Address of Hon. John Lamb. 299
The writers and speakers of the South owe it to our dead leaders and the noble men who followed them to vindicate their action in the eyes of mankind, and prove to all the world that those who fought for the South were neither rebels nor traitors.
For this reason, my comrades and the older people here will indulge me while I present some views not new to them, but in- tended for the rising generation — those, perhaps, who studied Barnes' and Fiske's histories.
We do not meet on memorial occasions to discuss the abstract question of the right or wrong of the conflict that was waged with such fury forty years ago. The historian of the future may probably declare that upon the strict construction of the Constitution one side was right, and owing to the changed con- ditions of national thought, the other side was right. The Vir- ginia soldier did not discuss even the expediency of the question after the Old State made its choice.
Our comrades who sleep beneath the sod died for the right, as they saw it. While memory holds its place you and your sons and daughters will pay the homage of grateful and loving hearts to their heroism, as annually you strew their graves with flowers and teach your children to lisp their names and revere their memories.
The necessity for the war was written in the history of the colonies, in the climate, soil and productions of the different States ; on the flag of the first ship that brought slaves to North America. The splendid eloquence and patriotism of Henry Clay and others delayed it — the madness of a few on both sides has- tened it. Two questions had to be settled : The right of seces- sion and chattel slavery. W T e will show that the right of seces- sion rested with the South, while slavery was an incident of the war, and would have ceased in time without so drastic a measure. The Southern States exercised a power that had been claimed from the adoption of the Constitution. The proceedings of the convention which framed the Constitution, as well as those of the States that ratified, together with the debates, go to show that at that time there was little difference of opinion as to this question. Had the framers of the Constitution declared their intention to create a supreme central government, to bind the