Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 26.djvu/215
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of tin- navies of the earth. Alabama gave to the country the cavalry Irader of the west to win glory at Santiago, at the head of a division of regulars. We have rejoiced at the fame of the Gm-nsboro youth, Alabama's Pelham of the seas, who, rivaling and recalling the dar- ing of that Alabamian who sank the Housatonic in Charleston har- bor, sank the Merrimac in Santiago harbor, and then rose in sight of the world. We have watched regiments of our own sons, and wafted prayers with them, as they marched off under the Stars and Stripes.
If slavery was the cause of the war, it has perished in the march of events. Who would bring it back, or war about it now? Its doom was inevitable, as it had served its day in the purpose of the great Creator. That it was fast becoming a very body of death to our advancement and prosperity, is not now denied. It made a wide and ever widening gulf between the man who owned and the man who did not own slaves. It promoted false ideas of the dignity and worth of labor by the white man, and the economic policies which it created, impoverished us, and shut us out from the world. It is far better for us, at least, that it is dead.
It is simple truth, that the institution, as it existed in 1861, was mildness itself compared with its history elsewhere. It was not the slavery of men of our own race, which in substance, though not in name, often haunts civilization elsewhere. The ancestor of the slave did not lose liberty when brought to his master here. The dominion was not based more on force than the ignorance and need for protec- tion of the .slave. It is an imperishable tribute to its kindness that throughout a terrible civil war, in which hostile armies traversed a country filled with slaves, they never once rose anywhere in insur- rection against their masters. Whether those who, by force of cir- cumstances, maintained it were not as noble as those who, by force of circumstances, opposed it, we may well leave to the calm judg- ment of posterity, and to the Providence which placed the institu- tion in our midst, with the names of Washington and Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, Marshall and Calhoun, Clay and Crittenden, Davis and Lee, Maury and Manly, and Stonewall Jackson and Ste- phen Elliott.
But what of the great principles for which we fought ? Have we abandoned them ? The great substantial, animating principle for which the South struggled was the right of a State to control its own domestic affairs the right to order its own altars and firesides with- out outside interference the right of local sovereignty for which