independent and liberty-loving people and to repel any invasion of our soil by hostile forces.
You recall the glow of this ardor —you felt it—it burned in every true heart of the South
May those who come after us ever bear it in honorable memory, for it was a most sacred feeling, akin to that we feel for our religion and our God in our most devout moments.
It was a bitter alternative that was presented to Virginia
, either to submit unresistingly and unconditionally to the determined and persistent encroachments on her equality under the Constitution
, or to withdraw herself from the Union of the States which she had been chiefly instrumental in forming and which for that reason, she, more than all the other States, loved pre-eminently.
She did all she could to avert this alternative.
She sent her most illustrious citizens to Washington
to implore for adjustment, for peace and for the perpetuity of the Union
Their petition was most haughtily disregarded.
Notwithstanding this, she, through her people in solemn convention assembled, repressing all resentment, still stood majestically calm, though deeply moved, with her hand on the bond of the Union
, refusing to untie it. And thus she stood until she was summoned to take up arms against her kindred people of the South
and to receive on her soil an advancing hostile force.
Put to this alternative, she resumed her delegated rights and sovereignty.
In that solemn act, I was passionately with her with my whole soul and mind.
And standing here to-night after the lapse of upward of a quarter of a century, summing up all she suffered and lost in war—in the waste of property, in the desolation of homes and in the blood of her sons, and also fully realizing all the blessings of the restored Union, I still declare from the deepest depths of my convictions, that she was right.
Yes, I rejoice that my whole being responded in approval and applause of that act of my State.
I rejoice in recalling with what willingness I was ready to give my life in its support, and it is the summation of the pride of my life that I served humbly in her cause.
Well do I remember that memorable day, the 19th of April, 1861.
Animated by the feeling I have described, fully realizing the immediate imminence of strife, and determined to be ready