Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/206

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202 Soufln-rii Historical Society Papers.

Jackson. He counselled often with Robert E. Lee, relied on his ripe judgment, and gave him his fullest support. In all fiscal and eco- nomic measures, he naturally took the lead. Respecting and trust- ing Secretaries MemmingerandTrenholm, he, nevertheless, originated all the general features of Confederate finance. With an infant re- public, compelled by a powerful adversary to incur an enormous war expenditure, and not able to export its surplus products or even fully to raise them for the markets, it is not strange that Confederate money should have sunk to so low an ebb as it finally did. The only wonder is that it did not fall much earlier and more rapidly. We may recall with instruction and profit the fate of the assignats of the French Revolutionary government and of the Continental money of our first Confederacy of 1776. Had the second Confederacy proved a military success, as did the first one, and as the first French republic did, possibly the fertile mind of Hunter might have been able to devise some solution of the financial problem based on ripe experience and a study of modern conditions; but after four years of noble and fearful struggle against gigantic odds, our righteous cause went down in gloom and disaster. All was lost save honor. The public careers of Hunter, Davis, Lee and many more were virtually closed at this point; but their names, the memories of their splendid services, their virtues and, still more, their sacrifices, will never be forgotten by the people of the South or by the pen of history.

Mr. Hunter realized towards the close of the struggle the hope- lessness of a protracted contest, and he was anxious to do something to save the South from total subjugation and a conquest without any terms of peace. The problem proved an impracticable one, for rea- sons on which I may speak another time, but his motives were humane, disinterested and pure, as they always were. The blame for failure belongs to the ambitious men at Washington, who, seeing final victory almost in their grasp, would not spare either Southern misery or Northern blood in their stern purpose to become absolute masters of the situation. The government of the Union being thus re-established by the sword, Mr. Hunter regarded it as his duty to accept the Union in good faith, and, as a good citizen, to co-operate with patriotic men in every section to restore the reign of law and order and the Federal Constitution. This was the sentiment of Vir- ginia and the South. It was deeply unfortunate that this sentiment was not at once recognized and acted on by the dominant party, instead of adopting, as they did, the policy of hate, military rule