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Rigid Adherence to principle.

Sternly did he stand for principle. He was no courtier, no flatterer, no word magician, no time-server, no demagogue, unless that word shake from it the contaminations of its abuse and return to its pristine meaning—a leader of the people. Like King David's was his command, ‘There shall no deceitful man dwell in my house.’ A pure and lofty spirit breathed through his every utterance, which, like the Parian stone, revealed in its polish the fineness of the grain. I can recall no public man who, in the midst of such shifting and perplexing scenes of strife, maintained so firmly the consistency of his principles, and who, despite the shower of darts that hurtled around his head, triumphed so completely over every dishonoring imputation. It was because those who knew his faith knew always where to find him, and wherever found he proclaimed that faith as the standard bearer unfurls his colors.

He was always ready to follow his principles to their logical conclusion; to become at any sacrifice their champion; to face defeat in their defense, and to die, if need be, rather than disguise or recant them. [122]

Advocating the Mexican war while a member of the House of Representatives from Mississippi, he resigned his seat there to take command of a Mississippi regiment and share the hardships and dangers of the field.

When later his party in Mississippi seemed to be losing ground, and General Quitman, its candidate for Governor, retired, a popular election giving forecast of 7,500 majority against him, Jefferson Davis resigned his seat in the United States Senate to accept its leadership and become its nominee, and with such effect did he rally its ranks that he came within 1,000 votes of election.

When he turned homeward from Mexico, the laurelled hero of Buena Vista, he was everywhere hailed with acclamation, and a commission as brigadier-general of volunteers in the United States army was tendered him by President Polk. We may well conceive with what pride the young soldier, not yet forty years of age, would welcome so rare an honor in the cherished profession which had kindled his youthful ardor, and in which he had become now so signally distinguished.

But he had taught the doctrine that the State and not the Federal government was the true constitutional fountain of such an honor, and from another hand he would not bend his knightly brow to receive it. And yet later on, when summoned from the privacy of home to a place in the Cabinet of President Pierce, he declined because he believed it to be his duty to remain in Mississippi and wrestle for the cause with which he was identified. Thus did he abandon or decline the highest dignities of civil and military life, always putting principle in the lead, and himself anywhere that would best support it.

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