Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/205

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//. .]/. y. Hunter.

had many sons who were wise and eloquent in council. To be | eminent, or even prominent, in such a galaxy as hers, demanded the \t i \ hisju -st qualities of mind and character.

When the great and regrettable contest between the North and the South arose, Mr. Hunter held that the South was simply stand- ing on her constitutional rights. He held that it was her right and duty to resist aggression. He stated his position in temperate, thoughtful, conciliatory, but firm language. At no time of his life did he for one moment doubt the perfect justice and truth of the Southern cause. I met and conferred with him frequently during the winter of i86o-'6i, preceding the civil conflict. Gladly would he have welcomed a settlement between the contending States on the firm basis of constitutional rights for both sections, safety for his own people, malice and injury to none, and an enduring peace with honor. That was not to be. He left the Senate in March, 1861, following not the suggestions of personal ambition or his own inter- est, but the hard and rugged path of duty. Very soon afterwards the Commonwealth of Virginia sent him as one of her representa- tives to the new government at Montgomery. He performed that mission. On the 2ist of July, 1861, he was called by President Davis to take the position of Secretary of State for the Confederacy, from which Mr. Toombs, of Georgia, had resigned. He filled that important trust with eminent ability until the new, or "permanent," Confederate Constitution and Government went into operation on the 22d of February, 1862.

Prior to that event the Commonwealth of Virginia elected Mr. Hunter, and, as I remember, unanimously, to the Confederate Senate. It was a most critical period, and demanded the greatest ability and resource, both in the executive and legislative departments of the already hard-pressed Confederacy. Mr. Hunter was made President pro tempore of the Senate. His influence was great and command- ing. His advice, counsel and influence were not only felt and wel- comed in all the great measures of military defence and equipment then adopted, but even in the selection of officers for important com- mands. He was a steady friend of President Davis in respect to all the great measures of defence and supply. He had the friendship and confidence of Mr. Davis and his Cabinet; of James A. Seddon, John A. Campbell, Graham, Cobb, Lamar, Curry, Letcher, Bocock, Harvie, Caperton, Joe Johnston and Robert E. Lee. He was one of the first to discover and appreciate the superb genius of Stonewall