Page:Confederate Cause and Conduct.djvu/58
Official Reports of the
SOUTH NOT THE AGGRESSOR.
The evening before Dr. McGuire was stricken with the malady which forever incapacitated him for any earthly service, I was with him, and as was frequently the case, we were talking about the war. In the course of the conversation, he alluded to the Report of last year, and feelingly expressed his just pride in the way you received it. He then said: "I am already making preparations for my next Report. I intend in that to vindicate the South from the oft-repeated charge that we were the aggressors in bringing on the war"; and he then added: "This will be my last 'labor of love' for the dear Southern people." Within less than twenty hours from the time that sentence was spoken, the splendid intellect that conceived it was a mournful wreck, and the tongue which gave it utterance was paralyzed.
My task, therefore, is to show that your Chairman was right in saying that the South was not the aggressor in bringing on the war; that, on the contrary, we did all that honorable men could do in the vain attempt to avert it—all that could be done without debasing the men and women of the South with conscious disgrace, and leaving to our children a heritage of shame; and I shall further prove that the Northern people, with Abraham Lincoln at their head, brought on the war by provocation to war and by act of war; and that they were and are, therefore, directly responsible for all the multiplied woes which resulted therefrom. In doing this, I shall quote almost exclusively from Northern sources; and, whilst I cannot hope to bring to your attention at this late day anything new, I do hope, by reiterating and repeating some of the old facts, I shall be able to revive impressions which may have faded from the minds of some: I shall hope, too, to reach the many, many others, especially the young, who have been the victims of false teaching with respect to these facts, or have had no opportunity, or, perhaps, little disposition, to become familiar with them.
REASONS FOR SUCH PAPERS.
It is well to set forth the reasons that actuate us in preparing such papers as these. These reasons were presented with great