Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/181

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171
Address of Honorable Jefferson Davis.

fathers founded their government will finally prevail throughout the land, and the ends for which it was instituted yet be attained and rendered as perpetual as human institutions may be.

I have said we could not foresee how or when this may be brought to pass, but it is not so difficult to determine what means are needful to secure the result. First in order and importance, for it is the corner stone of the edifice, the elective franchise must be intelligently and honestly exercised. Let there be no class legislation, low taxes, low salaries, no perquisites; and let the official be held to a strict accountability to his constituents. Nepotism and gift-taking by a public agent deserves severest censure, and the bestowal of the people's office as a reward for partisan service should be regarded as a gross breach of trust. Let not such offences be condoned; for, in a government of the people there can be no abuses permissible as usefully counteracting each other. Truth and justice and honor presided at the birth of our Federal Union, and its mission can only be performed by their continual attendance upon it. For this there is not needed a condition of human perfectibility, but only so much of virtue as will control vice and teach the mercenary and self-seeking that power and distinction, and honor will be awarded to patriotism, capacity and integrity.

To you, self-sacrificing, self-denying defenders of imperishable truths and inalienable rights, I look for the performance of whatever man can do for the welfare and happiness of his country.

In the language of a gifted poet of Mississippi—

  "It is not for thee to falter,  
   It is not for thee to palter,  
In this crisis—for thy mission is the mightiest of Time;
   It is thine to lead a legion,  
   Out of every realm and region,  
In the glorious march sunward to the golden heights sublime."

Father Ryan was then called out and made an eloquent address, in which he paid a high tribute to the patriotism, service and personal character of Mr. Davis—saying, among other things, that during his long and distinguished public career he had never once been investigated.