Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/264
Southern Historical Society Papers
Sherman a public document, and giving to his slander the importance which necessarily attaches to an executive communication to the Senate, has recently caused the request tor a reply by me to be pressed with very great earnestness. For this reason I have decided to furnish my reply to you for publication in the Baltimore Sun.
More than twenty years after the storm of war between the States had ceased and the waves of sectional strife had sunk to the condition of a calm, the public harmony was disturbed by a retired General of the army making a gratuitous and gross assault upon a private individual, living in absolute retirement, and who could only have attracted notice because he had been the representative of the Southern States which, organized into a confederacy, had been a party to the war.
The history of my public life bears evidence that I did all in my power to prevent the war; that I did nothing to precipitate collision; that I did not seek the post of Chief Executive, but advised my friends that I preferred not to fill it. That history General Sherman may slanderously assail by his statements, but he cannot alter its consistency; nor can the Republicans of the Senate change its unbroken story of faithful service to the Union of the Constitution until, by the command of my sovereign State, I withdrew as her ambassador from the United States Senate. For all the acts of my public life as President of the Confederate States I am responsible at the bar of history, and must accept her verdict, which I shall do without the least apprehension that it will be swayed from truth by the malicious falsehoods of General Sherman, even when stamped as an "Ex. Doc." by the United States Senate.Before a gathering of ex-soldiers of the Union army, General Sherman took occasion in the fall of 1884, to make accusations against me and to assert that he had personal means of information not possessed by others, and particularly that he had seen a letter written by myself, that he knew my handwriting, and saw and identified my signature to the letter. The gravamen of his accusation was that the letter to which he referred "had passed between Jeff. Davis and a man whose name it would not do to mention, as he is now a member of the United States Senate," and that " in that letter he (I) said he would turn Lee's army against any State that might attempt to secede from the Southern Confederacy." The position of General of the United States army, which General Sherman had filled, demanded that immediate contradiction of that statement should be made, and to that end I published in the St Louis Republican the following denial: