SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS,
A Vindication of Virginia and the South
By Commodore M. F. Maury.
[Note.—The following paper is not the production of a partisan or a politician, but of a great scientist, whose fame is world-wide, and whose utterances will have weight among the Nations and in ages to come.
This able vindication will derive additional interest and value from the statement that it was not written amid the storms of the war, but in his quiet mountain home, in May, 1871, not long before the world was deprived of his priceless services. It was, in fact, the last thing he ever prepared for the press (the MS. bears the marks of his final revision), and should go on the record as the dying testimony of one whose character was above reproach, and whose conspicuous services to the cause of science and humanity entitle him to a hearing.]
One hundred years ago we were thirteen British Colonies, remonstrating and disputing with the mother country in discontent. After some years spent in fruitless complaints against the policy of the British Government towards us, the Colonies resolved to sever their connection with Great Britain, that they might be first independent, and then proceed to govern themselves in their own way. At the same time they took counsel together and made common cause. They declared certain truths to be self evident, and proclaimed the right of every people to alter or amend their forms of government as to them may seem fit. They pronounced this right an inalienable right, and declared "that when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design on the part of the Government to reduce a people to absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government." In support of these declarations, the people of that day, in the persons of their representatives, pledging themselves, their fortunes and their sacred honor, went to war, and in the support of their cause appealed to Divine Providence for protection. Under these doctrines we and our fathers grew up, and we were taught to regard them with a reverence almost holy and to believe in them with quite a religious belief.