The Southern Confederacy.
inauguration of President Davis.
Montgomery, Ala., Feb. 18.
--The inauguration to-day of Hon. Jeff. Davis
, of Miss.
of the Confederated States
of North America
, was one of the grandest pageants ever witnessed in the South
An immense crowd gathered on Capitol Hill
, including ladies, citizens, military,&c.
commenced his inaugural at precisely 1 o'clock. He said:
Gentlemen of the Congress of the Confederated States of America
, Friends and Fellow-Citizens: Called to the difficult and responsible station of Chief Executive of the Provisional Government
which you have instituted, I approach the discharge of the duties assigned me with an humble distrust of my abilities, but with a sustaining confidence in the wisdom of those who are to guide and aid me in the administration of public affairs, and an abiding faith in the virtue and patriotism of the people Looking for ward to the speedy establishment of a permanent Government to take the place of this, which, by its greater moral and physical power, will be better able to combat with the many difficulties which arise from the conflicting interests of separate nations, I enter upon the duties of the office to which I have been chosen with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to our enjoyment of the separate existence and independence which we have asserted, and, with the blessing of Providence
, intend to maintain.
Our present condition has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations.
It illustrates the American Idea
that Governments rest upon the consent of the governed, and that the people may alter and abolish Governments whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.
The declared purpose of the compact of Union, from which we have withdrawn, was to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the general defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; and when, in the judgments of the sovereign States now composing the Confederacy
, it has been perverted from the purpose for which it was ordained, and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot box has declared that, so far as they were concerned, the Government
created by that compact should cease to exist.
In this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Independence
of 1776 defined to be inalienable.
The time and occasion for its exercise, they, as sovereigns, were final judges, each for itself.
This impartial and enlightened verdict, maintained, will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct, and He who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with which we labored to preserve the Government
of our fathers in its spirit.
This right, solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the States, and which has been affirmed and reaffirmed in the bills of rights of States, and subsequently admitted into the Union
, of 1789, undeniably recognizes in the people the power to resume the authority delegated for purposes of Government.-- Thus the sovereign States here represented proceeded from this Confederacy, and it is by an abuse of language that their act has been denominated revolution.
They have formed a new alliance, but within each State the right of government has remained.
The rights of person and property have not been disturbed.
The agent through whom they communicated with foreign nations is changed, but this does not necessarily interrupt their international relations.
Sustained by the consciousness that the transition from the former Union to the present Confederacy has not proceeded from a disregard on our part of just obligations, or any failure to perform every constitutional duty, moved by no interest or passion to invade the rights of others, anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations, if we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that posterity will acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it.
Doubly justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of others, there can be no cause to doubt, that the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States
will be found equal to any measure of defence which a sense of security may require.
An agricultural people, whose chief interest is export of a commodity required in every manufacturing country, our true policy is peace and free trade which all our necessities will permit.--It is alike our interests, and that of all those to whom we would sell, and from whom we would buy, that there should be the fewest practicable restrictions upon the interchange of commodities.
There can be but little rivalry between ours and any manufacturing or navigating community, such as the Northeastern States
of the American Union.
It must follow, therefore, that mutual interest would invite good will and kind offices.
If, however, passion or lust for dominion should cloud the judgment or inflame the ambition of those States, we must prepare to meet the emergency, and maintain by the final arbitrament of the sword the position we have assumed among the nations of the earth.
We have entered upon a career of independence which must be inflexibly pursued.-- Through many years of controversy with our late associates — the Northern States
--we have vainly endeavored to secure tranquility and obtain respect for rights to which we were entitled.
As a necessity — not choice — we have resorted to the remedy of separation, and henceforth our inquiries must be directed to the conduct of our own affairs and the perpetuity of the Confederacy
which we have formed.
If a just perception of mutual interest shall permit us peaceably to pursue our separate political career, my most earnest desire will have been fulfilled; but if this be denied us, and the integrity of our territory or jurisdiction be assailed, it will but remain for as with firm resolve to appeal to arms and invoke the blessing of Providence
in a just cause.
As a consequence of our new condition, and with a view to meet anticipated wants, it will be necessary to provide a speedy and efficient organization of branches of the Executive Department, having special charge of foreign intercourse, finance, military affairs and postal service.
For purposes of defence, the Confederate States
may, under ordinary circumstances, rely mainly on their militia; but it is deemed advisable, under the present condition of affairs, that there should be a well instructed and disciplined army more numerous than would be usually required in a peace establishment.
I also suggest, for the protection of our harbors and commerce on the high seas, a navy adapted to that object will be required.
With a Constitution differing only from that of our fathers in sofar as it is explanatory of their well known intent, treed from sectional conflicts which have interfered with the pursuit of the general welfare, it is not unreasonable to expect that the States from which we have recently parted may seek to unite their fortunes with ours, under the government we have instituted.
For this your Constitution makes adequate provisions; but beyond this, if I mistake not, the judgment and will of the people is that a union with the States from which we have separated is neither practicable nor desirable.
To increase power, to develop resources and promote the happiness of our Confederacy, it is requisite that there should be so much of homogeneity that the welfare of every portion be the aim of the whole.
Where this does not exist, antagonisms are on gendered, which must and should result in separation.
Actuated solely by a desire to preserve our own rights and promote our own welfare, the separation of the Confederate States
has been marked by on aggression upon others and followed by no domestic convulsion.
Our domestic pursuits have received no check, the cultivation of our fields has progressed as heretofore, and even should we be involved in war, there would be no considerable diminution in the production of the staples which have constituted our exports and in which the commercial world has an interest scarcely less than our own. This common interest of produce and consumer can only be intercepted by exterior force, which should obstruct its transmission to foreign markets — a course of conduct which would be as unjust towards us as it would be detrimental to manufacturing and commercial interests abroad.
Should reason guide the action of the Government
from which we have separated, a policy so detrimental to the civilized world, the Northern States
included, could not be dictated by even the stronger desire to inflict injury upon us. But if otherwise, a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, and the sufferings of millions to the folly and wickedness of our aggressors.
In the meantime, there will remain to us, besides the ordinary remedies before suggested, the well-known source of retaliation upon the commerce of an enemy.
Experience, in public stations of an inferior grade to that which your kindness has conferred,
has taught me that care, and toll, and disappointments are the price of official elevation.
You will see many errors to forgive, and many deficiencies to tolerate, but you shall not find in me either a want of fidelity to the cause that is to me the highest in hope and dearest in affection.
Your generosity has bestowed on me an undeserved distinction--one that I neither sought nor desired.
Upon the continuance of that sentiment, and upon your wisdom and patriotism, I rely, to direct and support me in the performance of the duty required at my hands.
We have changed the constituent parts, but not the system of our Government.
The Constitution formed by our fathers is that of these Confederated States.
In their exposition of it, and in judicial constructions it has received, we have a light which reveals its true meaning.
Thus instructed as to the true interpretations of that instrument, and ever remembering that all offices are but trusts, held for the people, and that delegated powers are to be strictly construed, I will hope, by due diligence in the performance of my duties, though I may disappoint your expectations, yet to retain, when retiring, something of the good will and confidence which welcomes my entrance into office.
It is joyous, in the midst of perilous times, to look around upon people United in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and actuates the whole; where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor, right, liberty and equality.-- Obstructions may retard, but they cannot long prevent the progress of a movement sanctified by justice and sustained by a virtuous people.
Reverently, let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which, by His blessing, they were able to vindicate, establish and transmit to their posterity, and, with a continuance of His favor, ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to Success, to Peace, and to Prosperity.