Hon. H. V. Johnson
, Confederate States Senator
, elect from Georgia
, made a speech before the Georgia Legislature, by request of that body, on the 4th last., from which we make the following extracts!
It is well known to you that I opposed the secession of Georgia
Not that I doubted the right of secession, for I always maintained it, and maintain it still--[applause]--but from reasons of policy only, I desired the co-operation of the slave States for the purpose of making an honest and earnest effort to maintain our rights in the Union
, if possible, and defend them out of it, if necessary,--[Cheers.] I believed that the preservation of the Union
was an object worthy of patriotic desire — an earnest desire, with an united South, to make one more effort to rescue it from destruction.
I had strong hope of success; at all events, I thought the experiment worthy of being made.
My feeble counsels were overruled.
, as she had a right to do, withdrew from the Union
and resumed her separate independence, and from that hour I resolved that her fate should be my fate, that her people should be my people, and that where they might be buried, there would I be buried also.
[Cheers.] The ship is yet fast to its moorings; the passengers and cargo on board are ready for the voyage; the sky looks stormy; the captain is at his post, and the sails are unfurled.
He submits the question of setting sail to the passengers, and, by a large majority, they vote in the affirmative.
Her cables are loosed, and her sheets are given to the winds.
Anon a storm springs up — the waves are lashed into fury; the vessel trembles and creaks from stem to stern; she springs a leak, and the cry is, ‘"to the pumps ! to the pumps !"’ What would you think of the man, who would turn a deaf ear to the cry, because he had voted against the embarkation!
The passengers would hurl him into the boiling deep, to struggle and perish in the angry billows — and so say I.
lay at port, angry, enraged, dissatisfied.
The question was, whether she should cut from the Union
and trust herself to the winds and waves.
The majority said yes; whilst others, with myself, equally true and patriotic, said no; don't be hasty; perhaps the gathering cloud will pass away.
The majority said cut loose, and the vessel was given to the sea, and now the storm is up; the ocean is lashed into anger, and the cry is heard from all quarters, ‘"to the pumps!
to the pumps!" ’ and I say, woe betide the man who turn a deaf year to the thrilling summons.
[Cheers.] --There is work to do — bloody work — work for brawn and brain — work for all. Let every man perform his part, and bring our bark into calm waters.
It is freighted with the lives, happiness, and liberties of eight millions of human beings.
The principles of good government, the fate of republican institutions, are all in danger of being submerged in the boiling deep.
Our country, fellow-citizens, is scourged by a war that has no parallel, perhaps, in the annals of history.
It is unparalleled in the vast extent of territory over which it spreads its pall; unparallel in the incalculable interests that are involved; unparalleled in its fate, not only upon us, but, perhaps, also, upon the whole civilized world.
Reaching every branch of industry, it fetters universal commerce.
Involving, as it does, the precious principles of free government, the fate of republican liberty is suspended upon the issue.
Why is there such a war as this ? What have we done to the North
What wrong have we inflicted upon them ? Do we seek to subjugate their people by burning their houses, their villages and towns?
After dwelling at some length upon the objects and motives that actuate the two parties to the war, he proceeded to urge the importance of harmony in its prosecution.
He especially urged the cultivation of a spirit of confidence in our rulers and generals, and of tolerance and forbearance toward apparent errors.
We are blessed with wise statesman and great generals, eminently enticed to our confidence and support.
He especially disapproved the indulgence of harsh criticism by civilians of the plans and achievements of our generals.
As a civilian, he did not feel competent to judge of military movements in remote localities, where he could not and ought not to know all the attending circumstances.
We should stand by the Government
, and sustain its policy with untiring energy and unanimity.
He did honestly believe the Conscript law in violation of the Constitution
; but, at the same time, surrounded as we are by perils on every hand — pressed by an Herculean foe — he was willing to waive objections and yield it cheerful acquiescence.
One of the most difficult problems of popular government is to so organize it that the minority shall possess an efficient check on the majority to restrain and prevent usurpation.
The old Constitution contains no provisions adequate for such a purpose.
The Southern States have been struggling against the encroachments of the North
attempted to arrest this spirit in 1832; but she soon saw that it would lead to war. The tide of fanaticism rolled en, until we resolved to withdraw from the Union
as a protection against it — There are but two modes of resistance now, if we desired to resist the Conscript law — in which all should be willing to acquiesce--one is nullification in the Government
, which is folly, or secession from it, which is disintegration.
He would have Georgia
declare her solemn, dignified protest, to the end that it be not plead as a precedent in future days.
He counselled his countrymen against the fell spirit of party.
Let us make no war upon men, high or low, merely for opinion's sake.
The struggle requires the union of every hand, and heart, and head.
No time for party strife and personal schisms.
Be of one mind, of one heart.
If these trials are not enough to pull us into common brotherhood, we are lost — playing a game of chance upon our mother's coffin.
He would not fail to notice the duty of making ample provision for soldiers and their families.
He was pleased at the evidence of a disposition to meet these questions in a liberal spirit.
In nothing did he pride more than the tolling patriotism and hereto spirit of self sacrifice displayed by our women.
They spin, and weave, and sew for the soldiers, while their eyes are dimmed with the tears of woe that have saddened almost every heart and desolated every hearth in the land.
Those who have parental hearts know the emotions of the soldier toward those who are mindful of him and the loved ones he has left behind.
A good deal has been said in reference to the danger of military despotism.
He had regretted to see the press giving currency, here and there, to such apprehension.
He was proud to believe that there is no man in the Government
, or in the army who has any aspirations for a crown.
Revolutions are dangerous to liberty, but their tendency is rather to anarchy than centralism or usurpation.
Our safeguard is in unity among our selves, and an inflexible adherence to our organic law in all its purity and integrity.
The great struggle is for a good Government; and so long as we keep that idea in view, there is no danger.
Military despotism usually springs up in the midst of anarchy or the corruption of unbridled power.
With harmony and confidence in the army and Government, there is no danger of military despotism.
A crown was offered to Washington
, but not until the army had lost confidence in Congress.
We had a Washington then--God grant that we may have a thousand Washingtons now.
How is this struggle to end ? Shall we conquer the North
? No. Shall the North
I say, forbid it Heaven ! When shall this struggle end ? It may be not until we are are all conquered by the chastening rod of that One in whose hands are the destinies of nations.
We have all to be chastised back into the practice of those great virtues which are the foundations of Republican Government.
of Heaven uses war as one of the means of national chastlement, and we have felt it. Although our armies have been, in the main, victorious on the field of battle, yet who is there that has not been chastened!
Scarcely one who has not mourned the loss of some dear relative.
Thousands and thousands are weeping over the bereavement, the troubles, and harassments that surround us. This is the chastisement of God.
My countrymen, he concluded, let us receive it as such, and return as humble children to the spirit and practice of those great virtues without which He has ordained that no free government can exist.