Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 01/January/Address of Congress to the people of the Confederate States
Address of Congress to the People of the Confederate States (adopted in December, 1863.)
JOINT RESOLUTION IN RELATION TO THE WAR.
Resolved by the Congress of the Confederate States, That the present is deemed a fitting occasion to remind the people of the Confederate States that they are engaged in a struggle for the preservation both of liberty and civilization; and that no sacrifice of life or fortune can be too costly which may be requisite to secure to themselves and their posterity the enjoyment of these inappreciable blessings; and also to assure them that, in the judgment of the Congress, the resources of the country, if developed with energy, husbanded with care, and applied with fidelity, are more than sufficient to support the most independence, and to exhort them, by every consideration which can influence freemen and patriots, to a magnanimous surrender of all personal and party feuds, to an indignant rebuke of every exhibition of factious temper, in whatever quarter, or upon whatever pretext it may be made; to a generous support of all branches of the Government, in the legitimate exercise of their constitutional powers, and to that harmonious, unselfish and patriotic co-operation which can alone impart to our cause the irresistible strength which springs from united councils, fraternal feelings, and fervent devotion to the public weal.war which it can be necessary to wage for our
In closing the labors of the first Permanent Congress, your representatives deem it a fit occasion to give some account of their stewardship; to review briefly what, under such embarrassments and adverse circumstances, has been accomplished; to invite attention to the prospect before us, and the duties incumbent on every citizen in this crisis; and to address such words of counsel and encouragement as the times demand.
Compelled, by a long series of oppressive and tyrannical acts, culminating at last in the selection of a President and Vice-President, by a party confessedly sectional and hostile to the South and her institutions, these States withdrew from the former Union and formed a new confederate alliance as an independent Government, based on the proper relations of labor and capital. This step was taken reluctantly, by constraint, and after the exhaustion of every measure that was likely to secure us from interference with our property, equality in the Union, or exemption from submission to an alien Government. The Southern States claimed only the unrestricted enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Finding, by painful and protracted experience, that this was persistently denied, we determined to separate from those enemies who had manifested the inclination and ability to impoverish and destroy us. We fell back upon the right for which the colonies maintained the war of the Revolution, and which our heroic forefathers asserted to be clear and inalienable. The unanimity and zeal with which the separation was undertaken and perfected, finds no parallel in history. The people rose en masse to assert their liberties and protect their menaced rights. There never was before such universality of conviction among any people on any question involving so serious and so thorough a change of political and international relations. This grew out of the clearness of the right so to act, and the certainty of the perils of further association with the North. The change was so wonderful, so rapid, so contrary to universal history, that many fail to see that all has been done in the logical sequence of principles, which are the highest testimony to the wisdom of our fathers, and the best illustration of the correctness of those principles. This Government is a child of law instead of sedition, of right instead of violence, of deliberation instead of insurrection. Its early life was attended by no anarchy, no rebellion, no suspension of authority, no social disorders, no lawless disturbances. Sovereignty was not for one moment in abeyance. The utmost conservatism marked every proceeding and public act. The object was "to do what was necessary and no more; and to do that with the utmost temperance and prudence." St. Just, in his report to the Convention of France, in 1793, said: "A people has but one dangerous enemy, and that is Government." We adopted no such absurdity. In nearly every instance the first steps were taken legally, in accordance with the will and prescribed direction of the constituted authorities of the seceding States. We were not remitted to brute force or natural law, or the instincts of reason. The charters of freedom were scrupulously preserved. As in the English revolution of 1688, and ours of 1776, there was no material alteration in the laws, beyond what was necessary to redress the abuses that provoked the struggle. No attempt was made to build on speculative principles. The effort was confined within the narrowest limits of historical and constitutional right. The controversy turned on the records and muniments of the past. We merely resisted innovation and tyranny, and contended for our birthrights and the covenanted principles of our race. We have had our governors, general assemblies and courts; the same electors, the same corporations, "the same rules for property, the same subordinations, the same order in the law and in the magistracy." When the sovereign States met in council, they in truth and substance, and in a constitutional light, did not make but prevented a revolution.
Commencing our new national life under such circumstances, we had a right to expect that we would be permitted, without molestation, to cultivate the arts of peace, and vindicate, on our chosen arena and with the selected type of social characteristics, our claims to civilization. It was thought, too, by many, that war would not be resorted to by an enlightened country, except on the direst necessity. That a people, professing to be animated by Christian sentiment, and who had regarded our peculiar institution as a blot and blur upon the fair escutcheon of their common Christianity, should make war upon the South for doing what they had a perfect right to do, and for relieving them of the incubus which they professed rested upon them by association, was deemed almost beyond belief by many of our wisest minds. It was hoped, too, that the obvious interests of the two sections would restrain the wild frenzy of excitement, and turn into peaceful channels the thoughts of those who had but recently been invested with power in the United States.
These reasonable anticipations were doomed to disappointment. The red glare of battle, kindled at Sumter, dissipated all hopes of peace, and the two governments were arrayed in hostility against each other. We charge the responsibility of this war upon the United States. They are accountable for the blood and havoc and ruin it has caused. For such a war we were not prepared. The difference in military resources between our enemies and ourselves; the immense advantages possessed in the organized machinery of an established government; a powerful navy, the nucleus of an army, credit abroad, and illimitable facilities in mechanical and manufacturing power, placed them on "the vantage ground." In our infancy, we were without a seaman or soldier, without revenue, without gold and silver, without a recognized place in the family of nations, without external commerce, without foreign credit, with the prejudices of the world against us. While we were without manufacturing facilities to supply our wants, our ports were blockaded; we had to grapple with a giant adversary, defend two thousand miles of sea-coast, and an inland frontier of equal extent. If we had succeeded in preventing any successes on the part of our enemy, it would have been a miracle. What we have accomplished, with a population so inferior in numbers and means so vastly disproportionate, has excited the astonishment and admiration of the world.
The war in which we are engaged was wickedly, and against all our protests and the most earnest efforts to the contrary, forced upon us. South Carolina sent a commission to Washington to adjust all questions of dispute between her and the United States. One of the first acts of the Provisional Government was to accredit agents to visit Washington and use all honorable means to obtain a satisfactory settlement of all questions of dispute with that government. Both efforts failed. Commissioners were deceived and rejected, and clandestine but vigorous preparations were made for war. In proportion to our perseverance and anxiety have been the obstinacy and arrogance in spurning offers of peace. It seems we can be indebted for nothing to the virtues of our enemy. We are obliged to his vices, which have enured to our strength. We owe as much to his insolence and blindness as to our precaution.
The wager of battle having been tendered, it was accepted. The alacrity with which our people flew to arms is worthy of all praise. Their deeds of heroic daring, patient endurance, ready submission to discipline, and numerous victories, are in keeping with the fervent patriotism that prompted their early volunteering. Quite recently scores of regiments have re-enlisted for the war, testifying their determination to fight until their liberties were achieved. Coupled with, and contributing greatly to this enthusiastic ardor, was the lofty courage, the indomitable resolve, the self-denying spirit of our noble women, who, by their labors of love, their patience of hope, their unflinching constancy, their uncomplaining submission to privations of the war, have shed an immortal lustre upon their sex and country.
Our army is no hireling soldiery. It comes not from paupers, criminals or immigrants. It was originally raised by the free, unconstrained, unpurchasable assent of the men. All vocations and classes contributed to the swelling numbers. Abandoning luxuries and comforts to which they had been accustomed, they submitted cheerfully to the scanty fare and exactive service of the camps. Their services above price, the only remuneration they have sought is the protection of their altars, firesides and liberty. In the Norwegian wars, the actors were, every one of them, named and patronymically described as the King's friend and companion. The same wonderful individuality has been seen in this war. Our soldiers are not a consolidated mass, an unthinking machine, but an army of intelligent units. To designate all who have distinguished themselves by special valor, would be to enumerate nearly all in the army. The generous rivalry between the troops from different States has prevented any special pre-eminence, and hereafter, for centuries to come, the gallant bearing and unconquerable devotion of Confederate soldiers will inspire the hearts and encourage the hopes, and strengthen the faith of all who labor to obtain their freedom.
For three years this cruel war has been waged against us, and its continuance has been seized upon as a pretext by some discontented persons to excite hostility to the government. Recent and public as have been the occurrences, it is strange that a misapprehension exists as to the conduct of the two governments in reference to peace. Allusion has been made to the unsuccessful efforts, when separation took place, to procure an amicable adjustment of all matters in dispute. These attempts at negotiation do not comprise all that has been done. In every form in which expression could be given to the sentiment, in public meetings, through the press, by legislative resolves, the desire of this people for peace, for the uninterrupted enjoyment of their rights and prosperity, has been made known. The President, more authoritatively, in several of his messages, while protesting the utter absence of all desire to interfere with the United States, or acquire any of their territory, has avowed that the "advent of peace will be hailed with joy. Our desire for it has never been concealed. Our efforts to avoid the war, forced on us as it was by the lust of conquest and the insane passions of our foes, are known to mankind."
The course of the Federal Government has proved that it did not desire peace, and would not consent to it on any terms that we could possibly concede. In proof of this we refer to the repeated rejection of all terms of conciliation and compromise, to their recent contemptuous refusal to receive the Vice-President, who was sent to negotiate for softening the asperities of war, and their scornful rejection of the offer of a neutral power to mediate between the contending parties. If cumulative evidence be needed, it can be found in the following resolution, recently adopted by the House of Representatives in Washington:
"Resolved, That as our country and the very existence of the best government ever instituted by man are imperiled by the most causeless and wicked rebellion that the world has seen, and believing, as we do, that the only hope of saving this country and preserving this government is by the power of the sword, we are for the most vigorous prosecution of the war until the constitution and the laws shall be enforced and obeyed in all parts of the United States; and to that end we oppose any armistice, or intervention, or mediation, or proposition for peace, from any quarter, so long as there shall be found a rebel in arms against the government; and we ignore all party names, lines and issues, and recognize but two parties in this war―patriots and traitors."
The motive of such strange conduct is obvious. The Republican party was founded to destroy slavery and the equality of the States, and Lincoln was selected as the instrument to accomplish this object. The Union was a barrier to the consummation of this policy, because the constitution, which was its bond, recognized and protected slavery and the sovereignty of the States. The Union must, therefore, be sacrificed, and to insure its destruction, war was determined on.
The mass of the Northern people were not privy to, and sympathized in no such design. They loved the Union and wished to preserve it. To rally the people to the support of the war, its object was proclaimed to be "a restoration of the Union," as if that which implied voluntary assent, of which agreement was an indispensable element and condition, could be preserved by coercion. It is absurd to pretend that a government, really desirous of restoring the Union, would adopt such measures as the confiscation of private property, the emancipation of slaves, systematic efforts to invite them to insurrection, forcible abduction from their homes, and compulsory enlistment in the army, the division of a sovereign State without its consent, and the proclamation that one-tenth of the population of a State, and that tenth under military rule, should control the will of the remaining nine-tenths. The only relation possible between the two sections, under such a policy, is that of conqueror and conquered, superior and dependent. Rest assured, fellow-citizens, that although restoration may still be used as a war-cry by the Northern Government, it is only to delude and betray. Fanaticism has summoned to its aid cupidity and vengeance; and nothing short of your utter subjugation, the destruction of your State governments, the overthrow of your social and political fabric, your personal and public and ruin, will satisfy the demands of the North. Can there be a man so vile, so debased, so unworthy of liberty as to accept peace on such humiliating terms?
It would hardly be fair to assert that all the Northern people participate in these designs. On the contrary, there exists a powerful political party which openly condemns them. The administration has, however, been able thus far, by its enormous patronage and its lavish expenditures to seduce, or by its legions of "Hessian" mercenaries to overawe the masses, to control the elections and to establish an arbitrary despotism. It cannot be possible that this state of things can continue. The people of the United States, accustomed to freedom, cannot consent to be ruined and enslaved in order to ruin and enslave us. Moral, like physical, epidemics, have their allotted periods, and must, sooner or later, be exhausted and disappear. When reason returns, our enemies will probably reflect that a people like ours, who have exhibited such capabilities and extemporized such resources, can never be subdued that a vast expanse of territory, with such a population, cannot be governed as an obedient colony. Victory would not be conquest. The inextinguishable quarrel would be transmitted "from bleeding sire to son," and the struggle would be renewed between generations yet unborn. To impoverish us would only be to dry up some of the springs of northern prosperity—to destroy southern wealth is to reduce northern profits, while the restoration of peace would necessarily re-establish some commercial intercourse. It may not be amiss, in this connection, to say that at one time it was the wish and expectation of many at the South to form a treaty of amity and friendship with the Northern States, by which both peoples might derive the benefits of commercial intercourse, and move on side by side in the arts of peace and civilization. History has confirmed the lesson taught by Divine authority, that each nation, as well as each individual, should seek their happiness in the prosperity of others, and not in the injury or ruin of a neighbor. The general welfare of all is the highest dictate of moral duty and economic policy, while a heritage of triumphant wrong is the greatest curse that can befall a nation.
Until some evidence is given of a change of policy on the part of the government, and some assurance is received that efforts at negotiation will not be spurned, the Congress are of opinion that any direct overtures for peace would compromise our self-respect, be fruitless of good, and interpreted by the enemy as an indication of weakness. We can only repeat the desire of the people for peace, and our readiness to accept terms consistent with the honor and dignity and independence of the States, and compatible with the safety of our domestic institutions.
Not content with rejecting all proposals for a peaceful settlement of the controversy, a cruel war of invasion was commenced, which, in its progress, has been marked by a brutality and disregard of the rules of civilized warfare that stand out in unexampled barbarity in the history of modern wars. Accompanied by every act of cruelty and rapine, the conduct of the enemy has been destitute of that forbearance and magnanimity which civilization and Christianity have introduced to mitigate the asperities of war. The atrocities are too incredible for narration. Instead of a regular war, our resistance of the unholy efforts to crush out our national existence is treated as a rebellion, and the settled international rules between belligerents are ignored. Instead of conducting the war as betwixt two military and political organizations, it is a war against the whole population. Houses are pillaged and burned; churches are defaced; towns are ransacked, clothing of women and infants is stripped from their persons; jewelry and mementoes of the dead are stolen; mills and implements of agriculture are destroyed; private salt works are broken up; the introduction of medicines is forbidden; means of subsistence are wantonly wasted to produce beggary; prisoners are returned with contagious diseases; the last morsel of food has been taken from families, who were not allowed to carry on a trade or branch of industry; a rigid and offensive espionage has been introduced to ferret out "disloyalty"; persons have been forced to choose between starvation of helpless children and taking the oath of allegiance to a hated government; the cartel for exchange of prisoners has been suspended and our unfortunate soldiers subjected to the grossest indignities; the wounded at Gettysburg were deprived of their nurses and inhumanly left to perish on the field; helpless women have been exposed to the most cruel outrages and to that dishonor which is infinitely worse than death; citizens have been murdered by the Butlers and McNeils and Milroys, who are favorite generals of our enemies; refined and delicate ladies have been seized, bound with cords, imprisoned, guarded by negroes, and held as hostages for the return of recaptured slaves; unoffending non-combatants have been banished or dragged from their quiet homes, to be immured in filthy jails; preaching the gospel has been refused, except on condition of taking the oath of allegiance; parents have been forbidden to name their children in honor of "rebel" chiefs; property has been confiscated; military governors have been appointed for States, satraps for provinces, and Haynaus for cities.
These cruelties and atrocities of the enemy have been exceeded by their malicious and blood-thirsty purposes and machinations in reference to the slaves. Early in this war, President Lincoln averred his constitutional inability and personal unwillingness to interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, and the relation between master and servant. Prudential considerations may have been veiled under conscientious scruples, for Seward, in a confidential instruction to Mr. Adams, the minister to Great Britain, on 10th March, 1862, said: "If the Government of the United States should precipitately decree the immediate abolition of slavery, it would reinvigorate the declining insurrection in every part of the South." Subsequent reverses and the refractory rebelliousness of the their masters, in a manner unpracticed by civilized nations." This probably had reference to the proclamation of Dunmore, the last royal Governor of Virginia, in 1775, declaring freedom to all servants or negroes, if they would join "for the reducing the colony to a proper sense of its duty." The invitation to the slaves to rise against their masters, the suggested insurrection caused, says Bancroft, "a thrill of indignation to run through Virginia, effacing all differences of party, and rousing one strong, impassioned purpose to drive away the insolent power by which it had been put forth." A annalist, adverting to the same proclamation, said, "it was received with the greatest horror in all the colonies."States caused a change of policy, and Mr. Lincoln issued his celebrated proclamation, a mere brutum fulmen, liberating the slaves in the "insurrectionary districts." On the 24th of June, 1776, one of the reasons assigned by Pennsylvania for her separation from the mother country was, that in her sister colonies the "King had excited the negroes to revolt, and to imbrue their hands in the blood of
"The policy adopted by Dunmore," says Lawrence in his notes on Wheaton, "of arming the slaves against their masters, was not pursued during the war of the revolution; and when negroes were taken by the English, they were not considered otherwise than as property and plunder." Emancipation of slaves as a war measure has been severely condemned and denounced by the most eminent publicists in Europe and the United States. The United States, "in their diplomatic relations, have ever maintained," says the northern authority just quoted, "that slaves were private property, and for them, as such, they have repeatedly received compensation from England." Napoleon I. was never induced to issue a proclamation for the emancipation of the serfs in his war with Russia. He said: "I could have armed against her a part of her population, by proclaiming the liberty of the serfs. A great number of villages asked it of me, but I refused to avail myself of a measure which would have devoted to death thousands of families." In the discussions growing out of the treaty of peace of 1814 and the proffered mediation of Russia, the principle was maintained by the United States that "the emancipation of enemy's slaves is not among the acts of legitimate warfare." In the instructions from John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State, to Mr. Middleton, at St. Petersburg, October 18, 1820, it is said: "The British have broadly asserted the right of emancipating slaves (private property) as a legitimate right of war. No such right is acknowledged as a law of war by writers who admit any limitation. The right of putting to death all prisoners in cold blood, and without special cause, might as well be pretended to be a law of war, or the right to use poisoned weapons, or to assassinate."
Disregarding the teachings of the approved writers on international law, and the practice and claims of his own government in its purer days, President Lincoln has sought to convert the South into a St. Domingo, by appealing to the cupidity, lusts, ambition and ferocity of the slave. Abraham Lincoln is but the lineal descendant of Dunmore, and the impotent malice of each was foiled by the fidelity of those who, by the meanness of the conspirators, would only, if successful, have been seduced into idleness, filth, vice, beggary and death.
But we tire of these indignities and enormities. They are too sickening for recital. History will hereafter pillory those who committed and encouraged such crimes in immortal infamy.
General Robert E. Lee, in a recent battle order, stated to his invincible legions, that "the cruel foe seeks to reduce our fathers and mothers, our wives and children, to abject slavery." He does not paint too strongly the purposes of the enemy or the consequences of subjugation. What has been done in certain districts is but the prologue of the bloody drama that will be enacted. It is well that every man and woman should have some just conception of the horrors of conquest. The fate of Ireland at the period of its conquest, and of Poland, distinctly foreshadows what would await us. The guillotine, in its ceaseless work of blood, would be revived for the execution of the "rebel leaders." The heroes of our contest would be required to lay down their proud ensigns, on which are recorded the battle-fields of their glory, to stack their arms, lower their heads in humiliation and dishonor, and pass under the yoke of abolition, misrule and tyranny. A hateful inquisition, made atrocious by spies and informers; star-chamber courts, enforcing their decisions by confiscations, imprisonments, banishments and death; a band of detectives, ferreting out secrets, lurking in every family, existing in every conveyance; the suppression of free speech; the deprivation of arms and franchises; and the ever present sense of inferiority, would make our condition abject and miserable beyond what freemen can imagine. Subjugation involves everything that the torturing malice and devilish ingenuity of our foes can suggest—the destruction of our nationality, the equalization of whites and blacks, the obliteration of State lines, degradation to colonial vassalage, and the reduction of many of our citizens to dreary, hopeless, remediless bondage. A hostile police would keep "order " in every town and city. Judges, like Busteed, would hold our courts, protected by Yankee soldiers. Churches would be filled by Yankee or Tory preachers. Every office would be bestowed on aliens. Absenteeism would curse us with all its vices. Superadded to these, sinking us into a lower abyss of degradation, we would be made the slaves of our slaves, hewers of wood and drawers of water for those upon whom God has stamped indelibly the marks of physical and intellectual inferiority. The past, or foreign countries, need not be sought unto to furnish illustrations of the heritage of shame that subjugation would entail. Baltimore, St. Louis, Nashville, Knoxville, New Orleans, Vicksburg, Huntsville, Norfolk, Newbern, Louisville and Fredericksburg, are the first fruits of the ignominy and poverty of Yankee domination.
The sad story of the wrongs and indignities endured by those States which have been in the complete or partial possession of the enemy will give the best evidence of the consequences of subjugation. Missouri, a magnificent empire of agricultural and mineral wealth, is to-day a smoking ruin, and the theatre of the most revolting cruelties and barbarities. The minions of tyranny consume her substance, plunder her citizens, and destroy her peace. The sacred rights of freemen are struck down, and the blood of her children, her maidens, and her old men, is made to flow, out of mere wantonness and recklessness. No whispers of freedom go unpunished, and the very instincts of self-preservation are outlawed. The worship of God and the rites of sepulture have been shamefully interrupted, and, in many instances, the cultivation of the soil is prohibited to her own citizens. These facts are attested by many witnesses, and it is but a just tribute to that noble and chivalrous people that, amid barbarities almost unparalleled, they still maintain a proud and defiant spirit towards their enemies.
In Maryland, the judiciary, made subservient to executive absolutism, furnishes no security for individual rights or personal freedom; members of the legislature are arrested and imprisoned without process of law or assignment of cause, and the whole land groaneth under the oppressions of a merciless tyranny.
In Kentucky the ballot-box has been overthrown, free speech is suppressed, the most vexatious annoyances harass and embitter, and all the arts and appliances of an unscrupulous despotism are freely used to prevent the uprising of the noble patriots of "the dark and bloody ground." Notes of gladness, assurances of a brighter and better day reach us, and the exiles may take courage and hope for the future.
In Virginia, the model of all that illustrates human heroism and self-denying patriotism, although the tempest of desolation has swept over her fair domains, no sign of repentance for her separation from the North can be found. Her old homesteads dismantled, her ancestral relics destroyed, her people impoverished, her territory made the battle-ground for the rude shocks of contending hosts, and then divided, with hireling parasites, mockingly claiming jurisdiction and authority, the Old Dominion still stands with proud crest and defiant mien, ready to tramp beneath her heel every usurper and tyrant, and to illustrate afresh her sic semper tyrannis, the "proudest motto that ever blazed on a nation's shield or a warrior's arms."
To prevent such effects, our people are now prosecuting this struggle. It is no mere war of calculation, no contest for a particular kind of property, no barter of precious blood for filthy lucre. Everything involved in manhood, civilization, religion, law, property, country, home, is at stake. We fight not for plunder, spoils, pillage, territorial conquest. The Government tempts by no prizes of "beauty or booty," to be drawn in the lottery of this war. We seek to preserve civil freedom, honor, equality, firesides, and blood is well shed when "shed for our family, for our friends, for our kind, for our country, for our God." Burke said: "A State, resolved to hazard its existence rather than abandon its object, must have an infinite advantage over that which is resolved to yield, rather than carry its resistance beyond a certain point." It is better to be conquered by any other nation than by the United States. It is better to be a dependency of any other power than of that. By the condition of its existence and essential constitution, as now governed, it must be in perpetual hostility to us. As the Spanish invader burned his ships to make retreat impossible, so we cannot afford to take steps backward. Retreat is more dangerous than advance. Behind us are inferiority and degradation—before us is everything enticing to a patriot.
Our bitter and implacable foes are preparing vigorously for the coming campaign. Corresponding efforts should be made on our part. Without murmuring, our people should respond to the laws which the exigency demands. Every one capable of bearing arms should be connected with some effective military organization. The utmost energies of the whole population should be taxed to produce food and clothing, and a spirit of cheerfulness and trust in an all-wise and overruling Providence should be cultivated.
The history of the past three years has much to animate us to renewed effort, and a firmer and more assured hope. A whole people have given their hearts and bodies to repel the invader, and costly sacrifices have been made on the altar of our country. No similar instance is to be found of such spontaneous uprising and volunteering. Inspired by a holy patriotism, again and again have our brave soldiers, with the aid of Heaven, baffled the efforts of our foes. It is in no arrogant spirit that we refer to successes that have cost us so much blood, and brought sorrow to so many hearts. We may find in all this an earnest of what, with determined and resolute exertion, we can do to avert subjugation and slavery—and we cannot fail to discern in our deliverance from so many and so great perils the interposition of that Being who will not forsake us in the trials that are to come. Let us, then, looking upon the bodies of our loved and honored dead, catch inspiration from their example, and gather renewed confidence and a firmer resolve to tread, with unfaltering trust, the path that leads to honor and peace, although it lead through tears and suffering and blood.
We have no alternative but to do our duty. We combat for property, homes, the honor of our wives, the future of our children, the preservation of our fair land from pollution, and to avert a doom which we can read, both in the threats of our enemies and the acts of oppression, we have alluded to in this address.
The situation is grave, but furnishes no just excuse for despondency. Instead of harsh criticisms on the Government and our generals; instead of bewailing the failure to accomplish impossibilities, we should rather be grateful, humbly and profoundly, to a benignant Providence, for the results that have rewarded our labors. Remembering the disproportion in population, in military and naval resources, and the deficiency of skilled labor in the South, our accomplishments have surpassed those recorded of any people in the annals of the world. There is no just reason for hopelessness or fear. Since the outbreak of the war the South has lost the nominal possession of the Mississippi river and fragments of her territory; but Federal occupancy is not conquest. The fires of patriotism still burn unquenchably in the breasts of those who are subject to foreign domination. We yet have in our uninterrupted control a territory, which, according to past progress, will require the enemy ten years to overrun.
The enemy is not free from difficulties. With an enormous debt, the financial convulsion, long postponed, is surely coming. The short crops in the United States and abundant harvests in Europe will hasten what was otherwise inevitable. Many sagacious persons at the North discover in the usurpations of their Government the certain overthrow of their liberties. A large number revolt from the unjust war waged upon the South, and would gladly bring it to an end. Others look with alarm upon the complete subversion of constitutional freedom by Abraham Lincoln, and feel, in their own persons, the bitterness of the slavery which three years of war have failed to inflict on the South. Brave and earnest men at the North have spoken out against the usurpations and cruelties daily practiced. The success of these men over the radical and despotic faction which now rules the North may open the way to peaceful negotiation and a cessation of this bloody and unnecessary war.
In conclusion, we exhort our fellow-citizens to be of good cheer and spare no labor, nor sacrifices, that may be necessary to enable us to win the campaign upon which we have just entered. We have passed through great trials of affliction, but suffering and humiliation are the schoolmasters that lead nations to self-reliance and independence. These disciplinary providences but mature and develop and solidify our people. We beg that the supplies and resources of the country, which are ample, may be sold to the Government to support and equip its armies. Let all spirit of faction and past party differences be forgotten in the presence of our cruel foe. We should not despond. We should be self-denying. We should labor to extend to the utmost the productive resources of the country. We should economize. The families of soldiers should be cared for and liberally supplied. We entreat from all a generous and hearty co-operation with the Government in all branches of its administration, and with the agents, civil or military, in the performance of their duties. Moral aid has the "power of the incommunicable," and, by united efforts, by an all-comprehending and self-sacrificing patriotism, we can, with the blessing of God, avert the perils which environ us, and achieve for ourselves and children peace and freedom. Hitherto the Lord has interposed graciously to bring us victory, and in His hand there is present power to prevent this great multitude which come against us from casting us out of the possession which He has given us to inherit.
|T. J. SEMMES,
J. L. ORR,
A. E. MAXWELL,
|Committee on the part of the Senate.|
|J. W. CLAPP,
J. L. M. CURRY,
JOHN GOODE, Jr.,
W. N. H. SMITH,
|Committee of the House of Representatives.|