Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/329

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


.1. Si mines. 325

Ri-hts were the most marked peculiarity of the politics of the Southern people, and it was this doctrine that gave to the Union its moral dignity. The South, as a well-known writer said, bowed neither before an idol of gain nor the shadow of a name. She wor- shiped that picture of the Union which made it a peculiar association in which the State was sovereign, and these sovereign States were held by high considerations of good faith; by the exchanges of equity and comity, by the noble attractions of social order and the enthused sympathies of a common destiny of power, honor and patriotism and renown."

And still, with the pleasant touch of a wizard hand, Mr. Semmes lingered upon his fascinating theme, dwelling with infinite charm upon days that seem in this practical, money-making age, like glean- ings from the pages of knight errantry and romance. And then he spoke of the stirring events that came with the years, and finally of that great, sad struggle, that swept over the Southland, burying the old life forever in its course. Of the causes that led up to that struggle, he spoke freely. He went over the intervening years when he was appointed by President Buchanan, United States District Attorney for Louisiana, and how he resigned this office in 1859, to accept the Attorney Generalship of the State. In January, 1861, events were rushing forward, and he was elected a member of the convention which passed the secession ordinance, January 26, 1861. " I was a member of the committee of fifteen, which drafted this ordinance," said Mr. Semmes.

"And somewhere carefully put away," added Mrs. Semmes, "I have still the pen with which you signed that ordinance."

"In September, 1861, I was called by President Davis to Mont- gomery, to consult with him as Attorney General of our State, as to the suspension of specie payment by the banks." The first loan ever made to the Confederacy, as testified by Mr. Memminger in a letter to the Confederate Congress, was by Mr. Knox, father of Mrs. Semmes. Mr. Memminger justly praises the devotion "of that pa- triotic gentleman " in this volunteer ofipr.

In November, 1861, Mr. Semmes was elected a member of the Confederate Congress at Richmond, and took his seat in the Senate with his colleague from Louisiana, General Edward H. Sparrow. He passed through Montgomery on his way to Richmond, and here Mrs. Semmes met her parents, who were delighted that a son-in-law of theirs had this high honor conferred upon him, so dearly did they love the South. Mrs. Semmes referred laughingly to the beautiful