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Held out to the last.

But I cannot protract this discussion further. Suffice it to say, that Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas did not secede, until Mr. Lincoln had actually declared war against the seven Cotton and Gulf States, then forming the Southern Confederacy, and called on these four States to furnish their quota of the seventy-five thousand troops called for by him to coerce these States. This act, on Mr. Lincoln's part, was without any real authority of law, and nothing short of the most flagrant usurpation, Congress alone having the power to declare war under the Constitution. He refused to convene Congress to consider the grave issues then confronting the country. But when it did assemble, on the 4th of July, 1861, he tried to have his illegal usurpation validated; but Congress, although then having a Republican majority, refused to consider the resolution introduced for that purpose. The four States above named, led by Virginia, only left the Union then, after exhausting every honorable effort to remain in it, and only when they had to determine to fight with or against their sisters of the South. This was the dire alternative presented to them, and how could they hesitate longer what to do?

In the busy, bustling, practical times in which we live, it will doubtless be asked by many, and, with some show of plausibility, why we gather up, and present to the world, all this array of testimony concerning a cause, which is almost universally known as the ‘lost cause,’ and a conflict, which ended more than thirty-five years ago? Does it not, they ask, only tend to rekindle the embers of sectional strife, and can thus only do harm? You, our comrades, know that such is not our purpose or desire. Our reasons have been very briefly stated. It is the truth that constrains. The apologists for the North, using all the vehicles of falsehood, are insistent in spreading the poison; with it the antidote must go. If others attribute to us wrong motives in this matter, we are sorry, but we have no apologies to make to any such. We admit that the Confederate war is ended; that slavery and secession are forever dead, [192] and we have no desire to revive them. We recognize, too, that this whole country is one country and our country. We desire that, government and people doing that which is right, it may become in truth a glorious land, and may remain a glorious inheritance to our children and our children's children. But we believe the true way to preserve it as such an inheritance is to perpetuate in it the principles for which the Confederate soldier fought—the principles of Constitutional liberty, and of local self-government—or, as Mr. Davis puts it, ‘the rights of their sires won in the Revolution, the State sovereignty, freedom, and independence, which were left to us, as an inheritance to their posterity forever.’ This definition, a distinguished Massachusetts writer says, is ‘the whole case, and not only a statement, but a complete justification of the Confederate cause, to all who are acquainted with the origin and character of the American Union.’

Yes, we repeat, this is our country, and of it, we would say, with Virginia's dead Laureate at the Yorktown celebration:

Give us back the ties of Yorktown,
     Perish all the modern hates,
Let us stand together, brothers,
     In defiance of the Fates,
For the safety of the Union
     Is the safety of the States.

At Appomattox, the Confederate flag was furled, and we are content to let it stay so forever. There is enough of glory and sacrifice encircled in its folds, not only to enshrine it in our hearts forever; but the very trump of fame must be silenced when it ceases to proclaim the splendid achievements over which that flag floated.

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