previous next

[300] sustained, as we believed, by the fundamental principle of popular liberty, we staked our all upon the supreme sovereignty of a State, and the inalienable rights of the people of the States.

Our construction of the Constitution lost much favor, to which it was entitled, because ‘slavery was sheltered under the sovereignty of the State,’ and in our contention we encountered all the prejudice against slavery, which was so intense that many, who agreed with us on the questions involved, when abstractly considered, readily adopted any construction which looked to the overthrow of that institution.

But we did not go to war for slavery, though slavery was interwoven with the causes and intensified the bitterness of the war, and the fate of slavery was forever settled by the result. We were not precipitated into it by reckless public men, who had not counted the cost; for the great leaders, and notably Mr. Davis, were slower in the movement than the masses of the Southern people. We did not take up arms because we were dissatisfied with our form of government, for we valued that then as we value it now; and we so loved the Constitution for the safeguards of liberty which we read in it that we fashioned our Confederate Constitution after it as a model. We loved the flag, too, with its stars telling of co-equal States in a common Union, so long as it floated above us with that symbolism. Happily it now floats over us again as the full equals of all who live under its protection. The war, with us, did not originate in ambition, nor did we fight for spoils, for conquest or for fame. With us it was no war of invasion or of retaliation or of revenge. It was not to build up some great leader's fortunes nor to elevate some popular favorite to place or power. We went to war for none of these; but it was to ‘save the Constitution,’ as we read it, and to save ourselves, and to preserve our cherished form of government. We resisted those perversions which we believed would destroy that Constitution and us, and subvert that form of government.

Those whose interests were not ours, as ours were not theirs, sought, as we believed, by a ‘system of constructions’ to gain what was not given in the compact under which all were living, and to ignore and obliterate the true intent and meaning and purpose of that compact.

This perversion of the Constitution, as it seemed to us, was wilful and systematic, and daily it grew more dangerous and unendurable, and we felt we could not, without dishonor and disaster, submit to what seemed inevitably coming and actually impending. Our rights and liberties seemed in the utmost peril, and the danger was increased

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: