Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 02.djvu/62

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

of Princes could offer, and such as nothing but a stern sense of duty may withstand.

A home in the bosom of my family on the banks of the Neva, where, in the midst of books, and surrounded by friends, I am, without care for the morrow, to have the most princely means and facilities for prosecuting those studies and continuing those philosophical labors in which I take most delight. All the advantages that I enjoyed in Washington are, with a larger discretion, to be offered me in Russia.

Surely a more flattering invitation could not be uttered! Certainly it could not reach a more grateful heart. I have slept upon it. It is becoming that I should be candid, and, in a few words, frankly state the circumstances by which I find myself surrounded.

The State of Virginia gave me birth within her borders; among many friends, the nearest of kin, and troops of excellent neighbors, my children are planting their vine and fig tree; on her green bosom are the graves of my fathers; the political whirlpool from which your kind forethought sought to rescue me has already drawn her into fierce and bloody war.

In 1788, when this State accepted the Federal Constitution and entered the American Union, she did so with the formal declaration that she reserved to herself the right to withdraw from it for cause and resume those powers and attributes of sovereignty which she had never ceded away, but only "delegated" for certain definite and specific purposes.

When the President elect commenced to set at naught the very objects of the constitution, and without authority of law, proceeded to issue his proclamation of 15th of April last, Virginia, in the exercise of that reserved right, decided that the time had come when her safety, her dignity and honor required her to resume those "delegated" powers and withdraw from the Union. She did so. She then straightway called upon her sons in the Federal service to retire therefrom and come to her relief.

This call found me in the midst of those quiet physical researches at the Observatory in Washington, which I am now, with so much delicacy of thought and goodness of heart, invited to resume in Russia. Having been brought up in the school of State-Rights, where we had for masters the greatest statesmen of America, and among them Mr. Madison, the wisest of them all, I could not, and did not hesitate. I recognized this call, considered it mandatory, and formally renouncing all allegiance to the broken Union, hastened over to the south side of the Potomac, there to renew to fatherland those vows of fealty, service and devotion which the State of Virginia had permitted me to pledge to the Federal Union, so long only as by serving it, I might serve her.

Thus my sword has been tendered in her cause, and the tender has been accepted. Her soil is invaded, the enemy is actually at her gates, and here I am, contending as the fathers of the Republic did, for the right of self-government and those very principles for