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The Confederate Key-Note.

FROM documents already | submitted, it will be seen the revolutionists construed their cause as that of the injured party. Declaring their right to revolt (secede) from the Federal Union, they assumed all steps to suppress the revolt as efforts for their subjugation. Proclamations, messages, speeches, editorials fairly scintillated with the fires of passion enkindled against the "oppressors." The advance into Virginia was proclaimed as having opened the war! From that moment the Confederate Chiefs declared their course to be clearly defined! Thus, a correspondent (probably one of Davis' Cabinet officers) for the New Orleans Delta, writing from Montgomery, said:

"The startling intelligence of the invasion of the soil of Virginia, and the actual occupation of Alexandria by United States forces, was received here last evening. The Cabinet, I am informed, immedi

ately went into a procrastinated session. No event since the initiation of this revolution has ever created a sensation so profound, and so sorrowful. The mere taking of a deserted and exposed village, is in itself nothing; but when regarded as indicative of the future policy of the old Government, it at once becomes a question pregnant with great importance. Mr. Lincoln has declared in his proclamation, and at various other times reiterated the expression, that the only object his Government had in view, was the retaking and the reoccupation of what he asserted to be Government property; but now, in the face of this promise, which has gone

before the world, he converts his Abolition horde

See Message of President Davis, page 122, et sequitur; the last communication of the Confederate Commissioners, pages 69–71; the several proclamations by Governors of Virginia, North Carolina and Missouri; the proceedings of the Confederate Congress; the speech of Davis, at Richmond, June 1st, (given on succeeding page,) &c., &c.

into an army of invasion, and now occupies a city within the boundaries of our Republic. This Government has no longer an election. Its duty is now manifest to all. The nation must rise as a man and drive the hireling miscreants from a soil polluted by

the foulness of their tramp. Virginia alone could speedily perform the work of expurgation, but her cause is now our cause, her battles our battles, and

let the Government at large pour a continuous

stream of men into Virginia, and preserve from dishonor that patriotic mother of States."

The Confederate Key-Note.

This was the key-note to which the clarions of the conspirators were set. A man strong and daring enough to have pointed at the long list of crimes which the revolutionists had perpetrated against a forbearing Government, against the laws, against order, against society, would have found a halter placed around his neck, no matter what his social position. No voice was heard, after the issue by the Federal Executive of the Proclamation for troops to cause the laws to be respected, which did not swell the wild chorus of treason. The very air seemed resonant with the baying of shadowy hounds, recalled from the jungles wherein the slave crouched for one moment of sweet liberty, to be turned Northward for the blood of loyal men. Plantations, villages, cities, camps rung with the cry: "On to the cities of the North!" while the harbors and bayous of the Confederacy echoed to the imprecations of the piratical host who proposed to “sweep Northern commerce from the seas." If any citizens of the Confederacy yet prayed and longed for the return of reason, they now beheld how futile were their hopes, and, before that popular clamor, were awed into silence or were swept into the revolution with a new-found enthusiasm, pledging themselves

The Confederate

heart, and hand, and purse, to the cause of "Southern Independence." The annals of revolution furnish no parallel to that astonishing zeal in the reckless pursuit of power. Had the lamented Mr. Buckle lived to study the secret springs of the Southern heart, he would have found strong confirmation of his theories. The lack of a just comprehension of the intellectual claims of the age the want of a just conception of the rights of man and the powers of government -rendered the Southern people easy victims to retrogressive ideas and the wiles of designing, unscrupulous men.

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"Apart from that gratification we may well feel at being separated from such a connection, is the pride that upon you devolves the task of maintai ing and defending our new Government. I believe that we shall be able to achieve this noble work, and that the institutions of our fathers will go to our children as safely as they have descended to us.

"In these Confederate States we observe those relations which have been poetically ascribed to the United States, but which never there had the same reality-States so distinct that each existed as a Sovereign, yet so united that each was wound with the other to constitute a whole; or, as more beautifully expressed, Distinct as the billows, yet one

as the sea.'

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"Upon every hill which now overlooks Richmond

beats high with indignation at the thought that the foot of the invader has been set upon the soil of old Virginia. There is not one true son of the South who is not ready to shoulder his musket, to bleed, to die, or to conquer in the cause of liberty here.

President Davis arrived Wigfall. at Richmond, May 29th, accompanied by Wigfall, then a Colonel in the Confederate service. The Texan followed his master, as such creatures ever have and ever will follow those whose talents they can but ape-to do his behests in exciting antago-yon have had, and will continue to have, camps nisms in the minds of the Southern people containing soldiers from every State in the Confedagainst the North. For this he was commis-eracy; and to its remotest limits every proud heart sioned; his malignant tongue and dishonest heart were worth more to the Southern cause than the service of many an able commander. Men of daring minds always find such shadows to do their will. He who seeks to write the secret history of the rebellion, will find Lewis T. Wigfall gliding across the page at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Davis was serenaded by the Richmond people, on the evening of June 1st. He then enunciated the principles upon which he proposed to administer "the cause so dear to Southern hearts." We may quote:

Davis' Exordium.

"The cause in which we are engaged is the cause of the advocacy of rights to which we were born, those for which our fathers of the Revolution beldthe richest inheritance that ever fell to man, and which it is our sacred duty to transmit to our chil


"Upon us is devolved the high and holy responsibility of preserving the constitutional liberty of a free government. Those with whom we have lately associated have shown themselves so incapable of

"Beginning under many embarrassments, the re sult of seventy years of taxation being in the hands of our enemies, we must at first move cautious'y It may be that we shall have to encounter sacrifice3 but, my friends, under the smiles of the God of the Just, and filled with the same spirit that animated our fathers, success shall perch on our banners. I am sure you do not expect me to go into any argu ment upon those questions which, for twenty-five years, have agitated the country. We have now reached the point where, arguments being exhausted, it only remains for us to stand by our weapons.

"When the time and occasion serve, we shal smite the smiter with manly arms, as did our fathers before us, and as becomes their sous. To the enemy we leave the base acts of the assassin and incendiary, to them we leave it to insult helpless women; to us belongs vengeance upon man."

What was most remark

Confederate Want of

able, in this speech, to a
Northern comprehension,
was its perversion of facts, and the idea that,
upon the Slaveholders as such, devolved the

appreciating the blessings of the glorious institutions they inherited, that they are to-day stripped of the liberty to which they were born. They have allowed an ignorant usurper to trample upon all the prerogatives of citizenship, and to exercise powers" high and holy responsibility of preserving

Confederate Want of




Confederate Want of

the constitutional liberty | must have been indeed bad of a free government." when such men as SteAs Mr. Stephens, the Vice-phens had to descend to President, had already enunciated the results unqualified untruths. We quote: of the movement for disunion to be " a new "The acts of Lincoln exhibit the spirit of anarchy constitution" and a new "form of Government," which is abroad in the North, and total disregard of all constitutional obligations and limits by the Abolition [see page 63,] the statement of the President in reference to the mission of the Confederacy

despot now in power. The North is fast drifting to

anarchy and an established despotism."

Coming from the lips of a man elevated to power by no vote of the people—embodying the sentiments of a Government inaugurated over the people without, in a single instance, allowing them to express their opinion and wishes in regard to that Government—we can well understand why the word "despotism" so frequently was upon the Vice-President's lips. The silly statement that anarchy was reigning in the North was a natural sequence of the general assumptions of the Vice-President: it was so wide of the truth that history will not fail to express surprise that even Mr. Stephens should have uttered such reckless language. He further added, as a corollary of his hopeless account of affairs in the North:

sounded a little inconsistent; but, one feature of the south-side view of things was that it neither required consistency nor truth for its propagation. Therefore the further declaration of the President: 66 beginning under many embarrassments, the result of seventy years taxation being in the hands of our enemies,” ceased to excite even an exclamation of surprise. The fact was that the Slave States-the Cotton-growing States in particular-had received one hundred dollars benefit from the Union for every dollar imposed upon them by "tax" or otherwise; but, Mr. Davis and his friends did not choose to view facts in the light of facts. They preferred to proceed upon the supposition that a Slave owner was better, was infinitely superior, as a man, to a non-Slave owner-that the South, notwithstanding its immense minority [see Vol. I, page 28; also Appendix, Vol. I, page 523,] in population and wealth, and its inferiority in all the resources which add to the permanent prosperity of a country was, nevertheless, the accredited arbiter of the Constitution, the exclusive monitor of the laws. That the revolutionists and their antagonists were as wide apart in their cardinal principles as the cardinal points of the compass, became apparent from the moment when Toombs and Wigfall first proclaimed their right to do as they pleased, despite the Gov-leaders of the revolution, and so apparently

ernment and the laws.

Mr. Stephens, at Atlanta, May 23d, did not wait for Federal "invasion" to declare his war-programme. He wanted no mere pretense to skulk behind, but came out, flatly, for the contest on the issues already created. His speech, like that of Davis, contained its due proportion of misstatement. Their cause

* See statements of Mr. Everett, as given in Vol. I, page 206; also his remarks given in foot-note to page 14, Vol. 1; also foot-note, Vol. I, page 168; also statements given on pages 206, 207, Vol. I.

"On you, therefore, as citizens of the Confederate States, depend the success and perpetuation of Constitutional liberty; for the day is not far off when freedom will exist only south of Mason and Dixon's line, and your stout arms and brave hearts will be her only support on all this continent."

This would excite a smile were its consequences less fatal. That the South was fighting the cause of constitutional liberty was gainsayed by the very purpose of the revolution itself, which aimed at overthrowing the Constitution and its provisions for the rule of the majority. But, so stultified were the

willing were the masses of the Southern people to be deceived, that each inconsistency grew to be a virtuous exception, and each departure from truth became a fortiter in re argument to strengthen their cause.

Said the Vice-President: "We prefer and desire peace if we can have it; but if we cannot, we must meet the issue forced upon us. We must meet Lincoln and his myrmidons on their own ground, and on their own terms -on Constitutional principles."

We prefer peace! The record of blood, the story of the crusade which had then been

Confederate Want of


But it was the only plea with which the Confederates baptized their cause. Its disingenuousness was a fair exemplar of the morale of the cause.

Davis, in his reply to the three Maryland Commissioners, (May 25th,) said :

"The Government of the Confederate States receives with respect the suggestion of the State of Maryland, that there should be a cessation of the hostilities now impending until the meeting of Congress in July next, in order that said body may, if possible, arrange for an adjustment of the existing troubles by means of negotiations rather than the sword.

waged against the Gov-adverted to, as having characterized the Conernment for three months, federate policy. But, what a mockery was savored of peace, truly! it when, by every possible act, the " new GovIt was the old highwayman's plea-if you ernment" had goaded the Federal Executive resist, your blood be on your own head. into a simple defense of its very existence! Peace—a cessation of hostilities—while upon every hand the Southern hordes were gathering, to menace Washington; were plotting to force Maryland into an attitude of rebellion; were intriguing in Tennessee. and Kentucky prior to their forced possession; were overrunning Western Virginia and exiling or imprisoning its Union men! Peace? It would have allowed the conspirators just the time they required to repossess themselves of every Border State, and then to have won a foreign recognition by the very force of being fifteen States strong. The very claim was an insult to the intelligence of the loyal section of the country; and was put forth, by Davis, with the full consciousness that it was so regarded. He characterized Mr. Lincoln as "an ignorant usurper"-he stated that "those with whom we have lately associated have shown themselves incapable of appreciating the blessings of the glorious institutions they inherited:"--what object could the conspirator have had in asking for peace from those whom he thus reviled, but to encompass their final ruin? His impudence was only less sublime than his insolence. History, looking scrutinizingly into their words and acts, will not fail to award Jefferson Davis and his coadjutors the peculiar praise of having exceeded Machiavelli's Prince in the practice of the arts of hypocrites and rogues. Talleyrand would have retired abashed to his cloister before their superior excellences in duplicity and ministerial subterfuge.

"But it is at a loss how to reply without a repetition of the language it has used on every possible occasion that has presented itself since the establishment of its independence.

"In deference to the State of Maryland, however, it again asserts, in the most emphatic terms, that its sincere and earnest desire is for peace, and that while the Government would readily entertain any proposition from the Government of the United States, tending to a peaceful solution of the present

difficulties, the recent attempts of this Government

to enter into negotiations with that of the United States were attended with results which forbid any renewal of proposals from it to that Government.

"If any further assurance of the desire of this Government for peace were necessary, it would be sufficient to observe that being formed of a confederation of sovereign States, each acting and deciding for itself, the right of every other sovereign State to assume self-action and self-government is necessarily acknowledged.

"Hence conquests of other States are wholly inconsistent with the fundamental principles, and subversive of the very organization of this Government. Its policy cannot but be peace-peace with all nations and people."

This but repeats the assumptions already

A gentler estimate of their character we may not make with the innumerable witnesses at hand to confirm the judgment wc have uttered.

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The Dread of Strife.

THE American public, prior to the bombardment of Sumter, was extremely divided in sentiment as to the proper course to pursue towards the recusant States. The horror of civil war was so great that, even those who well loved the Union and the Constitution, shrank from a resort to arms to enforce the authority of the Government. So strong was this feeling throughout the North, for the first three months of the year 1861, that it had its influence upon those in power; and it became a matter of question with observant men if Mr. Lincoln were not going to accept the secession of the Southern States as a calamity which he could not avert.

The desire to retain the Border States-the wish to feel the pulse of the people-the resolve to throw the responsibility of civil war upon the rebels-the hope of uniting the sentiment of all loyal men upon the line marked out if the ordeal of war was forced: all contributed to influence the quiet course of the Administration during the first weeks of its power. Succeeding events seemed to favor if not imperatively demand the sternest resort to force to suppress the conspiracy. It is evident that the President clearly comprehended his position and the demands made upon him by the great peril of the times; but, his wellknown character for forbearance made him shrink from the appalling sacrifice of blood and treasure which war must entail. Even after the blow was struck which left no alternative but submission to the South or a defense of the Government against revolution, that repulsion was so strong as to induce a course which strongly savored of timidity in its leniency.


The President's Resolve.

But, it was the leniency of a fearless man. While the President shrank from the ordeal, he was cautiously but expeditiously preparing for the worst. His determination not to compromise the dignity and the authority of the Government was clearly and succinctly stated in his Inaugural Address. To that end he calmly awaited the issue of events, resolving to preserve peace but not to preserve it at the sacrifice of the prestige and integrity of the Union. We have stated [see page 56] that the President's course in the conduct of the Fort Sumter affair was characterized by a profound sagacity exceeding that of his advisers and of the General-in-Chief of the army. The Southern leaders proposed to conquer a peace;" yet, they did not, nor did the majority of their intelligent constituents desire a state of actual war [see pages 60-66] until it was found that the Federal Government would not yield one atom to their dictation. Then it was war-war to the bitter end—a war of aggression-a war to overwhelm, with its mad spirit, every vestige of reason, religion and friendship-which drew into its vortex those more conservative States which had halted between two opinions. It was a war, not unexpected by the Federal Administration, and one which the President could not avert if he proved true to the trust reposed in him. Of that trust the Executive had a calm, clear comprehension; and, though shrinking with loathing from the conflict, he still was resolved to incur its horrors rather than witness the humiliation of his country before those bent upon its destruction. His entire course during the trying days of March and April was

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