Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/85

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The Virginia Convention of 1788.

bickerings would have prevailed as would have resulted in confusion worse confounded and would have, in all likelihood, degenerated into military despotism. I am of the deliberate conviction that the success of the Confederacy would have been the greatest calamity that could have befallen not only the South, but the entire country. There are thousands who admit these facts in their hearts, but from a false pride refuse to make the acknowledgment by word of mouth. Slavery was a curse as well as a crime. It was a curse because it was the instrumentality of so many of our young men, who could not compete with slave labor, forsaking their homes – expatriating themselves. The Commonwealth was thus drained of its most energetic, thrifty and useful sons.

Its criminality is now generally admitted even by those who formerly believed it had divine sanction. Of course, under the Constitution, slavery was legally right, but never right in ethics. Both North and South were equally responsible for the crime. Whilst the South was apparently the beneficiary, in many particulars it was the greatest sufferer. No matter how sore and disappointed we who participated in the war between the States may have felt at the result, the downfall of our hopes, the failure of our cherished cause, we should accept the result philosophically, in good faith and in the firm belief that the Supreme Ruler of events in His superior wisdom so ordained it for our good. To believe otherwise would be disloyal to Him. What we at first looked upon with feelings of acute anguish and despair ; what we first regarded as an untold calamity, an irreparable disaster, has been softened and soothed by the ameliorating touch of time, and the truer perspective of distance, and we come now to regard them as blessings in disguise, as providential sequences. The passions and prejudices existing before the strife and engendered by the war, have cooled and are fast disappearing. Social, business intercourse, personal contact, the exhibition of heroic courage and fortitude on many a well-contested battlefield has evoked mutual admiration and respect and have dissipated these conflicting elements. The inhuman, brutal, passion-bred acts and doings under the Reconstruction period have been repealed and we trust repented of, never again to be called into being. We are a reunited people. W r e are now citi-