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[159] passed the ordinance of secession, and of which Mr. Yancey was a member, informed me that towards the close of its session Mr. Yancey delivered a speech in secret session, of two hours duration, in which he contrasted the available resources of the United States and the Confederate States for war, and insisted that the latter should avoid war as long as possible, since war would be disastrous to them, in their then unprepared condition. Should the United States march an invading army into the South, with the intention of conquering the South, that step would have the effect of completely harmonizing and uniting the Southern people in every Southern State into a compact mass, and it would likewise sow fatal divisions in the people of the United States, inasmuch as the Democrats and Whigs of the North, reinforced by a large proportion of capitalists and merchants, would boldly denounce such a step. The final success of the Confederacy depended on the studious avoidance of war with the United States, and in leaving the United States to become the aggressor by invading Southern homes and firesides, in case she must have a war.

Of the purity and unselfishness of Mr. Yancey's motives, there can be but one opinion by such as knew him. No thought of self-aggrandizement ever entered into his thoughts. He never was an office-seeker. He led the secession movement. Many others advocated it in order to win popularity; others espoused it from a craven fear of popular wrath. Yancey in 1858 regarded secession not only as inevitable, but felt it was his duty to prepare the Southern people for taking the plunge. The result attests the truth of the saying that ‘Man proposes, but God disposes,’ since the very step taken to perpetuate slavery led to its extinction.

Out of the 600 delegates in the Charleston Convention of 1860, thirty-one years ago, not more than a dozen are left on the stage of life.

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