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THE PROPHECIES OF SENATOR WIGFALL.
Republic against whose lawful control they had rebelled. He must be shrewd, resolute, firm and desperate. Above all things, he must be extremely fanatical in his Southern prejudices, and be thoroughly infected with secession principles. Such a man preeminently was Jefferson Davis. The Vice President must resemble him in all these respects except one. He need possess no military knowledge, no martial experience. It would be his duty to carry on the Government in the absence of the chief Executive; and while the latter was at the head of the victorious armies of the Southern Confederacy, sacking Washington, driving Mr. Lincoln and his cabinet in hot haste from the Capital, striking terror into the inhabitants of the North, burning cities, blockading ports, capturing ships upon the high seas; during the progress of all these heroic and magnificent deeds, which it was confidently and exultingly asserted the invincible Davis would soon be achieving, he, the Vice President, must be conducting the home government with prudence, harmony and skill. These boasts respecting the future achievements of the Rebel President formed a prominent feature, at this period, of the prevalent sentiment and utterances in the seceding States.
No person was more enthusiastic and constant in giving expression to these vauntings than ex-senator Wigfall of Texas. But Wigfall's prognostications were liable to an objection of a very peculiar and serious character. King Charles II. of England was accustomed to assert that Prince George of Denmark, who had married his niece, the Princess Anne, afterward Queen, was extremely shallow; that he had tried the Prince when sober, and he had tried him when drunk; but that, whether drunk or sober, there was nothing in him. This was precisely the defect of the prophecies of Senator Wigfall. It did not produce the slightest difference whether the prophetic frenzy came upon him when intoxicated, or when not intoxicated; in either case there was nothing in him; in no case did his predictions prove to be in accordance with the event.
We venture to predict that the role which Jefferson Davis and his chief associates have enacted, will be regarded by posterity, when the passions and prejudices of this stormy time shall have been lulled to repose by the Lethean flood of years, as the most unenviable and execrable which has ever fallen to the lot of any human being. We do indeed read of that "aspiring youth who fired the Ephesian dome," that he might thereby secure an immortality of fame; yet we have never learned that any-except the cruel and infamous Gloster, and such as he-commended him for the rash act. Those who have striven, from the promptings of a similar motive, to mar and desolate the nobler fabric of the American Union, will incur a condemnation during after ages, more intense, more universal, more enduring than his. Let us glance briefly at the personal histories and characteristics of these great historic criminals.
Jefferson Davis will occupy in future ages a position in the annals of the great republic of the New World not very unlike that of Benedict
Arnold and Aaron Burr. That he is a remarkable man in many respects, capable of high and great as well as of base and mean achievements, is an unquestionable fact. His personal history, which is full of variety and interest, clearly demonstrates the truth of this assertion. He was born in Christian county, Kentucky, in June, 1808. His father, who was a wealthy planter, removed soon after his birth to Wilkinson county, Mis sissippi. His son gave early proofs of superior intelligence and talent, and at the usual age was sent to Transylvania College in his native State. Having completed the course of study there, he was admitted to the Mili tary Academy at West Point in 1824. He graduated in that institution in 1828, and was appointed brevet second lieutenant, and commenced service in the regular army.
Mr. Davis distinguished himself in the events which occurred in the Black Hawk war. In 1833 he was promoted to a first lieutenancy of dragoons, and in that capacity made a number of expeditions against the Camanches, Pawnees, and other hostile Indian tribes upon the frontiers. It was in 1835, that, chiefly in consequence of ill health, he resigned his commission, returned to Mississippi and commenced the pursuits of a planter. He remained in retirement and repose till 1843, when he began to take an active part in political life. He entered the arena of politics as a Democrat, and was chosen one of the Electors for the State of Mississippi who gave their ballots for Polk and Dallas in 1844. In the following year he was chosen to represent his adopted State in Congress, and thus began a new and more pacific career. In that body Mr. Davis soon acquired fame, and assumed a prominent position as a public speaker and an energetic partisan. His clearness and force of thought, his bold and impressive delivery, his fluency and freedom of utterance, always commanded respect and attention from his auditors.
He was thus winning his way to a high political reputation, when, in July, 1846, he was appointed colonel of the first regiment of Mississippi volunteers when they were about to serve in the Mexican war. He immediately accepted the post, resigned his seat in Congress, proceeded to New Orleans, took command of the regiment, and led them forward to the assistance of General Taylor, then posted on the Rio Grande. At the storming of Monterey, in September, 1846, he acted with great gallantry, and was appointed one of the commissioners to arrange the terms of the capitulation of that city. At the bloody battle of Buena Vista, in February, 1847, he won new laurels, exhibited superior heroism and bravery, was severely wounded, and received from General Scott, commander-in-chief, an honorable notice in his dispatch of March, 1847. In the following summer he returned to Mississippi, and was immediately appointed by the Governor of the State to fill a vacancy which had occurred in the Federal Senate. In January, 1848, he was elected by the Legislature of that State to the same high office; and after the expiration
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF DAVIS AND STEPHENS
of his term, in March, 1851, was again chosen for another period of ser vice in the Senate of the United States. In 1851 he was nominated by the Democratic party in Mississippi for Governor, against Henry S. Foote, but was defeated by a small majority.
After the nomination of Mr. Pierce for the Presidency, in 1852, Mr. Davis took a very active part in the campaign, and spoke ably in favor of his old comrade in arms throughout the entire State. As a reward for his efficient services, the new President appointed him to the office of Secretary of War. He possessed abilities which qualified him for the duties of his high position, and he conducted its affairs with energy and success. He was exceedingly popular with the officers of the army, and made some important improvements in the service. He introduced the use of the minié rifle, increased the inland and coast frontier defences, and explored the several routes for the Pacific railroad. What the zeal and ability of Arnold had been previous to his treason to his country, the efforts and services of Davis were before the origin of the Southern Rebellion. After the termination of the administration of Mr. Pierce, Mr. Davis was elected by the Legislature of Mississippi to. the Senate of the United States, for the term ending in March, 1863; but before that term had expired he had abandoned his post, left the serene haven of high official life, and embarked upon the stormy ocean. of rebellion against a great and beneficent government. In this rash act a desperate ambition was unquestionably his leading motive. He vainly imagined that he would attain still higher eminence, and that he would at length strike the stars with his sublime head—sublimi feriat sidera vertice.
Of the remaining members of the Rebel government it will be unnecessary to speak at much length. Alexander Hill Stephens, the Vice President, was born in 1818, and was a man of superior natural talents, a brilliant and powerful thinker, an able and effective orator. He represented the State of Georgia during a series of years in the national Legislature; and he attained a distinguished position in that body, so richly adorned by diversity, profundity and profusion of talent, among its members, at different periods. Laboring all his life under extremely ill health, hovering continually and feebly over an open grave, the slender and uncertain hold which he maintained upon existence did not prevent him from taking an active part in the great debates and forensic battles which occurred in the House during the period of his presence in it. When the project of secession was first agitated in Georgia, he opposed it, as has already been stated, with the utmost zeal. We have previously narrated how he changed his position, stultified his own arguments, and espoused the cause of the Rebels. The reward of his services was the second dignity in the new confederacy. As to his qualifications for the duties of his position, there could be no question;
for he was well adapted to them, both by superior natural talents and by long experience in political life.
The most remarkable of the men who were subsequently appointed to the Rebel Cabinet, was Charles G. Memminger, who became Secretary of the Treasury. This person was born in Wurtemberg, Germany, in 1804, and was brought to Charleston when two years of age by his parents. Soon afterward their premature death left him friendless and destitute in the world. He then became an inmate of an orphan asylum; but after some years was so fortunate as to obtain the patronage of Governor Bennet of South Carolina. That gentleman became interested in his fate, and assisted him to commence a career which afterward attained no small degree of distinction. Mr. Memminger's intellectusl qualities were much above the ordinary range. His mind was clear, strong, sagacious. In temper he was ambitious, persevering, determined, self-confident. Small in person, he compensated for that deficiency by unusual activity and energy of movement. He was for a long time prominent in political life in South Carolina. For many years he was chairman of the Committee of Finance of the Legislature of the State. He always opposed the existence of banks and the use of paper money. In truth, he had been to the State of South Carolina what Albert Gallatin was to the Federal Government in the Revolutionary era. He was, however, a man of details, and never rose to grand national views, nor achieved a national fame in the arena of politics. By his zeal and earnestness in advocating secession, he invested his name with an unenviable and execrable notoriety, and forever tarnished the honorable eminence which he had previously secured.
Next in the order of importance in the Rebel Cabinet was Mr. Toombs, the Secretary of State. This person distinguished himself in the Federal Congress, during a number of years, as a zealous advocate of southern interests. He was noted for his impetuous and declamatory style of speaking. He was an admirable representative of the peculiarities of southern eloquence-ardent, rapid, noisy. Mr. Mallory, the Secretary of the Navy, formerly occupied a seat in the United States Senate. He was a man of very moderate talents and utilitarian tendencies. General L. Pope Walker, the Secretary of War, was comparatively unknown to the nation at large, but he had acquired some military reputation in the South. J. P. Benjamin, the Attorney-General, had previously represented the State of Louisiana during some years in the Federal Senate. He possessed no inconsiderable attainments as a jurist, and marked ability as a forensic orator; but his most remarkable and prominent characteristic was his acquisitiveness, as was demonstrated both by his earlier and by his maturer history.
ASSEMBLING OF THE PEACE CONGRESS.
ASSEMBLING OF THE PEACE CONGRESS AT WASHINGTON-THEIR PROPOSALS OF COMPROMISETHEIR REJECTION AND FAILURE-ATTITUDE OF PRESIDENT BUCHANAN-PUBLIC SENTIMENT RESPECTING FORT SUMTER-MISSION OF THE "STAR OF THE WEST"-FINAL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT AT MONTGOMERY—INAUGURATION OF JEFFERSON DAVIS AS PRESIDENT HIS ADDRESS-INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN HIS ADDRESSHIS CABINET OFFICERS-THE FAMOUS ORATION OF A. H. STEPHENS AT SAVANNAH-ITS HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE-HIS FIRST POSITION-HE REFUTES JEFFERSON, HAMILTON, AND MADISON-HIS SECOND POSITION-THE FOUNDATION STONE OF THE SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY -ABSURDITY AND FALLACY OF THAT FOUNDATION-THE FUTURE CONDITION AND DESTINY OF THE NEGRO RACE.
WHILE the founders of the Southern Confederacy were thus completing their work at Montgomery, a vigorous effort was being made by eminent men in the nation-beyond the jurisdiction of the Federal Congress-to heal the difficulty, and avert the horrors of civil war. A Peace Congress was convened at Washington, whose special aim and purpose it was to accomplish this desirable result. Ex-President Tyler presided over its deliberations; and during the progress of its sessions a committee was appointed, consisting of one member from each State, for the purpose of drawing up pacific propositions, which might be acceptable to both parties. The chairman of this committee was the venerable James Guthrie of Kentucky. After much discussion, certain proposals of compromise were agreed upon.
Having adopted a number of elaborate Articles, every word of which had been carefully weighed and discussed, the Congress provided for their being communicated to the hostile and rival Governments, for their consideration and approval. They then adjourned. But the ultimate fate of these propositions was unfortunate. They satisfied neither party, over whose minds the spirit of extreme irritation prevailed; and thus they failed in accomplishing the benevolent and patriotic purpose for which they were evidently intended.
The leaders of the Southern Rebellion at Charleston were not disposed to permit themselves or their achievements to disappear from public view; and although the attention of the nation was chiefly directed to the events then progressing at Montgomery, they managed to make sufficient commotion to be the subjects of continued astonishment and general scrutiny. Fort Sumter was still held by Major Anderson for the United States with a small garrison. The administration of James Buchanan continued to drag out its ignominious length; and the sole purpose of that personage seemed to be, to keep things as quiet as possible, and to avoid decisive and bold measures of any kind, until he should escape from the difficulties