Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/308

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

cealed. Our efforts to avoid the war, forced on us as it was by the lust of conquest and the insane passions of our foes, are known to mankind. But, earnest as has been our wish for peace and great as have been our sacrifices and sufferings during the war, the determination of this people has with each succeeding month become more unalterably fixed to endure any sufferings and continue any sacrifices, however prolonged, until their right to self-government and the sovereignty and independence of these States shall have been triumphantly vindicated and firmly established.

In this connection the occasion seems not unsuitable for some reference to the relations between the Confederacy and the neutral powers of Europe since the separation of these States from the former Union. Four of the States now members of the Confederacy were recognized by name as independent sovereignties in a treaty of peace concluded in the year 1783 with one of the two great maritime powers of Western Europe, and had been, prior to that period, allies in war of one another. In the year 1778 they formed a Union with nine other States under Articles of Confederation. Dissatisfied with that Union, three of them, Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia, together with eight of the States now members of the United States, seceded from it in 1789, and these eleven seceding States formed a second Union, although by the terms of the Articles of Confederation express provision was made that the first Union should be perpetual. Their right to secede, notwithstanding this provision, was neither contested by the States from which they separated nor made the subject of discussion with any third power. When at a later period North Carolina acceded to that second Union, and when, still later, the other sovereign[1] States, now members of this Confederacy, became also members of the same Union, it was upon the recognized footing of equal and independent sovereignties; nor had it then entered into the minds of men that sovereign States could be compelled by force to remain members of a confederation into which they had entered of their own free will, if at a subsequent period the defense of their safety and honor should, in their judgment, justify withdrawal. The experience of the past had evinced the futility of any renunciation of such

  1. Originally written "seven;" see page 299.