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[19]

But who, of all this host of oppressors, can now stand up before the world and dare to claim its honest judgment on the history of his official life?

In this final and solemn judgment of the people, uttered through the ballot-box and put into execution by a bold and faithful Executive, the moral assurance of a lasting, honorable, and blessed peace receives its final confirmation.

The Southern people are parties to this covenant of peace, entitled to its benefits, and bound by its stipulations.

It is not a mere act of grace. It is not a mere boon or favor given to us to soothe the anguish or compensate for the misfortunes of the past. It is our due under the Constitution. If it had been the reward of long suffering in support of the Constitution, we should have well earned it; but it is our inheritance; ours by the highest title-and honor and duty, as well as our best interests, require that we should support, maintain, and defend it.

Not every man in the North accepts the peace or feels bound to support it, for some are found who, in their conduct and by open declaration, are its enemies. They disavow it as binding upon them, because they pretended to believe that we intended to violate it. Wishing it broken, they affect to distrust us because they assert that we will destroy it. But these men misunderstand us. They prefer to think evil of us. They studied us at too great a distance during the war; and since, they have studied us while the deep shadows of humiliation rested upon us, and the sullen defiance of tyranny and oppression was expressed in every act. When they have scanned us in the light of the sun of liberty and in the --day of deliverance, they will be less afraid that we will break the honorable peace we have so long coveted.

They have heretofore studied our material resources, and the easiest and surest means of appropriating them, and seem to distrust us as covenant-breakers because we were querulous at the liberties they took with our rights.

We were not covenant-breakers. We have kept the faith with all who have ever relied upon our honor. Even with those who have oppressed us we have never broken faith.

It is true that insulted justice has dared to bring to its bar some of the most corrupt and most dangerous men, who have set the law at defiance; and this is complained of already as a breach of the peace of 1877. But we should be unworthy of any peace but that of oblivion if we could accept any conditions which such malefactors would demand as the price of a base and disgraceful condonation of their crimes.

Liberty is not acceptable to the people of the South when it is polluted with corruption.

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