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[384] He drew the same lesson from Italy and Rome, once mistress of the world, and solemnly warned them that where liberty is once destroyed it may never return again.

Coming back to the State of Georgia he referred to the anxiety of many there in 1850 to secede from the Union--and showed that since 1850 the material wealth of Georgia, as a member of the Union, bad nearly if not quite doubled.

He spoke of the prosperity in agriculture, commerce, art, science, and every department of education, physical and mental, and warned them against listening to the like temptation as that offered to our progenitors in the Garden of Eden — when they were led to believe that they would become as gods, and yielding in an evil hour saw only their own nakedness.

“I look,” he said, “upon this country, with its institutions, as the Eden of the world, the paradise of the universe. It may be that out of it we may become greater and more prosperous; but I am candid and sincere in telling you, that I fear if we rashly evince passion, and without sufficient cause shall take that step, that instead of becoming greater or more peaceful, prosperous, and happy — instead of becoming gods, we will become demons, and at no distant day commence cutting one another's throats.”

There, my countrymen, we have the testimony of the vice-president of the rebel confederacy, and the fact that Mr. Stephens, like our progenitors of whom he spoke, yielded to temptation and became a chief abettor of the scheme of ruin which he so strongly deprecated, detracts nothing from the value of this remarkable speech. His treachery proves only his own weakness, it impeaches neither the truth of his facts, the aptness of his illustrations, nor the conclusions to which he was led by his historic experience and irresistible logic.

Already in South Carolina, first and chiefest of the seceding States, have men professing to be respectable, men whose names connect them in past generations with Englishmen of gentle blood and Huguenots of heroic fame, men who for years have borne in foreign climes the proud title of American citizens, and who know the simple dignity of the American Republic among the nations of the earth — already are these men, since they discarded the protection of the Federal Government, so lost to self-respect that they are not only ready to submit to a foreign yoke, but, according to their eulogist, Mr. Russell, in a paragraph I will presently quote, they actually whimper like children for the privilege of becoming the vassals of an European princelet.

We have glanced at the secret history of the conspiracy. Now, let me ask, on what ground does this usurping confederacy ask to be recognized as independent, and admitted to the family of nations?

In the convention of South Carolina, in reply to an objection that the declaration reported by the committee dwelt too much on the fugitive slave law and the personal liberty bills, as giving it the appearance of special pleading, Mr. Memminger said: “Allow me to say to the honorable gentleman, that when you take position that you have a right to break your faith, to destroy an agreement that you have made, to tear off your seal from the document to which it is affixed, you are bound to justify yourself fully to all the nations of the world, for there is nothing that casts such a stain upon the escutcheon of a nation as a breach of faith.”

In this Mr. Memminger was clearly right, and the alleged breach of faith by the North, touching the execution of the fugitive slave law, was resorted to as affording a plausible pretext for seceding from the Union. But the debates show that this pretext was a sham, and Mr. Rhett frankly declared that he regarded the fugitive slave law as unconstitutional, and that Mr. Webster and Mr. Keitt had expressed the same opinion.

You have seen, too, from Mr. Stephens, that all the constitutional rights of the South were protected within the Union--and that the South was indebted to the Union for her safety, prosperity, and happiness.

What then is the real ground on which the breach of faith committed by the seceding States is to be justified, if it can be justified at all; on what ground is it recommended to the prejudices of the South and to the impartial judgment of the world?

After secession was an accomplished fact, so far as their conventions could manage it by usurped authority and fictitious majorities, and Mr. Stephens had become not only a member but a prominent leader of the conspiracy, he said at Atlanta:

The foundations of our new government are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Mr. Stephens enlarged upon this distinguishing characteristic of the government, to establish which the Union was to be dissolved, sneered at the principle that all men are equal, enunciated by our fathers in the Declaration of Independence, “as the pestilent heresy of fancy politicians” --declared that “African inequality and the equality of white men were the chief corner-stone of the Southern republic” and claimed that “with a government so founded, the world would recognize in theirs the model nation of history.”

Here we have their only apology for this rebellion, stripped of all shams and disguises, and thus at length, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, stand face to face in deadly conflict the antagonist systems of the new world.

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