SPEECH OF A. H. STEPHENS.
DELIVERED AT AUGUSTA, GA., JULY 11 1861.
MR. CHAIRMAN, Ladies and Gentlemen of Richmond County:-I appear before you today in the discharge of a duty assigned me by the Confederate Congress. I am rejoiced to see so many persons out-persons of all classes and ages, men as well as women. It is true, that the subjects upon which I am to address you to-day concern mostly-most directly the men, and a particular class of men at that-I mean the cotton planters-interesting all alike. The questions involved are questions which concern all alike. They involve the peace of the country-her political and social existence. All, therefore, do well to be here. We are involved in a war-the most important war that the country has ever been involved in since the revolution of our fathers-since American Independence was declared. We have had many wars since. We have had Indian wars with the different tribes; we had a small French war; we have had a second war with the mother country. Many, perhaps, who hear me today were engaged in that conflict. But this is war far transcending every other war, in magnitude and consequence-the consequences that will result from it.
My business today is to unfold to you the exigencies of this war and its requirements. The Congress, it is known to you, provided for raising one hundred thousand men. Nobly, gallantly, and patriotically has that call been responded to, and is now being responded to. Thousands and tens of thousand. (the exact number I am not able to state to you) have gone to the battle field. These men, however, must be clothed; they must be fed; they must be armed; they must be equipped. Wars can be sustained, not by men alone; it requires men and money. The gallant volunteers have responded on their part. The questions upon which I am to address you today relate to the importance of raising the necessary amounts of money to meet these requisitions.
Upon the adjournment of the Congress from Montgomery to Richmond, the estimate was for one hundred thousand men for the first fiscal year.
The amount estimated by the Secretary of the Treasury to meet the requirements to support an army of this number was fifty millions of dollars-a large amount. This amount must be raised. How to do it is the question. But since that adjournment, since that estimate, this war has assumed a wider and broader range. It has taken on larger and more gigantic proportions, and instead of one hundred thousand men, we may have to send two hundred thousand to meet the enemy; instead of fifty millions of dollars, we may have, and the probability is that we shall have to raise one hundred millions; and it may be, if it goes on and increases, that we shall have to raise more. The estimate, however, of the Secretary of the Treasury was fifty millions of dollars, and whatever number of men and whatever amount of money shall be necessary must be raised. We do not intend to be subjugated. Mr. Lincoln has increased his call from seventy-five thousand to four hundred thousand men. He has increased his demand for money from the five millions first asked for, (the amount I do not exactly recollect,) and asks his Congress, now in session, for four hundred millions of dollars. Whether he will raise his men or his money, I know not. All I have to say about it is, that if he raises his four hundred thousand men, we must raise enough to meet him, and if he raises his four hundred millions of money, we must raise enough to meet it.
It is a war of political and social existence, and unless we intend to be overriden and beaten down and subjugated, and to become the vassals of his mercenaries and myrmidons, we must every one of us-every man, every boy, and every woman-be prepared to do our duty. Our means in men and money are ample to sustain our independence. We have, upon a reasonable estimate, at least seven hundred thousand fighting men. 'Whether all these will be required to drive back his armed myrmidons, I know not; but, if they are, every man must go to the battlefield. He may think, and doubtless does, that four hundred thousand men will intimidate, subjugate, and overrun us. He should recollect however, as we should, and reverently too, that the "race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong," but it is God that gives the victory.
Four hundred thousand maybe a formidable army against us, but it is not as formidable as the six hundred thousand led by Darius against the Grecian States; and we there have the example of much fewer numbers than we are, fighting a battle for right, for justice, for independence, and for liberty. We have an example worthy of our imitation. Six hundred thousand Persians invaded Greece. These small States could bring against them but eleven thousand all told. The eleven thousand met the hosts of Persia, not the six hundred thousand, but all that could be brought against them, on the common plain. The eleven thousand, with valorous hearts, fighting for home, fighting for country, fighting for every thing dear to freemen, put to flight the hosts of Persia, leaving sixty thousand slain upon the field. Men of the South, therefore, let this war assume its gigantic proportions, its most threatening prospects (nerving our hearts with the spirit of our revolutionary fathers, when they were but three million, and coped with Great Britain, the most powerful nation in the world)-animated by these sentiments, fighting for everything dear to us, fear not the result recollecting that "thrice armed is he who hath his quarrel just;" and as our fathers, in the bloody conflict of the Revolutionary War, appealed to the God of Battles for success in their cause, so may we, since we have the consciousness, in any event, that this is no war of our seeking.
We simply wish to govern ourselves as we please. We simply stand where our revolutionary fathers stood in '76. We stand upon the great fundamental principle announced on the 4th of July, 1776, and incorporated in the Declaration of Independence-that great principle that announced that Governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed. In the announcement of this principle, the delegation from Massachusetts, and from Rhode Island, and from Connecticut and from all the Northern States, united with the delegates from the Old Dominion and from the Palmetto State, and from Georgia, the youngest and last of the Colonies, then not numbering more than fifty thousand of population-they united in this declaration of the delegates from all the States or Colonies, and for the maintenance of it they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor-Massachusetts side by side with-Georgia, John Hancock at their head, and, strange to say, to-day, the people of Massachusetts and the Northern States are reversing the position of our fathers, and are demanding to rule, to govern, to coerce, to subjugate us against our consent.
We wish no quarrel with them. After the establishment of the great principle, after the acknowledgment of it by, Great Britain, in the treaty of 1783, when each separate State was recognized as independent, we were not recognized by Great Britain as a nationality, but the independence of each Colony or State was recognized by itself-Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Connecticut and Virginia, each one by itself; each one was separate, sovereign, and independent. They made a common cause to achieve individual and separate sovereign existence.
After the Revolutionary war they, entered into a constitutional compact-that Constitution that we have ever adopted-that Constitution to the maintenance of which I have devoted so much of my life.
We entered into that Constitution with this people. Almost from the beginning, a large party in the North were against it; and as a Southern man, in passing, I maybe excused for claiming, as I do, that the Constitution of the United States was mainly the work of Southern hands.
It is true that the delegates from the Northern States joined us in the Convention of 1787 that made it; but the first programme, the outline of the Constitution as we now have it, was proposed by the distinguished member from Carolina, Mr. Pinckney. Another programme which was said to be the basis of the Constitution, was introduced by Mr. Randolph, of Virginia. The Northern men, with a few exceptions, did not favor that form of government. The Constitution, therefore, reserving sovereignty to the people, constituting a limited government, with an executive bound by law, with State sovereignty maintained to its fullest extent, with a judiciary bound by fundamental law, with every officer, from the highest to the lowest, bound by law-this great bulwark of constitutional liberty was the work mainly of Southern hands. Madison is styled the father of it. Not a single pillar in the temple, not a single arch in this great building, was laid, or reared, or constructed, by Northern men.
They had able members in the Convention. I detract nothing from their merits. They show forth as great lights in the Revolutionary war. I name but two-Franklin and Hamilton; men of transcendent talents, men of genius; but neither of them contributed any thing to the formation of the Constitution. Mr. Hamilton was for a different model of Government; he was against the form adopted, and actually quit the Convention before it was made. It is true that afterwards, when the Convention was agreed upon and submitted to the people, he lent all the power of his gigantic intellect and all the fervor of his pure and lofty patriotism, to the establishment of the Government; but he differed in theory from the work that was done, and afterwards attempted to incorporate, by construction, many of his original ideas. But what I claim before you as a Southern orator is, and I am proud of it, that the Constitution that made the old United States what they were, under which they prospered as no other nation ever has prospered, and under which they run the rapid and high career in national glory-this Constitution was the work of Southern hands mainly. And during the time of our political existence, the administration of the Government was mostly under Southern hands and Southern policy. But, after it was adopted, reserving State rights, reserving State sovereignty, reserving popular sovereignty, upon the idea that all political power resides with the people and emanates from the people; that the high and the low, the rich and the poor, every man, whatever be his status in society; every citizen stands upon equality in the law. It was this grand principle of which we boasted. These are the grand ideas of American Constitutional liberty, of which we are proud; these are the principles taught by our fathers to their sons, and they were the work mainly of Southern hands.
But soon after this Constitution was formed, a large party in the North commenced, as I have said, by construction, to torture and twist the Constitution from its proper and legitimate meaning, to gain power indirectly. I have not time to go through the history of the country. It is enough to say it ripened within the last few years, and came to maturity under the organization of that party now in power-that party which now has the destiny of the United States in its hands-known as the Republican party. Seven States of the North finally utterly repudiated the most important feature in it-a feature without which, I am told, in the language of Judge Story, the Constitution would never have been made. I mean that obligation the North entered into to return fugitive slaves from our country. Seven States arrayed themselves-perhaps more-seven at least, arrayed themselves in open, palpable, violation of this known portion of the compact. We appealed to them-we believed it was beat for all the States, as Washington presided over the Convention that made the Constitution, that all the States should remain in the Union, faithfully performing, each for itself, the obligations of this Constitution.
This was the Southern idea. We made our appeals for years to them to come up and fulfill their obligations. From the beginning of the Government, the man cannot rise up and charge the South with ever violating in the slightest degree, their obligations. We never asked Congress to do any thing against the interests of the Northern States; we never complained of their institutions; we never wished to interfere with them at all. We rested upon the great principle that each State should govern itself; that they should govern themselves as they pleased, and let us govern ourselves as we pleased. This was the position of the South, and we made the same appeal to them for years; and only when this party came to maturity, and when so many States openly disregarded the Constitution, when they got the Government in their hands, it was then the South thought it necessary to look out new safeguards for security. It was then she resumed her sovereign powers. It was then she became satisfied that the people of the North would not fulfill their portion of the obligation, and even then we believed it would be better for them and us to live on together, each and all doing their duty, but they would not discharge their duty. We said we would even try it and even then sent Commissioners to them with the olive branch of peace. Our overtures were disregarded and hence this war.
But the point I present to you is that we stand now where our revolutionary fathers stood. All we ask is to be permitted to govern ourselves as we please; and for one I declare to you to-day, you may think of it as you please, the people of the South may decide it as they please, but as for one, I would never surrender this principle, through every valley from here to the Potomac, should run with Southern blood, and every hill top be bleached with Southern bones. (Tremendous applause.) Home, firesides, life, friends, and luxuries are dear, but there is something dearer to a true man than life, and home, and all. It is honor and independence. (Applause.) Let the enemy, therefore, make his calculation as wide and broad as he pleases. I say every true Southern heart is impressed with the magnitude of the responsibility that now rests upon us; and let every man be nerved to meet that responsibility at any and every cost. Our fathers pledged life, honor, and fortune for this principle, and I know we are not the degenerate sons, nor are we the degenerate daughters of the noble matrons of that day, that would sacrifice, lose, or surrender these principles at a less cost.
The men are ample; the means to support them is the subject upon which I am to address you, and how is the money to be raised? War I tell you costs treasure as well as blood. Have we the means? Can we cope with the North? -that is the question. We have not less than four thousand millions of taxable property within the Confederate States, upon the last minimum estimate. At last year's rates, we therefore could raise from one hundred millions to two hundred millions, for years to come and yet survive. The wealth of nations, the ability of nations to sustain war, depends not so much upon its taxable property as its productive capital. It is to the latter we must look for the means and ability to sustain war, for in times of war generally all business is interrupted. In this particular of productive capital, perhaps there is no people in the world more favored under heaven, and for which we ought to be grateful, not boastful, and it is one of those blessing for which we should return thanks. No nation in the world with the same population, has such a continuous annual productive capital.
I have not stated the wealth of the North, but it is not my purpose to detract from it. They were a people of wealth. Most of it, however, came from their connection and trade with us. They were an ingenious and manufacturing people. We are an agricultural people. Their interests and ours were all blended together. Our prosperity enabled them to become prosperous, and their States grew up by our trade and commerce. Most of their wealth, when you come to estimate it and look at it, was nothing but profits derived from our trade. Cut off that trade. Most of the wealth of the State of New York-and that State alone is estimated to be worth four hundred millions of dollars (that is the taxable property of the State of New York)-and in what does it consist? Close up the harbor; cut off manufactures. What does it consist in? Bricks and mortar, nothing else. And if the war last as long as the siege of Troy, in what will their wealth consist? It will disappear, for the bricks and mortar will be worth no more, unless there are tenants and the profits derived from labor, than the bricks and mortar in the arid plains of Babylon.
Sixty-one millions of New England capital consist alone in cotton manufactures and cotton spindles. These factories look to us for our raw materials. This capital is now literally paralyzed; it is dead capital, and will be as long as this war lasts. Of their nominal products I do not now speak. Woolens, hats, shoes or silk, of every variety of dress I see before me, from the crowns of the heads of the fair Indies to the soles of their feet, all, nearly all, are supplied by the North, and there are eleven millions of annual produce from the sales of cotton goods alone. All this will be cut off and other things will be equally cut off.
The great difference between the North and the South to carry on the war-and this I say to you in prospect of a long war, for I wish our people to see the full magnitude, and to feel the full responsibility that rests upon us in it, and to see our responsibility to meet it-is this: The North sold us some two hundred and fifty millions annually. This was their riches; hence came their wealth; hence grew their cities. Their wealth was but the accumulation deposited from our commerce, just as the delta of the Nile was enriched above the lands of any other portion of Egypt by the deposit of the rich alluvial soil brought down from the mountains and deposited in it. The riches, money, and power of the North came in the same way. Our cotton was the source of it, and how Mr. Lincoln is to get his four hundred millions of dollars, I do not know. That is a matter for him to determine, though I may say more about it before I get through; but at present it is sufficient to say that Lincoln has dammed up the water that turns the mill of Northern prosperity. How long the mill will run time alone will determine.
But it is not so with us. We grow breadstuffs enough to supply all our wants. We live in a heaven-favored land, for all the cereals grow here equally as well as in any other portion of the world-wheat, rye, oats, and corn in a great abundance. We could compete with the world in the production of these. We grow also the tobacco plant and rice. We live in the land of the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the vine. Hardly anything used as food but is grown in the Southern Confederacy, and we could if need be, grow an abundance of every thing except coffee, We, therefore, have the means, under the blessings of Heaven, to support ourselves, and keep upon the field every variety of cattle suitable for food or draft. We, therefore, can grow broad enough to support our people and keep from one to two hundred thousand men in the field. Let the blockade last, let the Western people be cut of from trade with us, and within the eleven Southern States we could for years carry on the war, support ourselves and our armies, and, rather than be subjugated and become vassals of Lincoln's power, fight it out beleaguered by blockade all around.
But this is not our only capacity. We grow supplies that the nations of the earth must have-that is, the cotton. How the North is to do without it as I have said, I cannot say. Hundreds of thousands are dependent upon it for their daily bread, and these people are now turned out of employment. Perhaps they are the men who, for want of bread, have joined in this unnatural and suicidal war, which will be to them as disastrous as to us. In England, perhaps not less than five millions of people depend upon cotton for their daily bread; in France, several hundred thousands, if not millions, (I am not particular in my statistics.) And, when you come to take into consideration the amount of capital, the number of sailors, and the amount of tonnage employed in this trade, you will be still more surprised. Why, in the United States there are forty thousand seamen engaged in the transportation of cotton alone.
And if you take into account the numbers in England, France, Germany, Holland, and Bremen, engaged in it, you will find that it will amount to not less than ten millions of money capital engaged in it. This, therefore, is an element of great power, the great motor of the commerce of the world. We grow it. There is no part of the world that grows it as we do. We supply the markets of the world-they must have it.
I meet many asking about the blockade. I cannot, to-day, tell you how the blockade is to be raised. But there is one thing certain-in some way or other it will be obliged to be raised, or there will be revolution in Europe-there will be starvation there. Our cotton is the element that will do it. Steam is powerful, but steam is far short in its power to the tremendous power of cotton.
If you look out upon the ocean to-day, and inquire into the secret agency of commerce, you will find that it is cotton that drives it, and the spindles and looms, from those in your own State to the remotest quarter of the world- it is this element of cotton that drives them; and it is this great staple which is the tremendous lever by which we can work our destiny, under Providence, I trust, against four hundred thousand, or against four times four hundred thousand. (Applause.)
Upon a reasonable and ordinary estimate we ,grow four million bales of cotton. I am here to-day to discuss before you the fifty million loan, but I am frank to tell you it may be one hundred millions, and I think it probably will be. The proposition that the Government makes is not to tax the people. The object of a wise and good Government is to make the burdens fall as light upon the people as possible to meet every exigency. The proposition that Government makes, therefore, is to take a loan in produce. In the grain-growing sections, the members of Congress solicit the loan in grain, army subsistence, meat, corn, wheat and flour. We are not a grain-growing country. Our supply is cotton. I address you, Therefore, solely on the subject of cotton.
The object is to get along with as little tax is possible; but, my countrymen, do not suppose the Government will not tax you if necessary; for I tell you the Government does not intend to be subjugated; and if we do not raise the money by loans, if the people do not contribute, I tell you we intend to have the money, and taxation will be resorted to, if nothing else will raise it. Every life and dollar in the country will be demanded, rather than you and every one of us shall be overrun by the enemy. (Applause.) On that you may count. The Government, while it desires to carry on the war, establish your independence, and maintain the government at the same time wishes to do it in such away as not to cripple industry; and while our men are in the field fighting the battles of their country, their brethren at home are discharging an equal duty, so that no serious detriment to public property will be sustained; and we have the element to do this that no other people in the world have.
Now, then, if four millions of bales of cotton are made, upon an average price they will bring two hundred millions of dollars. If the cotton planter will but lend, not give-lend to the Government the proceeds of but one-half, that will be one hundred million of dollars, double what the Government wants, or did want when we adjourned-quite enough to keep two hundred thousand men in the field-the balance you can use as you please.
I now will read to you, just at this part of my address, the proposition upon which I shall make some comments, for I wish every gentleman to understand it. It is not asking a donation; the Government simply wishes to control the proceeds of your cotton. The Government proposes to give you a bond bearing eight per cent. interest paying the interest semi-annually. It is not a gift or donation, but simply your surplus cotton, as much as you can spare. This is the proposition:
“We the subscribers agree to contribute to the defence of the Confederate States that portion of our crop set down to our respective names; the same to be placed in warehouse or in the hand of our factors and sold on or before the _____ next.”
Fix the day of sale as soon as you please; the first of January, the first of February, or the first of March, if you please; though I am aware the Government wishes you to sell it as soon as convenient; but let each planter consult his interest, and in the mean while consult the market. But to proceed:
"And our net proceeds of sale we direct to be paid over to the Treasurer of the Confederate States for bonds for the same amount bearing eight per cent. interest."
There is the whole of it. The cotton planter directs his cotton to be sent into the hands of his factor or his commission merchant. He only tells the Government in the subscription the portion he can lend. He directs it to be sold, and the proceeds to be invested in Confederate Bonds. I understand that a committee will be appointed before this meeting adjourns, to canvass this county. Every planter, therefore, of Richmond County will be waited upon and afforded an opportunity to subscribe. I wish, therefore, to say to that committee, and everybody, subscribe. I prefer your putting down first your name, second, the number of bales, and I prefer you putting down the proportion of your crop. I want especially, the number of bales, but would like also to know the proportion it bears to your crop let everybody, therefore, put down a portion of their crop, if it be two bales, or fifty bales, or one hundred bales, or five hundred bales.
Inquiries have been made of me, and I take this opportunity to answer them: "'Whether these bonds will circulate as money-will they pay debts?" On this point I wish no mistake. They are not intended as currency; they are unfitted to answer the purpose of circulation. The bonds are larger than this paper. (A letter sheet.) The obligation is on the upper part of it, and the whole of the lower part is divided into forty squares or checks. In each one of these checks the interest is counted for each six months for 20 years. The checks are called coupons, and all the party holding them has to do is every six months to clip off the lower coupon, send it to the Treasury and get his interest. The bond is not suitable to carry in your pocket-book and use. It would wear out. It is intended to represent a fixed capital or permanent investment-just so much as you can spare from your cotton crop. That is all. Instead of putting your surplus in lands, negroes, houses, furniture, useless extravagance, or luxuries, just put it in Confederate Bonds.
But while I said it was not intended to circulate or to pay debts, I have not the least doubt that anybody who will sell his crop entire for bonds, will find no difficulty in getting the money for them, for they draw interest and are better than money; and any man holding a note, will give it up and take a bond, for a note draws but seven per cent., and this draws eight. I have no doubt that all minors and trust property will soon be invested in it. The entire amount of private funds in the State of Georgia, on private loans, I suppose is ten or twenty millions of dollars at seven per cent. All that amount will immediately find its way into these bonds, and hence a planter who sells his entire crop, and needs money, can get it from the money-lenders on these bonds.
I have been frequently asked if these bonds were good. Well, I want to be equally frank upon that point. If we succeed, if we establish our independence, if we are not overridden, if we are not subjugated, I feel no hesitancy in telling you it is the best Government stock in the world that I know of. It is eight per cent. interest; and if we succeed in a short time, in a few years, if not more than one hundred millions or two hundred millions are issued, I have but little doubt they will command a considerable premium. The old United States stock (six per cent. bonds) five years ago commanded fifteen and sixteen per cent., and went as high as twenty per cent. Take the Central railroad. The stock of that company commands fifteen per cent. premium now. These bonds pay eight per cent. semi-annually; therefore, if there is a short war, these bonds very soon will command fifteen or twenty per cent. But candor also compels me to state that if Lincoln overruns us-if we are subjugated, these bonds will not be worth a dime, and nothing else you have will be worth any thing. If we are overrun, they will be worth just as much as any thing else you have, and nothing else you have got will be worth any thing. (Laughter.) So that is the whole of it.
Let us, then, come up and contribute what we can. I say to the planters that, I do not wish to urge anybody, but let everybody discharge his duty to the country as he feels it. But upon this subject of the war I will detain you for a few minutes, because it is a common inquiry with me, how long I think the war will last-whether or not it will be a short one? Well, my countrymen, I will tell you this, that it is known only to the Ruler of events. It is curtained from mortal knowledge and mortal vision. I know not; I would not know if I could. It is the mysterious future; but there is one thing I can tell you with confidence, and that is, it is going to last until the enemy is whipped and driven from our soil. (Tremendous applause.) And it will require men and money to do it, and the best way to make it a short war is to send men into the field, and to raise means enough to support them in the field to drive the enemy out. That is the best way. That is the way to make it a short war, and in this the cotton planters can contribute; and when I tell it is an uncertain war, I cannot account for its duration upon any rational principle. It is a fanatical war, and whenever fanaticism gets control of reason, you can make no speculation in regard to it.
This is a war against reason in every sense of the term. In the first place, many of those engaged in it are engaged in a crusade nominally to ameliorate the condition of a portion of our population. They are engaged in a crusade to make things better than the Creator made them, or to make things equal, which he made unequal. It is impious in that a great deal of the fanaticism of the war springs, I doubt not from that source. Such an effort never could succeed were they to overrun us and drive us away. These very people would do as some are now reported to be doing in Virginia, (of which I neither affirm nor deny the truth,) capture the black population and send them off to Cuba for sale. But there is one thing certain that they can no more carry out their fanatical designs than they can make the Savannah run to the mountains; for the great Creator, the Ruler of the heavens and the earth, He that made man and fashioned him, made one inferior to the other, and made some to differ from others, as one star differs from others.
This fanatical sentiment of the North will no more make the negro equal to the white man than it will make the leopard change his spots or the Ethiopian his skin. It is a war against the interest of those who wage it, and of all the people who will suffer by it, the New England States will suffer the most. Their trade cut off, their supplies cut off, their source of wealth cut off,where are they to trade hereafter? We furnish them a market; no other people of the world do. They cannot sell their goods to Great Britain, for they are supplied by British manufactories. Nor can they furnish Germany or France. Out of the two hundred and fifty millions of goods they sold, they did not send ten millions to the old world. It all came to the South. We are their market.
We wished to continue to trade with them, but they would not perform their part of the compact, and carried out the old adage of the " man who cut off his nose to spoil his face," (laughter;) and I cannot account for it except on the old Roman maxim that he “whom the gods want to destroy, they first make mad." This is a war against the principles which their fathers and our fathers fought for-that every State Government derived its powers from the consent of the governed. These were the principles of Hancock, Jackson, Madison, Randolph, Pinckney, and others. They were the principles their fathers and our fathers united in fighting for; and now they have made them a mockery of all history, and the shame of their ancestors.
These people are now warring against that principle, and attempting to govern us just as King George did; it is, therefore, an unnatural and irrational, and a suicidal war, and you cannot count upon its duration. When a people become mad, there is no telling what they will do. It is so in the history of other empires; it was so in France. They say we are revolutionists; they call us rebels. I think it will be a revolution before it is over; but if a change of government makes revolution, the revolution is at the North.
At the South our movements from the beginning have been planted upon the principles, as I have told you, of our revolutionary fathers and the Confederate States to-day rescued the Constitution with some improvements, some changes, all of which we think improvements. They stand to-day the defenders, supporters, and maintainers of that Constitution which was the admiration and devotion of us all. But a change of government has taken place at the North. The Constitution of our fathers has already been trampled in the dust. From the time Mr. Lincoln went into his office until to-day, it has been but one step after another, one stride after another, upon the Constitution of the country. The first thing he did was to call out seventy-five thousand militia. He had no power to do it. The Constitution that Madison and Washington, and the patriots of the South, as well as the North, gave their consent to- that Constitution that was our admiration- that Constitution the Southern States have rescued, declares that Congress alone shall raise armies.
His next act was to increase the army to 25,000 men. This he did by an edict. The Constitution says Congress shall increase the army. After that be increased the navy to 25,000. Louis Napoleon or the Czar of Russia never assumed more dictatorial power. The North responded to it. That Constitution that had my admiration, (and many of you have doubtless heard me upon it, for if there was any thing upon which my whole soul rested, and for which I have devoted life and every thing dear, it was the Constitution of my country,) that Constitution that the Montgomery Government has rescued, declares that no man shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or of property, but by due process of law.
That was the old Constitution. It was the Constitution we rescued. The Constitution the Confederate States presents to all people, high or low, in the surety to defend them, (applause;) but, fellow-citizens, Mr. Lincoln by his edict, has nullified, abrogated, destroyed, trampled under foot this great constitutional right. He has suspended the right of habeas corpus; and to-day, if any one in Maryland or Missouri is downtrodden, or overridden by his myrmidons or even in Massachusetts if any freeman rises up in the land of Hancock to-day, and says or affirms that the people of the South can govern themselves as they please,-that for which Massachusetts once upon a time pledged honor and fortune and every thing dear-if a freeman was to-day to announce the great truth upon which the Revolution was fought, he would be arrested, put in jail, immured in a dungeon, and the courts being closed, he would have no hearing except a court-martial, and be executed for it.
I tell you the revolution is at the North. There is where constitutional liberty has been destroyed; and if you wish to know my judgment about the history of this war, you may read it in the history of the French Jacobins. They have become a licentious and lawless mob, and I shall not at all be surprised if in less than three years the leaders in this war, Lincoln and his Cabinet, its head, come to the gallows or guillotine, just as those who led the French war, (applause;) for human passions, when once aroused, are as uncontrollable as the elements about us. The only hope of mankind rests in the restraints of constitutional law, and the day they framed and ratified these lawless measures of Lincoln, they dug their own graves. They may talk of freedom and liberty, but I tell you no people without rulers sustained by constitutional law can be free. They may be nominally free, but they are vassals and slaves, and this unbridled mob, when they attempt to check it, Lincoln and the rest will be dealt with just as I tell you it was in France.
Why the conservative sentiment of the North is against this war. When I tell you it is fanatical, I do not mean that all men are fanatics. Just as the sturdiest trees of the forest yield to the blast of the storm, so have the friends of the Constitution yielded at the North. How is Lincoln to get those four hundred millions of dollars? I told you I might say, something more about it. They have not the money. That is true. I suppose the North now might raise one hundred millions in gold and silver. I have not seen the returns of the banks. But their money-lenders are not going to lend it. Some say that the war is going to be a short one. No, my friends, do not lay the flattering unction to your souls. How did the Jacobins raise their money? Why they laid their hands upon it; and this is the way they will do at the North. First, they will issue script; but the Secretary of the Treasury cannot come up and tell them that it is wrong. He has not the nerve; and he might lose his head if he were to do it. They may issue four hundred millions of Treasury notes, and thus get along for twelve months, or perhaps for two years, before they are too much depreciated. They will then issue script against the rich man's property.
What is to be the result of this war? I am not a prophet, but I look upon it as fraught with the most momentous consequences, not unto us, but to the people of the North. I have always believed that if the Union were destroyed the North would run into anarchy and despotism. We are the salt of the concern,and it is only questionable whether or not we have quit too soon. That is the only doubt I have. Where it will end I do not know, but never again will they enjoy Constitutional Government at the North. They never understood it. Constitutional liberty is a plant of Southern growth, watered by Southern hands, nurtured by Southern hands, and if it is to be maintained, to live to light the world, it is to be done in the Southern Confederacy. (Applause.) At the North there is anarchy. Property will migrate just as it did in France. That is the end.
How long will they be able to war against us? I tell you it will be until we drive them back. There is no hope for us, there is no prospect for an early and speedy termination of the war until we drive them back; and my idea, my wish, any desire, and my council would be to raise men enough immediately from the mountains to the seaboard to do it. Georgia has already done well. I was proud of my State-proud of her origin, of her history, of her resources, and proud of her achievements; and I am to-day prouder of her than ever. In this her country's call, I believe she stands number one in answering it, both in men and money. (Applause.) She has answered nobly; let her answer still. The other States, let them send up men to drive the enemy out; and to the cotton planters I would say, come up with cotton to-day. I do not want to embarrass any one, but I say to you, tell your debtors to wait until you are out of danger. (Applause.)
When men come to you crying ".Debt, debt, debt! " tell them, as Patrick Henry did when they cried "Beef, beef, beef!" let your debts wait; let all the machinery of society stand still until independence is secured. I would say, just as if my house were on fire, "All hands to the buckets; let the flames be extinguished." Let the courts and every thing else stand still, except to administer justice; let us all patriotically wait; let us all put our shoulders to the work and act together, with a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether.
That is the way to drive out the enemy, and it will be successful. They rely upon numbers, and they have got them; but I have told you the battle is not to the strong. We rely upon the righteousness and the justice of our cause, and also the valor of our men, though they bring two to one, three to one, five to one, or ten to one, as was done in Greece. We rely upon the valor of our men-we rely upon our men fighting for their homes, firesides, children, and every thing dear to them; and, in such a cause, we have no doubt the God of Battles will smile upon us.
To the ladies I must offer some apology for having said so little to them, and so- much to the men; but I told them in the beginning my business was mainly with the men to-day. I was glad to see them here, and I must say that the women, in this great and patriotic cause, are not at all behind the men.
The patriotism of the women I believe throughout the country where I have been- the mothers and daughters-has not been behind the men, but even ahead of them. In Montgomery, when the order came from General Bragg for ten thousand sand bags, the women turned out on the Sabbath, as well as the week days, and completed the order in a very short time. In other places, where volunteer companies bad been called out, the ladies have made the uniforms in a remarkably short space of time. In my own county, which has raised three hundred and fifty men, the ladies made the uniforms for the last company in two days, and it was ready to go with the rest. The ladies have done their duty as well as the men have. Richmond county has sent ten companies to the field. Nobly have you done your duty, and just as nobly have the women done theirs. (Applause.)
And I wish you to understand, while I do not speak much to you, for the tented field is not your place, women exercise more influence even in war, perhaps, than any thing else; and it is a problem whether they do not govern the world at last. (Laughter.) It is their spirit which animates the soldier to fight. Some recollect the pious admonitions of their mothers, and others recollect the smiles and beaming countenances of some fair one at home. These are the sentiments which actuate our soldiers. The attractions of the women are a power like that which holds the orbs of the universe in their proper places. Now, then, in this work you have much to do, and if the men are in doubt how much to subscribe, I am perfectly willing that they shall go home and ask their wives. (Laughter.)
A woman always gets from impulse, and her generally right; but a man ponders, and thinks, and doubts. Womens thoughts go directly to the truth; and I am perfectly willing to leave this cotton loan to the judgement of your wives and sisters. It may be that some husbands have promised their wives a new turnout, and they may be doubtful until they consult their "old women at home-some men are. (Langhter.) Then let them have no fears on that subject. Just tell them " I will do without that carriage or that furniture while our brave volunteers are in the tented field; I will put up with whatever we have got. Put down every cotton bale you can spare." That I know is what the ladies will say.
And now, then, gentlemen, I am perfectly willing that you shall go home. I do not intend to open any subscription here to-day. A committee will be appointed to canvass the county, and every one of you, I trust, will be seen by that committee. I wish you to consider the question; talk over the matter with your wives, and I am perfectly willing to abide by their judgment.
And now, in conclusion, I ask you, one and all, women as well as men, before you make up your judgments, to consider the magnitude of the question, the great issue before you, the perils surrounding you, the dangers besetting you; think of your homes and your firesides, and then think of subjugation. Think, then, of your duty, and all I ask of you is to perform your duty as faithfully as I have done mine to-day; and I leave it with you, the country, and God. (Loud and prolonged applause.)