Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 24.djvu/382

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vent the step. At the conference called by Governor Pettus, of Mississippi, of the representatives in Congress from that State, in 1860, Mr. Davis declared himself opposed to secession as long as the hope of a peaceful remedy remained. He said he did not believe \vt- ought to precipitate the issue, as he felt certain that from his knowl- edge of the people of the North and South, that if there was a clash of arms, the contest would be the most sanguinary the world ever witnessed. As a member of the Senate committee to whom the compromise proposals were submitted at the outbreak of secession, he expressed his willingness to accept any plan of settlement that promised a reasonable hope of success. But the Republican mem- bers of that committee rejected every proposition made.

On December 10, 1860, Mr. Davis spoke these words in the Sen- ate : ' ' This Union is as dear to me as a Union of fraternal States. It would lose its value if I had to regard it as a Union held together by physical force. I would be happy to know that every State felt the fraternity which made this Union possible, and if that evidence could go out if evidence satisfactory to the people of the South could be given that that feeling existed in the hearts of the northern people you might burn your statute books and we would cling to the Union still. ' ' To the very hour that Mississippi seceded, and after it, he was pleading for union without dishonor. When Missis- sippi seceded he resigned his seat in the Senate and went to his State and cast his lot with his people. Many another officer of the United States bent before the allegiance he acknowledged to his mother State and followed him with bleeding hearts. In spite of his well- known preference for service in the field, the Confederate Govern- ment called him to its head. Mr. Davis shared with Washington the extraordinary distinction of being elected President of a republic unanimously, but Mr. Davis was chosen by a more numerous people and at a period of more critical responsibility.


We love and honor Mr. Davis, most of all, because he suffered with us and for us, and was our President; because, in the language of the eloquent Peyton Wise, of Virginia, " he was the type of that ineffable manhood which made the armies of the South." Time would fail me to picture the iron will, the persistency and loyalty of Mr. Davis during those four terrible years of the travail of his soul; his people pitted against a people outnumbering them four to one in arms, bearing population, and incomparably better prepared for war,