Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/161

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Stephens Refused Presidency of the Confederacy.

the Administration should attempt to reinforce or provision Sumter, you will strike the first blow.'

"For about two heartbeats they faced, that magnificent specimen of manhood and that fragile, emaciated little man.


WOULD NOT STRIKE THE FIRST BLOW.


" 'No, I will never never strike the first blow at the Union,' said Mr. Stephens, speaking slowly and distinctly.

" 'Alec!' cried Mr. Toombs.

"They gazed into each other's eyes. Then, without a word, Toombs turned and walked out of the room, with the other delegates at his heels.

"I afterward understood that many of the delegations sat up all night caucusing; that Toombs was the second choice with the members of Congress, but the delegates from the undecided States did not consider him radical enough.

"They said he would make Mr. Stephens his premier, and be guided by his advice. Cobb and Rhett's names were both considered, but the radicals would not accept either. After further skirmishing Jeff Davis' name was presented, and the radicals made no objections.

"For the sake of harmony, the other delegates fell into line, and the next morning, February 9, 1861, the Hon. Jefferson Davis was unanimously elected President of the Confederate States of America."