route for the Pacific railroad, and opposed Mr. Douglas's doctrine of "popular sovereignty." On January 9, 1861, Mississippi seceded, and on January 24—having been officially informed of the fact—he delivered a farewell address, and withdrew from the Senate and went to his home. Before reaching his home he had been appointed by the convention of his State commander in chief of the Army of Mississippi, with the rank of major general. On February 9 he was elected President of the Provisional Government of the Confederate States, at Montgomery, Ala., and on the 18th day of the same month he was inaugurated as such President. He delivered an inaugural address that day, which he said was deliberately prepared and uttered as written, and, in connection with his farewell speech to the Senate, presented a clear and authentic statement of the principles and purposes which actuated him in assuming the duties of the high office to which he had been called. In this inaugural address, among other things, he said: "Our present political position has been achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations. It illustrates the American idea that governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established. The declared purpose of the compact of the Union from which we have withdrawn was to 'establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity;' and when, in the judgment of the sovereign States composing this Confederacy, it has been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained, and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot box declared that, so far as they are concerned, the government created by that compact should cease to exist. In this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Independence of July 4, 1776, defined to be 'inalienable.' Of the time and occasion of its exercise they as sovereigns were the final judges, each for itself. The impartial and enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct; and He who knows the hearts of men will judge of the sincerity with which we have labored to preserve the government of our fathers in its spirit. The right solemnly proclaimed at the birth of the United States,
Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/48
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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.