Address of Hon. B. H. Hill. 503
Is iliere a possible remedy for these evils? I should be uncandid if I did n )t confess to you I doubt it. There is no resurrection for dead Republics, and few have ever been restored to vigor and health after reachinii: our present state of decline. I fear our people have not more intelligence and virtue than those whose histories we are but repea'ing. But for one I am willing to make the effort, and I exhort our Southern people to cherish no feeling inimical to success, and omit no duty that may promote it. We have more interest in re- storing constitutional government than any other people ; for if despotism shall come over all, North and South, there is reason to fear that serfdom of the South to the North will be our darkest portion,
Y'iu know I never regarded secession as wise in act, for however legal or just it may or may not have been, as an abstract right I never believed it would prove practicable as a remedy. I have never doubted that a belligerent collision between centralism and constitu- tional Federalism would, sooner or later, come. But by the States i7i the Union, and for the liberties of the people, was always my favorite plan to make the fight. But, for the sensitiveness of slavery, we mij^ht have made that fight only in the Union. Let therefore secession and slavery be buried out of sight, and, though late, let us make one more determined effort in the forum of reason and at the ballot-box to save the treasures we are losing. We should not pull down the temple our fathers built, because thieves and money- changers desecrate it. Rather, under the inspiring memories of 1776, let us wake up the sleeping god of patriotism, and cast out the de- SDoilers, and consecrate the temple anew to the equality ot the States and to the liberties of our children !
There is but one beginning for this work. We must elevate the statesmanship of the country. In all Republics an imbecile states- manship has succeeded a civil war, and we have not escaped the scourge. It is because men at such times rise into power on passion and hate, and not by merit and worth. If you would purify states- manship you must elevate it. Men of intellect, alive with ambition to lift up a falling State, are more apt to be moral, patriotic and honest, than hypocritical imbeciles who, dead to the capacity of this higher ambition, are alive only to trade, and barter in blood, religion and prejudice, in order to reap puffs, perquisites and salaries!
In order to elevate our statesmanship, two things, in my opinion, are indispensable. In the first place, our people must abandon the insane habit of placing men in high civil positions simply because of military talents or success. Lee was right. It is contrary to the