Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/158

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

the Georgia delegation; we have talked it over, so you must let us present your name to the convention.'

" 'No,' repeated Mr. Stephens. 'No, I have not been in this movement. I was opposed to secession. I cannot take any office under the government. It would not be judicious; it would not be good policy to put me forward for any position.'

'"Alec—' Mr. Toombs began; but Mr. Stephens would not let him speak, so he laughed and changed the subject.

"That was the last of it on the train, but we hadn't been an hour in Montgomery when Willy P. Harris and Colonel A. M. Cambe called. Harris was the first spokesman, and he went straight to the point.

" 'The Mississippi delegation prefer you for President, Mr, Stephens,' said he. 'And we have come to ask if you will allow us to present your name.'

" 'Gentlemen, I cannot be a candidate for the Presidency of the Southern Confederacy,' he replied. I was opposed to secession. You must eliminate my name as a candidate for all offices under the government. It would be bad policy for you to present my name.'

"Campbell bent forward, listening to Stephens earnestly. The instant the last words fell from his tongue he spoke.

" 'You are mistaken, sir!' he cried. 'It would be good policy. The very best policy, sir. You opposed secession. You had good reasons—weighty reasons, sir. The whole country—North and South—the whole world, knows your reasons. You are the only man to whom the Unionists will give their cordial support. You are the only man who can take away from this movement the character of a rebellion.'


"Mr. Stephens had by this time recovered from his irritation, and appeared more willing to argue the point.

" 'I think you do the Unionists injustice, Colonel Campbell,' he replied. 'While they earnestly opposed the movement, when the ordinance of secession was passed they bowed to the will of the majority and have all expressed their determination to sustain and defend their State.