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stitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them when soever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression," and that "every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will." Rhode Island declared that "the powers of government may be resumed by the people whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness." Daniel Webster, in a speech at Capon Springs, Virginia, in 1851, said:
'How absurd it is to suppose that when different parties enter into a compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any one provision, and expect, nevertheless, the other to observe the rest. I have not hesitated to say, and I repeat, that if the Northern States refuse wilfully and deliberately to carry into effect that part of the Constitution which respects the restoration of fugitive slaves, and Congress provide no remedy, the South would no longer be bound to observe the compact. A bargain cannot be broken on one side and still bind on the other side. I say to you, gentlemen in Virginia, as I said on the shores of Lake Erie and in the city of Boston, as I may say again in that city or elsewhere in the North, that you of the South have as much right to receive your fugitive slaves as the North has to any of its rights and privileges of navigation and commerce. I am as ready to fight and fall for the constitutional rights of Virginia as I am for those of Massachusetts."
We must also remember that the secession sentiment was not all in the South, nor all the national sentiment in the North. Several times the Northern States had threatened to withdraw from the Union, so that evidently both sections thought this right existed. In 1811, when the admission of Louisiana was under discussion in Congress, Josiah Quincy said: "To me it appears that this measure would justify a revolution in this country. I am compelled to declare it as my deliberate opinion that if this bill passes, the bonds of this union are virtually dissolved; that the States which compose it are free from their moral obligations; and that, as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, to prepare definitely for a separation - amicably if they can, violently if they must." Jackson said that "the Constitution of the United States forms a government, not a league. To say that any States may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States are not a nation. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression, but to call it a constitutional right is confounding the meaning of terms." Again he said: "The right of the people of a single State to absolve themselves at will and without the consent of the other States from their most solemn obligations, and hazard the liberties and happiness of the millions composing this Union, can not be acknowledged. Such authority is believed to be utterly repugnant both to the principles. upon which the General Government is constituted and to the objects which it is expressly formed to attain." But on the other hand he said: "That
a State or any other great portion of the people, suffering under long and intolerable oppression and having tried all constitutional remedies without the hope of redress, may have a natural right, when their happiness can be no other wise secured, and when they can do so without greater injury to others, to absolve themselves from their obligations to the Government and appeal to the last resort, needs not be denied."
Horace Greeley stated in the New York Tribune, November 9, 1860, that "the right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless." On November 25, 1860, the New York Herald, an independent journal, said: "Coercion in any event is out of the question. A Union held together by the bayonet would be nothing better than a military despotism." And again: "Each State is organized as a complete government, holding the purse and wielding the sword, possessing the right to break the tie of the confederation, and to repel coercion as a nation might repel invasion. * Coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question." Chandler says, in The South in the Building of the Nation:
"The one great fact of Southern history which has not been emphasized as it should be, is that from 1789 to 1860, the South had not fought to break down the constitution or to break down the Federal government, but to maintain the constitution and to maintain a Federal government. Its policy during these years in Congress was to demand that the constitution be preserved, that State institutions should not be interfered with, and that the constitution should be interpreted in the light of its adoption. In other words, had the people of the North been willing to have abided by the constitution of the United States, and by the decisions of the Supreme Court, and to have enforced the law of the United States with reference to the fugitive slaves, the South would not have seceded."
The majority in the South believed in State sovereignty and the legal right of secession, and, however much we may differ from him in principle, we cannot fail to be impressed by the words of Jefferson Davis when, on resigning from the Senate on January 21, 1861, he said:
"I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi by a solemn ordinance of her people, in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. If it be the purpose of gentlemen, they may make war against a State which has withdrawn from the Union; but there are no laws of the United States to be executed within the limits of a seceded State. A State, finding herself in the condition in which Mississippi has judged she is in which her safety requires that she should provide for the maintenance of her rights out of the Union-surrenders all the benefits (and they are known to be many), deprives herself of the advantages (and they are known to be great), severs all the ties of affection (and they are close and enduring), which have bound her to the Union; and thus divesting herself of every benefit-taking upon herself every burden she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her limits. We recur to the principles upon which our government was founded; and when you deny them, and when you deny to us the right to withdraw from a government, which, thus perverted, threatens to be destructive of our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence and take the hazard."
In Davis' words may be found an exact counterpart of the stand taken by our Revolutionary sires. In both cases we find men fighting against what they considered oppressions and infractions of their constitutional rights. Both Great Britain and the North considered those who revolted rebels, but why do we distinguish between the revolutionists of 1776 and those of 1861, calling the former patriots and the latter rebels? Simply because the former succeeded and the latter failed, and the distinction will probably be made until the end of time. The fault lies with the spirit in which our historical works are written, for rarely have writers been willing to admit that there are two sides to a question and that neither may be wholly right or wholly wrong.
In an address on "The Want of a History of the Southern People," delivered some years ago, Thomas Nelson Page said:
"There is no true history of the South. * * Nothing or next to nothing is known of our true history by the world at large. By a limited class in England there is a vague belief founded on a sentiment that the South was the aristocratic section of this country, and that it stood for its rights, even with an indefensible cause. By a somewhat more extended class its heroism is admired sufficiently to condone its heresies. But these are a small part of the public. By the world at large we are held to have been an ignorant, illiterate, cruel, semibarbarous section of the American people, sunk in brutality and vice, who have contributed nothing to the advancement of mankind; a race of slave-drivers, who, to perpetuate human slavery, conspired to destroy the Union, and plunged the country into war."
Yet why is it? Why should we be compelled to read of our sires from the Northern " history and the "Southern" history? Can national, sectional, racial, political, or religious differences, jealousies, prejudices, bigotries, or hatreds be the cause? Have our writers been indifferent, careless, or blinded by passion and hate? Were their statements or misstatements intentional or accidental? Who can tell? Who is so profoundly wise that he can establish beyond the peradventure of a doubt the correctness of such varying documentary evidence, the right or wrong of any stated economic theory, of slavery, secession, protection or free trade, sound money, etc., etc.? There is no reason for a "sectional " history. The cry of partiality and sectionalism has never been raised against an honest expression of opinion where there is evidence of consideration having been given to both or all viewpoints. Had no differences of opinion ever existed we should still be in our primitive state. It is this diversity of opinion which makes for progress. But it is the omission or manipulation of facts for partisan purposes against which the cry has been raised.
We are beginning to learn "the error of our ways." have never been wholly virtuous on the one side or extremely vicious on the other. The more we critically study the causes of things, the motives and actions of men, and the tendency and influence of events, the less likely are we arbitrarily to asseverate the righteousness or wickedness of the courses adopted under trying circumstances. We begin to look at men and events in the true spirit of a broader, deeper and finer knowledge, and to give honor and credit for sincere, conscientious convictions and for loyalty to cherished principles of right and justice. We are now more vitally interested in the causes and principles underlying the actions of men than in the academic discussion as to "who was right."
We believe that the time has come when a non-partisan account can be written, when we can lay aside the "Red Coat " and the "Continental," the "Blue" and the "Gray," long enough dispassionately to recount past events" with malice toward none and with charity for all" so as to "achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.' An honest endeavor has been made to ascertain the truth in all instances and to set forth the result without fear or favor and as clearly and fully as the restrictions of space permitted.
The aim, therefore, has been to prepare an impartial, unbiased, and unprejudiced narrative, historically accurate, concise yet comprehensive, trustworthy and interesting. An effort has been made to present the true spirit of our country's institutions, to portray the character, the life, the traditions of her people, and to record, for present and future generations, the achievements and work of her sons and daughters. At the same time we have endeavored to write the story with imagination, to impregnate it with human sympathy, and to avoid a dry compilation of events, believing that a history so written not only affords immeasurable enjoyment to the reader but impresses more clearly upon the mind the great truths and lessons of national life and power.