The Rise of the Confederate Government (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)
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In this account of the life and death of an idea and social system, Jefferson Davis addresses the underlying principles of the Confederate experiment and the resultant calamity of the Civil War. He discusses the background issues of the conflict—the political ideas and events leading to the secession of the eleven Southern states. He defends the South’s right to secede, calling the act “Constitutional” and the actions of the Federal Government “Unconstitutional.” Davis further claims the war had nothing to do with America’s “tame” version of slavery. Though historians have discredited most of Davis’ arguments, his book has become key to understanding the enduring notion of “The Lost Cause,” the view that a noble Southern way of life was sacrificed, that the South was overmatched by a wealthier and more powerful—but not morally superior—North.
Thus, after the legislature of Mississippi had enacted a law for a convention which, representing the sovereignty of the state, should consider the propriety of passing an ordinance to reassume the grants made to the general government, and withdraw from the Union, I, as a United States Senator of Mississippi, retained my position in the Senate, and sought by every practicable mode to obtain such measures as would allay the excitement and afford to the South such security as would prevent the
thirty-five were required to remain ninety days. The existing organization of companies, regiments, etc. was preserved, but the former were filled up to the number of one hundred twenty-five men. This was the first step toward placing the army in a permanent and efficient condition. The term of service being lengthened, the changes by discharges and by receiving recruits were diminished, so that, while additions were made to the forces already in the field, the discipline was greatly improved. At
to Congress the power to draft a citizen into the army, or to receive his voluntary offer of services, because he is a member of the State militia, is to deny the power to raise an army at all; for, practically, all men fit for service in the army may be embraced in the militia organization of the several States. You seem, however, to suggest, rather than directly to assert, that the conscript law may be unconstitutional, because it comprehends all arms-bearing men between eighteen and
Democratic party. We believe now, as we have asserted on former occasions, that the best hope for the perpetuity of our institutions depends upon the cooperation, the harmony, the zealous action, of the Democratic party. We cling to that party from conviction that its principles and its aims are those of truth and the country, as we cling to the Union for the fulfillment of the purposes for which it was formed. Whenever we shall be taught that the Democratic party is recreant to its principles;
circumstances, they are a standing menace, which renders negotiation impossible, and, as our present experience shows, threatens speedily to bring to a bloody issue questions which ought to be settled with temperance and judgment." The reason for this change in your position is that, since your arrival in Washington, "an officer of the United States, acting as we (you) are assured, not only without your (my) orders, has dismantled one fort and occupied another, thus altering, to a most important