Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/305

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Brilliant Eulogy on General W. H. Payne.

armies, and Virginia's governor advised it in his first message after his inauguration the 1st of January, 1864, and sustained his views elaborately, declaring "that if the result were to emancipate our slaves, there was not a man that would not put the negro in the army rather than become a slave himself to our hated and vindictive foe." Perish the imputation that Virginia. battled not for liberty. Proudly can she exalt herself before all peoples as exemplar of noblest martyrdom. Self-government was her inherent right, and upon its altar she immolated all else but faith and honor. More abhorrent to her was fear of serfdom of her people than the sacrifice of her slaves. Virginia is invulnerable to any impeachment in connection with slavery. It is history that she condemned the slave trade and insisted upon its prohibition immediately upon the adoption of the constitution. It is history that her greatest statesmen advocated the abolition of slavery, and that one or more of them gave theirs freedom. It is history that Virginia fought for freedom, and that she builded a temple of liberty worshipped throughout all the world, and that all peoples would have it for a shrine. She did not establish slavery, and she would not restore it, except to abolish it at her will.

It was not a blessing cherished by her people, but in love of liberty they defended it, as inseparable from their inalienable rights. Such are the sentiments of him whom we are now perpetuating.

General Payne, in recognition of the responsibility of advocacy of disunion, did not minimize the probability of a conflict at arms, and to the call of his State responded with the enthusiasm of a captive rejoicing in the prospect of delivery from repulsive association. He gathered friends into a body of troopers, organized them, became their first captain, and inspired them to that ardor and courage that gave to the "Black Horse" cavalry a prestige that increased with duration of service and will endure to the end of knighthood. At first Manassas he was conspicuous with his company in intensifying the confusion and flight of the enemy, and was not reconciled by the capture of a number of artillery pieces (delivered to President Davis) to the abandonment of the pursuit he expected to continue to Washington.