Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 27.djvu/127

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Confederate Dead of Flori<l. 119

Confederate veterans, survivors of the "Lost Cause," you who marched with Lee and Jackson and Johnston and Bragg- You who lu-urd the thunder of guns at Sharpsburg and Gettysburg and Shi- loh, and Perryville and Chickamauga, though the cause for which you fought was engulfed in the fiery waves of war and lost, the con- clusion must not be, that therefore it was unjust and wrong.

The failure of a right cause does not make it wrong any more than does the success of a wrong cause make it right. If the cause for which our Revolutionary forefathers struggled for more than seven years and at last gained, had been lost, would it therefore have been wrong ?

A cause may fail, but the principle involved may be right.

We cannot praise and commend the martyr and at the same time condemn the cause for which he gave his life.

In the great and bloody conflict now ended, more than thirty- three years ago, the people of the South fought for a cause which they sincerely, religiously believed to be right and just.

In their sunny land, their men, from the days of boyhood, had been taught to believe that the distinguished Virginian, James Mad- ison, was correct, when, in convention on the 3ist of May, 1787, he declared that " the use of force against a State would be more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and would prob- ably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all pre- vious compacts. A union of States containing such an ingredient, seems to provide for its own destruction."

They had been taught also to believe that Alexander Hamilton was correct when, in a debate in the New York State Convention, he said: "To coerce a State would be one of the maddest projects ever devised."

The men of the South, a large majority of them, believed, honestly believed, in the doctrine of absolute sovereignty of the State, in the right of secession and in the doctrine that the consent of the gov- erned was the only correct foundation of government, and that the true construction of that doctrine was, that the consent meant was that of a State, and not of the whole or entire number of the States.

Thus thinking and believing, the controversy between the people of the South and those of the North who entertained different views of the great questions at issue, continued for years until the Southern States seceded and the crisis came, and then the terrible conflict began.

Shall I discuss now those great questions which entered into the