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[374] the step. At the conference called by Governor Pettus, of Mississippi, of the representatives in Congress from that State, in 1860, Mr. Davis declared himself opposed to secession as long as the hope of a peaceful remedy remained. He said he did not believe we ought to precipitate the issue, as he felt certain that from his knowledge of the people of the North and South, that if there was a clash of arms, the contest would be the most sanguinary the world ever witnessed. As a member of the Senate committee to whom the compromise proposals were submitted at the outbreak of secession, he expressed his willingness to accept any plan of settlement that promised a reasonable hope of success. But the Republican members of that committee rejected every proposition made.

On December 10, 1860, Mr. Davis spoke these words in the Senate: ‘This Union is as dear to me as a Union of fraternal States. It would lose its value if I had to regard it as a Union held together by physical force. I would be happy to know that every State felt the fraternity which made this Union possible, and if that evidence could go out—if evidence satisfactory to the people of the South could be given that that feeling existed in the hearts of the northern people—you might burn your statute books and we would cling to the Union still.’ To the very hour that Mississippi seceded, and after it, he was pleading for union without dishonor. When Mississippi seceded he resigned his seat in the Senate and went to his State and cast his lot with his people. Many another officer of the United States bent before the allegiance he acknowledged to his mother State and followed him with bleeding hearts. In spite of his well-known preference for service in the field, the Confederate Government called him to its head. Mr. Davis shared with Washington the extraordinary distinction of being elected President of a republic unanimously, but Mr. Davis was chosen by a more numerous people and at a period of more critical responsibility.

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