If the people with such a history could have adopted secession, mighty indeed must have been the propulsion to it. I shall not discuss its policy, for it would be as vain a thing to do as to discuss that of the Revolution of 1776.
Each revolution concluded the question that induced it. Slavery was the cause of our civil war, and with the war its cause perished.
But it should be the desire of all to understand each other and to think well of each other, and the mind capable of just and intelligent reflection should not fail, in judging the past, to remember the conditions and views that controlled the Southern
people and their leader.
Remember that their forefathers, with scarce less attachment to the British
government, and with less conflict of interest, had set the precedent, seceding themselves from the British
empire, tearing down ancient institutions, revolutionizing the very structure of society, and giving proud answers to all accusers in the new evangel of the West
that the people have a right to alter or abolish government whenever it becomes destructive to their happiness or safety.
I have found nowhere evidence that Jefferson Davis
though he believed in the right, approved the act of Mississippi
after it had been taken, felt himself bound by his State allegiance whether he approved or no, and then, like all his Southern countrymen, did his best to make it good.
Remember that the Federal Constitution
was silent as to secession; that the question was one of inference only, and that implications radiated from its various provisions in all directions.
If one argued that the very institute of government implied perpetuity, as Lincoln
did in his first inaugural address, another answered that reservations to the States of powers not delegated rebutted the implication; another that the government and the Constitution
had come into being in that free atmosphere which breathed the declaration that they must rest upon the consent of the government; and yet another answered, in Lincoln
's own language, that any people anywhere had the right to shake off government, and that this was the right that ‘would liberate the world.’