Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/362

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-;.")S Rout/tern Historical Xri,-(i/ Papers.

leaving each man to enjoy the fruits of his own toil, would pool the earnings of society, upon which to fatten its favorite children in pal- aces of splendor, while it would starve its foundlings in hovels of squalor and misery.

It was for local self-government as embodied in the doctrine of States' Rights, as we had learned it from our fathers, that the South fought. It had grown with our growth; strengthened with our strength, and become the very warp and woof of our natures. To us it was a principle, not a shadowy sentiment; but a principle whose foundations were deep down below the grasp of political earthquakes, and whose spires pierced the stars beyond the sweep of storms of fanaticism. The bitter feelings and sectional animosities to which I have referred became intensified as the years went by. The Consti- tution of our fathers, as we understood it, was set at naught, and its provisions, as we construed them, were disregarded, and that solemn compact which to us was sacred, was declared by many leading men of the North to be "a league with death and a covenant with hell."

SECESSION OF THE STATES.

In the fall of 1860, the crisis came. The people of the South, feeling that the time had come when they should resume the powers delegated to the Federal Government, called conventions, and one State after another passed acts of secession, by which they under- took to secede from the Union of States, resumed the delegated powers, and sever their connection with the Federal Government. They did not make war upon any one. They only asked to be let alone. They asked for no property, and demanded nothing except the recognition of their rights to govern their own affairs. These States formed another union of States, known as the Confederate States of America. Our northern brethren did not interpret the Constitution as we did. They denied our right to sever connection with the Union. They declared that we were rebels in a state of re- bellion, and they resorted to arms to enforce the laws of the United States, and to compel obedience to its authority. We believed we were right, and, believing this, we had the manhood to dare main- tain it. The gage of battle was tendered, and we accepted it. To arms, to arms, was echoed throughout the land. The bugle-call was heard from every hilltop, and throughout every valley. Fathers, husbands, sons, brothers, and sweethearts, gave the farewell kiss, and pressed forward to repel the foe, that as we honestly believe,