Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 17.djvu/226

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218 Southern Historical Society Papers,

in the announcement that the South could escape the threatened emancipation of the slaves, and all the consequences of that measure, by returning to the Federal Union.


Emancipation, therefore, was used as a threat to the States that should continue to resist the Federal arms after the ist day of Janu- ary, 1863, and protection to slavery by the Federal Government was the reward promised to such States as should cease to resist.

But Mr. Lincoln has left no room for doubt as to his views on this subject. One month before the warning proclamation of September 22d, he wrote to Mr. Greeley as follows :

" My paramount object is to save the Union and not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves I would do it ; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would do that also. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do because I believe it helps to save the Union, and what I forbear I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

It is apparent that Mr. Lincoln regarded the maintenance of the territorial integrity of the Union as the object of the war, regardless of all considerations affecting slavery or the colored race.

My subject, however, relates more nearly to the action of the people of the South with reference to secession and the war, and it is concerning this part of the history of the time that the greatest amount of ignorance and misrepresentation exists. They are all commonly designated as secessionists, their cause as the cause of se- cession, their object the disruption of the Federal Union, and the establishment of a Southern Confederacy as something in itself to be preferred to the Federal Union. And they are commonly repre- sented as having adopted that cause and sought that object as a means of perpetuating African slavery.


It shall be my aim to show you how entirely untrue to history this view of the conduct and action of the Southern people is, and for this purpose I propose to trace the events that led to the withdrawal of Virginia from the Union, as the action of Virginia determined that of General Lee.