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Why secession?

It was no small sacrifice for the Southern section to yield all the vast empire of the East, the North and the West, reserving only the area of a dozen States; to give up the Union which our forefathers planned and formed; to surrender that flag of stars and stripes which Washington designed, and under which our heroes had fought on land and sea; to give up the national name, the domain, the wealth, the prestige of our country, and begin anew the experiment of self-government. It will never be fully told how the great heart of the South yearned for a settlement of the issue without the shedding of blood and the severance of the States.

It is, therefore, well asked why then did secession occur? Let the answer be honorably made, that in 1860 the Southern States despaired of maintaining the original principles of that Union which they had helped to form. They saw sectional ascendancy become imminent and portentious of evil. They saw the hard hand of impatient fanaticism uplifted against their prosperity, With unspeakable sadness they beheld centralization tightening its coils to crush out the Statehood of the States. With dismay they read upon the banners of a victorious host the old British and Federalistic device, ‘The States are provincial and the Union Imperial.’ The South did not secede from its proud place among the States to maintain the abstract theory of secession. That theory was not the issue and the Union was not the enemy. It did not suppose that under the law as interpreted by every State in the original Union the legal right of secession could be disputed or coercion justified. When the States withdrew they dissolved no Union, broke no law and formed no conspiracy. They left the Union intact, the President, the Congress, the Judiciary—all unharmed; the army and navy undisturbed, and all public property scheduled for account and settlement. Their ordinances simply maintained the principles which [18] all true patriots now assert that there must be no Eastern, no Western, no Northern, no Southern supremacy of any kind, but a Union of One People of the many States, equally and honestly governed, without favoritism for special States, sections, classes or conditions. That was the burning question as the South saw it, and all contention focused there. Upon that vital issue, involving the good character of the Union, the honor of the States, and the individual liberties of the people, peaceable secession was sought as the right way of relief and coercion by arms confronted the plan. We withstood the bloody Mortmain with all our might, at the cost of all we had, and literally bled to death.

The fealty of the Southern people to the Union is ever selfrespect-ing, as it should be, and is as sincere as the flawless virtues of a vestal. It is right to have it understood that the South is stung to the quick by the insult which pretends to suspect its honorable devotion to the Union, the Constitution and the flag. Its proud lip curls in scornful contempt for the man whose soul is so paupered of sentiment and leprous with prejudice that he cannot trust the honor of the South. The Southern people meet their Northern countrymen not half way, but all the way. In the use and occupation of this realm, dedicated to freedom, we hold per my eper foul, where each is for all and all is for each. We are ready for a full and equal division of the gravest duties and the highest privileges including our part of all civil, military and naval advantages, together with a fair share of National offices, from postmaster to President. We have come back, as Senator Hill said, to our father's house, and I may be allowed to add, we are ready to break merrily into the fatted ring and kill the golden calf.

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