The Southern Historical Society. 359
dicating the principles which lay beneath it, and marking the stages through which it was conducted to its issue. It is not understood that this association shall be purely sectional, nor that its labors shall be of a partisan character.
Everything which relates to this critical period of our national history, pending the conflict, antecedent or subsequent to it, from the point of view of either, or of both the contestants; everything, in short, which shall vindicate the truth of history is to be industriously collated and filed.
It is doubtless true, that an accepted history can never be written in the midst of the stormy events of which that history is composed, nor by the agents through whose efficiency they were wrought. The strong passions which are evoked in every human conflict disturb the vision and warp the judgment, in the scales of whose criticism the necessary facts are to be weighed even the relative importance of these facts cannot be measured by those who are in too close proximity. Scope must be afforded for the development of the remote issues before they can be brought under the range of a philo- sophical apprehension ; and the secret thread be discovered, running through all history, upon which its single facts crystalize in the unity of some great Providential plan.
The generations of the disinterested must succeed the generations of the prejudiced before history, properly termed such, can be written. This, precisely, is the work we now attempt, to construct the archives in which shall be collected these memoirs to serve for future history.
It is believed that invaluable documents are scattered over the whole land, in loose sheets, perhaps lying in the portfolios of private gentlemen, and only preserved as souvenirs of their own parts in the historic drama.
Existing in forms so perishable, regarded, it may be, only as so much waste paper, by those into whose hands they must fall, no delay should be suffered in their collection and preservation.
There is doubtless, too, much that is yet unwritten floating only in the memories of the living, which if not speedily rescued will be swallowed in the oblivion of the grave, but which, if reduced to record and collated, would afford the key to many a cypher, in a little while to become unintelligible for want of interpretation.
All this various material, gathered from every section, will need to be industriously classified and arranged, and finally deposited in the central archives of the Society, under the care of appropriate guardians.