Fifth annual meeting of the Southern Historical Society, October 31st., 1877.

The following splendid oration treats mainly of post bellum history; but this is a period of great importance as exhibiting the fruits of the doctrines of the Federal war-party. The distinguished orator has given a picture of the violation of the peace of ‘65, and the war upon the Constitution made by the Radical party, which should be widely read, and most carefully preserved as material for the future historian.

Address of General John T. Morgan, U. S. Senator from Alabama.

The efforts of the Southern Historical Society have been most appropriately directed to the collection of facts relating to the period of actual and open war from 1861 to 1865.

That field is yet but slightly gleaned, and it is indispensable that this generation of Southern men should gather all its sad truths and preserve them until a later period, when, in a cloudless atmostphere, the patient and impartial philosopher shall be able to place facts and deductions side by side, and do justice to the people of the Confederacy.

In the future our historical records will probably abound with success and prosperity, which the world takes for the measure of high qualities and great deservings, and we shall not then need that any should vindicate us.

It is our duty, also, to consider well the turning point in our destiny which we have just past, so that the future — that now is dawning so auspiciously-shall not become darker than the past, through a mistake of the facts or principles on which our hopes are rested. The present is, perhaps, the most important period of our history. I have selected the events now occurring as the truest interpreters of the past, as they seem to furnish also the most certain indications of the future of our country. [2]

The causes that have made it necessary to compile a separate history of the Southern States had their origin in differences of opinion reaching back to 1787. These differences seem to have ended in 1877. They were always political-relating to constructions of the Constitution as applied to different measures that have been proposed. They never resulted from natural causes, such as give rise to the quarrels of different nations or races of men, except so far as they related to African slavery. They only became sectional when the measures which excited the discussion happened to affect a particular section of the country. In 1812 to 1815 some of the States of the North strongly threatened to secede from the Union, which then implied a desire to return to their former allegiance to the British Crown. In 1830 to 1832 there was manifested an almost fatal purpose in some of the States to assert the right to remain in the Union and set at defiance some of the laws which, though constitutional in form, were alleged to be locally oppressive.

In 1861, the question of slavery furnished the occasion or provocation under which this ancient quarrel culminated in open war. While the question thus presented involved great political issues, it also included the dangerous element of race antagonism and race supremacy, and involved the accumulated wealth of two centuries invested by the South in slave property. It is scarcely conceivable that any free Government could have afforded a peaceful solution of such a question. Until the strife of contention over the powers and principles of our Federal Government connected itself with this question and threatened the extermination of slavery, there had been no occasion of sufficient magnitude to demand its solution with war. That question was local and sectional. It had hold of every sentiment and interest and prejudice, and involved every ground of former differences of opinion as to the construction of the Constitution that could excite, arouse, and make desperate the contending parties.

The absolute right of home rule as to slavery, in its ownership and control, was alleged by one party. The other party — the Abolitionists — denied this right, claiming that a law higher than the Constitution condemned slavery and everything that upheld it.

In the excitement of this controversy, and because of the political power this party embodied, others who denied the political propositions on which the Abolition party was based followed its lead, believing that it was safer to violate the Constitution than to lose power, and hoping that the expurgation of slavery from the country would condone their delinquency. They followed the lead of the Abolitionists, denying even their purpose to abolish slavery until after it was destroyed, and then they avowed it.

Their denials were merely protests against the doctrines of the “higher law” party. They really desired that slavery should be extirpated, but [3] could not admit that the Federal power reached the subject even in States that were in rebellion, as they saw fit to designate the Southern States. Still they kept in line with the dominant and aggressive power, and contented themselves with gentle protests against the destruction of the States. The old question, which in fact led to the war — the question of the right, of local self-government in the States, which was the substantial political issue between the Abolitionists and the States of the South--was for a time silenced in the tempest of war. It slept until slavery was destroyed, and then arose again, when it was attempted to destroy the States.

Thousands of men engaged in the destruction of slavery, and, having that for the purpose of every blow they struck, were assisted by tens of thousands who fought to save the Union of the States, leaving the question of the rights and powers of the State and Federal governments, which led the South to secession, undecided by the results of the war. All these are free now as they were before the war to assert or to deny that the States have still the right of local self-government, and some of them deny it, while others admit the right. It may be safely said, in 1877, that this question will never again result in war. It has become impossible to excite the country to war upon sectional divisions, because there remain no questions of material interest upon which they can divide by lines of latitude or longitude. All sectional controversies being removed from the domain of discussion, whatever affects one State in like manner affects all the States. If one is wounded in its rights, all suffer alike, if not equally. The turning point in the destiny of the South that has been reached in 1877 is the final practical restoration to the States of the right of local self-government. It was for this that the people of the South fought in 1861; for this they suffered ten years of terrible persecution, from 1867 to 1877; and it is with this right firmly secured that they are content.

This is the end of a period of trials and suffering in which we have been exposed to the danger of the total subversion of our State governments, and with them to the loss of all substantial guaranties of our personal rights and liberties.

It is the beginning of an era of peace, which is the result of the failure of a pernicious effort to subordinate the States to the absolute will of Congress.

The political forces that have so long acted with repressive power upon the States have ceased, and they rise again with restorative and compensatory energy to their former dignity and influence.

In this year those institutions of government which we have been so proud to call American reached their lowest depression in the respect of mankind; and with quick and safe reaction they have regained their lost [4] ground and have become a pattern for the nations of the earth. Our people of all sections and all parties have shown that they are fully capable of exercising with wisdom and prudence the vast powers which reside in them under our free system of government, so that the most violent storms of popular excitement shall not destroy it, or defeat the ultimate power of the law.

When forty millions of people, with ten millions of voters, raise themselves above the atmosphere of hot and bitter recrimination engendered by a terrible civil war, and, forgetting party ties and prejudices, and overlooking insults and injuries which affect their keenest sensibilities, declare for the Constitution as the inviolable rule of government in all public administration and as the security of every private right, the world may again confidently believe that all enlightened races are capable of self-government.

Until 1867 it was supposed that it was impossible that there could be evolved through our political system a greater or more disastrous evil than our great civil war. But this opinion has been disproved by subsequent events.

When that war closed faith and confidence between the real belligerents was immediately restored, so that the soldiers of the Confederacy were disbanded on the field of battle and discharged from every restraint that did not apply to every citizen of the United States. But one right, which had been the subject of controversy before and during the war, was destroyed — the right of property in slaves. This was not destroyed by actual agreement, but was left to a tacit understanding, which was afterwards confirmed by the formal consent of the Southern States and people, acting as a free people, under the forms of law and through solemn constitutional ordinances. In this action several of the States even anticipated the propositions of Congress to add the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States. This is all that we yielded. Of course the Government of the Confederate States perished in the war, but the government of the States that composed the Confederation remained as if the war had never been waged, as to their rights and powers of home-rule.

It was not through the magnanimity of the Federal Government that the Southern States were restored to these rights and powers. This is a common but most mistaken view of the matter. The United States Government has always held that we could neither forfeit nor abandon the rights and duties of the States--that ours is an imperishable union of indestructible States. It was the only avowed purpose of the war to restore the seceding States to the Union. This could not be done by destroying their autonomy as States of the Union-States like the others, and with equal powers and privileges. There can be no conquered States [5] in the American Union. When conquered they become provinces. If we had come back by compulsion as conquered States, the Union of States could not have been restored. It was a result of the war, as binding on the Federal Government as on the seceding States, that when they returned to the Union they should come back to the same position they had attempted to resign.

When this result was achieved, and the Union was re-established by war, and was found to be perfect in every respect, as it had been before the war, without a State missing or destroyed, or impaired in its rights, a great pledge was maintained, a great victory had been gained. A restoration had been accomplished which aroused the triumphant enthusiasm of those who believed that they had saved the Union, and left a lighter burden of regret upon the hearts of the vanquished. The States came forth from the hideous night of civil war, as the stars appear after the storms have swept the heavens.

The admiration of the civilized nations of the world was excited to the highest degree at the inherent power and indestructibilty of our free constitutional Government. When it was rent with the secession of nearly half of its entire territory, strained to the uttermost in every possible resource, with more dead and wounded fallen from the ranks of its armies than the entire number of its armed foes, the monarchical powers recalled a jeering prophecy of a hundred years ago. But when peace was restored, and they saw it readjusting the nice and delicate relations between States and people, so that not a flaw or blemish or imperfection was discernible, not a scar was seen on the body politic, they felt that their prophecy had been unjust towards the millions of our race, who have for so many centuries aspired to the blessings of liberty regulated by constitutional law. And when they saw it at last rising proudly from the struggle, strengthened by its trials and ennobled and purified by its efforts to preserve its organism in the exact form and proportions in which our fathers had given it to the people, they realized a fact, that was not too dearly established even through the horrors of civil war, that constitutional liberty based on the sovereignty of the people, is a stronger and more enduring power than any royal dynasty, or any form of monarchical government.

Those who were vanquished had always believed that this form of government was the best. When they separated from the other States they adopted the Constitution of the United States, without any essential change of its form or principles, as their plan of government.

Although they had seceded from the Union they proved, by their adoption of this form of government, that their quarrel had not been with the Constitution or the form of our Government, but with a system of constructions which they believed were subversive of them. Measures had [6] been enacted and others had been forecast in the final decrees of the ballot-box, which the Southern people believed to be wholly unjust and unconstitutional.

When these measures were carried by force of arms, and had become by tacit or express recognition the law of the land, and when the States of the South were again restored to the Union, the people still believed that the old Constitution, as it was at the close of the war, was fully adequate to the protection of every remaining right.

This was an honest and hearty belief. They realized the fact that slavery had met its fated hour in the united judgment of the civilized nations of the white race, and that it was necessary and even better to yield it.

They felt that they could not afford to remain in relations with the white people of the earth which involved their censure, however unmerited, and kept them always embroiled, even with their kindred in their own country, in defending their rights.

They returned with alacrity, and not with the sullen reluctance of a conquered people, to their allegiance to a restored constitutional Union.

The Constitution remained in its full unbroken efficiency to protect every right except that one which had perished in the conflict of arms. So the matter was received and understood by the people of the Sonth.

After they had done all that required by duty and honor to defend the right which they at last yielded; when they felt that greater sacrifices were not required for that cause, even though it involved more than half of all their property, their reunion with the States of the North, under the flag and Constitution of a common country, was a grateful result to them.

For a period of nearly three years the peace of 1865 remained almost unbroken. So far as the South was concerned, it was kept in good faith. They considered it as a real and faithful peace.

It is true that unconstitutional taxes were levied upon their productions; confiscators and plunderers took their property by force, and after having consumed the greater part in their charges for the robbery, paid the residue into the United States treasury, where it has been set aside by subsequent laws as a conscience fund.

Many wrongs that sorely tried the people were inflicted upon them merely because they were powerless; but these things did not drive them from the line of duty. They kept faith with the entire country; they kept peace within their own borders; they respected, obeyed, and enforced the laws; they amended their constitutions so as to make them conform to the results of the war; and a prosperity attended their labors which proved that no calamity and no misrule could deprive the beautiful land of the South of its sceptre as the queen of the commerce of this hemisphere. [7]

But this peace was afterwards rudely and unnecessarily broken through the wicked ambition of men who had no honorable agency in the great war, and great capitulation, which had resulted in peace in 1865.

In 1867 Congress broke the treaty made by the armies at the surrender, without just cause or reasonable excuse.

The peace of 1865 was not made by treaty between belligerent nations. The Confederate States Government was destroyed. It was not made between the States because, under the Constitution they could not be recognized individually, and as to each other, as beligerents, or in any respect as powers foreign to the Government of the United States.

The treaty, if it may be called such, was made by terms of capitulation between the two armies in the field, and was ratified in the parole of every Confederate soldier. Thus the most sacred of all the engagements of public faith was made a matter of personal agreement between the Government of the United States and the soldiers of the Confederacy. When General Lee and General Johnston surrendered their armies they did not consent to impose upon them conditions of civil inferiority when they should return to their homes. They would never have surrendered upon such terms.

Never was the honor of a country more bound up in any treaty, and never was public faith more unjustly disregarded, than it was when the government that received these paroles afterwards disregarded them.

The Congress of the United States, under its power to make war, and with the army under its control-made subject to its command by a flagrant invasion of the prerogatives of the President-resumed hostilities against the people of the States that had been engaged in the war of 1861.

The President refused to give the sanction of his authority to this unjust war, and his powers as Commander-in-Chief were virtually usurped by a joint committee of the two Houses that commanded Generals who undertook to command the President.

While the President was extending the pardoning power to the relief of almost every person in the South from all the consequences of the alleged rebellion of 1861, Congress was engaged in a new declaration of war based upon these pardoned offences.

The war of 1861 had been a war of restoration of the Union and of the supremacy of the Federal laws. The war of 1867 was waged for conquest, subjugation, and spoils.

Congress was enraged that the President, by his free use of the pardoning power and his recognition of the rights of the States, should impede the work of the reconstruction of the States by military coercion. [8]

The President was impeached because he chose to follow the Constitution rather than obey the behest of a party that derided its injunctions and spurned its authority.

The history of this country was only saved from the foulest disgrace that ever threatened a nation by the heroic moral courage of a few great spirits, who periled all-and, for a season, appeared to have lost everything — to prevent such a calamity.

It is a pleasing and grateful duty to render honor to the purity and courage of these saviours of the country, who voted down the articles of impeachment.

Do I pass the boundaries of actual legal and historic truth in defining the reconstruction of the States in 1867-8, and the enforcement of the measures and policy of this movement down to 1877, as being a state of war maintained by acts of warfare?

There was no rebellion, insurrection, or domestic violence in any of the Southern States to require the President to send armies into them.

No requisition for such forces were made either by the Governors or the Legislatures of any of these States.

The forces of the United States that remained in the Southern States were not in any way disturbed, or molested, or threatened by the States or the people. No war was made upon the Federal armies in the South.

Notwithstanding this state of entire pacification, and that there was no disputed authority as between contending claimants for power or office in any of the States, and no quarrel with the Federal Government, the States were, by military orders, grouped into military districts and placed under the command of officers of the army of the United States.

These military commandants, having no more rightful power than they have now, took command in every department of civil and military law, and ruled without responsibility over everything and everybody.

Their armies were stationed at strategic points to sustain their authority. At their own will and pleasure they removed the officers lawfully chosen in each of these States from their offices, from the highest to the lowest grades, and in every department of the several States; and in their places installed their own appointees.

The highest exercise of autocratic power never exceeded the reach of their authority. The President could not exercise over the menials of his household a more absolute and irresponsible power than those satraps (the word is the only one that is historically a true definition of the office) exerted over governors, legislatures, judges, and magistrates, and all in authority in the States.

Resistance to such authority was met only by force. No court or judicial power, not even a court-martial was required to give its judicial sanction to the order, or to aid in its execution. [9]

Arms in the hands of the soldiery were the forces which executed the decrees that were flashed upon the eyes of a helpless people from the swords of their masters.

They had the power to arrest without warrant or complaint; to imprison without a hearing; to deny the writ of habeas corpus; to release without trial such as were accused of crime; and to seize and confiscate estates without asking the aid of a court of justice.

Such governments were called military governments; but what shall we call that condition of public affairs in which such a government is sustained within and over a State-nay, three or more States--of the American Union, grouped under the sword of one satrap, like slaves bound to a single chain. If it was not a state of war, what was it?

In Russia or Persia this might aptly be called a state of siege, but our Constitution has not provided for a state of siege against the sovereign parties to the Union.

It has gone no further than to permit the law-making power of the land to enable the Executive, on certain conditions, to deny to individuals the writ of habeas corpus.

Provinces may be outlawed in despotic governments, but States in the American Union cannot be coerced except by actual war. In our Constitution the civil power is placed above the military. When this organic law is reversed, so that the military power becomes the law-making and the ruling power, then war exists.

The Constitution provides the means by which the military power may be called in to aid in upholding the civil power, but none through which it may supplant the latter, except in actual war.

The only difficulty in defining the period of the reconstruction of the Southern States as a time of actual war is that the United States Government, or, more properly, Congress was the only belligerent party. The other parties were helpless citizens and soldiers who were disarmed and held under paroles. They could not resist; they could only suffer wrong. They were like prison-ships anchored within range of the guns of a beleaguered fortress to receive the fire of their friends if they should attempt to resist the invader.

The friends of the Constitution did not dare to array themselves against this military usurpation, lest they should destroy the States that were doomed to suffer its aggressions and wrongs.

The whole country felt that it was at war. It is not true that this was a period in which peace was prevented only by the angry passions and lingering resentment of the people.

Peace had come; the dove had found a footing in the land and it was a welcome visitor. But new hostilities were begun, and for new causes the chief of which was that the helpless condition of the South invited [10] a hoard of plunderers to the assault, under a cry for the reconstruction of the States, after the restoration of the Union had been completed.

It was not a state of war maintained, after the conclusion of actual hostilities in 1865, as a means of adjusting finally the results of that struggle.

It was a war begun after each of the belligerent States had resumed its normal relations to the other States; after they had conducted civil government for nearly three years as States of the Union, and under and in accordance with the Constitution.

These States had abolished slavery; had accepted and ratified an amendment to the Federal Constitution submitted to them by a vote of Congress; had remodeled their own constitutions so as to conform them to the results of the war; had paid taxes; had been recognized as States by every other State in the Union, and by the President, and by the Supreme Court; had elected Representatives in Congress; and had performed every office and duty, both Federal and local, which in any way appertained to them.

It was in this condition that they were found when the armies of reconstruction invaded them, overthrew the civil law, and supplanted the civil power with the military by force of arms.

Not only were these States at peace, but they were so helpless in every military sense, that they could not even threaten the peace of the country.

Then began the nine years war of reconstruction, that was separated from the four years war of restoration by nearly three years of peace. A peace which was only interrupted by the complainings of the people, mingled with the beastly exultations of the plunderers — as the great and silent deserts are sometimes awakened in the night by the cries of the jackalls mingled with the plaintive calls of their victims that have wandered from the caravans.

It is true that in the South, as in the North, there was a strong sense of antagonism and resentment between the people after the war, but it was less aggravated from 1865 to 1867, than it was from thence to 1877. The war of reconstruction was a dishonorable oppression for an unworthy cause; and it was condemned accordingly in the hearts of good men of all sections. I will not say that none of its advocates thought it necessary or just. Those who advocated the higher law prior to 1861, and forced the shedding of blood to meet that heresy, probably felt that it was just, or even generous, to employ the army again rather than the halter to secure the destruction of the State Governments, which had always been offering obstruction to the realization of their radical schemes. But those who fought to preserve the Union and not to destroy the States have, for the ten years past, been cast down with shame and grief because [11] the condition of the country had made it possible that such a war could be waged for such a cause and against a people so helpless and unoffending.

The real purpose of the war of 1867 was to secure a presidential election. The immobility of President Johnson, like a rock in the sea, had caused a reactionary movement among the people to save the Constitution as well as the Union.

Those who wanted the Union without the Constitution — who wanted an oligarchy instead of a republic—at once discerned that nothing but a state of war in the South could justify the exercise of the power necessary to stop the reflux tide which the resistance of the President had set in motion; and so they levied war against the State governments, and marshalled an army to enforce the movement.

It was the right of local self-government in the States that stood in the way of the marplots who intended to control the presidency at every hazard. The encounter with Andrew Johnson caused them to dread a President who regarded his oath to support the Constitution, and they intended that nothing should be left to chance in the election of his successor. This purpose could only be accomplished by taking the government of the Southern States out of the hands of the people, and that could only be accomplished by war. The power to make war was the only power possessed by Congress that could touch the States in this vital point.

The war of reconstruction was waged to secure the permanent ascendancy of a political party. If the Southern States had been Republican instead of Democratic in their party associations, this war would have been spared us, and the country would have escaped a lasting disgrace.

No Democrat, North or South, engaged in this war except as he was drawn beneath the chariot wheels as a bloody victim of its cruelties.

Not all the Republicans engaged in this war. Many of those who had fought for the flag and the Union did not desire to see the proud ensign of the country floating over States that were enslaved, and a Union of States that included eleven members that were so enthralled that they could not, in any way, act without the permission of the army.

Congress at first raised this issue with the Southern States by refusing to them representation in either house. They did not neglect, however, to tax the people to whom they refused representation.

It soon became apparent that the rights and powers of home rule comprised nearly everything valuable in government, so far as it related to the personal welfare of the masses of the people. They did not repine at the neglect of Congress, or even at its aversion towards them.

At the end of three years the ostracised States had fully established the fact that their people could live and prosper for a century without. [12] feeling the want of representation in Congress. They could have the protection of the flag of the Union such as the Territories enjoyed; they were entitled to exemption from taxation as the Indians are, because they had no representation in Congress; they had the sympathy and respect of their sister States, and could trust to their interested guardianship of the equal rights of all the States. What more could they really need, besides the power of local self-government, to make their people safe and prosperous?

Such a condition would not, of course, meet the demands of a great and proud people, but it would be preferable to that low condition in which a despised minority should be compelled to submit to insult and injustice continually at the hands of those in power.

It was this demonstration of the great fact that the States are the real repositories of the essential powers of the Federal Government in money, in men, and in military resources, in the election of Presdents and Representatives in Congress in both Houses; and that, by withholding these things, the States can at any moment paralyze the Federal Government; that alarmed the higher law people, and they struck home, at the root of the tree, when they, in the war of reconstruction, struck at the great rights of home rule. The struggle for these rights has been long and painful. We could only meet military force with patient suffering. In the beginning, a vast number of men in the South were disfranchised who had given long and attentive study to our peculiar and nicely adjusted system of government. In their places, those were put who were in no sense qualified for free and independent suffrage, to say nothing of the intelligent exercise of this important privilege.

Then came military intimidation, arrests, imprisonments, the espionage of brutal spies and detectives in the private and sacred sanctuaries of home. Then hired “traitors to the blood that coursed in their veins” were licensed, by nominal elections to office, to steal and plunder at will. But no one pen will ever enumerate these crimes, and no tongue will ever be able to portray them in their horrid enormity.

This struggle has ended, I believe, forever. The revolution of 1867 has at last failed of its purpose; ballot after ballot has expressed the decree of the popular will against the revolution; there seems to be no remaining cause which can lead to a renewal of the struggle, and it is ended. In this struggle the people of the South have won a great moral victory. It was the cherished and abiding hope of the peace-breakers that we should be goaded into armed resistance. They sought this occasion against us to destroy us. Our friends in the North, who witnessed with the deepest concern the whole movement, stood close at our sides and bade us be still and to quietly endure every persecution until a recurring sense of justice amongst the people should deprive the destructives of power. [13]

Faithfully and honestly they stood by us in every trial, and under the influence of their counsels and example we took courage and resolved to outlive the revolution, and finally to vote it down. This we have done.

We of the South, in concert with the people of the North and West, elected a statesman to the Presidency who was pledged to put an end to this war against the States.

His opponent, who became President, had declared his opinions in favor of the principles on which the Southern States have so long stood united, but it was supposed by some who supported him that those declarations were only meant to deceive. They did not rightly appreciate him. They were true words from an honest heart, uttered in harmony with the expressed will of the people, and maintained in acts which prove that his conscience is alert and guides him in an earnest effort to support and obey the Constitution of the United States. How insignificant the prospect that those who have so greatly harmed the country through the evil times of the war of reconstruction will ever be able to undo the work now completely finished.

The two statesmen who opposed each other for the Presidency agree that the States must be left to govern themselves, in all matters of home rule, without civil or military interference by Congress. Their followers sustain them, and the covenant of peace is sealed by the authentic act of both the great political parties of the country.

The States have regained the dignity with which they clothed themselves, and the immortal honors with which they were crowned by the nations of the earth when, after having achieved their independence, the thirteen States were each received into the circle of the great ruling powers with earnest congratulations, and sat in council together to create the Government of the United States of America.

Had Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas then foreseen the abuses that have found shelter in the wreck of the Constitution during the last ten years, it is beyond question that this Federal Government would never have been created.

But, looking back over that period, and seeing how they in fact “builded wiser than they knew,” and finding in the hearts of the people of the country an honest and abiding faith in the true principles of the Government they ordained, which can save it and has saved it from perversion and ruin, they enter again the triumphant progress of the States and the people towards a destiny, which now seems to be assured, higher than any country has ever accomplished.

The restoration to the people of those constitutional rights which they have never agreed to surrender — which remain to them after four years of open warfare and nearly ten years of misrule and persecution-has removed the last obstacle to perfect reconciliation. [14]

Peace is the fruit of reconciliation.

The peace of 1877 relieves the anguish and heals the heart-burnings of two wars — the open and honorable struggle of the war of 1861, and the military persecution of the war of 1867.

Its reconciliation reaches back to 1820, when the slavery question began to agitate the country; nay, it goes back to the birth-day of the Constitution, “with healing in its wings,” and cures the grief and bitter memories of the past.

Honest and patriotic people on all sides are prepared for this benediction of Heaven's good will to man.

They desire that every human being shall be included in this blessing.

Those who conquered in the war of 1861 turn with confidence and affection to the people of the South, and welcome them as victors in the war of reconstruction.

They esteem us as men who fought honorably and in open warfare for what we believed to be our rights, and afterwards showed our devotion to the Constitution with constancy and long-suffering, when the mailed hand of oppression was laid heavily upon the Southern States.

They looked on in helpless grief and shame when they saw that those who avoided the fierce struggle of the war of 1861, and had followed the armies only to speculate upon the necessities of the country, had seized their victorious banners, and, followed by pillagers and no less heartless politicians, led on in a new war of reconstruction and conquest. In the darkest times they stood by us and spoke to us in words of encouragement, and conjured us to forbear to shed blood in the defence of our rights and liberties. We listened and suffered, and withheld our hands, and waited for the hour of deliverance; and, now. that it has come, we rejoice with them in fraternal peace and unity over the restoration of constitutional rule to our beloved country.

The desire of the people for peace and reconciliation existed, and was a controlling sentiment for years, during which the politicians kept them apart and seemingly in bitter antagonism,

Few of this class of rulers have been present on occasions, so credible to humanity, when the people have given sad but genuine expression to their reconciliation. During the last spring, and on many previous occasions, the peaple met in true sympathy, and those who had only met in battle before knelt around the graves of friends and foes alike, and scattered flowers over the ashes of their heroic dead, whose glory has at last become the equal heritage of pride to the whole American family.

This reconciliation is not on either side the result of humiliating confession of wrongs done to the country or to posterity. It has not followed the pardoning of offences. [15]

It has been reached through the only means that were possible to men who have any self-respect, the manly recognition of the fact that the war was not on either side a crime.

Criminals, whether pardoned or punished to the satisfaction of the law, cannot “dwell together in unity” and as brethren with those who are virtuous and good.

When the people unite with those who are denounced as criminals and traitors, it proves either that the good have become demoralized or that they do not believe the accusation.

The latter is the true proposition. The people reject a denunciation that they feel to be unjust, and will some day expunge it from the laws.

The war of 1861 was not on either side a crime. It was the necessary result of a conflict of interests and convictions which were too deep-seated and too important to be yielded to anything but overpowering force.

What nation or race of people has ever become great without struggles and bloodshed? It has been so frequently necessary that it has almost become a rule of national progress and elevation to use the sword in cutting loose from the clogs and incumbrances that gather in the form of influence, wealth, and prejudice around effete institutions.

This fact has had a great influence in reconciling the South to the fate of slavery. Whether it was right or wrong, it had passed under condemnation.

The sword was necessary, and would have been necessary under any circumstances to execute the sentence of the enlightened nations, as we esteem them, against African slavery in the South.

The South would never have tolerated slavery as a means of darkening the barbarism of the African. They believed, and still believe, that they have done more for his civilization and enlightenment than he can ever do for himself in this country or in his native land, with all the assistance of all the nations of the earth.

The “sin of slavery” they never felt. If this is moral obliquity, they are still blind.

But whether they were right or wrong in these opinions and sentiments, they were not criminal in defending with arms a right which had the express sanction and protection of the Constitution. This was their only remedy, or else the whole North was criminal in boasting of their purpose to abolish slavery by any means that might be found necessary. Our great doubt was as to the honesty of this declaration; but those who revile us as rebels and traitors cannot now deprive us of the defense that we believed that their declarations were the true expression of their designs.

When thirty millions of people of the same blood, having the same government, go to war for opinion's sake, for principle, for personal and [16] political rights, or to preserve their institutions or constitutions, or to defeat usurpation, or for honor's sake-and not for dominion or conquest, or subjugation, or the spoils of war — it is a presumptuous abuse of language and a perversion of the truth that any should characterize either party with degrading epithets, or impute to either a criminal purpose in sustaining a cause upon which they bestow the highest and best proofs of honest devotion.

More conspicuous is the injustice of such recrimination, when, in a free government like ours, the people first express their opinions through the ballot-box on the morality, justice, policy, and constitutionality of every measure affecting the general welfare.

The American people were neither seduced, surprised, nor betrayed into the war of 1861. After a vain search, the conquerors failed to find a vicarious sufferer who could personate the alleged treason of the people. The truth was, there was no head to the rebellion against the Union in the South, or to the rebellion against the Constitution in the North. The people on both sides, in their entire body, were the offenders.

Mr. Lincoln, who was not an Abolitionist before the war, was forced by the pressure of popular clamor and a supposed military necessity, to declare the emancipation of the negroes, and Mr. Davis, who was a pronounced friend of the Union, was compelled to draw the sword against it to avoid the crime of treason in defending the rights of the States, assailed through the institution of slavery, with arms within the Union. His jailor, while he was a prisoner, punished him for treason in a manner befitting the Inquisition, but his judges never took heart to hear a demurrer to the indictment.

There was no treason in the war. There was no traitor of any note to either flag during the war. The causes of the war had such deep hold on the convictions of the people that every man fought as he would have fought for his family or his religion.

For more than forty years the people had warned and admonished each other in every solemn form that warring opinions and angry debates were steadily approaching a crisis that would compel hostile conclusions between warring States. Every test of the ballot during that period had developed a growing determination on both sides to yield nothing that was involved in the issues that were then agitating the country. Many compromises were devised by generous and patriotic men, who set high examples of personal sacrifice before the people, but their counsels were rejected. Compromise was as fuel to the flame. Advice and warning were lost on the people.

Within a few years before the war America was, in rapid succession, bereft of the three men who have added to her fame the chief glory of the 19th century. Twenty centuries may not produce the equal of either [17] Clay, Webster, or Calhoun. They had all, through lives of long public service, participated in the great discussions which involved every phase of this question of slavery, and had weighed all considerations affecting it in any degree. They did not in all things agree; in one they did, that slavery was under the express protection of the Constitution of the United States. In another matter, they also agreed. As death summoned each of them to his departure from earth, he turned his thoughts to his country. In the throes of dissolution he was reminded of its sad impending fate and, intensifying his plea by the solemnity of his situation, almost in his last breath, he warned his countrymen of the danger, and plead with them for forbearance towards each other.

They had anchors of hope cast within the vail to save them when death should prove conqueror; and, reminded by these of the necessity of a steadfast anchorage for their beloved country, they pointed the people to the Constitution, and implored them to hold to it, and trust it. The people quoted their great arguments in the Senate to support their convictions and strengthen their resolves, but left their dying admonitions unheeded.

If the war was a crime, it was a crime of the people of both sections infatuated by a zeal that incriminated every man who voted his honest opinions; and so every man was guilty who fought to maintain them. If those only were innocent who, having voted for war, refused to fight, but preferred to coin the blood of the people into gold through base speculations or the emoluments of civil offices, it were better to have been guilty. There are men who refused to fight as they voted, and now, with epigrammatic insolence, advise men who were honest soldiers to vote as they shot.

A recurrence to these matters would be without profit or fitness on this occasion, when peace is the subject of our reflections, only that the truth of history, as revealed in the actions of those who fought in the civil war, is the only test by which we can determine whether that peace, which has at last hung its white banners in the heavens, is a true and genuine reconciliation, or only a hollow truce. Is it a restoration of the country to the solid foundations of confidence and regard, whence peace flows like a river from its fountains beneath the eternal hills; or is it a mere soothing of angry resentments which linger in malicious concealment awaiting the hot breath of some fanatical demagogue to kindle them again into fury?

If it is merely an allayed excitement smoothed into temporary quiet by the silken hand of policy there are bad and dangerous men who will arouse it again. [18]

Then our condition will be worse than it has ever been. Confidence will be gone-respect for each other will be changed for disgust-and we will abandon forever all hopes of peace under our free government.

Fear will drive us to take shelter under despotism, that we may secure repose by the force of some imperial will-having failed to obtain peace by the honorable consent of our brethren, based upon a candid survey of the past, and a good understanding for the future.

If we agree that the peace, that we now hail with rejoicing, is the result of a final conclusion of the people that the States are to have and enjoy within the Union and under the Constitution as it is — the right of local self-government as it now exists, that peace will be enduring.

If, otherwise, the right is claimed for the Federal Government to reconstruct the States, as occasion may offer, through the war-making power of the President, or Congress, so as to conform their laws, constitutions, and official rosters to the will of the dominant party in the Union, we will have strife that will end in destruction.

I have faith in the peace of 1877. It is just, reasonable, honorable, and constitutional; and for these reasons it is commended to the hearts of strong men North and South, who intend to stand by it, and see that it is maintained.

Conflicts of opinions and of interests may again arise between the sections of the country, divided by lines of latitude or longitude; but we have all learned that forbearance is a virtue. The people have deliberately reviewed all the grounds upon which the peace of 1877 is founded, and after many tests of the ballot since 1865, they have finally decreed that it is fixed, permanent, and inviolable.

The volunteer armies of 1861 to 1865, in the main, have sustained the peace which they conquered and declared. But while they were hanging up their arms and furling their banners at the close of the war, men took possession of the civil power and eagerly broke the solemn covenant of blood, not a drop of which had ever flowed from their opened veins, and to them the country now justly attributes the calamities and disorders of the past ten years.

They were heartless politicians, who would reap the harvest of victory where they had not sowed the blood of the battle-field.

They gained the sympathies and support of a confiding people by appealing to the sentiments anrd passions that were quickened by the horrors of warfare, and, as a reward for their simulated griefs, were placed in offices that gave them the power to crush the helpless and to plunder them under the forms of law and in the name of the United States. Once in power they quickly did their work, and improvised a new army of enlisted men to sustain them in measures at which the true armies of the North, who had gone home in triumph, would have revolted. [19]

But who, of all this host of oppressors, can now stand up before the world and dare to claim its honest judgment on the history of his official life?

In this final and solemn judgment of the people, uttered through the ballot-box and put into execution by a bold and faithful Executive, the moral assurance of a lasting, honorable, and blessed peace receives its final confirmation.

The Southern people are parties to this covenant of peace, entitled to its benefits, and bound by its stipulations.

It is not a mere act of grace. It is not a mere boon or favor given to us to soothe the anguish or compensate for the misfortunes of the past. It is our due under the Constitution. If it had been the reward of long suffering in support of the Constitution, we should have well earned it; but it is our inheritance; ours by the highest title-and honor and duty, as well as our best interests, require that we should support, maintain, and defend it.

Not every man in the North accepts the peace or feels bound to support it, for some are found who, in their conduct and by open declaration, are its enemies. They disavow it as binding upon them, because they pretended to believe that we intended to violate it. Wishing it broken, they affect to distrust us because they assert that we will destroy it. But these men misunderstand us. They prefer to think evil of us. They studied us at too great a distance during the war; and since, they have studied us while the deep shadows of humiliation rested upon us, and the sullen defiance of tyranny and oppression was expressed in every act. When they have scanned us in the light of the sun of liberty and in the --day of deliverance, they will be less afraid that we will break the honorable peace we have so long coveted.

They have heretofore studied our material resources, and the easiest and surest means of appropriating them, and seem to distrust us as covenant-breakers because we were querulous at the liberties they took with our rights.

We were not covenant-breakers. We have kept the faith with all who have ever relied upon our honor. Even with those who have oppressed us we have never broken faith.

It is true that insulted justice has dared to bring to its bar some of the most corrupt and most dangerous men, who have set the law at defiance; and this is complained of already as a breach of the peace of 1877. But we should be unworthy of any peace but that of oblivion if we could accept any conditions which such malefactors would demand as the price of a base and disgraceful condonation of their crimes.

Liberty is not acceptable to the people of the South when it is polluted with corruption. [20]

These men in the North who oppose this peace of 1877 know that it has destroyed their vocation.

The States that they sought to destroy have survived their evil machinations, and now they hiss their fierce anathemas into the ears of an offended country.

They are chiefly of that class whose treachery to their own convictions betrayed them at a late day into the Abolition party.

They joined that party in the hope of gaining power and place, after they had bestowed upon it the labor of years in denunciation of its purposes.

They were chiefly Democrats of the States-Rights school, who were converted by the troubles which had lost that party its ascendancy in the Government into consolidationists and coercionists.

They readily became warriors of the home-guard; minute-men in making military arrests; judge-advocates, to prosecute citizens within the States where civil law still was supreme, and to execute upon them sentences of banishment and death. They were the faithful jailors of women, and even of children, who fell under the suspicion of exercising liberty of thought.

While battles raged in other States, they gave to the country their best efforts to save their talents until the gathering in of the spoils of victory should require their services. When the war had ended they begun the great work of confiscation. Some mounted the bench; some rose at the bar; some prowled about the country as marshals, with retinues of spies and informers at their heels. They seized whatever was valuable. They met afterwards in court, and condemned without mercy, and divided without shame the spoils wrested from a powerless people. These resources failing, from exhaustion, they determined to seize the offices of the country, and, through the power to tax the people, to confiscate their little earnings accumulated since the war.

Then they became the Robespierres and Marats of the revolution of 1867-leading the hordes of plunderers, who, with halters, had strangled poor men suspected only of being rich: who with incendiary torches had fired the houses of sleeping families, and filled dungeons with brave men, because they had fought to sustain what they had formerly preached.

Reconstructionists, who, with avowed contempt of the Constitution, rudely trampled upon the rights and powers of the prostrate States, whose sovereignty they had in former years bowed themselves down to worship. Since Heaven has willed that their works shall perish, rather than those against whom they have wrought injustice and iniquity, they now assume another role. They are now Nationalists-artfully concealing behind a name the design that struggles in their hearts, and impatiently waiting for an opportunity for action, they would sweep out of [21] existence the whole fabric of the American system of government, with its thirty-nine written constitutions, and would plant upon its ruins a military oligarchy, with its capital in a fortified camp. Such a place as Washington City was in the closing hours of the nine years sway of reconstruction, when a significant array of frowning batteries admonished Congress that while that war continued military power would enforce its own decrees, whatever might be the expressed will of the people.

In the South these malcontents still have a meager following. These few are a class peculiar to Southern politics.

No other country could have presented the conditions under which their existence was possible.

In the beginning they zealously urged the demands of the people of the South on all the issues that had led to the war of 1861.

They did not believe that war was possible, and in this supposed security they raged for it.

When the war surprised them in their violent demonstrations, a few ventured into the first campaign as quartermasters and the like. Many took refuge in agriculture, and made peace-offerings of beef and bacon to appease the demands of the conscription. Others began to murmur their convictions that the war was being waged at the expense of civil rights.

It was a very just war, they said, but it was not conducted with sufficient delicacy by some of the Generals in matters of personal rights. They were chiefly men of wealth, but they complained with most disinterested protestations that it was a “rich man's war and a poor man's fight,” and, as the rich did not all desire to fight, the poor should not be allowed to continue the struggle.

When the four years war was ended, and peace appeared to be assured, those who had fought in the Confederate armies and had gained the heartfelt gratitude of their countrymen, though their cause was lost, stood aside in a spirit of self-denial, and, to encourage a feeling of amity between men of all grades of opinions, invited these men to take the lead in public affairs.

They accepted the situation, but it was a poor one, for robbery and plunder were not then the perquisites of office.

The revolution of 1867 promised richer rewards for public service, and when it offered them employment they again accepted the situation, and with it the blood-money of their new allies.

When that second war came, with political intriguers and spoilsmen for its generals, thieves, bummers and camp-followers for its soldiery, and the paroled prisoners of the war of 1861 and a poor and helpless people for its victims, these men were found among the most unpitying and aggressive of all these hordes. Some of these were natives of the South; [22] others are not claimed by any country. With permanent peace their vocation ends. They feebly and despairingly unite their voices with the disappointed revolutionists of the North in their protests against the peace of 1877.

The people of the North who approve and support this final adjustment are those who recognize and obey the authority of the Constitution. They trust no man with their liberties who, in legislation, in administration, in policy or in judgment, in peace or in war, goes outside the Constitution to find the sources of his civil power or the sanctions of his conduct in public affairs.

Such men feel the pulsations of fraternal regard that beat in honest hearts in all sections of the country, and are not restrained by lines of latitude in expressing their cordial response. They do not despise the weak nor worship the powerful. They do not believe that the moral worth of five millions of Americans has been settled against their pretensions to virtuous and patriotic love of country, and against their right to be esteemed as worthy of respect and confidence, by the fact that they fought four years and did not resist successfully thirty millions of Americans. They do not believe that only those are worthy of trust who belonged to the victorious power.

With supporters like these, the country need not fear that peace and reconciliation will not abide in the land.

I turn now to those in the South who support this great work, and I will endeavor to establish the proposition that they will abide by it with fidelity, and maintain it with honor and zeal.

I know that distrust is ready to meet us at the door of many an honest heart; that passion and prejudice are not yet extinguished or removed from every mind; that differences of opinion yet exist amongst us, the discussion of which recalls the bitterness and intolerance of former strife.

We feel that this distrust is not deserved by the people of the South, because they acted with good conscience and without any criminal intent or purpose in their great controversy with the North.

If we have now met in peace and reconciliation upon the broad concessions, mutually accepted, that the war was not a crime, we need not inquire who was right or who was wrong. Nor need we concern ourselves whether the one side or the other retains the bitter memories of the war with the greater tenacity. Controversies between States are not capable of being adjusted by reference solely to the temper of mind which may influence even a majority of the people.

Peace would never follow any war if it could only be established after the people had forgotten or had ceased to cherish their bitter animosities. [23]

When the cause of war is removed, it is a crime in any people to refuse to make peace.

It is due to the President of the United States, who has inaugurated this restoration of the Constitution, and to the people of the North who support him in this policy, and it is but justice to ourselves, that we should be able to assure them, that on our part, we intend to keep this peace inviolate.

This is sufficiently established by the fact that we have no motive for any other line of conduct. And this fact is demonstrated when we turn to the Constitution of the United States, and find that it protects every right that we claim; that it is now recognized as the supreme law, and that those in power respect their oaths to support and obey it. What further have we to ask or desire? But our claims upon the confidence of the country rest on higher grounds than our personal interests.

It is not a very pleasing duty to argue with your brother, or a stranger, the facts and deductions which should justify or encourage him in the confidence that you mean to deal honestly and justly with him. But our sectional estrangement has so long existed, and has been attended with such unseemly vituperation in all quarters, that those who desire that a better feeling should be encouraged, ought carefully to remove any possible distrust which may retard the restoration of mutual confidence and good will. In doing this, nothing is gained by uncandid protestations of affectionate regard, or by concealing the opinions and sentiments which we honestly entertain. It is probable that we shall live together a great many years — I trust it may be centuries, and that as time advances, we shall become more strongly attached by ties of common interests.

It would seem to be impossible to misconceive the precise effects of the war of 1861 upon the Constitution of the country, and it is absurd to assume that any change in the organic law was effected beyond that set forth in those amendments that have been added to it. So that we know fully the results of the war upon our Government.

The States of the South have adopted the thirteenth amendment, and have accepted the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. These are a part of the Constitution. We did not like them or approve them, but we have bound ourselves collectively as States, and in our State Constitutions, as well as by multiplied oaths taken on all possible occasions, by our people individually, to support and obey those amendments as parts of the Constitution of the United States. We can do no more except to live up to our pledges.

We yielded, in some of our State Constitutions, the right of secession. This was not required of us, and we surrendered it, because we supposed the Northern States would demand it. That was claimed to be an issue involved in the war. Some of those who fought the hardest and longest [24] declared that this doctrine was the cause of the war, and was, of course, the object of their most intense hate.

It was the immediate cause of hostilities in the form in which they were opened, and unless the South had believed in the right of secession as an essential element of State sovereignty, it is most likely that war would not have ensued between the States. It would have been a war between the people, and we should have had anarchy within the States. If the same number of men that were engaged in the war of 1861 had fought with the same vigor, under partizan leadership and organization, and not under the State organizations, anarchy would have reigned throughout the country.

The abolishment of slavery would have resulted in the abolishment of State Governments; in the destruction of the Union beyond all the power of restoration; and the final overthow of Republican Government on this continent.

The people of the United States must abandon the idea that war is to be a remedy for any abuse or usurpation, or they must recognize the doctrine that it is best, whether right or wrong, constitutional or unconstitutional, if war must come, that it should be between States as organizations, and not under control of partisan leaders merely.

For one half of a century Mexico has furnished us with a sad historical proof of this proposition.

The Southern States in a nervous solicitude to satisfy the people of the North that they intended to remain forever at peace, cut themselves off, by constitutional provisions, from all access to the means of making war or of defending themselves by lawful measures as organized bodies.

If they fight again, it must be with halters around their necks. They have given their pledges, and delivered their hostages to keep the peace. The Northern States have accepted them, but they have given nothing in return to bind them to like conditions.

They are free, and have proved themselves wisely diligent to preserve their State Constitutions and the Federal Constitution free from any provisions that may hamper their future action.

The historian who may hereafter consider this peculiar condition of the States will be astonished to find that a great war, fought, as is claimed, to destroy the treasonable doctrine of secession, should have closed without any apparent impression being left upon the Constitution relating to that subject, while the abolition of slavery, which was claimed not to have been the purpose of the war, but a mere incident of the hostilities-a necessary war measure — was provided for in three solemn amendments. It is for the North to answer on this question. The South was as ready to place a quietus upon this question as the North was to demand it. But it was not demanded. Those who hereafter quarrel with the doctrine of [25] secession must quarrel with the North, where it was first asserted as a right of the States, and not with the Southern States that have surrendered it.

The South is willing to trust the North on this question. Our incomparable physical geography, giving us the world-wide monopoly of the cotton growth, our soil that is capable of sustaining a larger proportionate population than China or India, our inviting climate, our exhaustless minerals, furnish us with every resource of national wealth and power.

We shall not be impoverished if any of the States shall find an association with us in the Federal Union incompatible with their interests or their moral sensibilities and should prefer to go in peace. We shall not wish to withdraw. The sceptre of wealth and power is again within our grasp.

The enfranchisement of the negro has added so materially to our political power that we have ceased to fear that we shall be buffeted about at the will of a despotic majority-power in the country.

Faithful to the Conststution, we will see that it is obeyed in letter and spirit in the South, and so'we will consolidate our power, and its impregnable citadel of strength will be in the hearts of our people of all races and conditions.

Those who fear that we will oppress the free negroes, do not understand either our feelings or our interests. Our interest in slavery was never so great as our interest in our slaves. And now that they are free, our concern for their personal welfare is naturally greater than it is for their political promotion. We desire to benefit them practically. We did not enslave them. If their enslavement was a sin, it is not at our door. They were brought to us as slaves, and from a slave country; and chiefly, by Northern slave-dealers.

Few Southern eyes ever witnessed the horrors of the middle passage, and fewer Southern ships ever sailed in the slave-trade.

We have not added a shadow to the darkness of their native barbarism. On the contrary, we have used the code under which they were born; the system of laws adopted instinctively by their rulers, as all systems of unrevealed law have been adopted by all races of men; and we have added to it, in their government, the revealed law which contains statutes adapted to such people. We have thus educated and enlightened them until they compare favorably in actual knowledge with many civilized and christianized peoples; until our own brethren have thought them worthy to be set in authority over the people who have been their only teachers.

We believe that as a body of people they are deficient in the faculties which comprise the power to govern with wisdom and safety, in that highest form of civilized government, the constitutional republic of the [26] United States; but they can fully enjoy its blessings; and it is to our interest, and in full accordance with our desires, that they should do so. They can participate with safety in the electoral franchise, and when left to the guidance of their own free wills, they will do themselves and the country justice. At all events, we cannot afford to surrender the political power that depends upon their right of suffrage.

These plain statements seem to dispense with further argument as to the grounds of our satisfaction with our present relations to the United States, and of our faith in the future prosperity of the South.

There are still higher grounds upon which we feel that we are justly entitled to repose confidence, and to receive confidence, when we assert our intention to abide by the decisions which were the result of the war.

I refer confidently to the character of the American people, which, after all, is the vital power of the government, and the foundation of every hope of the future. Our government rests on that character, and looks to it, as pledged in oaths of fidelity for the maintenance of justice towards the people and the States.

If oaths are not sufficient to hold a free people to the line of duty, nothing that is consistent with liberty will ever secure this end.

Without confidence and forbearance amongst the people, the government cannot be long maintained.

No country can be so unhappy as that where every man feels that every other man who may oppose him in his political opinions, is a traitor to his country. Sometimes, the people acting under great excitement, seem to be controlled by such thoughts; but the moment a result is obtained, and declared by lawful authority, it is peacefully accepted, and the people assume their wonted friendship.

An illustration was furnished, in the events with which this year began, of the love of the people for their country and its institutions and for each other, rising above their regard for any man or any party, or anything except the written Constitution and the law as declared by legitimate authority, that should shame into silence those who traduce the honor of the people of the country.

In this great matter of the Presidential election, the Democrats of the South and the whole country felt that they had been victimized and betrayed by a false confidence reposed in the most important tribunal which has existed in this country since 1787; and while millions of them believed, and still believe, that its judgment was a mere expression of partisan injustice, yet that judgment stood for law and admitted of no appeal, and they obeyed it. They consented to look to their lawful power to correct it hereafter at the ballot-box, and to provide against its recurrence by additional laws.

It was expected of the people in the South that, through the alliance of Democrats in the North and West, they would seek to avenge themselves [27] for the losses and sufferings of the past by dragging the country into civil war.

When we disappointed those to whom “the wish was father to the thought” and refused to make or to suffer war to establish a presidential succession, they taunted us with a want of spirit and decried our boasted chivalry. They should have known that whatever of blood our people have shed, or may have to shed, on questions of controversy with their brethren, is consecrated to the cause of the Constitution of their country.

Neither malice, nor revenge, nor lust of power, nor even any wrong or insult, however grievous, for which the Constitution and laws afford a remedy has caused us, or will ever cause us to open our veins, or theirs, in any controversy with our brethren. But a fatal blow, aimed at that instrument, which no other means can meet or parry, will never find our hearts too weak for resentment, nor our arms too feeble to strike in its defence.

The men who saved the land from bloodshed in 1877, because the Constitution, though in some sense violated, was not broken beyond the reach of a peaceful remedy, are the same who in 1861 attempted to supply the remedy of armed resistance against those who outlawed their rights, and declared them beyond the pale of the Constitution.

Many of these men yet live, and their sons, who were little children in 1861, have taken the places of their heroic dead, with not a vacancy in the ranks to tell that ever one was lost. It is a mistake to suppose that they are numerically weak, or that they are broken in spirit.

Those heroes of a thousand battle-fields, whose very graves are lost beyond the power of recognition, are all replaced with men just such as they were; men who have no higher conceptions of honor and glory than to wish to live or die just such as they were; men who feel that the grave of every Confederate soldier contains the ashes of a patriot whose memory is a sacred legacy-fathers and sons, they are the same men now that they have always been.

These younger men, however, are not amenable to any accusation of treason, except that they had hearts to love their venerable fathers and the cause which they espoused; their brothers, and the country whose bosom was bathed with the outpouring of their blood.

The framers of the Constitution, remembering that its most important principles were born of Anglo-Saxon rebellion against royal power, and that attainder and confiscation had too often been the badges of a noble martyrdom, protected the children of rebels against confiscation and their blood against attainder by positive provisions of the organic law.

How insulting to the spirits of the great men who ordained this Constitution is that unworthy prejudice which would visit upon the children, even then unborn, the penalties which have been denounced against [28] their fathers. The American people cannot dishonor themselves by the encouragement or toleration of a feeling so unworthy.

These young men have not been taught to hate the Government of the United States, but they have been taught to hold as enemies to their country those who trample upon and spurn its Constitution after having been sworn to defend it.

But few of those remain who had passed the meridian of life in 1861. They are tottering along the steep declivities of life, without purse or scrip, looking hopefully to a future here peace is eternal, and feeling that the work of life has been faithfully accomplished. The honor and reverence bestowed upon them by the people of the South compensates them for the privations and hardships which followed the sacrifices they made of all their wealth and influence to the cause that commanded their homage.

The soldiers of the Oonfederacy are now, as they have been since 1861, the representative men of the South. Those who would comprehend the people of the South must know them and their children.

When I speak of the soldiers of the Confederacy as representative men, I do not mean that they have sought or received recognition as the official exponents of the opinions of the people. Deference to the opinions of their friends in other sections, and a just regard for the policy that was thought to be the wisest in the restoration of peace, confidence and composure to the country, led them to decline any unavoidable part in the public councils.

Some politicians in the South also demanded that they should take “back seats,” and they took them cheerfully, until the people required them to come to the front.

Neither do I exclude from the honorable title of Confederate soldiers the men and women who devoted themselves, through their sympathies, prayers, labors, sacrifices, and sufferings, and gave their property, comfort, and ceaseless toil to the cause of the Confederacy.

The honors of the battle-field won by their soldiers are not a more precious remembrance to the people of the South than the heroic devotion and sufferings of their mothers, sisters, and wives. Whatever may be the judgment of those who yet live amidst the lingering shadows of that great struggle, human nature will never find in the history of all the generations past and to come a higher or more worthy example of patriotism and sacrificial devotion than was furnished us in the conduct of the women of the Confederacy.

Woman cannot espouse, with her soul's deepest and truest devotion, a cause that is not just and honorable. If she doubts the cause in which her husband or son suffers or is lost, her bereavement has no bounds, It is misery without consolation. Philosophy, or religion even, affords no balm for the wounded spirit. [29]

The Confederate cause had a place in the hearts of the women of the South, where no doubt could find a lodgment. When the dearest ties were severed in that cause they suffered the bereavement in silent, uncomplaining grief, feeling sustained by the purest and highest motives, as they bore upon their bleeding hearts a rich sacrifice of love to the altars of their country.

For the same reasons that inspired our soldiers, the wives and mothers of the country were as willing to give their loved ones to their country as they were to die in its service.

When the battle was over, and the faithful and true one was lost to his loved ones at home, the life of the husband and the love of the wife, blended in a sweet incense of free-offering, ascended together to Heaven.

Did not you, my comrades, act worthily, according to your most sincere and solemn sense of duty, when you entered the field to sustain convictions and defend rights which were thus felt and understood by the mothers, wives and daughters of the land?

Was not their honor, their future welfare, their safety against evils which seemed to threaten the sacred things of your home circles the decisive influence which called you to arm for the defence of your country?

Not a selfish thought of personal aggrandizement influenced you, not a doubt disturbed your reflections as to the merits of the controversy that commanded your devotion.

No lingering apprehensions of mistaken duty hung upon your resolution to impede your progress, or to cause you to falter in your course.

Under the guide of your own convictions, after having reflected maturely and voted with unconstrained freedom, you felt that the ballot-box could not protect your rights, and you grasped your musket.

You stood on the defensive, feeling that you had no responsibilities then, or in the past, for the spirit of aggression which had set itself to the abolishing of slavery. This you believed would overwhelm the South with ruin, degrade it to a political vassalage, deprave it to a social position which you could not contemplate without abhorrence.

When they left their homes to join the army, whether their feet pressed for the last time the marble threshold of palace or the rude door-sill of a log cabin, the soldiers of the Confederacy went forth with equal alacrity. Their purposes, hopes, and resolves were the same. Their cause was one, and without any distinctions or jealousies they united in its defence; poured out their blood in a common libation beneath its banners; fell side by side; their ashes mingle in undistinguishable brotherhood, and their fame is one common legacy to their country.

No more unjust or disparaging misrepresentation was ever made than that which imputed to the non-slaveholders, or the poor man of the [30] South, reluctance in fighting its battles. It was the base suggestion of cowardly demnogogues, who avoided the fields where Confederate laurels were being won, and sought to stop the war before public opinion would compel them to fight.

They hoped to influence the people of the States to withdraw their armies, and cared not though they should leave the men abandoned on the fields who were winning honors for the South that more than compensated all their sufferings.

This false accusation maligns the true people of the South. It perverts that living truth, which shines like a star in the night of error, that the Southern soldier took up arms for no other motive and for no other inducement than to defend a country that he loved, and a cause that commanded the unbought allegiance of his heart.

No men have ever exhibited, in their faithful service and fortitude, a higher degree of proof that their hearts were in a cause than those who were called the “poor men of the South.” They were in no respect poor, though by comparison with others they were not rich in the things which save men from honest toil.

In spirit, independence, honest self-appreciation, in their lineage, and in proud exaltation of sentiment they had riches, inherited from their fathers, which the people of America have valued as above all price.

In the heraldry of their lineage, the wars of the Revolution, the war of 1812, and the war with Mexico are inscribed as the events which sealed the patents of their nobility.

I am proud, my countrymen, to adopt for you that title-“the poor men of the South” --which, though applied by those who knew you not as a badge of your inferiority and poverty of spirit, is yet the highest proof that your “glory which the world cannot take away” was earned in a struggle that involved honor, justice and liberty only, and in which you had neither gold nor slaves to protect, to gain, or to lose.

Could your traducers have seen you when you left your homes, and when you returned after the war, they would scarcely believe that you had been compelled to take up arms by a power you could not resist.

When you left your humble but loved homes, where virtue and contentment had made your lives so happy, your sinking, saddened heart was lifted up and your soul was strengthened when you saw the stars of hope glittering in the tears that were shed by your wife as she gave you to God and your country, as they had given you to her. Her clinging arms almost refused to yield you to the battle's fury, but she would not ask you to stay. The familiar fields where you had toiled in peace through many years and the sentinel forests standing around were the last witnesses of your grief at the parting. [31]

When the lord of the log cabin had passed beyond the view of the lonely watchers at its door a brief prayer was uttered, a quaint musical voice sang the old hymn of faith, “How firm a foundation ye saints of the lord,” and with a deft and busy hand, and a fortitude worthy of an honest mother's faith in God, she turned to her homely duties, and your house was set in order for the war. It would be a sad thought that language cannot convey a just idea of the beauty and excellence of character manifested by these silent, suffering, toiling, trusting, faithful women, if it were not that the great story is reserved for that day when Heaven shall reveal it in its fullness as the fairest chapter in the history of mankind.

The greatest of your trials was to remain in the army, far away from your homes, when you knew that hunger, sickness, and distress in almost every form, were invading them. At long intervals the travel worn letters from home would reach you in the distant camp. In plaintive but uncomplaining narrative your almost martyr wife would tell you how the cattle had been impressed; the horse had been taken from the plow by raiders; the corn had been nearly consumed, and of meat there was none; the children were languishing in sickness, and medicines had even been declared contraband of war; that as she toiled in the hot field by day, and spun by the pine torch at night, rumors would often come that brought the pangs of widowhood and orphanage to the little circle at home; but, thanking God that this calamity had been spared them, she closed with prayer that you might return, a free and independent man, to a country worthy of your citizenship, and to a family proud of your achievements.

Your devotion under such circumstances, which are but a mere glimpse of the trials you endured for years, ought to convince every honorable man that a government which lays a just claim to your allegiance, by securing your rights under its Constitution, will receive in return the most faithful support.

Your children, reared amidst such hardships,,became sadly wise and self-reliant. In facing dangers that might well have appalled the stoutest men, they came to be familiar with them in childhood. They have listened to the fireside traditions of the war from night to night, as related by their fathers and mothers, and weaving them into the woof of their own experiences they understand the war in all its vast and sanguinary history. Not once have they doubted that their fathers fought in a just cause. Not a word of reproach against the Confederate States, its army or its leaders, have they ever heard uttered by any sufferer who fought for its cause.

They are men now, and comprise with yourselves, the essential power of the South. [32]

No sting of dishonor, no shame for past delinquencies of duty, no sense of humiliation in the presence of those who were victorious in the war, makes you or them reluctant to meet our former enemies face to face in frank, open, manly and honest agreement for the future.

You demand no guarantees except obedience to the Constitution, and you offer none but these.

Such an element of population is worthy of the confidence, respect, and proud regard of any nation.

The country cannot afford to hold these people in a state of dishonorable subjection. Granting that they would long remain in such subserviency, the loss of power for good, and the increase of power for evil, would so deeply affect the confidence of the people in the future of the Government, that it would soon cost the country more billions of dollars to balance the material losses occasioned by such folly, than it has cost to bring them to that condition.

This imperfect view of the facts, opinions, convictions and sentiments of the people of the South, on which they claim the respect and confidence of the people of the entire country, ought to be sufficient to quiet the apprehensions of such as are least willing to extend to us the fraternal hand of reconciliation.

Men who are not true to themselves are not to be trusted to keep their covenants with others.

No man can be trusted as the guardian of his own rights or of the rights of others who is incapable of feeling a wrong, and unwilling to redress it.

But we turn with confidence to a still higher plane on which Americans can meet and unite in making the future of our country as happy, as the past has been unhappy. All causes of sectional strife are removed. There remains no justifiable excuse for longer indulgence in the bitter recollections of the past. Neither section has cause to feel humiliated in association with the other. Any nation would feel proud to welcome the States of the South or of the North into fellowship or alliance. Why should we grudgingly or with reluctance consent to such honorable association? It is certain that prosperity cannot result from longer contention ; peace cannot hold its happy sway while discord reigns in the hearts of the people. There are none, not even the most virulent enemies of peace and restoration, who would willingly protract the era of strife and dissension forever. Once in power even they would turn with honeyed words of brotherly love to their late victims and bid them, in the name of the God of peace, to arise and be enfolded in their broad and tranquil bosoms.

There can be no motive to delay the return of the American people to the cordial relations, and to the pure love of a common country which [33] prevailed in the beginning of the century, save only to gratify a partisan desire to help those men to high positions who have been the chief barrier to the drawing together of the people.

If their friends think them worthy of reward, even as the enemies of peace, how much more ought they to rejoice to reward them as the magnanimous friends of a reconciled and happy country.

The American people, moved by an impulse of mutual affection long restrained by unworthy resentments, have, at a single step, risen to the height of their former glory. “A union of hearts and a union of hands” has made them again one people.

In the beginning and in the end, before the war and since the war, the vital question was whether the Constitution, with its guarantees to the States of the right local self-government, could be preserved during the tempest that swept the institution of slavery from this continent.

It was long submerged beneath the billows of anarchy and despotism, but at last they have subsided, revealing the old rock of the Constitution standing secure and firm on its eternal foundations.

Gathered upon this rock, with honor untarnished, spirit undismayed, their souls elate with noble aspirations and aflame with love of country, the soldiers and people of the Confederate States are at home again, welcomed to the honored abode of their fathers by the heroes who fought them in war, honored them in victory, and love them in peace.

General Morgan was frequently interrupted with rapturous applause, and the thanks of the Society were warmly voted to the orator for his “able and eloquent address,” and a copy requested for publication.

General Early paid a brief but touchinly-appropriate tribute to the memory of Admiral Raphael Semmes, late Vice-President of the Society for the State of Alabama, and, on motion of General Dabney H. Maury, the following minute was unanimously adopted:

The death of Admiral Raphael Semmes, the Vice-President of this Society for the State ot Alabama, having occurred since the last annual meeting, the Sciety takes this occasion to express its high admiration for the exalted character, eminent abilities, and distinguished services ot the deceased, and its profoi)lnd regret for the loss the Society has sustained in his death; which is ordered to be entered on the Journal.


Fifth annual report of the Executive Committee of the Southern Historical Society, for year Ending October 31st, 1877.

General D. H. Maury then read the following.

The Executive Committee have to report that during the past year they have endeavored to keep in view the great objects of the trust committed to their charge; that they have steadily worked for the interests of the Society amid some peculiar difficulties, and that there has been most gratifying progress in our important work. The acknowledgments we have made from time to time attest that the kind interest of our friends has steadily added to our

Material for a true history of the war,

until we have now a collection which is widely recognized as one of priceless value. The Secretary has received from all parts of this country and from Europe numbers of letters seeking information concerning events of the war, and in almost every instance he has been able to furnish from our archives the information sought. We have given to a number of writers facts, narratives, &c., to aid them in elucidating the truth of our Confederate history, and we have the most gratifying assurances that our publications are looked to as high authority, not only in the South, but also at the forth and in Europe.

Our friends have given us with cheerful alacrity material which could readily be sold for thousands of dollars, but which is of inestimable value to the cause of truth; and yet there remains in private hands much that ought to be on our shelves.


Our monthly has received the heartiest commendation from the press generally, and warm endorsation from leading Confederates, while we number among our constant readers some of the most distinguished Federal soldiers and some of the ablest military critics in Europe.

As to the character of our publications we have steadily pursued the policy announced in our last annual report, and unanimously approved by our last annual meeting; and we are gratified to [35] know that this policy meets with the well nigh universal approval of our friends.

We have now on hand copies of the first three volumes of our Papers handsomely bound; (the fourth volume will be ready 1st of January, next,) besides our “Confederate view of the treatment of prisoners,” which we beg our friends to help us to circulate, and especially to place in every public library in the country.

We have reason to congratulate ourselves that, in spite of the unfavorable year we have had for the conduct of such an enterprise, we have been enabled to maintain our list of subscribers at about what it was twelve months ago, and that we have bright prospects for a large increase during the coming year; and we are satisfied that we only need efficient canvassers to swell our list of members and subscribers several thousand, within a short time.

Confederate archives at Washington.

In our last annual report we gave an account of our unsuccessful efforts to gain access to the Confederate archives in charge of the War Department at Washington.

In January last the Department reopened the correspondence with us, and seemed anxious to secure such documents as they need to complete their files. We reiterated our desire to give them the freeest access to our archives, and to furnish them copies of anything they might desire, provided they would reciprocate; but, as they declined to allow us access to the “Archive Bureau,” to give us in exchange any copies of documents, or to allow us any thing in return, save the doubtful advantage of advance sheets of the publication they propose to make, when they shall be ready for the press, we could not see that we would be justified in acceding to their proposition.

We call the earnest attention of the Society to this matter, and hope that such action will be taken as will induce all fair-minded men to oppose appropriating public funds to publishing the Official history of the war until the Department adopts such rules as will allow citizens of every section free and equal opportunity of inspecting and verifying the originals of documents which it is proposed to publish.



With the exception of the liberal donation of W. W. Corcoran, Esq., who, last November, added $500 to his donation of the year before, the Committee has been dependent for the means of carrying on its work upon membership fees and subscriptions to our Papers.

The following summary will exhibit our receipts and disbursements, from November 1st, 1876, to October 30th, 1877:


Membership fees, subscriptions, and advertisements4,244 45
Donation of W. W. Corcoran, Esq500 00
Total receipts$4,744 45
Balance in treasury, as per last report51 94
Total funds$4,796 39


Paid on account of printing, stereotyping, and binding2,584 43
Commissions to agents646 32
Salary of Secretary816 85
Pay of clerk, stationery, and miscellaneous office expenses365 89
Postage, express, and telegrams382 90
Total disbursements$4,796 39

We have liabilities on account of printing and binding amounting to $2,100.

To liquidate this amount, we have the following assets:

Back Nos. of our Papers to make 2,000 volumes4,000 00
1,500 copies “Treatment of prisoners” 1,500 00
Due us by agents800 00
Renewal fees and subscriptions now due300 00
Due from advertisers175 90
Total$6,775 00

There will be due us on the 1st of January next, for renewal fees and subscriptions, $3,600. [37]

We have so far reduced our expenses, that if our receipts are as large next year as they have been during the past year, (and we have great reason to hope that they will be much larger), we will have no difficulty in meeting all of our expenses.

But we are in pressing need of means to enable us to adequately prosecute our great work, and we know not how a lover of the truth of history can better employ funds than by contributing them to the use of the Southern Historical Society.

In conclusion, we would express our growing sense of the importance of collecting now, the material for a true history of our great struggle for Constitutional freedom, and we earnestly appeal to all who can add anything of value to our collection, to do so at once.

By order of the Executive Committee. Dabney H. Maury, Chairman. J. Wm. Jones, Secretary.

The report was unanimously adopted.

The President then announced the selection of General E. W. Pettus, of Selma, as Vice-Pesident for Alabama; and Col. Thos. H. Carter, of King William county, Va., formerly Chief of Artillery of Rodes' Division, A. N. V., as a member of the Executive Committee to fill a vacancy.

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