Forrest and his campaigns.
Gentlemen of the Southern Historical Society:Believing it to be the duty of each Southern participant in the great war of secession to contribute his pebble to the monumental pile you are building up for Confederate history, I have gladly accepted your invitation to address you on this occasion. We may expect our opponents to color unfavorably for us, if not to mistate the facts as to the cause and the conduct of that war; and it is due to ourselves, to our dead comrades and to our posterity, that we should leave behind us such material for the future historian as will enable him to do us justice if he will. We should seek no controversy as to its cause or its conduct, but should never shrink from its defence when the occasion demands it. All we ask is an impartial statement in history of our cause, as we understood it; and it devolves on the survivors of the struggle to correct whatever we believe to be erroneous statements in regard to it, whenever and wherever they are made. General Government was supposed by usurpation of power to infringe on rights reserved to the people of the States united. Massachusetts threatened secession in the war of 1812, when her commerce was crippled; South Carolina threatened nullification in 1832, when a high protective tariff discriminated heavily against her interest. Every State of the North practiced nullification against the fugitive slave laws as fast as they came under the control of the Republican party. Eleven States of the South attempted to practice secession when the General Government fell into the hands of the Republican party, whose leaders had denounced the constitution as “a covenant with the devil,” and the Union as a “league with hell.” No honorable man can read the last speech of Jefferson Davis, in the United States Senate, or the letters of Sidney Johnston and Robert E. Lee, when about to resign their positions in the United States army, and say that the Confederate leaders left the Union “from choice or on light occasion.” They loved the Union formed of States united by the constitution; they feared a Union consolidated in the hands of men who denounced the constitution. They seceded not, as falsely charged, “to shoot the Union to death,” but mainly to preserve alive the institution of slavery, guaranteed by the constitution of the United States, and which they feared would be destroyed by the Republican party. Time has proved that their fears were not without foundation. Mr. Lincoln and two-thirds of his party in Congress then denied any purpose to destroy slavery,