial. The partiality
of the President for Mr. Benjamin was, indeed, an after-thought--the
result of observation of his wonderful mental resources, his unequal
capacity for labor and zealous devotion to the cause.

Mr. Mallory was recommended for the Navy Department by his previous
experience. There had been mutual kind feeling between himself and Mr.
Davis as Senators, but nothing like close association. Mr. Davis had never
seen Mr. Walker until he was appointed Secretary of War, in accordance
with the emphatic choice of Alabama. General Randolph was appointed solely
in consequence of Mr. Davis' convictions of his fitness. Previous to the
war General Randolph was undistinguished, save in Virginia, where his fine
capacity and exalted worth were becomingly appreciated. General
Breckinridge, the last Confederate Secretary of War, was sufficiently
recommended by his talents and position. Mr. Memminger was made Secretary
of the Treasury, not as the friend of Mr. Davis, but as the choice of
South Carolina. With Mr. Trenholm, his successor, the President had no
personal acquaintance, until he became a member of the cabinet. Mr. Davis,
the last Attorney-General, was originally neither a personal friend nor a
party associate of the President; nor was Mr. Watts, his predecessor.

With the favorable response of Congress and the people to the vigorous and
timely suggestions of the President, began a more spirited prosecution of
the war, though the season of peril was not yet tided over, nor the
current of adversity exhausted. Already there were numerous indications of
the increased scale, and enlarged theatre of operations, which the war now

At the conclusion of active operations in the Trans-Mississippi district,
in the autumn of 1861, the State forces of Missouri, still retaining their
separate organization, under General Price, and the Confederate forces of
McCulloch, were located south of Springfield, near the Arkansas line. An
unfortunate phase of the Southern conduct of the war in this quarter, and
one from which arose no little apprehension, was the apparently
irreconcilable difference between Generals Price and McCulloch. With a
view to secure the indispensable element of harmony, President Davis,
during the winter, appointed Major-General Earl Van Dorn, an able and
gallant officer, to the supreme command of military operations in the
Trans-Mississippi department. General Van Dorn was a favorite with the
President, and his services had already been of a character to justify the
high expectations, indulged not less by himself than by the public, of
fortunate results of the unanimity, at last secured in a quarter where its
absence had been severely felt.

The result of the enemy's movements, begun early in January, 1862, was the
retreat of the weak column of Price to the Boston Mountains, in Arkansas,
where McCulloch was encamped. This junction of the two commands did not
result in coöperation until the arrival of General Van Dorn, early in
March. With a vigor characteristic of this officer's career, Van Dorn
advanced against the enemy, advantageously posted, and with numbers
superior to his own force. The result was the battle of Elk Horn, a
brilliant but fruitless engagement, in which the Southern commander, in
consequence of the want of discipline among his soldiers, and partially
through the effects of those earlier dissensions with which he had no
connection, failed to realize the ends at which he aimed.[49]

Elk Horn was probably the most considerable engagement, in point of the
numbers engaged, fought during the war, west of the Mississippi.
Unimportant in its bearing upon the general character of the war, it was a
decided check upon the aspiration of the Confederate Government to recover
Missouri, and to give its authority a solid establishment in the
Trans-Mississippi region. This was afterward the least important theatre
of the war, though subsequent events there were by no means unworthy of
record. Even at this early stage, the war was rapidly tending to a
concentration of the energies of both parties, upon the more vital points
of conflict in Virginia, and the central zone of the Confederacy. A few
weeks later Generals Van Dorn and Price, with the major portion of the
Trans-Mississippi army, were transferred to the scene of operations east
of the great river.

General Albert Sidney Johnston, after his retreat from Nashville,
consequent upon the fall of Fort Donelson, paused at Murfreesboro',
Tennessee, for a sufficient period to receive accessions to his force,
which increased it to the neighborhood of twenty thousand men. These
accessions were portions of the command lately operating in South-eastern
Kentucky, and remnants of the forces lately defending Fort Donelson.
General Beauregard, having evacuated Columbus, which, in common with the
other posts of the former Confederate line of defense in Kentucky and
Tennessee, became untenable with the loss of the Tennessee and Cumberland
Rivers, concentrated his forces at Corinth, in the northern part of

The evacuation of Columbus did not necessarily give the enemy control of
the Mississippi above Memphis. A strong position was taken by the
Confederate forces at Island No. 10, forty-five miles below Columbus.
Considerable anticipation was indulged by the Southern public, of a
successful stand at this point for the control of the Mississippi. It was,
however, captured by the enemy; and in the loss of two thousand men and
important material of war by its surrender, the Confederacy sustained
another severe blow, and the Federal Secretary of the Navy justly
congratulated the North, upon a "triumph not the less appreciated because
it was protracted and finally bloodless."

The retirement of the forces of General Albert Sidney Johnston south of
the Tennessee River, and the location of General Beauregard's command at
Corinth, readily suggested the practicability of a coöperation, by those
two commanders, for the defense of the valley of the Mississippi, and the
extensive railroad system, of which Corinth is the centre. With the
approbation of President Davis, a concentration of troops, from various
quarters, ensued, and, about the first of April, an admirable army of
forty thousand men was assembled in the neighborhood of Corinth, and upon
the railroads leading to that point. There was no situation during the war
more assuring of good fortune to the Confederates, than that presented in
Northern Mississippi in the early days of April, 1862. President Davis
indulged the highest anticipations from this grand combination of forces
which he so cordially approved. He confidently expected a victory from the
Western army, led by that officer whose capacity he trusted above all
others, which should more than compensate for the heavy losses of the
previous campaign. General Johnston was no less hopeful of the situation.
The conjuncture was indeed rare in its opportunities. The exposed
situation of General Grant, whose command lay upon the west bank of the
Tennessee River, with a most remarkable want of appreciation of its
precarious position by its commander, and a total absence of provision for
its safety, invited an immediate attack by the Confederate commander,
before the Federal column could be reinforced by Buell, then making rapid
marches from Nashville.

The incidents of the battle of Shiloh are familiar to the world. It
constitutes, perhaps, the most melancholy of that series of "lost
opportunities" in the Confederate conduct of the war, upon which history
will dwell with sad interest. The first day's victory promised fruits the
most brilliant and enduring. The action of the second day can only be
construed as a Confederate disaster. Such was the sentiment of the South,
and such must be the verdict of history.

Shiloh was, perhaps, the sorest disappointment experienced by the South,
until the loss of Vicksburg, and the defeat of Gettysburg threatened the
approaching climacteric of the Confederacy. The public grief at the death
of General Johnston was tinged with remorse, for the unmerited censure
with which the popular voice, encouraged by the press, had previously
assailed him. Not until his death did the South appreciate the worth of
this great soldier. Never, perhaps, had there been a more sublime instance
of self-abnegation than was displayed by Sidney Johnston.

All through the autumn and winter of 1861 he had maintained his perilous
position in Kentucky, confronted by forces quadruple his own, and yet
assailed by an impatient and ignorant public, for not essaying invasion,
with a force which subsequent events proved inadequate for defense. But
not even the hideous array of facts following the reverses of February
secured his vindication; still he was assailed by an unreasoning public,
instigated by a carping, partisan press. He was ridiculed as
incompetent--as one who had traversed the curriculum of West Point, only
to become educated in the frippery of military etiquette. For the first
time, President Davis was charged with a desire to reward favorites, even
at the risk of the public welfare, as illustrated by his retention in high
command, of one whom actual trial had proven incapable, and undeserving of
his previous reputation.

But President Davis, happily for his own fame, not less than for the fame
of this illustrious victim of popular clamor, was unmoved by the censures
of the public, and the invectives of the newspapers. He did not permit the
confidence which, upon deliberate judgment, and upon a long and intimate
acquaintance, he had reposed in General Johnston, to be shaken, and
sternly repelled the clamor against him, as he afterwards did in the case
of Lee, and even of Stonewall Jackson. His habitual reply to importunate
petitions for the removal of Johnston was: "If Sidney Johnston is
incompetent to command an army, then the Confederacy has no general fit
for that position."

Humanity rejoices in no attribute more noble than the capacity for warm
and enduring friendship; and there is nothing more exalted in the
character of Jefferson Davis than his devotion to his friends. At all
times as true as steel to those for whom he professes attachment, he
knows no cold medium, cherishes no feeling of indifference, but his nature
kindles responsively to the warmth in the bosom of others. A like
enthusiasm towards himself has usually been the reward of his heroic
constancy. In Sidney Johnston there was that touching union of chivalric
generosity and tender sympathy, which peculiarly qualified him for
fellowship with Jefferson Davis. Such friendship, as that which united
them, rises to the sublimity of the noblest virtue, and presents a
spectacle honorable to human nature.

President Davis commemorated the death of General Johnston in a
communication to Congress, and in terms of touching and appropriate
feeling. Said he:

    "But an all-wise Creator has been pleased, while vouchsafing to us His
    countenance in battle, to afflict us with a severe dispensation, to
    which we must bow in humble submission. The last, long, lingering hope
    has disappeared, and it is but too true that General Albert Sidney
    Johnston is no more. My long and close friendship with this departed
    chieftain and patriot forbid me to trust myself in giving vent to the
    feelings, which this intelligence has evoked. Without doing injustice
    to the living, it may safely be said that our loss is irreparable.
    Among the shining hosts of the great and good who now cluster around
    the banner of our country, there exists no purer spirit, no more
    heroic soul, than that of the illustrious man whose death I join you
    in lamenting. In his death he has illustrated the character for which,
    through life, he was conspicuous--that of singleness of purpose and
    devotion to duty with his whole energies. Bent on obtaining the
    victory which he deemed essential to his country's cause, he rode on
    to the accomplishment of his object, forgetful of self, while his very
    life-blood was fast ebbing away. His last breath cheered his comrades
    on to victory. The last sound he heard was their shout of victory. His
    last thought was his country, and long and deeply will his country
    mourn his loss."

The battle of Shiloh was an incident of the war justifying more than a
passing notice. Never since Manassas, and never upon any subsequent
occasion, had the Confederacy an opportunity so abundant in promise. The
utmost exertions of the Government had been employed to make the Western
army competent for the great enterprise proposed by its commander. The
situation of Grant's army absolutely courted the tremendous blow with
which Johnston sought its destruction, a result which, in all human
calculation, he would have achieved had his life been spared. At the
moment of his death a peerless victory was already won; the heavy masses
of Grant were swept from their positions; before nightfall his last
reserve had been broken, and his army lay, a cowering, shrunken, defeated
rabble, upon the banks of the Tennessee. That, at such a moment, the army
should have been recalled from pursuit, especially when it was known that
a powerful reinforcement, ample to enable the enemy to restore his
fortunes, was hastening, by forced marches, to the scene, must ever remain
a source of profound amazement.

It was the story of Manassas repeated, but with a far more mournful
significance. It was not the failure to gather the fruits of the most
complete victory of the war, nor the irreparable loss of Sidney Johnston,
which filled the cup of the public sorrow. Superadded to these was the
alarming discovery that the second great army of the Confederacy, in the
death of its commander, was deprived of the genius which alone had been
proven capable of its successful direction. Johnston had no worthy
successor, and the Western army discovered no leader capable of
conducting it to the goal which its splendid valor deserved.

A very perceptible diminution of what had hitherto been unlimited
confidence, not only in the genius, but even in the good fortune of
Beauregard, was the result of his declared failure at Shiloh. Not even his
distinguished services, subsequently, were sufficient to entirely efface
that unfortunate record. Military blunders, perhaps the most excusable of
human errors, are those which popular criticism is the least disposed to
extenuate. The reputation of the soldier, so sacred to himself, and which
should be so jealously guarded by his country, is often mercilessly
mutilated by that public, upon whose gratitude and indulgence he should
have an unlimited demand. We shall not undertake to establish the justice
of the public verdict, which has been unanimous, that the course of
General Beauregard involved, at least, an "extraordinary abandonment of a
great victory." It only remains to state the material from which a candid
and intelligent estimate is to be reached.

General Beauregard has explained his course, in terms which, it is to be
presumed, were at least satisfactory to himself. His official report says:
"Darkness was close at hand; officers and men were exhausted by a combat
of over twelve hours without food, and jaded by the march of the preceding
day through mud and water."

General Bragg, who conspicuously shared the laurels of the first day's
action, has recorded a memorable protest against the course adopted at its
close. Says General Bragg ... "It was now probably past four o'clock, the
descending sun warning us to press our advantage and finish the work
before night should compel us to desist. Fairly in motion, these commands
again, with a common head and a common purpose, swept all before them.
Neither battery nor battalion could withstand their onslaught. Passing
through camp after camp, rich in military spoils of every kind, the enemy
was driven headlong from every position, and thrown in confused masses
upon the river bank, behind his heavy artillery, and under cover of his
gunboats at the landing. He had left nearly the whole of his light
artillery in our hands."... _The enemy had fallen back in much confusion,
and was crowded, in unorganized masses, upon the river bank, vainly
striving to cross._ They were covered by a battery of heavy guns, well
served, and their two gunboats, now poured a heavy fire upon our supposed
position, for we were entirely hid by the forest. _Their fire, though
terrific in sound, and producing some consternation at first, did us no
damage, as the shells all passed over, and exploded far beyond our
position...._ The sun was about disappearing, so that little time was left
us to finish the glorious work of the day.... Our troops, greatly
exhausted by twelve hours' incessant fighting, without food, _mostly
responded to the order with alacrity, and the movement commenced with
every prospect of success.... Just at this time, an order was received
from, the commanding general to withdraw the forces beyond the enemy's

The testimony of General Polk, also a distinguished participant in the
battle, was concurrent with that of General Bragg, and no less emphatic in
its suggestions. In his report is to be found the following passage:

    "The troops under my command were joined by those of Generals Bragg
    and Breckinridge, and my fourth brigade, under General Cheatham, from
    the right. The field was clear. The rest of the forces of the enemy
    were driven to the river and under its bank. We had one hour or more
    of daylight still left; were within from one hundred and fifty to four
    hundred yards of the enemy's position, and nothing seemed wanting to
    complete the most brilliant victory of the war, but to press forward
    and make a vigorous assault on the demoralized remnant of his forces.

    "At this juncture his gunboats dropped down the river, near the
    landing, where his troops were collected, and opened a tremendous
    cannonade of shot and shell over the bank, in the direction from which
    our forces were approaching. The height of the plain on which we were,
    above the level of the water, was about one hundred feet, so that it
    was necessary to give great elevation to his guns, to enable him to
    fire over the bank. The consequence was that shot could take effect
    only at points remote from the river's edge. They were comparatively
    harmless to our troops nearest the bank, and became increasingly so to
    us as we drew near the enemy and placed him between us and his boats.

    "Here the impression arose that our forces were waging an unequal
    contest--that they were exhausted, and suffering from a murderous
    fire, and by an order from the commanding general they were withdrawn
    from the field."

President Davis could only share the universal dissatisfaction with the
unfortunate termination of the battle of Shiloh. A conclusive evidence of
his forbearance and justice is seen in the fact, that he did not avail
himself of the opportunity to displace an officer, toward whom he was
charged with entertaining such bitter and implacable animosity, when
public sentiment would, in all probability, have approved the expediency
of that step. But General Beauregard was in no danger of mean resentment
from President Davis, who so frequently braved the anger of the public
against its distinguished servants. General Beauregard retained the
control of the Western army, without interference from the executive, and
within a few weeks, by the successful execution of his admirable retreat
from Corinth, which he justly declared "equivalent to a brilliant
victory," did much to repair his damaged reputation.[50] So eminent, in
its perfection and success, was the retreat of Beauregard with his little
army from the front of Halleck, who had more than one hundred thousand
men, that a portion of the Northern press admitted that while Shiloh made
Grant ridiculous, Corinth made a corpse of Halleck's military reputation.

As yet there had been no compensating advantage gained by the Confederacy
to repair the disasters sustained in the early part of the year. Indeed,
the train of reverses had hardly been more than temporarily interrupted,
when a calamity hardly less serious than the loss of Tennessee happened in
the loss of New Orleans, the largest, most populous, and most wealthy city
of the Confederacy. This event was speedily followed by the calamitous
results which were to be expected. It was the virtual destruction of
Confederate rule in Louisiana. It cut off the available routes to Texas,
so inestimable in its importance as a source of grain and cattle; gave
the enemy a base of operations against the entire gulf region, and was
altogether disheartening to the South.[51]

Some time previous to the fall of New Orleans, which occurred in the
latter days of April, the Confederacy had made its most serious effort to
dispute the hitherto absolute naval supremacy of the North. On the 8th of
March, 1862, occurred the famous naval engagement in Hampton Roads,
between the Confederate iron-clad Virginia, and the Federal Monitor. Ever
since the summer of 1861, the Navy Department had been preparing, at
Gosport Navy-yard, a formidable naval contrivance--a shot-proof,
iron-plated steam battery. The result of the experiment was a success,
which did much to relieve the Navy Department of undeserved reproach, and
to produce a revolution in theories relating to naval science and
architecture all over the world.

About this period the activity of the naval forces of the enemy was
rewarded by additional successes. The towns of Newborn, Washington, and
other places of less note in North Carolina, were captured by naval
expeditions in conjunction with detachments from the army of General
Burnside. The successes of the Burnside expedition, which had been
prepared by the North with such large expectations, were by no means
inconsiderable; but they were soon lost sight of in the presence of the
more absorbing operations in the interior. The naval resistance of the
South had thus far necessarily been feeble. In the subsequent progress of
the war, except in rare instances, it disappeared altogether as an element
in the calculation of means of defense.

The vulnerability of the South upon the sea-coast, and along the lines of
her navigable rivers, measured the extent of the good fortune of the
enemy. The North was shortly to yield a reluctant recognition of the
comparatively insignificant influence of its long train of triumphs in the
promotion of subjugation. Upon the soil of Virginia--classic in its
memories of contests for freedom, the chosen battle-ground of the
Confederacy--was soon to be shed the effulgence of the proudest
achievements of Southern genius and valor--a radiance as splendid as ever
shone upon the blazing crest of war.



The Federal Government frankly accepted the true teachings of the war in
its earlier stages, and no feature of the lesson was more palpable than
the inferiority of the North in the art of war and military
administration. No longer trusting, to any extent whatever, to a contest
of prowess with an enemy whose incomparable superiority was already
established, Mr. Lincoln, his cabinet, and his military advisers, were
concurrent in their convictions of the necessity of a policy which should
make available the numerical superiority of the North. The "anaconda
system" of General Scott, adhered to by General McClellan, and sanctioned
by the Government and the people, though by no means new in the theory and
practice of war, was based upon a just and sagacious view of the

To overwhelm the South by mere material weight, to crush the smaller body
by the momentum of a larger force, comprehends the Federal design of the
war, undertaken at the inception of operations in 1862. The success
attending the execution of this design we have described in preceding
pages. We have accredited to the enemy the full extent of his successes,
and endeavored to demonstrate that they resulted not from Confederate
maladministration, but from a vigorous and timely use of his advantages
and opportunity by the enemy. But while according to the North unexampled
energy in preparation, and an unstinted donation of its means to the
purpose, which it pursued with indomitable resolution, no concession of an
improved military capacity is demanded, from the fact that use was made of
obvious advantages not to be overlooked even by the stupidity of an Aulic

We have shown that the preponderating influence in the achievement of the
enemy's victories in the winter and spring of 1862, was his naval
supremacy. Even at that period it was palpable that, without his navy, his
scheme of invasion would be the veriest abortion ever exposed to the
ridicule of mankind. The maritime facilities of the enemy were, in the
end, decisive of the contest in his favor.

Upon those fields of military operations which have thus far occupied our
attention, we have seen how propitious to the enemy's plans, in every
instance, was the geographical configuration. Wherever a navigable river
emptied into the sea, which was the undisputed domain of the North, or
intersected its territory, a short and, in many instances, almost
bloodless struggle had ended in the expulsion or capture of the
Confederates defending its passage. Yet, in many instances, these results
had a most serious bearing upon the decision of the war. It was impossible
for Sidney Johnston to hold Kentucky and Tennessee unless the Mississippi,
running parallel with his communications, and the Cumberland and
Tennessee, running in their rear, should remain sealed to the enemy. It
was equally impracticable to hold the region bordering upon the North
Carolina sounds after the fall of Roanoke Island. After the fall of New
Orleans, the entire avenue of the Mississippi, except the limited section
between Vicksburg and Port Hudson, was open to the enemy, giving him bases
of operations upon both its banks, and opening to his ravages vast
sections of the Confederacy.

Thus had the naval supremacy of the enemy brought him, in a few days, to
the very heart of extensive sections of territory, which never could have
been reduced to his sway, had he been compelled to fight his way overland
from his frontiers. Thus was the great element of _space_, usually so
potent in the defense of an invaded people, annihilated, almost before the
struggle had been fairly begun.

The upper regions of Eastern Virginia, remote from the navigable
tributaries of the Atlantic and the larger rivers, was the only theatre of
war, where the superior valor and skill of the Confederates could claim
success from the Federal hosts, deprived of their gunboats and water
communications. Here, though not entirely neutralized, his water
facilities did not at all times avail the enemy; here the struggle was
more equal, and here was demonstrated that superior manhood and
soldiership of the South, which, not even an enemy, if candid, will deny.

Of the seven hundred thousand men, which were claimed as under arms for
the preservation of the Union, in the beginning of 1862, it is reasonably
certain that more than a half million were actually in the field, and of
these at least one-half, were operating in Virginia, with Richmond as the
common goal of their eager and expectant gaze. The army of McClellan,
numbering little less than two hundred thousand men, in the vicinity of
Washington, was entitled to the lavish praise, which he bestowed upon it,
in his declaration, that it was "magnificent in material, admirable in
discipline and instruction, excellently equipped and armed." In the valley
of the Shenandoah was the army of Banks, more than fifteen thousand
strong. General Fremont, with about the same force, commanded the
"Mountain Department," embracing the highland region of Western Virginia.
By the first of March these various commands, with other detachments, had
reached an aggregate of quite two hundred and fifty thousand men.

We have sufficiently described those causes, by which the already
disproportionate strength of the Confederates, previous to the adoption of
the conscription act, and the inception of the more vigorous and stringent
military policy of the Confederate Government, was reduced to a condition
in most alarming contrast with the enormous preparations of the enemy.

General Joseph E. Johnston still held his position, with a force which, on
the first of March, barely exceeded forty thousand men. The command of
General Stonewall Jackson, in the Shenandoah Valley, did not exceed
thirty-five hundred, embracing all arms. General Magruder held the
Peninsula of York and James Rivers, covering the approaches to Richmond in
that direction, with eleven thousand men, and General Huger had at Norfolk
and in the vicinity not more than ten thousand. The Confederate force in
Western Virginia was altogether too feeble for successful defense, and
indeed, the Government had some months previous abandoned the hope of a
permanent occupation of that region.

The Confederate authorities had long since ceased to cherish hope of
offensive movements upon the line of the Potomac. Circumstances imposed a
defensive attitude, attended with many causes of peculiar apprehension for
the fate of the issue in Virginia. Weeks of critical suspense, and
vigilant observation of the threatening movements of the Federal forces,
were followed by the transfer of the principal scene of operations to the

The evacuation of the position so long held by General Johnston at
Manassas, executed with many evidences of skill, but attended with much
destruction of valuable material, was followed immediately by an advance
of General McClellan to that place. The necessity of a retirement by
General Johnston to an interior line had been duly appreciated by the
Confederate Government, though there were circumstances attending the
immediate execution of the movement, which detracted from its otherwise
complete success. The destruction of valuable material, including an
extensive meat-curing establishment, containing large supplies of meat,
and established by the Government, which ensued upon the evacuation of
Manassas, elicited much exasperated censure. Similar occurrences at the
evacuation of Yorktown, a few weeks later, revived a most unpleasant
recollection of scenes incident to the retreat from Manassas. The
extravagant destruction of property, in many instances apparently reckless
and wanton, marking the movements of the Confederate armies at this
period, was a bitter sarcasm upon the practice, by many of its prominent
officers, of that economy of resources which the necessities of the
Confederacy so imperatively demanded.

Not only the weakness of his forces indicated to General Johnston the
perils of his position, but the territorial configuration again came to
the aid of the enemy, and gave to General McClellan the option of several
avenues to the rear of the Confederate army. It is not improbable that
McClellan appreciated the extremity of Johnston's situation, and has,
indeed, assigned other reasons for his advance upon Manassas than the
expectation of an engagement, where the chances would have been
overwhelmingly in his favor. At all events, the retirement of General
Johnston to the line of the Rapidan, imposed upon the Federal general an
immediate choice of a base from which to assail the Confederate capital.
Originally opposed to an overland movement _via_ Manassas, McClellan was
now compelled to abandon his favorite plan of a movement from Urbanna, on
the Rappahanock, by which he hoped to cut off the Confederate retreat to
Richmond, in consequence of Johnston's retirement behind the Rappahanock.
General McClellan promptly adopted the movement to the peninsula, a plan
which he had previously considered, but which he regarded "as less
brilliant and less promising decisive results."[52]

When General Johnston left Manassas, it is probable that he was not fully
decided as to the position which he should select. Receiving a
dispatch[53] from President Davis, he halted the army, and immediately the
President left Richmond for Johnston's head-quarters, for the purpose of
consultation. General Johnston's position now was simply observatory of
the enemy. It was yet possible that McClellan might undertake an overland
movement; and, indeed, a portion of his force had followed the retreating
Confederates. In that event Johnston would occupy the line upon which Lee
subsequently foiled so many formidable Federal demonstrations. From his
central position he could also promptly meet a serious demonstration
against Richmond from the Chesapeake waters or the Shenandoah Valley. When
the numerous transports at Fortress Monroe, debarking troops for the
peninsula, revealed the enemy's real purpose, the army of General Johnston
was carried to the lines of Magruder, at Yorktown. Johnston was, however,
decidedly opposed to the movement to the Peninsula, declaring it
untenable, and urging views as to the requirements of the situation, which
competent criticism has repeatedly commended.

While the transfer of Johnston's army to the Peninsula was in process of
execution, the situation in Virginia was, in the highest degree, critical.
The strength of Magruder was necessarily so divided, that the actual
force, defending the line threatened by McClellan with eighty thousand
men, was less than six thousand Confederates. Meanwhile the various
Federal detachments in other quarters were coöperating with the main
movement of McClellan. Banks and Shields were expected, by their
overwhelming numbers, to crush Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, and then,
forming a junction with the large force of Fremont, who was required to
capture Staunton, it was designed that these combined forces should unite
with the army of McDowell, advancing from the direction of Fredericksburg,
at some point east of the Blue Ridge. Thus a force, aggregating more than
seventy thousand men, threatening Richmond from the north, was to unite
with McClellan advancing from the east. Such was, in brief, the Federal
plan of campaign, which the North expected to accomplish the reduction of
Richmond and the total destruction of the Confederate power in Virginia.
It does not devolve upon us to discuss, in detail, the defects of this
faulty combination, but the sequel will show how promptly and triumphantly
the Confederate leaders availed themselves of the opportunity presented by
this crude arrangement of their adversaries.

Happily the bold attitude and skillful dispositions of Magruder were aided
by the over-tentative action of his antagonist. The latter, greatly
exaggerating the force in his front, and convinced of the hopelessness of
an assault upon the Confederate works, permitted the escape of the golden
moment, and prepared for a regular siege of Yorktown. In the meantime
General Magruder describes his situation to have been as follows:
"Through the energetic action of the Government, reënforcements began to
pour in, and each hour the Army of the Peninsula grew stronger and
stronger, until anxiety passed from my mind as to the result of an attack
upon us."

The untenability of the Peninsula was very soon made apparent, and the
important advantage of _time_ having been gained, and the escape of
General Huger's command from its precarious position at Norfolk secured,
General Johnston abandoned the works at Yorktown, retreating to the line
of the Chickahominy, near Richmond. This movement was made in obedience to
the necessities of the situation, and was in accordance with his original
desire for a decisive engagement with McClellan, at an interior point,
where a concentration of the Confederate forces would be more practicable.
General McClellan did not pursue the retreating column with much energy
after the decisive blow given his advance at Williamsburg, by Longstreet.

With the arrival of Johnston upon the Richmond lines, the Confederate
Government began, with energy and rapidity, the concentration of its
forces. The superb command of Huger was promptly transferred to Johnston,
and troops from the Carolinas were thrown forward to Richmond as rapidly
as transportation facilities would permit. By the last of May the
Confederate forces in front of Richmond reached an aggregate of
seventy-five thousand men. McClellan had sustained losses on the Peninsula
which reduced his strength to the neighborhood of one hundred and twenty

A cruel necessity of the evacuation of Norfolk and Portsmouth was the
destruction of the Confederate iron-clad "Virginia," which had so long
prevented the ascent of James River by the Federal gunboats. So invaluable
was this vessel in the defense of Richmond, that McClellan had named, as
an essential condition of a successful campaign on the Peninsula, that she
should be "neutralized." It was found impossible to convey the Virginia to
a point unoccupied on either shore of the river by the enemy's forces,
and, by order of her commander, the vessel was destroyed. Immediately a
fleet ascended the river for the purpose of opening the water highway to
the Confederate capital.

The intelligence of the destruction of the "Virginia," and the advance of
the Federal fleet, was received, in Richmond, with profound consternation.
No one, unless at that time in Richmond, can realize the sense of extreme
peril experienced by the public. There were few who dared indulge the hope
of a successful defense of the city against the dreaded "gunboats" and
"monitors" of the enemy, which, the people then believed, were alike
invulnerable and irresistible.

The wise precautionary measures of the Government, in preparing its
archives for removal, in case of emergency, to a point of safety, greatly
increased the panic of the public. Rumors of a precipitate evacuation of
the city, by the Confederate authorities, were circulated, and there was
wanting no possible element which could aggravate the public alarm, save
the calm demeanor of President Davis, and the deliberate efforts of the
authorities--Confederate, State, and municipal--to assure the safety of
the city. The courage and confidence of the President, in the midst of
this almost universal alarm, in which many officers of the Government
participated, quickly aroused an enthusiastic and determined spirit in the
hearts of a brave people. Knowing the critical nature of the emergency, he
was nevertheless resolved to exhaust every expedient in the defense of
Richmond, and then to abide the issue. His noble and defiant declaration
was: "I am ready and willing to leave my bones in the capital of the
Confederacy." In response to resolutions from the Virginia Legislature,
urging the defense of the city to the last extremity, he avowed his
predetermined resolution to hold Richmond until driven out by the enemy,
and animated his hearers by an assurance of his conviction, that, even in
that contingency, "the war could be successfully maintained, upon Virginia
soil, for twenty years."[54]

The accounts of the enemy were required to demonstrate to the citizens of
Richmond, that, by the obstructions in the channel of the river, and the
erection of the impregnable batteries at Drewry's Bluff, their homes were
again secured from the presence of the invaders. The significance of that
brief engagement, during which the guns were distinctly audible in
Richmond, was very soon made evident in the loss of their terrors by the
Federal gunboats. President Davis was a spectator of the engagement, by
which the Confederate capital was rescued from imminent peril of capture.

But the repulse of the gunboats in James River, with its assuring and
significant incidents, was the precursor of far more brilliant successes,
which, it was evident, would largely affect the decision of the general
issue in Virginia. In the months of May and June, 1862, was enacted the
memorable "Valley campaign" of Stonewall Jackson--a campaign which, never
excelled, has no parallel in brilliant and accurate conception, celerity,
and perfection of execution, save the Italian campaign of Napoleon in
1796. General Jackson's exploits in the Valley of the Shenandoah present
an aggregate of military achievements unrivaled by any record in American

On the 23d of March, Jackson fought the battle of Kernstown, near
Winchester, with three thousand Virginians against eighteen full Federal
regiments, sustaining, throughout an entire day, an audacious assault upon
Shields' force, and at dark leisurely retiring with his command, after
having inflicted upon the enemy a loss nearly equal to his own strength.
Elsewhere has been mentioned the effort made to induce President Davis to
remove Jackson, in compliance with the popular dissatisfaction at his
failure to achieve, against such overwhelming odds, more palpable fruits
of victory. The immediate consequence of Kernstown was the check of Banks'
advance in the Valley, and the recall of a large force, then on the way
from Banks to aid McClellan's designs against Johnston.

Leaving General Ewell, whose division had been detached from Johnston, to
intercept any demonstration by Banks in the Valley, or across the Blue
Ridge, Jackson united his command with that of General Edward Johnson, a
full brigade, and defeating the advance of Fremont, under Milroy, at
McDowell, compelled a disorderly retreat by Fremont through the mountains
of Western Virginia. Returning to the Valley, he assaulted, with his
united force, the column of Banks, annihilated an entire division of the
enemy, pursued its fugitive remnants to the Potomac, and threatened the
safety of the Federal capital. Alarmed for Washington, Mr. Lincoln halted
McDowell in his plans of coöperation with McClellan, and for weeks the
efforts of the Federal Government were addressed to the paramount purpose
of "catching Jackson." Eluding the enemy's combinations, Jackson turned
upon his pursuers, again defeated Fremont at Cross Keys, and immediately
crossing the Shenandoah, secured his rear, and destroyed the advance of
Shields within sight of its powerless confederate. Resuming the retreat,
Jackson paused at Weyer's Cave, and awaited the summons of his superiors
to enact his thrilling rôle in the absorbing drama at Richmond. Within the
short period of seventy days, Jackson achieved at Kernstown, McDowell's,
Front Royal, Winchester, Strasburg, Harrisonburg, Cross Keys, and Port
Republic, eight tactical victories, besides innumerable successful
combats. But he had done more. He had wrought the incomparable strategic
achievement of neutralizing sixty thousand men with fifteen thousand; he
had recalled McDowell, when, with outstretched arm, McClellan had already
planted his right wing, under Porter, at Hanover Court-house, to receive
the advance of the coöperating column from Fredericksburg.

Meanwhile the lines of Richmond had been the scene of no incident of
special interest until the battle of "Seven Pines," on the 31st of May.
After his arrival upon the Chickahominy, McClellan had been steadily
fortifying his lines, and wherever an advance was practicable, preparing
approaches to Richmond. His line, extending over a space of several miles,
was accurately described by the course of the Chickahominy, from the
village of Mechanicsville, five miles north of Richmond, to a point about
four miles from the city, in an easterly direction. Having partially
executed his design of bridging the Chickahominy, McClellan had crossed
that stream, and in the last days of May, his left wing was fortified near
the locality designated the "Seven Pines." This initiative demonstration
by McClellan, which placed his army astride a variable stream, was
sufficiently provocative of the enterprise of his antagonist. To increase
the peril of the isolated wing of the Federal army, a thunder-storm,
occurring on the night of the 29th of May, had so swollen the Chickahominy
as to render difficult the accession of reënforcements from the main body.

Such was the situation which invited the Confederate commander to
undertake the destruction of the exposed column of his adversary--a
movement which, if successful, might have resulted in the rout of the
entire left wing of the enemy, opening a way to his rear, and securing his
utter overthrow. Seven Pines was an action, in which the color of victory
was entirely with the Confederates, but it was the least fruitful
engagement fought by the two armies in Virginia. There was no engagement
of the war in which the valor of the Confederate soldier was more
splendidly illustrated, though happily that quality then did not require
so conspicuous a test. However able in design, it was in execution a
signal failure--a series of loose, indefinite and disjointed movements,
wanting in coöperation, and apparently in able executive management.

President Davis, in company with General Lee, was present during most of
the engagement. Frequently under fire, and in consultation with his
generals in exposed positions, he was conspicuous chiefly by his efforts
to animate the troops, and his presence was greeted with evidences of the
enthusiasm and confidence which it inspired.

The battle of "Seven Pines," in itself barren of influence upon the
decision of the campaign, was nevertheless attended by an incident--the
painful and disabling wound received by General Johnston, in all
probability decisive of the future history of the Army of Northern
Virginia. Leading to an immediate and positive change of policy, it is
hardly a bold declaration that this incident determined the future of the
war in Virginia.

A disposition has been freely indulged to influence the sentence of
history, by placing President Davis and General Johnston in a sort of
antithetical juxtaposition, as exponents of different theories as to the
proper conduct of the war by the South. In view of the failure of the
Confederacy, it has been ingeniously contended that the result vindicated
the wisdom of General Johnston's views. But besides its evident unfairness
to Mr. Davis, no criticism could be founded less upon the intrinsic merits
of the case. Overzealous and intemperate partisans generally evince
aptitude in the exaggeration of minor differences between the leaders,
whose interests they profess to have at heart. Such results are not
unfrequent in the lives of eminent public men. In the case of General
Beauregard, the unhappy effects of officious intermeddling and
misrepresentation, from such sources, between the President and that
distinguished officer, are especially notable.

But the assumption that events have indicated the wisdom of General
Johnston's views, in their declared antagonism to those of Mr. Davis, is
altogether unsustained. The immediate results of a change of commanders,
and a consequent inauguration of a different policy[55]--a policy in
accordance with Mr. Davis' own views, may, with far more reason, be
alleged in support of a contrary theory. The vigorous and aggressive
policy adopted and executed by Lee not only accorded with the wishes of
the President, but fulfilled the long-deferred popular expectation, and
agreeably disappointed the public in Lee's capacity. For despite the
general disappointment at the absence of decisive achievements by the Army
of Northern Virginia, General Johnston commanded far more of public
confidence, than did General Lee at the period of the latter's accession
to command.

Nothing could have been more disadvantageous to Lee, than the contrast so
freely indicated between himself and other officers. Johnston was
criticised merely because of the absence of brilliant and decisive
achievements. Lee was assumed to have proven his incompetency by egregious
failure. He was ridiculed as a closet general. His campaigns were said to
exist only on paper--to consist of slow methodical tactics, and incessant
industry with the spade, and he was pronounced totally deficient in
aggressive qualities. A prominent Richmond editor, criticising his
North-western Virginia campaign, asserted that the unvarying intelligence
from Lee was that he was "hopelessly stuck in the mud," and an officer was
heard to compare him to a terrapin, needing the application of a hot coal
to his back to compel him to action. But with the lapse of a fortnight
that army, which received the intelligence of Lee's appointment to command
with misgiving and distrust, began to experience renewed life and hope. It
was not the few additional brigades given to that army which so soon
started it upon its irresistible career of victory. A mighty hand
projected its impetus, and directed its magnificent valor against those
miles of intrenchments which it had seen grow more and more formidable,
itself meanwhile an inactive spectator.

Lee found the army within sight of Richmond; he lifted it from the mud of
the Chickahominy, defeated an enemy intrenched and in superior force;
pursued the panting and disheartened fugitives to the shelter of their
shipping; defeated a second army--then both together--within hearing of
the Federal capital; fought an indecisive battle upon the enemy's soil,
and reëstablished the Confederate line upon the frontier. Is it a matter
of wonder that the President, the army, and the people recognized the
significance of these results, and applauded the substitution of the new
system and the new status for the old? A better explanation of so
pronounced a contrast is needed than that the "prejudice" or "injustice"
of Davis withheld from Johnston, five or even ten thousand men, which he
gave to Lee.

Yet there could be no hypothesis more presumptuous, in view of the
abundant testimony of competent military judgment, and none more palpably
untenable, than that which would deny greatness as a soldier to Johnston.
As a consummate master of strategy, in that sense which contemplates the
movements of heavy masses, and looks to grand ultimate results, Johnston
has probably few equals. His sagacity in the divination of an enemy's
designs is remarkable; and if he be considered as having marked
deficiencies, they must be counted as a lack of Jackson's audacity, of
Lee's confident calculation and executive perfection. The South regards
Lee as beyond criticism. Jefferson Davis is accustomed to say "the world
has rarely produced a man to be compared with Lee." Yet in mere
intellectuality, it is at least questionable whether Johnston had his
superior among the Southern leaders.

But it often happens that qualities, however great, are not those which
the occasion demands. That marvelous union of qualities in Lee, which has
placed him almost above parallel, probably made him alone adequate to the
hazardous posture of affairs at Richmond in the summer of 1862. The
result, at least, made evident to the world, the wisdom of the President,
in that choice, which was at first declared the undeserved reward of an
incompetent favorite.

Whatever may be alleged to the contrary, President Davis at all times, to
the full extent of his power, aided General Johnston in the consummation
of his designs. To assert that, upon any occasion, he either interposed
obstacles to Johnston's success, or denied him any means in his power to
confer, is to question that personal fidelity of Jefferson Davis, which
his bitterest enemy should be ashamed to deny. Few Southern men, at least,
have yet attained that measure of malignity, or that hardihood of

General Lee was not dilatory in his preparations to gratify that longing
aspiration which the President, on his own behalf, and in the name of the
country, briefly expressed, that "something should be done." Lee had a
_carte blanche_, but frequent and anxious were the consultations between
the President and himself. The world now knows what followed those days
and nights of anxious conference, in which were weighed the chances of
success, the cost of victory, and the possibilities of defeat. The plan
executed by General Lee was one of the most hazardous ever attempted in
war, but it was not less brilliant than bold, and at least one precedent
had been furnished by the great master of the art of war at Austerlitz.
Its perils were obvious, but the sublime confidence of Lee in the success
of his combinations went far to secure its own justification.

During the week of engagements which followed, the President was
constantly with the army and fully advised of its movements.[56] The
cordial recognition of this advisory relation between himself and Lee, is
indicated by the natural pride, and becoming sense of justice, with which
the latter, in the report of his operations against McClellan, mentions
the approving presence of the President, during the execution of his
plans. This noble harmony between Davis and Lee, equally creditable to
each, was never interrupted by one single moment of discord. It was never
marred by dictation on one side, or complaint on the other. Unlike other
commanders, Lee never complained of want of means, or of opportunity for
the execution of his plans. Satisfied that the Government was extending
all the aid in its power, he used, to the best advantage, the means at
hand and created his opportunities. Lee never charged the President with
improper interference with the army, but freely counseled with his
constitutional commander-in-chief, whom he knew to be worthy of the trust
conferred by the country in the control of its armies. President Davis
fully comprehended and respected the jealous functions of military
command, and in the exercise of that trust no one would have more quickly
resented unauthorized official interference. A soldier himself, he
recognized freedom of action as the privilege of the commander; as a
statesman, he rendered that cordial coöperation, which is the duty of

When Lee had driven McClellan from his position along the Chickahominy, he
had raised the siege of Richmond. The retreat of McClellan to the James
River, conducted with such admirable skill, and aided by good fortune,
placed the Federal army in a position where, secure itself, another
offensive movement against the Confederate capital might, in time, be
undertaken. Confederate strategy, however, soon relieved Richmond from the
apprehension of attack, and in less than two months from the termination
of the pursuit of McClellan, Lee, by a series of masterly strokes,
demolished the armies under Pope, united for the defense of Washington,
and was preparing an invasion of Maryland.

An almost magical change in the fortunes of the Confederacy was wrought by
these active and brilliant operations, embracing so short a period, and
marked by results of such magnitude.

Not only were the two main armies of the enemy defeated, but the entire
Federal campaign in the East had been entirely disconcerted. Richmond was
saved, Washington menaced, and McClellan forced back to the initial point
of his campaign. Western Virginia, the Carolina coast, and other
localities, for months past in Federal occupation, were almost divested of
troops to swell the hosts gathering for the rescue of Washington, and to
meet the dreaded advance, northward, of Lee's invincible columns. From the
heart of Virginia the cloud of war was again lifted to the Potomac
frontier; the munificent harvests of the valley counties, of Fauquier,
Loudon, and the fertile contiguous territory, were again in Confederate
possession, and a numerous and victorious army was now anxious to be led
across the Rubicon of the warring sections.

From harrowing apprehension, from vague dread of indefinable but imminent
peril, the South was transported to the highest round of confident
expectation. The North, which, in the last days of June, eagerly awaited
intelligence of McClellan's capture of Richmond, now regarded its own
capital as doomed, and did not permit itself to breathe freely until
McClellan announced the _safety of Pennsylvania_, when Lee had retired to

The inducements which invited a movement of the Confederate forces across
the Potomac were manifold. Whatever judgment the result may now suggest,
the invasion of Maryland was alike dictated by sound military policy and
justified by those moral considerations which are ever weighty in war. The
overwhelming defeat of Pope more than realized the hope of President Davis
and General Lee, when the strategic design of a movement northward was put
in execution, by which was sought the double purpose of withdrawing
McClellan from James River and effectually checking the advance of Pope.
The successive and decisive defeats of Pope offered the prospect of an
offensive by which the splendid successes of the campaign might be crowned
with even more valuable achievements. Demoralized, disheartened, in every
way disqualified for effectual resistance, the remnants of the armies
which Lee had beaten, each in succession, and then combined, would be an
easy prey to his victorious legions, could they be brought to a decisive
field engagement. There yet remained time, before the end of the season of
active operations, for crushing blows at the enemy, which would finish the
work thus far triumphantly successful.

To inflict still greater damage upon the enemy--to so occupy him upon the
frontier as to prevent another demonstration against Richmond during the
present year--to indicate friendship and sympathy for the oppressed people
of Maryland--to derive such aid from them as their condition would enable
them to extend, were the potent inducements inviting the approbation of
the Confederate authorities to a movement across the Potomac. President
Davis was pledged to an invasion of the enemy's country whenever it should
prove practicable. Now, if ever, that policy was to be initiated. Hitherto
the enemy's power, not the will of the Confederate Government, had
prevented. Now that power was shattered. The mighty fabric trembled to its
base, and who would now venture to estimate the consequences of a
brilliant victory by Lee, on Maryland soil, in September, 1862? What
supporter of the Union can now dwell, without a shudder, upon the
imagination, even, of a repetition, at Antietam, of the story of the
Chickahominy, or Second Manassas?

The climax of the Maryland campaign was the battle of Antietam--a drawn
battle, but followed by the early withdrawal of the Confederate army into
Virginia. It is unnecessary to dwell upon the causes conspiring to give
this portion of the campaign many of the features of failure. With a force
greatly reduced by the straggling of his weary and exhausted troops, Lee
was unable to administer the crushing blow which he had hoped to
deliver.[57] As a consequence, the people of Maryland, of whom a large
majority were thoroughly patriotic and warm in their Southern sympathies,
were not encouraged to make that effective demonstration which would
inevitably have followed a defeat of McClellan.

Nevertheless, there was some compensation in the terrible punishment
inflicted upon the enemy at Antietam; and there was the heightened
prestige, so greatly valued by the South at this period, in the eyes of
Europe, arising from the temper and capacity of the weaker combatant to
undertake so bold an enterprise. In the tangible evidences of success
afforded by the capture of Harper's Ferry, with its numerous garrison
supplies of arms and military stores, was seen additional compensation for
the abandonment of the scheme of invasion.

An interval of repose was permitted the Army of Northern Virginia, after
its return from Maryland, in its encampments near Winchester, during which
it was actively strengthened and recruited to the point of adequate
preparation for expected demonstrations of the enemy.

The operations of the Western army, in many respects, were a brilliant
counterpart to the campaign in Virginia, though lacking its brilliant
fruits. We have mentioned the circumstance which placed General Braxton
Bragg in command of the Western army, after its successful evacuation of
Corinth. General Bragg was equally high in the confidence of the President
and the Southern people. Greatly distinguished by his services in Mexico,
his skillful handling, at Shiloh, of the magnificent corps of troops,
which his discipline had made a model of efficiency, more than confirmed
his Mexican fame.

Space does not permit us to follow, in detail, the execution of the able
and comprehensive strategy, by which General Bragg relieved large sections
of Tennessee and Alabama from the presence of the enemy, penetrated the
heart of Kentucky, maintained an active offensive during the summer, and
transferred the seat of war to the Federal frontier. A part of these
operations was the hurried retreat of Buell's immense army, from its posts
in Alabama and Tennessee, for the defense of Louisville and Cincinnati;
large captures of prisoners, horses, arms and military stores; and the
brilliant progress and successive victories of Kirby Smith and Morgan. For
weeks the situation in Kentucky seemed to promise the unqualified success
of the entire Western campaign. There was, indeed, reasonable hope of a
permanent occupation of the larger portion of Kentucky and Tennessee by
the Confederate forces.

But the battle of Perryville--an engagement not unlike Antietam in its
doubtful claim as a Federal victory--was followed by the retreat of
General Bragg, which was executed with skill, and with results going far
to relieve the disappointment of the popular hope of a permanent
occupation of Kentucky. Buell, on his arrival at Louisville, whither he
had retreated, received heavy reënforcements, which greatly increased his
already superior numbers; and Perryville, a battle which General Bragg
fought, rather to secure his retreat than with the expectation of a
decisive victory, would have been an overwhelming Confederate success, had
Bragg been sufficiently strong to follow up his advantage.

No Confederate commander, save Lee and Jackson, was ever able to present a
claim of a successful campaign so well grounded as the Kentucky campaign
of Bragg. With a force of forty thousand men, he killed, wounded, and
captured more than twenty thousand of the enemy; took thirty pieces of
artillery, thousands of small arms; a large supply of wagons, harness, and
horses; and an immense amount of subsistence, ample not only for the
support of his own army, but of other forces of the Confederacy. During
the succeeding autumn and winter, Bragg's army was conspicuous for its
superior organization, admirable condition and tone; was abundantly
supplied with food and clothing, and in larger numbers than when it
started upon its campaign in August. Moreover, General Bragg redeemed
North Alabama and Middle Tennessee, and recovered possession of Cumberland
Gap, the doorway, through the mountains, to Knoxville and the Virginia and
Tennessee Railroad--the main avenue from Richmond to the heart of the
Confederacy. Evincing his determination to hold the recovered territory,
General Bragg, within a month from his return from Kentucky, was
confronting the principal army of the enemy, in the West, before

Incidental to the movement of Bragg into Kentucky, and constituting a part
of the programme, attempted upon the large theatre of the Western
campaign, were the repulse of the first attack of the enemy upon
Vicksburg, the partial failure of General Breckinridge's expedition to
Baton Rouge, and the serious reverse sustained by Van Dorn at Corinth. In
connection with the more important demonstration into Kentucky, these
incidents of the Western campaign may be briefly aggregated as the
recovery of the country between Nashville and Chattanooga, and the
important advantage of a secure occupation of Vicksburg and Port Hudson,
thus closing the Mississippi to the enemy for two hundred miles.

Subsequent operations in Virginia, at the close of 1862, were entirely
favorable to the Confederacy. While the two armies were confronting each
other, with the imminent prospect of active and important operations,
General McClellan was relieved, and one of his corps commanders, General
Burnside, assigned to the command of the Federal army of the Potomac. As
is now universally acknowledged, General McClellan was sacrificed to the
clamor of a political faction. By this act Mr. Lincoln became responsible
for much of the ill-fortune which awaited the Federal arms in Virginia.

Perhaps among his countrymen, a Southern tribute to General McClellan may
constitute but feeble praise. He was unquestionably the ablest and most
accomplished soldier exhibited by the war on the Northern side. "Had there
been no McClellan," General Meade is reported to have said, "there would
have been no Grant." In retirement, if not exile, General McClellan saw
the armies which his genius created, achieve undeserved distinction for
men, his inferiors in all that constitutes true generalship. He saw the
feeble and wasted remnant of an army, with which he had grappled in the
day of its glory and strength, surrender to a multitudinous host, doubly
as large as the army with which he had given Lee his first check at
Antietam. A true soldier, McClellan was also a true gentleman, an enemy
whose talents the South respects none the less, because he did not
wantonly ravage its homes, nor make war upon the helpless, the aged, and
infirm. President Davis, who, while Federal Secretary of War, conferred
upon McClellan a special distinction, held his genius and attainments in
high estimation. He received the intelligence of his removal with profound

The North was not required to wait long for a competent test of the new
commander's capacity. Foiled and deceived by Lee, in a series of
maneuvres, the results of which made him only less ridiculous than the
gasconading Pope among Federal commanders, Burnside finally assailed Lee,
on the 13th December, at Fredericksburg. The result was a bloody
slaughter, unequaled in previous annals of the war, an overwhelming
repulse, and a demoralized retreat across the Rappahannock.

The Western campaign terminated with the battle of Murfreesboro'. The
Federal commander, Rosecrans, the successor of Buell, advanced from
Nashville to drive Bragg from his position. A brilliant and vigorous
attack by Bragg, on the 31st December, routed an entire wing of the
Federal army; on the second day the action was more favorable to
Rosecrans, who had retreated, after his reverse on the first day, to
stronger positions. Receiving information that the enemy was strongly
reënforcing, General Bragg fell back to Tullahoma, a position more
favorable for strategic and defensive purposes.

The transfer, after the battle of Shiloh, of the troops of Price and Van
Dorn to the army east of the Mississippi, had almost divested the
Trans-Mississippi Department of interest in the public mind. After Elk
Horn, there was but one considerable engagement, in 1862, west of the
Mississippi. This was the battle of Prairie Grove, a fruitless victory,
won by General Hindman, about the middle of December. The country north of
the Arkansas River continued to be nominally held by the Federal forces.

Thus, in nearly every quarter, the second year of the war terminated with
events favorable to the prospects of Southern independence. Though the
territorial jurisdiction of the Confederacy was contracted, the world was
not far from regarding the task of subjugation as already a demonstrated
and hopeless failure. All the invasive campaigns of the enemy, save the
first shock of his overwhelming onsets against weak and untenable posts,
in the winter and early spring, had been brought to grief, and nowhere had
he maintained himself away from his water facilities. An unexampled
prestige among nations now belonged to the infant power, which had carried
its arms from the Tennessee to the Ohio, had achieved a week of victories
before its own capital, and carried the war back to its threshold. After
such achievements the Southern Confederacy rightly claimed from those
powers which have assumed to be the arbiters of international right an
instant recognition upon the list of declared and established

In our brief and cursory glance at military operations, we have omitted to
mention the action of the Government designed to promote the successful
prosecution of the war. This action is mainly comprehended by the various
suggestions of the President's messages to Congress. These recommendations
related chiefly to measures having in view the increased efficiency of the
service. He invited the attention of Congress, especially, to the
necessity of measures securing the proper execution of the conscription
law, and the consolidation of companies, battalions and regiments, when so
reduced in strength as to impair that uniformity of organization, which
was necessary in the army. Legislation was urged, having in view a better
control of military transportation on the railroads, and the improvement
of their defective condition. The President also recommended various
propositions relating to organization of the army, and an extension of the
provisions of the conscription law, embracing persons between the ages of
thirty-five and forty-five years.

About the middle of December President Davis visited the camps of the
Western Department, spending several weeks in obtaining information as to
the condition and wants of that section of the Confederacy, and devising
expedients for a more successful defense in a quarter where the
Confederate cause was always seriously menaced. His presence was highly
beneficial in allaying popular distrust, founded upon the supposition that
Virginia and the Atlantic region engrossed the attention of the Government
to the exclusion of concern for the West and the Mississippi Valley. When
the President returned to Richmond, there were signs of popular animation
in the South-west, which justified a more confident hope of the cause,
than the South was permitted to indulge at any other period of the

An incident of this visit was the address of the President before the
Mississippi Legislature. The warm affection of Mr. Davis for Mississippi
is more than reciprocated by the noble and chivalrous people of that
State. He was always proud of the confidence reposed in him by such a
community, and Mississippi can never abate her affection for one who so
illustrated her name in the council chamber and upon the field of battle.
In this address he alluded, with much tenderness, to this reciprocal
attachment, declaring, that though "as President of the Confederate
States, he had determined to make no distinction between the various parts
of the country--to know no separate State--yet his heart always beat more
warmly for Mississippi, and he had looked on Mississippi soldiers with a
pride and emotion, such as no others inspired."

Declaring that his course had been dictated by the sincere purpose of
promoting the cause of independence, he admonished the country to prepare
for a desperate contest, with a power armed for the purposes of conquest
and subjugation. He characterized severely the conduct of the war by the
North. Reviewing its progress, and recounting the immense disadvantages,
with which the South contended, he maintained that the South should
congratulate itself on its achievements, and not complain that more had
not been accomplished. The conscription law was explained and defended as
to many of its features not clearly understood by the people. We give an
extract from Mr. Davis' remarks as to the Confederate conscription, a
subject of vast misrepresentation during the war, and of much ignorant
censure since:

    "I am told that this act has excited some discontentment, and that it
    has provoked censure far more severe, I believe, than it deserves. It
    has been said that it exempts the rich from military service, and
    forces the poor to fight the battles of the country. The poor do,
    indeed, fight the battles of the country. It is the poor who save
    nations and make revolutions. But is it true that, in this war, the
    men of property have shrunk from the ordeal of the battle-field? Look
    through the army; cast your eyes upon the maimed heroes of the war
    whom you meet in your streets and in the hospitals; remember the
    martyrs of the conflict; and I am sure you will find among them more
    than a fair proportion drawn from the ranks of men of property. The
    object of that portion of the act which exempts those having charge of
    twenty or more negroes, was not to draw any distinction of classes,
    but simply to provide a force, in the nature of a police force,
    sufficient to keep our negroes in control. This was the sole object of
    the clause. Had it been otherwise, it would never have received my
    signature. As I have already said, we have no cause to complain of the
    rich. All our people have done well; and, while the poor have nobly
    discharged their duties, most of the wealthiest and most distinguished
    families of the South have representatives in the ranks. I take, as an
    example, the case of one of your own representatives in Congress, who
    was nominated for Congress and elected, but still did a sentinel's
    duty until Congress met. Nor is this a solitary instance, for men of
    largest fortune in Mississippi are now serving in the ranks."

The President strongly and eloquently recommended the provision by the
Legislature for the families of the absent soldiers of Mississippi. Said
he: "Let this provision be made for the objects of his affection and his
solicitude, and the soldier, engaged in fighting the battles of his
country, will no longer be disturbed in his slumbers by dreams of an
unprotected and neglected family at home. Let him know that his mother
Mississippi has spread her protecting mantle over those he loves, and he
will be ready to fight your battles, to protect your honor, and in your
cause to die."

The address concluded with an earnest appeal for unrelaxed exertion, and
the declaration that, "in all respects, moral as well as physical, the
Confederacy was better prepared than it was a year previous"--a
declaration verified not less by the favorable situation than by the
evident apprehension of the North and the expectations of Europe.



There is much justice in the sentiment that declares that there can be
magnificence even in failure. Men often turn to the contemplation of
rôles enacted in history, ending in disaster and utter disappointment of
the originating and vitalizing aspiration, with far more of interest than
has been felt in following records marked by the palpable tokens of
complete success.

It may well be doubted, whether the Confederate States of America, even
had victory crowned their prolonged struggle of superhuman valor and
unstinted sacrifice, could have commanded more of the esteem of mankind,
than will be awarded them in the years to come. Retrospect of the most
prosperous period of the fortunes of the Confederacy--the interval between
the battle of Fredericksburg, December, 1862, and the ensuing
midsummer--reveals a period in which there was wanting no element of
glory, of pride, or of hope. Many a people, now proudly boasting an
honored recognition at the council-board of nations, might envy the fame
of the meteor power which flashed across the firmament, with a glorious
radiance that made more mournful its final extinguishment.

A notable feature of the distinction which the South, at that time
especially, commanded in the eyes of the world, was the enthusiastic and
universal tribute of mankind to the leader, whose genius, purity, dignity,
and eloquence so adorned the cause of his country. The North sought to
console its wounded national pride by accounting for the crushing and
humiliating defeats of the recent campaign, by contrasts between the able
leadership of its antagonist, and its own imbecile administration. At the
South faction was silenced, in the presence of the wondrous results
achieved in spite of its own outcries and prophecies of failure.
Demagogues, in such a season of good fortune, ceased their charges of
narrowness, of rash zealotry, of favoritism, of incompetency, seemingly
conscious, for once, of the praise which they bestowed upon the
Executive, whom they accused of usurping all the authority of the
Government, in ascribing such results to his unaided capacity.

From Europe, in the beginning, so prejudiced against the South and its
cause, so misinformed of Southern motives, and unacquainted with Southern
history, came the tribute of disinterested eulogy, the more to be valued,
because reluctantly accorded, to the Confederacy and its ruler. To Europe
the South was now known not only through a series of unparalleled
victories; as a people who had successfully asserted their independence
for nearly two years, against such odds as had never been seen before; as
a land of valiant soldiers, of great generals, and of large material
resources. If possible, above these, the statesmen and politicians of
Europe admired the administrative capacity, which, they declared, had
given a superior model and a new dignity to the science of statesmanship.
To the educated circles of Europe the new power was introduced by State
papers, which were declared to be models, not less of skilled political
narration and exposition, than of literary purity and excellence.
Accustomed to hear the South twitted as a people dwarfed and debased by
the demoralization of African slavery, the educated classes of England
acknowledged the surprise and delight they experienced from the powerful
and splendid vindications of the cause of the Confederacy, in the messages
of Mr. Davis. It has been truthfully remarked that there could be no
better history of the war than that contained in his numerous state
papers. They are the exhaustive summary, and unanswerable statement of the
imperishable truths which justify the South, and overwhelm her enemies
with the proof of their own acts of wrong and violence.

Under the new light given to mankind, as to the origin, nature, and
purposes of the American Union, which Mr. Davis so lucidly explained,
Europe soon recognized his position as something else than that of a ruler
of an insurgent district. But not only as the chosen Executive of eleven
separate communities, several of which European governments had previously
recognized as sovereign; as one who had organized great armies, maintained
them in the field, and selected leaders for their command already
illustrious in the annals of war; not for these and other features of
enduring fame, alone, was Jefferson Davis admired in Europe. The contrast
between the civil administrations of the hostile sections was viewed as,
perhaps, the chiefly remarkable phase of the struggle.

President Lincoln, beginning the war with usurpation, had committed, in
its progress, every possible trespass upon the Federal Constitution, and
was now under the influence of a faction whose every aim contemplated the
overthrow of that instrument. President Davis, supported by a confiding
people, and an overwhelming majority of every Southern community, ruled in
strict conformity with the laws of the land and its Constitution. In the
midst of a revolution, unexampled in magnitude, in fierceness, and
vindictiveness on the part of the enemy, and of difficulties in his own
administration, he furnished an example of courage, humanity, and
magnanimity, together with the observance of order, civil freedom, and
legal and constitutional restraints unexampled in history. In the
Confederacy, the Roman maxim, _Inter arma silent leges_, universally
recognized and practiced among nations, had an emphatic repudiation, so
far as concerned the exercise of power by the executive department.
Whatever may have been the exceptional cases of unauthorized oppression or
violence, there was always redress in the judiciary department of the
Government, which continued in pure and dignified existence until the end.

The President, obeying the dictates of exalted patriotism--acting always
for the public good, if not always with unimpeachable wisdom, at least
with incorruptible integrity--made no attempt at improper interference
with Congress, nor sought to exercise undue influence over its
deliberations. The press, usually the first bulwark of the public
liberties to attract the exercise of despotism, so trammeled at the North,
was free in the South every-where; in some instances, to the extent of
licentiousness, and to the positive injury of the cause.

In marked contrast with these exhibitions were the evidences of coming
despotism at the North. The Federal judiciary was rapidly declining from
its exalted purity, before the exactions of military power; the Federal
Congress was charged by the press with open and notorious corruption, and
was aiding Mr. Lincoln in usurpations which startled the despotisms of
Europe, and have since led to the annihilation of the republican character
of the Government.

Conspicuous, too, was the desire of Mr. Davis to conduct the war upon a
civilized and Christian basis. His forbearance, his moderation, and stern
refusal to resort to retaliation, under circumstances such as would have
justified its exercise in response to the cruelties and outrages of the
enemy, amazed the European spectator, and at times dissatisfied his own
countrymen. "Retaliation is not justice," was his habitual reply to urgent
demands, and again and again did he decline to "shed one drop of blood
except on the field of battle." Never forgetting the dignity of the
contest, he, up to the last moment of his authority, redeemed the pledge
which he had made in the first weeks of the war: "to smite the smiter
with manly arms, as did our fathers before us."

There have been few spectacles presented to the admiring gaze of mankind,
more worthily depicted than that union of capacities and virtues in
Jefferson Davis, which so eminently qualified him, in the opinion of
foreigners, for the position he held. An English writer has eloquently
sketched him as "one of the world's foremost men, admired as a statesman,
respected as an earnest Christian, the Washington of another generation of
the same race. A resolute statesman, calm, dignified, swaying with
commanding intellect the able men that surrounded him; eloquent as a
speaker, and as a writer giving state papers to the world which are among
the finest compositions in our time; of warm domestic affections in his
inner life, and strong religious convictions; held up by vigor of the
spirit that nerved an exhausted and feeble frame--such was the chosen
constitutional ruler of one-fourth of the American people."

Colonel Freemantle, a distinguished English officer, whose faithful and
impartial narrative of his extended observations of the American war,
commended him to the esteem of both parties, thus concludes an account of
an interview with President Davis, in the spring of 1863:

    "During my travels many people have remarked to me that Jefferson
    Davis seems, in a peculiar manner, adapted to his office. His military
    education at West Point rendered him intimately acquainted with the
    higher officers of the army; and his post of Secretary of War, under
    the old Government, brought officers of all ranks under his immediate
    personal knowledge and supervision. No man could have formed a more
    accurate estimate of their respective merits. This is one of the
    reasons which gave the Confederates such an immense start in the way
    of generals; for, having formed his opinion with regard to appointing
    an officer, Mr. Davis is always most determined to carry out his
    intention in spite of every obstacle. His services in the Mexican war
    gave him the prestige of a brave man and a good soldier. His services
    as a statesman pointed him out as the only man who, by his unflinching
    determination and administrative talent, was able to control the
    popular will. People speak of any misfortune happening to him as an
    irreparable evil too dreadful to contemplate."

Mr. Gladstone, a member of the British cabinet, the eminent leader of a
party in English politics, and a sympathizer with the objects of the war
as waged by the North, avowed his enthusiastic appreciation of the lustre
reflected upon the new Government, by its able administration, in the
assertion that "Mr. Jefferson Davis had created a nation."

But the admiration of Europe was to prove a mere sentiment, unaccompanied
by any practical demonstration of sympathy. In view of the course so
persistently adhered to by the great powers of Europe, it is curious to
note the purely sentimental and personal character of their professed
sympathy for the South. The earliest expression of foreign opinion
indicated a reluctant recognition of the valor and devotion of a people,
from whom they had not expected the exhibition of such qualities. When, by
the protraction of the struggle, the brilliant feats of arms executed by
the Southern armies, the indomitable resolution of the South, and its
evident purpose to encounter every possible sacrifice for sake of
independence, there was no longer ground for misapprehension, they still
disregarded all the precedents and principles which had governed their
course respecting new nationalities.

Applauding the valor of the Southern soldiery, the heroism, endurance, and
self-denial of a people whom they repeatedly declared to have already
established their invincibility; rapturous in their panegyrics upon the
genius, zeal, and Christian virtues of the Confederate leaders; they never
interposed their boasted potentiality in behalf of justice, right, and
humanity. English writers were eloquent in acknowledgment of the
additional distinction conferred upon Anglo-Saxon statesmanship and
literature by Davis; diligent in tracing the honorable English lineage of
Lee, and establishing the consanguinity of Jackson; but English statesmen
persistently disregarded those elevated considerations of humanity and
philanthropy, which they have so much vaunted as prompting their
intercourse with nations. Confessing a new enlightenment from the
expositions of Mr. Davis, and from diligent inquiry into the nature of the
Federal Government, Europe soon avowed its convictions in favor of the
legal and constitutional right of secession asserted by the South. It
declared that it but awaited the exhibition of that earnestness of
purpose, and that capacity for resistance, which should establish the
"force and consistency" which are the requisite conditions of recognized

The London _Times_, while the army of McClellan was still investing
Richmond, used language which the North and the South accepted as
significant and prophetic. Said the _Times_:

    "It can not be doubted that we are approaching a time when a more
    important question even than that of an offer of mediation may have to
    be considered by England and France. _The Southern Confederacy has
    constituted itself a nation for nearly a year and a half._ During that
    time the attachment of the people to the now Government has been
    indubitably shown; immense armies have been raised; the greatest
    sacrifices have been endured; the persistence of the South in the war,
    through a long series of battles--some victories, some defeats--has
    shown the 'force and consistency' which are looked upon as tests of
    nationality. Wherever the Government is unmolested, the laws are
    administered regularly as in time of peace; and wherever the Federals
    have penetrated, they are received with an animosity which they
    resent, as at New Orleans, by a military rule of intolerable
    brutality. The vision of a Union party in the South has been
    dispelled, as the Northerners themselves are compelled, with
    bitterness and mortification, to admit.

    "All these circumstances point but to one conclusion: Either this war
    must be brought to an end, or the time will at last come when the
    South may claim its own recognition by foreign nations as an
    independent power. The precedents of the American colonies, of the
    Spanish colonies, of Belgium, and of Tuscany, and of Naples the other
    day, forbid us to question this right when asserted by the Confederate
    States. It is our duty _to anticipate_ this possible event, and it may
    be wise, as well as generous, for statesmen on this side of the ocean
    to approach the American Government in a friendly spirit, with the
    offer of their good offices, at this great crisis of its fortunes."

If such a statement of the question was just and truthful, when a numerous
and confident army, under a leader of proven skill, was engaged in close
siege of the capital of the Confederacy, how much more unanswerable were
its conclusions when McClellan was defeated? What were the evidences of
"force and consistency" demanded after the combined armies of McClellan
and Pope were hurled back upon the Potomac; after Bragg had forced Buell
to the Ohio; and when Fredericksburg had crowned six months of success
with a victory that inevitably imposed a defensive attitude upon the North
during the entire winter?

When Chancellorsville inflicted a defeat, the most decisive and
humiliating of the war, upon the North, there was indeed no longer even a
pretext, by which could be disguised the evident purpose of England not to
interfere in behalf of a cause with which she had no sympathy, whatever
her constrained respect for its champions and defenders. The loss of
Vicksburg and Gettysburg in the ensuing summer, so productive of distrust
in Europe of the Confederate cause, was quickly followed by developments
which dispelled nearly all remaining hope of that recognition which it was
equally the right of the Confederacy to hope, and the duty of Europe to

The attitude of the Confederate Government, in its relations with European
governments, was ever one of imposing dignity. President Davis contented
himself with calm and statesman-like presentation of the claims of the
cause which he represented. His unanswerable exposition of the position of
the Confederacy, and lucid discussions of international jurisprudence,
never took the semblance of supplication, and were accompanied by
dignified remonstrance, even, only when it became evident that the
Confederacy was excluded from the benefits of that policy which the laws
of nations and every precedent demanded. Hope of foreign assistance
unquestionably constituted a large share of that confidence of success
which, until the later stages of the war, continued to animate the South.
Her people hoped for foreign aid in some shape, because they were
confident of their ability to demonstrate their _right_ to it; and they
_expected_ it only when they _had_ demonstrated that right. But never was
there any abatement or relaxation of effort by the Confederate Government
because of this just right and expectation. In the midst of the most
cheering events, and when recognition appeared certain, President Davis
declared his conviction of the necessity of such effort as should secure
independence without aid from any quarter. In his address to the
Mississippi Legislature, December, 1862, from which we have already
quoted, he said:

    "In the course of this war our eyes have been often turned abroad. We
    have expected sometimes recognition and sometimes intervention at the
    hands of foreign nations, and we had a right to expect it. Never
    before, in the history of the world, had a people so long a time
    maintained their ground, and showed themselves capable of maintaining
    their national existence, without securing the recognition of
    commercial nations. I know not why this has been so, but this I say,
    'Put not your trust in princes,' and rest not your hopes on foreign
    nations. This war is ours; we must fight it out ourselves; and I feel
    some pride in knowing that, so far, we have done it without the
    good-will of any body."

It seems, indeed, difficult to explain the course of Europe, especially of
England and France, in the American war, upon any hypothesis consistent
with either courage, humanity, or the usages of nations. Delay, caution,
and attendance upon results were becoming in the beginning; but, after the
defeat of McClellan upon the Chickahominy, and, still more, at the close
of operations in 1862, they were no longer exacted by moral obligation or
international comity. Having all the attributes of an independent power--a
power at war with a neighbor, assailed by its armies, blockaded by its
fleets, as had been numerous other independent powers--there was nothing
whatever anomalous in the situation of the Confederate States forbidding
the practice of plain justice towards them. Recognition was not only
warranted by the facts of the case, but by immemorial usage in Europe,
especially by the apposite precedent of the separation of Belgium from
Holland. The existence of slavery in the South, even though sanctioned by
law and the religious convictions of her people, is an altogether
insufficient explanation of a policy which has exposed the European great
powers to the suspicion of having been actuated by the most unworthy

Especially does the course of England seem indefensible towards a people,
with whom the war developed so much of common instinct, so many appeals of
sympathy and evidences of identity with herself--a people whose ancestors
were the uncompromising enemies of regicides, and had maintained their
loyalty to the crown of England in spite of the power and threats of
Cromwell, whose Puritan dominion New England acknowledged.

The injustice of England did not end with her refusal of recognition. In
the beginning she promptly proclaimed "strict neutrality," and her Premier
declared the Confederates "belligerents." This phrase, apparently a just
concession of the declared independence of the South, was gratefully
acknowledged by a struggling people, and evoked the fierce indignation of
the North. It was, however, designedly ambiguous, and to be interpreted,
philologically and practically, as the prospects of the controversy or the
wishes of the Palmerston cabinet might dictate. The English cabinet did
not necessarily mean a recognition of a divided sovereignty, justifying
suspension of relations with both sections, until the question of
sovereignty should be settled. The phrase "belligerents" was subsequently
declared to mean, merely, that the "two sections were at war"--a fact
which the participants felt to have already had ocular demonstration.
Meanwhile, relations between London and Washington were not interrupted,
and commercial intercourse continued as before. But England not only
ignored the South, and denied the Confederate commissioners a formal and
official audience--her vessels respected the Federal blockade, while
Confederate vessels were warned from her coasts. Such is only a limited
statement of features which made "English neutrality" the broadest farce
and severest irony of the age.[58]

Early in 1863, or late in 1862, the Emperor Napoleon proposed to England
to join France and other powers in a joint mediation, to suggest an
armistice and a conference. This humane proposition England refused,
declining to take any step which might aid pacification, and thus did both
North and South finally comprehend what was meant by the "duty and policy"
of that power, which had so industriously propagated American dissensions
for her own aggrandizement. An editorial in the Richmond _Enquirer_,
written, probably, by John Mitchel, pithily described the motives of
England in the remark: "In short, the North is not yet bankrupt enough,
the South not yet desolated enough, to suit the 'policy' of England."
France saved her reputation, upon the score of humanity and justice, by
evincing at least a right disposition, though it is difficult to reconcile
her continued dalliance upon England, respecting the American question,
with that bold policy, which usually characterizes the great master of
European diplomacy. France had, however, less of interest and of
expectation than England, from the dissolution of the Union; less motive
for desiring its downfall, and the exhaustion of both combatants.

Such, however, was the policy, adhered to by England and France, in
defiance of legal and moral obligation, and to the mortal injury of the
South, in her brave and defiant struggle with that power, which history
may yet declare, the "great powers" of Europe dared not defy.

An interesting phase of the war, in the beginning of 1863, was the
culmination of the policy of the Federal Government respecting the subject
of slavery. A brief space will suffice to exhibit a record of violated
pledges, of constitutional infractions, and abuse of power by the Federal
Government, altogether unexampled in a war to be hereafter noted for its
arbitrary measures.

In the early stages of the war the North assumed, as the justification of
coercive measures, not only the purpose of preserving the Union, but the
relief of a "loyal party" in the South, who were oppressed by a violent
minority having "command of the situation." Of this theory of the war, as
waged by the North, the conversation of President Lincoln with a Kentucky
member of Congress, in the presence of Senator Crittenden, was
sufficiently declaratory:

    "'Mr. Mallory, this war, so far as I have any thing to do with it, is
    carried on on the idea that there is a Union sentiment in those
    States, which, set free from the control now held over it by the
    presence of the Confederate or rebel power, will be sufficient to
    replace those States in the Union. If I am mistaken in this, if there
    is no such sentiment there, if the people of those States are
    determined with unanimity, or with a feeling approaching unanimity,
    that their States shall not be members of this Confederacy, it is
    beyond the power of the people of the other States to force them to
    remain in the Union; and,' said he, 'in that contingency--in the
    contingency that there is not that sentiment there--THIS WAR IS NOT

Mr. Lincoln was probably not a very close student of the philosophy of
history, or he would hardly have thus emphatically committed himself to a
pledge, which, if observed, would have inevitably ended the war in a few
weeks. The teachings of history were valueless, without their unvarying
testimony to the potency of the sword of the common enemy in healing the
divisions of an invaded country. It would be difficult, too, to imagine
what he would have deemed that approximation to unity in the South, which
would render a further prosecution of the war a crime. A faction of "Union
men," truculent, treacherous, and insidious, in their hostility to the
Confederate Government, unquestionably existed in the South during the
entire progress of the war, but they were few in numbers, and their
recognized leaders were, with hardly a single exception, men of abandoned
character, notoriously without influence, save with their ignorant and
unpatriotic followers. But this pretense of a Union party in the South,
which the North, at first, declared a majority, was conveniently
abandoned, when other pretexts were sought. In the face of evidence not to
be denied, of the profound and sincere purpose of separation, entertained
by more than seven-eighths of the citizens of the seceded States, the
Northern conscience easily overcame its scruples as to a war which the
Northern President had, by anticipation, pronounced a "Crime."

Palpable violations of vows were, indeed, marked characteristics of the
conduct of the war as justified by the facile and pliant conscience of the
North. The paramount purpose of coercion was to maintain the authority and
dignity of the Constitution, assailed by "rebels in arms." No theory was
avowed contemplating any other termination of the war, than a simple
restoration of the "Union under the Constitution." The assertions of the
Northern press, and the resolutions of mass meetings were re-affirmed by
the most solemn enactments of the Federal Congress, and public
declarations of Mr. Lincoln, that the North sought merely to save the
Union, with the form and spirit of the Constitution unimpaired. In view of
subsequent events, it is almost incredible that in Mr. Lincoln's first
inaugural address should be found this passage:

    "I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to
    interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it
    exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no
    inclination to do so.... The right of each State to order and control
    its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment
    exclusively, is essential to the balance of power on which the
    perfection and endurance of our political fabric depended."

Then, after the defeat at Bull Run, Congress passed the following
resolution, which was signed by Mr. Lincoln as President:

    "_Resolved_, That this war is not waged upon our part with any purpose
    of overthrowing or interfering with the rights or established
    institutions of these States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy
    of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity,
    equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired; that, as soon
    as these objects are accomplished, the war ought to cease."

As if to give every possible form of assurance of the legitimate and
constitutional objects of the war, and leaving no room for doubt in the
mind of posterity, of complete and unredeemed perfidy, the Federal
authorities were at especial pains to declare their policy to foreign

Mr. Seward, as Mr. Lincoln's Secretary of State, in his instructions to
Mr. Dayton, Minister to France, says:

    "The condition of slavery in the several States will remain just the
    same, whether it (the rebellion) succeed or fail. There is not even a
    pretext for the complaint that the disaffected States are to be
    conquered by the United States, if the revolution fail; for the rights
    of the States, and the condition of every human being in them, will
    remain subject to exactly the same laws and form of administration,
    whether the revolution shall succeed or whether it shall fail."

There was little room to doubt the purpose of the North to emancipate the
slaves of the South, if at any period of the war such action could be
advantageously taken. Mr. Lincoln always manifested great timidity and
reluctance in approaching the subject, and it was observable that, at
critical moments of the war, he courted the sympathy of the Democratic
party, which was opposed to the policy of emancipation, so importunately
urged upon him by the radical wing of the Republican party.

General McClellan had, with noble firmness, refused to countenance the
revolutionary designs of the radical faction, and his removal from command
after his repulse at Richmond was the palpable and decisive triumph of the
emancipation policy in the sympathies of Mr. Lincoln. Restored to command,
in order that he might save Washington from capture, no other officer
being deemed to have the requisite ability and confidence of the army, he
retained his position but a few weeks after that object was accomplished.
By successive steps, Mr. Lincoln was finally brought to issue a
preliminary proclamation of emancipation, in September, 1862, which went
into effect January 1, 1863. After the battle of Antietam, no farther
necessity for concealment was deemed necessary, and to the design of
subjugation was now added the proclaimed purpose to destroy the organic
existence of the States and two thousand millions of Southern capital.

Emancipation was justified by the Federal administration as a "military
necessity"--a wretched explanation from those who had boasted their
ability to "exterminate the South" in a few months. Since the war, a claim
of philanthropy, as the motive of emancipation, has been falsely asserted.
Reckless of the fate of the slave, the North sought only vengeance against
his master. In the sequel, each step of despotism becoming easier than its
predecessor, malice against the master has been still the motive which
instigated the enfranchisement of his former slave.

The New-Year's proclamation of Mr. Lincoln, reaching the Confederacy at
the most auspicious period of its fortunes, was received with evidences of
just indignation, and of a more stern purpose in the conduct of the war.
President Davis thus referred to the subject in his message to Congress:

    "The public journals of the North have been received, containing a
    proclamation, dated on the first day of the present month, signed by
    the President of the United States, in which he orders and declares
    all slaves within ten of the States of the Confederacy to be free,
    except such as are found within certain districts now occupied in part
    by the armed forces of the enemy. We may well leave it to the
    instincts of that common humanity which a beneficent Creator has
    implanted in the breasts of our fellow-men of all countries to pass
    judgment on a measure by which several millions of human beings of an
    inferior race--peaceful and contented laborers in their sphere--are
    doomed to extermination, while, at the same time, they are encouraged
    to a general assassination of their masters by the insidious
    recommendation 'to abstain from violence unless in necessary
    self-defense.' Our own detestation of those who have attempted the
    most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty man, is
    tempered by profound contempt for the impotent rage which it
    discloses. So far as regards the action of this Government on such
    criminals as may attempt its execution, I confine myself to informing
    you that I shall--unless in your wisdom you deem some other course
    more expedient--deliver to the several State authorities all
    commissioned officers of the United States that may hereafter be
    captured by our forces, in any of the States embraced in the
    proclamation, that they may be dealt with in accordance with the laws
    of those States providing for the punishment of criminals engaged in
    exciting servile insurrection. The enlisted soldiers I shall continue
    to treat as unwilling instruments in the commission of these crimes,
    and shall direct their discharge and return to their homes on the
    proper and usual parole."

Mr. Davis urged upon the people the evidence, given by this measure, of
the utterly ruthless and unscrupulous character of the war waged upon the
South, and counseled the resolution of "absolute and total separation of
these States from the United States." The eloquent appeals of Mr. Davis
were sustained by the united press of the Confederacy, and by unmistakable
indications of a thoroughly aroused popular indignation.

The results of military operations, in the winter months of 1863, were of
a character altogether favorable and re-assuring to the Confederates.
Movements on a large scale were prevented by the heavy rains and extreme
rigor of the season, though there were many incidents evincing activity
and enterprise on both sides. Early in January occurred the recapture of
Galveston, Texas, by General Magruder. This exploit, marked by a display
of energy, daring, and skill, was a handsome vindication of a most
meritorious officer, who, for some months previous, had suffered unmerited
censure. General Magruder had commanded a portion of the Army of Northern
Virginia, in the assault upon McClellan, at Malvern Hill. The partial
failure of the attack secured the Federal retreat, and the public,
impatient at the check sustained at a moment of so much promise, visited
an unwarranted censure upon Magruder. President Davis acknowledged, in a
most flattering letter to his former classmate, the brilliant achievement
of his command at Galveston.

After the battle of Murfreesboro', the more important operations, in the
West, were enacted in the State of Mississippi. The successful defense of
Vicksburg, in the summer of 1862, effectually closed the Mississippi to
the Federal fleets. To reduce this stronghold became an object of prime
importance to the Federal Government, the North-western States being
especially interested in securing the unobstructed navigation of the great
river. The Confederate Government, equally apprized of the value of
Vicksburg, concentrated forces for its defense, and made the maintenance
of that position one of the leading features of its designs in the West.

A second attempt, under the auspices of General Sherman, was made against
Vicksburg, in December, 1862. The signal failure attending this expedition
brought upon Sherman a degree of reproach, at the North, in singular
contrast with the applause which he received twelve months later. A few
weeks later, the third attempt against Vicksburg was undertaken by
General Grant, who sought to turn the Confederate defenses, through the
smaller rivers connecting the Yazoo and Mississippi. This attempt was
doomed to a failure no less decided and humiliating than that of its
predecessor. On the 14th of March the Confederate batteries at Port
Hudson, the lower defense of the Mississippi, repulsed the fleet of
Farragut, who sought, by passing the batteries, to coöperate with Porter's
fleet above.

These repeated failures of the Federal demonstrations against the
Confederate strongholds on the Mississippi, were accepted as auspicious
indications of continued successful defense in a vital quarter of the
Confederacy. The loss of Arkansas Post, with a garrison of three thousand
men, somewhat diminished the ardor of the congratulations experienced by
the South from the successes on the Mississippi, and General Beauregard's
signal defeat of the Federal fleet at Charleston.

At the opening of spring, there was wanting no indication of the gigantic
struggle which was to make memorable the third year of the war. By common
consent it was declared that this, if not the last, would, at least, be
the decisive year of the struggle. An imperative necessity impelled the
Federal administration to the most powerful efforts. Without brilliant and
decided military results, the party in opposition to the war would
inevitably gain possession of a sufficient number of States, to enable
them to enter the next Presidential contest with fair prospects of
success. The approaching expiration of the terms of service of large
numbers of his veteran troops, also impelled the enemy to early activity.

On the part of the Confederates, there was apparently nothing left undone
which could increase the chances of success. This period is remarkable in
the history of the war, not less for its auspicious signs for the
Confederacy, than for the union and coöperation every-where observable. It
was equally a period encouraging hope and inviting effort to wring from
the reluctant North confession of final defeat, and to inflict a just
punishment upon an enemy, who had but lately proclaimed his purpose to use
even the slaves of the South for the subjugation of her citizens.
Extraordinary activity was displayed, during the winter and spring, in
strengthening the army and adding to its efficiency, by the execution of
the recent legislation of Congress recommended by President Davis. The
utmost exertions of the Government were, of course, insufficient to
strengthen the armies to the point of equality with the enormous array
presented by the enemy on every theatre of operations. Yet the Government,
the people, and the army, with calmness and confidence, awaited the issue,
in the conviction that every preparation had been made which the resources
of the country admitted.

Early in April, President Davis, in compliance with a request of Congress,
addressed an eloquent invocation to the country, in behalf of the duties
of patriotism at so critical a moment of the struggle. Stating his
concurrence in the views of Congress, he declared his confidence in the
patriotic disposition of the people to carry into effect the measures
devised for the deliverance of the country.

"Alone, unaided," said he, "we have met and overthrown the most formidable
combinations of naval and military armaments that the lust of conquest
ever gathered together for the conquest of a free people. We began this
struggle without a single gun afloat, while the resources of our enemy
enabled them to gather fleets which, according to their official list,
published in August last, consisted of four hundred and thirty-seven
vessels, measuring eight hundred and forty thousand and eighty-six tons,
and carrying three thousand and twenty-six guns.... To oppose invading
forces composed of levies which have already exceeded thirteen hundred
thousand men, we had no resources but the unconquerable valor of a people
determined to be free."

Mr. Davis alluded encouragingly to the immediate prospects of the war:

    "Your devotion and patriotism have triumphed over all these obstacles,
    and calling into existence the munitions of war, the clothing and the
    subsistence, which have enabled our soldiers to illustrate their valor
    on numerous battle-fields, and to inflict crushing defeats on
    successive armies, each of which our arrogant foe fondly imagined to
    be invincible.

    "The contrast between our past and present condition is well
    calculated to inspire full confidence in the triumph of our arms. At
    no previous period of the war have our forces been so numerous, so
    well organized, and so thoroughly disciplined, armed, and equipped, as
    at present. The season of high water, on which our enemies relied to
    enable their fleet of gunboats to penetrate into our country and
    devastate our homes, is fast passing away; yet our strongholds on the
    Mississippi still bid defiance to the foe, and months of costly
    preparation for their reduction have been spent in vain. Disaster has
    been the result of their every effort to turn or storm Vicksburg and
    Port Hudson, as well as every attack on our batteries on the Red
    River, the Tallahatchie, and other navigable streams."

In this address President Davis did not fail to rebuke that tendency to
excessive confidence from which relaxed exertion is ever apt to follow.
Albeit he has been so freely charged with entertaining excessive
confidence himself, and encouraging others to share his over-sanguine and
exaggerated hopes, he yet never lost an opportunity of rebuking it as a
dangerous error.

The most important feature of the address is the earnest and admonitory
appeal, for immediate exertion, to obviate the difficulty of obtaining
supplies for the army, already becoming a question of alarming concern.
Mr. Davis even then avowed his conviction that, in such a contest as the
war had then become, the question of food was the "one danger which the
Government of your choice regards with apprehension." Earnestly appealing
to the "never-failing patriotism" of the land, he said: "Your country,
therefore, appeals to you to lay aside all thought of gain, and to devote
yourselves to securing your liberties, without which these gains would be

Reminding the country of embarrassments, already encountered, he indicated
the only method of avoiding similar difficulties in future:

    "Let your fields be devoted exclusively to the production of corn,
    oats, beans, peas, potatoes, and other food for man and beast. Let
    corn be sowed broadcast, for fodder, in immediate proximity to
    railroads, rivers and canals; and let all your efforts be directed to
    the prompt supply of these articles in the districts where our armies
    are operating. You will then add greatly to their efficiency, and
    furnish the means without which it is impossible to make those prompt
    and active movements which have hitherto stricken terror into our
    enemies and secured our most brilliant triumphs."

Those who witnessed the operation of causes which eventually brought the
country to the verge of starvation, and made Lee's army--whose proud array
of "tattered uniforms and bright muskets" had never yet yielded to the
onset of the enemy--the _victim of famine_, can attest the fidelity of
this graphic and prophetic sketch:

    "It is known that the supply of meat throughout the country is
    sufficient for the support of all; but the distances are so great, the
    condition of the roads has been so bad during the five months of
    winter weather, through which we have just passed, and the attempt of
    groveling speculators to forestall the market, and make money out of
    the life-blood of our defenders, have so much influenced the
    withdrawal from sale of the surplus in hands of the producers, that
    the Government has been unable to gather full supplies.

    "The Secretary of War has prepared a plan, which is appended to this
    address, by the aid of which, or some similar means to be adopted by
    yourselves, you can assist the officers of the Government in the
    purchase of the corn, the bacon, the pork, and the beef known to exist
    in large quantities in different parts of the country. Even if the
    surplus be less than believed, is it not a bitter and humiliating
    reflection that those who remain at home, secure from hardship, and
    protected from danger, should be in the enjoyment of abundance, and
    that their slaves also should have a full supply of food, while their
    sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers are stinted in the rations upon
    which their health and efficiency depend?"

The concluding paragraph of this address, so remarkable for its eloquence,
and for its frank and powerful statement of the condition and necessities
of the Confederacy, in one of the most thrilling moments of its fate, is
as follows:

    "Entertaining no fear that you will either misconstrue the motives of
    this address, or fail to respond to the call of patriotism, I have
    placed the facts fully and frankly before you. Let us all unite in the
    performance of our duty, each in his sphere; and with concerted,
    persistent, and well directed effort, there seems little reason to
    doubt that, under the blessings of Him to whom we look for guidance,
    and who has been to us our shield and strength, we shall maintain the
    sovereignty and independence of the Confederate States, and transmit
    to our posterity the heritage bequeathed to us by our fathers."

Late in March, General Lee intimated his convictions, to the Government,
of an early resumption of active movements by the enemy. The disparity
between the main armies in Virginia was even greater than in previous
campaigns. General Hooker, the Federal commander, had, under his immediate
direction, more than one hundred thousand men, while General Lee--in
consequence of the necessary withdrawal of Longstreet, with two divisions,
to meet a threatened movement by the enemy from the south of James River,
and to secure the supplies of an abundant section, open to Federal
incursions--had less than fifty thousand.[59] But Lee manifested his
characteristic confidence and self-possession in the presence of the
perilous crisis. Having adequately represented the situation to his
Government, he was aware of the cordial coöperation, to the extent of its
ability, which had been extended. During the suspension of active
hostilities, his every wish for the increased efficiency of his command
was promptly fulfilled, and at the opening of the campaign he lacked no
element of readiness, save _numbers_, that which the country could not
supply, and of the absence of which, Lee, therefore, _never complained_.
In every other element of efficiency, the army of Northern Virginia was
never in better condition, than when it eagerly awaited the advance of
Hooker across the Rappahannock.

The battle of Chancellorsville is memorable as the most decisive triumph
of the Army of Northern Virginia, and from the mournful incident of the
extinction of that noble life which was identified with its highest glory.
The culmination of Lee's superb strategy, the most splendid illustration
of his master-genius, was sadly emphasized by the irreparable loss of
Stonewall Jackson.

Commemorating, by a letter of special thanks to the army, a victory which
baffled the most perilous and boastful attempt yet made upon the
Confederate capital, President Davis shared the grief of a stricken
country for the loss of one of its most illustrious champions. In that
procession of mourners which followed, through the streets of Richmond,
the bier of the fallen hero, there was not one who felt anguish more acute
than that of the chief who had so honored and sustained Jackson when



The situation of affairs, so eminently favorable to the Confederacy, after
the victory of Chancellorsville, admitted no doubt that the opportune
occasion would be promptly seized, for the delivery of a telling blow,
which should hasten an acknowledgment of Southern independence. A brief
summary of the military situation, at the opening of summer, 1863, will
show the simple and judicious policy, by which the Confederate
administration proposed to make efficient use of its advantages.

The battle of Chancellorsville, followed by the disorganized retreat of
the largest force yet consolidated for the capture of Richmond, and the
signal failure of an attempt, which, at its outset, the North declared to
be conclusive of the fate of the Confederacy, secured the safety of the
Confederate capital, at least, until another campaign could be organized.
Moreover, it tendered to the Confederate authorities the choice of a
vigorous offensive, holding out tempting inducements; or a detachment of a
portion of Lee's army for the relief of other sections of the Confederacy.
With two-thirds of his own force, Lee had repulsed and crippled the
enormous army of Hooker, and it appeared reasonably certain, that the same
force could maintain a successful defensive, while the segment, or its
equivalent, which was absent at Chancellorsville, might be sent, for a
temporary purpose, to Bragg, in Tennessee, or to the relief of Pemberton
in Vicksburg.

At the opening of spring the primary objects of the Confederacy were the
safety of Richmond, the safety of Vicksburg--the key to its tenure of the
Mississippi Valley--and the holding of its defensive line in Middle and
East Tennessee, the barrier between the enemy and the vitals of the
Confederacy. The first of these objects was amply secured by the victory
of Chancellorsville, leaving to the main Confederate army, its own choice
of the field of future operations.

In the Western Department, commanded since December, 1862, by General
Joseph E. Johnston, the situation was less promising, though by no means
forbidding hope of a favorable solution. General Bragg maintained a
somewhat precarious defensive against Rosecrans, who confronted the
Confederate commander, with an army much larger than that with which he
had fought the battle of Murfreesboro'. General Pemberton, after a series
of actions, had retired within the lines of Vicksburg, where he was
closely besieged by General Grant with a numerous army--the Federal fleet
in the river, meanwhile, continuing its bombardment. The characteristic
stubbornness of Grant, aided by his ample force, made evident the ultimate
fate of Vicksburg and Pemberton's army, either by famine, or the assaults
of the enemy, unless succor should come in the shape of a demonstration
against the besieging army, with which the garrison might be expected to
coöperate. Not long after Pemberton's retirement into Vicksburg, General
Johnston reached Mississippi and began the collection of a force, by which
it was expected that the besieged stronghold and its garrison would be

But while the situation in the West thus seemed to invite the presence of
a portion of the army of Northern Virginia, relieved of any immediate
danger from its antagonist, there were cogent considerations in behalf of
another policy which was adopted. Two weeks, at least, would have been
required, in the indifferent condition of the Southern railroads, for the
transportation of a force from Virginia, competent to enable Bragg to
assume the aggressive. A much longer period would have been required to
transfer to Jackson, such a force as General Johnston would have deemed
sufficient to justify an attack upon Grant. Besides, the government was
fully satisfied, that the reënforcements sent to Johnston would soon
enable him to make an effective demonstration against the besieging army,
which, sustained by a simultaneous attack by Pemberton in front, would
have a reasonable prospect of success.

The project of a direct reënforcement to Johnston, from Lee's army, was
speedily abandoned, and the more practicable plan of reënforcing Bragg was
also dismissed. Nothing whatever was to be expected from a victory by
Bragg over Rosecrans, unless it could be made a _decisive_ victory,
ensuring either the destruction of the Federal army, or the complete
abandonment of its advanced line in Tennessee, for which it had paid such
heavy toll. Such a result, necessitating the reënforcement of Rosecrans
from Grant, meanwhile, after the victory had been won, troops being sent
to Johnston from Bragg, was indeed brilliant to contemplate. Or there was
another prospect equally agreeable. When Rosecrans had been defeated
troops might be sent to capture Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi, which,
cutting off Grant's supplies from the North, as did Port Hudson from the
South, would compel the Federal army at Vicksburg to fight for its
subsistence, and under most discouraging circumstances. In addition to
these prospects, there was also the choice of a movement for the complete
redemption of Kentucky and Tennessee.

These brilliant designs of a visionary and vaporing strategy, abundant in
the Confederacy during the war, and now ostentatiously paraded by the
cheap wisdom of retrospection, lacked, however, the essential feature of
practicability. To have reënforced Bragg sufficiently from Lee's army, to
have enabled him to undertake the offensive, with any prospect of the
complete success necessary, would have weakened the army in Virginia to
such an extent, as to seriously endanger Richmond. Even though Bragg were
thus sufficiently reënforced to defeat a numerous army, led by an able
commander, and occupying a position of great strength, a full month would
have been required to accomplish the results indicated. Waiving all
consideration of the incertitude of battle, and assuming that success
would attend every movement of the Confederate army, what reasonable
calculation would enable Bragg to have gotten his forces in readiness, and
marched them either into Kentucky to Fort Pillow, or to Jackson, in time
to have saved Vicksburg? But, apart from the folly of so weakening Lee, as
to endanger Richmond (which would have been immediately assailed by
Hooker, with his command of ninety thousand men, in coöperation with the
forces at Suffolk, Fortress Monroe, and Winchester--an aggregate of more
than forty thousand more), to undertake operations so doubtful and
hazardous, was the consideration of the promising inducements for an
offensive campaign in the East.

President Davis and General Lee were concurrent in their convictions of
the wisdom of a campaign which should drive the enemy from Virginia,
locate the army in an abundant and hostile country, and compensate for any
disasters which might be sustained in the West, by an overwhelming defeat
in the enemy's country of his main army, which at once covered his capital
and the approaches to his large cities.

This bold and brilliant conception was equally justified by the situation,
and consistent with that able military policy which was throughout
characteristic of the Confederate authorities, and based upon the only
theory on which a weak power can be successfully defended against

The strategic theory which dictated the invasion of Pennsylvania was that
of the "defensive, with offensive returns," made forever famous by its
triumphant practice by Frederick the Great--the favorite theory of
Napoleon--not less signally illustrated by Jackson's Valley campaign, and
grandly executed by Lee in his irresistible onset upon Pope.

Twitted by the newspapers for their infatuation with the defensive
attitude, and condemned by the voice of the public, for the maintenance of
a policy which continually subjected the soil of the South to the
devastations of the enemy, the Confederate authorities, neither in the
invasion of Maryland, in 1862, nor in the invasion of Pennsylvania,
yielded merely to public clamor. In both instances President Davis and
General Lee were governed by the sound military considerations, which in
each case justified the assumption of the offensive. Nothing is more
universally conceded than the ultimate subjection of a people who permit
themselves to be forced always on the defensive. On the other hand, no
blows have been so telling in warfare, as those delivered by an antagonist
who, lately on the defensive, at the opportune moment, when the foe is
stunned by defeat, assumes a skillful and vigorous offensive.

It was now the third year of the war, and for more than twelve months no
considerable success had rewarded the enormous sacrifices and expenditures
of the North. The fluctuating sentiment, characteristic of that section,
had settled down into a feeling of indifference and distrust, beyond which
there was but one step to the abandonment of the war as a hopeless
experiment. The evident apprehension, by the Federal Government, of an
invasion of Pennsylvania, attended by a ruinous defeat of Hooker's army, a
result which both sides considered probable, plainly demonstrated, that
the virtual termination of the war would be the reward of a successful
assumption of the offensive by the Confederates.

A more favorable conjuncture, for a final trial with its old antagonist,
could not have been desired by the Army of Northern Virginia. The
invincible veterans of Longstreet, oftener victors than the Tenth Legion
of Cæsar, had rejoined their companions, who boasted the additional
honors of Chancellorsville. Reënforcements from other quarters were
added,[61] and the Army of Northern Virginia, a compact and puissant
force, seventy thousand strong, which had never yet known defeat,
instinctively expected the order for advance into the enemy's country.
Never was the _morale_ of the army so high, never had it such confidence
in its own prowess, and in the resources of its great commander, and never
was intrusted to its valor a mission so grateful to its desires, as that
tendered by President Davis, "to force the enemy to fight for their own
capital and homes."

Under Lee were trusted lieutenants, whose fame, like that of their
followers, was world-wide, and whose laurels were a part of the unnumbered
triumphs of the matchless valor of that noble army. Longstreet, the Lannes
of the South, was again at the head of his trained corps--the assembled
chivalry of the South, in whose exploits every State of the Confederacy
claimed a glory peculiarly its own. The bronzed veterans of Jackson, who
had shared the glory of their immortal leader from Manassas to
Chancellorsville, now followed Ewell, the maimed hero, whom Jackson had
named as his successor. Under Hill, the youngest of the corps commanders,
were men worthy of a leader who, in twelve months, had filled the
successive grades from Colonel to Lieutenant General. The cavalry was
still intrusted to Stuart, that bold, able chief, and "rarely gallant and
noble gentleman, well supporting by his character the tradition that royal
blood flowed in his veins." With such leaders, and with thoroughly tried
and efficient subordinate officers, improved transportation, equipment and
clothing, and with numbers approaching nearer an equality with the
Federal army, than at any other period, the Army of Northern Virginia no
more doubted, than did its commander and the Government, that it was at
the outset of a campaign brilliant and decisive beyond parallel in its

About the middle of May, General Lee visited Richmond, when the general
features of the campaign were determined. The movement from the camps near
Fredericksburg and the Rapidan, commenced early in June. The incipient
feature of General Lee's plan was a flank movement, while still confronted
by the army of the enemy--perhaps the most delicate and difficult problem
in war--by which, leaving the south bank of the Rappahannock, he sought to
draw the Federal army away from its position. To meet the contingency of a
movement by the enemy in the direction of Richmond, A. P. Hill, with his
_corps d'armée_, was left near Fredericksburg. That skillful officer ably
executed his instructions, checking the Federal demonstrations near his
lines, and concealing the absence of the main body of the army until the
advance was well under way. General Stuart fully performed his important
part of covering the movements of the infantry, by seizing the mountain
passes, and detaining the advance of the enemy, in the execution of which
he fought several fierce cavalry engagements, winning them all with
inferior forces. The army was marched through an abundant country, not
desolated by war, and affording good roads. Important incidents of the
advance were the capture of Winchester, Berryville, and Martinsburg, by
the forces of Ewell, with their garrisons, aggregating seven thousand men,
and considerable material of war.

These brilliant results of Lee's strategy were accomplished with wonderful
regularity and promptitude, and were attended with inconsiderable loss.

Crossing the Potomac, the second stage of the campaign was the occupation
of Western Maryland--the least friendly section of the State--where the
army could be abundantly supplied, and the important objects of destroying
the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and the Cumberland Canal, so valuable to
the enemy, could be accomplished. The next step was to advance into
Pennsylvania, capturing large supplies much needed by the army, occupying
several large towns of that State, and destroying communications--meanwhile
the army living on the enemy, and kept well in hand for a general
engagement, _whenever battle could be advantageously offered_. In the
execution of this portion of the plan, an extensive and fertile section of
Pennsylvania was occupied, strong detachments were pushed far into the
interior, and a movement against Harrisburg was in preparation, when the
advance of the Federal army induced General Lee to concentrate his forces
for battle.

The consummate strategy of Lee had now made him apparently master of the
situation, and gave him the option of tendering or declining a grand and
decisive engagement. It is impossible to overestimate the generalship,
which, within twenty-five days, had transferred an army, in the presence
of the enemy, from the Rappahannock to the interior of Pennsylvania,
making large captures _en route_, and inflicting heavy damage upon the
Federal communications, without being even momentarily arrested. Never
once had been relaxed the grasp of that master-hand which controlled the
army in all its movements. Its various parts, within easy supporting
distance, were clearly so disposed, as to be readily assembled, to meet
the exigency that was inevitable. When Lee drew in his several columns
around Gettysburg, the South confident in the invincibility of the army,
and in the genius of its leader, never doubted the issue of the grand
trial of arms which was at hand. With more than apprehension the North
awaited the fate of the army, upon which its last hope of security rested.
A defeat of the Army of the Potomac now would signify, not a check in a
boastful advance upon Richmond, but the capture of Washington, the
presence of the avenging columns of Lee upon the banks of the
Delaware--perhaps of the dreaded Stuart upon the Hudson.

It was contemplated that the invasion of Pennsylvania would result in a
decisive battle. Indeed, that result was inevitable, unless the Federal
authorities should unresistingly submit to the invasion--an event not for
a moment to be anticipated. But a vital feature in the theory of the
invasion was that the position of Lee would necessitate an advance against
him by the Federal commander, leaving to Lee the choice of time and place
for giving battle. The calculation was that Lee would be master of the
situation at all times, as indeed he undoubtedly was until the engagement
of Gettysburg was joined. We are not here at liberty to discuss the
details of that battle, or to consider how far it was a departure from, or
in pursuance of the original design of the Confederate campaign.[62] If
competent criticism shall condemn the tactics of Lee at Gettysburg, he
has yet disarmed censure by the surpassing magnanimity with which he
assumed the responsibility.

The great joy of the North did not exaggerate the terrible blow sustained
by the Confederacy in the failure of the Pennsylvania campaign. It was the
last serious demonstration upon Federal soil undertaken by the South--all
movements of an offensive character subsequently undertaken being merely
raids or diversions, designed to give relief to the sorely-pressed
Confederate capital. It imposed upon the South the cruel necessity of a
continuation of the war upon its own soil--a precarious defensive, with a
capacity of resistance greatly diminished.

Gettysburg marked the most serious step in that decline of Confederate
fortunes which the fall of Jackson, in the moment of his greatest triumph,
so ominously presaged.[63]

Yet the condition of Lee's army was far from desperate on the morning of
the 4th of July, when it still confronted its antagonist, neither
evincing a disposition to attack. Retiring in perfect order, and bringing
off his extensive trains and seven thousand prisoners, he tendered the
enemy battle at Hagerstown, while making preparations to recross the
Potomac. General Meade, an able and prudent soldier, made as vigorous a
pursuit as the crippled condition of his army would permit. In a short
time General Lee was once more upon the lines of the Rapidan, and General
Meade soon took position upon the Rappahannock. Here the campaign
terminated, and the two armies, like giants exhausted by a mighty wrestle,
gladly availed themselves of a season of repose.

But Gettysburg did not complete the agony of the South. The disastrous
failure of the most prodigious and promising enterprise, undertaken by its
largest, and heretofore invincible army, was simultaneous with an event
hardly less fearful in its consequences. On the fourth of July, the
garrison of Vicksburg, reduced to the point of starvation, surrendered to
the persevering and indomitable Grant. This event signified the loss of an
army of twenty-five thousand men, the possession by the enemy of the
Confederate Gibraltar of the Mississippi Valley, the loss of all tenure
upon the great river by the South, and the severance of the Confederacy.
Port Hudson, with its garrison of five thousand men, being no longer
tenable, after the fall of Vicksburg, was immediately surrendered to the
besieging army of General Banks. The sum of Confederate disasters in the
summer of 1863, was completed by the failure of the attempt to capture
Helena, Arkansas, followed by the capture of Little Rock, and Federal
control of the important valley in which it is situated.

Within ninety days the South was brought from the hope of almost instant
independence to the certainty of a long, bitter, and doubtful struggle.
Its armies terribly shattered, its resources in men and means apparently
almost exhausted, it seemed for a time doubtful whether the Confederacy
was capable of longer endurance of the terrible ordeal. The exultation of
the North was proportionate to the extent of its victories. A new lease
was given to the war. Confidence was fully restored, and the Federal
Government could now make no demand, that would be thought extravagant,
upon the energies of the North, for the promotion of the object it had so
much at heart. But a few months sufficed to show that the constancy and
fortitude of the South was still capable of a desperate struggle with the
power and determination of the North.

This period of misfortune and apprehension was signalized by a most
determined arraignment of the Confederate administration. It is worthy of
remark, however, that in all the embittered censure visited upon President
Davis, for his alleged responsibility for the crushing reverses of the
summer campaign, there was avowed but little censure of the most fatal of
those disasters--the failure of the movement into Pennsylvania. The
privilege of assailing Mr. Davis with or without reason, did not include
the privilege to condemn Lee and his army.

In the case of Vicksburg circumstances were assumed to be different.
Without even waiting for the facts, or for any explanation of that
terrible calamity, General Pemberton was accused of having betrayed his
command. He was of Northern birth, and he had surrendered on the fourth of
July--such was the evidence of Pemberton's treason. Despite the fact that
Johnston was known to be in the neighborhood with a force collected for
the relief of Vicksburg, and though it had been plain to the country for
weeks, that Vicksburg could not be saved, except by a successful
demonstration by that force, it was not admitted among the possibilities
of the case, that Johnston[64] shared the responsibility for the disaster.

When, however, the Federal accounts revealed the gallant defense made by
Pemberton, and thus put to shame the unworthy insinuation of treachery,
the censure of that unfortunate commander and the President assumed
another direction. Pemberton, it was asserted, was notoriously
incompetent, so proven, and so represented to the President before his
assignment to command in Mississippi; and the indignation of the country
was invoked upon the most signal instance of favoritism yet exhibited. The
extent to which this censure of Mr. Davis was successful, may be
estimated, when it is stated that no act of his administration so
imperiled his popularity as did the appointment of General Pemberton. Yet
it is undeniable that this was the result of the unfortunate sequel at
Vicksburg, and dictated by popular passion in a moment of terrible
disappointment, rather than by any sufficient reason ever urged to show
that the appointment was unwise and undeserved.

Sustained by the recommendations of several of the first officers in the
Confederate army, President Davis made Pemberton a Lieutenant-General, and
assigned him to the command of the Department of Mississippi. The command
was one of vital importance to the country, and within its limits were
the home and all the possessions of Mr. Davis. In October, 1862, General
Pemberton took charge of his department, finding it in a most disordered
and embarrassing condition. His administration was of a character to give
great satisfaction to the Government, and its fruits were speedily
realized in the thorough and efficient reorganization of an army, but
lately defeated, the improved efficiency of its various departments, and
the successful defense of an extensive district, with forty thousand men,
against the armies of Grant and Banks, the smallest of which nearly
equaled the entire force of Pemberton. Indeed, it can hardly be alleged
that the administration of General Pemberton, previous to the siege of
Vicksburg, was faulty or unsatisfactory. With what justice, then, can it
be charged that Mr. Davis retained in command an officer proven to be

In the reports of Generals Johnston and Pemberton, written from different
stand-points, and each with the object of vindicating its author, the
operations which led to the retirement of the latter within the lines of
Vicksburg were elaborately discussed. It is at least safe to state that
General Pemberton's reasons are as forcibly stated in explanation of his
own conduct, as are General Johnston's in demonstration of the errors of
his subordinate. Pemberton was controlled in all his movements by the
paramount purpose of holding Vicksburg, the last obstruction to the
enemy's free navigation of the Mississippi, and the connecting link
between the two great divisions of the Confederacy. If he had abandoned
Vicksburg, with a view to save his army, and refused to stand a siege, can
it be reasonably supposed that his assailants would have been more
merciful? His mission was to save Vicksburg and the Valley of the
Mississippi, and, when forced back by the overwhelming numbers of Grant,
he preferred even to risk his army, rather than to surrender the objects
of the whole campaign without an effort.

During the siege, the engineering skill of General Pemberton, and his
fertility of expedients were conspicuously displayed. Works, which, under
the unceasing and concentrated fire of hundreds of guns, were demolished,
re-appeared, in improved forms, which only consummate ingenuity could have
devised. Works built to withstand guns used in ordinary warfare were found
wholly inadequate to resist the heavy metal of the enemy; and, subjected
to the incessant and galling fire of musketry, the artillery could with
difficulty be worked. But the energy and resources of General Pemberton
met even these difficulties. The position of the pieces was constantly
changing; embankments disappeared under the enemy's fire; but the
Confederate artillery would still be found in position, and stronger than

But the skill of the commander and the heroic endurance of the garrison
were unavailing. From the first, relief from without was expected. For
forty-eight days this hope stimulated the commander and the garrison, and
General Pemberton subsequently declared that he "would have lived upon an
ounce a day, and have continued to meet the assaults of all Grant's army,
rather than have surrendered the city, until General Johnston had realized
or relinquished that hope." When the hope of aid was finally abandoned,
the surrender of Vicksburg was simply a question of time and honor. The
alternative was either to capitulate or attempt to cut through the enemy's
lines. In a council of his officers, Pemberton favored the latter plan,
but yielded to the views of the majority.

The case of General Pemberton was a striking instance of public
ingratitude. Vindicating his devotion to the cause of the South, by
surrendering his commission in the Federal service, turning his back upon
his kindred, and leaving a large property in the country of the enemy, he
was stigmatized by the very people in whose cause he had made these
sacrifices. His loyalty, capacity, and fidelity were questioned, even
while he was in the front of death. His noble reply to these accusations
can never be forgotten. Said he to his troops: "You have been told that I
was disloyal and incompetent, and that I would sell Vicksburg. _Follow
me_, and you shall see _at what price_ I shall sell it." The story of the
devotion shown at Vicksburg is no mean one in the history of the
Confederacy. But the great qualities of this abused man have even a nobler
testimony than the gallantry of that defense. Convinced that the cloud of
prejudice and misrepresentation which followed him, rendered useless to
the cause his services in high position, he tendered his resignation as a
Lieutenant-General, and requested to be ordered to duty with his original
rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of Artillery.[65]

When the facts belonging to the unfortunate campaign in Mississippi were
made known, the censure of Pemberton was rather for what he _failed to
do_, than _what he had done_. But suppose the same test should be applied
to General Johnston; would there not be found an equal wanting of
_results_? If Johnston was powerless to make even a diversion with more
than twenty thousand men, (his force at the time of Pemberton's
surrender,) how much more helpless was Pemberton to check Grant?

A dispassionate and careful inquiry will demonstrate that the operations
of General Pemberton, antecedent to the siege of Vicksburg, are far less
censurable than was assumed by his assailants. There can be no manner of
doubt, that if worthy of blame, he should not be visited with the whole
responsibility. It is difficult to imagine how Pemberton could have
adopted a different course, consistently with the main purpose of the
campaign--which was to prevent the capture of Vicksburg. It is certain
that he would have been doubly condemned, if he had executed a safe
retreat, and abandoned the stronghold without an effort to save it.

A sufficient reply to the statement that Pemberton was appointed without
the desirable evidence of fitness, is that the occasion was one precluding
the employment of any officer whose capacity for such a command had been
proven by ample trial. Every officer of established merit was then in a
position from which he could not be spared. The presence of Lee in
Virginia was deemed necessary by the whole country. The most popular of
his lieutenants (Longstreet) was then freely criticised for an assumed
failure in a recent independent command; and, besides, he was obviously
needed in the Pennsylvania campaign. Beauregard was also thought to be in
his appropriate place, in charge of the coast defenses; and, indeed, it
was next to impossible to avoid the employment of a comparatively untried
commander in some important position. The confidence of Mr. Davis in
Pemberton, too, was amply sustained by the testimony of officers, in whose
judgment the country confided.

But Pemberton _failed_, and it was the misfortune of the President to
have conferred distinction upon an unsuccessful commander. Waiving all
discussion of the extent to which Pemberton may be justified, and even
conceding the appointment to have been a bad one, let us remember how few
really capable commanders are produced by even the greatest wars. Was
President Davis to call twenty into existence, fit to command armies, when
Napoleon declared his armies did not afford half a dozen? Let it be
remembered, too, that it was his penetration that sustained Lee, Sidney
Johnston and Jackson, in the face of popular clamor; that _he_ rewarded,
with suitable acknowledgment, the skill and gallantry of Ewell, Early,
Stuart, Gordon, Longstreet, and Hood; of Breckinridge, Cleburne, Magruder,
Morgan, and others whose names make up the brilliant galaxy of Confederate

That President Davis was tenacious of his opinions is unquestionably true,
and his firm grasp of his purposes was the explanation of his ascendancy
over other minds, and a leading attribute of his fitness for his position.
But this strenuous adhesion to a settled aim, characteristic of all men
born for influence, is a very different quality from that unreasoning
zealotry which belongs to weak minds. If, indeed, the favoritism of Mr.
Davis _lost_ Vicksburg, with equal justice, it may be claimed that it
_won_ the Seven Days' victories, Manassas, Fredericksburg, and

An interesting event in the history of this period of the war, was the
unsuccessful mission of Vice-President Stephens, to the Federal
authorities, designed, as explained by President Davis, "to place the war
upon the footing of such as are waged by civilized people in modern
times." The annexed correspondence requires hardly a word of explanation.
Consistent with the forbearance and humanity, with which Mr. Davis had
endeavored to prevent war, by negotiation, was this effort to soften its
rigors and to abate the bitterness which it had then assumed.

Recent atrocities of the Federal authorities[67] had compelled the
Confederate Government to seriously entertain the purpose of retaliation.
Reluctant to adopt a course which would remove the last restraint upon the
spirit of cruelty and revenge, making the war a system of unmitigated
barbarism upon both sides, President Davis determined to make an earnest
appeal to the humanity of the Federal authorities. In addition to this
object the mission of Mr. Stephens sought the arrangement of all disputes
between the governments, respecting the cartel of exchange, upon a
permanent and humane basis, by which the soldiers of the two armies should
be sent to their homes, instead of being confined in military prisons.

To make the mission more acceptable to the Federal Government, President
Davis removed every obstacle to intercourse upon terms of equality, and
selected a gentleman of high position, of known philanthropy and
moderation, and from several reasons likely to obtain an audience of the
Federal authorities. The choice of time was not less indicative of the
magnanimity of Mr. Davis. The Confederate army was then in Pennsylvania,
apparently upon the eve of a victory already assured, and which, if
gained, would have placed it in possession of the Federal capital and the
richest sections of the North. At such a moment, so promising in
opportunity of ample vengeance for the ravages and desolation, which
every-where marked the presence of the Federal armies, the Confederate
President tendered his noble plea in behalf of civilization and humanity.
With rare justice has it been said, that this position of Mr. Davis
"merited the applause of the Christian world."

Mr. Stephens was contemptuously denied even a hearing. The sequel soon
revealed the explanation of the conduct of the Federal Government, by
which it became doubly chargeable for the sufferings of a protracted war,
in declining to aid in the abatement of its horrors, and by abruptly
closing the door against all attempts at negotiation. General Meade had
repulsed General Lee at Gettysburg, while Mr. Stephens was near Fortress
Monroe. Flushed with triumph and insolent in the belief that Lee's army
could not escape destruction, the Federal authorities declared such
intercourse with "rebels" to be "inadmissable." In other words, detention
of the Confederate prisoners, and outrages upon the Southern people, were
part of a political and military system at Washington, and _would be
persisted in_. At subsequent stages of the war were seen the objects of
this policy, which the Federal Government virtually proclaimed, and which
it persistently adhered to.

The correspondence between President Davis and Vice-President Stephens
proudly vindicates the humanity and magnanimity of the South. It is alone
a sufficient reply to the cant of demagogues and the ravings of
conscience-stricken fanatics, over the falsely-called "Rebel barbarities."


    RICHMOND, July 2, 1863.

    _Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Richmond, Va._--

    SIR: Having accepted your patriotic offer to proceed, as a military
    commissioner, under flag of truce, to Washington, you will receive
    herewith your letter of authority to the Commander-in-chief of the
    army and navy of the United States.

    This letter is signed by me as Commander-in-chief of the Confederate
    land and naval forces.

    You will perceive, from the terms of the letter, that it is so worded
    as to avoid any political difficulties in its reception. Intended
    exclusively as one of those communications between belligerents, which
    public law recognizes as necessary and proper between hostile forces,
    care has been taken to give no pretext for refusing to receive it, on
    the ground that it would involve a tacit recognition of the
    independence of the Confederacy.

    Your mission is simply one of humanity, and has no political aspect.

    If objection is made to receiving your letter, on the ground that it
    is not addressed to Abraham Lincoln, as President, instead of
    Commander-in-chief, etc., then you will present the duplicate letter,
    which is addressed to him as President, and signed by me, as
    President. To this latter, objection may be made, on the ground that I
    am not recognized to be President of the Confederacy. In this event,
    you will decline any further attempt to confer on the subject of your
    mission, as such conference is admissable only on the footing of
    perfect equality. My recent interviews with you have put you so fully
    in possession of my views, that it is scarcely necessary to give you
    any detailed instructions, even were I, at this moment, well enough to
    attempt it.

    My whole purpose is, in one word, to place this war on the footing of
    such as are waged by civilized people in modern times; and to divest
    it of the savage character which has been impressed on it by our
    enemies, in spite of all our efforts and protests.

    War is full enough of unavoidable horrors, under all its aspects, to
    justify, and even to demand, of any Christian rulers who may be
    unhappily engaged in carrying it on, to seek to restrict its
    calamities, and to divest it of all unnecessary severities.

    You will endeavor to establish the cartel for the exchange of
    prisoners on such a basis as to avoid the constant difficulties and
    complaints which arise, and to prevent, for the future, what we deem
    the unfair conduct of our enemies, in evading the delivery of the
    prisoners who fall into their hands; in retarding it by sending them
    on circuitous routes, and by detaining them, sometimes for months, in
    camps and prisons; and in persisting in taking captives

    Your attention is also called to the unheard-of conduct of Federal
    officers, in driving from their homes entire communities of women and
    children, as well as of men, whom they find in districts occupied by
    their troops, for no other reason than because these unfortunates are
    faithful to the allegiance due to their States, and refuse to take an
    oath of fidelity to their enemies.

    The putting to death of unarmed prisoners has been a ground of just
    complaint in more than one instance, and the recent execution of
    officers of our army in Kentucky, for the sole cause that they were
    engaged in recruiting service in a State which is claimed as still one
    of the United States, but is also claimed by us as one of the
    Confederate States, must be repressed by retaliation, if not
    unconditionally abandoned, because it would justify the like execution
    in every other State of the Confederacy; and the practice is
    barbarous, uselessly cruel, and can only lead to the slaughter of
    prisoners on both sides--a result too horrible to contemplate, without
    making every effort to avoid it.

    On these and all kindred subjects, you will consider your authority
    full and ample to make such arrangements as will temper the present
    cruel character of the contest; and full confidence is placed in your
    judgment, patriotism, and discretion, that while carrying out the
    objects of your mission, you will take care that the equal rights of
    the Confederacy be always preserved.

        Very respectfully,
            [Signed]         JEFFERSON DAVIS.

    RICHMOND, 8th July, 1863.

    _His Excellency Jefferson Davis_--

    SIR: Under the authority and instructions of your letter to me of the
    2d instant, I proceeded on the mission therein assigned, without
    delay. The steamer Torpedo, commanded by Lieutenant Hunter Davidson,
    of the navy, was put in readiness, as soon as possible, by order of
    the Secretary of the Navy, and tendered for the service. At noon, on
    the 3d, she started down James River, hoisting and bearing a flag of
    truce after passing City Point. The nest day, the 4th, at about one
    o'clock P. M., when within a few miles of Newport News, we were met by
    a small boat of the enemy, carrying two guns, which also raised a
    white flag before approaching us. The officer in command informed
    Lieutenant Davidson that he had orders from Admiral Lee, on board the
    United States flag-ship Minnesota, lying below, and then in view, not
    to allow any boat or vessel to pass the point near which he was
    stationed, without his permission. By this officer, I sent to Admiral
    Lee a note, stating my objects and wishes, a copy of which is hereto
    annexed, marked A. I also sent to the admiral, to be forwarded,
    another note, in the same language, addressed to the officer in
    command of the United States forces at Fort Monroe. The gunboat
    proceeded immediately to the Minnesota with these dispatches, while
    the Torpedo remained at anchor. Between three and four o'clock P. M.,
    another boat came up to us, bearing the admiral's answer, which is
    hereunto annexed, marked B. We remained at or about this point in the
    river until the 6th instant, when, having heard nothing further from
    the admiral, at 12 o'clock M., on that day, I directed Lieutenant
    Davidson again to speak the gunboat on guard, and to hand the officer
    in command another note to the admiral. This was done. A copy of this
    note is appended, marked C. At half past two o'clock P. M., two boats
    approached us from below, one bearing an answer from the admiral to my
    note to him of the 4th. This answer is annexed, marked D. The other
    boat bore the answer of Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Ludlow, to my
    note of the 4th, addressed to the officer in command at Fort Monroe. A
    copy of this is annexed, marked E. Lieutenant-Colonel Ludlow also came
    up in person in the boat that brought his answer to me, and conferred
    with Colonel Ould, on board the Torpedo, upon some matters he desired
    to see him about in connection with the exchange of prisoners.

    From the papers appended, embracing the correspondence referred to, it
    will be seen that the mission failed from the refusal of the enemy to
    receive or entertain it, holding the proposition for such a conference

    The influences and views that led to this determination, after so long
    a consideration of the subject, must be left to conjecture. The reason
    assigned for the refusal by the United States Secretary of War, to
    wit: "that the customary agents and channels are considered adequate
    for needful military communications and conferences," to one
    acquainted with the facts, seems not only unsatisfactory, but very
    singular and unaccountable, for it is certainly known to him that
    these very agents, to whom he evidently alludes, heretofore agreed
    upon in a former conference, in reference to the exchange of
    prisoners, (one of the subjects embraced in your letter to me,) are
    now, and have been for some time, distinctly at issue on several
    important points. The existing cartel, owing to these disagreements,
    is virtually suspended, so far as the exchange of officers on either
    side is concerned. Notices of retaliation have been given on both

    The efforts, therefore, for the very many and cogent reasons set forth
    in your letter of instructions to me, to see if these differences
    could not be removed, and if a clearer understanding between the
    parties, as to the general conduct of the war, could not be arrived
    at, before this extreme measure should be resorted to by either party,
    was no less in accordance with the dictates of humanity than in strict
    conformity with the usages of belligerents in modern times. Deeply
    impressed as I was with these views and feelings, in undertaking the
    mission, and asking the conference, I can but express my profound
    regret at the result of the effort made to obtain it; and I can but
    entertain the belief, that if the conference sought had been granted,
    mutual good could have been effected by it; and if this war, so
    unnatural, so unjust, so unchristian, and so inconsistent with every
    fundamental principle of American constitutional liberty, "must needs"
    continue to be waged against us, that at least some of its severer
    horrors, which now so eminently, threaten, might have been avoided.

        Very respectfully,



Though indicating that stage of the war, when began the steady decline of
the Confederacy, the summer of 1863 was not wholly unredeemed by
successes, which, however transient in significance, threw no mean lustre
upon Southern arms.

A series of brilliant operations marked the career of General Richard
Taylor in Lower Louisiana. Preceded by a successful campaign in the
Lafourche region, an expedition was undertaken by General Taylor against
Brashear City, in the latter days of June. A strong and important position
was carried, and eighteen hundred prisoners, with over five millions of
dollars worth of stores, were captured. For some time the hope was
indulged, that this success of General Taylor would compel the abandonment
of the Federal siege of Port Hudson, and that Taylor could also make a
successful diversion in favor of Vicksburg. This hope was disappointed,
and Taylor, not having the strength to cope with the large force of the
enemy sent against him, after the fall of the Mississippi strongholds, was
forced to abandon the country which he had so gallantly won. The valley of
the Mississippi was irrecoverably in Federal possession, and the
Confederacy was able at no subsequent stage of the war, to undertake any
serious enterprise for its redemption.

At Charleston the Federal fleet and land forces continued, during the
summer, their fruitless and expensive attacks. The skill of General
Beauregard, and the firmness of his small command, made memorable the
siege of that devoted city, so hated and coveted by the North, yet among
the last prizes to fall into its hands.

But momentary gleams of hope were insufficient to dispel the shadow of
disaster, which, by midsummer, seemed to have settled upon the fate of the
Confederacy. The violent blow dealt the material capacity of the South by
the surrender of Vicksburg; the diminished prestige, from the serious
check at Gettysburg, in its wondrous career of victory, and the frightful
losses of the Army of Northern Virginia, were immediately followed by a
marked abatement of that unwavering confidence in the ultimate result,
which had previously so stimulated the energy of the South.

The material disability and embarrassment resulting from the possession,
by the enemy, of large sections of the Confederacy, and consequent
contraction of its territorial area; the destruction of property; the
serious disturbance of the whole commercial system of the South, by the
loss of Vicksburg; and the diminished confidence of the public, were
attended by a fatal derangement of the already failing Confederate system
of finance.

In the American war, as in all wars, the question of finance entered
largely into the decision of the result. At an early period many sagacious
minds declared that the contest would finally be resolved into a question
as to which of the belligerents "had the longer purse." In acceptance of
this view, the belief was largely entertained that the financial distress
in the South, consequent upon the heavy reverses of this period, clearly
portended the failure of the Confederacy.

President Davis, since the war, has avowed his appreciation of the
financial difficulties of the South, as a controlling influence in the
failure of the cause. By unanimous consent, the management of the
Confederate finances has been declared to have been defective. The
universal distress attendant upon a depreciated currency, which rarely
improved in seasons of military success, and grew rapidly worse with each
disaster, rendered the financial feature of Mr. Davis' administration,
peculiarly vulnerable to the industry of a class ever on the alert for a
pretext available to excite popular distrust of the President. With entire
justice, we might dismiss this subject, claiming for Mr. Davis the benefit
of the plea which always allows a ruler some exemption from responsibility
for the errors of a subordinate. We have rarely sought to fasten
culpability upon those who differed with him, in some instances, perhaps
where it would have more clearly established his own exculpation. No act
or utterance of Mr. Davis could be urged to show that _he_ ever claimed
for himself the benefit of such a plea. Fidelity to his friends is a trait
in his character, not less worthy of admiration than magnanimity and
forbearance to his foes. His ardent and sympathetic nature doubtless often
condoned the errors of those whose motives he knew to be good; but his
friends can testify that he far more frequently overlooked the asperities
of his enemies.[68]

We have elsewhere explained the appointment of Mr. Memminger, as having
been dictated by other considerations than that of a reliance upon his
special fitness. But while doubting his capacity for his difficult and
anomalous situation, we are not so sure that he exhibited such marked
unfitness as should have forbidden his retention in office, and called for
the appointment of another, with the expectation of a more satisfactory
administration. In the end, yielding to the vast pressure against him, Mr.
Memminger left the cabinet, and Mr. Davis appointed, as his successor, a
gentleman unknown to himself, but recommended as the possessor of
financial talents of a high order. When Mr. Trenholm became Secretary of
the Treasury, the opportunity for reform had long since passed, if,
indeed, such an opportunity existed after the repulse at Gettysburg and
the surrender of Vicksburg. It is hardly within the range of probability,
that, after those reverses, any conceivable ingenuity could have arrested
the downward tendency of Confederate finances. In the history of
Confederate finance, before those disasters, is to be found much
extenuation, if not ample apology, for a system which was imposed by the
force of circumstances and the novelty of the situation, rather than by
the errors of one man, or a number of men.

In his message of December, 1863, Mr. Davis reviewed the subject in all
its phases, as it had been presented up to that period, and sketched the
plan, afterwards adopted by Congress, but without the result hoped for of
increasing the value of the currency, by compulsory funding and large
taxation. His discussion of this subject was always characterized by
perspicuity and force, but finance was that branch of administration with
which he affected the least familiarity, and which he least assumed to
direct. Knowing the profound and unremitting attention which the subject
required, he sought the aid of others competent for the inquiry, which he
had little leisure to pursue.

This subject, during the entire war, was a fruitful theme for the
disquisitions of charlatans. Finance is a subject confessedly intricate,
and but few men in any country are capable of able administration of this
branch of government. Yet the Confederacy swarmed with pretenders,
advocating opposing theories, which their authors, in every case, declared
to be infallible. The Confederate administration neither wanted for
advisers, nor did it fail to seek the advice of those who were reputed to
have financial abilities. Its errors were, to a large degree, shared by
the ablest statesmen of the South.

Criticism is proverbially easy and cheap, after the result is ascertained,
and we now readily see the leading causes of the depreciation of
Confederate money. In the last twelve months of the war, the rapid and
uninterrupted depreciation was occasioned by the want of confidence in the
success of the cause, on the part of those who controlled the value of the
money. Such was the alarm and distrust consequent upon the disasters of
July, 1863, that the Confederate currency is stated to have declined a
thousand per cent., within a few weeks. Previous to that period the
decline was gradual, but far less alarming in its indications. The plan
adopted by the Government, partly in deference to popular prejudice
against direct taxation by the general Government, and partly as a
necessity of the situation--that of credit in the form of paper issues,
followed by the enormous issues necessary to meet the expenses of a war,
increasing daily in magnitude--pampered the spirit of speculation, which,
by the close of the second year, had become almost universal. This latter
influence may safely be declared to have greatly accelerated the
unfortunate result, and the extent of its prevalence reflects an
unpleasant shadow upon the otherwise unmarred fame of the South for
self-denying patriotism.

It is customary to speak of the financial management of the Confederacy in
especial disparagement, when contrasted with that of the North. The
injustice of this contrast, however, is palpable. We are not required to
disparage the Federal financial system--which was, indeed, conducted with
consummate tact and ingenuity--to extenuate the errors, in this respect,
of the Confederacy. The circumstances of the antagonists were altogether
different; the position of the South financially, as in other respects,
was peculiar and anomalous. Completely isolated, with a large territory,
with virtually no specie circulation,[69] hastily summoned to meet the
exigencies of the most gigantic war of modern times, the South had no
alternative but to resort to an entirely artificial, and, to some extent,
untried system of finance. From the outset, the basis of the Confederate
system was the patriotism and the confidence of the people. The first was
nobly steadfast, but the second was necessarily dependent upon military
success. When at last the virtual collapse of the credit indicated the
increasing public despondency, it was plain that a catastrophe was near at

It has been generally agreed that the only scheme by which the South could
have assured her credit, was to have sent large amounts of cotton to
Europe, during the first year of the war, while the blockade was not
effective. This plan, if successfully carried out, would have given the
Confederacy a cash basis in Europe of several hundred millions in gold, in
consequence of the high prices commanded by cotton afterwards. With even
tolerable management, the Confederacy would thus have been assured means
to meet the necessities of the war. The merit of this plan depended
largely upon its practicability. Mr. Davis approved it, but it is easy to
imagine how--engrossed with his multifarious cares, and occupied in
meeting the pressing exigencies of each day--he lacked opportunity to
mature and execute a measure of so much responsibility.

While the campaign in Mississippi, which terminated so disastrously, was
still pending, General Bragg continued to occupy his position in Southern
Tennessee. Too weak to attack Rosecrans, because of the reduction of his
army, by the reinforcements sent to the Mississippi, Bragg was able merely
to maintain a vigilant observation of his adversary. After the fall of
Vicksburg General Rosecrans received reënforcements sufficient to justify
an advance against the Confederates. After an obstinate resistance the
Confederate commander was flanked by a force, which the superior strength
of his antagonist enabled him to detach, and abandoned a line of great
natural strength, and strongly fortified. This was an important success
to the enemy, who were hereafter able, with much better prospects, to
undertake expeditions against the heart of the Confederacy. General Bragg
extricated his army from a perilous position, and made a successful
retreat to Chattanooga. Auxiliary to the retreat of Bragg was the
diversion made by General John Morgan, which occasioned the detachment of
a portion of Burnside's forces from East Tennessee, which threatened
Bragg's rear. The expedition of Morgan was pushed by that daring officer
through Kentucky and across the Ohio, to the great alarm of the States
upon the border of that river, but ended in the capture of Morgan and
nearly all his command.

A most painful surprise to the South was the surrender of Cumberland Gap,
early in September. This was a serious blow at the whole system of defense
in Tennessee and the adjacent States. A Richmond newspaper declared that
the possession of Cumberland Gap gave the enemy the "key to the back-door
of Virginia and the Confederacy." The officer in command of the position
was severely censured by the country, and though he has since explained
his conduct in terms, which appear to be satisfactory, the impression
prevailed until the end of the war, that the loss of this most important
position was caused by gross misconduct. The comment of President Davis
explains the serious nature of this affair: "The entire garrison,
including the commander, being still held prisoners by the enemy, I am
unable to suggest any explanation of this disaster, which laid open
Eastern Tennessee and South-western Virginia to hostile operations, and
broke the line of communication between the seat of government and Middle
Tennessee. This easy success of the enemy was followed by the advance of
General Rosecrans into Georgia, and our army evacuated Chattanooga."

Thus the coöperating movements of Rosecrans in Middle Tennessee, and of
Burnside in East Tennessee, had the ample reward of expelling the
Confederates from their strong lines of defense in the mountains.
Cumberland Gap controlled the most important line of communication in the
Confederacy. Chattanooga was the portal from which the enemy could debouch
upon the level country of the Gulf and Atlantic States. The capture of
Vicksburg and seizure of the Mississippi Valley, by which the Confederacy
was sundered, was the first stage of conquest. Chattanooga was now the
base from which was to be attempted the next great step of Federal
ambition--the second _bisection_ of the Confederacy.

When Rosecrans advanced into Georgia, after his occupation of Chattanooga,
the aspect of affairs was exceedingly threatening, and it became necessary
to strengthen Bragg sufficiently to enable him to give battle, and thus
check the advance of the enterprising Federal commander. With this view
the corps of Longstreet was temporarily detached from Lee, and sent to
Bragg. This accession to his forces gave General Bragg the opportunity of
winning one of the most brilliant victories of the war. The signal defeat
of Rosecrans was followed by his precipitate retreat into Chattanooga,
closely pressed by Bragg.

For weeks the Federal army was besieged with a good prospect for its
ultimate surrender. The imperiled position of Rosecrans had the effect of
relieving the pressure of invasion at other points, forcing the
concentration, for his relief, of large bodies of troops withdrawn from
the armies in the Mississippi Valley and in Northern Virginia. General
Bragg made an able disposition of his forces in the neighborhood of
Chattanooga, and awaited with confidence the surrender of Rosecrans. He
subsequently said: "These dispositions, faithfully sustained, ensured the
enemy's speedy evacuation of Chattanooga for want of food and forage.
_Possessed of the shortest road to his depot, and the one by which
reënforcements must reach him, we held him at our mercy, and his
destruction was only a question of time._"

The situation fully justified this statement. So crippled was Rosecrans by
his defeat at Chickamauga, that an attack upon Bragg was out of the
question. The alternative of starvation, or retreat, seemed forced upon
the Federal army. The roads in its rear were in a terrible condition, and
the distance over which its supplies had to be drawn, was sixty miles. At
this critical moment, General Grant, whose command had been enlarged,
after his success at Vicksburg, and now embraced the three main Federal
armies in the West, reached the field of operations. Grant immediately
executed a plan of characteristic boldness, by which he effected a
lodgment on the south side of the Tennessee River, and secured new lines
of communication, thus relieving the beleaguered army. General Longstreet,
to whom the holding of this all-important route was confided, made an
unsuccessful night attack designed to defeat Grant's movement.

Having relieved the Federal army of the apprehension of starvation or a
disastrous retreat, Grant now meditated operations, which, however
hazardous, or however in violation of probability may have been their
success, were fully vindicated by the result. Waiting until he thought his
accumulation of forces sufficient to justify an assault upon the strong
positions of the Confederates, Grant finally made a vigorous and
well-planned attack with nearly his entire force. The result was a
disastrous defeat and retreat of Bragg's army. General Grant claimed, as
the fruits of his victory, seven thousand prisoners and nearly fifty
pieces of artillery.

There were circumstances attending this battle peculiarly discouraging to
the South. These circumstances were thus commented upon by President

    "After a long and severe battle, in which great carnage was inflicted
    on him, some of our troops inexplicably abandoned positions of great
    strength, and, by a disorderly retreat, compelled the commander to
    withdraw the forces elsewhere successful, and finally to retire with
    his whole army to a position some twenty or thirty miles to the rear.
    It is believed that if the troops who yielded to the assault had
    fought with the valor which they had displayed on previous occasions,
    and which was manifested in this battle on the other parts of the
    line, the enemy would have been repulsed with very great slaughter,
    and our country would have escaped the misfortune, and the army the
    mortification of the first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by
    the troops."

With this disastrous battle terminated the connection of General Bragg
with the army, which he commanded during a large portion of its varied
career. Fully acknowledging his defeat, General Bragg candidly avowed to
the Government the extent of a reverse, which he declared disabled him
from any serious resistance, should the Federal commander press his
success. At his own request he was relieved, and, seeking recuperation for
his shattered health, was not assigned to duty until February, 1864, when
President Davis ordered him to the discharge of the duties of "Commanding
General," at Richmond, the position held by General Lee before his
transfer to the command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

No commander was more harshly criticised than Bragg, and the unfortunate
career of the Western army, under his command, was an inexhaustible theme
for diatribe and invective from the opponents of the Confederate
administration. Bragg was often declared to be, at once the most
incompetent and unlucky of the "President's favorites." Yet nothing is
more certain than that an impartial review of his military career will
demonstrate General Bragg to have been a soldier of rare and superior
merit. It certainly can not be claimed that his campaigns exhibited the
brilliant and solid achievements of several of those conducted by Lee, or
of the Valley campaigns of Jackson. The great disparity of numbers and
means of the two sections, enabled few Confederate commanders to achieve
the distinction of unmarred success, even before that period of decline
when disaster was the rule, and victory the exception with the Confederate

But Bragg can not justly be denied the merit of having, with most
inadequate means, long deferred the execution of the Federal conquest of
the West. At the time of his assumption of command, in June, 1862, the
armies of Grant and Buell, nearly double his own aggregate of forces, were
overrunning the northern borders of the Gulf States, and threatening the
very heart of the Confederacy. His masterly combinations, attended by loss
altogether disproportioned to the results accomplished, recovered large
sections of territory, which had been for months the easy prey of the
enemy, and transferred the seat of war to Middle Tennessee. Here he
maintained his position for nearly a year, vigorously assailing the enemy
at every opportunity, constantly menacing his communications, and firmly
holding his important line, in the face of overwhelming odds, while the
Confederate armies in every other quarter were losing ground. Finally,
when forced back by the concentration of Federal forces, released by their
successes elsewhere, Bragg skillfully eluded the combinations for his
destruction, and, at an opportune moment, delivered Rosecrans one of the
most timely and stunning blows inflicted during the war. No fact of the
war is more clearly established than Bragg's exculpation from any
responsibility for the escape of the Federal army from the field of
Chickamauga. His positive commands were disobeyed, his plan of battle
threatened with entire derangement by the errors of subordinates, and the
escape of Rosecrans secured by the same causes. But still more cruel was
the disappointment of Bragg's well-grounded expectation of a successful
siege of Chattanooga. So clear is his exculpation in this case, that no
investigation of facts, severely reflecting upon others, is required.

While the controversy between Bragg and Longstreet was pending, some
disposition was manifested to censure the former for his rejection of a
plan of campaign proposed by Longstreet after the victory of Chickamauga.
The latter officer suggested crossing the Tennessee above Chattanooga, and
then moving upon the enemy's rear, with a view to force him back upon
Nashville. The pregnant criticism of General Bragg quickly disposes of the
suggestion. Said he: "The suggestion of a movement by our right,
immediately after the battle, to the north of the Tennessee, and thence
upon Nashville, requires notice only because it will find a place on the
files of the department. Such a movement was utterly impossible for want
of transportation. Nearly half our army consisted of reënforcements just
before the battle, without a wagon or an artillery horse, and nearly, if
not quite, a third of the artillery horses on the field had been lost. The
railroad bridges, too, had been destroyed to a point south of Ringgold,
and on all the road from Cleveland to Knoxville. To these insurmountable
difficulties were added the entire absence of means to cross the river,
except by fording at a few precarious points too deep for artillery, and
the well-known danger of sudden rises, by which all communication would be
cut off, a contingency which did actually happen a few days after the
visionary scheme was abandoned." General Bragg continues a recitation of
cogent considerations in support of his objections to a plan which he
declares utterly wanting in "military propriety."

The culmination of Bragg's unpopularity was his defeat at Missionary
Ridge. No officer, save Lee, could, by any possibility, have hoped for a
dispassionate judgment by the public, at this desperate stage of the war,
of an affair so calamitous. The real explanation of that battle was
unquestionably contained in the extract from President Davis' message
previously given. Although Bragg could oppose but little more than thirty
thousand troops to the eighty thousand which Grant threw against him, the
strength of his position would have compensated for this disparity, had
his troops fought with the usual spirit of Confederate soldiers.

It was not to be anticipated that the enemies of the President in Congress
and the hostile press would fail to find a pretext upon which to throw the
responsibility upon Mr. Davis. The disaster was declared to have resulted
from the detachment of Longstreet for an expedition into East Tennessee.
It is only necessary to state the facts of the case to show the falsity
and injustice of this criticism. In the first place, as we have already
stated, Bragg's force was sufficient to hold his tremendously strong
position without Longstreet, should his army fight with its usual spirit.
Secondly, Longstreet's corps was a part of Lee's army, detached for a
purely temporary purpose with Bragg, and its absence was a source of
constant anxiety to General Lee. This temporary purpose was well served at
the battle of Chickamauga, which Bragg designed to be a destructive blow,
and which failed in a part of its purpose, through no fault of that

It was never intended to leave Longstreet in the West any longer than was
necessary to relieve Bragg in his great exigency after the evacuation of
Chattanooga. That result being accomplished, Longstreet was detained for a
few weeks, in the expectation that Rosecrans, driven to desperation by his
necessities, would attempt to retreat, in which event, Longstreet could
perform valuable service in aiding to destroy the Federal army. When
Grant, however, opened the Federal communications, and Longstreet was
foiled in his effort to prevent it, there was no longer a sufficient
reason for his detention so far from Lee. Accordingly, he was sent through
East Tennessee, with the double design of opening communication with
Virginia, where, at any moment, he might be needed, and of clearing East
Tennessee of the forces of Burnside.

Had Longstreet's expedition been successful, it can not be doubted that
the pressure against Bragg would have been immediately relieved, and a
vital section restored to the Confederacy. We can not pause, however, to
review the incidents of General Longstreet's movement, nor to revive the
controversy between himself and a subordinate, evoked by an expedition
whose results exhibited few features of success.

President Davis, better acquainted with the facts of the war than the
critics who so often mislead the public, held General Bragg in that high
estimation to which his unquestioned patriotism and his military qualities
entitled him. Of General Bragg it may be fairly said that he made the most
of his opportunities and his means. If he made retreats, they were always
preceded by bloody fights, and marked by obstinate resistance. If his
constrained and sullen retreats lost territory, they were not comparable
in that respect with that mysterious "strategy" of other commanders in
high favor with the opponents of Mr. Davis, which eventually threatened to
"toll" the enemy to the Atlantic coast, or the Gulf of Mexico, without
once bringing him to a general engagement.

Bragg never feared to stake his fame on the gage of battle, and, if he
sustained reverses, he won many more victories. An educated soldier, he
was also a rigid disciplinarian, and had little toleration for the
demagogism so conspicuous in volunteer armies. This was the occasion of
much of the personal enmity by which he was embarrassed both in and out of
the army. But, whatever the justice of the public condemnation of Bragg,
his period of usefulness in the Western army was at an end. Very soon
afterwards General Joseph E. Johnston took command of the army in Northern

The two armies in Virginia, weakened by the detachments from each sent to
the West, continued inactive until autumn. In October, General Lee
prepared a brilliant campaign, the object of which was to place his army
between General Meade and Washington. Meade, though forced back to the
neighborhood of Manassas and Centreville, had become apprized of Lee's
movement in time to prevent the consummation of the strategy of the
Confederate commander. An incident of the expedition was the severe
repulse of a part of General Hill's command, attended with considerable
loss. Meanwhile, General Imboden, coöperating with the movements of the
main army, captured several hundred prisoners and valuable stores in the
Shenandoah Valley. Early in November, nearly two thousand Confederates
were captured at Rappahannock Station by a movement marked by skill and
gallantry on the part of General Sedgwick. The campaign in Northern
Virginia terminated with a handsome success by the division of General
Edward Johnson over a large detachment from Meade's army at Mine Run. In
December, General Averill, with a force of Federal cavalry, made a
destructive raid into South-western Virginia, and destroyed portions of
the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.

At the close of 1863, there were many signs of the approaching exhaustion
of the South, yet there was good reason to hope that, by a vigorous use of
means yet remaining, the war might be brought to a favorable conclusion.
The peace party of the North, despite the increased strength and
popularity of Mr. Lincoln's administration, resulting from the Federal
successes of the summer, was evidently becoming more bold and defiant. The
whole North, too, was disappointed at the prospect of an indefinite
resistance by the South. Gettysburg and Vicksburg were not followed, as
had been anticipated, by the immediate collapse of the Confederacy. Under
such circumstances, the South had much to anticipate from a bold and
defiant front at the opening of the next campaign. Unquestionably its
resources were less adequate than before, but there was evidently capacity
to prolong the war for an almost indefinite period. Thus, while the
Confederacy could not cherish the hope of daring exploits at the opening
of the campaign, which should again make the enemy apprehensive for his
own homes, there was a well-grounded anticipation of a successful
defensive, which should wear out the enemy's ardor, and again present
opportunities for bold enterprise.

The message of President Davis to Congress, which met early in December,
was one of his ablest productions. Reviewing the entire field of the war,
in its more important phases, it was equally remarkable for its frank
statement of the situation, and for the energetic policy recommended.

There could be no difficulty in comprehending the needs of the Confederacy
at this distressing period. The three great elements of war--men, money,
and subsistence--were now demanded to a greatly increased extent. In
nothing was the campaign of 1863 more fatal, than in the terrible losses
inflicted on the armies of the Confederacy. At the close of the year, the
Army of Northern Virginia, including the absent corps of Longstreet, was
weaker, by more than a third of the force carried into Pennsylvania. The
losses of the Western army had fearfully diminished its strength, and its
frequent disasters had greatly impaired its _morale_. Measures were now
required which should repair the losses, and, if possible, increase the
army beyond its strength at the opening of the previous campaign, in order
to meet the enormous conscription preparing at the North.

President Davis indicated the following methods of adding to the army:
"Restoring to the army all who are improperly absent, putting an end to
substitution, modifying the exemption law, restricting details, and
placing in the ranks such of the able-bodied men now employed as wagoners,
nurses, cooks, and other employés as are doing service, for which the
negroes may be found competent."

These were evidently the last expedients by which the Confederate armies
could be recruited from the white population. By successive enactments
Congress had empowered the President to call into the field all persons
between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. The exigency consequent upon
the reverses of the summer had necessitated the requisition of the last
reserves provided by Congress--the class between forty and forty-five.
Conscription had failed to give the effective strength calculated upon.
Each extension of the law exhibited, in the result, an accession of
numbers greatly below the estimate upon which it was based. This was
largely due to the inefficient execution of the law, and to the opposition
which it encountered in many localities. But the results also indicated a
most exaggerated estimate of the available arms-bearing population of the
South. In the latter part of 1863, the rolls of the Adjutant-General's
office in Richmond showed a little more than four hundred thousand men
under arms; and Secretary Seddon stated that, from desertions and other
causes, "not more than a half--never two-thirds--of the soldiers were in
the ranks."

The message of Mr. Davis indicated defective features in the system of
conscription, and suggested improvements as follows:

    "On the subject of exemptions, it is believed that abuses can not be
    checked unless the system is placed on a basis entirely different from
    that now provided by law. The object of your legislation has been, not
    to confer privileges on classes, but to exonerate from military duty
    such number of persons skilled in the various trades, professions, and
    mechanical pursuits, as could render more valuable service to their
    country by laboring in their present occupation than by going into the
    ranks of the army. The policy is unquestionable, but the result would,
    it is thought, be better obtained by enrolling all such persons, and
    allowing details to be made of the number necessary to meet the wants
    of the country. Considerable numbers are believed to be now exempted
    from the military service who are not needful to the public in their
    civil vocation.

    "Certain duties are now performed throughout the country by details
    from the army, which could be as well executed by persons above the
    present conscript age. An extension of the limit, so as to embrace
    persons over forty-five years, and physically fit for service in
    guarding posts, railroads, and bridges, in apprehending deserters,
    and, where practicable, assuming the place of younger men detailed for
    duty with the nitre, ordnance, commissary, and quartermaster's bureaus
    of the War Department, would, it is hoped, add largely to the
    effective force in the field, without an undue burden on the

The message further recommended legislation replacing "not only enlisted
cooks, but wagoners, and other employés in the army, by negroes." From
these measures the President expected that the army would be "so
strengthened, for the ensuing campaign, as to put at defiance the utmost
efforts of the enemy."

But the meagre results of conscription revealed not only an excessive
calculation of the numerical strength of the Confederacy; they indicated
the reluctance with which the harsh necessities of the war, in its later
stages, were met. As the war was protracted, popular ardor naturally
waned, and in the presence of losses and reverses, the spirit of voluntary
sacrifice gradually disappeared. Draft and impressment were now required
to obtain the services and the means, which, in the beginning, were
lavishly proffered.

Partially the result of a natural popular weariness of the increasing
exactions of a long and exhaustive struggle, these were also the
legitimate fruits of the distrust so assiduously inculcated by the
fault-finders. When reverses to their armies came with appalling rapidity,
and, in many instances, in spite of the exertions of their ablest and most
popular leaders, the people saw confidence and industry only in their
Government, and that Government they were constantly taught to believe
grossly incompetent and unworthy. Under such circumstances, how could
there be that unity and coöperation, without which the cause was
preordained to failure? In that industry which sought every possible
occasion for censure, that ingenuity which exaggerated every error, that
intemperance which filled the halls of Congress with denunciation, and the
land with clamor and discontent, the North at last found allies which ably
assisted its armies.

More violent, intemperate, and unscrupulous than ever, were the assaults
upon the administration, in that long period of agony which followed the
disasters in Mississippi and Pennsylvania. Such was an appropriate
occasion, when a grief-stricken country implored the unanimity which alone
could bring relief, for agitation, revenge, and invective. In Congress Mr.
Davis was assailed with furious vituperation, because he had refused, at
the instance of a member, to remove Bragg, and place Johnston in command
of the Western army. Yet General Johnston, after a visit to Tennessee,
earnestly advised the President _not_ to remove Bragg, as the _public
interests would suffer by that step_. Almost daily Mr. Davis was assailed
for not having properly estimated the war, in the diatribes of an able
editor, who himself, but a few weeks before hostilities opened, declared
_there would be no war_. Of such a character were the accusers and the

If Jefferson Davis courted revenge, he could find ample satisfaction in
the contrast between himself and some of his foremost accusers, which the
sequel has drawn. _He_ fell at last, but only when that cause was lost,
which he unselfishly loved, and which his heart followed to its glorious
grave. His name is already immortal--the embodiment of the heroism, the
virtues, the sufferings, the glory of a people who revere him and scorn
his persecutors. Nor can the South forget that many, who, during her
arduous struggle, constantly assailed her chosen ruler, have since taken
refuge in the camp of those who first conquered, and now seek to degrade
her people.

A source of universal alarm in the South, at this period, was the
deficiency of food. We have elsewhere quoted freely the admonitions of
President Davis respecting the question of supplies, and indicating the
cause which led to so much suffering in the armies of the Confederacy.
Ever since the loss of large sections of Tennessee, in the spring of 1862,
this subject had occasioned anxiety. Without entering into details, it may
be briefly stated, that, with the loss of Kentucky and the larger portion
of Tennessee, the Confederacy lost the main source of its supplies of
meat. As other sections were occupied by the enemy, and communications
were destroyed, the area of the Confederacy became more and more
contracted, and its sources of supply still more limited. Even when
supplies were abundant in many quarters, the armies in the field suffered
actual want, in consequence of the want of transportation, and of the
remoteness of the supplies from the lines of the railroads.

But while the meat in the Confederacy was rapidly diminishing in quantity,
as the Federal armies advanced, and seized or destroyed every thing in the
shape of subsistence, the army was still deprived of supplies which should
have been made available. The unpatriotic practice of hoarding
supplies--a temptation suggested by the rife spirit of speculation,
arising from a redundant and depreciated currency--necessitated the
passage of impressment laws. These laws were practically rendered nugatory
by the inadequate provisions for their execution. In no respect was the
timid and demagogical legislation of the Confederate Congress, so
illustrated as by its adoption of a system of impressment, which
aggravated the very evil it was designed to remedy.

Various expedients were attempted, with partial success, for obtaining
subsistence beyond the limits of the Confederacy. It will be readily seen,
however, how precarious was this dependence. It was impossible for the
Confederacy to maintain its armies, while its resources in every other
respect were rapidly reaching the point of exhaustion. In the end the want
of food proved the most efficient adversary of the South. The final
military catastrophe made the Federal army master of a country already
half conquered by starvation.[70]



It is in vain to invoke the admiration of mankind for qualities of
greatness, displayed either in the history of a nation or the life of an
individual, unless those qualities shall have been adorned by the practice
of humanity and the observance of high moral obligation. Since the
political fabric of the South has been overthrown, a brave and virtuous
people cherish with a more tenacious affection than ever, that honorable
reputation which was their birthright, and which they worthily
illustrated during the late war. The violent commotion with which the
American Union was but lately convulsed has renewed the historical analogy
of revolutions, not less in the sequel than in its progress. When the
strife of arms was ended, and the two great armies ceased their death
struggles, and parted with that mutual respect which is characteristic of
brave antagonists, events were far from encouraging the cessation of
sectional bitterness which was to be hoped for.

The dominant party at the North, apparently not satisfied with the
political overthrow of the South, and the complete extinction of its
social system, has followed up the triumphs of the Federal armies with a
persistent and implacable war upon the character and reputation of the
South. To affix a stigma upon a conquered foe, to brand with infamy a
class of their own countrymen--the descendants of the compatriots of
Franklin, Hancock, and Adams--and to consign to perpetual obloquy a cause
which enlisted the sympathies of five millions of people, are the aims of
a malignant and remorseless faction. These are the motives which have
instigated the effort to frame an indictment against the Christianity, the
morality, and the humanity of the South, and to visit every form of
degradation, to practice every refinement of cruelty upon its most
distinguished representative.

It is impossible to explain, upon any other theory, the exceptional rigor
with which, since the termination of the war, Mr. Davis has been pursued.
As the most honored by the South, he has been selected as the proper
substitute upon whom to visit the offenses of his people. To convict
Jefferson Davis of heinous offenses against humanity is to blacken the
cause which he represented--to degrade the people of whom he was the
chosen ruler. The North should have been admonished, by previous
examples, of the futility of its attempts to prejudge historical questions
of such moment. Of what avail were the malignity, the misrepresentation,
and the unrelenting vindictiveness of England against Napoleon?

As yet, the North has been unable, even by _ex parte_ evidence, to obtain
a pretext for the arraignment of Jefferson Davis for those atrocious
crimes of which it was pretended he was guilty. Even perjury has proven
inadequate to the invention of material with which to sustain a complicity
in guilt, from which his previous character alone should have vindicated
him. Who can doubt the inevitable recoil when the investigations of
history, unobstructed by prejudice and passion, shall lay bare the _facts_
upon which posterity will render its verdict? History, in such a question,
will know neither North nor South, nor will it accept all testimony as
_truth_ which comes under the guise of "_loyalty_," nor reject as
_falsehood_ all upon which has been placed the odium of "_disloyalty_."

In this volume, we could not, even if so disposed, avoid reference to that
question which so involves the honor and humanity of the South--_the
extent of her regard, in the conduct of the late war, for those moral
obligations which are recognized by all Christian and civilized
communities_. The course of her enemies has left the South no alternative,
and she can not be apprehensive of the result when the record is fairly

We have now reached, with a due regard for chronological order, a point
where naturally arises the subject of the treatment of prisoners, which,
in the later months of 1863, assumed its most interesting phase. We
approach the subject not with any expectation of enlightenment of the
Northern mind. Upon this subject a large portion of the Northern people
have resolutely turned their backs upon all statements which do not favor
their sectional prejudices. Calumnies are often believed by mere force of
iteration; and so persistent has been the effort to poison the Northern
mind with falsehood that at least a generation must pass away before the
South can expect an impartial hearing. Nevertheless, by grouping together,
in these pages, important testimony from various sources, and _confined to
neither section_, we hope to promote, however feebly, the great end of
historic truth.

At an early period of the contest, the Confederate Government recognized
its obligation to treat prisoners of war with humanity and consideration.
Before any action was taken by Congress upon the subject, the executive
authorities provided prisoners with proper quarters and barracks, and with
rations--the same in quantity and quality as those furnished to the
Confederate soldiers who guarded them. The first action of Congress with
reference to prisoners was taken on the 21st of May, 1861. Congress then
provided that "all prisoners of war taken, whether on land or at sea,
during the pending hostilities with the United States, shall be
transferred by the captors from time to time, and as often as convenient,
to the Department of War; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of
War, with the approval of the President, to issue such instructions to the
Quartermaster-General and his subordinates as shall provide for the safe
custody and sustenance of prisoners of war; _and the rations furnished
prisoners of war shall be the same in quantity and quality as those
furnished to enlisted men in the army of the Confederacy_." This declared
policy of the Confederate authorities was adhered to, not only in the
earlier months of the war, when provisions were abundant, but was
afterwards pursued as far as possible under the _peculiar style of warfare
waged by the North_. Even amid the losses and privations to which the
enemy subjected them, they sought to carry out the humane purpose of this
solemn declaration.

The first public announcement by President Davis, with respect to
prisoners, was made in a letter to President Lincoln, dated July 6th,
1861. This letter was called forth by the alleged harsh treatment of the
crew of the Confederate vessel _Savannah_, then prisoners in the hands of
the enemy. We extract a paragraph of this letter:

    "It is the desire of this Government so to conduct the war now
    existing, as to mitigate its horrors as far as may be possible; and,
    with this intent, its treatment of the prisoners captured by its
    forces has been marked by the greatest humanity and leniency
    consistent with public obligation; some have been permitted to return
    home on parole, others to remain at large under similar condition
    within this Confederacy, and all have been furnished with rations for
    their subsistence, such as are allowed to our own troops. It is only
    since the news has been received of the treatment of the prisoners
    taken on the _Savannah_, that I have been compelled to withdraw these
    indulgences, and to hold the prisoners taken by us in strict

In his message, dated July 20th, 1861, he mentioned this letter, and thus
alluded to the expected reply from President Lincoln:

    "I earnestly hope this promised reply (which has not yet been
    received) will convey the assurance that prisoners of war will be
    treated, in this unhappy contest, with that regard for humanity, which
    has made such conspicuous progress in the conduct of modern warfare."

Several months elapsed, after the beginning of hostilities, before the
captures on either side were sufficiently numerous to demand much
consideration. A proposition was even made in the Confederate Congress, to
return the Federal prisoners, taken at the first battle of Manassas,
without any formality whatever.

In February, 1862, negotiations occurred between the two governments, with
a view to the arrangement of a system of exchange. In these negotiations
Generals Howell Cobb and Wool represented their respective Governments.
The result was a cartel, by which prisoners of either side should be
paroled within ten days after their capture, and delivered on the frontier
of their own country. A point of difference was, however, raised, as to a
provision requiring each party to pay the expense of transporting their
prisoners to the frontier. This difference General Wool reported to the
Federal Government, which refused to pay these expenses. At a second
interview, March 1st, 1862, this action of the Federal authorities being
made known to General Cobb, the latter immediately conceded the point, and
proposed to make the cartel conform in all its features to the wishes of
General Wool. The latter declined any arrangement, declaring "that his
Government had changed his instructions," and abruptly terminated the

The explanation of this conduct was apparent. While the negotiations
between Generals Wool and Cobb were pending, Fort Donelson had fallen,
reversing the previous state of things, and giving the North an excess of
prisoners. These prisoners, instead of being sent South on parole, were
carried into the interior of the North, and treated with severity and
indignity. Repudiating this agreement, just as soon as it was ascertained
that their captures at Donelson placed the South at disadvantage, the
Federal authorities foreshadowed that "consistently perfidious conduct,"
which President Davis declared to be characteristic of their entire course
upon the subject.

It was impossible to bring the Federal Government to any arrangement,
until the fortune of war again placed the Confederates in possession of
the larger number of prisoners. An immediate consequence of the
Confederate successes in the summer of 1862, was the indication of a more
accommodating spirit by the enemy. Negotiations between General D. H.
Hill, on behalf of the Confederate authorities, and General John A. Dix,
on behalf of his Government, resulted in the adoption of a new cartel of a
completely satisfactory and humane character. Under this cartel, which
continued in operation for twelve months, the Confederate authorities
restored to the enemy many thousands of prisoners in excess of those whom
they held for exchange, and encampments of the surplus paroled prisoners
were established in the United States, where the men were able to receive
the comforts and solace of constant communication with their homes and
families. In July, 1863, the fortune of war again favored the enemy, and
they were enabled to exchange for duty the men previously delivered to
them, against those captured and paroled at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. The
prisoners taken at Gettysburg, however, remained in their hands, and
should have been at once returned to the Confederate lines on parole, to
await exchange. Instead of executing a duty imposed by the plainest
dictates of justice and good faith, pretexts were instantly sought for
holding them in permanent captivity. General orders rapidly succeeded each
other from the bureau at Washington, placing new constructions on an
agreement which had given rise to no dispute while the Confederates
retained the advantage in the number of prisoners. With a disregard of
honorable obligations, almost unexampled, the Federal authorities did not
hesitate, in addition to retaining the prisoners captured by them, to
declare null the paroles given by the prisoners captured by the
Confederates in the same series of engagements, and liberated on condition
of not again serving until exchanged. They then openly insisted on
treating the paroles given by their own soldiers as invalid, and those of
Confederate soldiers, given under precisely similar circumstances, as
binding. A succession of similar unjust pretensions was maintained in a
correspondence tediously prolonged, and every device employed, to cover
the disregard of an obligation, which, between belligerent nations, is
only to be enforced by a sense of honor.

We have not space sufficient for even a sketch of the protracted
correspondence, which ensued between the commissioners of exchange,
respecting the suspension of the cartel. In its progress Commissioner Ould
triumphantly vindicated the action of the Confederate Government, in every
instance meeting in an unanswerable manner, the counter-charges of the
Federal authorities. The South can require no better record of its
honorable and humane conduct, than is furnished by this correspondence.
The Confederate Government was singularly fortunate in the selection of
Mr. Ould, who unites to a most honorable and amiable character, an
intellect of unusual vigor and astuteness, as was abundantly shown in his
conclusive demonstrations of the perfidious conduct of the authorities at

For twelve months after the date of the cartel (that is, until after the
battle of Gettysburg), the Confederates held a considerable excess of
prisoners. It has never been alleged, amid all the calumny which has
assailed the South, that during this period, the Federal prisoners (unless
held on serious charges), were not promptly delivered. Commissioner Ould
several times urged the Federal authorities to send increased
transportation for their prisoners. On the other hand, numbers of
Confederate officers and soldiers were kept in irons and dungeons, in many
instances without even having charges preferred against them.

On the 26th July, 1863, Commissioner Ould said in a letter to the Federal
Agent of Exchange: "Now that our official connection is being terminated,
I say to you in the fear of God--and I appeal to him for the truth of the
declaration--that there has been no single moment, from the time we were
first brought together in connection with the matter of exchange, to the
present hour, during which there has not been an open and notorious
violation of the cartel, by your authorities. Officers and men, numbering
over hundreds, have been, during your whole connection with the cartel,
kept in cruel confinement, sometimes in irons, or doomed to cells, without
charges or trial.... The last phase of the enormity, however, exceeds all
others. Although you have many thousands of our soldiers now in
confinement in your prisons, and especially in that horrible hold of
death, Fort Delaware, you have not, for several weeks, sent us any
prisoners.... For the first two or three times some sort of an excuse was
attempted. None is given at this present arrival. I do not mean to be
offensive when I say that effrontery could not give one."

In reply to these and similar charges by Commissioner Ould, which he, in
repeated instances, substantiated by naming the Confederate officers and
soldiers thus shamefully treated, the enemy retorted with a charge of
similar treatment of Federal prisoners. Yet the prison records of the
Confederacy, in no instance, show the detention of prisoners while the
cartel was in operation, unless held under grave charges. Commissioner
Ould, in his letter of August 1, 1863, effectually silenced this
replication. Said he: "You have claimed and exercised the right to retain
officers and men indefinitely, not only upon charges actually preferred,
but upon mere suspicion. You have now in custody officers who were in
confinement when the cartel was framed, and who have since been declared
exchanged. Some of them have been tried, but most of them have languished
in prison all the weary time without trial or charges. _I stand prepared
to prove these assertions._ This course was pursued, too, in the face not
only of notice, but of protest. Do you deny to us the right to detain
officers and men for trial upon grave charges, while you claim the right
to keep in confinement any who may be the object of your suspicion or
special enmity?"

The paroles issued after capture were respected by both parties, until,
about the middle of 1863, the Federal authorities declared void the
paroles of thousands of their soldiers, who had been sent North by the
Confederate Government. At that time, it is noteworthy, the Federal
Government had no lists of paroled prisoners to be charged against the
Confederacy. The latter had previously discharged all its obligations from
its large excess of prisoners, leaving still a large balance in their
favor unsatisfied. In this condition of affairs, Commissioner Ould was
notified that "exchanges will be confined to such equivalents as are held
in confinement on either side." After such a display of perfidy, no
surprise should be occasioned by the subsequent action of the Federal
authorities. This announcement, in unmistakable phraseology, meant simply
that, as the Confederates had returned equivalents for all paroles held
against them, and the Federals held no paroles to be charged against the
Confederacy, hereafter no exchange would be made except for men actually
in captivity. In other words, having received all the benefits which they
could from the observance of the cartel, the Federal Government openly
repudiated it, the moment that its operation would favor their
antagonists. Commissioner Ould promptly declined the perfidious
proposition of the enemy, which would have continued thousands of
Confederate soldiers in prison, after their Government had returned all
prisoners in their possession, and yet held the paroles of Federal
soldiers, largely exceeding in number the Confederate soldiers held
captive by the enemy. Subsequently the Federal officers and soldiers, in
violation of their paroles, and without being declared exchanged, were
ordered back to their commands. Commissioner Ould then very properly
declared exchanged an equal number of Confederate officers and men, who
had been paroled by the enemy at Vicksburg.

With these transactions ended all exchanges under that provision of the
cartel which provided the delivery of prisoners within ten days. All
subsequent deliveries of prisoners were made by special agreement. The
facts which we have stated, showing the suspension of the cartel to have
been occasioned by the _bad faith of the Federal Government, are upon
record_, and can not be disputed. They are accessible to every Northern
reader, who may feel disposed to satisfy his judgment, _by facts_, rather
than to foster prejudices based upon the most monstrous falsehoods, ever
invented in the interest of fanaticism and hate. The suspension of the
cartel was the direct cause of those terrible sufferings which were
afterwards endured by the true men of both sides. It led directly to the
hardships, the exposure, and hunger of Andersonville, the cruelties of
Camp Douglas, the freezing of Confederate soldiers upon the bleak shores
of the Northern lakes, and those countless woes which are endured by the
occupants of military prisons, even when conducted upon the most humane
system. Having been guilty of a shameful violation of faith, the Federal
Government persisted in a policy, which was not only cruel to the South,
but brought upon the brave men who were fighting its battles, the
sufferings which the North has falsely pictured with every conceivable
feature of horror and atrocity.

Until the end of the war, the Confederate Government continued its efforts
to secure the renewed operations of the cartel--a policy which humanity to
its own defenders demanded. Why it was not renewed, the motives which
dictated a policy which occasioned an almost unexampled degree of human
suffering, is a question abundantly answered in the testimony here
adduced, the most conclusive portions of which comes from Northern

In January, 1864, it was plain from the disposition of the enemy that the
majority of the prisoners of both sides were doomed to confinement for
many weary months, if not until the end of the war. Under this impression,
Commissioner Ould wrote the following letter, which was promptly delivered
to the Federal Agent of Exchange:

    "RICHMOND, VA., January 24, 1864.

    "_Major-General E. A. Hitchcock, Agent of Exchange_--

    "SIR: In view of the present difficulties attending the exchange and
    release of prisoners, I propose that all such on either side shall be
    attended by a proper number of their own surgeons, who, under rules to
    be established, shall be permitted to take charge of their health and
    comfort. I also propose that these surgeons shall act as commissaries,
    with power to receive and distribute such contributions of money,
    food, clothing, and medicines as may be forwarded for the relief of
    the prisoners. I further propose that these surgeons shall be selected
    by their own Government, and that they shall have full liberty, at any
    and all times, through the Agents of Exchange, _to make reports not
    only of their own acts, but of any matters relating to the welfare of
    the prisoners_.

        "Respectfully, your obedient servant,
            "ROBERT OULD,
                "_Agent of Exchange_."

To this humane proposition _no answer was ever made_. It is needless to
depict the alleviation of misery which its adoption would have secured.
Can there be but one interpretation of the motives of those who rejected
this noble offer? These propositions are indeed extraordinary, in view of
the obloquy heaped upon the Confederate authorities for their alleged
indifference to the health and comfort of their prisoners. Most
noticeable, however, is the invitation extended to the Federal authorities
to investigate, and report to the world, the treatment and condition of
Federal soldiers in Southern prisons.

But this is far from completing the evidence which convicts the Federal
Government of a purpose to trade upon the sufferings of their prisoners,
and thus inflame the resentment of the North during the war, and shows the
malignant purpose of a faction to establish a foul libel upon the South in
the mind of posterity. On the 10th of August, 1864, Commissioner Ould
wrote as follows:

    "_Major John E. Mulford, Assistant Agent of Exchange_--

    "SIR: You have several times proposed to me to exchange the prisoners
    respectively held by the two belligerents, officer for officer, and
    man for man. The same offer has also been made by other officials
    having charge of matters connected with the exchange of prisoners.
    This proposal has heretofore been declined by the Confederate
    authorities, they insisting upon the terms of the cartel, which
    required the delivery of the excess on either side upon parole. In
    view, however, of the very large number of prisoners now held by each
    party, and the suffering consequent upon their continued confinement,
    I now consent to the above proposal, and agree to deliver to you the
    prisoners held in captivity by the Confederate authorities, provided
    you agree to deliver an equal number of Confederate officers and men.
    As equal numbers are delivered from time to time, they will be
    declared exchanged. This proposal is made with the understanding that
    the officers and men, on both sides, who have been longest in
    captivity, will be first delivered, where it is practicable. I shall
    be happy to hear from you as speedily as possible, whether this
    arrangement can be carried out.

        "Respectfully, your obedient servant,
            "ROBERT OULD,
                "_Agent of Exchange_."

It will be seen that the Confederate authorities, by this proposition,
consented to waive all previous questions, to concede every point to the
enemy, that could facilitate the release from captivity of its own
soldiers and those of the North. As an inducement to action by the Federal
authorities, this letter was accompanied by a _statement exhibiting the
mortality among the prisoners at Andersonville_. Receiving no reply,
Commissioner Ould made the same proposition to General Hitchcock, in
Washington. The latter making no response, application was made again to
Major Mulford, who replied as follows:

    "_Hon. R. Ould, Agent of Exchange_--

    "SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of
    to-day, requesting answer, etc., to your communication of the 10th
    inst., on the question of the exchange of prisoners, to which, in
    reply, I would say, I have no communication on the subject from our
    authorities, nor am I yet authorized to make any.

    "I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

        "JOHN E. MULFORD,
            "_Assistant Agent of Exchange_."

Nothing could exceed the generosity of this offer. When it was made, the
North had a large excess of prisoners. By this arrangement every Federal
soldier would have been released from captivity, while a large surplus of
Confederates would have remained in the enemy's hands. The brutal
calculation of the Federal authorities was that an exchange would add so
many thousands of muskets to the depleted ranks of the Confederacy, and
would, besides, deprive them of every pretext for the manufacture of
chapters of "rebel barbarities."

It was known to the world that the means of subsistence in the South was
so reduced--chiefly through the cruel warfare waged by the North--that
Confederate soldiers were then subsisting upon a third of a pound of meat,
and a pound of indifferent meal or flour each day. Upon such rations, half
naked, thousands of them barefooted, Confederate soldiers were exposed to
sufferings unexampled in history. How could it be possible, under such
circumstances, to prevent suffering among the prisoners? Military prisons,
under the most favorable circumstances, are miserable enough, but the
Federal prisoners in the South were compelled to endure multiplied and
aggravated miseries, imposed by the condition of the South--shared by
their captors, and by the women and children of the country which they
invaded. But what possible palliation can there be for the guilt of a
Government which willfully subjected its defenders to horrors which it so
blazoned to the world? Declaring that "rebel pens" were worse than
Neapolitan prisons and Austrian dungeons, the Federal authorities yet
persistently rejected offers of exchange.

There could be no more forcible presentation of the question than that
made by President Davis:

    "In the meantime a systematic and concerted effort has been made to
    quiet the complaints in the United States of those relatives and
    friends of the prisoners in our hands, who are unable to understand
    why the cartel is not executed in their favor, by the groundless
    assertion that we are the parties who refuse compliance. Attempts are
    also made to shield themselves from the execration excited by their
    own odious treatment of our officers and soldiers now captive in their
    hands, by misstatements, such as that the prisoners held by us are
    deprived of food. To this last accusation the conclusive answer has
    been made, that, in accordance with our laws and the general orders of
    the department, the rations of the prisoners are precisely the same,
    in quantity and quality, as those served out to our own gallant
    soldiers in the field, and which have been found sufficient to support
    them in their arduous campaign, while it is not pretended by the enemy
    that they treat prisoners by the same generous rule. By an indulgence,
    perhaps unprecedented, we have even allowed the prisoners in our hands
    to be supplied by their friends at home with comforts not enjoyed by
    the men who captured them in battle, In contrast to this treatment,
    the most revolting inhumanity has characterized the conduct of the
    United States towards prisoners held by them. One prominent fact,
    which admits no denial nor palliation, must suffice as a test: The
    officers of our army--natives of southern and semi-tropical climates,
    and unprepared for the cold of a northern winter--have been conveyed
    for imprisonment, during the rigors of the present season, to the most
    northern and exposed situation that could be selected by the enemy.
    There, beyond the reach of comforts, and often even of news from home
    and family, exposed to the piercing cold of the northern lakes, they
    are held by men who can not be ignorant of--even if they do not
    design--the probable result. How many of our unfortunate friends and
    comrades, who have passed unscathed through numerous battles, will
    perish on Johnston's Island, under the cruel trial to which they are
    subjected, none but the Omniscient can foretell. That they will endure
    this barbarous treatment with the same stern fortitude that they have
    ever evinced in their country's service, we can not doubt. But who can
    be found to believe the assertion that it is our refusal to execute
    the cartel, and not the malignity of the foe, which has caused the
    infliction of such intolerable cruelty on our own loved and honored

Since the war, Commissioner Ould has given testimony of the most
conclusive character. While the subject of the treatment of prisoners was
pending in Congress, during the past summer, he wrote the following
letter. It will be observed that he offers to _prove his statements by the
testimony of Federal officers_.

    "WASHINGTON, July 23, 1867.

    "_To the Editors of the National Intelligencer_--

    "I respectfully request the publication of the following letter,
    received by me from Colonel Robert Ould, of Richmond. It will be
    perceived that it fully sustains my statement in the House, with the
    unimportant exception of the number of prisoners offered to be
    exchanged, without equivalent, by the Confederate authorities.

        "Very respectfully,
            "CHARLES A. ELDRIDGE."

    "RICHMOND, July 19, 1867.

    "_Hon. Charles A. Eldridge_--

    "MY DEAR SIR: I have seen your remarks as published. They are
    substantially correct. Every word that I said to you in Richmond is
    not only true, but can be proved by Federal officers. I did offer, in
    August, to deliver the Federal sick and wounded, without requiring
    equivalents, and urged the necessity of haste in sending for them, as
    the mortality was terrible. I did offer to deliver from ten to fifteen
    thousand at Savannah without delay. Although this offer was made in
    August, transportation was not sent for them until December, and
    during the interval, the mortality was perhaps at its greatest height.
    If I had not made the offer, why did the Federal authorities send
    transportation to Savannah for ten or fifteen thousand men? If I made
    the offer, based only on equivalents, why did the same transportation
    carry down for delivery only three thousand men?

    "Butler says the offer was made in the fall (according to the
    newspaper report), and that seven thousand were delivered. The offer
    was made in August, and they were sent for in December. I then
    delivered more than thirteen thousand, and would have gone to the
    fifteen thousand if the Federal transportation had been sufficient. My
    instructions to my agents were to deliver fifteen thousand sick and
    wounded, and if that number of that class were not on hand, to make up
    the number by well men. The offer was made by me in pursuance of
    instructions from the Confederate Secretary of War. I was ready to
    keep up the arrangement until every sick and wounded man had been

    "The three thousand men sent to Savannah by the Federals were in as
    wretched a condition as any detachment of prisoners ever sent from a
    Confederate prison.

    "All these things are susceptible of proof, and I am much mistaken if
    I can not prove them by Federal authority. I am quite sure that
    General Mulford will sustain every allegation here made.

        "Yours truly,
            "R. OULD.

    "P. S.--General Butler's correspondence is all on one side, as I was
    instructed, at the date of his letters, to hold no correspondence with
    him. I corresponded with Mulford or General Hitchcock.

        "R. OULD."

In another letter, written about the same time, Colonel Ould thus invites

    "General Mulford will sustain every thing I have herein written. He is
    a man of honor and courage, and I do not think will hesitate to tell
    the truth. I think it would be well for you to make the appeal to him,
    as it has become a question of veracity."

But though President Davis and Colonel Ould are known by thousands of
people, North and South, to be men of unimpeachable truthfulness, and
though no _honorable_ enemy would question their statements, we can not
hope that their testimony will make headway against the intolerant
prejudices and passions of faction. General B. F. Butler is doubtless
sufficiently orthodox, and, besides, his testimony is voluntary. Says this
exponent of latter-day "loyalty:"

    "The great importance of the question; the fearful responsibility for
    the many thousands of lives which, by the refusal to exchange, were
    sacrificed by the most cruel forms of death; from cold, starvation,
    and pestilence of the prison-pens of Raleigh and Andersonville, being
    more than all the British soldiers killed in the wars of Napoleon;
    the anxiety of fathers, brothers, sisters, mothers, wives, to know the
    exigency which caused this terrible--and perhaps as it may have seemed
    to them useless and unnecessary--destruction of those dear to them, by
    horrible deaths, each and all have compelled me to this exposition, so
    that it may be seen that these lives were spent as a part of the
    system of attack upon the rebellion, devised by the wisdom of the
    General-in-Chief of the armies, to destroy it by depletion, depending
    upon our superior numbers to win the victory at last.

    "The loyal mourners will doubtless derive solace from this fact, and
    appreciate all the more highly the genius which conceived the plan and
    the success won at so great a cost."

The New York _Tribune_ will also be accepted as competent authority.
Referring to the occurrences of 1864, the _Tribune_ editorially says:

    "In August the rebels offered to renew the exchange, man for man.
    General Grant then telegraphed the following important order: 'It is
    hard on our men, held in Southern prisons, not to exchange them, but
    it is humanity to those left in the ranks to fight our battles. Every
    man released on parole or otherwise becomes an active soldier against
    us at once, either directly or indirectly. _If we commence a system of
    exchange_ which liberates _all prisoners_ taken, we will have to fight
    on till the whole South is exterminated. If we hold those caught, they
    amount to no more than dead men. At this particular time, to release
    all rebel prisoners North would insure Sherman's defeat, and would
    compromise our safety here.'"

Here is even a stronger statement from a Northern source:

    "NEW YORK, August 8, 1865.

    "_Moreover, General Butler, in his speech at Lowell, Massachusetts,
    stated positively that he had been ordered by Mr. Stanton to put
    forward the negro question to complicate and prevent the
    exchange...._ Every one is aware that, when the exchange did take
    place, not the slightest alteration had _occurred_ in the question,
    _and that our prisoners might as well have been released twelve or
    eighteen_ months before as at the resumption of the _cartel, which
    would have saved to the Republic at least twelve or fifteen thousand_
    heroic lives. That they were not saved is due _alone to Mr. Edwin M.
    Stanton's peculiar policy and dogged obstinacy_; AND, AS I HAVE

    "I regret the revival of this painful subject, but the gratuitous
    effort of Mr. Dana to relieve the Secretary of War from a
    responsibility he seems willing to bear, and which merely as a
    question of policy, independent of all considerations of humanity,
    must be regarded as of great weight, has compelled me to vindicate
    myself from the charge of making grave statements without due

    "Once for all, let me declare that I have never found fault with any
    one because I was detained in prison, for I am well aware that that
    was a matter in which no one but myself, and possibly a few personal
    friends, would feel any interest; that my sole motive for impeaching
    the Secretary of War was that the people of _the loyal North might
    know to whom they were indebted for the cold-blooded and needless
    sacrifice of their fathers and brothers, their husbands and their


Now, what is the "inexorable logic" of this train of evidence? Either the
calumnies against the South stand self-convicted, or those who have
uttered them show themselves to have been worse fiends than they pretend
to believe the Confederate authorities to have been.

But can a candid world credit the charge of cruelty against the South?
Honorable enemies, even, will scorn the allegation of torture, of
designedly inflicting suffering upon helpless men, against a people who,
within the past six years, have so honorably illustrated the American
name. Brave men are never cruel--cowards only delight in torture of the
helpless. Cruelty to prisoners would be inconsistent not only with the
known generosity of the Southern character, but with that splendid courage
which the North will not dishonor itself by calling in question.

Until the suspension of the cartel, the Federal prisoners, even at the
risk of their recapture, were kept in Richmond convenient for exchange.
Confederate prisoners, on the other hand, were hurried to the Northern
frontier, where the rigor of the climate alone subjected them to the most
cruel sufferings. Driven by the course of the Federal Government,
respecting the subject of exchange, the Confederate authorities selected a
site for the quartering of prisoners, whom it was impossible to subsist in
Richmond or its neighborhood. Andersonville was selected, in accordance
with an official order contemplating the following objects: "A healthy
locality, plenty of pure, good water, a running stream, and, if possible,
shade trees, and in the immediate neighborhood of grist and saw-mills."
Such were the "horrors of Andersonville," which the world has been urged
to believe the Confederate Government selected with special view to the
torment and death of prisoners.

The terrible mortality among the prisoners at Andersonville was not due
either to starvation or to the unhealthiness of the locality. Federal
soldiers were unaccustomed to the scanty and indifferent diet upon which
the Confederates were fed, and which caused the death of thousands of
delicate youths in the Southern armies. By this single fact may be
explained much of the mortality at Andersonville. When to scurvy and other
fatal forms of disease, produced by inadequate and unwholesome diet, are
added the mental sufferings, which are peculiarly the lot of a prisoner,
the despondency, and, in the case of the Andersonville prisoners, the
despair occasioned by the refusal of their own Government to relieve them,
we have abundant explanation of the most shocking mortality.

But the statement that the mortality of Andersonville was in excess of
that of all other military prisons, is a willful falsehood. We present the
following extracts from a letter to the New York _World_, by a gentleman,
whose integrity will be vouched for by thousands of the best people in


    "RICHMOND, VA., August 14.

    "_To the Editor of the World_--

    "SIR: I have just seen, in a city paper, a paragraph, credited to the
    _World_, alleging that among the Confederate prisoners at Elmira,
    during the last four or five months of the use of that prison, the
    deaths only amounted to a few individuals out of many thousand
    prisoners. I am not able to controvert that fact, as I left there on
    the 11th of October, 1864; but if the impression desired to be
    produced is that the general mortality at that pen was slight, I can
    contradict it from _the record_. During a portion of the period of my
    incarceration in the Elmira pen, it was my duty to receive, from the
    surgeon's office, each morning, the reports of the deaths of the
    preceding day, and embody them in an official report, to be signed by
    the commandant of the prison, and forwarded to the commandant of the
    post. I entered, each morning, in a diary, which now lies before me,
    the number of reported deaths; and the facts demonstrate that, in as
    healthy a location as there is in New York, with every remedial
    appliance in abundance, with no epidemic, and with a great boast of
    humanity, the deaths were relatively larger than among the Federal
    prisoners at Andersonville among a famished people, whose
    quartermaster could not furnish shelter to its soldiers, and whose
    surgeons were without the commonest medicines for the sick. The record
    shows that at Andersonville, between the 1st of February and 1st of
    August, 1864, out of thirty-six thousand prisoners, six thousand, or
    one-sixth, died--a fearful rate unquestionably. But the official
    report of the Elmira pen shows, that during the month of September,
    1864, which was the first month after the quota of that prison was
    made up, _out of less than nine thousand five hundred prisoners_, the
    deaths were THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-SIX. In other words, the average
    mortality at Andersonville, during that period, was one thirty-sixth
    of the whole per month, while at Elmira it was _one twenty-fifth_ of
    the whole. At Elmira it was _four per cent._; at Andersonville, less
    than _three per cent._...

    "Another item, which I gather from my diary, will indicate the manner
    in which the medical officer at Elmira discharged his functions. The
    hospitals began to be filled, in the latter part of August, with
    obstinate cases of scurvy. Men became covered with fearful sores, many
    lost their teeth, and many others became cripples, and will die
    cripples from that cause. The commandant of the post ordered a report
    to be made of all the scorbutic cases in prison, grave and trifling;
    and on the morning of Sunday, September 11, the lists were added up,
    when it was found that of nine thousand three hundred prisoners
    examined, _eighteen hundred and seventy_ were tainted with scurvy.

    "The Federal Government, as one of its measures of reconstruction, is
    officially and expensively engaged in traducing the Southern people,
    and the facility with which it procures all necessary evidence,
    whether the object be to hang or to calumniate, warrants the belief
    that we shall have a couple of volumes a year for the rest of the
    century, demonstrating the barbarity of the rebels. Against so
    admirable a system of manufacturing evidence, it is, of course, idle
    to oppose the feeble efforts of individuals, but I regard the duty
    none the less binding on such of us as know the truth to declare it;
    and I hope that, throughout the Southern States, intelligent and
    credible men are now putting into authentic form, the evidences of
    Federal outrages, the exploits of the Shermans and Sheridans, and
    Milroys and Butlers, one day to be published by general subscription
    of our people, that the world may judge between us and the spoon
    thieves, the furniture thieves, the barn-burners, the bummers, and the
    brutes who too often wore the uniform of the Federal army.

        "A. M. K."

Can the North expect impartial history to accept its miserable subterfuge
of "disloyalty," by which such testimony as this is now excluded?

Any reference to this subject must be wholly inadequate which does not
describe the condition of the South at the period when she is alleged to
have been guilty of unexampled atrocities. The blockade of the South by
the North was stringent beyond any precedent in modern warfare.
_Medicines_ were held as contraband. Southern hospitals were not supplied,
for that reason, with all the medicaments that were needed by sick and
wounded soldiers; and those who were prisoners in our hands necessarily
shared, in this respect, the privations of the Confederate soldiers. But
if there was any thing "cruel and inhuman" in this deficiency, _whose
fault_ was it? Of _whom_ is the cruelty and inhumanity to be alleged? The
South searched her forests and meadows for restoratives. She ran in
medicines, as far as practicable, at great cost and hazard. We shared our
stores with our prisoners. If the supply was inadequate or ill-assorted,
we again ask, are _we_ to be charged with cruelty and inhumanity?

The same observations are applicable as to supplies of food and clothing.
The war was waged, by the North, on the policy of unsparing devastation.
Mills were burnt, factories demolished, barns given to the flames, and the
means of comfort and of living destroyed on system. What the South was
able to save, she shared with her prisoners. We gave them such rations as
we gave our own soldiers. Does any one suspect the Confederate Government
of deliberately stinting its own soldiers? How, then, can it be pretended
that it was "cruel and inhuman" to prisoners whom it fed as well? If we
could not maintain them as well as we wished, it was through the success
of those who wasted our subsistence, for the purpose of reducing us to
that precise condition of inability. It is obviously _monstrous_ to charge
the fact, and to charge it as blame, upon _us_--to accuse the South of
"cruelty and inhumanity."[71]

But there is still another revelation to be added to the overwhelming
evidence which demonstrates the murderous purpose of the Federal
authorities, equally toward their own men and toward Confederate soldiers,
by which they adroitly sought to cover the Confederate Government with
accusing blood. A marked feature in the policy of the Lincoln cabinet was,
at concerted intervals, to inflame the heart of the North by appeals to
passion and resentment. The supreme excellence of the Federal
administration, in this respect, was, indeed, its substitute for
statesmanship. To conceal its own iniquitous course, with reference to the
exchange of prisoners, the administration successfully sought to frenzy
the Northern masses by the most ingenious misrepresentations of the
condition of their men in the Southern prisons.

To this end the foul brood of pictorial falsifiers--the Harpers, Leslies,
etc.--gave willing and effective aid. Men in the most horrible conditions
of human suffering--ghastly skeletons, creatures demented from sheer
misery--a set of wretched, raving, and dying creatures--were photographed,
the pictures reduplicated to an unlimited extent, and scattered broadcast
over the North, as evidence of the brutality practiced upon Federal
prisoners in the South. In view of the well-known and designed influence
of these appeals upon Northern sentiment, what must be the scorn of the
civilized world for the perfidy which used the means which we here relate,
to accomplish its iniquitous ends?

Immediately preceding the return of these prisoners, the Federal Agent
applied for the delivery of the _worst_ cases of _sick_ Federal prisoners.
Said he: "Even in cases where your surgeons think the men too ill to be
moved, and not strong enough to survive the trip, if _they_ express a
desire to come, let them come." At this time, it should be remembered,
regular exchanges were intermitted. Commissioner Ould, consistently with
his known humanity and the humane disposition of his Government, consented
to send the _worst_ cases of their prisoners, provided that they would not
be accepted as representatives of the average condition of the Federal
prisoners in the South, and used as a means to inflame Northern sentiment.
This condition was sacredly pledged.

With this understanding, Commissioner Ould prepared a barge adapted
specially to the purpose, and, with the aid of the Richmond Ambulance
Committee, carefully and tenderly delivered the prisoners. The Federal
vessel that received them sailed immediately to Annapolis, where, instead
of receiving the tender treatment that their pitiable condition required,
they were made a spectacle of for an obvious purpose. Photographic artists
made portraits of them; a committee of Congress was sent to report upon
their condition; in short, they had been obtained for a purpose; and, how
well that purpose was subserved, the South, at least, well knows. These
miserable wrecks of humanity, specially asked for, specially selected as
the _worst_ cases, were pointed to as representatives of the average
state of Federal prisoners in the South, although the most sacred
assurances had been given that they would be used for no such purpose.

History will be searched in vain for such an example of mingled
wickedness, perfidy, and cruelty. Yet the faction that could practice such
treachery and barbarity has dared to impeach the honor and humanity of the
South. Through such means, it, of course, can easily be proven that the
South "starved and tortured" thousands of Union prisoners. Nor can
Stanton, Holt, and Conover have difficulty in proving that these cruelties
were by direct order of President Davis.

Need we pursue this subject further? We have not adduced one-tenth of the
evidence which completes the record of Southern justice and humanity, yet
what candid mind will deny that this testimony is ample? The vindication
of the South, too, is the assured defense of Jefferson Davis. Nay, more:
the exceptional victim of Northern malice is known to his countrymen to
have a special record of humanity which should have claimed a special
consideration from the enemy. Upon no subject was President Davis more
censured in the South than for what was termed his "ill-timed tenderness"
for the enemy. Stung to madness by the devastations and cruelties
attending the invasion of their country, the people often responded to the
clamor of the newspapers for retaliation against the harsh measures of the
enemy. Before the writer is a Richmond newspaper, of date during the war,
in which the leading editorial begins with the assertion that "The
chivalry and humanity of Mr. Jefferson Davis will inevitably ruin this
Confederacy," and the editor continues to reproach Mr. Davis for culpable

To the same alleged cause the _Examiner_ was accustomed to attribute what
it described as the "humiliating attitude of the Confederacy." Said the
_Examiner_: "The enemy have gone from one unmanly cruelty to another,
encouraged by their impunity, till they are now, and have for some time,
been inflicting on the people of this country the worst horrors of
barbarous and uncivilized war." Yet, in spite of all this, the _Examiner_
alleged, that Mr. Davis, in his dealings with the enemy, was "as gentle as
the sucking dove." The same paper published a "bill of fare" provided for
one of the prisons, and invoked the indignation of the country upon a
policy which fed the prisoners of the enemy better than the soldiers of
the Confederacy.

Never, indeed, did the ruler of an invaded people exhibit such forbearance
in the face of so much provocation. When reminded of the relentless
warfare of the enemy, which spared neither age, sex, nor condition, of his
devastation, rapine and violence, Davis' invariable reply was: "The crimes
of our enemies can not justify us in a disregard of the duties of humanity
and Christianity." There can be little doubt that Mr. Davis occasionally
erred in his extreme generosity to the foe. Yet, how noble must be that
fame, which is marred only by such a fault. History has canonized
Lamartine for preventing the re-raising of the red flag in 1848. What will
be its award to the heroic firmness of Jefferson Davis, in preventing the
raising of the black flag, among a people, whose dearest rights were
assailed, whose homes were destroyed, and themselves subjected to the most
ruthless persecutions known in modern warfare?

But apart from the perjured testimony, which has been utterly inadequate
to establish the charge of "cruelty to prisoners," has the time passed,
when the honorable character of a people and of an individual can be
properly considered? The whole history of the United States does not
exhibit a public career more stainless than that of Jefferson Davis, while
in the service of the Union. Occupying almost every position of honor and
trust, in both houses of Congress, member of the cabinet, and as a gallant
soldier, the breath of slander never once tarnished his name. To his
incorruptible official and private integrity, to the sincerity of his
convictions, and the rectitude and honesty of his intentions, no men could
better testify than those Republican Senators, who were, for years, his
associates. Indeed, Mr. Davis has been peculiar in his complete exemption
from that personal defamation, which is almost a necessity of political

But, impartial history will ask, whence come these calumnies against the
great, pure, and pious leader of a brave people, in a struggle for
liberty? Then must come that inevitable recoil, which shall bring to just
judgment, a government, which destroyed the houses and the food of
non-combatants; the fruits of the earth and the implements of tillage;
which condemned its own defenders to imprisonment and death; which
imprisoned without charges, gray-haired men, and doomed them to tortures,
which brought them to premature graves; exposed helpless women and
children to starvation, by depriving them of their natural protectors;
which declared medicines contraband of war, and finally sought, by
perjury, to justify cruelty to a helpless captive, because his people, in
the midst of starvation, could not adequately feed and nurture the captive
soldiers of the enemy.



Despite the solid advantages obtained by the North in the campaign just
ended, the close of the winter developed the existence of great
apprehension at Washington, and a correspondingly improved feeling in the
South. It was indeed remarkable that the conviction entertained by both
sides, that the struggle was now about to assume its latest and decisive
phase, should have evoked such different manifestations of feeling at
Washington and Richmond.

At the North was seen a singular apathy, which temporarily checked
overwrought displays of popular exultation, and a mutual distrust of the
Government and the public, not at all encouraging of success in designs
demanding zealous coöperation. The thoughtful observer of Northern
sentiment readily detected the presence of depression and suspicion--a
general apprehension that the restoration of the Union was an enterprise
developing new and unseen obstacles at each step, and a confusion of views
as to the management of the war. But, in the violent exhibitions of party
spirit, the North realized its chief cause of alarm. The peace party
increased in numbers and influence with the prolongation of the war, and
the preservation of power by the Government party was clearly dependent
upon such military results, as should foreshadow the speedy "collapse of
the rebellion." In short, the North saw that the culmination of the
momentous struggle was to be reached, while it was in the throes of an
embittered Presidential contest.

There was another explanation of the altered feeling in the two sections
developed during the winter. Throughout the war, the Northern mind was
singularly accessible to the influence of sensation and "clap-trap;" hence
were always to be expected periodical galvanic excitements, followed by
revulsion of feeling. The conservative instincts of the South sought
repose rather than excitement; and the crippled condition of the enemy,
after his achievements of the summer and fall, gave the South a sufficient
respite for the recovery of much of its lost confidence. Nor was the
transition of the Southern mind, within a few weeks, from depression to
something like hopeful anticipation, based upon a mere presentiment of
prosperous fortune. The lessons of the war, not less than the teachings of
previous history, encouraged reanimation. It was contended that the
conquest of a territory so extensive, and the subjection of a people
numerically as strong and as courageous as those of the South, was
physically impossible. It was urged that the Federal successes of the
preceding summer had only placed the enemy upon the threshold of his
enterprise, and that, in surmounting the resolute resistance which had
almost defeated his earliest movements, he had vainly wasted the spirit
and the strength which were now needed for his further progress.

From such a condition of feeling, the logical conclusion was that the war
had now become a question of endurance, and that the Confederacy must now
depend upon its capacity to resist until the North should abandon the war
in sheer disgust. The Richmond journals pithily stated the problem as one
of "Southern fortitude and endurance against Yankee perseverance."

In the meantime, the enforced quiet of the enemy was diligently improved
by the Government. Probably at no period of the war did the Confederate
administration exhibit more energy and skill in the employment of its
limited resources, than in its preparations for the campaign of 1864. The
vigorous measures of the President were, in the main, seconded by
Congress, though this session was not wanting in those displays of
demagogism which, throughout the war, diminished the influence and
efficiency of that body. In the sequel, the expedients adopted did not
realize the large results anticipated. The financial legislation of
Congress did not improve the value of the currency, nor did the various
expedients resorted to for strengthening the army obtain the desired
numbers. It was calculated that the Confederate armies would aggregate, by
the opening of spring, something like four hundred thousand men, of which
the repeal of the substitute law alone was expected to furnish seventy
thousand. The real strength of all the Confederate armies, however, did
not exceed two hundred thousand men when the campaign was entered upon.
The execution of the conscription law was a subject of sore perplexity to
the administration, and, though President Davis made strenuous exertions
to remedy the difficulty, the system continued defective until the end.

The army was, nevertheless, strengthened both in numbers and material,
while its spirit, as shown in the alacrity and unanimity of reënlistment,
was never surpassed. Military success was now the end to which the
Government devoted its whole energies, as the real and only solution of
its difficulties. In time of war military success is the sole nepenthe for
national afflictions. Without victories the Confederacy would seek in vain
a restoration of its finances through the expedients of legislation.
Equally necessary were victories for relief of the difficulty as to food.
Should the spring campaign be successful, the Confederacy would recover
the country upon which it had been mainly dependent for supplies, and such
additional territory as was required to put at rest the alarming
difficulty of scarcity.

The expectation of the South was much encouraged by a series of successes
upon minor theatres of the war, during the suspension of operations by the
main armies. A signal victory was won late in February, by General
Finnegan, at Ocean Pond, Florida, the important event of which was the
decisive failure of a Federal design to possess that State.

The most serious demonstration by the enemy, during the winter months, was
the expedition of Sherman across the State of Mississippi. This movement,
undertaken with all the vigor and daring of that commander, was designed
to capture Mobile and to secure the Federal occupation of nearly the whole
of Alabama and Mississippi. It was the second experiment, undertaken by
Federal commanders, during the war, of leaving a regular base of
operations, and seeking the conquest of a large section of territory, by
penetrating boldly into the interior. The first similar attempt was made
by Grant, from Memphis into the interior of Mississippi. It is notable
that both these expeditions were marked by shameful failure. They signally
illustrated the military principle of the impossibility of successful
penetration of hostile territory, even when held by a greatly inferior
force, and, moreover, clearly indicate the fate that would inevitably have
overtaken Sherman, in his "march to the sea," had there been an opposing
army to meet him. When Van Dorn captured Grant's supplies at Holly
Springs, in the autumn of 1862, the Federal commander had no alternative
but to make a rapid retreat to his base. A similar experience awaited
Sherman, who, leaving Vicksburg with thirty thousand men, marched without
opposition through Mississippi--General Polk, with his corps of ten
thousand men, falling back before him. Coöperating with Sherman was a
large cavalry force, which, leaving North Mississippi, was to unite with
him at Meridian, and upon this junction of forces depended the success of
the entire expedition. But General Forrest, a remarkably skillful and
energetic cavalry leader, attacked the Federal column, utterly routing and
dispersing it, though not having more than one-third the force of the
enemy. This necessitated the retreat of Sherman, with many circumstances
indicating demoralization among his troops. His expedition terminated with
no results sufficient to give it more dignity, than properly belonged to
at least a dozen other plundering and incendiary enterprises, undertaken
by Federal officers who are comparatively without reputation. The exploits
of Sherman in Mississippi gave him a "bad eminence," which he afterwards
well sustained by the burning of Rome and Atlanta, the sack of Columbia,
and his career of pillage and incendiarism in the Carolinas.

A notable event of the winter was the raid of Dahlgren, an expedition
marked by every dastardly and atrocious feature imaginable. When this
expedition of "picked" Federal cavalry had been put to ignominious flight
by the departmental clerks at Richmond, its retreat was harassed by local
and temporary organizations of farmers, school-boys, and furloughed men
from Lee's army. Not until its leader was killed, however, was revealed
the fiendish errand which he had undertaken. Upon his person was found
ample documentary evidence of the objects of the expedition, viz.: _to
burn and sack the city of Richmond, and to assassinate President Davis and
his cabinet_.[72] Yet this man, killed in honorable combat, after his
cut-throat mission had failed, was apotheosized by the North as a "hero,"
who had been "assassinated" while on an errand of patriotism and
philanthropy. The shocking details of this diabolical scheme,
substantiated by every necessary proof of authenticity, were published in
the Richmond journals, and instead of provoking the condemnation of the
hypocritical "humanity" of the North, with characteristic effrontery were
ridiculed as "rebel forgeries."

The Trans-Mississippi region was, in the early spring, the scene of
brilliant and important Confederate successes. About the middle of March,
the famous "Red River Expedition" of General Banks, contemplating the
complete subjugation of Louisiana, and the occupation of Western Texas,
was undertaken. The result was, perhaps, the most ignominious failure of
the war. Defeated by General Taylor, in a decisive engagement at
Mansfield, General Banks, with great difficulty, effected his retreat down
Red River, and abandoned the enterprise, which he had undertaken with such
extravagant anticipations of fame and wealth.

In the month of April, Forrest executed a brilliant campaign among the
Federal garrisons in Tennessee, capturing several thousand prisoners and
adding large numbers of recruits to his forces. With a force mainly
organized within three months, this dashing officer penetrated the
interior of Tennessee, which the enemy had already declared "conquered,"
capturing garrisons and stores, and concluded his campaign by penetrating
to the Mississippi River, and successfully storming Fort Pillow.[73] The
most encouraging event of the spring was the capture of Plymouth, North
Carolina, by General Hoke. This enterprise, executed with great gallantry
and skill, had the tangible reward of a large number of prisoners, many
cannon, and an important position with reference to the question of

The aggregate of these Confederate successes was not inconsiderable.
Expectation was strengthened by them at the South, and proportionately
disappointed at the North. It was chiefly in their influence upon public
feeling that these minor victories were valuable, as they in no way
affected the main current of the war, and were speedily overlooked at the
first sound of the mighty shock of arms along the Rapidan and in Northern
Georgia. Indeed, the actors in these preliminary events were, in most
instances, themselves shifted to these two main theatres, upon which the
concentrated power of each contestant was preparing its most desperate
exertions. Troops on both sides were recalled from South Carolina, and
even Florida, to participate in the great wrestle for the Confederate
capital, and the impending struggle in Georgia absorbed nearly all the
forces hitherto operating west of the Alleghanies and east of the

However discouraged may have been the public mind of the North at the
beginning of the year, the preparations of the Federal Government, for the
spring campaign, indicated no abatement of energy or determination. Well
aware of the diminished resources of the South, and of the political
necessities which imperatively demanded speedy and decisive successes, the
Federal administration prepared a more vigorous use of its great means
than had yet been attempted. The draft was energetically enforced, and
volunteering was stimulated by high bounties. At no period of the war were
the Federal armies so numerous, so well equipped and provided with every
means that tends to make war successful. Their _morale_ was better than at
the outset of any previous campaign. The Federal armies were now inured to
war, composed mainly of seasoned veterans, and commanded by officers whose
capacity had been amply tested in battle.

The agents selected by the Federal Government, to carry out its designs,
were men whose previous career justified their selection. The sagacity of
the North had, at length, realized the one essential object, to the
accomplishment of which all its efforts must contribute. This object was
the destruction of Lee's army. Virginia was justly declared the "backbone"
of Confederate power; Lee's army was the pedestal of the edifice. It was
in the clearer appreciation of this object, and in the determination to
subordinate every concern of the war to its accomplishment, that Northern
sentiment made a step forward, that was, of itself, no insignificant
auxiliary to ultimate success. The blows which Sherman prepared to deliver
upon the distant fields of Georgia, were aimed at Lee's army, not less
than were those of Grant. While the latter "hammered away continuously" in
Virginia, to pulverize, as it were, the column from which so many Federal
endeavors had been forced to recoil, Sherman was expected to pierce the
very centre of the Confederacy, and seize or destroy every remaining
source of sustenance.

The presence in Virginia of the General commanding all the Federal forces,
was sufficiently indicative of his recognition of the supreme object of
the campaign. The successful career of this officer was the recommendation
which secured for him the high position of Commander-in-Chief of the
armies of the Union. He was the most fortunate officer produced by the
war--fortunate not less in having won nearly every victory which could
promote the successful conclusion of the war, but fortunate in having won
victories where defeat was the result to be logically expected.

It is not at all necessary to weigh, in detail, the merits of General
Grant as a soldier. With the overwhelming argument of _results_ in his
favor, there would be little encouragement, even if there could be strict
justice, in denying superior ability to Grant. His campaigns have
contributed nothing to military science, in its correct sense, and the
military student will find in his operations few incidents that illustrate
the art or economy of war. In discarding the formulas of the schools, and
condemning the theories upon which the best of his predecessors had
conducted the war, Grant, by no means, proved that he was not a good
soldier. But his independence in this respect did not establish his claim
to genius, since his contempt for military rules and theories was not
followed by the display of any original features of true generalship. His
name was coupled with a great disaster at Shiloh, where he was rescued
from absolute destruction by the energy of Buell, and the delay of his
adversary. At Donelson, at Vicksburg, and at Missionary Ridge, he had
succeeded by mere weight of numbers; and, indeed, in no instance had he
exhibited any other quality of worth, than boldness and perseverance. But
his success was a sufficient recommendation to the material mind of the
North, which did not once pause to consider how far Grant's victories were
due to his military merit.

But whatever the defects of Grant in the higher qualities of generalship,
he was preëminently the man for the present emergency. If the Federal
Government saw the necessity of vigorous warfare, looking to speedy and
final results, General Grant knew how to conduct the campaign upon that
idea, provided the Government would give him unlimited means, and the
Northern people would consent to the unstinted sacrifice. Grant knew no
other than an aggressive system of warfare, and contemplated no other
method of destroying the Confederacy, than by the momentum of superior
weight--by heavy, simultaneous and continuous blows. The plans of Grant
were remarkable for their simplicity, and contemplated merely the
employment of the maximum of force against the two main armies of the
Confederacy, keeping the entire force of the South in constant and
unrelieved strain. By "continuous hammering" he thus hoped eventually to
destroy or exhaust it.

General Grant was again fortunate in having the unlimited confidence of
his Government, which placed at his disposal a million of soldiers, and
was prepared to accede to his every demand. To the most trusted of his
lieutenants--Sherman--Grant intrusted the conduct of operations against
the centre of the Confederacy, reserving for himself the control of the
campaign against Richmond, and Lee's army. His plan of operation was to
_destroy_, not to _defeat_, an army which he knew could not be conquered,
so long as its vitality remained. The military talent of the North had
been already exhausted against Lee, and its largest army too often baffled
by the Army of Northern Virginia, to admit the hope of defeating it in
battle. To _outgeneral_ Lee, Grant well knew required a greater master of
the art of war than himself. To _conquer_ the Army of Northern Virginia,
he, not less than his army, knew to be impossible. His calculation was to
wear it out by the "attrition" of successive and remorseless blows. This
theory was based upon the plain calculation that the North could furnish a
greater mass of humanity for the shambles, (as was afterward calculated it
could spare a greater mass for the prisons,) than the South, and that thus
when the latter should be exhausted, the former would still have left
abundant material for an army. Such was Grant's theory of the war.
Whatever may be thought of it as a military conception, the theory was one
that must succeed in the end, provided the perseverance of the North
should hold out.

General Grant determined upon a direct advance with the Army of the
Potomac against Richmond, by the overland route from the Rapidan. The
frame-work of his plan, however, embraced coöperating movements in other
quarters, which should, at the same time, occupy every man that might be
available for the reënforcement of Lee. Grant was embarrassed by no lack
of the men who were needed to make each one of these movements formidable.
The most important of these was that designed to occupy the southern
communications of Richmond, thus at once making the Confederate capital
untenable, and cutting off the retreat of Lee. This operation was
intrusted to General Butler, who, with thirty thousand men, was to ascend
James River, establish himself in a fortified position near City Point,
and invest Richmond on its south side. The other auxiliary movements were
designed against the westward communications of Richmond, and were to be
undertaken by Generals Sigel and Crook--the former, with seven thousand
men, moving up the Shenandoah Valley, and the latter, with ten thousand,
moving against the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. The force immediately
under General Grant was one hundred and forty thousand men of all arms.
Thus the grand aggregate of the Federal armies now threatening Richmond
reached the neighborhood of one hundred and ninety thousand men. In
addition to these was a force at Washington, equal in strength to the
whole of Lee's army.

The Federal Government was hardly less lavish in the distribution of its
enormous resources to Sherman than to Grant. Sherman had proven himself an
officer of much enterprise. Intellectually he was the superior of Grant,
but not less than other Federal commanders he relied upon superior numbers
to overcome the skill and valor of the Confederate armies. Physical
momentum was needed to overwhelm Johnston, and was amply supplied. Sherman
demanded one hundred thousand men to capture Atlanta, and, by the
consolidation of the various armies which had hitherto operated
independently in the West, his force attained within a few hundreds of
that number.

In painful contrast with this enormous outlay of forces, were the feeble
means of the Confederacy. When the season favorable for military
operations opened, General Lee confronted Grant upon the Rapidan, and
General Johnston faced Sherman near Dalton, in Northern Georgia. Neither
of these armies reached fifty thousand men. The undaunted aspect and mien
of firm resistance, with which both awaited the perilous onset of the
enemy, were, however, assuring of the steady determination which still
defended the Confederacy. Critical as was the emergency, the Government
and the country yet believed the strength of these two armies equal to the
great test of endurance, at least beyond the perils of the present
campaign. _To hold its own_ was the primary hope of the Confederacy. If
autumn could be reached without decisive victories by the North, and the
great Federal sacrifices of spring and summer should then have proven in
vain, there was ample ground for hope of those dissensions among the
enemy, which, throughout the struggle, constituted so large a share of
Confederate expectation.

On the 3d of May, 1864, General Grant initiated the campaign in Virginia,
by crossing the Rapidan with his advanced forces; on the 5th, the
correspondent movement of Sherman, a thousand miles away, was begun. By
the morning of the 5th, one hundred thousand Federal soldiers were across
the Rapidan, and on the same day, the first round of the great wrestle
occurred. Entertaining no doubt of his capacity to destroy Lee, Grant
imagined that his adversary would seek to escape. Having, in advance,
proclaimed his contempt for "maneuvres," he was solicitous only for an
opportunity to strike the Confederate army before it should elude his
grasp. But Hooker had made the same calculation a year before, and was
disappointed, and a like disappointment was now in store for Grant.

Lee had no power either to prevent the Federal crossing of the Rapidan,
nor to prevent the turning of his right. Instead of retreating, he
immediately assumed the aggressive, and dealt the assailant one of the
most effective blows ever aimed by that powerful arm. Three days sufficed
to reveal to the Federal commander his miscalculations of his adversary's
designs, and, baffled in all his operations, he already indicated distrust
of his system of warfare, and was compelled to attempt by "maneuvre," what
he had failed to effect by brute force. The events of the 5th and 6th of
May clearly demonstrated that strategy could not yet be dispensed with in
warfare. Indeed, nothing but Lee's extreme weakness and the untoward
wounding of Longstreet, in just such a crisis, and in exactly the same
manner as marked the fall of Jackson, prevented the defeat of the Federal
campaign in its incipiency. But for these circumstances the Federal
Agamemnon would have been completely unhorsed on the 6th of May, and would
have added another name to the list of decapitated commanders whom Lee had
successively brought to grief. But the luck of Grant did not forsake him,
and he still had numbers sufficient to attempt the "hammering" process
again. Grant's first attempt at "maneuvre" was a movement upon
Spottsylvania Court-house, a point south-east of the late battle-fields,
by which he sought to throw his army between Lee and Richmond. Again he
was to be disappointed, and again did the Confederate commander prove
himself the master of his antagonist, in every thing that constitutes
generalship. The Confederate forces were already at Spottsylvania, when
the Federal column reached the neighborhood, and Lee, so cautious in his
words, announced to his Government that the enemy had been "repulsed with
heavy slaughter."

But Lee had done far more than foil Grant. He had secured an impregnable
position upon the Spottsylvania heights, against which Grant
remorselessly, but vainly, dashed his huge columns for twelve days. At the
end of that period Lee's lines were still intact, his mien of resistance
still preserved, and the "hammering" generalship of Grant had cost the
North nearly fifty thousand veteran soldiers. Men already began to ask the
question, to which history will find a ready answer: "_What would be the
result if the resources of the two commanders were reversed?_" Not even
the North could fail to see how entirely barren of advantage was all this
horrible slaughter. The "shambles of the Wilderness" became the popular
phrase descriptive of Grant's operations, and the Northern public was
rapidly reaching the conclusion that the "hammer would itself break on the

While the dead-lock at Spottsylvania continued, and Lee held Grant at bay,
Richmond was seriously threatened by coöperating movements of the enemy.
General Grant had organized a powerful cavalry force under Sheridan, for
operations against the Confederate communications. Sheridan struck out
boldly in the direction of Richmond, followed closely by the Confederate
cavalry. For several days he hovered in the neighborhood of the city,
unable to penetrate the line of fortifications, and eventually retired in
the direction of James River.

A melancholy incident of this raid of Sheridan was the death, in an
engagement near Richmond, of General J. E. B. Stuart, the renowned cavalry
leader of the Army of Northern Virginia. This was a severe bereavement to
the South, and a serious loss to the army. Stuart's exploits fill a
brilliant chapter of the war in Virginia, and he was probably the ablest
cavalry chieftain in the Confederate army. President Davis, who was
constantly on the field during the presence of Sheridan near Richmond,
deeply deplored the loss of Stuart. The President, not less than General
Lee, reposed great confidence in Stuart's capacity for cavalry command,
and the noble character and gallant bearing of Stuart enlisted the warm
personal regard of Mr. Davis--a feeling which was heartily reciprocated.
Upon the day of his death, Mr. Davis visited the bedside of the dying
chief, and remained with him some time. In reply to the question of Mr.
Davis, "General, how do you feel?" Stuart replied: "Easy, but willing to
die, if God and my country think I have fulfilled my destiny and done my

The important correspondent movement of Butler upon the south side of
James River, began early in May. Ascending the river with numerous
transports, Butler landed at Bermuda Hundreds, and advanced against the
southern communications of Richmond. The force near the city was
altogether inadequate to check the army of Butler, and almost without
opposition he laid hold of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, and
advanced within a few miles of Drewry's Bluff, the fortifications of which
commanded the passage of the river to the Confederate capital. Troops were
rapidly thrown forward from the South, and by the 14th May, General
Beauregard had reached the neighborhood of Richmond, from Charleston.

Probably at no previous moment of the war was Richmond so seriously
threatened, as pending the arrival of Beauregard's forces. Mr. Davis was,
however, resolved to hold the city to the last extremity. Though much
indisposed at the time, he was every morning to be seen, accompanied by
his staff, riding in the direction of the military lines. Superintending,
to a large extent, the disposition of the small force defending the city,
he was fully aware of the extreme peril of the situation, but nevertheless
determined to share the dangers of the hour. When Beauregard reached the
scene the crisis had by no means passed. Unless Butler should be
dislodged, not only was Richmond untenable, but it was impossible to
maintain Lee's army north of James River. Yet the force available seemed
very inadequate to any thing like a decisive defeat of the enemy. The
aggregate of commands from the Carolinas, added to the force previously at
Richmond, did not exceed fifteen thousand men, while Butler, with thirty
thousand, held a strongly intrenched position.

Immediately upon his arrival, General Beauregard suggested a plan of
operations, by which he hoped to destroy Butler, and, without pausing, to
inflict a decisive defeat upon Grant. The plan he proposed was that Lee
should fall back to the defensive lines of the Chickahominy, even to the
intermediate lines of Richmond, temporarily sending fifteen thousand men
to the south side of the James, and with this accession of force he
proposed to take the offensive against Butler. Pointing out the isolated
situation of Butler, he urged the opportunity for his destruction by the
concentration of a superior force. Under the circumstances General
Beauregard thought the capture of Butler's force inevitable, and the
occupation of his depot of supplies at Bermuda Hundreds a necessary
consequence. When these results should be accomplished, he proposed, at a
concerted moment, to throw his whole force upon Grant's flank, while Lee
attacked in front. General Beauregard was confident of his ability to make
the attack upon Butler, in two days after receiving the desired
reënforcements, and was equally confident of the result both against
Butler and Grant. His proposition concluded with the declaration that
Grant's fate could not be doubtful if the proposed concentration should be
made, and indicated the following gratifying results: "The destruction of
Grant's forces would open the way for the recovery of most of our lost

Whatever his views as to its feasibility, the President could not refuse a
careful consideration of a plan, whose author, in advance, claimed such
momentous results. Upon reflection President Davis declined the plan as
involving too great a risk, not only of the safety of Richmond, but of the
very existence of Lee's army. The proposition of Beauregard was submitted
on the 14th May. At that time the grapple between Grant and Lee was still
unrelaxed. Twelve days of battle had cost Lee fifteen thousand men.
Meanwhile he had not received _a single additional musket_, while Grant
had nearly supplied his losses by reënforcements from Washington. Thus,
while Lee's force did not reach forty thousand, Grant's still approximated
one hundred and thirty thousand. The President also knew that Grant was at
that moment closely pressing Lee, moving toward his left, and seeking
either to overlap or break in upon the right flank of Lee.

The proposed detachment of fifteen thousand men from Lee, leaving him not
more than twenty-five thousand, in such a crisis, would have been simply
madness. Butler, it is possible, might have been destroyed, but the end of
the Confederacy would have been hastened twelve months. It is questionable
whether, at any moment after Grant crossed the Rapidan, the overmatched
army of Lee could have been diminished without fatal disaster. The timely
arrival of Longstreet had prevented a serious reverse on the 6th May. Is
it reasonable to suppose that Lee could have detached one-third of his
army, without Grant's knowledge, or that the energy of the Federal
commander would have permitted an hour's respite to his sorely-pressed
adversary after the discovery? The case would have been altogether
different, had Lee been already safe within his works at Richmond. Under
the circumstances proposed, he had before him a perilous retrograde,
followed by a force four times his own strength, and commanded by the most
unrelenting and persistent of officers.

But there was another view of the proposition not to be overlooked by the
President in his perilous responsibility. It is true Beauregard promised
grand results--nothing less than the total destruction of nearly all the
Federal forces in Virginia. In brief, his plan proposed to destroy two
hundred thousand men with less than sixty thousand. Again it was true the
enemy was to be destroyed in detail--Butler first, and Grant afterwards.
There were precedents in history for such achievements. But it should be
remembered that _if_ Butler should be immediately destroyed, and _if_ Lee
should be guaranteed a safe retrograde, Beauregard would still be able to
aid Lee to the extent of but little more than twenty thousand men. This
would give Lee less than fifty thousand with which to take the offensive
against more than twice that number. Against just such odds Lee had
already tried the offensive, and failed because of his weakness. He had
assailed Grant under the most favorable circumstances, effecting a
complete surprise when the Federal commander believed him already
retreating, but was unable to follow up his advantage. Was there reason to
believe that any better result would follow from a repetition of the

Believing himself not justified in hazarding the safety of the
Confederacy upon such a train of doubtful conditions, and agreeing with
General Beauregard, that Butler could be dislodged from his advanced
positions, so menacing to Richmond, Mr. Davis rejected a plan which, under
different circumstances, he would have heartily and confidently adopted.

With remarkable promptitude, Beauregard conceived a brilliant plan of
battle, and within twenty-four hours had already put it in virtual
execution. With fifteen thousand men, he drove Butler from all his
advanced works, and confined him securely in the _cul de sac_ of Bermuda
Hundreds, where, in a few months, ended the inglorious military career of
a man who, in every possible manner, dishonored the sword which he wore,
and disgraced the Government which he served. The brilliant conception of
Beauregard merited even better results, which were prevented not less by
untoward circumstances than by the weakness of his command.

While Beauregard thus effectually neutralized Butler, Grant's
combinations, elsewhere, were brought to signal discomfiture. The
expedition from the Kanawha Valley had been, in a measure, successful in
its designs against the communications of South-western Virginia, but did
not obtain the coöperation designed, by the column moving up the
Shenandoah Valley. Sigel, in his advance up the Valley, was encountered at
Newmarket by General Breckinridge, who signally defeated him, capturing
artillery and stores, and inflicting a heavy loss upon the enemy. Sigel
retreated hastily down the Valley.

General Grant, on the 11th of May, proclaimed to his Government his
purpose "to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer," yet, within
a week afterwards, he was already meditating another plan of operations.
Forty thousand of the bravest soldiers of the Federal army had been vainly
sacrificed, and yet the Confederate line remained intact upon the
impregnable hills of Spottsylvania. A week was consumed in fruitless
search for a weak point in the breastplate of Lee. Grant was again driven
to "maneuvre." Foiled again and again by the great exemplar of strategy,
with whom he contended, Grant at no point turned his face towards Richmond
without finding Lee across his path. Moving constantly to the left, the 3d
of June--exactly one month from the crossing of the Rapidan--found Grant
near the Chickahominy, and Lee still facing him. The fortune of war again
brought the belligerents upon the old battle-ground of the Peninsula. Just
before Lee reached the defenses of Richmond, for the first time during the
campaign, he received reënforcements.[75] Grant also was strengthened,
drawing sixteen thousand men from Butler at Bermuda Hundreds.

On the 3d of June occurred the second battle of Cold Harbor. It was the
last experiment of the strictly "hammering" system, unaided by the
resources of strategy. It cost Grant thirteen thousand men, and Lee a few
hundred. Such was a fitting _finale_ of a campaign avowedly undertaken
upon the brutal principle of the mere consumption of life, and in contempt
of every sound military precept. Cold Harbor terminated the overland
movement of Grant, and he speedily abandoned the line upon which he had
proposed "to fight all summer." Not that he willingly abandoned his
"hammering" principle after this additional sacrifice of lives, for he
would still have dashed his army against the impregnable wall in his
front, but his men recoiled, in the consciousness of an impotent endeavor.
They had done all that troops could accomplish, and shrank from that which
their own experience told them was _impossible_. And there should be no
wonder that the Federal army was reluctant to be vainly led to slaughter
again. For forty days its proven mettle had been subjected to a cruel
test, such as even Napoleon, reckless of his men's lives as he was, had
never imposed upon an army. It is safe to say that no troops but Americans
could have been held so long to such an enterprise as that attempted by
Grant in May, 1864, and none but Americans could have withstood such
desperate assaults as were sustained by Lee's army.

In one month, from the Rapidan to the Chickahominy, more than sixty
thousand of the flower of the Federal army had been put _hors du combat_,
and many of the best of its officers, men identified with its whole
history, were lost forever. In one month Lee had inflicted a loss greater
than the whole of the force which he commanded during the last year of the
war! Yet this was the "generalship" of Grant, for which a meeting of
twenty-five thousand men in New York returned the "thanks of the nation."
The world was invited, by the sensational press of the North, to admire
the "strategy" which had carried the Federal army from the Rapidan to the
James, a position which it might have reached by transports without the
loss of a man.

For a brief season, hope, positive and well-defined, dawned upon the
South. Thus far the problem of _endurance_ was in favor of the
Confederacy. Grant's stupendous combinations against Richmond had broken
down. The spirit of the North seemed to be yielding, and again the Federal
Government encountered the danger of a collapse of the war.

The battle of Cold Harbor convinced General Grant of the futility of
operations against Richmond from the north side of James River. He
therefore determined to transfer his army to the south side of the river,
and seek to possess himself of the communications southward, and to employ
coöperative forces to destroy or occupy the communications of Richmond
with Lynchburg and the Shenandoah Valley. This involved new combinations,
and Grant still had abundant means to execute them. If successful, this
plan would completely isolate Richmond, leaving no avenue of supplies
except by the James River Canal, which also would be easily accessible.

Lee could not prevent the transfer of Grant's army to the south side.
Petersburg and Richmond were both to be defended, and his strength was too
limited to be divided. Grant made a vigorous dash against Petersburg. He
had anticipated an easy capture of that city by a _coup de main_, but in
this he was disappointed. Petersburg was found to be well fortified, and
the desperate assaults made by the Federal advanced forces were repulsed.
In a few days Lee's army again confronted Grant, and Richmond and
Petersburg were safe.

Thus the system of rushing men upon fortifications failed on the south
side not less signally than in the overland campaign. The Federal
commander had no alternative but a formal siege of Petersburg. Driven by
circumstances beyond his control, General Grant thus assumed a position
which, in the end, proved fatal to the Confederacy, and the results of
which have exalted him, in the view of millions, to rank among the
illustrious generals of history. The south side of James River was always
the real key to the possession of Richmond. Sooner or later the
Confederate capital must fall, if assailed from that direction with
pertinacity, and with such ample means as were given to Grant.

The new Federal combination was in process of execution by the middle of
June. After the defeat of Sigel, a large force was organized in the lower
valley, and intrusted to the direction of General Hunter, an officer
distinguished by fanatical zeal against the section of which he was a
native, and by the peculiar cruelty of a renegade. Breckinridge had been
withdrawn from the Valley, to Lee's lines, immediately after his defeat of
Sigel, and Hunter without difficulty overwhelmed the small force left
under General Jones. Forming a junction with Crook and Averill from
North-western Virginia, at Staunton, Hunter advanced upon Lynchburg,
meanwhile destroying public and private property indiscriminately, and
practicing a system of incendiarism and petty oppression against which
even Federal officers protested.

It was necessary to detach a portion of the army from the lines of
Richmond to check the demonstration of Hunter. Accordingly, General Early,
who had acquired great reputation in the battles upon the Rapidan, was
sent with eight thousand men to the Valley. Uniting his forces to those
already on the ground, General Early made a vigorous pursuit of Hunter,
whose flight was as dastardly as his conduct had been despicable.
Retreating with great precipitation through the mountains of Western
Virginia, Hunter's force, for several weeks, bore no relation to
operations in Virginia. With the Shenandoah Valley thus denuded of
invaders, Early rapidly executed a movement of his forces down the Valley,
with a view to a demonstration beyond the Potomac frontier, which was
entirely uncovered by Hunter's retreat. The movement of Early into
Maryland caused, as was anticipated, a detachment from Grant's forces,
for the defense of the Federal capital. Advancing with extraordinary
vigor, General Early pursued the retreating enemy, defeating them in an
engagement near Frederick City, and arrived near Washington on the 10th of
July. Warned of the approach of heavy reënforcements from Grant, which
must arrive before the works could be carried, Early abandoned his design
of an attack upon Washington, and retired across the Potomac, with his
extensive and valuable captures.

Signal failure attended the cavalry expeditions sent by Grant against the
railroads. Sheridan, while moving northward against Gordonsville and
Charlottesville, from which points, after inflicting all possible damage
upon the railroads to Richmond, he was to join Hunter at Lynchburg, was
intercepted by Wade Hampton, the worthy successor of Stuart, and compelled
to abandon his part of the campaign. An extended raid, under Wilson and
Kautz, on the south side, also terminated in disaster. The expedition of
Burbridge against South-western Virginia was baffled by a counter-movement
of Morgan with his cavalry, into Kentucky, the Federal forces following
him into that State.

Thus again were all of General Grant's plans disappointed, and by
midsummer the situation in Virginia was altogether favorable to the
Confederacy. There was indeed good reason for the evident apprehension of
the North, that, after all, Grant's mighty campaign was a failure. His
mere proximity to the Confederate capital signified nothing. All his
attempts against both Petersburg and Richmond, whether by strategy or
_coups de main_, had ended in disaster; the Confederate lines were
pronounced impregnable by the ablest Federal engineers, and after the
ridiculous _fiasco_ of "Burnside's mine," the capture of Richmond seemed
as remote as ever. To increase public alarm at the North, was added the
activity of Lee, his evident confidence in his ability to hold his own,
with a diminished force, and even to threaten the enemy with invasion.

The Confederate Government, fully apprized of the momentous results, with
which the present year was pregnant, and of the increased peril which
assailed the Confederacy, in consequence of its diminished resources,
depended upon other influences, than an exhibition of military strength,
to promote its designs. The cause of the South could no longer be
submitted, unaided, to the arbitrament of battle. At other periods, while
freely avowing his desire for peace, and offering to the Federal
authorities, opportunity for negotiation, President Davis had relied
almost solely upon the sword, as the agency of Southern independence. The
opening of the spring campaign of 1864 was deemed a favorable conjuncture
for the employment of the resources of diplomacy. To approach the Federal
Government directly would be in vain. Repeated efforts had already
demonstrated its inflexible purpose not to negotiate with the Confederate
authorities. Political developments at the North, however, favored the
adoption of some action that might influence popular sentiment in the
hostile section. The aspect of the peace party was especially encouraging,
and it was evident that the real issue to be decided in the Presidential
election, was the continuance or cessation of the war.

A commission of three gentlemen, eminent in position and intelligence, was
accordingly appointed by Mr. Davis to visit Canada, with a view to
negotiation with such persons in the North, as might be relied upon, to
facilitate the attainment of peace. This commission was designed to
facilitate such preliminary conditions, as might lead to formal
negotiation between the two governments, and their intelligence was fully
relied upon to make judicious use of any political opportunities that
might be presented in the progress of military operations.

The Confederate commissioners, Messrs. Clay, of Alabama, Holcombe, of
Virginia, and Thompson, of Mississippi, sailed from Wilmington at the
incipiency of the campaign on the Rapidan. Within a few weeks thereafter
they were upon the Canada frontier, in the execution of their mission. A
correspondence with Horace Greeley commenced on the 12th of July. Through
Mr. Greeley the commissioners sought a safe conduct to the Federal
capital. For a few days Mr. Lincoln appeared to favor an interview with
the commissioners, but finally rejected their application, on the ground
that they were not authorized to treat for peace. In his final
communication, addressed "To whom it may concern," Mr. Lincoln offered
safe conduct to any person or persons having authority to control the
armies then at war with the United States, and authorized to treat upon
the following basis of negotiation: "the restoration of peace, the
_integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery_."

Upon this basis, negotiation was, of course, precluded, and peace
impossible. Mr. Lincoln was perfectly aware that the commissioners had no
control of the Confederate armies, and that the Confederate Government
alone was empowered to negotiate. He therefore did not expect the
acceptance of his passport, and added to the mockery an arrogant
statement, in advance, of the conditions upon which he would consent to
treat. Even if the commissioners had been empowered to treat, Mr.
Lincoln's terms dictated the surrender of every thing for which the South
was fighting, and more than the North professed to demand at the outset.
Abolition was now added to the conditions of re-admission to the Union.
Mr. Lincoln's proposition was a cruel mockery, an unworthy insult to the
manhood of a people, whom his armies, at least, had learned to respect.



General Johnston had failed to realize either the expectations of the
public, or the hope of the Government, in his direction of the campaign in
Georgia. His tactics were those uniformly illustrated by this officer in
all his operations, of falling back before the enemy, and seeking to
obviate the disadvantage of inferior numbers by partial engagements in
positions favorable to himself. There was, indeed, some parallel between
his campaign and that of Lee, between the Rapidan and James, but the
results in Virginia and Georgia were altogether disproportionate. The
advance of Sherman was slow and cautious, but nevertheless steady; and
when the campaign had lasted seventy days, he was before Atlanta, the
objective point of his designs, and in secure occupation of an extensive
and important section of country, heretofore inaccessible to the Federal
armies. Not only were Sherman's losses small, as compared with those of
Grant, but his force was relatively much weaker.

There can be no just comparison of these two campaigns, either as
illustrating the same system of tactics, or as yielding the same results.
The aggregate of Federal forces in Georgia did not exceed, at the
beginning of the campaign, one hundred thousand men, if indeed it reached
that figure. To oppose this, Johnston had forty-five thousand. We have
already stated the aggregate of Federal forces in Virginia to have been at
least four times the force that, under any circumstances, Lee could have
made available. The public did not interpret as _retreats_, the parallel
movements by which Lee successively threw himself in the front of Grant,
wherever the latter made a demonstration. Not once had Lee turned his back
upon the enemy, nor abandoned a position, save when the baffled foe, after
enormous losses, sought a new field of operations. At its conclusion,
Grant had sustained losses in excess of the whole of Lee's army, abandoned
altogether his original design, and sought a base of operations, which he
might have reached in the beginning, not only without loss, but without
even opposition.

Some explanation of the widely disproportionate results achieved in
Virginia and Georgia, is to be found in the different tactics of the
Federal commanders. Sherman, whose nature is thoroughly aggressive, yet
developed great skill and caution. Instead of fruitlessly dashing his army
against fortifications, upon ground of the enemy's choosing, he treated
the positions of Johnston as fortresses, from which his antagonist was to
be flanked.

But while this explanation was appreciated, the public was much disposed
to accept the two campaigns as illustrations of the different systems of
tactics accredited to the two Confederate commanders. It was seen that in
Virginia the enemy occupied no new territory, and, at the end of three
months, was upon ground which he might easily have occupied at the
beginning of the campaign, but to reach which, by the means selected, had
cost him nearly eighty thousand men.[76] In Georgia, on the other hand,
Sherman had advanced one hundred miles upon soil heretofore firmly held by
the Confederacy, and without a general engagement of the opposing forces.
In Virginia, the enemy had no difficulty as to his transportation, and the
farther Grant advanced towards James River, the more secure and abundant
became his means of supply. In Georgia, Sherman drew his supplies over
miles of hostile territory, and was nowhere aided by the proximity of
navigable streams.

When in a censorious mood, the popular mind is not over-careful of the
aptness of the parallels and analogies, wherewith to justify its carping
judgments. Without denying his skill, or questioning his possession of the
higher qualities of generalship, people complained that "Johnston was a
retreating general." Whatever judgment may have arisen from subsequent
events, it can not be fairly denied that when Johnston reached Atlanta,
there was a very perceptible loss of popular confidence, not less in the
issue of the campaign than in General Johnston himself. It was in
deference to popular sentiment, as much as in accordance with his views of
the necessity of the military situation, that President Davis, about the
middle of July, relieved General Johnston from command. Sympathizing
largely with the popular aspiration for a more bold, ample, and
comprehensive policy, and appreciating the value of unlimited public
confidence, Mr. Davis had lost much of his hope of those decisive results,
which he believed the Western army competent to achieve.

The dispatch relieving General Johnston was as follows:

    "RICHMOND, VA., July 17, 1864.

    "_To General J. E. Johnston_:

    "Lieutenant-General J. B. Hood has been commissioned to the temporary
    rank of General, under the law of Congress. I am directed by the
    Secretary of War to inform you, that as you have failed to arrest the
    advance of the enemy to the vicinity of Atlanta, and _express no
    confidence that you can defeat or repel him_, you are hereby relieved
    from the command of the Army and Department of Tennessee, which you
    will immediately turn over to General Hood.

        "S. COOPER,
            "_Adjutant and Inspector-General_."

This order sufficiently explains the immediate motive of Johnston's
removal, but there was a train of circumstances which, at length, brought
the President reluctantly to this conclusion. The progress of events in
Georgia, from the beginning of spring, had developed a marked difference
in the views of General Johnston and the President. Early in the year Mr.
Davis had warmly approved an offensive campaign against the Federal army,
while its various wings were not yet united. The Federal force, then in
the neighborhood of Dalton, did not greatly exceed the Confederate
strength, and Mr. Davis, foreseeing the concentration of forces for the
capture of Atlanta, believed the opportunity for a decisive stroke to
exist before this concentration should ensue. General Hood likewise
favored this view of the situation. He urged that the enemy would
certainly concentrate forces to such an extent, if permitted, as would
gradually force the Southern army back into the interior, where a defeat
would be irreparable, with no new defensive line, and without the hope of
rallying either the army or the people. General Johnston opposed these
views, on the ground that the enemy, if defeated, had strong positions
where they could take refuge, while a defeat of the Confederate force
would be fatal. This difference of opinion is to be appropriately decided
only by military criticism, but it can not be fairly adjudged that an
offensive in the spring would not have succeeded, because it failed in the
following autumn. Circumstances were altogether different.

General Johnston's operations between Dalton and Atlanta were
unsatisfactory to Mr. Davis. Here again arises a military question, which
we shall not seek to decide, in the evident difference as to the capacity
of the Army of Tennessee, for any other than purely defensive operations.
It was, indeed, not so much an opposition on the part of the President, to
Johnston's operations, as the apprehension of a want of ultimate aim in
his movements. Whatever the plans of General Johnston may have been, they
were not communicated to Mr. Davis, at least in such a shape as to
indicate the hope of early and decisive execution. Alarmed for the results
of a policy having seemingly the characteristics of drifting, of waiting
upon events, and of hoping for, instead of _creating opportunity_, Mr.
Davis yet felt the necessity of giving General Johnston an ample trial.
During all this period strong influences were brought to bear against
Johnston, and upon the other hand, he was warmly sustained by influences
friendly both to himself and the President.

For weeks the President was importuned by these conflicting counsels, the
natural effect of which was to aggravate his grave doubts as to the
existence of any matured ultimate object in General Johnston's movements.
Upon one occasion, while still anxiously deliberating the subject, an
eminent politician, a thorough patriot, a supporter of Mr. Davis, and
having to an unlimited extent his confidence, called at the office of the
President, with a view to explain the situation in Georgia, whence he had
just arrived. This gentleman had been with the army, knew its condition,
its enthusiasm and confidence. He was confident that General Johnston
would destroy Sherman, and did not believe that the Federal army would
ever be permitted to reach even the neighborhood of Atlanta. Mr. Davis,
having quietly heard this explanation, replied by handing to his visitor a
dispatch just received from Johnston, and _dated at Atlanta_. The army had
already reached Atlanta, before the gentleman could reach Richmond, and he
acknowledged himself equally amazed and disappointed.

Despite his doubts and apprehensions, however, Mr. Davis resisted the
applications of members of Congress and leading politicians from the
section in which General Johnston was operating, for a change of
commanders, until he felt himself no longer justified in hazarding the
loss of Atlanta without a struggle. There appeared little ground for the
belief that Johnston would hold Atlanta, nor did there appear any reason
why his arrival there should occasion a departure from his previous
retrograde policy. Of the purpose of General Johnston to evacuate Atlanta
the President felt that he had abundant evidence. Not until he felt fully
satisfied upon this point, was the removal of that officer determined
upon. Indeed, the order removing Johnston sets forth as its justification,
that he had expressed no confidence in his ability to "repel the enemy."
If Atlanta should be surrendered, where would General Johnston expect to
give battle?[77]

Subsequently to his removal, General Johnston avowed that his purpose was
to hold Atlanta; and, therefore, we are not at liberty to question his
purpose. But this does not alter the legitimate inference drawn by Mr.
Davis at the time of his removal. Can it be believed that the President
would have taken that step, if satisfied of Johnston's purpose to deliver
battle for Atlanta?

This entire subject belongs appropriately only to military discussion, and
no decision from other sources can possibly affect the ultimate sentence
of that tribunal. Yet the most serious disparagement of Mr. Davis, by
civilian writers, has been based upon the removal of Johnston from the
command of the Western army. Granting that General Johnston would have
sought to hold Atlanta, can it be believed that the ultimate result would
have been different? When Sherman invested Atlanta, the North found some
compensation for Grant's failures in Virginia; and even though his force
should have been inadequate for a siege, can it now be doubted that he
would have been reënforced to any needed extent? The mere presence of
Sherman at Atlanta was justly viewed by the North as an important success.
He had followed his antagonist to the very heart of the Confederacy, and
was master of innumerable strong positions held by the Confederates at the
outset of the campaign. To suppose that he would, at such a moment, be
permitted to fail from a lack of means, is a hypothesis at variance with
the conduct of the North throughout the war.

General Johnston has that sort of negative vindication which arises from
the disasters of his successor, though, as we shall presently show, Mr.
Davis was nowise responsible for the misfortunes of General Hood.[78] The
question is one which must some day arise as between the general military
policy of the Confederacy, and the antagonistic views which have been so
freely ascribed to General Johnston by his admirers. We have no desire to
pursue that antagonism, which, if it really existed, can hardly yet be a
theme for impartial discussion. Towards the close of the war, it was usual
to accredit Johnston with the theory that the Confederacy could better
afford to _lose territory than men_, and that hence the true policy of the
South was to avoid general engagements, unless under such circumstances as
should totally neutralize the enemy's advantage in numbers. We are not
prepared to say to what extent these announcements of his views were
authorized by General Johnston, or to what extent they were based upon
retrospection. Some confirmation of their authenticity would seem to be
deducible from General Johnston's declaration since the war, that the
"Confederacy was too weak for offensive war." Certainly there could be no
theory more utterly antagonistic to the genius of the Southern people, and
that is a consideration, to which the great commanders of history have not
usually been indifferent. Nor was it the theory which inspired those
achievements of Southern valor, which will ring through the centuries. It
was not the theory which Lee and Jackson adopted, nor, we need hardly
add, that which Jefferson Davis approved.

Indeed, the philosophy of the Southern failure is not to be sought in the
discussion of opposing theories among Confederate leaders. The conclusion
of history will be, not that the South accomplished less than was to be
anticipated, but far more than have any other people under similar
circumstances. Southern men hardly yet comprehend the real odds in numbers
and resources which for four years they successfully resisted. Other
questions than those merely of aggregate populations and material wealth,
enter into the solution of the problem.

By the census of 1860, the aggregate free population of the thirteen
States, which the Confederacy claimed, was 7,500,000, leaving in the
remaining States of the Union a free population of over twenty millions.
This statement includes Kentucky and Missouri as members of the
Confederacy; yet, by the compulsion of Federal bayonets, these States, not
less than Maryland and Delaware, were virtually on the side of the North.
Kentucky proclaimed neutrality, but during the whole war was overrun by
the Federal armies, and, with her State government and large numbers of
her people favoring the North, despite the Southern sympathies of the
majority, her moral influence, as well as her physical strength, sustained
the Union. The legitimate government of Missouri, and a majority of her
people, sided with the South; but early occupied and held by the Federal
army, her legitimate government was subverted, and her moral and physical
resources were thrown into the scale against the Confederacy.

To say nothing of the large numbers of recruits obtained by the Federal
armies from Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, (chiefly from their large
foreign populations,) their contributions to the Confederate army were
nearly, if not quite, compensated by the accessions to Federal strength
from East Tennessee, Western Virginia, and other portions of the seceded
States. It would be fair, therefore, to deduct the population of these two
States from that of the South, and this would leave the Confederacy five
and one-half millions. Dividing their free populations between the two
sections, and the odds were six and a half millions against twenty and a
half millions. This is a liberal statement for the North, and embraces
only the original populations of the two sections at the beginning of
hostilities. There can hardly be a reasonable doubt, that had the struggle
been confined to these numerical forces, the South would have triumphed.
But hordes of foreign mercenaries, incited by h