Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/85

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Ceremonies at Unveiling of Statue of General Lee. 79

distemper to sprinkle cool patience." Fourteen Northern States, in their so termed "personal liberty bills," openly nullified the Consti- tution in that very clause which had been the condition sine qua hoii, upon which the Southern States had acceded to the compact. A sectional party was formed upon a basis known and designed to ex- clude from its ranks the entire people of fifteen States. An election delivered the control of the Federal Government into the hands of this party.

Perhaps these and all other causes might have not been sufficient to justify a resort to revolution. Perhaps allegiance due might have borne the strain of greater wrongs than any with which we were op- pressed or threatened.

But a broken bargain, civic strife, the triumph of a sectional party whose electoral majority left no hope that it could be overcome, surely justified the minority of States in peacefully withdrawing from the Union, which they believed, upon the solid grounds which I have stated, to have been created and to exist, as to them, only by virtue of their original and continued consent.

Although Lee, with thousands of other Southern men, believed the justification to be insufficient, and opposed secession, this fact, while rendering his duty more difficult, did not leave it less clear, un- der his theory of the government, to yield his allegiance to his native State.

And here I leave the cause of Lee to be judged at the bar of im- partial history.

That cause presents this singular claim to the considerate judgment of its adversaries, that we, who fought for it, have done and will do what in us lies to gild their triumph by making the restored Union so prolific in benefits to all coming generations that our posterity, while respecting the principles and convictions for which we fought, may rejoice in our defeat.

The Constitution yet lives, an imperishable monument to the wis- dom of those who framed it, capable, if preserved in its integrity, of accomplishing all their beneficent purposes, and consecrating forever the CO ordinated rights of individual liberty, local self-government and union for " the common defence and general welfare."

Turn we now to the campaigns of our hero. Lee's campaigns were the poetry of soldiership, so grand and simple in their conception, so masterly in their execution, so daring in their attempts, so astounding in their results, that the simplest intelligence may comprehend and the dullest admire them.