JEFFERSON DAVIS has been more misrepresented, and is to-day more misunderstood by many than any character that figured in the Civil War of 1861 to 1864. That denunciation should be directed upon him by his enemies during the war was natural,—for he was the head and front of the Southern Confederacy, and a blow at him of any kind was a blow at the cause he represented. And thick and bitter as were the invectives that fell upon him during the conflict, they were neither thicker nor bitterer than those which fell upon Abraham Lincoln from his enemies. The war over, a change of feeling instantly began between the combatants. General Grant, speaking of the surrender at Appomattox, says, that the soldiers of the Union and of the Confederate Armies met like friends who had been long parted while fighting under the same flag. And certain it is that between the actual fighters of the war, bitterness rapidly declined; and toward the military leader f both sides who had distinguished themselves by soldierly virtues, there grew up a feeling of admiration and kindness on the part of their late antagonists.
Toward Abraham Lincoln sentiment also changed. It was soon felt by the Southern people that considering the circumstances in which he was placed he had shown as great humanity as would have been shown by any other in his stead ; and while this conviction softened the asperities of the War, the great abilities he had exhibited created high respect. There are few, if any, in the South who do not believe that the crime which closed his life was a deep and permanent misfortune to the country, and especially to the South. Toward Jefferson Davis, however, the North very slowly relented, Lee and Jackson and other Confederate chieftains won their admiration. Divines, orators, editors and statesmen frequently spoke of them and their virtues in terms of highest praise; and it was not long before Northern audiences would applaud reference to their characters or their exploits with ready and generous enthusiasm.
Jefferson Davis seemed to stand apart in Northern estimate from his companions; and while the healing work of time went on, it did not seem to cure the harshness of sentiment toward him. I think this was due to several causes: 1. He was regarded as responsible for the War, and as its incarnation. 2. The assassination of Lincoln directed upon him, as the opposing leader, a retaliatory spirit. 3. It was taught and believed that he was responsible for the suffering of Northern soldiers in Southern prisons. 4. He was proud and unbending in his disposition; and declined to apply for pardon. 5. He dedicated the remainder of his life to the vindication of the cause of which he was the head. But while these circumstances kept alive beyond their time a vindictive feeling toward Jefferson Davis, it was noticeable that it began to subside before he died. When he was laid to rest many noble tributes to his manly virtues flowed from Northern lips and pens; and it is safe to say that a new tide of feeling has set in. I believe it will continue until all America will realize that Jefferson Davis was one of the purest and bravest of the public men which our country has produced;—that he was an honest, able and clear thinker, and a true seeker for the good of humanity.
He was the incarnation of the Southern cause. His abilities made him so. But he was no more responsible for the War than thousands and tens of thousands on both sides. He loved peace and he loved the Union. He grieved to see it torn asunder; and he clung to it as long as accommodation was possible. The people in their move toward secession were ahead of their leaders. They instinctively divined the irrepressible conflict and like a crowd in a street they pushed the foremost forward. When Lincoln died by a foul blow, the North was frenzied. Many believed the assassin was prompted by Confederate connivance, and reward was offered for Jefferson Davis’ capture as an accessory to the crime. This is all fully disproved now as absurdly false; but the fires of resentment scathed Jefferson Davis while yet passion was wild—and unreasoning. It is clearly demonstrated now that, so far from sharing any responsibility for the sufferings of prisoners, he did his best to avert and alleviate them. He tried to get exchanges,—he sent a delegation of the prisoners to Washington to represent their own situation;—he sent Alexander H. Stephens on a special mission for the same purpose;—he proposed that each side send surgeons, money and medicines to their men in captivity;—and he finally gave up Federal prisoners—sick and well,—without exchange, rather than have them suffer in Confederate hands.
There were sixty thousand more Federal prisoners in Southern prisons, than there were Confederate prisoners in Northern prisons;—and yet, four thousand more Confederates died in prison. It is easier to protect from cold than from heat; and the North was ten-fold more able to provide for captives than the South. There is no argument possible that would convict Jefferson Davis of cruelty to prisoners that would not more deeply convict Abraham Lincoln. When men get reasonable enough to look on both sides, and do justice, they will regret the deep wrong done to Jefferson Davis in attempts to criminate him. His name is as sure of its vindication as time is to roll by. The proud and self-poised demeanour of Jefferson Davis, and his declination to ask pardon, angered some. General Lee had applied for pardon and been refused it. Had Jefferson Davis applied, it would have only subjected him to humiliation. In not doing so, he stood for a principle.
The Federal Constitution forbade Congress to enact an “ex postfacto” law; that is, a law fixing punishment after the offence. Never tried for treason, he was yet punished by the ipse dixit of partisan legislation. The Government and the Constitution were revolutionized in order to reach him. A great and fundamental doctrine of civil liberty was overturned. All this will be fully appreciated by the masses in time, and many who have derided Jefferson Davis will applaud the integrity, the, courage, and the unselfish devotion with which he adhered to his convictions. The tenacious affection for his people, and the noble resolution to defend their fame, which characterized the declining years of Jefferson Davis, disclosed a character of rare beauty and grandeur. He had no ambition for himself. He knew his race was run, and he did not wish to prolong it. No honor did he crave at the hands of any—not even that of re-entering the Senate from Mississippi, which, so far as her people were concerned, he could have done. He thirsted for higher things than the transient glories of power and station. He laid the world aside without a sigh for the parting. The honor of his people, and his cause, and himself :—this was all that the world could give which he desired. And this he has left upon a sure foundation.
Intense as have been the passions of the past, they will subside. Violent as have been the struggles of great interests, their wounds will be healed. Terrible as are the memories of strife, truth and justice will soften their harsh lines. The character of Jefferson Davis will grow in the general estimate. Scholars will ponder it, and will bring to the light the facts which have been neglected or ignored; and statesmen who have been under the spur of interest to paint him darkly, will feel that impulse to do justice which springs up from a sense of injustice done. A ripe scholar, a vigorous writer, a splendid orator, a brave soldier, a true gentleman, an accomplished statesman, a sturdy champion, a proud, pure patriot, a lover of liberty, a hero: this is the Jefferson Davis that history will cherish. And while we can scarce quite say with the editor of the New York, that “he outlived enmity and personal detraction,” we can endorse the liberality and truth of his opinion that, ” he lived long enough to see the political atmosphere purged of prejudice and rancor, and to forecast in the candid attitude of Northern contemporaries the sober and unbiased judgment of posterity.” I hope this book will aid in the better understanding of Jefferson Davis, and in the further amelioration of the feelings engendered by an apparently unavoidable and unhappy strife. I look upon those men who attempt to instruct the rising generation in hatred and animosity, as the worst enemies of their country and of the human race. There is a chivalry of peace higher than the chivalry of war. The people who are to live together must live in mutual self respect or in mutual unhappiness. We cannot lower the caste of a section without lowering the caste of the country.
If the people of America would devote the time given to detractions to the encouragement of each other, which flows from the prompt recognition of virtues and their just praise, our country would lack in nothing for the prosperity and welfare of its people. If that prosperity and welfare are arrested or impeded, it will be by nothing more than through the agency of bigotry and partisanry, who refuse to see good in aught that comes in conflict with immediate interests. Generous thought and generous speech are as essential to progress as a sound currency, or a sound system of taxation. No country is better fitted to produce them than our own; and in them it will find heralds of the highest destiny.
LIFE OF JEFFERSON DAVIS
JEFFERSON DAVIS was by birth a Kentuckian. He was born on the 3d day of June, 1808, in Christian County, but in a part of it that afterwards became Todd County. About his birthplace has grown up the village of Fairview, and on the exact spot now stands the Fairview Baptist Church, which received the ground by gift from the distinguished man that there began his being. His father was Samuel Davis, a native of Georgia, who removed from that State to Kentucky not many years after the War of the Revolution, in which he had rendered gallant service as a captain of infantry. When Jefferson was less than ten years old, his father left Kentucky and settled in Mississippi, then a territory. Thus early in the history of Mississippi and in the life of Davis, was formed a relation that continued through many years, and became to both alike a matter of highest pride. After preparatory training at a neighboring academy, young Davis returned to his native State for the purpose of studying in Transylvania University. He remained in this institution until 1824, when he was appointed by President Monroe to a cadetship at West Point. Here he had R. E. Lee for a classmate. The two were destined for another companionship of which neither had, at this time, the faintest dream. Would we see Jefferson Davis as a cadet? He is thus described: “He was distinguished in the corps for his manly bearing, his high-toned and lofty character. His figure was very soldierlike and rather robust; his step springy, resembling the tread of an Indian brave on the war-path.” He was graduated at the military academy in 1828, when he was just twenty years of age. His graduation gave him a second lieutenancy in the regular army; and, being assigned to the infantry, he was sent to perform service on the northwestern frontier. He won distinction, and was promoted to the rank of first lieutenant of dragoons. It is said that the savages with whom Lieutenant Davis had to deal were awed by his intrepidity and won by his kindness. After a military service of seven years on the frontier, he resigned his commission.
His resignation from the army brought him back to Mississippi in 1835. He soon after married a daughter of General (then Colonel) Zachary Taylor, and retiring to a farm in Warren County, he gave himself to cotton planting and to studies in favourite lines of investigation. This seclusion, continuing through eight years, he was the more disposed to prolong by reason of the fact that almost at the very commencement of it death deprived him of his wife. Mr. Davis’ political career may be said to have begun in 1843. During that year he participated in local politics, the next year he was chosen a presidential elector, and in 1845 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. When he took his seat in Congress he found great men there. To say nothing of the Senate, he met in the House Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois; R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia; Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee; and John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts. But contact with such men placed him at no disadvantage. He was a prominent participant in the discussions that arose during the session, and always commanded the respectful attention of his associates. His sentiments were eminently patriotic and national. Speaking on the Oregon question, he said: “It is as the representative of a high-spirited and patriotic people that I am called on to resist this war clamor. My constituents need no such excitements to prepare their hearts for all that patriotism demands. Whenever the honor of the country demands redress; whenever its territory is invaded. . . Mississippi will come. And whether the question be one of Northern or Southern, Eastern or Western aggression, we will not stop to count the cost, but act as becomes the descendants of those who, in the War of the Revolution, engaged in unequal strife to aid our brethren of the North in redressing their injuries.”
Mr. John Savage, in “On Living Representative Men,” says: “John Quincy Adams had a habit of always observing new members. He would sit near them on the occasion of their Congressional debut, closely eyeing and attentively listening if the speech pleased, but quickly departing if it did not. When Davis arose in the House the ex-President took a seat close by. Davis proceeded, and Adam did not move. The one continued speaking and the other listening; and those who knew Mr. Adams’s habit were fully aware that the new member had deeply impressed him. At the close of the speech the ‘ Old Man Eloquent ‘ crossed over to some friends and said, ‘That young man is no ordinary man. He will make his mark yet.'”
The war with Mexico was now going on, and General Taylor, with his valiant little army, was already on the Rio Grande. Mississippi was aroused, and, as one result, a volunteer regiment was raised in and about Vicksburg.
These soldiers enlisted as the First Regiment of Mississippi Volunteers, and afterwards became famous as the “Mississippi Rifles.” At the organization, June, 1846, Mr. Davis was elected colonel. When the information reached him, he promptly resigned his seat in Congress, and hastened to join the regiment, which he overtook in New Orleans. From this time Jefferson Davis may be considered a fairly started on that career which has sent his name over the civilized world.
Colonel Davis taking command of his regiment, moved rapidly towards the scene of war, and reported to General Taylor at Camargo, just across the Rio Grande. The battles of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma had already been fought, and the army was now about to march against Monterey. After the arrival of the Mississippians several weeks were spent in preparations; but towards the last of August the advance movement began. On the 19th of September, 1846, General Taylor appeared before the city, on the 21st the attack commenced, and on the 24th the garrison of ten thousand Mexicans surrendered. As this result was accomplished by an attacking force of six thousand five hundred men, it can be at once assumed that the battle of Monterey brought out some of the best qualities of the American soldier. Among all those that showed skill and gallantry Colonel Davis stands conspicuous. His own account, taken from Belford’s Magazine, of the operations, claims less for himself than others would accord to him; nevertheless, his own statement is given:
“In an attack on Monterey General Taylor divided his force, sending one part of it by a circuitous road to attack the city from the west, while he decided to lead in person the attack on the east. The Mississippi Regiment advanced to the relief of a force which had attacked Fort Lenaria, but had been repulsed before the Mississippians arrived. They carried the redoubt, and the fort which was in the rear of it surrendered. The next day our force on the west side carried successfully the height on which stood the Bishop’s Palace, which commanded the city.
“On the third day the Mississippians advanced from the fort which they held, through lanes and gardens, skirmishing and driving the enemy before them until they reached a two-story house at the corner of the Grand Plaza. Here they were joined by a regiment of Texans, and from the windows of this house they opened fire on the artillery and such other troops as were in view. But, to get a better position for firing on the principal building of the Grand Plaza, it was necessary to cross the street, which was swept by canister and grape, rattling on the pavement like hail; and as the street was very narrow it was determined to construct a flying barricade. Some long timbers were found, and, with pack saddles and boxes, which served the purpose, a barricade was formed.
“Here occurred an incident to which I have since frequently referred with pride. In breaking open a quartermaster’s store-house to get supplies for this barricade, the men found bundles of the much-prized Mexican blankets, and also of very serviceable shoes and pack-saddles. The pack-saddles were freely taken as good material for the proposed barricade; and one of my men, as his shoes were broken and stones had hurt his feet, asked my permission to take a pair from one of the boxes. This, of course, was freely accorded; but not one of the very valuable and much-prized Mexican blankets was taken.
“About the time that the flying barricade was completed, arrangements were made by the Texans and Mississippians to occupy houses on both sides of the street for the purpose of more effective fire into the Grand Plaza. It having been deemed necessary to increase our force, the Mississippi sergeant-major was sent back for some companies of the First Mississippi, which had remained behind. He returned with the statement that the enemy was behind us, that all our troops had been withdrawn, and that orders had been three times sent to me to return. Governor Henderson, of Texas, had accompanied the Texan troops, and on submitting to him the question what we should do under the message, he realized—as was very plain—that it was safer to remain where we were than—our supports having been withdrawn—to return across streets where we were liable to be fired on by artillery, and across open grounds, where cavalry might be expected to attack us. But, he added, he supposed the orders came from the general-in-chief, and we were bound to obey them. So we made dispositions to retire quietly; but, in passing the first square we found that our movement had been anticipated, and that a battery of artillery was posted to command the street. The arrangement made by me was that I should go first; if only one gun was fired at me, then another man should follow; and so on, another and another, until a volley should be fired, and then all of them should rush rapidly across before the guns could be reloaded. In this manner the men got across with little loss. We then made our way to the suburb, where we found that an officer of infantry, with two companies and a section of artillery, had been posted to wait for us, and, in case of emergency, to aid our retreat.
“Early next morning General Ampudia, commanding the Mexican force, sent in a flag and asked for a conference with a view to capitulation. General Taylor acceded to the proposition, and appointed General “Worth, Governor Henderson and myself commissioners to arrange the terms of capitulation. General Taylor received the city of Monterey, with supplies, much needed by his army, and shelter for the wounded. The enemy gained only the privilege of retiring peacefully, a privilege which, if it had not been accorded, they had the power to take by any one of the three roads opens to them.”
Next came the battle of Buena Vista, where Gen. Taylor’s little army of five thousand men received the attack of twenty thousand Mexicans, led by Santa Anna. Here again Jefferson Davis and his riflemen rendered most distinguished service, and helped to win one of the most remarkable victories of modern times. A writer thus narrates the most prominent incidents of the battle: “The battle had been raging some time with fluctuating fortunes, and was setting against the Americans, when Gen. Taylor, with Col. Davis and others, arrived on the field. Several regiments were in full retreat . . . Col. Davis rode forward to examine the position of the enemy, and concluding that the best way to arrest our fugitives would be to make a bold demonstration, he resolved at once to make a new attack. It was a resolution bold almost to rashness, but the emergency was pressing. . . . A deep ravine separated the combatants. Leaping into it, the Mississippians soon appeared on the other side, and with a shout that was heard over the battle-field, they poured in a well-directed fire, and rushed upon the enemy. Their deadly aim and wild enthusiasm were irresistible. The Mexicans fled in confusion to their reserves, and Davis seized the commanding position they had occupied. . . . Afterwards a brigade of lancers, one thousand strong, was seen approaching at a gallop, in beautiful array, with sounding bugles and fluttering pennons. It was an appalling spectacle, but not a man flinched from his position. The time between our devoted band and eternity seemed brief indeed. But conscious that the eye of the army was upon them, that the honor of Mississippi was at stake, and knowing that, if they gave way or were ridden down, the unprotected batteries in the rear, upon which the fortunes of the day depended, would be captured, each man resolved to die in his place sooner than retreat. . . . Impressed with this extraordinary firmness where they had expected panic and flight, the lancers advanced more deliberately, as though they saw, for the first time, the dark shadow of the fate that was impending over them. Col. Davis had thrown his men into the form of a re-entering angle (familiarly known as the famous V movement), both flanks resting on ravines, the lancers coming down on the intervening ridge. This exposed them to a converging fire, and the moment they came within rifle range each man singled out his object, and the whole head of the column fell. A more deadly fire never was delivered, and the brilliant array recoiled and retreated in dismay. Shortly afterwards the Mexicans having concentrated a large force on the right for their final attack, Colonel Davis was ordered in that direction. His regiment had been in action all day, exhausted by thirst and fatigue, much reduced by the carnage of the morning engagement, and many in the ranks suffering from wounds, yet the noble fellows moved at double-quick time. Bowless’ little band of Indiana volunteers still acted with them. After marching several hundred yards they perceived the Mexican infantry advancing in three lines upon Bragg’s battery, which, though entirely unsupported, held its position with a resolution worthy of its fame. The pressure upon him stimulated the Mississippians. They increased their speed, and when the enemy were within one hundred yards of the battery and confident of its capture, they poured in upon them a raking and destructive fire. This broke their right line, and the rest soon gave way and fell back precipitately. Here Colonel Davis was severely wounded.” This painful injury was received earl}’ in the day; but, despite his sufferings. Colonel Davis remained with his men until the end of battle. It should be noted that among the killed at Buena Vista was Henry Clay, Jr., son of the illustrious Kentucky statesman.
Jefferson Davis was twice a member of the United States Senate—from 1847-51 and then from 1857 to 1861. Between these two terms came his candidacy for the Gubernatorial office in Mississippi and his service as Secretary of War; nevertheless for convenience his whole senatorial life will now be treated. Colonel Davis returned on crutches from Mexico. As the maimed hero crossed his country’s border he was met with two opportunities. One was President Polk’s commission, making him Brigadier-General of volunteers, and the other the appointment of the Governor of Mississippi, to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate caused by the death of one of the Mississippi Senators. The first he declined on the ground that volunteers are but State Militia, and that, therefore, militia officers must receive their commissions from their respective States. The second he accepted, and thus secured for himself a field for which both nature and training had fitted him. When the Legislature came together, in 1848, they retained his services as Senator, and the Legislature of 1850 re-elected him to that exalted position. Concerning the period of Mr. Davis’ senatorial life, from 1847 to 1851, he, himself, says:
“In the United States Senate I was Chairman of the Military Committee, and I also took an active part in the debates on the Compromise measures of 1850, frequently opposing Senator Douglas, of Illinois, in his theory of squatter sovereignty, and advocating, as a means of pacification, the extension of the Missouri Compromise line to the Pacific.”
It will be interesting to note what were Mr. Davis’ views at this time concerning the Union and its perpetuity. In a speech on the compromise measures of 1850 he thus expressed himself:
“Give to each section of the Union justice; give to every citizen of the United States his rights as guaranteed by the Constitution; leave this Confederacy to rest upon that basis from which arose the fraternal feelings of the people, and I for one have no fear of its perpetuity ; none that it will survive beyond the limits of human speculation, expanding and hardening with the lapse of time, to extend its blessings to ages unnumbered, and a people innumerable; to include within its empire all the useful products of the earth, and exemplify the capacity of a confederacy with general, well-defined powers, to extend inimitably without impairing its harmony or its strength.” It was during this period that Mr. Davis was brought into association with Henry Clay, who still lingered in the Senate, but whose life was verging to its end. Two facts prevented the closest intimacy in antagonism of political views and disparity of age. But their personal relations were very pleasant. Mr. Clay could never forget that Mr. Davis and his son Henry were in the same army at Buena Vista, and that on that field from which the one brought away imperishable renown, the other lost his life. The Kentucky statesman called Mr. Davis “my young friend.” On one occasion he said “Come, my young friend, join us in these measures of pacification. Let us rally Congress and the people to their support, and they will assure to the country thirty years of peace. By that time” (turning to Jno. M. Berrien, who was a participant in the interview) “you and I will be under the sod and my young friend may then have trouble again.” “No,” said Davis, “I cannot consent to transfer to posterity a question which is as much ours as theirs, when it is evident that the sectional inequality, as it will be greater then than now, will render hopeless the attainment of justice.” Mr. Clay said one day to Mr. Davis: “My poor boy, in writing home from Mexico, usually occupied about one-half of his letters in praising you.” In the course of a heated public debate in the Senate, Mr. Clay used the following language : ” My friend from Mississippi—and I trust he will permit me to call him ray friend, for between us there is a tie, the nature of which we both well understand.” As the sentence fell from the lips of the aged Senator, his eyes were filled with tears. In 1851 terminated the first period of Mr. Davis’ senatorial career. How he came to resign his seat and what immediately followed he tells us in his autobiography. ”
The canvass for Governor commenced that year. The candidate of the Democratic Party was by his opponents represented to hold extreme opinions—in other words, to be a disunionist. For, although he was a man of high character and had served the country well in peace and war, this supposition was so artfully cultivated that, though the Democratic party was estimated to be about eight thousand in majority, when the election occurred in September the Democratic candidates for a convention were defeated by a majority of over seven thousand, and the Democratic candidate for Governor withdrew. “The election for Governor was to occur in November, and I was called on to take the place vacated by the candidate who had withdrawn from the canvass. It was a forlorn hope, especially as my health had been impaired by labors in the Summer canvass, and there was not time before the approaching election to make such a canvass as would be needed to reform the ranks of the Democracy. However, as a duty to the party I accepted the position, and made as active a campaign as time permitted, with the result that the majority against the party was reduced to less than one thousand. From this time I remained engaged in my quiet farm labors until the nomination of Franklin “Pierce, when I went out to advocate his election, having formed a very high opinion of him as a statesman and a patriot, from observations of him in 1837 and 1838, when he was in the United States Senate.”
Mr. Davis re-entered the Senate in December, 1857. He had been elected by the Mississippi Legislature even before the expiration of his time of service as Secretary of War. When Mr. Davis left the Senate, he left the body convulsed with the questions growing out of slavery, and when he returned to it the same storm was raging, only it had increased in fury. He was found always where the tempest was wildest, as he claimed, not to invoke the winds, but to save the ship. Mr. Davis was known to belong to the State’s Rights school of politics, and he at once came to the front as a leader of those who took a State’s Rights view of the nature of the Union established by the Constitution. This doctrine he vigorously defended, whatever might be the quarter from which it was assailed. The attack might come from Fessenden, the Republican, or from Douglas, the Democrat; in either case he was its ready and able champion. A newspaper correspondent draws a portrait of the man as he appeared in the Senate during the ever memorable winter of 1859-60. Along with it is given pictures of two of his colleagues and intimate political associates at the time; but we shall be able to see Davis all the more clearly by the contrast with Hunter and Toombs.
THE SOUTHERN TRIUMVIRATI
Washington City, January 21.—”Yesterday, when Hale was speaking, the right side of the chamber was empty, with the exception of a group of three who sat near the centre of the vacant space. This remarkable group, which wore the air if not the ensigns of power, authority and public care, was composed of Senators Davis, Hunter and Toombs. They were engaged in an earnest colloquy, which, however, was foreign to the argument Hale was elaborating; for though the connection of their words was broken before it reached the gallery, their voices were distinctly audible, and gave signs of their abstraction. They were thinking aloud. If they had met together, under the supervision of some artist gifted with the faculty of illustrating history and character by attitude and expression, who designed to put them, in fresco, on the walls of the new Senate chamber, the combination could not have been more appropriately arranged than chance arranged it on this occasion. Toombs sits among the opposition on the left. Hunter and Davis on the right, and the fact that the two first came to Davis’ seat—the one gravitating to it from a remote, the other from a near point—may be held to indicate which of the three is the preponderating body in the system if preponderance there be, and whose figure should occupy the foreground of the picture if any precedence is to be recorded. Davis sat erect and composed; Hunter, listening, rested his head on his hand; and Toombs, inclining forward, was speaking vehemently. Their respective attitudes were no bad illustration of their individuality. Davis impressed the spectator, who observed the easy but authoritative bearing with which he put aside or assented to Toombs’ suggestions, with the notion of some slight superiority, some hardly acknowledged leadership; and Hunter’s attentiveness and impassibility were characteristic of his nature, for his profundity of intellect wears the guise of stolidity, and his continuous study that of inertia; while Toombs’ quick utterance and restless head bespoke his nervous temperament and activity of mind. But, though each is different from either of the others, the three have several attributes in common. They are equally eminent as statesmen and debaters; they are devoted to the same cause; they are equals in rank and rivals in ambition ; and they are about the same age, and neither one—let young America take notice—wears either beard or mustache. I come again to the traits that distinguish them from each other. In face and form, Davis represents the Norman type with singular fidelity, if my conception of that type be correct. He is tall and sinewy, with fair hair, grey eyes, which are clear rather than bright, high forehead, straight nose, thin, compressed lips, and pointed chin. His cheek bones are hollow, and the vicinity of his mouth is deeply furrowed with intersecting lines. Leanness of face, length and sharpness of feature, length of limb, and intensity of expression, rendered acute by angular, facial outline, are the general characteristics of his appearance.”
Events now moved rapidly towards their culmination. In November, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States. He was thought by the Southern people to hold views and intentions hostile to their interests and institutions—interests and institutions that they claimed the general government had no right to deal with, and which had been left by the Constitution to the management of the respective States. South Carolina was the first State to withdraw from the Union, having adopted her Ordinance of Secession on December 20, 1860. Mississippi was but three weeks behind her; for Mississippi went out on the 9th day of January, 1861. So soon as Mr. Davis received formal notice that his State had passed her act of secession, he in perfect consistency with views long held and frequently proclaimed, considered his functions in the United States Senate were at an end; and, accordingly, he withdrew from that body on January 21, 1861. Before doing so, however, he delivered the valedictory address given below. It seems proper to give the speech in full, in order that every reader may judge for himself as to Mr. Davis’ argument in justification of Mississippi, and as to the spirit he carried with him from the Senate to the new toils and responsibilities to which he would presently be called.
“I rise, Mr. President, for the purpose of announcing to the Senate that I have satisfactory evidence that the State of Mississippi, by a solemn ordinance of her people, in convention assembled, has declared her separation from the United States. Under these circumstances, of course, my functions are terminated here. It has seemed to me proper, however, that I should appear in the Senate to announce that fact to my associates, and I will say but very little more. The occasion does not invite me to go into argument; and my physical condition would not permit me to do so, if otherwise; and yet it seems to become me to say something on the part of the State I here represent, on an occasion so solemn as this.
“It is known to Senators who have served with me here, that 1 have, for many years, advocated, as an essential attribute of State sovereignty, the right of a State to secede from the Union. Therefore, if I had not believed there was justifiable cause; if I had thought that Mississippi was acting without sufficient provocation, or without an existing necessity, I should still, under my theory of the Government, because of my allegiance to the State of which I am a citizen, have been bound by her action. I, however, may be permitted to say that I do think she has justifiable cause, and I approve of her act. I conferred with her people before that act was taken, counselled them then that if the state of things which they apprehended should exist when the Convention met, they should take the action which they have now adopted.
“I hope none who hear me will confound this expression of mine with the advocacy of the right of a State to remain in the Union, and to disregard its constitutional obligations by the nullification of the law. Such is not my theory. Nullification and secession, so often confounded, are, indeed, antagonistic principles. Nullification is a remedy which it is sought to apply within the Union, and against the agent of the States. It is only to be justified when the agent has violated his constitutional obligations, and a State, assuming to judge for itself, denies the right of the agent thus to act, and appeals to the other States of the Union for a decision; but when the States themselves, and when the people of the States have so acted as to convince us that they will not regard our constitutional rights, then, and then for the first time, arises the doctrine of secession in its practical application.
“A great man, who now reposes with his fathers, and who has often been arraigned for a want of fealty to the Union, advocated the doctrine of nullification because it preserved the Union. It was because of his deep-seated attachment to the Union—his determination to find some remedy for existing ills short of a severance of the ties which bound South Carolina to the other States, that Mr. Calhoun advocated the doctrine of nullification, which he proclaimed to be peaceful—to be within the limits of State power, not to disturb the Union, but only to be a means of bringing the agent before the tribunal of the States for their judgment.
“Secession belongs to a different class of remedies. It is to be justified upon the basis that the States are Sovereign. There was a time when none denied it. I hope the time may come again, when a better comprehension of the theory of our Government, and the inalienable rights of the people of the States, will prevent anyone from denying that each State is a sovereign, and thus may re claim the grants which it has made to any agent whomsoever.
“I, therefore, say I concur in the action of the people of Mississippi, believing it to be necessary and proper, and should have been bound by their action if my belief had been otherwise; and this brings me to the important point which I wish, on this last occasion, to present to the Senate. It is by this confounding of nullification and secession that the name of a great man, whose ashes now mingle with his mother earth, has been evoked to justify coercion against a seceded State. The phrase, ‘ to execute the laws,’ was an expression which General Jackson applied to the case of a State refusing to obey the laws while yet a member of the Union. That is not the case which is now presented. The laws are to be executed over the United States, and upon the people of the United States. They have no relation to any foreign country. It is a perversion of terms—at least it is a great misapprehension of the case—which cites that expression for application to a State which has withdrawn from the Union. You may make war on a foreign State. If it be the purpose of gentlemen they may make war against a State which has withdrawn from the Union; but there are no laws of the United States to be executed within the limits of a seceded State. A State, finding herself in the condition in which Mississippi has judged she is—in which her safety requires that she should provide for the maintenance of her rights out of the Union—surrenders all benefits (and they are known to be many), deprives herself of the advantages (and they are known to be great), severs all the ties of affection (and they are close and endearing), which have bound her to the Union, and thus divesting herself of every benefit—taking upon herself every burden—she claims to be exempt from any power to execute the laws of the United States within her limits.
“I well remember an occasion when Massachusetts was arraigned before the bar of the Senate, and when the doctrine of coercion was rife, and to be applied against her, because of the rescue of a fugitive slave in Boston. My opinion then was the same that it is now. Not in a spirit of egotism, but to show that I am not influenced, in my opinion, because the case is my own, I refer to that time and that occasion, as containing the opinion which I then entertained, and on which my present conduct is based. I then said that, if Massachusetts, following her through a stated line of conduct, choose to take the last step which separates her from the Union, it is her right to go, and I will neither vote one dollar nor one man to coerce her back; but will say to her, God speed in memory of the kind associations which once existed between her and the other States.
“It has been a conviction of pressing necessity—it has been a belief that we are to be deprived, in the Union, of the rights which our fathers bequeathed us—which has brought Mississippi into her present decision. She has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of attack upon her social institutions; and the sacred Declaration of Independence has been invoked to maintain the position of the equality of the races. The Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were declaring their independence; the people of those communities were asserting that no man was born (to use the words of Mr. Jefferson) booted and spurred, to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal—meaning the men of a political community; that there was no divine right to rule ; that no man inherited the right to govern; that there were no classes by which power and place descended to families, but that all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they announced; these were the purposes for which they made their declaration; these were the ends to which their enunciation was directed. They have no reference to the slave; else, how happened it, that, among the items of arraignment against George III. was, that he endeavoured to do just what the North has been endeavoring of late to do, to stir up insurrection among our slaves. Had the Declaration announced that the negroes were free and equal, how was the prince to be arraigned for raising up insurrection among them? And how was this to be enumerated among the high crimes which caused the colonies to sever their connection with the mother country? When our constitution was formed, the same idea was rendered more palpable; for there we find provision made for that very class of persons as property; they were not put upon the footing of equality with white men—not even upon that of paupers and convicts; but so far as representation was concerned, were discriminated against as a lower caste, only to be represented in the numerical proportion of three-fifths.
“Then, Senators, we recur to the compact which binds us together; we recur to the principles upon which our Government was founded; and when you deny them, and when you deny to us the right to withdraw from a government, which, thus perverted, threatens to be destructive to our rights, we but tread in the path of our fathers when we proclaim our independence, and take the hazard. This is done, not in hostility to others—not to injure any section of the country—not even for our own pecuniary benefit; but from the high and solemn motive of defending and protecting the rights we inherited, and which it is our duty to transmit unshorn to our children.
“I find in myself, perhaps, a type of the general feeling of my constituents towards you. I am sure I feel no hostility towards you, Senators from the North. I am sure there is not one of you, whatever sharp discussion there may have been between us, to whom I cannot now say, in the presence of my God, I wish you well ; and such, I am sure, is the feeling of the people I represent towards those you represent. I, therefore, feel that I but express their desire, when I say I hope, and they hope, for peaceable relations with you, though we must part. They may be mutually beneficial to us in the future, as they have been in the past, if you so will. The reverse may bring disaster on every portion of the country; and if you will have it thus, we will invoke the God of our fathers, who delivered us from the power of the lion, to protect us from the ravages of the bear; and thus, putting our trust in God, and in our firm hearts and strong arms, we will vindicate the right as best we may.
“In the course of my services here, associated, at different times, with a great variety of Senators, I see now around me some with whom I have served long; there have been points of collision, but whatever offence there has been to me, I leave here,—I carry with me no hostile remembrance. Whatever offense I have given, which has not been redressed, or for which satisfaction has not been demanded, I have. Senators, in this hour of our parting, to offer you my apology for any pain which, in the heat of discussion, I have inflicted. I go hence unincumbered of the remembrance of any injury received, and having discharged the duty of making the only reparation in my power for any injury offered.
“Mr. President and Senators, having made the announcement which the occasion seemed to me to require, it only remains for me to bid you a final adieu.”
Thus a stately and striking form that had long been familiar to those visiting the Senate disappeared from its precincts forever.
It is proper here to add a short clipping that shows the impression made by Mr. Davis upon the employees of the Senate.
Mr. E. V. Murphy, of the Senate stenographic corps, knew Mr. Davis when he was a Senator, and says he recollects particularly how kind Mr. Davis was to all the employees about the Senate. He knew them all personally, and would ask after them and after their families where they had any. He complimented the stenographic reports of the Senate. He was a favorite with all the employees for another reason, and that was because he would always endeavor to secure extra compensation for them.
As we have already seen, the end of the year 1851 found Mr. Davis living quietly on his plantation in Mississippi, a retirement resulting from his unsuccessful canvass for the office of Governor of the State. The Presidential election of 1852 called Franklin Pierce, of New Hampshire, to the chief-magistracy of the nation. He was the nominee of the Democratic Party, and during the canvass Mr. Davis supported him most heartily. President-elect Pierce offered Mr. Davis a place in his Cabinet, which he at first declined, but afterwards the portfolio of War was accepted. In the same Cabinet Wm. L. Marcy was Secretary of State, and Caleb Cushing was Attorney-General. Mr. Davis thus speaks of his administration of the affairs of the department entrusted to him:
During these four years, I proposed the introduction of camels for service on the Western plains, a suggestion which was adopted. I also introduced an improved system of infantry tactics; effected the substitution of iron for wood in gun-carriages; secured rifled muskets and rifles and the use of Minnie balls, and advocated the increase of the defences of the sea coast by heavy guns and the use of large grain powder.
“While in the Senate I had advocated, as a military necessity and as a means of preserving the Pacific Territory to the Union, the construction of a military railway across the continent; and, as Secretary of war, I was put in charge of the surveys of the various routes proposed. Perhaps for a similar reason—my previous action in the Senate—I was also put in charge of the extension of the United States Capitol.
“The administration of Mr. Pierce presents the single instance of an Executive whose Cabinet witnessed no change of persons during the whole term.”
The following is clipped from the New York Herald: “The only man now living who served under Secretary Davis’ immediate administration in the Secretary’s office is Major Wm. B. Lee, who was one of the seven clerks then forming the force in that division. He is still employed in the same office. He remembers Mr. Davis very well. He said this morning:—’ He was one of the best Secretaries of War who ever served. He was a kind, social man, very considerate and pleasant to serve under. I never heard a complaint from one of the clerks. Socially, he was a most charming man, officially, very pleasant. He was a warm friend and a bitter enemy. I knew him many years, and as a man I found him a very good friend. He was a regular bull-dog when he formed an opinion, for he would never let go. About the only very important event of his administration was his quarrel with General Scott, which was very bitter, and caused a great deal of hard feeling.’
“Speaking of the time when Mr. Davis was Secretary of War, in the administration of President Pierce, General Montgomery C. Meigs, formerly quartermaster-general of the army, said :—’ My acquaintance with Mr. Davis began upon the occasion of my submitting to him the plans for the introduction of water to the city of Washington. The Act of Congress providing for a supply of water to the city placed the direction of the work in the hands of the President, who devolved it upon the Secretary of War as his representative. I was thus brought into a close intimacy with Mr. Davis and became much attached to him, and I think that this feeling was reciprocated in some measure by himself Mr. Davis was a most courteous and amiable man in those days, and I found intercourse with him very agreeable. He was a man, too, of marked ability, and I quite looked up to him and regarded him as one of the great men of the time.'”
When Mr. Davis retired from the United States Senate on January 21, 1861, he went immediately to Mississippi. While journeying to his home he was appointed commander-in-chief of the forces that the State was raising to meet a conflict that seemed inevitable. He had not time to proceed far with the organization before he received notification that he had been elected Provisional President of the Confederate States. He reluctantly accepted the office, and was inaugurated at Montgomery, Alabama, on the 18th day of February, 1861. With what sentiments and purposes he entered upon his duties may be gathered from the following quotations taken from his inaugural address:
“I enter upon the duties of the office to which I have been chosen, with the hope that the beginning of our career as a Confederacy may not be obstructed by hostile opposition to our enjoyment of the separate existence and independence which we have asserted, and, with the blessing of Providence, intend to maintain. Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations, illustrates the American idea that government rests on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established.
“Sustained by the consciousness that the transition from the former Union to the present Confederacy has not proceeded from a disregard on our part of just obligations, or any failure to perform any Constitutional duty; moved by no interest or passion to invade the rights of others; anxious to cultivate peace and commerce with all nations, if we may not hope to avoid war, we may at least expect that posterity will acquit us of having needlessly engaged in it.
“Reverently let us invoke of the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which, by His blessing, they were able to vindicate, establish and transmit to their posterity, and, with a continuance of His favour ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.”
Great events now followed each other in rapid succession. On March 4th, President Lincoln was inaugurated. On the next day, Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth arrived in Washington, as Commissioners from President Davis “to negotiate friendly relations between the United States and the Confederate States of America, and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between the two governments on principles of right, justice, equity and good faith.” On the 12th March they addressed a formal communication to Mr. Seward, Secretary of War, fully revealing the nature and objects of their mission, and especially offering to treat with reference to the withdrawal of the Federal forces from Forts Sumter and Pickens in Charleston harbor. The embassy was met, first, by promises to evacuate these strongholds within the limits of the Southern Confederacy, and then by a secret attempt to reinforce them. When it became known to President Davis that the expedition had actually sailed, he issued to General Beauregard, commanding in Charleston, an order to undertake the reduction of forts. He opened fire on April the 12th, and on the 13th the surrender occurred. On the 15th, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for seventy-five thousand men, and stating that they would be used for “maintaining the honor, the integrity and existence of the Union, and the perpetuity of the popular government.” On May the 6th, Virginia became a member of the Southern Confederacy. On the 20th of May the seat of the Confederate Government was removed from Montgomery to Richmond, and a few days thereafter Mr. Davis arrived in the latter city and established there an administration on which the observation of the world was to be focused through four eventful years. It was evident now that war was at hand. The battle at Manassas in July was but the result of preparations that had been going on for two months. When it was known that the attack was about to be made by the Federal forces gathered at Washington, President Davis took train and hastened to join the Confederate army. He reached the scene of conflict just as the enemy were retiring, panic-stricken, from the field. In his “Rise and Fall of the Southern Confederacy,” he gives a very graphic description of what he saw and heard along the road that led to the ground where the deadly struggle was going on. When, two days after, he returned to Richmond, a large crowd met him at the station. As he stepped from the cars he made the following impromptu speech:
“Fellow-citizens of the Confederate States:—
“I rejoice with you this evening in those better and happier feelings which we all experience, as compared with the anxieties of three days ago. Your little army, derided for its want of numbers,— derided for its want of arms,—derided for its lack of all the essential material of war,—has met the grand army of the enemy, routed it at every point, and it now flies in inglorious retreat before our victorious columns. We have taught them a lesson in their invasion of the sacred soil of Virginia; we have taught them that the grand old mother of Washington still nurses a band of heroes; and a yet bloodier and far more fatal lesson awaits them unless they speedily acknowledge that freedom to which you were born.” President Davis continued to administer affairs under the Provisional Government until February, 1862, when that expired by limitation, and the Permanent Government was set up. On February 22d, Washington’s birthday, and beside the monument erected to his memory by the State that claimed him as her own, Mr. Davis delivered his inaugural address as the President of the Confederate States under their Permanent Government. The day was exceedingly uncomfortable and gloomy. The atmosphere was chill and the rain was poured down from the heavens, which seemed to have gone into mourning over recent reverses to the Confederate Army. The last sentence of the address was as follows:
“With humble gratitude and adoration, acknowledging the Providence which has so visibly protected the Confederacy during its brief but eventful career, to thee, God! I trustingly commit myself, and prayerfully invoke thy blessing on my country and its cause.” It would not be suitable here to follow President Davis through all the events that were crowded rapidly into the period during which he was the Chief Magistrate of the Southern Confederacy. But some reminiscences lingering in Richmond may be very properly given.
During his residence here the President’s office and the Cabinet rooms and other offices were in the granite building now used as a post-office, custom-house and for other Governmental purposes. Mr. Davis’ house was at the corner of Twelfth and Clay, almost opposite and about a dozen blocks north of his office. It was his custom to walk to the office in the morning. His usual route was through the Capitol Square. About ten o’clock each morning he could be seen coming down the graveled walks to the executive office. His private office in those days was the one now and almost ever since used as the United States Court room. There it was, amid such familiar scenes, the President was arraigned before United States Circuit Judge Underwood on the 13th of May, 1867, to be tried for treason. He had been arrested in Georgia, and committed to a casement at Fortress Monroe, where he remained for weeks. He was finally brought here and came before the notorious Underwood, who bailed him, and that was the last ever heard of that famous trial. The Cabinet room, the one in which Mr. Davis held his council with his official household, was the one just opposite the President’s, and for years used by the clerk of the United States District Court. It was there that all of the military movements were discussed by the head of the Confederacy and his advisers.
“It was in the early part of the year 1865 that the writer, one of a secret joint committee of the Legislature of Virginia, called upon President Davis at his room in the custom-house in Richmond. The spokesman of the committee, addressing the President, informed him that the Legislature of Virginia had directed the committee to inquire whether any further legislation could be suggested in aid of the Confederate cause. His response can never be forgotten by any who heard it. There was in it the eloquence of deep feeling and the energy of an undying resolve. While thanking the State, through its committee, for its kindly offer, he added that he thought Virginia had done her full duty, that her fair bosom had been furrowed by the ploughshare of war, and that the bones of her gallant sons were bleaching on every battle-field, and that all he could ask was that she would not waver in her confidence in the government. There was a pathos and depth of emotion in his remarks that impressed every member of the committee with the conviction that they were the utterances of a heart full of heroic fire and that felt no fear, though the clouds were dark and the auguries to the common mind seemed pregnant of ill.”
No one in Richmond, or for that matter in the South, outside of his own family, saw more of President Davis in those days than Mr. Wm. H. Davies. That gentleman, when about nineteen years of age, entered the President’s service as confidential messenger. He was with him from the time Mr. Davies came here from Montgomery, Ala., until the night of evacuation. Referring to the Cabinet meetings, Mr. Davies said:
“General Robert E. Lee was the only person ever permitted to enter the Cabinet unannounced. When he came in I merely opened the doors, and he walked into the council chamber.
A LOVABLE MAN
“Yes, he was one of the most lovable men I ever knew. He was always dignified, calm and thoroughly well-poised, but he treated everybody around him with courtesy. With me he was more like a father than an employer. Mr. Davis was a fine rider—the finest, I think, I ever knew. It was his custom to ride out three or four times a week, or as much oftener as the weather and his official duties permitted. A favorite route was up Clay Street in the direction of Camp Lee.
“He was nearly always alone, never having the slightest fear of his life. This, by the way, came near getting him into trouble one evening. I remember it just as well as if it only occurred yesterday. The President rode out the Bloody Run road. When just below Rockett’s someone fired a pistol at him from ambush. Luckily, the would-be assassin missed his mark. The man was subsequently found concealed in the roof of one of the shanties in the neighborhood and arrested. He was never prosecuted, though. This incident never alarmed Mr. Davis, nor did he permit it to interfere with his evening equestrian exercise. He still continued this unaccompanied.
“On the Sunday night of the evacuation of Richmond, I was at the President’s mansion assisting in packing up to go South. The President had received several telegrams that day from General Lee and other commanders apprising him of the condition of affairs, and, of course, we knew that the end had come. All around us in the Executive Mansion was bustle and excitement incident to such an occasion. I remember well, just before the time for departure arrived, Mr. Davis sat on a divan in his study, sad, but calm and dignified. He talked pleasantly with those around him. When his carriage drove up to the door to carry him to the depot Mr. Davis lighted a cigar, took a seat in the conveyance and was driven to the Danville depot, where he took the train for the South.”
SUPPLEMENTING AN INADEQUATE SALARY
In the early days of the Confederacy there were frequent receptions and levees at the Executive Mansion, but in the last year or so these were pretty well discontinued. Mr. Davis, as the President of the Confederacy, received a salary of $25,000, and this in Confederate money. Towards the close of the struggle the purchasing capacity of that amount was not sufficient to have maintained a small family in the humble walks of life. Despite these facts, all say that the President would never accept a cent from the government except his salary. Forage for his horses and other things could have been drawn from the Government, but his sterling and conscientious scruples of honor would never for a moment entertain the idea of stooping to any of these things. A gentleman connected with the President in those pinching times says: “I disposed of silverware and other household articles of value for Mr. Davis to supplement his salary. He refused, too, to accept from the city of Richmond the house in which he dwelt. This was offered in fee-simple, but gracefully declined.”
SLOW TO FORGET A WRONG
Mr. Davis was a man slow to forget a serious wrong. This was shown in his treatment of the Emperor Napoleon. Mr. Davis thought that the former acted treacherously towards him in the course he pursued about France recognizing the Southern Confederacy. When Mr. Davis visited Paris, sometime after the close of the war. Napoleon sent a special messenger to him with a pressing invitation to call on him. “Tell your majesty,” said Mr. Davis to the messenger, “with my compliments, that I am much obliged, but if he wants to see me he must call on me.”
HIS VIGOROUS PERSONALITY
Very few persons, even those most intimately associated with him, could grasp the true character of the man. A distinguished ex-Confederate, whose duties during the war brought him in official contact with Mr. Davis, says:
“He was a hard man to understand. No one could fail to appreciate his elevated standard of manhood, his lofty integrity, his remarkable ability. Yet it was hard to realize how he could be so wedded to his own opinions as to turn absolutely and invariably a deaf ear to all counsel which conflicted with them. He never forgot a friend and never forgave an enemy. Mr. Davis used as pure English as any man I have ever read after. His style of composition was remarkably graceful and eloquent, and many of his addresses during the war were couched in such language as to thrill through and through the coldest of natures. Literally it can be affirmed he never said a foolish thing. While he might often be considered by some as arbitrary and despotic in his conduct of public affairs, no man ever at the head of a government was more scrupulously conscientious in abiding by the strict letter of the Constitution and law.”
HIS LAST VISIT TO RICHMOND
The ex-President returned to Richmond but once after his trial. The occasion of that visit was to attend the Robert E. Lee memorial service held here in Dr. Moore’s church. On that occasion he was received with wild enthusiasm. The January number of Belford’s Magazine contains the autobiography of the late Jefferson Davis and an article by him on Andersonville prison, to which his recent death lends extraordinary interest. No one question connected with the Civil “War has occasioned such bitter debate, or so widespread a feeling in the North as the alleged inhuman treatment of Federal prisoners of war in the South. Discussing the subject with justice and candor, Mr. Davis shows how much of this ill feeling rests upon misapprehension and falsehood, and, what will be a sharp revelation to very many persons, that the sufferings and hardships of Confederate prisoners in Northern prisons not only equalled but even exceeded those of Union prisoners at Andersonville and elsewhere. The writer supports his statements with a mass of proof which no upright mind can refuse to credit and which puts a new face upon the ancient feud.
“Andersonville,” he says, “was selected after careful investigation for the following reasons: It was in a high pine-wood region, in a productive farming country, had never been devastated by the enemy, was well watered and near to Americus, a central depot for collecting the tax in kind and purchasing provisions. The climate was mild,” and there were no “recognizable sources of disease.” Persistence on the part of the United States in refusing to exchange prisoners “caused so large an increase in the number of the captured sent to Andersonville as to exceed the accommodation provided and thus augment the discomfort and disease of confinement. . . . It was not starvation, as has been alleged, but acclimation, unsuitable diet and despondency which were the potent agents of disease and death. Statements from gentlemen of high standing, who speak disinterestedly, are submitted as conclusive on the question of ‘quantity’ of food at Andersonville prison.” Quoting from a letter, Mr. Davis says: ” ‘I can with perfect truth declare as my conviction that General Winder, who had control of the prisoners, was an honest, upright and humane gentleman. He had the reputation of treating the prisoners confided to his general supervision with great kindness and consideration. . . . Both the President and Secretary of War always manifested great anxiety that the prisoners should be kindly treated and amply provided with food to the extent of our means.'” Again, Mr. Lawson quotes: ” ‘ The Federal prisoners were removed to Southwestern Georgia in the early part of 1864, to secure a more abundant supply of food.’ “Quoting from Austin Flint, Jr.’s, ” Physiology of Man,” Mr. Davis says: ” ‘The effects of salt meats and farinaceous food (at Andersonville) without vegetables were manifest in the great prevalence of scurvy. The scorbutic condition, thus induced, modified the course of every disease, poisoned every wound, and lay at the foundation of those obstinate and exhaustive diarrhoeas and dysenteries which swept off thousands of those unfortunate men,” “—i.e., the Federal prisoners of Andersonville. “President Davis had permitted three of the Andersonville prisoners to go to Washington to try and change the determination of their Government and procure a resumption of exchanges. The prisoners knew of the failure of their mission when I was at Andersonville, and the effect was to plunge the great majority of them into the deepest melancholy, home-sickness and despondency. . . . The same Captain Wirz who was tried and hung as a murderer, warmly urged improvements for the benefit of the unhappy prisoners under his charge. . . . I mention these facts to show that he (Captain Wirz) was not the monster he was afterwards represented to be, when his blood was called for by infuriate fanaticism. . . . The facts alluded to satisfied me that he was a humane man. The real cause of all the protracted sufferings of prisoners, North and South, is directly due to the inhuman refusal of the Federal Government to exchange prisoners of war. . . . The greatest difficulty was experienced in procuring medicines and anti-scorbutics. These were made contraband by order of the Federal Government. . . . For a period of some three months Captain Wirz (who had himself suffered from gangrene in an old wound) and a few faithful officers were engaged night and day in ministering to the sick and dying. . . . In his trial certain Federal witnesses swore to his (Captain Wirz) killing certain prisoners in August, 1864, when he was actually absent on sick leave in Augusta, Ga., at the time.” Quoting from the words of a Federal prisoner, in relation to the food served the prisoners, of which, in quantity, there was no lack, “it was the ordinary diet of the Confederate Army, and they had nothing else to give us. . . . The cooks were our own men. . . . In reference to the report that Captain Wirz beat the prisoners, it was certainly unjust, because his right shoulder had been broken.” Wirz was assured that if he would implicate Jefferson Davis with the Andersonville atrocities his sentence would be commuted. “To which Wirz replied: ‘I know nothing about Jefferson Davis. He had no connection with me as to what was done at Andersonville.’ ”
Mr. Davis goes on to &how that the Confederate prisoners in Northern prison-pens were treated quite as badly from the same causes, i. e., lack of habitual food, over crowding, the diseases of men crowded together, home-sickness, etc., as were Northern prisoners at the South.
On Sunday, April 2, 1865, while President Davis was seated quietly in his pew in St. Paul’s Church, he received official information that General Lee’s lines before Petersburg had been broken, and that it was necessary for the Confederate Government to leave them. But hearing, about nightfall, that a party of marauders were to attack the camp that night, and supposing them to be pillaging deserters from both armies and that the Confederates would listen to me, I awaited their coming, lay down in my travelling clothes and fell asleep. Late in the night my colored coachman aroused me with the intelligence that the camp was attacked, and I stepped out of the tent where my wife and children were sleeping, and saw at once that the assailants were troops deploying around the encampment. I so informed my wife, who urged me to escape. After some hesitation I consented, and a servant woman started with me carrying a bucket, as if going to the spring for water. One of the surrounding troops ordered me to halt and demanded my surrender. I advanced toward the trooper, throwing off a shawl which my wife had put over my shoulders. The trooper aimed his carbine, when my wife, who witnessed the act, rushed forward and threw her arms around me, thus defeating my intention, which was, if the trooper missed his aim, to try and unhorse him and escape with his horse.
Then, with every species of petty pillage and offensive exhibition, I was taken from point to point until incarcerated in Fortress Monroe. There I was imprisoned for two years before being allowed the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”
“At length, when the writ was to be issued, the condition was imposed by the Federal Executive that there should be bondsmen influential in the ‘Republican’ party of the North, Mr. Greeley being specially named. Entirely as a matter of justice and legal right, not from motives of personal regard, Mr. Greeley, Mr. Gerrit Smith and other eminent Northern citizens went on my bond.
“In May, 1867, after being released from Fortress Monroe, I went to Canada, where my older children were, with their grandmother; my wife, as soon as permitted, having shared my imprisonment, and brought our infant daughter with her. From time to time I obeyed summonses to go before the Federal Court at Richmond, until finally, the case was heard by Chief Justice Chase and District Judge Underwood, who were divided in opinion, which sent the case to the Supreme Court of the United States, and the proceedings were quashed, leaving me without the opportunity to vindicate myself before the highest Federal Court.
“After about a year’s residence in Canada I went to England with my family, under an arrangement that I was to have sixty days’ notice whenever the United States Court required my presence. After being abroad in England and on the Continent about a year I received an offer of an appointment as president of a life insurance company. Thereupon I returned to this country and went to Memphis and took charge of the company. Subsequently I came to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, as a quiet place where I could prepare my work on ‘ The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.’ A friend from her infancy, Mrs. Dorsey, shared her home with me, and subsequently sold to me her property of Beauvoir, an estate of five or six hundred acres, about midway between Mobile and New Orleans. Before I had fully paid for this estate Mrs. Dorsey died, leaving me her sole legatee. From the spring of 1876 to the autumn of 1879 I devoted myself to the production of the historical work just mentioned. It is an octavo book in two volumes of about seven hundred pages each. I have also from time to time contributed essays to the North American Review and Belford’s Magazine, and have just completed the manuscript of ‘ A Short History of the Confederate States of America,’ which is expected to appear early in 1890.
“Since settling at Beauvoir I have persistently refused to take any active part in politics, not merely because of my disfranchisement, but from a belief that such labors could not be made to conduce to the public good, owing to the sectional hostilities manifested against me since the war. For the same reason I have also refused to be a candidate for public office, although it is well known that I could at any time have been re-elected a Senator of the United States.
“I have been twice married, the second time being in 1844, to a daughter of Wm. B. Howell, of Natchez, a son of Governor Howell, of New Jersey. She has borne me six children—four sons and two daughters. My sons are all dead; my daughters survive. The elder is Mrs. Hayes, of Colorado Springs, Col., and the mother of four children. My youngest daughter lives with us at Beauvoir. Miss. Born in the last year of the war, she became familiarly known as ‘the daughter of the Confederacy.’ ”
A DAY AT BEAUVOIR
A day with the ex-President is thus narrated by Mr. Sidney Root, a well-known Georgian. It is taken from the Atlanta Constitution:
“On the way to the Southern Forestry Congress, in February, 1887, I found I had a day’s leisure, and it occurred to me to accept an often-repeated invitation to visit Mr. Davis at Beauvoir, Miss., a railroad station about half-way between Mobile and New Orleans. It chanced that I had been on the committee which escorted him to Montgomery in 1861, and our relations became somewhat intimate during the war, continuing it without interruption until this time. In the afternoon the train left me at the little station, which is also the local post-office, the ex-President being the chief patron. A young Englishman in the service of Mr. Davis politely guided me over the devious country road to the family residence, half a mile distant.
THE BUILDINGS AT BEAUVOIR
form quite a group, having been built at considerable cost for a luxurious Southern home. Situated on a high bluff of white sand, about a hundred yards from the Mexican gulf, blown over by the salt sea breeze, it must be a healthy place. The soil seems incapable of producing anything but the superb live oaks, magnolias and pines, which shade the grounds of about fifty acres. All the buildings are of wood—one-story and slate-covered—the principal one is quite capacious, containing probably ten rooms, with lofty ceilings and all handsomely frescoed. A very wide hall runs through the centre, and a broad veranda surrounds the whole. On either side, some fifty yards distant, are cottages of similar design, in one of which is Mr. Davis’ office and reference library, his daughter’s studio (Miss Davis is a fine artist) and a sleeping-room. The other cottage is an ‘overflow’ guest chamber building; a cluster of out-houses huddle in the rear. All the houses are painted white and show pleasantly under the evergreen foliage. Soon after sending in my card
THE VENERABLE EX-PRESIDENT
greeted me with hearty cordiality, and it was gratifying to notice that this remarkable man still retained the dignified bearing, high courtesy and gentle manner of the ‘ old South.’ That this man, now about eighty, conspicuous in the Black Hawk, Seminole and Mexican Wars, Secretary of War under Pierce, United States Senator from Mississipi for two terms. President of the Confederate States during the greatest conflict of modern time, State prisoner in a damp casemate of Fortress Monroe for two years, could, during all the stress which must have pressed upon him, still retain his erect carriage, wonderful memory and accurate knowledge of current events, is beyond my comprehension. Drawing some restful chairs to the parlor windows, through which came the soft gulf breeze, I had the happiness of a free conversation with, I think, the greatest man I ever knew. Many tender memories of personal interest were recalled and many historic points discussed. With the exception of John C. Calhoun, Mr. Davis is
THE MOST INTERESTING TALKER
I ever met. I suppose he is the only man living who knows and remembers accurately the inner history of the Confederacy. In speaking of the Black Hawk, Seminole and Mexican Wars he related many interesting incidents, and mentioned the singular fact that all the commanders in the Mexican War were from the South, as Scott, of Virginia ; Taylor, of Louisiana; Worth, of North Carolina; Briggs, of Georgia; Pillow, of Tennessee; Quitman, of Mississippi, besides, Bragg, Davis, Butler and others who held subordinate positions. Quitman, however, was born in the North.
“I asked him who he thought was the greatest Confederate commander. After some thought he said General Lee, explaining that Albert Sidney Johnston was undoubtedly the equal of Lee, but having fallen early in the war he had no opportunity to demonstrate his great capabilities. After these two he mentioned Stonewall Jackson, J. E. Johnston, Gordon, Longstreet, Stewart, Lees, the Hills and many others. I asked him whom he considered the greatest Union general. He answered unhesitatingly—McClellan. Said he was an intense Union man, and he respected him as such, but that he fell under unjust suspicion at Washington—for political reasons—and confusion ensued. When Secretary of War, Mr. Davis had sent McClellan to survey the Bay of Samana, in St. Domingo, with the hope of securing a harbor and coaling station in the West Indies for the United States navy. His map and report are now on file in Washington. The work was so well done that he detailed him to visit St. Petersburg to report upon the military establishments of Russia. In twelve months he submitted exhaustive reports, and also translated a technical work, which is now in the War office in Washington.
HE SPOKE KINDLY
and appreciatively of many Northern generals, saying General Grant was a good man and a great general, who came to the front with the resources of the world at his back when the Confederacy was exhausted; he also spoke in the most kindly way of President Lincoln, who, if his life had been spared, would have been of great service to the South and the whole country.
“Mr. Davis inquired if I was in Richmond during the Seven Days’ Battle.
“Yes, I was a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, and remembered hearing the guns, and while we expected the Federal Army any day, there was no bitterness manifested, but special prayers were offered for the enemy and for the protection of the homes and people of the South. “I asked Mr. Davis if he remembered our conversation about a plan for the
GRADUAL EMANCIPATION OF THE NEGRO
“Yes, he recollected every detail. He cordially approved of it, and showed the difference between his plan and mine (this was in the autumn of 1864) and requested me to ride down to Drury’s Bluff and confer with General Lee. I did so, and found that General Lee heartily approved of the plans. Owing to the danger of riding fourteen miles back to Richmond in the dark, General Lee compelled me to sleep in his tent—a very embarrassing position for me, because he would make me sleep on his cot, while he slept in his blankets on the ground. The matter was submitted to Congress in a special message, and the scheme was defeated, chiefly through Hon. R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, on the ground that the withdrawal of so many able-bodied slaves (40,000 at first), who were to be freed upon joining the army, would probably leave the men in the field without provisions. It will be remembered that Captain Harry Jackson offered to raise a regiment of negroes in Georgia to fight for their freedom. I spoke of my embarrassment in accepting General Lee’s hospitality. He said Lee was right, as it would have been hazardous to return to Richmond after dark, and mentioned two amusing instances of his being arrested while inspecting the lines near Richmond.
MRS. JEFFERSON DAVIS
“Mrs. Davis is of Welsh extraction—a Howell, a granddaughter of Governor Howell, of New Jersey, who was a fast friend of Washington. She was born in Vicksburg about 1826, the daughter of a large planter in the famous Yazoo bottoms. Married Mr. Davis forty-three years ago; they settled the now celebrated Brierfield plantation—a large island in the Mississippi River at Davis Bend, below Vicksburg. The place was so called because of the luxuriant tangle of briers which the rich soil produced. There they built a beautiful home and planted the magnificent live oaks which are now the pride of the neighborhood. Mr. Davis had previously married a daughter of ex-President Zachary Taylor. During my visit we again reviewed our plans of ’61 for the gradual emancipation of the negro. I do not know what the future historian may say, for the history of the Confederacy is yet to be written, but I do know that Mr. Davis, General Lee and many other prominent people of the South favored it, and that a bill was introduced in the Confederate Congress to that effect. Mr. Davis kindly, in describing
THE BATTLE OF BUENA VISTA
said that when they moved out to meet the enemy they were uncertain about his numbers or position. General Taylor had about 1200 men, and they soon ascertained that they were opposed by 8000 of the flower of the Mexican Army, commanded by Santa Anna in person. The situation was perilous. Colonel Davis obtained the consent of General Taylor to lead his Mississippi Rifles through a ravine, thus flanking the enemy’s position, which led to the confusion and rout which finally ensued. He said there was no ill-feeling between him and General Taylor about his first marriage. He married with the general’s consent, although the latter could not be present. He mentioned the kindness of ex-President Pierce, who visited him during his confinement in the fort, and who generously offered him a home for life when released. He had a high regard for Mr. Pierce; said he was a very able man, and that his was the only administration in the history of the country during which there was no change in the Cabinet.
“This unstudied memorandum about friends whom I love is written to preserve recollections which even in time may become dim in my memory.”
EX-PRESIDENT DAVIS’ BIRTH-PLACE
In November, 1886, ex-President Davis visited Fairview, Ky.,—under what circumstances and for what object the following from the Kentucky New Era will show:
“Hon. Jefferson Davis left Clarksville, Tenn., Saturday evening by special train for Elkton, where the party was met by hacks and taken to Mr. W. H. Jesup’s. He spent the night with Mr. Jesup, and attended the dedication, the next day, of Bethel Baptist Church. This building is situated upon the spot where Mr. Davis was born, and the ground was purchased by him last year, and presented to the church for the purpose. The structure is one of the handsomest in Southern Kentucky, and was erected at a cost of over $6000. It is finished in elegant style and seated with opera reclining chairs, and is provided with pastor’s study, baptistery, dressing-rooms, and all the modern improvements.
“A finely-polished slab of violet-hued Tennessee marble, set in the wall of the vestibule opposite the memorial window, has this inscription in Roman capitals:
OF MISSISSIPPI, WAS BORN JUNE 3, 1808,
ON THE SITE OF THIS CHUPvCH.
HE MADE A GIFT OF THIS LOT MARCH 10, 1886,
TO BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH,
AS A THANK-OFFERING TO THE LORD.
“At the hour on Sunday morning appointed for the service the church was crowded, and the distinguished Mr. Davis entered, leaning upon the arm of Mr. Jesup, accompanied by Dr. Strickland, of Nashville, Tenn., Captain Clark, and two or three ladies from Clarksville, Tenn. Dr. Strickland, Dr. Baker and the pastor, E. N. Dicken, occupied the pulpit, and the former proceeded to preach the dedicatory sermon. It was a discourse eloquent, instructive and appropriate, and was listened to with the closest attention. At the conclusion of Dr. Strickland’s discourse Mr. Davis arose and spoke as follows:
” ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Congregation: My heart is always filled with gratitude to you, who extend me so many kindnesses. I am thankful I can give you this lot upon which to worship the triune God. It has been asked why I, who am not a Baptist, give this lot to the Baptist Church. I am not a Baptist, but my father, who was a better man than I, was a Baptist.
“ ‘Wherever I go, when I come here I feel “that this is my own, my native land,” When I see this beautiful church it refills my heart with thanks. It shows the love you bear your Creator; it shows your capacity for building to your God. The pioneers of this country, as I have learned from history, were men of plain, simple habits, full of energy and imbued with religious principles. They lived in a day before the dawn of sectarian disturbances and sectional strife. In their rude surroundings and teachings, it is no wonder that they learned that God was love. I did not come here to speak. I would not mar with speech of mine the effect of the beautiful sermon to which you have listened. I simply tender to you, through the trustees of Bethel, the site upon which this church stands. May the God of heaven bless this community forever, and may the Saviour of the world preserve this church to his worship for all time to come.’ ”
One of the interesting incidents of his life in recent years was the appearance of Mr. Davis at Biloxi, Miss., January 26, 1885, at the reception there of the Liberty Bell, from Philadelphia, on its way to the New Orleans Exposition. When the bell neared Beauvoir, the residence of Mr. Davis, a general desire was expressed to have him join the reception party. In response to a speech of welcome at the depot, Mr. Davis spoke with all his earlier vigor. “The aged statesman grew impassioned, and thrilled his audience with his eloquence. He was cheered vociferously, and seemed deeply moved.” It was then that his little granddaughter, five years old, kissed the famous “bell that rung out liberty to all the land,” and patted it with her tiny hand as she lisped, “God bless the dear old bell.” On the 29th of April, 1886, Mr. Davis spoke at the laying of the corner-stone of a monument to Confederate soldiers at Montgomery, Ala., and was received with great enthusiasm. Since then he has but seldom left his home at Beauvoir.
Ex-President Davis died in New Orleans on the 6th day of December, 1889.
“The handsome residence of Mr. J. U. Payne, at the corner of First and Camp Streets, is at present an object of interest to every friend of Mr. Jefferson Davis, because it is in the pleasant guest-chamber of this elegant home that the beloved old Confederate chieftain passed away at fifteen minutes before one o’clock this morning. This residence, built by Mr. Payne, is one of the most comfortable and artistic in all the city. It was of brown-stone stucco, two stories high, with broad verandas, and set in lovely grounds, where camellia bushes are spiked with bloom, and oranges hang in clusters on the trees.
THE DEATH CHAMBER
“The house has a wide hall running through the centre, with drawing-rooms on one side, a library on the other, and on the rear corner of the house is a lovely and cheery apartment, into which the Southern sun streams nearly all day.
“It is a wonderfully pretty room, with a richtoned Persian-hued carpet on the floor, shades and delicate lace curtains at the four windows—two fronting to the east and two to the south. Pictures are on the walls, and there are a lounge, easy Turkish chairs and pretty carved tables, and a huge carved-oak Victoria bedstead, on which the ex-President of the Confederacy lies in the embrace of death.
MRS. DAVIS’ MINISTRATIONS
“His constant attendant has been Mrs. Davis, who has never left his bedside since his illness began. In a comfortable home wrapper of gray and black this gentle ministrant was always at the invalid’s side, and if she left him for a moment he asked for her, and was fretted or uneasy until she returned. Friends constantly sent beautiful flowers, of which Mr. Davis was very fond, but these were not allowed to remain in the sick room for any length of time. At the outset jellies, fruits and all manner of invalids’ delicacies were proffered, until Mrs. Davis was compelled to decline them. The sick man’s food was only milk, ice, beef tea, and rarely a broiled chop.
“Mr. Davis remained in bed all the time, and was never left alone, being guarded lovingly by his wife and the capable quadroon hired nurse, Lydia, and Mrs. Davis’ own little brown-eyed handmaiden, Betty, who at all times had entree to the sick-room. But little talking was allowed, and newspapers, letters and telegrams were tabooed.
CLINGING TO HOPE
“On Wednesday afternoon a reporter had a few moments’ conversation with Mrs. Davis. She was worn and weary with service at the sick-bed, but which she would not allow to any other, and her step was lagging as she came into the dining-room. She was very hopeful, however, of her husband’s ultimate recovery.
” ‘Mr. Davis has always been an exceedingly temperate man,’ said Mrs. Davis; ‘he has never abused his physical powers, and no one could have lived more moderately than he. Of course, all this is in his favor. I do not mean to say that there would be no danger if a door were left open or the fire in his room allowed to go out. He is as frail as a lily and requires the most attentive care. That he has. I believe he would not be alive to-day had his illness come upon him at Beauvoir, where he could not possibly have had the constant care of such physicians as Dr. Bickham and Dr. Chaille, and the intelligent love, tenderness and luxury that surround him in this home.’
THE PATIENT DESPONDENT
“From the beginning of his fatal illness Mr. Davis had insisted that his case was nearly or quite hopeless, though the dread of pain or fear of death never appeared to take the slightest hold upon his spirits, which were brave, and even buoyant, from the beginning of his attack.
“In vain did the doctors strive to impress upon him that his health was improving. He steadily insisted that there was no improvement, but, with Christian resignation, he was content to accept whatever Providence had in store for him. Only once did he waver in his belief that his case showed no improvement, and that was at an early hour yesterday morning, when he playfully remarked to Mr. Payne, ‘ I am afraid that I shall be compelled to agree with the doctors for once and admit that I am a little better.’
“All day long the favorable symptoms continued, and in the afternoon, as late as four o’clock, Mrs. Davis sent such a cheering message to Mrs. Stamps and Mr. and Mrs. Farrar that they decided, for the first time since Mr. Davis has been taken ill, to attend the French opera.
THE FATAL ATTACK
“At 6 o’clock last evening, without any assignable cause, Mr. Davis was seized with a congestive chill, which seemed to absolutely crush the vitality out of his already enfeebled body. So weak was Mr. Davis that the violence of the assault soon subsided for lack of vitality upon which to prey. From that moment to the moment of his death the history of his case was that of a gradual sinking. At 7 o’clock Mrs. Davis administered some medicine, but the ex-President declined to receive the whole dose. She urged upon him the necessity of taking the remainder, but, putting it aside with the gentlest of gestures, he whispered, ‘ Pray excuse me.’
“These were his last words. Gradually he grew weaker and weaker, but never for an instant seemed to lose consciousness. Lying peacefully upon his bed, and without a trace of pain in his look, he remained for hours. Silently clasping and tenderly caressing his wife’s hand, with undaunted Christian spirit he awaited the end.
“From the moment of the dread assault of the congestive chill those gathered around his bedside, who had been watching and noting with painful interest every change of symptom for the past month, knew well that the dread messenger was even at the door. About half-past ten o’clock Associate Justice Fenner went to the French Opera House to call to Mr. Davis’ bedside Mr. and Mrs. Farrar and Mrs. Stamps. As soon as the message reached them they hurried to the bedside of the dying ex-President.
BREATHED HIS LIFE AWAY
“By half-past eleven o’clock there were assembled in the death-chamber Mrs. Davis, Drs. Chaille and Bickham, Associate Justice and Mrs. Fenner, Miss Nannie Smith, grandniece of the dying ex-President, and Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Farrar.
“Finding that Mr. Davis was breathing somewhat heavily as he lay upon his back, the doctors assisted him to turn upon his right side. With his cheek resting upon his right hand, and with his left hand drooping across his chest, he lay for some fifteen minutes breathing softly, but faintly. More and more feeble came his respirations till they passed into silence, and then the watchers knew that the silver cord had been loosed and the golden bowl broken. The father of the Confederacy had passed away,
” ‘As calmly as to a night’s repose,
Or flowers at set of sun.’
A CRUSHING BLOW
“Despite the fact that the end had come slowly and peacefully, and after she had been face to face for hours with the dread reality, the blow fell with crushing force upon the afflicted widow. As long as there had been work for either head or hands she had borne up bravely, and not until the sweet uses for her tender ministrations were lost did she seem to realize the terrible force of the blow that had fallen upon her.
“Knowing of a predisposition to heart affection, the doctors were at once gravely alarmed for her. They promptly administered a composing draught, and at a late hour she was resting quietly.
CAUSE OF DEATH
“It is believed that the foundation of the ex-President’s last illness was malaria, complicated with acute bronchitis. Careful nursing and skilled medical attention had mastered the latter, but it is supposed that the congestive chill, which was the immediate cause of death, was attributable to a return of the malaria.
“After death the face of the deceased, though looking slightly emaciated, showed no trace of suffering, more nearly resembling that of a peaceful sleeper than of the dead.
THE EVENT ANNOUNCED
“When the family had partially recovered from the terrible shock, Mr. Farrar went to the Western Union Telegraph office and sent dispatches to Miss Winnie Davis, who is in Paris, with Mrs. Pulitzer; to Mr. Davis’ son-in-law, in Colorado Springs, and also notified Governor Lowry, of Mississippi, as he deemed it but right that the executive of that State should know of the death of one of its most distinguished sons.”
“Notwithstanding the early hour at which Mr. Davis died, it was decided by Mr. Farrar, Judge Fenner and Mr. Payne to inform Mayor Shakespeare that President Davis had passed away.
“A written communication of the facts was directed to him and delivered at 3.05 a.m. Mayor Shakespeare visibly showed his emotion at the contents of the letter. He hastily clothed himself and immediately walked to the residence. The chilly fog hung low in dense masses, and faintly defined by the electric lights, familiar shapes along the streets fell in distorted shadows. The house was shrouded in darkness and intense silence. From the trees surrounding the approaches to the dwelling great drops of condensed fog fell with a softly deadened sound upon the earth.
“Mr. Farrar and Mr. Payne received the Mayor in the hallway, and the three rapidly entered the back parlor or dining-room. The Mayor’s proclamation was quickly sketched out that it might be published in the morning. The Times-Democrat had held its issue back that the Mayor’s notification might be given publicity. At 4.10 the proclamation was handed a Times-Democrat reporter and was published in yesterday’s issue.
“While the proclamation was being written out, Mr. Payne paced the room with hands folded behind him, or restlessly sought an arm-chair to look steadfastly ahead of him at the writers.
AN AWED SILENCE
“A heavy piece of black crape was adjusted to the bell knob as Mr. Johnson entered the house. The token was sufficient information, and no line was written to convey that death had paused during the midnight hours in one of the silent rooms. The drip, drip of the fog was the only audible sound down the long streets. It had come in darker than midnight and hung in gloomy clouds overhead, as if a deluge of rain was imminent. Some laborers with dinner pans and overalls, wrapped in red handkerchiefs, were the first to see the crape hanging near the door. Conversation, which had not been loud in tone, was arrested immediately, and they reached out their hands and felt, the fabric without speaking. They passed on, maintaining silence.
“Four patrolmen returning from their night’s duties saw the emblem and crossed the lower comer of Camp and First streets. They, too, were silenced. So dark was the street at this time that the lights of a private cab were barely distinguishable as it stood at the adjoining house. At daybreak the foot passengers passing near the residence elevated their hats and passed the grounds and house with heads uncovered.
“The sun was at last of sufficient force to dissipate the fog, and while as yet the house was not astir many ladies began to call as early as 8.10. Callers were frequent from that time on.
BROUGHT CUT FLOWERS
“Callers were invariably denied admittance unless closely connected or intimate friends of the bereaved family. Mrs. Davis denied audience, at the solicitations of the family, as often as practicable: Her bereavement was prostrating her, and her friends feared she would overtax her strength.
“By 5.30 o’clock the funeral directors had completed embalming the remains of the dead chieftain, and he was dressed in his suit of Confederate gray, the suit that he had on when he was removed from the steamboat ‘Leathers’ to the home of Associate Justice Fenner. The body was then laid out in the death-chamber, and Mrs. Davis came in and took her seat beside it. In conversation with members of the household she expressed the desire to be alone with the dead during the day. Her friends tried to impress upon her that she was overtaxing herself, but she insisted, and they gave way.
“It was then announced that no one would be permitted to intrude upon Mrs. Davis, and with very few exceptions no one was permitted to enter the room.
“This rule was first violated at Mrs. Davis’ request to admit an old negro who had years ago been
MR. DAVIS’ BODY-SERVANT
“As a result of his gracious dignity, Mr. Davis never came in contact with a menial but that at once they grew devotedly attached to him. More than once have family and friends quizzed him regarding the absorbing love of the porters, servants and slaves that accident threw in his way. Never was a man more loved by those who served him, and this was peculiarly noticeable among the negroes he owned before the war. One of the most affecting incidents connected with the death, was the arrival and grief of this old darky, a former slave of Mr. Davis* brother, the late Joe Davis.
“For a number of years Miles Cooper, a decrepit colored man, has sent from his present home in Florida little tokens in the way of fruits raised by his own hands for the hospitable Beauvoir table. Through the local press Miles heard of Mr. Davis’ extreme illness, and, putting every personal interest and comfort aside, hastened to see the master he loved. Unused to travelling, aged and uncertain in his movements, the unselfish servant again and again missed connection in the short trip, was delayed, left behind and put to every possible annoyance and inconvenience. Finally he arrived, and, full of pleasant anticipations, hurried up to look once more in those kindly eyes and feel the cordial grasp of that genial hand. Reaching the residence, all stilled as it was and surrounded by an atmosphere of death, the servant learned of Mr. Davis’ death the night previous. It was more than he could bear, and breaking down with an outburst of deep grief, Miles sat crushed and hopeless, only asking the one favor to be admitted to the presence of his master. Every one, save the family, had been denied entrance, but Mr. Farrar, at Mrs. Davis’ request, led the way, and soon the ex-slave stood face to face with the noble dead. It was pitiful to hear the sobs and wails of the old darky. He mourned with unaffected grief for the ‘ Mars Jeff’ of his youth, and prayed earnestly for the welfare of those he left behind.
“Betty, a little maid who has been in Mrs. Davis’ employ, said to a reporter: ‘You are writing a good deal about Mr. Davis, but he deserves it all. He was good to me and the best friend I ever had. After my mother died and I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Davis, at Beauvoir, he treated me like one of his own family. He would not allow anyone to say anything to wound the feelings of a servant.’
“At 4.15 P.M., Sister Mary Baptiste and Sister Mary Patrenelia, of St. Alphonsus Convent, with a number of young female orphans, begged admittance that they might be able to offer their prayer foe the deceased. Mrs. Davis retired from the room and the Sisters and children knelt by the bier upon which rested the body of the dead statesman. It was clad in plain gray uniform, with black cloth-covered buttons. At his head and resting their tips slightly on each shoulder were two palm leaves, such as marked the caskets of the Christian dead in ages past, to signify that the spirit had been victorious over the body.
“In the angle of the leaf stems was a sheaf of wheat harvested at its fruition. Flanking this was a pillow of roses. Above, the lowered flame of a gas jet flamed faintly. The young faces, unscarred in the world’s battles, shone out in strong contrast to that of him whose spirit had so recently gone down into the valley. From the not tightly closed upper lattice of the window the light of the blue evening sky touched the features of the dead with an azure tint and traced the delicate profile lines of the face. Assembled in the room during the devotional exercises were members of the household of subordinate position. The appeals and responses rose and melted over the mute frame enwrapped in the cloth of his corpse. After the conclusion of the ceremonies the Sisters and orphans immediately withdrew.
“At 7.05 p. M., the closed hearse containing the casket drew up at the front gate. It was soon taken within the house, and those gentlemen who were within the rooms assembled on the front gallery. Attracted by the dark conveyance, with its white horse, the loiterers, the curious and not a few who designed visiting the house began to occupy the sidewalks. Early in the day the family had expressed the hope that the removal of Mr. Davis’ remains to the City Hall should be unostentatious and with most marked quietude. Seeing the vehicle was collecting the crowd, the undertaker, after performing his duty to the body, had it driven away to return at a later time to carry the corpse to the City Hall. This caused the crowd to disperse, and the streets were comparatively deserted at 9.50 p.m.”
ARRANGING FOR THE FUNERAL
“Many churches held memorial services in honor of Jefferson Davis, principally the Protestant Episcopal, Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian. Bishop Keener, of the Methodist Church, related anecdotes of the deceased, especially as a visitor to the annual seashore camp-meeting. Bishop Galleher, of the Protestant Episcopal Church, who was
in charge of the funeral, did not preach any sermon. Bishop Hugh Miller Thompson, of Mississippi, assisted him, and Rev. Ebenezer Thompson, of Biloxi, Miss, who was Mr. Davis’ pastor, also take a prominent part. Dr. Markham, Presbyterian, Father Hubert, Catholic, and Drs. Bakewell and Martin, Protestant Episcopal, who were all Confederate chaplains, assisted Bishop Galleher. Dr. Bakewell was sergeant of a company and Bishop Galleher himself carried a musket. It was the Bishop’s intention to have the services take place on the broad portico of the City Hall. Lafayette Square stretches out in front and many people could then witness the rites. A surpliced choir sang the anthem, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” by Sir Arthur Sullivan. At the tomb the same choir chanted “Rock of Ages.” The body was taken to the cemetery, a distance of about three miles, on a caisson, and the vast procession walked all the way. The parade was of immense proportions. Even the benevolent societies turned out. The sombre drapery of mourning spread over the city. The shipping dipped its flags, the British steamships especially putting their flags at half-mast.
The full programme of parade was decided upon by Gen. John M. Lynn, the grand marshal. The selection of pall-bearers was left to Mrs. Davis.
Mr. J. U. Payne, a prominent cotton factor and life-long friend of Mr. Davis was one, and the Grand Army Confederate Veterans and the Governors of other States were represented beside the casket. The Army of Northern Virginia and Army of Tennessee Veterans marched side by side just behind the caisson bearing the remains of their lamented chief.
The remains of Mr. Davis lay in state in the council chamber of the City Hall. At midnight Friday they were carried from the Payne mansion to the City Hall. The cortege consisted of the hearse and two carriages. One of the latter was filled with flowers, and the other was occupied by six personal friends of the deceased. The casket was placed upon a catafalque draped in plain black. The coffin was covered with black plush, edged with broad black braid. The handles along the sides consisted of a single square bar of silver, and across each end was a short bar of gold. The top of the casket was covered with one sheet of heavy French plate glass, which extended its entire length, and rested on the thick copper lining.
All day long there was a ceaseless stream of people viewing the remains of Jefferson Davis. Floral offerings have poured in, and the coffin looked as if placed at the base of a bank of flowers. The Army of Tennessee lead with a design ten feet high, one of the handsomest floral offerings ever made here.
When the doors opened at 10 o’clock fully three thousand people were waiting to enter. The crowd was so great that the people were allowed to pass the bier in double instead of single column, and over three thousand eight hundred people passed every hour. The total was fully forty thousand in one day. The body will remain exposed until the last minute.
A silver plate on the casket bears the inscription, “Jefferson Davis at Rest.”
“Badges of the Confederate associations, the flag of the Washington Artillery carried through the war, and a bunch of wheat and pair of crossed Spanish daggers, as the plant is termed, fastened together with purple ribbon, were the only other ornaments. The desks of the mayor and clerks were covered over and turned into a platform, which was the receptacle for floral offerings. The room was lit up by clusters of electric lights, their brilliancy being dimmed by the sable drapery. Soldiers in uniform stood guard, stacks of arms and cannon filled the corners of the chamber, and all around the walls were rows of plants and shrubbery, forming a beautiful contrast.
During the early morning people poured in to obtain a last look at the dead—fifteen hundred people passing each hour. The visitors were filed through the room in regular column. All classes were represented in the procession by the bier. The number of colored people was marked.
By universal request Mr. Jefferson Davis was given a funeral in full accord with his superior rank as a military officer, in addition to which, numerous civic and other organizations combined to render the cortege in all respects most imposing, not only with reference to numbers, but in the pomp and circumstance of its elaborate ceremonial. Besides the veterans of the lost cause, who have once again been called upon to close up their decimated ranks, were many gallant soldiers whose unflinching valor, displayed on numerous hotly-contested fields, resulted not unfrequently in both glory and victory to ‘the stars and stripes.’
SCENE AT THE CITY HALL
At 11.30 o’clock the funeral ceremonies were to be commenced, but long previous to that time the great square immediately fronting the City Hall had become an unwieldy mass of eager, sympathetic humanity. According to programme the square proper was to be reserved exclusively for the military. In the enforcement of this injunction, however, the large, but by no means adequate, police force on duty, experienced innumerable obstacles, and it was with the greatest difficulty that the swaying multitude was kept beyond the prescribed environments. The streets, banquettes and every available place from which either an unobstructed or partial view could be had of the portico of the municipal building, were crowded almost to suffocation. During all this time the air was laden with funeral dirges, the solemn requiem of the bells was heard on every hand, and louder and deeper were the sounds of minute guns that at intervals thundered forth their deep-mouthed tribute to the illustrious dead.
The following gentlemen acted as pall-bearers:
Honorary Pall-hearers—Governor Francis T. Nicholls, of Louisiana; Governor Robert Lowry, of Mississippi; Governor S. B. Buckner, of Kentucky; Governor John B. Gordon, of Georgia; Governor J. S. Richardson, of South Carolina; Governor D. G. Fowle, of North Carolina ; Governor F. P. Fleming, of Florida; Governor James P. Eagle, of Arkansas.
These gentlemen represent the Southern States pall-bearers—General George W. Jones, of Iowa; Hon. Charles E. Fenner, of Louisiana; Mr. Sawyer Hayward, of Mississippi; Hon. Thomas H. Watts, of Alabama, a member of President Davis’ cabinet.
APPEARANCE OF THE REMAINS
The body, notwithstanding the very warm and exceptionally oppressive weather of the past week, was remarkably well-preserved. The countenance presented an expression of ‘rapturous repose,’ and in no wise had ‘ decay’s defacing fingers ‘ yet blotted out, much less tarnished in the remotest degree, the noble lines of a face strikingly attractive when lighted by the fire of genius, as it was wont to be. Indeed the Confederacy’s beloved chieftain, as he reposed in his coffin this morning, presented just such a picture as those who knew and loved him in life would like best to cherish in their memory.
At 12.10 the casket was conveyed from the memorial room to an improvised catafalque in the centre of the front portico, where massive pillars were entwined with a profusion of crape. Over the casket was thrown the soft folds of a silken flag of the lost cause, as also the glittering sabre with which the dead soldier had carved fame and honor for himself, and glory and victory for his country, on the crimson fields of Chapultepec and Monterey. Immediately surrounding the coffin were the clergy and the armed sentries, they being the only persons admitted to a place on the portico during the service.
The relatives of the deceased were assigned to seats in the mayor’s parlor, from the windows of which they were enabled to witness the ceremonies.
The obsequies, which were according to the ritual of the Episcopal Church, were conducted by Bishop Galleher, assisted by five officiating clergymen of various denominations, as follows: Father Hubert, Rev. Mr. Thompson, Mr. Davis’ rector at Biloxi,Miss.; Rev. Dr. Markham, Rev. Mr. Bakewell and Rev. Mr. Martin.
There were altogether fully twenty surpliced ministers, besides the attendance of numerous clergy of different denominations from the various Southern States. A surpliced choir of thirty-six voices, accompanied by the organ, sang the anthem, ‘Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.’
BISHOP GALLEHER’S ADDRESS
“Bishop Galleher made an address. He said: ‘When we utter our prayers to-day for those who are distressed in mind, when we lift our petitions to the Most Merciful and ask a benediction on the desolate, we remember that one household above others is bitterly bereaved and that hearts closely knitted to our own are deeply distressed; for the master of Beauvoir lies dead under the drooping flag of the saddened city; the light of his dwelling has gone out and left it lonely for all days to come. Surely we grieve with those who weep the tender tears of homely pain and trouble, and there is not a sign of the gulf breeze that swings the swinging moss on the cypress trees sheltering their home but finds an answer in our own burdened breathing. We recall with sweet sympathy the wifely woe that can be measured only by the sacred depths of wifely devotion, and our hearts go travelling across the heaving Atlantic seas to meet and to comfort, if we might, the child who, coming home, shall for once not be able to bring all the sweet splendors of the sunshine with her. Let us bend with the stricken household and pay the tribute of our tears; and then, acknowledging the stress and surge of a people’s sorrow, say that the stately tree of our Southern wood, planted in power, nourished in kindly dews, branching in brave luxuriance and scarred by many storms, lies uprooted. The end of a long and lofty life has come, and a moving volume of human history has been closed and clasped. The strange and sudden dignity of death has been added to the fine and resolute dignity of living. A man who in his person and history symbolized the solemn convictions and tragic fortunes of millions of men cannot pass into the gloom that gathers around a grave without sign or token from the surcharged bosoms of those he leaves behind, and when Jefferson Davis, reaching ‘the very seamark of his utmost sail,’ goes to his God, not even the most ignoble can chide the majestic mourning, the sorrowing honors of a last ‘salute.’
” ‘I am not here to stir by a breath the embers of a settled strife; to speak one word unworthy of him and of the hour; what is writ is writ in the world’s memory and in the books of God. But I am here to say for our hel23 and inspiration that this man, as a Christian and a churchman, was a lover of all high and righteous things; as a citizen, was fashioned in the old, faithful type; as a soldier, was marked and fitted for more than fame—the Lord God having set on him the seal of the liberty of men. Gracious and gentle, even to the lowliest, nay, especially to them; tender as he was brave, he deserved to win all the love that followed him. Fearless and unselfish, he could not well escape the lifelong conflict to which he was committed. Greatly and strangely misconceived, he bore injustice with the calmness befitting his place. He suffered many and grievous wrongs, suffered most for the sake of others, and those others will remember him and his unflinching fidelity with deepening gratitude while the Potomac seeks the Chesapeake or the Mississippi sweeps by Brierfield on its way to the Mexican sea. When on the December midnight the worn warrior joined the ranks of the patient and prevailing ones who—’ “Loved their land with love far brought, If one of the mighty dead gave the challenge: Art thou of us? He answered: ‘I am here.’ “‘
Following Bishop Galleher, the Rev. Dr. Markham read the lesson, while the Rev. Mr. Martin repeated a Psalm, the Rev. Mr. Bakewell the versicles, and the Rev. Thompson the Creed, and thus ended the services at the City Hall, which, although simple and brief, were wonderfully impressive.
During this period the immense throng, representing every conceivable variety of religious and social predilection, profession and nationality, stood in reverential silence and with heads uncovered. A deep silence pervaded the vast assembly and the emotions experienced by all were deep and unutterable.
At the conclusion of the religious services the casket was borne by a detachment of soldiers to the handsomely decorated caisson which had been especially prepared for its reception, and on which it was to be conveyed to the cemetery. From the caisson arose a catafalque consisting of a unique and beautifully designed canopy, measuring from base to dome eight feet in length and four in width, and supported by six bronze cannon, craped in between with muskets. The dome of the canopy was ornamented in bronze, with furled United States flags craped upon either side. The sides of the catafalque were superbly draped in black cloth with bullion fringes and gimp. The casket rested on a slight elevation and the caisson was drawn by six black horses, two abreast, caparisoned in artillery harness and plumes, and each animal led by a soldier in uniform.
With marvelous military precision the various seemingly unwieldy battalions wheeled into line, preceded by a detachment of the city police, and followed in turn by the clergy, pall-bearers, and so on in their respective order until the mammoth procession was formed.
The procession, after leaving the City Hall, proceeded up St. Charles Street to Calliope, and from Calliope moved into Camp, thence to Chartres, to St. Louis, to Royal, and thence on Canal in a direct route to the cemetery.
It was an hour and ten minutes passing a given point.
As the grand funeral cortege traversed the streets, from the turrets of every church a bell was tolled. The clank of sabres and the tramp of ironshod feet echoed along the interminable line, while soul-subduing dirges blended with the solemn booming of the minute-guns. Parts of the city not directly located in the line of march or in any way remote from the scene of the pageant were literally depopulated, their inhabitants having gathered in countless numbers on the banquettes and in other available places from which an easy view of the marching columns could be had.
AT THE CEMETERY
The entry of the pageant into the beautiful cemetery away out on the quiet Metairie Ridge, far from the thunder and clatter and turmoil of the busy, rushing, work-a-day city life, was made with all the pomp and circumstance of a military and civic procession.
Even before noon, when the religious ceremonies were just beginning, people gathered within the hallowed precincts of the romantic burying ground. They came in street cars, in trains, in carriages, in vehicles of every known description and on foot, and took up a position on the tombs and broad walks and on the scrupulously well-kept lawn.
Metairie is the prettiest cemetery in the South. It ranks in beauty with the handsomest burial grounds of the world. It is situated about two miles and a half from the business part of the city, and is rich in its architecture, its verdure and its possessions. Years ago it was the famous race course of the South. Some years back it was transformed into a city of the dead. Since then nature and man have constantly aided in its adornment. Within it lie the remains of thousands of Confederate veterans, and here are most of the tombs of the military and veteran associations of New Orleans.
It is in this cemetery, in a subterranean vault, that the Southern chieftain has been temporarily laid to rest. The Army of Northern Virginia tomb is beneath the marble monument of the lamented Confederate leader, Stonewall Jackson. It is situated nearly half a mile from the stone entrance, nearly in the centre of the cemetery, and surrounded by imposing tombs of wealthy people of New Orleans. The mound is of gradual ascent, prettily laid out in parterres and richly grown with rare flowers. From a sectional stone base a slender shaft, broken with laurel wreaths, rises to commanding heights. At its apex a heavy slab of marble bears the statue of Jackson. The figure represents the famous general in an attitude of repose, his sword leaning on a broken stone wall, and his left hand resting gracefully on his side. He wears the regular Confederate officers’ uniform, with his cloak thrown over his arm and his field-glasses held carelessly in his left hand.
The familiar kepi is pulled down, as the general was wont to wear it, closely over his forehead. The face looks toward the southeast, and the features are almost perfect in their outline. Beneath the base is an underground chamber with vaults running all around it. It was in one of these that the remains of Mr. Davis were placed.
The monument was decorated with extreme simplicity. The mound was covered entirely with green moss, and around the shaft was wound a chain of laurel and oak leaves. The decorations were the work of Mr. J. H. Menard. When the procession left the City Hall big furniture wagons drove up, and the mortuary chamber was emptied of its hundreds of floral offerings that came from every city and State in the South, and they were taken out to the cemetery. Here an artistic hand came into play, and the flowers were arranged with studied unostentation and most admirable effect, the mound being almost entirely hidden from view by the wealth of culture flowers.
THE FINAL CEREMONIES
When the progress of the procession finally brought the militia to the monument, the police and soldiers were drawn up all around the circle, and as the funeral car, with its long line of carriages in the wake, drew up, the line of soldiers facing the monument were given right-about orders, in order to salute the bier. It was then four o’clock. The choristers had preceded the funeral, and took up position in a group to the left of the tomb. Then the Episcopal clergymen and the assisting clergy of other denominations, formed in a line on either side of the walk. The pall-bearers and distinguished guests did the same thing. Bishops Galleher and Hugh Miller Thompson walked slowly up to the base and took up their positions beside the bier. General Gordon came up shortly and stood quietly and modestly, with bowed head, close by.
The caisson stopped at the foot of the walk, and Battery B’s detail of honor bore the casket up the ascent to the foot of the monument, with Captain Beanham at its head. As the coffin was carried up the mound, the military orders were ‘Rest on arms,’ and every soldier in the circle executed the order. The veteran associations marched into the cemetery together. When they reached the monument they parted, one going to the left, the other to the right. When they met they charged up the mound and formed an inner circle, the Army of Northern Virginia in front and the Army of Tennessee in the rear. Then the ladies and gentlemen of the family trod slowly up the mound. Mrs. Davis, heavily draped, leaned on the arm of the life-long friend of her husband, Mr. J. U. Payne, as she came up beside the bier. Mrs. Hayes came up on the arm of General Joseph R. Davis, a nephew of the dead President. Behind these came the faithful negro body-servant of Mr. Davis, Robert Brown. Mrs. Stamps was escorted by Mr. Farrar. Then followed other members of the family. Associate-Justice Fenner and his family came next, and immediate friends of Mr. and Mrs. Davis gathered around just as Bishop Thompson opened the ceremonies by reading the first portion of the Episcopal burial service. Then T. H. Sappington, of Company B, 19th Infantry, stationed at Mt. Vernon barrack, Ala., sounded the bugle call of “Taps.” Bishop Galleher read the second portion of the ritual consigning the body to the grave. Here are his extemporaneous words: “In the name of God, Amen. We here consign the body of Jefferson Davis, a servant of his State and country, and a soldier in their armies; some time member of Congress and Senator from Mississippi, and Secretary of War of the United States; the first and only President of the Confederate States of America; born in Kentucky on the 3d of June, 1808, died in Louisiana on the 6th of December, 1889, and buried here by the reverent hands of his people.”
An anthem by W. H. Walter, part of the burial service, was sung by the choristers to a cornet accompaniment. Bishop Thompson recited the Lord’s Prayer, in which the choir, the clergy and the general public joined, and then the hymn “Bock of Ages” was rendered, and the religious services were over.
IN THE TOMB
Bishop Galleher waved his hand as the signal of the closing. Captain Beanham gave the military command, the casket was raised from its bier, and the soldiers bearing it on their shoulders marchedaround the circular mound to the open doorway at the back of the monument leading to the stairway that reaches the subterranean chamber of the dead. The family took up its line in the order of its ascent of the mound, friends following. The Ladies’ Memorial Association fell in, and Governor Nicholls and the other Governors joined in with the other pall-bearers. When the members of the family had descended, the casket was placed in the middle vault of the first perpendicular row, immediately on the right as you go down. The Confederate flag in which the coffin had been wrapped was removed, the slab was screwed tight, and the dead soldier had found his temporary resting place in the Army of Northern Virginia tomb.
As the family descended an artillery detachment from the State Guard, Captain Beanham’s Battery, fired three rounds, and the military funeral was over.
There were placed before the vault three floral offerings—one a design of a chair, from the Lee Memorial Association; another, “Gates Ajar,” from Mr. P. F. Alba, of Mobile, and the third, a cross of flowers, from the Girls’ High School.
As Mr. Payne and Mrs. Davis, both weeping, and the other relatives and close friends came up from the chamber and passed down to the carriages the troops presented arms. Then the Governors, the pall-bearers, guests from other States, the Ladies’ Memorial Association, and finally the public, crowded down into the still, cold, whitewashed room below, and gazed a moment on the narrow chamber wherein all that was mortal of the beloved Southern chieftain was lying in peace and quiet, removed forever from its sphere in life. A police guard of honor will be on duty at the tomb.
Ex-President Davis’ funeral occurred in New Orleans on “Wednesday, December 11, 1889. The occasion is thus editorially described by the Times-Democrat of that city:
Magnificent in its immensity and sublime in its sadness was the mournful cortege that yesterday bore to the tomb all that was mortal of Jefferson Davis.
As the long line of sorrow-stricken faces slowly moved through the streets, the minds of the oldtime soldiers seemed to wander back to the days when the Cause that enwrapped the Southern heart was not lost, and victory held her hands outstretched to the valiant hosts of the Confederacy.
It was a grand, an imposing, a historic funeral pageant. No man now living will look upon its like again. It is the snapping of the last great human link in the chain that binds the memory of the South to the volcanic past. Jefferson Davis rests to-day in the grave to which Providence in its wisdom consigned him, rich in honors, ripe in the love of his people, enshrined in the affection of all who treasure that liberty which comes from God on high.
Many millions of people buried yesterday their best beloved. And yet in the eyes of the law he was not one of them. A man without a country, living under a government that knew him not, solitary and alone in his unique grandeur, the hero of the Lost Cause, Kossuth-like, refused to bend the pregnant hinges of the knee that civic glory and power and greatness might wait upon him. Jefferson Davis lived and moved and had his being, not upon the stage of men’s affairs, but within the recesses of the human heart—the great common heart of the South. There, in the warm embrace of his own people, he passed the closing days of his well-spent life, and there he died. No death could so well befit so great a man!
Great in its numbers, the mournful procession that yesterday bore Jefferson Davis to the grave was greater still in the loftiness of its character, its ripe wisdom and its civic fame and virtue. Men illustrious in every walk of life were there. Prelates eminent and eloquent; statesmen with popular honors heaped full measure upon them; learned jurists, rich in knowledge; representatives of nations great and powerful abroad ; the veterans who wore the gray; the men who wore the blue; the mystic brotherhoods; civil, religious and benevolent organizations; our colleges and schools; the fire boys—all moved with solemn tread to the beautiful city of the dead where rests this morning the body of the hero of the Lost Cause.
It was a spectacle grandly sad, mournfully eloquent—the burial of Jefferson Davis. In the cold embrace of earth lies now the South’s greatest, noblest, best.”
The solemn and imposing pageant won universal commendation for the splendid simplicity of its ensemble, for the perfect arrangement of all its details, and for its grand and majestic proportions.
For the last-mentioned feature of its excellence New Orleans claims no credit. It was a mighty assembling of the Southern people. Half a score of great States contributed their splendid soldiery and their civilian citizens, who gathered as if they were mere members of a vast family around the grave of their beloved dead. But it is in the creation and control of a grand street pageant that New Orleans is pre-eminent, and to the large experience, the admirable taste, the unerring art instinct and the lavish liberality of the people of our good city, are wholly due the splendor, the beauty and the perfection of arrangement that have made the funeral of Jefferson Davis one of the most notable events of the age. It was most fortunate for the entire South that Providence ordained that the last days of the life of that illustrious man were spent in the great city of his devoted people.
A QUESTION IN CONCLUSION
Shall Jefferson Davis dead be as heartily hated and as mercilessly abused as was Jefferson Davis alive? “He had his faults.” So had Lincoln and Grant. So had the immortal Washington himself. Much of the reproach cast upon Mr. Davis has grown out of a failure to give due recognition to the following facts:
1. He was not responsible for the beginning or the continuation of the war. It is true he advocated armed resistance if the General Government undertook to interfere with the States that passed ordinances of secession. But so did hundreds of public men throughout the South, whose views were entirely independent of what he had ever declared or taught. And if we leave the ranks of public men and come to men in private station, we find that they were of the same mind. Indeed, whether the truth be looked upon as creditable or dishonoring to the South, let it be told—the movement of the Southern people in the years from 1860 to 1865 as much deserves to be called a great popular uprising as any movement that ever occurred among any people. Say, if you choose, they were deceived, but say they were self-deceived. Jefferson Davis was able, was courageous, was determined, was fruitful in expedients of statecraft and of war, and yet Fort Sumter, and Manassas, and Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor would have occurred if he had never been born.
2. Was Jefferson Davis a traitor? The Federal Government had him in its power; he was arraigned on this charge before one of its courts; the Government had every opportunity of gathering the law and facts against him, and yet it declined even to undertake to prove the accusation made. Ought not this fact of history to make us a little modest in trying to fasten on his name the stigma of treason?
3. The armies directed by Jefferson Davis, whatever else may be said of them, were not armies of invasion or conquest, but stood only for defence, and represented a people that simply asked to be let alone.
4. Jefferson Davis was consistent and sincere; his course as naturally followed from the theories long held and publicly advocated by him as the course of Jefferson, Henry and Adams flowed from their views concerning the relations of the colony to the mother country. Had Jefferson Davis adhered to the Union after Mississippi had passed her secession act, historians, with the records before them, would have found no little difficulty in vindicating his reputation from crookedness and time-serving.
5. “But slavery was such a horrible crime.” Say so, if you choose; but, as you say so, remember that for the existence of this horrible crime on Anglo- American shores the South was no more responsible than the North. Southerners bought the negroes and worked them on their plantations, but Northerners transported them from African jungles and sold them to all that were willing to buy. Even the large-hearted Peter Faneuil, who built the famous hall called by his name, fitted out ships for the slave-trade; and it is not impossible that some of the money that first went to construct that “cradle” in which Bostonians were to rock “Liberty” in its infant days, came from the traffic. The only real difference seems to be, that the North, under self interest as a teacher, a little sooner learned than the South that slavery was a great moral wrong.
6. “Slavery was so degrading to the negroes.” Say that if you feel it is true; but let your emphasis be a little diminished when it is found that, though the colored people do not occupy a very high social, intellectual or religious plane, yet in the Southern States they have attained a higher development in intelligence and religion than a like number has reached in any other quarter of the globe.
7. “The Union never could have been formed if it had been supposed that any State might withdraw from it at pleasure.” On the other hand, can it be supposed that any State—Virginia, for example— would have adopted the Federal Constitution and gone into the Union if she had imagined that in so doing she would be giving to her sister States the right to invade her soil, to divide her territory, to devastate her fields, to overturn her government, to bombard her towns and to slay her sons?
The fact that the Federal Government, in dealing with the seceded States, found it impossible to lay down and follow out to the end any consistent policy, gives at least a suggestion that the Federal Constitution did not very clearly lay down the principle of coercion. First, the seceded States were not out of the Union, and could not go out; then, at last, they could go out and were out, and must be brought back by “reconstruction” measures. First, the Federal Government had no right and no intention to interfere with slavery, but only to maintain the Union; but at last its armies were “armies of freedom,” its battles were “battles of freedom,” and its victories were “victories of freedom.”
In short, let North and South do justice to each other. Then good will and fraternity will come back, and no Southerner will be tempted any longer to give a spiteful application to that verse of Dryden, “But they ne’er pardon who have done the wrong.”
A TRIBUTE FROM A CLASSMATE
BY GENERAI, GEORGE W. JONES,
Ex-United States Senator.
MR. DAVIS and I became college mates in Transylvania University, in Lexington, Kentucky, in the month of October, 1821. He remained there until 1823, when he went to the West Point Military Academy, N. Y. I remained at the university, and graduated there on the 13th of July, 1825. He was graduated from the United States Military Academy in the spring of 1828, and immediately assigned to duty as a second lieutenant of infantry at Fort Crawford, Prairie du Chien (then Michigan Territory, now in the State of Wisconsin). At that time I was engaged in the mining and smelting of lead ore (galena), merchandising and farming business at Sinsinawa Mound (now in Grant County, Wisconsin), then in the Territory of Michigan. I went into this business at the suggestion of Doctor Lewis F. Linn, of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., who was my family physician there whilst I was reading law in the office of Messrs. Scott & Allen, of that place. Doctor Linn advised me to leave the law office and confinement as the only means of restoring my health, which had been greatly impaired by constant application in college and as a law student for five or six years or more.
In the summer of 1828, whilst engaged at Sinsinawa Mound in the avocations referred to, Jefferson Davis came to my log cabin one night, accompanied by an orderly sergeant, and inquired whether Mr. Jones resided there, and upon being informed (it being in the night), asked whether he could be accommodated with a night’s lodging. I replied that he could, but that his fare would be very poor, as I had no other bed than a very small bunk in one corner of my cabin. I could, however, give him some buffalo robes and blankets, and that, having no stable, his horses could be hobbled out as my own horse was. He asked me if I had ever been to Transylvania University. I replied that I had. I had before that inquired “Where he was going and where he was from.” “To Fort Crawford,” he said, “and from Galena.” I said, “You are twelve miles off your road, and there is no road from here to Prairie du Chien.” He asked me if I recollected a college boy at Lexington by the name of Jeff. Davis. I responded that I could never forget that dear friend. He said, ” I am Jeff.” I sprang from my door into the dark and drew hini from his horse.
He had come out expressly to visit me. “We talked nearly all night of our college-boy days, and he remained with me several days. Often, during the summer and fall, he made me delightful visits. He informed me of his course, etc., at West Point, and I related mine at Lexington after he left there in 1823. I told him of my loss of health and of the advice of Dr. Linn that I should quit the law office, high living and a sedentary life, and go to hard work, coarse food, exercise in the open air and on horseback, etc., etc., as the only means of regaining my health and of getting Josephine Gregoire for my wife, as I did on the 7th day of January next thereafter at Ste. Genevieve, Mo. I told dear Jeff, of how I had built those two seventeen feet square log cabins in two days from the standing trees, carrying up two corners thereof myself, putting on the clap-board roofs, the pine-plank unplanned floor, the batten door, and one eight by ten twelve-light window, the counter and shelves, etc., of pine plank which I had brought from Ste. Genevieve, Mo. ; that being the first work at carpentering that I had ever done, but that I was a natural born mechanic, musician and dancer. Strictly following out Dr. Linn’s advice, given me at Ste. Genevieve, Mo., in the spring of 1827, had restored me to health and vigour, as I have never since been confined one clay, though I am now upwards of eighty-seven years old.
Jefferson Davis was considered at Transylvania University, whilst he remained there with me, the most active, intelligent and splendid-looking young man in the College, although he had, as college mates, such young gentlemen as Gustavus A. Henry—the afterwards Eagle Orator of the South, Edward A. Hannegan, the Indiana statesman and orator, and such other distinguished men in after years as Hon. John M. Bass, the distinguished son-in-law of Felix Grundy, of Nashville, Tenn., Hon. Jno. W. Tibbatts, the Moreheads, Jesse D. Bright, David R. Atchison, Solomon W. Downs and many others of like distinction with whom Davis and I served as brother Congressmen in both Houses in after years, and up to the Civil War of 1861-65.
After I became a married man and built a much better dwelling-house at Sinsinawa Mound, Mr. Davis very often visited me there and became as a member of my family, and greatly attached to and beloved by my wife, children, adopted children, my brother-in-law, A. L. Gregoire, my two nieces, Misses Mary and Eliza Brady—afterwards the wives of Jacob Wyeth, M.D., and Col. Geo. W. Campbell, of Galena, 111., the latter a Federal officer in 1861-65. I served as General Henry Dodge’s aide-de-camp during the Black Hawk War of 1832, whilst Jefferson Davis was a lieutenant in the same campaign, under the then Colonel Zachary Taylor, President of the United States from the 4th of March, 1849, until he died, in July of that year. General W. S. Harney, then a captain, was in the same command with us. He, Colonel Taylor and Jefferson Davis often shared their tents with me in bad weather and divided their rations also with me, we of the militia having no tents whatever, and were often without bread. I had been well acquainted with Colonel Taylor and Captain Harney in the city of St. Louis, Mo., as early as 1824. Hence, my intimacy and the sharer of their kindness and Davis’ in the Indian War with the Sacs and Foxes, Winnebagoes, etc.
After the war and the treaty with the Sacs and Foxes, made by General Winfield Scott and General Henry Dodge, a short distance above the present city of Davenport, la., which I myself attended and participated in making, with Keokuk and other chiefs, and when Black Hawk was deposed, the lead miners of Illinois, Wisconsin, then Michigan Territory, et al., such as the Langworthies, the Camps, the Dodges, Harrisons, Wheelers, Foleys, Smiths, Lorimers, Gratiots, Jordans, McKnights, Lorains, Brophys, Carrolls, etc., etc., flocked in great numbers over the river to the near vicinity of Julien Dubuque’s deserted lead mines, at and near Catico and the present city of Dubuque, and took possession thereof, as squatters, miners, merchants, artisans, etc., etc. As soon as the same was made known to the administration of the then President of the United States, General Andrew Jackson, his Secretary of War, Hon. John Forsyth, issued order to Colonel Zachary Taylor, then in command at Fort Crawford, to have those intruders, the squatters, removed there from. Colonel Taylor immediately dispatched Lieutenant George Wilson, then of his command, with what was deemed a sufficient number of United States infantry to the Dubuque lead mines, to drive from them the squatters at the point of the bayonet, if necessary. The squatters laughed at the order, and soon afterwards Lieutenan Gardineer was sent down with an increased number of troops, to effect what Lieutenant Wilson had failed to do. Lieutenant Gardineer was as unsuccessful as Wilson had been, although he (Gardineer) destroyed many cabins and miners’ huts, their wagons, teams, etc. Colonel Taylor, then, having great confidence in Lieutenant Jefferson Davis, sent him down from Fort Crawford with an increased number of infantry troops to perform the duty in the very cold mid-winter and deep snow, in 1832 and 1833. Lieutenant Davis encamped with his command a very few yards north of the present tunnel and the now great Iron Bridge of the Illinois Central Railroad, on the east side of the river, in what is now known as East Duhuque, formerly and then as Jordan’s Ferry, in Jo Daviess County, 111. Mr. Davis immediately went in person across the river and commenced a very different course of action to that which had been pursued by his predecessors, Gardineer and Wilson, without any of his command, save, perhaps, an orderly-sergeant, and commenced to reason with the intruders upon what were yet Indian lands, as the treaty made by Generals Scott, Dodge, et al, had not been ratified by the Senate of the United States, if, indeed, it had been sent into that body for its ratification and approval. He was not very long in convincing such men as the Langworthy family. Colonel H. T. Camp, the Hampsteads, Lorimers and others, of the folly of resisting the strong Army of the Government of the United States. He found considerable trouble, however, in convincing two Irish brothers by the name of Harrison, who had struck, what they believed to be, a splendid prospect, if not a great lead, of the precious ore. He assured them that their claim to the mining lot of some ten acres, from which they had already raised some fifty to seventy-five thousand pounds of ore, should be respected and retained for them by the then Agent of the United States Lead Mines, at Galena, 111.—Major Thos. C. Legate, of the United States Army, who was his (Davis’) personal friend. His conciliatory course with those squatters convinced them that ” discretion was the better part of valor,” and great numbers of miners, smelters, store- keepers, teamsters, laborers, mined to leave the country en masse, and await the action of the Congress of the United States, or rather the Senate of the United States.
The Harrisons and all others, after the treaty was ratified, were restored to their possessions, and they all, without exception, became the warm friends and admirers of Jefferson Davis. I myself bought that prospect of the Harrisons and paid them ten thousand dollars in gold for their claim, which has ever since been known as the Harrison alias Kil bourn Lead, now the Karrick and wholly owned by myself at this late day, though it has passed through the hands of Captain Geo. Ord Karrick, Benjamin Kilbourn, Alexander Levi, Geo. W. Starr, Colonel Mason, the original Chief Engineer of the Illinois Central Railroad, and is now wholly owned by myself, as the successor of the above-named and other persons.
I was about to omit that there was but one woman amongst the squatters when Lieutenant Davis induced the whole community, save her, to leave those mines in the cold winter of 1832-33. That woman was the late Mrs. Lawrence, then bearing the name of her first husband. Mr. Davis, because of the extreme severity of the winter, permitted her to continue to occupy her log cabin. She remained during the residue of her life, the devoted and grateful friend of Jefferson Davis. She was a strict member of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Dubuque, and died there only some twelve months since, beloved by all who knew her. She never met me that she did not inquire for our mutual friend, Lieutenant Davis. I called to see her but a very few days before her death, when, on her dying-bed, she sent her warmest regards to and best wishes for our absent friend; although, like the members of her church in Iowa, generally, she was for the Union, and opposed to secession, as I myself was. But she believed Mr. Davis to be an honest man and a true friend to the whole country, whether he was for secession or not. Soon after the Black Hawk War of 1832, Mr. Davis became the Adjutant of the First Regiment of United States Cavalry, whose heroic and noble commander was General Henry Dodge, whose aide-decamp I was in that war. He and General Dodge became friends and admirers of each other during that campaign, if, indeed, they were not personal friends at Dodgeville and Mineral Point, in Wisconsin, hefore that Black Hawk War. Their association in the Indian War, and as brother officers of the Cavalry Corps of Dragoons, in both Houses of Congress and whilst Mr. Davis was Secretary of War, under General Franklin Pierce, President of the United States, from the 4th of March, 1853, until the 4th of March, 1857, and afterwards in and out of Congress, caused the formation of an intimacy, friendship and confidence between those great and good men and patriots, which I well know continued to exist whilst they both lived. I speak understandingly on this point, because I was General Dodge’s admirer and friend from my childhood, both of us having been born at Vincennes, Indiana, and we having lived together at Ste. Genevieve, Mo., where I was Clerk of the District Court of the United States, whilst General Dodge was the Marshal of the United States for Missouri, and also, because of our intimacy and devoted friendship in Wisconsin, and also in the Senate of the United States. General Dodge, as the Senator in Congress from Wisconsin, felt bound to obey the instructions of his Legislature on the subject of abolitionism, the Missouri Compromise and other like questions. Mr. Davis and I often voted against him on these questions; but as we were all three Democrats, the intercourse and friendship which had always existed between us was never, for one moment, interrupted, and I know that General Dodge died the warm admirer and friend of Mr. Davis, and, like myself, would have sustained him for any political or military position in the United States after, as well as before the late unfortunate Civil War. And such do I firmly believe was the opinion and feeling of General Augustus C. Dodge, the son of General Henry Dodge, who, as a private, served under his father in the Black Hawk War, where he, too, formed the friendship and confidence of Jefferson Davis, which existed whilst we were brother United States Senators and warm supporters of the administration of President Pierce, who sent him as the representative of the United States to Spain, at the court at Madrid, where he occupied an exalted position as the Minister of the United States. I refer thus particularly to the opinions and feelings of these two life-long personal and political friends, because I know that they, like myself and all others who knew Jefferson Davis well, were always aware of the great injustice and wrong which has been done to that hero, statesman and patriot, ever since the inauguration of the late Civil War, which he lamented as sincerely as any man, living or dead, and which he earnestly endeavoured to prevent in every honest and patriotic manner consistent with his position as a Southern man. I firmly believe that the future historian will do justice to him and his section, when the “sober second thought shall prevail” in our beloved country. But since the termination of the late inter-state war, all sorts of slander, detraction and ridiculous reports and stories have been fulminated, printed, published and scattered broad-cast over the land to injure the fair fame and good name of Mr. Davis. Amongst other ridiculous creations it has been published and circulated through the newspapers that Mr. Davis stole away in the night-time, from his residence in Prairie du Chien, the daughter of Colonel Zachary Taylor, and that he took her across the Mississippi River into Iowa, and that they were there married by a Catholic priest, whom Mr. Davis had induced to aid him in his nefarious scheme. The fact is, as I well know, that Mr. Davis married Miss Knox Taylor near Louisville, Ky., in the residence of a near blood relation (her aunt) and with the entire and full consent of every member of Colonel Taylor’s family. Colonel Hercules L. Dousman, of Prairie du Chien, who was an intimate and confidential friend of both Colonel Taylor and Mr. Davis, and always one of my earnest supporters in all of my contests for delegate to Congress from Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, assured me that Colonel Taylor never was unfriendly to Mr. Davis, either before or after his marriage to Miss Taylor, and that he made no objection to it. After Mr. Davis’ appointment as Adjutant of the First Regiment of United States Cavalry under my old commander and life-long friend. General Dodge, I never met with him until in the early winter of 1837-38, when he reached Washington City from the city of Havana, in Cuba, whither he had been for the restoration of his health, which had become greatly impaired on his farm or plantation in Mississippi. He called on me at my then boarding-house, at Dowson’s, on Capital Hill, some 150 or 200 yards northeast of the present Senate Chamber, where I messed with Senator Benton and Doctor Linn of Mo. Wm. Allen, Senator from Ohio, Hon. E. A. Hannegan of Indiana and some forty other members of Congress. I soon induced my old college-mate to become my guest, I having two good rooms besides our common parlor, and I sent immediately my servant for his baggage, at what is now the Metropolitan Hotel (then Brown’s). One one occasion Doctor Linn, Allen, Davis and I went to a large party together in the west end. At about midnight Doctor Linn proposed to go home, as he was not feeling well. We soon found Davis and Allen in the banqueting-room, eating supper and drinking champagne with I. I. Crittenden, Haws and others. Crittenden said: “Linn, you and Jones go home and Haws and I will take Allen and Davis with us, as we have a carriage to ourselves.” So Doctor Linn and I left them. Doctor Linn and I were soon in bed, and in a short time we heard in the distance the stentorian voice of Allen, coming up the Hill. Soon they entered Doctor Linn’s room, where I was in bed with him. Davis was without a hat, the blood, mud and water dripping down over his pale face, Allen all the while repeating the speech which he had been delivering to Davis, and which he (Allen) had made when he ran for the House of Representatives of the United States in Ohio, against Governor MeArthur, his future father-in-law. Doctor Linn soon dressed Davis’ severe wounds on his head. I went into Davis’ room, got clean, dry clothes and then took him into his room and put him to bed. The next morning early I went in to see whether Davis would soon be ready for breakfast. I found him unconscious, ran back and told Doctor Linn, who took a bottle of ether and giving me one of camphor, we commenced the proper application and rubbing, when Davis in a short time was restored to consciousness Doctor Linn said that Davis would have been dead in a few minutes had we not gone to his relief.
During Mr. Davis’ sojourn that winter with me he became well acquainted especially with our mess, and all became greatly attached to him and greatly admired him. I informed Hon. Robt. J. Walker, then a Senator from Mississippi, that I had a young friend and old college-mate with me, and advised him to call on and pay him some attention, as he was one of his constituents. My present recollection is that he never became acquainted with Davis until he became a member of the House of Representatives. They afterwards became warm friends. In 1846 (February) I went to Washington City as Surveyor-General of Wisconsin from Dubuque, and became a boarder at the same house where my friends, the two Dodges (then Delegates from Wisconsin and Iowa), Mr. and Mrs. Davis, Ambrose H. Sevier, Jacob Thompson and other Members of Congress boarded. On one occasion, when sitting by Davis in the House of Representatives, he said, “Augustus Dodge tells me that you are hard up for money, upon my inquiring of him as to your financial condition.” I replied that there was a judgment against me at home for $400, the only debt I owed. He took up his pen, drew a draft in my favor for one thousand dollars on J. U. Payne, his then commission merchant in New Orleans, and handed it to me. It surprised me, and I asked, “Where did you get money from, as the last time I saw you, in 1838, you were yourself pressed for money.” He said he had made good cotton crops on his plantation. I drew my note for $1000 in his favor, at ten per cent, interest, and handed it to him. He tore the note into pieces, threw them under his feet, saying, “When you get more money than you know what to do with, you may pay me, not before.” In 1853, as Secretary of War, he appointed my son, William A. Bodley Jones, without my knowledge, at a hint from Governor Dodge, of Wisconsin, to whom my son wrote on the subject a confidential letter, I having refused to make such an application for him, as I had other constituents who desired such appointments. During my absence at Bogota in 1861 my son, George R. G. Jones, left Dubuque, Iowa, and went to Nashville, Tenn., Hon. I. G. Harris, now of the United States Senate, being then Governor of the State. He sent for him, and immediately commissioned him in the Confederate Army, upon learning that he had been graduated at the W. M. Institute, and that he had gone South to volunteer in the service of that section, and that he was a son of mine.
My eldest son, Charles S. Jones, was then at Dubuque, awaiting my return home from Bogota. Soon after my return he, too, left Dubuque with his young wife, under pretence of visiting her parents at Frankfort, Ky., but with the intention, also, of tendering his services in the cause of the Confederacy, but without letting me or any other member of my family know what his real intention was. On reaching Richmond he immediately applied to President Davis for employment as a clerk in one of the departments. The President told him that no son of his father or mother could ask in vain for position under him, and gave him a note to Mr. Treholm for employment. In a very short time Charles received an appointment as an adjutant-general from General Bushrod Johnson, under whom he and his brother had both graduated. These evidences of the friendship which existed between Mr. Davis and myself and family are extremely gratifying to me, and to every member of my family, the dead as well as the living.
Some six to eight years since Mr. Davis wrote, me, informing me that a man living at Independence, Iowa, had his wife’s album, and requested me to try and get it for her, as it contained the likenesses of their children, living and dead, and of many old friends. I immediately wrote to a friend at Independence, and was informed that the man, whose name, I believe, was Moore, had removed to Waterloo. So I took the next train, and on reaching there, I learned to my regret that Moore had removed from Waterloo out into Tama County, some thirty miles farther out. So I got my abolition cousin, Mr. Tom P , to introduce me to some reliable Democratic attorney ; he took me to the law office of Messrs. Boies, Allen & Couch, when the latter gentleman agreed to accompany me the next morning to Tama County. The next morning, after early breakfast, I called for my attorney, and we were soon wending our way to Moore’s Mill, in Tama County, some one hundred and thirty to one hundred and fifty miles west of Dubuque. Before reaching Moore’s my attorney drew up a writ of attachment or repletion, and procured an officer, a young man of some eighteen to twenty years, to serve the paper, if necessary. On reaching within a mile of Moore’s Mr. Couch remained behind in the woods, as he would probably be known as an attorney. On entering the house, which my young officer knew, we found a rough-looking man seated on one side of a table, whilst a younger man, a woman and two or three little children were seated on the other side, where they had been eating. I said to the older man, “I understand that you have the album of Jefferson Davis, the Southern Secessionist, and that you wish to sell it.” He replied, “It is my son who has it, not I.” I then said to the son, “I am told that you wish to, or will, sell the album.” He replied, “There is such an album in this neighbourhood.” ‘• Well, I will give $10 for it, if it be the same album that I once saw in Washington, and it is in good condition.” He arose from his seat, went into an adjoining room, and I saw him through the crack of the door beckon to his wife to follow him, which she did. I then said to the father, “It can’t be, surely, the album of Mrs. Davis, a way out here in Iowa.” “Yes, it is,” he replied, ” for I saw it and other things taken out of Mrs. Davis’ trunk at Fortress Monroe, when Jeff, and his wife were there as prisoners.” The son and woman then returned to the room, when, holding his two hands behind his back, under his coat, he said, “You’ll pay $40 for it if I can get it.” “Yes, I will, if it be the same album that I have seen in the Secessionist’s house in Washington City, and it is in good condition, with the likenesses, etc., in it.” He then handed it to me, when I deliberately looked through it and said, “My own likeness, those of Generals Lee, Johnston and others, besides the little children of Mr. and Mrs. Davis, are not here ; where are they and the book is very dirty and much soiled,” etc. He said, “We have given many of the likenesses away to our friends since we got it.” I then handed it to the constable and said, “Serve your writ.” He said, “I attach this album,” when the old man said aloud, and looking savagely at me, “I thought you were some old Secesh,” and the woman, with vengeance in her eyes, said, “You are no gentleman.” I replied, “How would you, madam, like to have the album containing your little children’s likenesses, the dead as well as the living, stolen out of your trunk, with your jewellery and other valuables?” I said, “Constable, let us go,” and we walked out of the house, got into his buggy and drove out through the village to Mr. Couch, who, as soon as he saw me, said, “What success, general ?” “Here it is,” holding it up, “and I would not take a thousand dollars for it.”
He asked if we had given Moore a copy of the writ. I replied, “We have not, but we’ll return and do so.” “No,” he said,” I will now go back and do that, but you had better remain here as I did.” On Mr. Couch’s return, he said, “I found Moore’s house full of enraged men, and swearing vengeance against you.” The old man told Mr. Couch that he saw “the d—d old Secessionist with his hand in his coatpocket on his pistol.” That pistol was handed me as I left the door of his house in the morning by my good abolition cousin and friend, he insisting that I should take it. I believe it saved me from a severe beating, if not my life. On my return to Waterloo, I desired to pay my attorneys, Messrs. Boies & Couch, for Mr. Couch’s day’s service, etc., but they would receive no fee from me, although I had never before seen either of the two gentlemen. I since have had the pleasure to help elect Mr. Couch as the Judge of our District Court and to make Mr. Boies the Governor of our State. Mr. Couch paid Moore some time thereafter ten dollars for me, which sum Mr. Davis sent me on receipt of their stolen family album.
In the summer or fall of 1853 or 1854, Colonel Long, of the United States Engineer Corps, when at Dubuque inspecting the harbor improvement, under the Act of Congress, was applied to by my brother-in-law, Mr. Charles Gregoire, deceased, for permission to change the plan and survey of the same, he, Mr. Gregoire, being the then President of the Dubuque Harbor Improvement Company. Colonel Long refused to authorize the change, but suggested to Mr. Gregoire to get me to ask the then Secretary of War, Mr. Davis, to permit the change asked for to be made. On reaching Washington to resume my seat in the Senate, I made the request of the President, Mr. Gregoire, known to Secretary Davis who very promptly complied with the request of Mr. Gregoire. That change constitutes the present Ice Steamboat Harbor, an invaluable improvement.
Some eight or ten years ago, at a meeting in Dubuque of the Agricultural Society of the State, a resolution was unanimously adopted, requesting Hon. Jefferson Davis to come to Dubuque, from his then residence at Beauvoir, and deliver an address, and Mr. Solon M. Langworthy Avas appointed to and came to me and requested me to write to Mr. Davis to accept the invitation. I did so, and received a favourable reply. A short time thereafter, Mr. Davis came to this city (St. Louis), and after delivering an agricultural address at De Soto, some sixty miles from this city, wrote a letter to Mr. Langworthy and myself, declining to go to Dubuque. About seven years since, a scurrilous article was republished in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and taken from an Iowa paper, accusing Mr. Davis of having once been caught cheating at a game of cards for money at Prairie du Chien, and that he was then slapped in his face by one of the players, who was known to be a dangerous character. I called on the editor of the St. Louis paper and asked for the author of that article. I was not given any satisfaction by the editor. I was afterwards informed by a Bellevieu, Iowa, editor, that the story was entirely destitute of truth, its author, now dead, having been a notorious falsifier. I told this story to my lately deceased and noble old friend, General Wm. S. Harney, at his home at Pass Christian, when he denounced the same in bitter terms, saying that Mr. Davis was never a card-player, and that no man was ever permitted to slap him with impunity at Prairie du Chien, where he was associated with him, or at any other place.
AN ABLE MAN AND A LEADER
BY JAMES CAMPBKLIV
Ex-Postmaster General of the United States,
I KNEW Jefferson Davis well. I was intimately associated with him from 1853 to 1857, during the administration of President Pierce, when we were both in the Cabinet together, he as Secretary of War and I as Postmaster-General. I first made Davis’ acquaintance ih March, 1853, when we entered the Cabinet together, and our association soon became personal, as well as official, for—although I was a Northern man and he a
Southern, and he was an older man than I—he seemed to take a fancy to me, while I respected and admired him. Our relations were always pleasant, and we were together from the beginning to the end of President Pierce’s term. General Pierce’s Cabinet was peculiar in more ways than one. It was the only Cabinet in the history of the country that remained intact throughout the entire Presidential term, and it was singularly harmonious. We had the entire confidence of the President and he had ours, and he trusted more to his Cabinet officers than any President has done since. The Cabinet nowadays seems to be a mere corps of clerks who record the President’s wishes. Pierce’s Cabinet officers worked together for four years without the slightest difficulty or dissension.
There was never but one occasion during our four years together in the Cabinet when Mr. Davis and I had any difference of opinion which brought us into conflict, and it was not at all a serious one. In fact, the incident is so trivial that if it possesses any value now it is because anything that relates to Jefferson Davis has perhaps a certain biographical interest just now. It was early in President Pierce’s administration. In pursuance of my duty as Postmaster-General, at a meeting of the Cabinet I laid bel’ore the President certain recommendations as to appointments to the post-offices in various States—the more important post-offices, which were to be filled by the President himself, and which were known as Presidential appointments.
DAVIS DIDN’T LIKE IT
Among other recommendations were a number in Mississippi—Davis’ State—and some of the candidates recommended for appointment were men who had opposed Davis in his contest with Foote. Davis was a man of very intense likes and dislikes, and he didn’t at all like the idea of his political foes coming in for patronage, and he said so. But I insisted upon the list being put through. The President saw there was likely to be words between us over the Mississippi names, and he said, quietly: “Mr. Postmaster-General, please put those aside; I will take them up at another time.” I went over to the White House to see the President next day, and he said to me: “I have heard Mr. Davis’ objections to those names, but you were right. Make out those appointments.” President Pierce would never permit any political discussions at the Cabinet meetings. He had great tact, and we got along with wonderful harmony in the midst of a most exciting period. Mr. Davis came into the Cabinet under somewhat peculiar circumstances. He had been elected to the
House of Eepresentatives in 1845 from Mississippi, but had not particularly distinguished himself, when the Mexican War broke out. He had been educated as a soldier at West Point, as everybody knows, but had left the army and settled on a Mississippi plantation named Briarfield, which his brother, Joe Davis, a very rich man for those days, had given him. When the Mexican War broke out he at once resigned his seat in Congress and re-entered the army, where he served with especial distinction.
LEADING A FORLORN HOPE
When the war was over he was returned to the Senate, his colleague from Mississippi being Henry S. Foote, a very able man. Foote and Davis differed on the compromise measures of Clay in 1851, Foote sustaining them strongly, while Davis very strongly opposed them. The contest between Davis and Foote afterward became very bitter.
There was to be an election for Governor of Mississippi that year, and the Democrats had nominated General Quitman. As the canvass progressed it became evident to the leaders of the party that Quitman was a weak candidate and would be defeated. He was prevailed upon to withdraw three weeks before the election, and Jefferson Davis induced to resign his seat in the Senate, take Quitman’s place and lead a forlorn hope in the fight for the Governorship.
Davis made a plucky battle, and although he was attacked with pneumonia after a few days, and was unable to make speeches, he came within about 900 votes of being elected. After this defeat Davis remained quietly on his plantation until the Presidential canvass between Pierce and Scott, when Davis took the stump Pierce with enthusiasm and ability, and contributed largely to his carrying Mississippi. This service led to President Pierce tendering him the portfolio of Secretary of War, and so he came into the Cabinet. Mr. Davis impressed me as a firm, unyielding man, of strong attachments politically and personally, and equally strong in his dislikes. I believe Davis was a conscientious, earnest man. I am sure that he always meant to be in the right. He was unquestionably an able man and a leader, and there always seemed to be something of the soldier about him—the result of inheritance, probably, for his father had been a soldier. Plia tastes lay in that [direction, and he was in a congenial place as Secretary of War. Most of his nearest personal friends in Washington were army men.
I know that Jefferson Davis is not popularly known as a social, genial man, but he was, as I came to know him. But he was not much of a diner out or anything of that sort. He was very quiet and domestic in his habits and correct in his private life, and was exceedingly temperate both in eating and drinking. These abstemious habits he must have kept up all his life, or he never could have lived to be eighty-one years of age. Mr. Davis was in many respects one of the most lovable men whom I have ever seen. I may say, to know him was to love him. I am not surprised at the great affection which the people of the South had for him. In honoring his memory they honor themselves.
Jefferson Davis was one of the best educated men whom I ever came in contact with. His acquirements were broad and often surprised us. Caleb Gushing, who was in the Cabinet with us, was one of the most highly cultured men of his time, as all the world knows. He was famous for his retentive memory and an extent and range of knowledge that was encyclopaedic. President Jeff Davis wasn’t far behind Gushing, and that is saying a great deal.
A CASE IN POINT
As an instance, I remember on one occasion we were talking about a certain medicine. Mr. Davis went into a minute analysis and scientific description of its nature and effects, and seemed to know as much about it as though he were an educated physician who had made a special study of the subject. When he had finished I asked: “For Heaven’s sake, Davis, where did you learn all that?” “Judge,” he replied, “you forget that I have had to learn something of medicine so as to take care of the negroes on my plantation.” Davis was a reading man, especially upon historical subjects. He was particularly interested in the political history of his country, and I think there have been few men who were better posted in that line than Mr. Davis. In politics he was one of the most stubborn slavery men whom I ever met.
A DISCIPLE OF CALHOUN
He was a political disciple of Calhoun in all his most extreme States’ rights views. And although I could not agree with Mr. Davis on this point, and it was a time of intense partisanship and the bitterest feelings, which were soon to break out in secession and civil war, we never had an unpleasant dispute. Yet we always talked with great freedom. Davis and other Southern leaders, and especially the Senators from the Southern States with whom I was brought into constant official intercourse, talked with me with more frankness than to most Northern men, I suppose because I was the son-in-law of an Alabama slave-holder. In those days Northern and Southern Democrats alike felt that there would be great trouble in the country if Fremont was elected. Everything that the influence of the administration could do to turn the scale in favor of Buchanan was done. I went into the fight as earnestly as anybody, because I feared for the future, From the time President Pierce’s Cabinet separated, in 1857, I did not see Mr. Davis again for three years. It was late in the summer of 18G0, during the exciting political campaign which ended in the election of Abraham Lincoln. The whole country was intensely agitated, and there was great latent bitterness between the North and the South, for the two sections were arrayed against each other on the slavery question, and the South was ready to spring at the throat of the North.
Mr. Davis passed through Philadelphia on his way South. He had been to West Point as one of the Government Board of Visitors to the Military Academy. I called upon my old colleague at the Continental Hotel and had a long talk with him upon the grave political questions which then filled every thinking man with apprehension. We were both Democrats and both anxious for the success of our party, but from far different standpoints. Both of us were very much in earnest, and we sat deeply engrossed in anxious talk until the stage was at the door to take him to his train. There were some things said during that conversation which made a deep impression upon me, and which I have never forgotten. Mr. Davis was perturbed—uneasy—and I found that he was as anxious to consult with me as I was to see him.
THE AMALGAMATED TICKET
The Pennsylvania Democrats had tried to unite on what was called the Amalgamated Electoral ticket. There were two rival Democratic Presidential candidates in the field—Douglas and Breckinridge—and because of this serious split in the party there was great danger that the Republicans would elect Lincoln. Many leading Democrats, however, did not appreciate the situation, and felt secure in the strength of the party. I found that Mr. Davis was one of these. The fact that Democrats in Pennsylvania and in some other States had united on this amalgamated electoral ticket led many to underrate the serious nature of the division.
APPEALING TO MR. DAVIS
In beginning the conversation I told Mr. Davis that I was anxious to talk to him because of his commanding influence in the South. I told him I feared the future, and besought him to prevent, if possible, any outbreak in the South in the event of a Democratic defeat and a triumph of the party of abolition. Mr. Davis replied that he did not fear Democratic disaster, that the amalgamated ticket in Pennsylvania seemed likely to win. I earnestly told him that that was a mistake; that he must not allow himself to be deceived, and I gave him my reason at some length. I told him that Lincoln would certainly carry Pennsylvania by a very large majority and that he would certainly be the next President.
Mr. Davis was greatly surprised, and I could see that he was deeply affected. “Your news has chilled me,” he said. He explained that he had been talking with Democrats in New York who had given him an entirely different impression. “But,” he added, ” 1 have never known you to be deceived as to the politics of Pennsylvania, and I believe you are right.”
“DO NOTHING RASH.” I then said to him: “Mr, Davis, take it for granted that Abraham Lincoln will be the next President of the United States. Now, what are you men in the South going to do? Let me urge you, Mr. Davis, for God’s sake, to stand firm. Do nothing rash. You have got the Senate and the House. Lincoln can do nothing; he is powerless.”
Mr. Davis listened with deep attention to all I said, and sat buried in thought. “I have told you frankly,” I said to him, “what I am sure will be the result of the Presidential election. Now let me venture to prophesy what will occur four years hence. If you of the South will permit Lincoln to serve out his term I will pledge my life that his successor will be a Democrat.” Mr. Davis then said, laying his hand upon my arm—and I have never forgotten his words, for he spoke with great earnestness and—”I LOVE THIS OLD UNION.” “Campbell, I love this old Union. My father bled for it and I have fought for it. But unless you were in the South and knew our people, you could not begin to estimate the bitterness of feeling already engendered there, and which will increase if Lincoln is elected.” Just then Mrs. Davis came into the room and interrupted us. We were in the parlor of the hotel. She had a travelling bag in her hand and was waiting to go with her husband to the train. I rose to greet her, and as the coach was then waiting at the door Mr. Davis and I had no time to resume our conversation, so I bade him ‘-good-bye,” and we parted. I never saw him again nor heard from him. A few months afterward—the 9th of January, 1861—the State of Mississippi passed the ordinance of secession, Mr. Davis left his seat in the Senate at Washington, and a few weeks later he was made President of the Southern Confederacy.
CORRECTION OF MISREPRESENTATION
BY J. L. M. CURRY, I.L.D,
MORLEY, in his life of Walpole, speaks of an “epidemic of unreason” as a liability of his countrymen. In all matters pertaining to slavery, secession, the war between the States, and Jefferson Davis, their American cousins seem to be subject to the epidemical sin of ignorance, prejudice and passion. Men, who otherwise are rigorous as to the evidence and proof, find, in everything relating to its Confederacy and leaders, no assertion too wild, no insinuation too incredible, no fabrication too absurd. There is no present hope of correcting misrepresentation and perversion, but as data for the future historian it may be well to put on record a few demonstrable historical facts. They will help to elucidate the acts and character of Mr. Davis and clear up some prevalent misconceptions connected with the attempted establishment of the Confederacy. II. Secession was not a new, sudden, unheard-of remedy on the part of sovereign States for real or unanticipated evils. It grew out of a well-recognized theory of government and out of a well-known contention of political parties coeval with the foundation of the Republic. It was a necessary inference from the doctrine that the government was a confederacy of equal States, and that the Constitution was a compact to which the States were parties, and that each party had an equal right to judge of infractions and of the mode and measure of redress. The famous Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, and the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799, the National Democratic Convention at Cincinnati in 1856 adopted as one of the main foundations of its political creed, and pledged itself faithfully to abide by and uphold. The ratifications of the Constitution of the United States by the States of New York, and of Rhode Island, and of Virginia, reserved in express language the right to withdraw from the Union.
The delegates of New York declared ”•’that the powers of government may he reassumed by the people never it shall become necessary to their happiness; that every power, jurisdiction and right which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the
Congress of the United, or the departments of the Government thereof, remains to the peoples of the several States, or to their respective State governments, to whom they may have granted the same, etc.” Rhode Island declared “that the powers of government may be reassumed by the people whensoever’s it shall become necessary to their happiness.”
Virginia, in giving her assent, declared “that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, may be resumed by them whenever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression, and that every power not granted thereby remains with them, and at their will.” Mr. Josiali Quincy, of Massachusetts, regarded the purchase of Louisiana as invalid until each of the original thirteen States had signified its assent, and on the bill for the admission of Louisiana as a State into the Union in 1811, he said, “If this bill passes, it is my deliberate opinion that it is virtually a dissolution of the Union; that it will free the States from their moral obligation, and as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, definitely to prepare for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must.” In 1814 Charles Francis Adams introduced into the Massachusetts Legislature a resolution in reference to the annexation of Texas almost identical with Mr. Quincy’s utterances in 1811, and declared that Massachusetts was “determined to submit to undelegated powers in no body of men on earth.” In 1831 Maine declared in reference to the Northeastern Boundary Treaty, that it impaired her sovereign rights and powers, had no constitutional force or obligation, and that Maine was not bound by any decision which should be made under the treaty. The year preceding Massachusetts declared the treaty null and void, and in no way obligatory upon the government or people. In 1857 a State Disunion Convention was held at Worcester, in which it was resolved to seek ” the expulsion of the slave States from the confederation, in which they have ever been an element of discord, danger and disgrace,” and to organize a party whose candidates should be publicly pledged ” to ignore the Federal Government, to refuse an oath to its Constitution, and to make the States free and independent communities.” The Southern States, as previously announced, regarded the election of Mr. Lincoln by a sectional vote as involving necessarily the perversion of the government from its originally limited character and the overthrow of all those guarantees which furnished the slightest hope of equality and protection in the “irrepressible conflict” thus precipitated upon the minority section. The writer is not vindicating the secession of the States, nor deprecating the failure of the Confederacy; but as the right of secession is much misunderstood, a quotation is made from an article written by myself for the Philadelphia Times and published on 24th January, 1 880: “As this is the experimental acmes of the whole controversy, much misunderstood by foreigners, I will state it more fully. The secession of South Carolina may have been rash and foolish. That is not the point at issue. The naked question is, Did South Carolina have the right to secede? If so, the allegiance of her citizens followed necessarily. The Hon. Stanley Matthews, a scholarly lawyer and statesman, in his recent address at the unveiling of the statue of General Thomas, said ‘ The rebellion of 1861 was founded on a fundamental misconception of the character of the political institutions of the country and of the relation of the governments of the States to that of the United States, and a failure to realize the truth that behind and below these instrumentalities of political action there was a constituency that was their originating and supporting cause, the unity of which made a nation of all the people.’ In this extract are a petitio principii and a statement of fact which, as a fact, exists only in the minds of consolidationists. It is assumed that the war between the States was a rebellion, the very matter in issue. It is asserted that a people, or a constituency,’ en masse, in the aggregate, lay behind and originated the State and Federal governments and fused them into a nation. The production of the scintilla of a historical or political fact to sustain the assertion may be safely challenged.
Acting as a unit, or in the aggregate, the people of the United States, or a constituency behind and below Federal and State governments, never did a political act, and never can, without a thorough revolution in our whole system. When and where did this ‘constituency’ ever assemble, or vote, or legislate, or adjudicate, or execute? The Union, as a government, had as its ‘originating cause’ the people of the several States, acting in their separate and sovereign conventions as distinct political communities. The the Convention of 1787, and the States, each for itself, binding its citizens, ratified and thus adopted the Constitution. Now, whether the government, the Union, thus constituted, the creature of the States, was the final judge of the extent of the powers granted by the States and expressed in totidem verbis in the Constitution, or whether the States, as parties to and creators of the compact, had a right to judge of the extent of the powers delegated and reserved and to protect their citizens against the encroachments of the Federal Government, their agent, is the question, not to be decided by figures of rhetoric or sectional prejudice, but by historical records and the unimpeachable antecedents to the formation of the Federal Government or Union.
South Carolina held that she entered the Union quoad lioc, to the extent of the powers delegated in the Constitution. So far as related to powers reserved and undelegated, she was out of the Union. She held that the Government of the United States, in any or all of its departments, had no more right to govern her, within the scope of the reserved powers and outside of what had been delegated, than had Great Britain or France, and what lawyer who regards the Constitution as the full grant of all the powers of the Federal Government can hold otherwise?”
The Constitution of the Confederate States was not the overthrow of a representative republic. It was the re-enactment of the Constitution of the United States with the Southern interpretation of that instrument. It was modeled on that of the United States ajid followed it with rigid literalness, except on the subject of African slavery. It sought to protect the rights of the States and the rights of the people and the rights of property against usurpation or oppression. The most prejudiced critic will be unable to find clause or word hostile to any Northern interest. The New York Herald, on the 16th of March, 1861, published the Constitution of the Confederate States in full, and on the 19th of March recommended the adoption by the United States of “this ultimatum of the seceded States.” It said: ” The new Constitution is the Constitution of the United States with various modifications and some very important and most desirable improvements. We are free to say that the invaluable reforms enumerated should be adopted by the United States, with or without a reunion of the seceded States, and as soon as possible.
But why not accept them with the propositions of the Confederate States on slavery as a basis of reunion?”
The Confederacy had the enthusiastic assent of the people of the Southern States. The votes in behalf of secession and of the adoption of the Constitution were deliberate and voluntary. The war was sustained with equal zeal and unanimity. No people ever endured more cheerfully such privations and sacrifices. Since the war, President Davis has been censured for not making peace. It has been said that he, as President and Commander-in-chief, knew the exhaustion of our resources, the rapidly diminishing Army, the inability to sustain the terribly unequal contest. Without entering upon that question it may be incontestably said that it is very doubtful whether the States would have sanctioned peace without independence; it is almost certain the Army would not. V. It is often absurdly alleged that the South premeditated secession and made large military 1, preparations for it. The accusation is ridiculous. Provision for war was impossibility. In 1860, war was as unanticipated as it was unwished for. One of the first acts of President Davis was to accredit Commissioners to visit Washington and use all honourable means for obtaining a satisfactory adjust merit of all questions of dispute between the two Governments. The Confederacy in its infancy had neither soldier nor seaman, neither army nor navy, neither revenue nor credit. It had not even the machinery of a well-organized general Government.
The South had no facilities for the manufacture of guns or any of the munitions of war. What was extemporized as the nucleus for defence was purchased in Baltimore and Northern cities. The South fought against most unequal odds. She was conquered by the avoirdupois of preponderant force, by a rigidly-enforced blockade, by wearing attrition, by decimation of people, and never by superior valor or skill. She combated the public opinion of Europe, a powerful and well-organized Government, an army reinforced at will, limitless resources of means and money, and as much skill and courage as ever assembled under a nation’s flag or did duty at a country’s call.
Northern religious assemblies, newspapers, poets and orators indulge in much self-commendation because of the abolition of slavery, and claim with much self-satisfaction that that event, which no one deprecates or regrets, was brought about in response to the demands of the Northern conscience. No right-thinking person will be disposed to withhold from abolitionists whatever credit is due to them for their opinions and propagandist, but it is a severe and naked historical fact that a military necessity compelled emancipation. The document which “ushered in the great political regeneration of the American people,” using the language of Mr. Lincoln’s biographers, was the proclamation of President Lincoln, declaring the freedom on 1st of January, 1863, “of all persons held as slaves within any State then in rebellion against the United States.” Mr. Lincoln’s excuse for, or vindication of, this exercise of power he gives himself ” As commander-in-chief of the army and the navy in the time of war, I suppose I have the right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy. . I view the matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.” The House of Representatives, subsequently, by a vote of 78 to 52, adopted a resolution that the policy of emancipation as indicated in the proclamation of the President, “was well- chosen as a war measure.”
President Davis possessed a sound judgment, tenacity of will, tried integrity and large experience in that greatest of practical arts—government; but the Confederacy furnished little scope for sagacious statesmanship. The difficulties were constant and incalculable, but there was never occasion, for diplomacy or legislative wisdom. Financial success was beyond human attainment. From the beginning to the sudden collapse of the Confederacy, the question was one of arms, of patriotism, of patient endurance. The civil was necessarily subordinated to the military. How to raise troops, how arm, clothe, subsist, transport, officer them, how make and keep effective the War Department, the Commissary and Quartermaster Bureaux : these were the questions to be grappled with and they proved to be unmanageable.
OPINIONS AND IMPRESSIONS
BY HON. A, H. GARIAND,
Ex-Attorney-General of the United States.
MY acquaintance with Mr. Davis began on the 20th day of May, 1861, the day on which Arkansas was admitted a member of the Southern Confederacy. I was one of the five members from Arkansas to the Provisional Congress of the Confederacy, then in session at Montgomery, Ala., and we called upon him as President on that day, and dined with him at his private residence.
He was as pleasant and affable, I think, as ever man was, and discussed matters freely and with deep concern, showing he had weighed well the great undertaking then upon him, and while he was cheerful and hopeful, he was thoughtful. He seemed especially gratified that Arkansas had joined the Confederacy, and his welcome to her delegation was cordiality itself. The particular question then in hand and exciting some feeling was, whether the seat of government should be transferred to Richmond, Va. The members of Congress were, by no means, united on this. Mr. Davis favored the change, and quietly and without exhibiting any feeling on the subject gave his reasons for it.
In a few days the vote was taken and the change was made. The session at Montgomery soon closed, and Congress and the President separated, amid exciting scenes of preparation for the gigantic work before them, to meet again the following July in Richmond. At Richmond, on Sunday, the day of the first battle of Manassas—in my memory yet, as the hottest, closest and most sultry day I ever saw—with two or three others, I called upon Mr. Davis and spent some little time with him. While he did not say so, yet he intimated important events were transpiring north of the capital, and in canvassing the situation with great self-possession, he did not conceal his anxiety; and sure enough, before that night the first step that led on almost to the change of front of the world had been taken. From this time forward being, after the termination of the Provisional Congress, a member of the House of Representatives of the permanent Congress for nearly two terms, and a Senator just before and at the close of the war, I had almost daily intercourse with Mr. Davis, meeting him often privately, and frequently as one of a committee to discuss public measures and affairs.
In one of those interviews he preserved that excellence of manner and address for which he was so deservedly noted. With the energy of his convictions, he would maintain his views, but not petulantly or dictatorially, and conceded the utmost latitude of opinion and expression to all. Mr. Davis has often been called obstinate. I think this is an exaggeration. That he was a man of deep and strong convictions, and feared not to express them there can be no question: that he was a man of great poiver of purpose is equally true, and I know of no one who is much account who has not a large share of that ; and filling the positions Mr. Davis did, to have been without it, one would have been most singularly out of place. Obstinacy implies an unyielding to reason, to argument : it is an accompaniment of ignorance. But Mr. Davis was, by no means, an ignorant man; quite the contrary, he was learned and accomplished, and his was an intelligent decision of character. He had been, and was when I knew him, a close, industrious student, and he possessed vast, knowledge, which he could impart in the most felicitous manner, either by word or by writing.
His political struggles in Mississippi had been fierce and straining to the utmost. That was the order of the day then and there. In that State, where lived probably more gifted popular orators than in any other State, according to population, he had many a hard-fought field, and there he won his laurels among the foremost. Probably no contest in any country was more intensely interesting and more absorbing than was his with Governor Foote for the Governorship of Mississippi in 1851, and probably never was a political conflict waged, on both sides, with more stubborn determination.
The excitement went away out of and beyond the territory of Mississippi. Coming up the Mississippi river that fall just after the election, but before its result was generally known, on the old “Fannie Smith,” one of the finest crafts that ever walked the waters, I heard nothing but, ” What’s the news from the Mississippi election ? ” till I reached Louisville, Ky. At every landing, from Memphis to Louisville, old men and old women, young men and young women, and boys and girls, would crowd to and upon the boat as she landed, until she would almost turn over, crying out at the top of their voices, ” Whose elected Governor of Mississippi ?” Passing through such struggles, he would have been something more than man if their impress had not been left upon him. Doubtless they did contribute to make firm and solid a nature already much self-possessed and self-reliant.
I have spoken of him as an educated and accomplished man, and in this connection I have often thought his State papers and his communications to Congress were models of English composition. In my opinion, in this respect they have not been excelled. Being a positive and direct man, he always impressed me that he was brave and courageous, and true to the principles he advocated. The service he did the Republic, and the glory he won before the birth of the Confederacy, entitle him to this praise. And I doubt not there was not an hour during the war between the States he would not have given up his life as readily as he would have put a cent in a charity box, if by so doing he believed he could have secured the independence of the Confederacy.
His care and solicitude for the Confederate soldiers was manifest upon every occasion, and it was the genuine exhibition of a father’s love for his children. It has been said often, that with someone else at the head of the Confederacy the result would have been different. This I do not subscribe to. Mr. Davis managed her affairs as well, in my judgment, as they could have been, and he did all for the people who trusted him that could have been done; and he came just as near succeeding as any other one would who might have been in his place. The debate as to his true position in history will be long—may be endless. Certain it is, the time is not yet when this verdict can be made up and entered. Plutarch, in his essaj’s, speaks of one Antiphanes, who told it, that in a certain city the cold was SO intense that words were congealed as soon as spoken, but that after some time they thawed and became audible, so that words spoken in winter were articulated next summer. The fitting opinions and impressions formed of Mr. Davis may as yet be congealed, and be not heard, but in the softening influence of the future—when summer comes—they too may be thawed and made audible, and he will be ranked among the first who have figured in history.
BY J. RANDOI.PH TUCKER.
HE come on the invitation of the Governor of the Commonwealth to join with millions in the South, and in union with those who attend upon the obsequies at New Orleans to do reverence to the splendid name and fame of Jefferson Davis, the soldier, the statesman and the Christian patriot. We come to bury Davis—and to praise him. We will not revive the thoughts, the motives or the actions of a past generation, but with warm and honest hearts we avow, that though our Confederacy be buried forever, we still love and revere the truth and Integrity, the constancy and fortitude, the honor and the virtues, the genius and the patriotism of the heroes who led and filled our armies ; and of the executive chieftain whose master hand directed our destiny in that momentous crisis.
Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky in 1808. I do not doubt that his name gave direction to his opinions by throwing his mind under the fascinating influence of Thomas Jefferson, whose writings have exerted so large a power over the American people.
Mr. Jefferson in his political philosophy had evolved two ultimate principles. The first, the selfdeterminant power of the man which led him to his sentiment for the universal freedom of all men under proper conditions. The second, the self-determinant power of the State in the Federal Union, as essential to the freedom of its people from the despotism of entralism.
Kentucky gave birth to two men in the early part of the century, Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln. Both of these embodied the ultimate principles just mentioned of Mr. Jefferson, but not in like proportions. Mr. Lincoln held to unconditional emancipation as far as political power reached, and did not hold the limit on power imposed by the second principle to the same extent or with the same tenacity with which it was held by Mr. Jefferson. On the other hand, Mr. Davis, while no doubt holding to the ultimate freedom of all men, recognized the conditions which environed the question, making emancipation practically difficult, and gave more force to them as postponing the result ; and held with unconditional tenacity to the second principle as essential to the autonomy of the States of the South, and to the political liberty of their people. Young Davis went to West Point as a cadet, as the son of his mother Mississippi, who sent him there to be educated for her, upon the basis of her contribution through taxation to the expenses necessary for the support of the Military Academy. He enlisted in the army, and distinguished himself as a gallant officer in the Black Hawk war. As a young lieutenant, Davis won the love of the daughter of General Zachary Taylor, afterwards president of the United States. “With the father’s consent he married her, and in three months he buried this beautiful object of his early love. The story of his grief and devotion to her memory, as told to me, shows how tender and true was this strong, brave man—to become in later years, as we have seen, a man of destiny.
He left the army, and devoting himself to plantation life—that realm for thoughtful speculation and philosophical study with a large class of southern men, who have filled a conspicuous place in the history of the country—became a close student of constitutional history and government. He was soon elected to the House of Representatives, but when the Mexican war broke out in 184G, he raised a regiment of Mississippi riflemen, took a distinguished part in the siege of Monterey, and with his regiment decided the fate of the day on the victorious field of Buena Vista, Feb. 22d and 23d, 1847. Mississippi then sent Colonel Davis to the Senate of the U. S., where during the celebrated debates on the compromise measures of 1850 he took a prominent place. It was at that time 1 first saw him, when he rose with brave and manly face to challenge to discussion the celebrated Henry Clay then as now, one of the most striking figures in all American history. Mr. Davis was beaten by Henry S. Foote for Governor in 1851, and remained thereafter in private life until called to the War Department by President Pierce in March, 1853. Here he displayed great capacity for organization, and in the administration of the details of the War office, of which even his enemies do not scruple to testify.
In 1857 he returned to the Senate, where he remained until the winter of 1860-61, when Mississippi having seceded from the Union, Mr. Davis withdrew from the Senate, after delivering a valedictory address which produced a profound impression upon his audience, and upon the public at large. In February, 1861, he was called to be President of the Confederate States of America, and so continued to be until the surrender of the Confederate armies in April, 1865. In May of that year he was captured and was closely confined until 1867 in Fortress Monroe, when he was released on Habeas Corpus on application to the United States Court. It is a pleasure to announce that while the conduct of that proceeding was directed by the pre-eminent counsellor, Charles O’Connor, of New York, the honor of being associated with him was shared in a subordinate position by me. After his release, the first use of his freedom manifests the tenderness of the father’s heart; he and Mrs. Davis went to visit and to dress the grave of the young son they had lost during the war. He went back to his home. He was never tried—he was never re-arrested. He asked not for a removal of his political disabilities. They were never removed.
During the years which have passed since his release, Mr. Davis has written a very able and valuable history of the Confederate States, in which there is a disquisition on the constitutional questions involved in their secession from the Union. And thus, withdrawn from public observation, he has lived at his home, until at the age of 81 years, he closed his life on the 6th inst., in New Orleans. After this epitome of his life the question presses for answer, why do we join in this tribute to his memory? Several answers may be given. First, he was in himself worthy of our admiration and esteem. He had a splendid intellect, keen and critical in insight, and profound and diligent in research. Bold in conception, he was logical in process.
A philosophical thinker on the highest problems of Political Science, he had in a high degree the practical sense for the administration of public affairs. In the Senate, standing erect in mind and person, as a champion of the truth, he flung down the gage of battle in the arena of debate with a courage as heroic as his courtesy was knightly. His will was guided by convictions—the deepest convictions. He had, it is true, his prejudices and his preferences. His judgment, despite these, was sound and reliable, though not infallible. His soul was the seat of honor and chivalry. He was true to friends, and firm and resolute to foes. His affections were ardent his impulses noble, his motives pure, and his faith in God fixed, humble and sincere. 2. Again, we owe him reverence, for Davis was the heroic friend of the South Land. He did not seek her archonship, it sought him. He heard her clarion call and he obeyed it with a religious purpose to save her liberty in the new Confederacy. Among all her men, he seemed to have the combination of qualities which best fitted him for the service.
He had experience in statesmanship, practical knowledge of affairs, eloquence, logic and personal magnetism; and a resolution which could not be turned aside, and a will which would not yield to fear, and which could not be seduced by policy or personal interest. Take him as civilian and soldier, as orator and logician, as statesman and popular leader, as a judicious counsellor and the possessor of an aggressive and unbending will; I think it may be said that none of his contemporaries equalled him in the entireness of his manhood, though many excelled him in some one of his wonderful gifts. If he failed, who could have succeeded? If he made mistakes, which one of his contemporaries would have made less in number or less in degree? This much is undoubtedly true, Jefferson Davis heroically maintained the principles for which the South contended, with an eye that never quailed, with a cheek that never blanched, a step that never faltered, a courage that never flinched, a fortitude that never failed, a fidelity that even captivity could not repress, and with a constancy even unto death I For four years without commerce or national recognition; with a government new and imperfectly organized; with army and navy to be raised ; with Department of War and bureaux of war supplies to be improvised; with scarcely one-half the numbers of its foe and less than half the resources, the Confederacy under his leadership, and with the genius of its military and naval heroes, upheld a conflict which was the miracle of the age in which it occurred, and will be the romance of the future historian. It is true the Confederacy went down below the horizon of history forever, and its name as a nation is effaced from the page of human annals for all time to come; yet the cheeks of our children will not blush for its fate, but will flush with pride and admiration, as they hear the tale of the patience, constancy and fortitude, the adventurous daring, and heroism, the genius of leadership, and the victories of their noble fathers.
Our Confederacy sank in sorrow, but not in shame. Dark and gloomy clouds gathered in heavy folds around its setting, but they did not—they could not blacken it! It lit them into effulgence with its own transcendent glory. 3. But again, Jefferson Davis deserves our reverence because he has stood for a quarter of a century in our place. He endured a cruel captivity for two years, and for the residue of that time has been the vicarious victim of obloquy and reproach due to us all, and heaped upon him alone by the press and people of the Xorth. EQs fortitude and devotion to truth never failed. He endured not in silence, but with a protest which history has recorded, and will preserve as an emphatic vindication of the Confederacy which had perished, from malign aspersions on the motives of its friends, on the origin and causes of its formation and on the purposes of justice and liberty, which inspired those who died in its defence, or who survived to illustrate its principles in doing the duties, public and private, which Grod in his providence assigned them to perform. He died a citizen of Mississippi and of the United States, and under disability to hold office under the government of the United States. He desired no place; why should he ? He had filled his place in the temple of fame and in the domain of history. In personal dignity, and in the peace of God, he lived and died. What artificial disability could taint his real nature ? Why seek to remove it? He had made an heroic and honest efibrt to give freedom and independence to the South and had failed. God’s will be done!
He chose the sacred retirement of home, its charms of family and friends, of calm and [philosophical reflection and study, and waited with firm reliance on divine goodness for the last summons, which comes to him who has humbly but bravely, conscientiously, and with undaunted courage and patience, done his duty, as he saw it, to truth, to his country and to God!” Whether on cross uplifted high, Or In the battle’s van ; The fittest place for man to die, Is where he dies for man !” Virginia ! Rockbridge ! Lexington ! ever keeping guard over the holy dust of Lee and Jackson, turn aside to-day with millions of your countrymen; with mournful reverence and tender hearts to twine a wreath of martial glory and weave a chaplet of civic fame, to rest upon the tomb of Jefferson Davis ! In a peculiar sense the fate of our Confederacy is recalled to-day. On its grave—finally closed this hour—will be inscribed in imperishable characters the immortal name of the martial civilian who was its first, its only President. We plant flowers about it and water them with our tears, not hoping for, or as emblems of its anticipated resurrection, but to embalm it in our fragrant memories and in our most precious abjections. And then, turning from the ashes of our dead past to the active duty dictated by the example and counsels of our departed leaders, Albert Sidney Johnston, Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, we will labor with a fidelity wrought by the stem but noble discipline of our past experience, for the maintenance of the constitutional liberty, they imperilled their lives to save, and for the promotion of the true prosperity, progress and glory of our common country.
BY HON. G. G. VEST
United States Senator from MissourLWITH the multitude, “success is the criterion of merit.” When the Confederate Armies surrendered their battle flags, they surrendered also the history of their heroic struggle against the overwhelming numbers hurled upon them. It is not meant by this that the record of battles, campaigns and sieges became the property of the victors, but only that the outside world can never know the motives of the vanquished, their devotion to what they believed to be the right, their heroism during the long, dark years of that bloody struggle, when the prejudices of the civilized world were arrayed against their cause, and the mercenaries of every land swelled the armies of their adversary. The cause of the Confederate States was under the ban of Christendom, because identified with African slavery. It was useless then, and it is useless now, to attempt an explanation to foreigners, the masses of whom are unacquainted with our institutions and their history, and whose educated men even are imperfectly informed as to the autonomy of our Government, of the fundamental and radical difference of Constitutional construction which began with the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, and culminated in Civil War. The world is too busy for such discussion, and results alone are regarded.
No one, amongst public men, knew so well the odds in favor of the United States and against the Confederacy, in the event of war, as did Jefferson Davis. He was an educated soldier, and had distinguished himself upon the battle-field and as Secretary of War. He was a statesman, earnest, laborious and unwearying in tlie examination of public questions and the resources of every section. His service in the Senate and Cabinet, and the attrition of debate with the ablest minds, gave him accurate information of the military strength of both North and South. His intellect was acute, well-trained and untiring. He was cool, deliberate, without the passion that clouds reason, and cautious in all his conclusions. The fierce excitement aroused by sectional controversy did not hurry him into secession ; but he went with his people, believing they were right, and prepared for any fate. Mr. Davis believed that the North had resolved upon the invasion and destruction of Constitutional guarantees, upon which rested the property rights, social life, and even the autonomy of the Southern States. In his deliberate judgment the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency upon the sectional basis of opposition to slave property, meant that the South must submit to political degradation and dishonor, or sever their connection with the Union, and face the result.
He knew that the South was not alone responsible for African slavery, but that the North had clung to it until slavery had ceased to be profitable. He knew that in the formation of the Constitution the New England States had agreed to the extension of the slave trade, in order to secure the navigation laws which they considered vitally important to their commerce. With this knowledge he resented with all the vehemence of a strong and manly nature the hypocritical pretence that “slavery was a covenant with death,—a league with hell,” and that the Northern conscience could not longer tolerate its existence.
His intelligence discerned clearly the true intent, partially concealed, in the avowal that slavery would not be attacked in the States, but could not be extended to other territory. He had been taught by history that sentimental and sectional fanaticism would never stop until all its objects were accomplished, and he understood the full force of the frenzied appeal to the Northern people, “that slavery must be surrounded by a cordon of fire until, like a viper, it stung itself to death.”
Mr. Davis knew, as did every reflecting man not an unreasoning optimist, that the election of Lincoln meant to the South degradation or war. The idle talk of fighting in the Union, and under the flag, did not touch his knowledge that the real Union had disappeared with the supremacy of a party based upon the idea of destroying the property rights of the people in fifteen States. With these opinions and convictions Jefferson Davis gave himself unreservedly, heart, soul and brain, to the cause of his people. It was his ardent wish to serve in the field, for he was by instinct and training a soldier, but he was called to the Presidency of the infant republic, and, with full knowledge of the terrible task, accepted it with solemn and earnest purpose.
To those who have no knowledge of the inner life of the Confederate Government, it is difficult to convey even an inadequate idea of the difficulties which confronted the President of the Confederate States. The Southern people, brave and devoted, were impetuous, untrained, and unprepared for war. Their leaders in political life were men of great, but irregular talents, ambitious, fierce and intractable. Their ideas of war were crude and impracticable. In the matter of supplies, so absolutely necessary to military success, they had been taught by De-Bow’s Review that ” Cotton was king,” and that a cotton famine in Europe would force England and the great Continental powers to interfere in behalf of the Confederate States. As this dream vanished, and all the horrors of war came nearer to the homes and hearts of the Southern people, as their finances became disordered, their supplies exhausted, and the ranks of their armies thinned by disease and death, demagogues and traitors, jealous rivals, and half-hearted friends turned against the head of the government, and charged the mass of accumulating misfortune to his evil and malign influence. He was accused of prejudice, nepotism, kingly ambition, and as the sound of hostile guns came nearer and nearer to the beleaguered capital of the Confederacy, the louder swelled the clamor of this discordant and malignant disaffection. Confected and calm, unmoved by misfortune, unvexed by accusation, Jefferson Davis discharged the trust i-eposed in him by the Southern people, with the heroic and sublime devotion of a martyr.
That he made many mistakes is but to admit that he was mortal. That his confidence was often abused, and the conclusions he reached erroneous, no one will deny who knows the truth ; but amidst unparalleled difficulty and danger, surrounded by perils within and without, the loyalty of Jefferson Davis to the Southern cause was never doubted by even his most unrelenting foes. When the end came, and all the vials of the victor’s wrath were emptied upon his devoted head, insulted and outraged, manacled in a felon cell, and watched by night and day, as if a wild beast, his splendid courage and unshrinking heroism brought the tears to even manhood’s eyes throughout the world, and shamed the coward pack that hounded him.
At last there came an hour in which he met his accusers face to face in a Court of Justice and dared them to the worst. Serene and inflexible, he stood before the tribunal an incarnation of constancy and fortitude. In his person, resolute and uncomplaining, submissive to the will of God, but cringing not to mortal man, the South had its noblest type of manhood. He was its true representative, and every insult, every sorrow, every pang endured by him thrilled and touched every Southern heart. Amidst the flowers of the South, where the moaning gulf sobs its requiem for the glorious dead, Jefferson Davis passed the closing years of a life which will cause for centuries both the severest criticism and the most touching devotion. The events in his career are too recent, the colors now The time will come when all will see in the Southern leader that one great quality, which in all climes and ages has commanded the admiration of mankind,—constant, unyielding, uncompromising adherence to what he believed a just cause. To the Southern people there will be no change in love and reverence for one who never faltered in his love for them. Through all the ages, until constancy, courage and honest purpose become valueless among men, the flowers will be ht^ap d by loving hands upon his grave.
BY REV. MOSES HOGS, D.D.
SOMEWHAT wearied, as I am, with the number of special services which have devolved on me of late, it was my desire and effort to be relieved of the one now assigned to me. But the constraint laid on me to perform it was one I could not properly resist. I have probably been called to undertake this office because I am one of the few pastors in this city who resided here during the Civil War, and because circumstances brought me into personal association with the President of the conquered Confederacy. I heard his first address to the Richmond people from the balcony of Spotswood Hotel, after the removal of the capital from Montgomery. I stood beneath the ominous clouds, in the dismal rain of that memorable day, the 22d of February, 1862, when, from the platform erected near the Washington monument in the Capitol Square, after prayer by Bishop Johns, he delivered his inaugural address, in clear but gravely modulated tones. I have ridden with him on horseback along the lines of fortification which guarded the city. I have had experiences of his courtesy in his house and in his office. I was with him in Danville after the evacuation, until the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; and while I never aspired to intimacy with him, my opportunities were such as enabled me to learn the personal traits which characterized him as a man, as well as the official and public acts which marked his administration and which now form a part of the history of the country.
And now permit me to say a word with regard to the kind of service which I deem appropriate to the hour and to the place where we meet. This is a memorial service, and not an occasion for the discussion of topics which would be appropriate elsewhere and at another time. Every congregation assembled in our churches in these Southern States to-day forms a part of the vast multitude which unites in mind and heart with the solemn assembly in New Orleans, where, in the presence of the dead, the funeral services are in progress at this hour. There, all that is most tender and most impressive centres, and it becomes all who compose those outlying congregations to feel and act in sympathy with what is now passing in the sad but queenly city which guards the gates of the Mississippi, in the church draped in sable, and where the bereaved sit beside the pall with hearts filled with a sorrow which no outward emblems of mourning can express. If we place ourselves in sympathy with the emotions which concentre there, and which radiate to the wide circumference of the most distant congregations uniting in these obsequies, then how evident it is that political harangues and discussions calculated to excite sectional animosities are utterly inappropriate to the hour. It is not the office of the minister of religion to deal controversially with the irritating subjects which awaken party strife.
It is his duty and privilege to soften asperities, to reconcile antagonistic elements, to plead for mutual forbearance, to urge such devotion to the common weal as to bring all the people. North, South, East and West, into harmonious relations with each other, so as to combine all the resources of the entire country into unity of effort for the welfare of the whole. I trust this will be the tone and spirit of all the addresses made in the churches today throughout the South ; and may I not hope that as there are no geographical boundaries to the qualities which constitute noble manhood, such as courage, generosity, fortitude, and personal honor, there will be many in the Northern arid Western States who will be in sympathy with the eulogies which will be pronounced to-day by the speakers who hold up to view those characteristics of their dead chieftain which have always commanded the admiration of right-minded and right-hearted men in all lands and in all centuries.
The day is coming when the question will not relate so much to the color of the uniform, blue or gray, as to the character of the men who wore it; when the question will be, who were most loyal to what they believed to be duty, who were most dauntless in danger, who most sublime in self-sacrifice, who illustrated most splendidly the ideal of the patriot soldier? Before the commencement of the strife which ended in the dismemberment of the Union, all men familiar with the life of Mr. Davis, whether as a cadet at West Point, as a soldier in the Mexican war, as the Governor of his adopted fL State, or as a member of the Senate of the United States, agree in regarding him as entitled to the reputation he won as a gallant officer and a patriotic statesman. After the organization of the Southern Confederacy, whatever conflicting views men may entertain with regard to the righteousness of the part he took in its formation, or as to the wisdom of his course as its Chief Magistrate, all alike admit the sincerity and the courage of his convictions, and the indomitable resolution with which he carried out his plans, with a decision that nothing could shake, and with a devotion that sought nothing for self, but everything for the success of the cause to which he had consecrated his life.
This leads to the inquiry as to the qualities and attributes which constitute the patriot statesman, the statesman needed for all time, but more especially for our own day and country. The opinion has been recently expressed by men whose words have great weight, that our legislative bodies should be composed for the most part of practical men, thoroughly acquainted with the trade, the commerce, and the financial interests of the country. With a single qualification, no one will controvert the truth of that statement, but taken alone, it is an imperfect enunciation of the requirements of legislation. Associated with men, no matter how conversant with the commercial interests of the country, we need legislators who are profound students of history, philosophy and ethics ; men who have had time and opportunities for thought and for the thorough investigation of the principles of government. I heard Lord Palmerston say in the speech he delivered at his inauguration as Lord Rector of the University of Glasgow that the difference between the statesmen of Great Britain and France was owing to the fact that the latter had been trained only in the exact sciences, while the former had been drilled in metaphysics and moral philosophy ; and the result was, that while French legislative assemblies had been filled with brilliant politicians, the British Parliament had been graced and dignified by men of the stamp of Burke and Chatham and Fox and Peel and Canning. Who were the men who framed the government under which we live? Who wrote the masterly state papers which excited the wonder and admiration of the best thinkers of the old world ? Who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which brought into union the independent colonial sovereignties ? Who built up our system of Jurisprudence, combining the merits of Roman civil law and English common law? All of them students ; men who, under the shade of their ancestral trees, in the retirement of their Southern country homes, had spent their lives in profound researches into the principles upon which just government is founded, and then were capable of elaborating and bringing into successful operation the wisest form of government the world ever knew.
Never were statesmen of this type so much needed in our national councils as now. Then I add, the statesman required for the times is one who has the courage and the ability to lead public opinion in ways that are right, instead of waiting to ascertain the popular drift, no matter how base, that he may servility follow it. Unlike the popularity hunter, who never asks what is just, but what is politic, and then trims his sails so as to catch every breeze of public favor, the upright statesman, with the deep conviction that nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right, steers directly for the port of duty along a line in which no deflection can be traced, and holds his course in the very teeth of the gale. While the demagogue dares attempt nothing, no matter how noble, which might endanger his popularity, the patriot statesman, when assailed by obloquy, is not greatly troubled thereby, but calmly waits for the verdict of time, the great vindicator. When the path of duty becomes the path of danger, the upright statesman is not intimidated, but remains firm as the rock in mid-ocean, against which the invading waves beat only to be shivered into spray. While the tricky demagogue spends all his energies in directing the tactics of a party, the broad-minded statesman aspires to build up a noble commonwealth, and rises above all that is selfish and mean, because the ends he aims at are those of country, God and truth. Men of great gifts often fail in public life because they lack the moral basis on which character alone can stand. After all, integrity is one of the strongest of living forces ; and what the people seek when their rights are imperilled is not so much for men of brilliant talents as for leaders whose chief characteristics are untarnished honor, incorruptible honesty, and the courage to do right at any hazard.
It is admitted that even such men sometimes fail to secure the triumph of the cause for which they toil and make every sacrifice; but the very failures of such men are nobler than the success of the unprincipled intriguer. Reproach, persecution, misrepresentation and poverty have often been the fate of those who have suffered the loss of all for the right and true; but they are not dishonoured because the ignoble do not appreciate their character, aims and efforts. “Count me o’er earth’s chosen heroes ; they were souls that stood alone ; While the men they agonized for, hurled the contumelious stone.” Our admiration is more due to him who pursues the course he thinks right, in spite of disaster, than to one who succeeds by methods which reason and conscience condemn. Defeat is the discipline which often trains the heroic soul to its noblest development. And when the conviction comes that he has struggled in vain, and must now yield to the inevitable, then he may, without shame, lay down his armor in the assurance that others will rise up and put it on, and in God’s good time vindicate the principles which must ultimately triumph. Another of the lessons we learn from the eventful life just terminated is the emptiness and vanity of earthly glory, if it be the only prize for which the soul has contended. “As for man, his days are as grass. He cometh forth like a flower; in the morning it growth up and nourished : in the evening it is cut down and withered. Surely man at his best estate is altogether vanity.” Wealth, honor, power, military renown, popularity, the constituent elements of what men call glory, how evanescent they are, and how unsatisfactory while they continue! What is earthly glory? It is the favor of the fickle multitude, the transient homage of the hour, the applause of the populace, dying away with the breath that fills the air with its empty clamor. Oftentimes its most impressive emblem is the bloody banner whose tattered folds bear mournful evidence of the price at which victory is won. It is the mouldering hatchment which hangs above the tomb of the dead warrior. ‘ It is the posthumous renown which stirs not one sweet emotion in the heart which lies still and chill in the coffin, and whose music never penetrates the dull cold ear of death. What is earthly glory? Listen; ” All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass ; the grass withered, and the flower thereof falleth away ;” ” the wind passeth over it and it is gone.”
We are told that when Massillon pronounced one of those wonderful discourses which placed him in the first rank of pulpit orators he found himself in a church surrounded by the trappings and pageants of a royal funeral. The church was not only hung with black drapery, but the light of day was excluded, and only a few dim tapers burned on the altar. The beauty and chivalry of the land were spread out before him. The members of the royal family sat beneath him, clothed in the habiliments of mourning. There was silence—a breathless suspense. No sound broke the awful stillness. Massillon arose. His hands were folded on his bosom; his eyes were lifted to heaven ; utterance seemed impossible. Presently his fixed look was unbent, his eye roved over the scene where every pomp was displayed, where every trophy was exhibited. That eye found no resting place amid all this idle parade and mocking vanity. At length it settled on the bier on which lay dead royalty, covered with a pall.
A sense of the indescribable nothingness of man at his best estate, overcame him. His eyes once more closed; his very breath seemed suspended, until, in a scarce audible voice, he startled the deep silence with the words: “There is Nothing Great but God.”
To-day, my hearers, we are warned that pallid death knocks with impartial hand at all doors. He enters, with equal freedom, the dwelling of the humblest citizen and the mansion of senator, sage and chieftain. He lays peasant and president side by side, to repose in the silent, all-summoning cemetery. ” The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth ever gave, Await alike the inevitable hour; The path of glory leads but to the grave.” There is nothing great but God ; there is nothing solemn but death ; there is nothing momentous but judgment.
Finally, every life which is not made a preparation for the eternal future is a comedy, in folly—a tragedy, in fact. No matter how splendid its success, the life itself and all its possessions are temporary. They are like the dissolving views of the panorama. Pietro de Medici commanded Michael Angelo to fashion a statue of snow. Think of such a man spending his time and splendid talents in shaping a snow image! But men who devote all their time and talents to temporal things, no matter how noble, are modelling and moulding with snow. ” He builds too low who builds beneath the skies.” He who expects an enduring portion from anything lower than the skies, from anything less stable than the heavens, from anything less sufficient than God, is doomed to disappointment. The man with a mortal body inhabited by an immortal spirit, drifting to the eternal future without preparation for it, is like a richly freighted ship sailing round and round on an open sea, bound to no port, and which, by and by, goes down in darkness and storm. Very different was the course and conduct of the man for whom these Southern States are to-day paying the last sad rites of respect and affection. His Life was one of intense occupation. Much of it was absorbed with exciting, exacting, earthly duties; but in the midst of the pressure and distraction to which he was subjected, he remembered what time was made for; he remembered the endless life that follows this transient life. Very beautiful was the testimony of one of the most eminent of our Southern statesmen, whose own departure from the earth was both a tragedy and a triumph, when he said : ” I knew Jefferson Davis as I knew few men. I have been near him in his public duties ; I have seen him by his private fireside; I have witnessed his humble, Christian devotions, and I challenge history when I say no people were ever led through a stormy struggle by a purer patriot, and the trials of public life never revealed a purer or more beautiful Christian character.”
Oh! great is the contrast between the hopes and prospects of the world ling and those of the humble believer. The Duke of Marlborough, in his last illness, was carried to an apartment which contained a picture of one of his great battles. He gazed at it awhile, then exclaimed: ” Ah ! the Duke was something then, but now he is a dying man.” The Christian is something whe7i he is dying. ” His life is hid with Christ in God.” The closing scenes in the life of Mr. Davis were marked by fortitude, by the gentle courtesy which never forsook him, and, above all, by sublime though simple trust in the all-sufficient Saviour. While the outward man was perishing, the inward man was renewed day by day. As the sculptor chips off the fragments of marble out of which he is chiselling a statue, the decrease of the marble only marks the development of the statue. “The more the marble wastes, The more the statue grows.” So it is with the spirit preparing to take its flight from the decaying vesture of the flesh to the place where it shall be both clothed and crowned. Such are some of the impressive lessons of the hour, and if duly heeded, this solemnity, instead of being a mere decorous compliance with an executive summons, will be a preparation for the time when we shall follow our departed chief, and take our places among those who nobly fought and grandly triumphed. And then, as now, will we sing, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
EX PRESIDENT DAVIS IN TEXAS IN 1875
BY EX-GOVERNOR F. R. LUBBOCK,
Who accompanied him through the State. FROM the day that Mr. Davis was released from prison by the United States Government the people of Texas were solicitous to have him pay them a visit. They were not moved by idle curiosity; they were anxious to show the love and respect they bore him. This kindly feeling and respect was fully reciprocated by him. He knew them as brave soldiers in the early settlement of the republic ; he had witnessed their gallantry in the war between the United States and Mexico, and later, in the war between the States, and thus drawn towards them, he invariably replied to their solicitations that as soon as a favorable opportunity offered he would visit the people he had ever held in such high regard. Finally, in May, 1875, a committee of citizens invited him to visit the State during the fair at Houston. The following characteristic reply was received:, Miss., 5th May, 1875. My Dear Sir: I am engaged here on a matter of much importance to me, and of no little complexity. If it is possible for me to arrange matters so that I can leave, it will give me sincere pleasure to meet the good people of Texas, whose kindness impresses me with heartfelt gratitude.
As heretofore, I am compelled to say, Do not expect me, but if I do not go, the regret will surely be deeper on my part than I can suppose it will be on that of others. As ever, truly your friend, Jefferson Davis. He came, however, on a very short notice to the committee. He was received at Galveston with marked attention and respect, although he arrived on Sunday, and attended divine services at the Episcopal Church during the day.
The next morning he proceeded to Houston. The notice of his coming was very short, but thousands thronged the city to meet their illustrious ex-President, and never was an arrival marked by stronger demonstrations of love and affection from a people. His address at the fairgrounds captured his hearers, old and young. The Association of Veterans of the Texas Revolution were present. He spoke to them specially, and the old men grew wild at his magnificent tribute to them, as he enumerated the wonderful results they had achieved in giving to the country the great State of Texas.
A very touching incident occurred while he was still in that city. The survivors of the “Davis Guards,” a company composed entirely of Irishmen, desired to call on him in a body. He accorded to them an interview. The writer of this, with a few other citizens, was present. It was a scene never to be forgotten. He made them a short speech, in which he referred to their brave conduct in defence of their adopted State. That gallant band of warm hearts and strong arms each and every one shook the hand of their President, as they called him, and not a dry eye was there among all those sturdy men as they parted from him. This company of forty-two volunteers is mentioned in Davis’ ” Rise and Fall of the Confederate States,” vol. i., p. 236-2^0, as having performed one of the greatest feats during the entire war, resulting in saving Texas from invasion and probable devastation. The people appeared loath to part with him, but he had to journey on. In passing through the country to Austin at every town and station the citizens assembled in great numbers, and as he would appear upon the platform of the car in response to their call, great cheering and hearty greetings came from an admiring people. The train was behind time in reaching Austin, the capital of Texas. It was raining, but men, women and children stood where they had been for hours. They had improvised torch-lights and waited for the train that they might obtain a glimpse of their loved chief. He was received by the military and escorted to his quarters, where he was met by the Governor of the State and others.
The next day thousands of men, women and children called to shake his hand and tell him how they honored and loved him. While at the seat of government he had every attention that could be shown him. His reception in Austin will never be forgotten, even by the little children that took part in it. The people having heard of his coming, his trip from Austin to Dallas was like a triumphal procession; never before or since has such an outpouring of the people been seen in Texas? Arriving at Dallas he was received by the military, the civic associations and an immense concourse of people, and his stay while in that city was one continued ovation. Men, women and children were never satisfied until they had an opportunity of seeing their honored guest, and mothers were proud to have him lay his hands upon their children by way of recognition. The people from every part of the State were sending committees for him to visit their particular section or town. He, however, found it necessary, from constant excitement and fatigue, to leave for his home in Memphis. On his way thither, at Mar shall, Texas, he was accorded the same hearty welcome and complimentary attentions that had been given him during his entire journey through the country.
In fact, he was entertained and honored throughout the State more like a victorious general passing through the country on a triumphal march after winning great battles, than a disfranchised citizen, the representative of a lost cause, with no emoluments or gifts to bestow, nothing being left to him but his honor, his great brain, and his true and noble heart beating and hoping for the prosperity of his people. After he had passed the borders of the State he was quite exhausted from his extended travel and handshaking. This trip made a lasting impression upon him. He loved to dwell on his visit to the Lone Star State, and the welcome he received while there. It was the first really grand ovation that had been given him after the surrender of the armies of the Confederate States. My heart beats proudly when I think my State should be the first to publicly honor a man, not for his successes and the honors he had to bestow, but for the cause he represented and his own personal worth. Moreover, during his stay with us officers came from various localities tendering him a suitable and comfortable home if he would but consent to remain or return to the State. These offers he politely declined, as he had previously those of the same character from other States.
Of late years he had many pressing invitations to visit Texas again. Circumstances prevented his coming. Now never again will we have the honor of his presence. We have draped our State in mourning and tolled our bells, and pronounced thousands of funeral orations, and laid away, amid our tears, what is mortal of him. His burning words of wisdom, his admirable example, his noble deeds, all are immortal, and will abide with us forever.
BY GENERAI, A. R, LAWTON,
Bx-Minister to Russia and Quartertnaster-General of the Confederate Army.
DISABILITIES and hindrances beyond my control have prevented me from responding favourably to a flattering request by the editors and publishers to prepare an article for the ” Life and Reminiscences of Jefferson Davis.” But now that I am kindly urged to do so, I cannot refrain from the attempt, at the last moment, to pay a short tribute to one I so honored and loved while living, that I cling to the memory of his virtues and his services, now that he is in his grave. Perhaps I can best serve the cause of truth and justice by a plain, unvarnished statement of some things which I had exceptionally good opportunities to observe, as to the ability, character, conduct and temper of Mr. Davis, especially as they affect official people and public affairs.
My first acquaintance with Mr. Davis was in the summer of 1854, when he was Secretary of War. I was sent to Washington, with the Mayor of Savannah, to secure the use of Oglethorpe Barracks for the police force of the city. We were warned that our mission would probably be fruitless, but it proved entirely successful; and Savannah had the use of the Barracks for a number of years, to the mutual benefit of the United States Government and the city. The prompt and practical manner in which this application was treated by the Secretary of War, all minor impediments being brushed aside, while the utmost care was taken to fully protect the interests of the Government, made on me a deep impression, which has survived to this day. Later on in that summer Mr. Davis accompanied President Pierce to the mountains of Virginia, where I happened then to be. The short official interviews at Washington were there followed by less restrained social intercourse, which proved to be most interesting and instructive. The extent and accuracy of his knowledge of men and things, and his exceptional capacity for imparting information in familiar, yet beautiful language, increased and completed the impression made on me in Washington. Naturally, I then became much interested in his public career. I met him again, casually, at the house of a friend, in the State of New York, where he had gone on public business, in the early autumn of 1860. Except in this instance, I did not see Mr. Davis until June, 1862, when I passed through Richmond on my way from the coast of Georgia, to join Stonewall Jackson’s command in the Valley. He had then been for more than a year the diligent, toiling, faithful, President of the new Confederacy. Labor, responsibility and care had already made their mark upon him, and seriously impaired his health.
Yet, still a splendid horseman, as he rode along the lines around Richmond, visiting the various points of military interest, he was a figure not to be forgotten. Nor less did he impress me in the bosom of his family, the tender husband and father, the refined gentleman, the courteous and kindly friend. The exigencies of that terrible and glorious campaign of 1862, and its results to myself, prevented my seeing the President again for nearly a year, when I reached Richmond to report once more for active service in the field. But I found that the President had determined to assign me to duty as Quartermaster-General. I was thus detained in Richmond, and brought into close official relations with the Executive Department of the Government. It would be too personal to discuss here the feelings of hesitation, reluctance and anxiety with which I finally accepted so grave a trust. Suffice it to say, that for some time previous, and until the final overthrow of the Confederacy, the all-absorbing problems to be solved were field and railway transportation, and supplies for the Army—the first under the exclusive control of the Quartermaster’s Department—and the same department, in much larger measure than all others combined, responsible for the latter. With no rolling-mills nor locomotive works to replenish dilapidated railways, while armies in the field were hundreds of miles distant from the sources of supply—every part of our territory specially devoted to the raising of grain, wool, cattle and horses, either laid waste or in possession of the enemy—how were we to feed, clothe and transport our armies, and furnish horses and forage for wagon trains, cavalry and artillery? The thorough comprehension of the situation by Mr. Davis impressed me forcibly on our first interviews in this new relation. And while he had most distinct and eminently wise views as to the proper division of responsibility everywhere, and was slow to trench upon the functions of any other official, he never forgot that by far the largest share of that responsibility rose up from every inferior in grade, and adhered finally to the superior of all.
This dependence on the Quartermaster-General for the essentials of transportation and supplies necessarily caused the President often to summon him to his presence, or to accomplish the interview through General Lee. Take an example, which is itself of absorbing interest: The battle of Chickamauga was imminent. General Lee was appealed to to send Longstreet’s entire corps, horses and artillery from the Rapidan all the way to the shadow of Lookout Mountain, to reinforce General Bragg. Everything turned on the question of transportation and supply, and all had to be decided and performed with telegraphic haste. If this corps could reach Bragg in time for the impending battle, he might expect success; and General Lee ought, in that case, to detach and risk the absence of this important part of his army. But if Longstreet should reach Bragg too late to take part in the fight, and General Lee’s strength diminished to that fearful extent, it might imperil the existence of both armies, and expose our weakness everywhere. The Quartermaster-General must say when Longstreet’s corps could be delivered at Chickamauga. The time was named, and I tremble now as I recall the responsibility which that reply involved! The first detachment arrived in Richmond from the Rapidan the day after this interview at once filled all the trains in sight, then another, and another—and Longstreet joined Bragg almost at the moment when the firing commenced! The result is known.
Whenever complaint was made to the President by any commander, either in the field or of a military department, or by a member of Congress resident therein, that the supply of clothing, horses, forage, field or railway trains belonging to that army or department was inadequate, or less in proportion than elsewhere, before the President would make any response he promptly summoned the Quartermaster-General, to learn from him the facts—obtained, if possible, the figures, and based his reply thereon. These details are given to show the great care of Mr. Davis to be informed before acting, and, while not avoiding any responsibility himself to call to his aid the chief of every department, and fix that responsibility where the evil could, if possible, be arrested or corrected. And further, I wish to show, at the risk of seeming egotism, what opportunity, yea, what necessity there was for me to know that of which I speak. Believing that I am without excuse, if mistaken, I do not hesitate to say, that in every instance of the nature here referred to (and I must refrain from further details) I never saw or heard anything, in manner or speech, that exhibited either undue temper or ill will against any officer or servant of the Confederate States. But the action or inaction of each was discussed entirely with reference to its effect on the result and the “cause.”
On some of these occasions Mr. Davis was suffering torture from physical maladies, and could not sit at ease a moment. His thorough and accurate acquaintance with all that was transpiring within the Confederate States, and his familiarity with all obtainable knowledge of things outside that affected our cause, was a constant surprise to those brought into immediate contact with him. Not less conspicuous was his readiness for self-sacrifice, and his unwillingness to condemn, or even harshly to criticise others, until full information was obtained as to where the blame should rest. These qualities were, in part, the source of the reproaches so frequently brought against him, that he adhered to his friends at the expense of the public interest, and upheld them against the general clamor of adverse opinion. This holding fast to personal friendships, and giving countenance where it is most needed, may become a serious fault in a public man of high position and great power. But it is in itself such a beautiful virtue, or such a noble failing, as you may prefer to characterize it, that who of us, with generous instincts, does not love and admire it? Those who looked into the depths of his human soul loved him for these very traits! The longer I live the more I prize the name of friendship, which waits and seeks for opportunity to serve, and steps gladly to the front when needed, even though not summoned!
To my mind, the most difficult and painful part which Mr. Davis had to enact was forced on him after hostilities had ceased, by his long and severe imprisonment, and then his retirement from all participation in active affairs during the remainder of his life. A man of great pride, indomitable industry and energy, and of a temper naturally quick and strong, though controlled, he felt—oh! how nobly— ainid his constant physical sufferings, the responsibility of so bearing himself as to bring no reproach on the lost cause; coming to the front only on rare occasions, when attacks upon this cause, and the earnest desire of his fellow Confederates, did not permit him to remain silent. How well he bore himself on these occasions let his record attest!
In connection with his wonderful powers of utterance, and perfect mastery of the English language, I recall with sincere pleasure an inquiry about Mr. Davis, made by Lord Rosebery while on a visit to the United States many years since ; and the desire expressed to make his personal acquaintance. His Lordship remarked that Mr. Davis delivered his inaugural at Montgomery, when he (Rosebery) was a youth, about leaving Eton College. The elegant style and high tone of the address so fired his youthful admiration that he followed it up by reading carefully every State paper from that source as soon as published. He said there was nothing finer in all the records of State papers than these messages and proclamations. When I asked him if his curiosity had led him to look at these papers in more mature years, he replied with emphasis, “The re-perusal has more than confirmed the impressions and admiration of my younger days.”
As I only undertake to give the result of such desultory observations as I was permitted personally to make, I will add but one more incident. On my first visit to the North on business, after the war, in the spring of 1866, I had the pleasure to meet Mrs. Davis on the train from New York to Washington, availing herself of the first permit to visit her husband in his prison at Fortress Monroe. At her request I stopped over a day in Washington, to confer with two or three public men, and see whether there could not be some mitigation of his prison life. To my surprise, one of the names she gave me (whom she thought would be willing to further her wishes) was the Senator from Massachusetts, General Wilson, afterwards Vice-President of the United States. I approached him with marked embarrassment, but he soon made one feel at ease. “I have,” he said, ” very great’ respect for Jefferson Davis, having served with him in the Senate and on the Military Committee of that body. He is an able, courageous and conscientious man; and though I think he was wrong in home important things, I am sure he was as honest in his convictions as I was. While I insist on the political results of the war, I am utterly opposed to all such personal punishments.
If I can do anything to mitigate his situation, you can rely on me. But I fear those in executive authority do not agree with me.” Many years elapsed before I had an opportunity to mention this interview to Mr. Davis, and General Wilson had then long been dead. With much feeling lie said: ” 1 knew Wilson well—his honesty and frankness—and am not at all surprised at what he felt, and said to you.’*
His last utterance in print was a reply to Lord Wolseley’s harsh and unjust strictures upon himself in the North American Revieio; and there it was shown that the weight of all his troubles and afflictions, and of his more than four-score years, had not dimmed his intellect, nor diminished his power to marshal the facts of history and rebuke the wrong.
I must close, though the debt I owe to our great chief is not paid. It never can be. For my opinion is not newly formed, but has been long and persistently maintained, that his abilities were of the highest order, his career without spot or blemish, even to the day of his death; and that he illustrated to the full extent the finest traits of the Southern Christian gentleman, the accomplished and ever faithful public servant.
JEFFERSON DAVIS AS I KNEW HIM
BY HON, REUBEN DAVIS
” Wherefore I shall not fatigue myself to seek that which is impossible to find, and I shall not consume my life in flattering myself with the vain hope of seeing a man without blame among us mortals, who live upon what the earth presents to us.”
“Now Esteem is a sincere homage, which causes a soul to be sincerely touched and affected; whereas Praise is frequently but a vain and deceitful sound.” Plato.
JEFFERSON DAVIS was a man whose high fortune it had been to deserve in full measure that esteem declared by the greatest philosopher to be the worthiest tribute a man may receive from his fellow men. On the other hand, it has been his misfortune to have heaped upon him that ill-considered and undiscriminating praise condemned by the same great mind as an insult to the common sense of the living, and an offence against the majesty of the noble dead. Our hearts revolt against such homage, as though one should seek to enbalm the royal dead with cheap spices and perfumes, instead of breaking above the sacred body that rich casket of ointment, chrism, consecrated to heroes and princes among men, because distilled only from immortal plants—those “actions of the just, which smell sweet, and blossom in the dust.”
For my part, in beginning some slight memorial of the noble gentleman whom I have regarded with esteem, admiration and affection for fifty years, and whose death comes to Southern men of my generation as the rending of ties close and strong, I hold that I reverence him but by simple truth. He had splendid and lofty qualities enough, not only to atone for some defects of character and temperament, but, so to speak, to make those defects a necessary part of his individuality.
What sort of friendship is that which plays tricks with a man’s memory, making paltry excuses here, or paltry denials there? To be perfectly loyal, a man must love his friend, faults and all, scorning to paint him otherwise than as God made him.
There is nothing in all nature more certain than the great law of limitation, which holds all men in bondage, and, by which, an excess of any one power or quality, presupposes a corresponding deficiency in the opposite direction. And it is the men born with these abnormal forces who become the leaders of nations. It is such men who compel the respect and admiration of honest men, whatever may be their differences of opinion, or however bitterly they may be opposed to each other.
That Jefferson Davis was such a man was proved by the almost universal tribute of the public press— that great voice which can be surely trusted to utter all that is best, deepest and truest in popular thought and sentiment. I speak now not so much of the warm outpouring of natural Southern emotion, but of the calmer verdict of those who had been his enemies, who still abhorred the creed to which he died steadfast, but who honored themselves in giving him due honor. In one of these articles, written in no unkindly spirit, I am sure—the editor spoke unconsciously a proud word for the South. He said: “The South gives itself up to passionate lamentation for Jefferson Davis, not knowing, perhaps, how much more of pride than of grief is behind their emotion.” We accept this without question, and glory in the knowledge that when a whole people knelt by the bier of the man whom the South delighted to honor, a grief untainted by shame or dishonor filled their hearts.
When a man lives to extreme old age, there can be only a narrow circle in which his loss is keenly felt as a personal sorrow, and very few whose lives are changed by his going away. Of those who live now, few remember Jefferson Davis in his prime, scarcely any in his early youth. I do not know if there is a single survivor of the class who were his comrades at West Point, or of those who shared with him the adventures and dangers of the Black Hawk War. That he distinguished himself from the beginning of his career as a student and soldier is well known.
While still a very young man, fate dealt him a cruel blow, which changed the current of his life at the time, and, by so doing, altered the whole course of his future. His young wife, to whom he was devotedly attached, died a few months after marriage, and he mourned for her as a man mourns for the love of his youth. Withdrawing himself from his accustomed pursuits and associations, he retired to his estate at Brierfield, where he lived for ten years in great seclusion. These ten years were devoted to patient study, and it is no doubt to this prolongation of his student life that he owed the ripeness of his knowledge, and the polished beauty of his style, both in speaking and writing. The course of study adopted by him, and his unwearied investigation of all questions appertaining to human life and the science of government, fitted him to adorn the high places he was destined to fill.
One defect in his mental structure—the too minute attention to detail and form—had been hardened into a fixed habit by his military training. Had his destiny led him to rulership in a settled and powerful government, ruled by precedent, and requiring only a firm, strong hand to guide, and a polished intellect to adorn, this training would have been admirable. A revolution calls for different qualities and a man less great than Jefferson Davis might have possessed an order of talent far more effective ill great emergencies. Gifted with some of the highest attributes of a statesman, he lacked the pliancy which enables a man to adapt his measures to the crises. His determination was fixed to bend the crises to his measures.
In 1843 an important issue claimed the attention of our people. This was the repudiation of the Union Bank bonds. As this question was one of great importance, touching the credit and honor of the whole State, it brought out the ablest men both for and against it. Some of those friends who knew Jefferson Davis intimately, and who recognized his wonderful powers of persuasive logic, determined to bring him out of his long retirement at a crisis when he could make a brilliant entrance into public action. They selected an adversary with whom few untried orators would have dared to measure themselves— the renowned L. L. Prentiss. The discussion lasted for two days, and was probably never surpassed in the force and beauty of the speeches. It was claimed that Mr. Davis came off victor. He was, without doubt, far superior to Mr. Prentiss as a debater, and scarcely less fascinating in style and manner of speaking.
It was not until the summer of 1844 that I had the honor of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Davis, though I had before that time regarded him with admiration as one of the most gifted young men of the South. At a meeting of the Democratic Convention to appoint electors, Mr. Davis had made a speech so brilliant and convincing that, upon its conclusion, the whole body had risen, and nominated him by acclamation for district elector. General Harry S. Foote had been nominated elector for the State at large. Davis and Foote travelled together and made joint speeches.
I had been invited to attend a barbecue at Davis’ Mill, on the line dividing Tennessee and Mississippi, and the day before, reached Holly Springs in time to hear the discussion. It was there that I first heard Mr. Davis speak, and was captivated by his lucid argument and delightful oratory. I do not think that I ever listened to any man with more pleasure and admiration, and, I may say here, that his speeches always impressed me in the same manner, even when, as afterwards happened, I was unable to adopt his side of the matter under discussion. At that time, however, there was no discord in our opinions, and I recall as among the most agreeable recollections of that by-gone time, our subsequent journey to Aberdeen, where Davis and Foote were to attend a great barbecue, and to be my guests for some days.
Everywhere they went they were received with enthusiasm, and from that canvass may be dated the ascendency which Mr. Davis began to hold over the popular mind and heart of Mississippi. He was elected to Congress, but resigned when chosen Colonel of the First Mississippi Regiment of Volunteers for the Mexican War. His regiment was made up of the best material in the State, and well officered. At first the men resented the strict discipline their colonel was wise enough to enforce, and for a time he was somewhat unpopular in consequence. Afterwards they realized the advantages of this severity, and, having found their leader as fearless in action as he was resolute in discipline, they almost idolized him.
Nothing could have been finer than the handling of that regiment in the battle of Buena Vista—nor more heroic than the personal courage of Colonel Davis. Although painfully wounded early in the morning, he continued his duty as if unhurt, even when urged by General Taylor himself to leave the field. His reply was noble and characteristic: “My men are full of spirit and courage, but there might be some mistake, under which they might falter, and so lose the day. I will stay with them till the fight is over.” He had that high sense of duty which yielded to no pain of body or personal pride.
When he returned to Mississippi on crutches he was received with that enthusiasm which his great services so well merited. I do not think there was ever a time after that when he did not stand first in the hearts of Mississippians.
Very early in the movement toward secession, he was recognized as one of the leaders of the Disunion party. Believing as he did, first and last in the absolute sovereignty of the States, he never altered his policy, or the conviction that secession was the only safety and duty of the South. I do not believe that personal ambition had any conscious share in determining his action during this time, though he must have known that, should a new government be formed, he would certainly be chosen to fill the highest place in it. That a man of his ambition, and just confidence in his ability, and in the affection and admiration of the Southern people, could have been contented with a subordinate place in a revolution which he was so active in bringing about, was not to be expected.
But that he was sincerely devoted to the cause for which he fought, and that he believed in the principles of that cause with all the force of a mind clear in its convictions, and a character tenacious even to obstinacy in its determinations, cannot be doubted. His was essentially a strong and forceful nature, and he possessed the grand quality of steadfastness in its fullest measure.
Resenting opposition with the unalterable resentment of a reserved, proud and self-centred nature, it was not a possibility with him to recognize the justice of such opposition, even when proved by the fatal results of a contrary policy, From this characteristic, it followed almost necessarily that he was sometimes obstinate in measures which afterward proved disastrous to the cause to which his whole heart was devoted; and that his prejudice for and against certain men, led to grave errors in selection for, and exclusion from, places of trust.
It is idle now to question how far the result could have been changed by a different policy, or whether the great game of war and politics could have been so played as to give victory to the South; worse than idle for even those who would then have died for the cause, no longer regret that it is a lost one. Still it cannot be denied that our whole policy was from the first fatal to all hope of success. Only the splendid courage of our soldiers, and the skill of a few of our commanders, could have prolonged the struggle through four wretched years. Of those years, I confess I cannot bring myself to write. It is like a nightmare to recall the bitter days when, as it seemed to me, thousands of lives were sacrificed, untold miseries endured, and the self-devotion of our people poured out in vain. The result which was accepted a quarter of a century ago as a woful necessity, has gradually evolved itself into a national gain. There are few men in the new South, who are not glad of our undivided nationality. The bitterness is that we blundered so fearfully; that we threw away so many chances, and that our struggle, noble as it was, was embittered by so many ignoble jealousies, and frustrated by so many unworthy enmities.
It was the strength as well as the weakness of Jefferson Davis, that to the last he could not see this. Unbending in his conviction, he was sustained through defeat, captivity, and the long years of enforced inaction, by the serene approval of his mind and conscience. He believed that the cause for which he had toiled and suffered, was just and holy, and that the measures adopted to sustain it were the best which could have been devised under the circumstances.
To my mind, this heroic and good man makes a noble picture, with the ruins of his life’s work all around him, and ” all but his faith overthrown.”
That a man should be right always is impossible—it is an impertinence to expect it of poor humanity. When he has the strength to venture all for a high vision, however mistaken, to live through slow years of defeat and failure, and die, holding fast his integrity, the world can give us no grander spectacle.
As the world is constituted, there is a vulgarizing element in success, with its blatant triumph and sordid following. Always, in History or Poem, it is the good man, steadfast against adverse fortune, who claims the homage of all hearts.
RECOLLECTIONS AND TRIBUTE
BY HON. GEORGE DAVIS
Member of Mr. Davis’ Cabinet.
“I HAVE said ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.”
Jefferson Davis is dead. A prince has fallen— a true prince in all that most ennobles our manhood. To die in the purple of power and state, to fall in the rush of battle, where cannons are roaring and bayonets are flashing, to sink in the arms of victory, to end in the glare and dazzle of proud achievements—chieftain and soldier as he was—these things were not for him.
After long years of toil and anxiety, of strife and bitterness, of struggle and failure, of hatred and insult and slander, of poverty and misfortune, of weariness, pain and suffering, having finished his course he now rests from his labors—rests in peace.
He has passed from earth, enduring unto the end.
“O! let him pass. He hates him
That would upon the rack of this tough world
Stretch him out longer.”
Whatever was great in his public life—and there was much—whatever was memorable in his actions, as soldier, scholar, orator, statesman, patriot, and these things I relegate to history. I desire only to utter a few simple words in loving remembrance of the chief I honored, of the man I admired, of the dead friend whom I loved. What manner of man was this for whom ten millions of people are in grief and tears this day? No man ever lived upon whom the glare of public attention beat more fiercely, no man ever lived more sharply criticised, more unjustly slandered, more sternly censured, more strongly condemned, more bitterly hated, more wrongly maligned, and, though slandered by enemies, betrayed by false friends, carped at by ignorant fools, no man ever lived who could more fearlessly, like a great man who long preceded him, “leave the vindication of his fair fame to the next ages and to men’s charitable speeches.” Standing here to-day by his open grave, and, in all probability, not very far from my own, I declare to you that he was the honestest, truest, gentlest, bravest, tenderest, manliest man I ever knew : and what more could I say than that? My public life was long since over, my ambition went down with the banner of the South, and, like it, never rose again. I have had abundant time in all these quiet years, and it has been my favorite occupation, to review the occurrences of that time, and recall over the history of that tremendous struggle, to remember with love and admiration, the great men who bore their part in its events.
I have often thought what was it that the Southern people had to be most proud of in all the proud things of their record. Not the achievements of our arms. No man is more proud of them than I no man rejoices more in Manassas, Chancellorsville and in Richmond; but all nations have had their victories. There is something, I think, better than that, and it was this, that through all the bitterness of that time, and throughout all the heat of that fierce contest, Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee never S23oke a word, never wrote a line that the whole neutral world did not accept as the very indisputable truth. You all remember that Mr. Davis did not send a message to Congress, in which he portrayed the condition and causes of things, that all the world did not know it to be true. You know, Mr. Chairman, and you remember, you old grey jackets; yes, you all remember, that when General Lee, in his quiet, modest, reverent way, would telegraph to Mr. Davis, at Richmond, that God had mercifully blessed our arms, not all the lying bulletins that shingled over half the world could make any one believe that there had been a Federal victory. Aye, truth was the guiding star of both of them, and that is a grand thing to remember; upon that my memory rests more proudly than upon anything else. It is a monument better than marble, more durable than brass. Teach it to your children, that they may be proud to remember Jefferson Davis.
The more you knew him, the nearer you came to him, the more you saw and heard him, the greater he grew.
He has been growing greater and greater for twenty-five years; he will be greater one hundred years hence than he is to-day. Such wonderful and accurate information I never saw. He seemed to me to have traversed the whole course of science and of nature and of art. Whatever was the topic of conversation, from making a horseshoe to interpreting the Constitution, from adjusting a jack-plane to building a railroad, he not only seemed to know all about it, but could tell you the most approved method of doing it all. Some people have an idea, and not a few, I expect, that Mr. Davis was a cold, severe, austere, unfeeling man. There never was a more untrue opinion. No man ever had a better ridit to know than I. For sixteen months I had the honor to be at the head of the Law Department of the Government, and every sentence of a military court that went to Mr. Davis was referred to me for examination and report. I do not think I am a very cruel man, but I declare to you it was the most difficult thing in the world to keep Mr. Davis up to the measure of justice. He wanted to pardon everybody, and if ever a wife, or mother, or a sister got into his presence, it took but a little while for their tears to wash out the records.
Hear what General Taylor wrote of him—General Dick Taylor, who knew him even better than I did, and who was himself,
“The knightliest of the knightly race
That since the days of old
Have kept the lamp of chivalry
Alight in hearts of gold.”
“In the month of March, 1875, my devoted wife was released from suffering. Smitten by the calamity, I stood by her coffin as it was closed, to look for the last time upon features that death had respected and restored to their girlish beauty. Mr. Davis came reverently to my side and stooped reverently to touch the fair brow, when the tenderness of his heart overcame him and he burst into tears. His example completely unnerved me for the time, but was of service in the end. For many succeeding days he came to me and was as gentle as a young mother with her suffering infant. Memory will ever recall Jefferson Davis as he stood with me by that coffin.”
I do not know, but I profess to you that I thoroughly believe that he could never read the story of “Little Nell” or the death of Colonel New come without his eyes being bedimmed with tears. Once he was indisposed in Richmond, so sick that the physician confined him to the bed. To relieve the monotony, his wife was reading to him one morning some story—I do not remember what. He was so quiet that Mrs. Davis thought he was asleep, but did not stop for fear of awaking him. She got to that portion of the book where the villain of the story got the heroine into his power, and was coming it pretty strong over her, when suddenly she heard him exclaim : ” The infernal villain!” and looking around, the President was sitting up in bed with both fists clenched. Well, this is a little thing; do you respect him less for it? It showed that he was a man, not a cold image set up on a pedestal for us to admire, a man with the faults and weaknesses of human nature, but a man with the great virtues of a great nature. I never saw a man more simple in his habits of life. He surrounded himself with no barriers of forms and ceremonies. The humblest soldier in the ranks, the plainest citizen in the Confederacy, could have as easy access to him as the members of his Cabinet, when such demands on his time were consistent with the demands of the public service. No man ever lived who more thoroughly despised the mere show and tinsel of state and power, and the trappings of office.
Mr. Davis was at the head of one of the grandest armies the world ever saw in a time when “laws were silent in the midst of arms,” and I give you my word I never saw him attended by a guard or even by an orderly. His domestic servants and his office messengers were all that he needed, and all that he would have. I say he was never attended by a guard; he was once, and I shall never forget the pleasure with which he told me of it. When General Lee was encamped on the banks of the Chickahominy, near Richmond, Mr. Davis was in the habit every afternoon, after the business of his office was over, of riding out to his headquarters. Upon these visits he always went on horseback, and generally alone. Upon one occasion he was detained later than usual, and night had fallen before he left General Lee’s tent. As he rode along he heard a horse approaching rapidly, and presently a cheery young voice cried out, ” Good evening,” and as he turned to salute, a young lad rode up to his side— a mere boy of sixteen or seventeen years of age, but he wore the grey jacket, and had his rifle on his shoulder and his revolver in his belt. “Good evening, is your name Davis?” “Yes.” “Jefferson Davis?” “Yes.” “I thought so. Now, don’t you think you are doing very wrong to be riding around in the dark by yourself?” Mr. Davis said he was within our lines, and had nothing to fear from Confederate soldiers. “It ain’t right,” said the boy, “for there are bad men in our army as well as in all armies.” Mr. Davis, in his kind and gentle way, entered into conversation with him, and they rode on five or six miles together, until they reached the fortifications of the city, when the boy drew up and said: “Well, I’ll turn back now. Good evening,” and rode away into the darkness. The brave lad thought the President was in danger, and he made himself his body-guard, determined to see him through; and he would have died for him there upon that lonely road with as much bravery and cheerfulness as thousands of his comrades were dying every day for the cause Mr. Davis represented.
Ah, his people loved him, and have met together to-day to show it to the world. I once witnessed a scene which showed how the people loved him. In May, 1867, after two years of the most brutal treatment, the most brutal imprisonment the world ever saw, outside of Siberia, unrelieved by the slightest touch of kindness or generosity, Mr. Davis was brought to trial bfore the Federal Court in Richmond. I chanced to be there, and promised Mrs. Davis, as soon as I had any intimation of what the court was going to do, to come and report. I sat in the court when Chief Justice Chase announced that the prisoner was released. I never knew how I got out of that court-house, or through the crowd that lined the streets, but I found myself in Mrs. Davis’ room and reported. In a little while I looked out of a window and saw that the streets were lined with thousands and thousands of the people of Richmond, and scarcely passage was there even for the carriage in which Mr. Davis rode at a funeral gait; and as he rode every head was bared, not a sound was heard, except now and then a long sigh, and so he ascended to his wife’s chamber. That room was crowded with friends, male and female. As Mr. Davis entered they rushed to him and threw their arms around him. They embraced each other, old soldiers, men of tried daring, cried like infants. Dear old Dr. Minnegerode lifted up his hands, with big tears rolling down his cheeks, and the assembled company knelt down, while he offered up a short thanksgiving to God for having restored to us our revered chieftain.
Now, what more can I say? I have endeavoured to give you these little personal traits of Mr. Davis in order that you might know him better. I have said he was a prince. He was far better than that. He was a high-souled, true-hearted Christian gentleman.
And if our poor humanity has any higher form than that, I know not what it is. His great and active intellect never exercised itself with questioning the being of God or the truth of His revelations to man. He never thought it wise or smart to scoff at mysteries which he could not understand. He never was daring enough to measure infinite power and goodness by the poor, narrow gauge of a limited, crippled human intellect. Where he understood he admired, worshipped, adored. Where he could not understand, he rested unquestioningly upon a faith that was as the faith of a little child— a faith that never wavered, and that made him look always undoubting, fearlessly through life, through death, to life again.
“MY DEAD HERO”
BY CHARIlES MINNIGERODE, D.D.,
Mr. Davis’ Pastor during the War
THAT is the plaintive name given to him in a personal letter to me by the one who knew him best and loved him most—his noble, stricken widow. And millions have responded in a loud and solemn echo, “Our Dead Hero.”
I do not know that History, in any time or country, has witnessed such deep-toned, universal feeling, such a spontaneous up heaving of the deepest sorrow and sympathy of the heart, and, as if standing at his grave, from every quarter of the South, people poured out their lament, their admiration, loyalty and love in such irrepressible manifestations.
In the great epochs and events of History there ever rises one man, who seems to be pointed out by Providence as the leader in the struggle, and in whom the conflict is represented and, as it were, incarnated, A Cromwell, William of Orange, our own peerless Washington—not one of them were the originators, the cause of events. Circumstances, the necessities of the times, brought them to the surface, and put them in the place for which Providence had called them and fitted them. If I have understood Mr. Davis’ position at all, he gloried in the Revolution of the Colonies in 1776 as the struggle for the rights and liberties which belonged to them as their natural claims which the home-country denied to them. The secession of the Southern States was in defence of their constitutional rights, which were threatened by the aggressive and unconstitutional policy of the Government. That Government was a union of the separate Colonies as sovereign States, which delegated certain powers to the General Government as the central agent of the sovereign States. The debate about their mutual relation was long, and the two views of a centralized nation and a union of sovereign States existed from the beginning. But there would have been no United States at all if the States’ rights had not been established by the Constitution. It is the fundamental and cardinal bond of the different States, which, only on these terms, at last ratified and accepted the Constitution. The right of States to withdraw when they deemed themselves wronged by measures of the Central Government was claimed more than once by Northern States, while there was an equilibrium in strength and power of the two sections. But the bond of union, with the glorious recollections and struggles of the common country, prevented action.
It was only when the North became overwhelming in power, and its population growing from year to year, that separation or withdrawal became a possibility. Compromises upon compromises staved off the danger, but did not secure the minority of the States against the aggressive policy of the North. Noble men in the North and South labored for years to heal the breach, and Jefferson Davis was among the foremost to labor for the Union and urge the policy of patience, forbearance and hope, dreading separation as the most unhappy event. But in vain. The strife went on; the breach widened. And at last the Southern States felt themselves forced to meet what to them appeared as secession on the part of the North from the fundamental and cardinal features of the Constitution, by their constitutional right to withdraw (they did not think it right to disobey or rebel while part and parcel of the United States Government) ; when delay would have eventually resulted in the subjugation of the South to mere majority, and the surrender of all their liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, reducing the sovereign States to mere provinces—then it was not revolution or rebellion, but the resort to their constitutional right of secession, which was chosen; and life, property and honor were pledged in support of their action.
These were the views of the Southern States, and shared to this day—at least as far as the constitutional question is concerned—by many in the North. In the very beginning of the trouble I had a long and earnest letter from a dear friend and distinguished constitutional lawyer in the North, acknowledging that we were in the right indeed, but that they were bound to fight us, even in self-defence,— “we cannot do without the South, cannot allow it to become a separate State.” The feeling for his section made him consent to do what he held to be constitutionally wrong. And many like him have allowed their sectional allegiance to override their legal scruples.
Whatever may be thought of these views, and however they may be affected by the failure of the Confederacy, it was on their part a struggle for life and liberty, and the right of self-defence when their liberties were threatened.
Jefferson Davis held these views conscientiously and consistently. When his State seceded, he followed the call of the sovereign State, to which he owed his first allegiance.
I have ventured to make these statements, because they are the key to his whole life and his every action. He was one of the most consistent and conscientious of men—” a duty man,” as he was in the habit of calling others whom he trusted and esteemed, and whom he gauged by that—and nothing could turn him from what he considered to be his duty. He was as unselfish as it falls to the best of men to be; he had “no axe to grind,” and would have spurned himself for seeking his self-interest or his own glory. He lived and died a true hero in the maintenance of the position into which Providence—”the vox populi,” alike as what was (to him) “the vox Dei”—called him. That call came to him loudly and unanimously from the whole South ; and I think all admit that he was the only one who could have conducted the terrible task that was appointed him. He never sought: he was sought. It was his genius, his talents, his character, that raised him from place to place, from honor to honor, and singled him out as the one man the South could trust with the responsibility of Chief of the Southern Confederacy.
Jefferson Davis was the rarest combination of talents and excellency in almost every department: military, political, legal, administrative, moral and, I boldly add, religious.
Military: who earned his spurs and reached celebrity in the wars of his country; by nature perhaps more ambitious in that line than any other, and who, I am sure, would gladly have been in the saddle, and commanded his armies, had not higher duties and his respect for his glorious generals restrained him.
Political : as shown by the influence he gained in every position, and his sagacity, which amounted to true statesmanship, clear in his views, comprehensive, and yet fully at home in details.
Legal: a mind thoroughly trained in the law, and one of the best expounders of the Constitution—the basis on which he stood in all his actions.
Administrative: to a degree which roused the admiration of the world and even his enemies, and which enabled him to hold together the different views and preferences of people, to create order where was at first only enthusiasm, to employ as his counselors the best talent, and with their help to bind together all the different elements of his wide field, to bring into shape all that was unformed, to take a country unprepared, without regular training, without finances, without the materials of war, shut out from all external help, and conduct and sustain its affairs through four long years of war, suffering, difficulties and wants, when everything had first to be created by his energetic and clear-headed co-operation and direction.
Moral: The glory, I think, of the Confederacy was the order and decency with which everything was conducted, and the example set by its chief There were more Christian men at the head of the different departments, more soldiers of Christ in officers and men than I have ever known: “Christ was in the camp.” I know more of Mr. Davis in this respect than perhaps any other man. I knew more of his inner life, and saw him intimately in all possible situations: always true, there was not a false fibre in him ; always pure, his whole being loathing an impure thought, anything low or corrupting ; and when he became a communicant of the Church, he verified in his person, in word and deed, as far as I could judge, that he was ” pure in heart,” and lived conscientiously in the sight of God. All his habits bore the stamp of that.
And thus I will not say more of him as a religious man. I do not claim to have had much share in the development of his Christian character. I hope I was a help to him as he was to me.
I would not be misunderstood. Though I believe I knew more of this than anybody, except his wife, and though I loved and honored him—a noble, unselfish, guileless character—of course he had his faults: who has not? and made mistakes: who does not? But the man’s self-control was wonderful, and the high aim that guided him saved him from the perils of those in such prominent positions, involved as he was in cruel warfare, affected by its harrowing and ever-changing situations.
I would not be astonished if he had been ” good hater,” such as Dr. Johnson “liked.” All strong men have strong feelings. But it was more against the wrong-doing of men, than their persons. There was a generosity in him and a large-hearted disposition which was ready to forgive.
With all his calmness and sagacity, such was his want of guile that he was perhaps liable to fall under the influence of injudicious, perhaps even false friends, at least for a time. Like all of us, he had his prejudices and his preferences; but if he had faults like these, they were the result of his unsophisticated, guileless nature, which looked for the good in people rather than the evil. His gentleness was charming, and in a thousand ways he showed his sympathy with the poor and needy. The war had not hardened him. I have occasionally been led to intercede for a prisoner of war, and he always took the side of mercy. I have known ladies—mothers from the North—to intercede in behalf of their sons, and leave him with blessings and tears of gratitude.
I have heard him speak of his old friends of “West Point, on either side, with the deepest interest, and always with dignity and doing justice to his enemies in the conflict impartially and even heartily. He was a true gentleman and soldier.
That any man should dare, at this time, when the true history of his conduct towards the prisoners of war is made known and documentarily proved—should dare to repeat the extravagant and sensational outcries of his vindictive maligners, and be low enough still to make capital of it for political, and South hating purposes, and that not only before mobs, but in the Congress of the United States, is almost incredible. The investigation of this subject is a dangerous thing for his defamers, be they who they may.
His unselfishness was unsurpassed. Like a second Sir Philip Sidney, whenever offers of pecuniary help were made to him—much as he really needed it— he declined them courteously and advised that they be given to his poor soldiers and people.
The events of his life are so closely connected with the events of the war, and have been spoken of and written of so often that I pass them. My connection with him was chiefly that of his pastor, and I will not prolong this article by retailing what I have said elsewhere. To many it would not be very interesting, perhaps. But all I have said of him and his character is the result of my knowledge of him, through my personal, intimate intercourse during the war, during his imprisonment and since.
It was worth seeing a man like him pass through the changing scenes of his eventful life, and watch the calm dignity, the firm determination, resolution to do his duty and trust in God and in the righteousness of his cause.
I remember the last meeting with him before the failure of our cause. I had dined with him in company with Mr. Halcomb and a member of the Virginia Legislature (I do not remember his name now), and after dinner we retired to his little ante-chamber, speaking of various things, when General Lee came in, the soldier, the gentleman, the honoured friend—just from the army before Petersburg. Calm and dignified as ever, he looked sad and thoughtful, and the conversation soon turned on our condition. We all knew that it was as alarming as could be. Our friend from the Legislature said to him, “Cheer up, general. We have done a good work for you to-day. The Legislature has passed an order to raise an additional number of 15,000 men for you.” General Lee bowed his head meekly: “Yes, passing resolutions is kindly meant, but getting the men is another thing. Yes,” he continued, with flashing eyes, “if I had 15,000 fresh additional troops, things would look very different.” Mr. Davis knew how true the fears of his general were. It was sad to see these two men with their terrible responsibilities upon them and the hopeless outlook. Sad at heart, we left them to consult in lonely conference, I suppose about the possible necessity of evacuating Richmond.
The 2d of April followed soon after this. Perhaps a strictly correct account may not be improper. It was Sunday, a beautiful Sunday like that of the first Manassas, and the air seemed full of something like a foreboding of good or bad. All expected a battle, and I know that wagons were held in readiness for transportation of commissary stores, ammunition, etc. The beautiful church of St. Paul, in its chaste simplicity and symmetry, was filled to the utmost, as always during the war. Mr. Davis, who never failed to be in his pew unless when sick or absent from the city, was there, devoutly following the services of the church. It was the regular day for the Holy Communion. Nothing had occurred to disturb the congregation, though anxiety was in many a heart. As the ante-communion service was read and the people were on their knees, I saw the sexton go to Mr. Davis’ pew and hand him what proved to be a telegram. T could not but see it. Mr. Davis took it quietly, not to disturb the congregation, put on his overcoat and walked out. On communion occasions I was wont to make a short address from the chancel. While doing so, the sexton came in repeatly and called out this one and that one, all connected with the government and military service. Of course the congregation became very restless and I tried to finish my address as soon as I could, without adding to the threatening panic. But when the sexton came to the chancel- railing and spoke to Rev. Mr. Kepler, who assisted me, they began to stir, and I closed as quickly as possible. Then Mr. Kepler told me the provost-marshal wanted to see me in the vestryroom. I went out and found Major Isaac H. Carrington, who informed me that General Lee’s lines had been broken before Petersburg, that he was in retreat, and Richmond must be evacuated. As nothing would occur till the evening, he asked my advice whether the alarm should be rung at once or in the afternoon. We determined to wait till 3 o’clock, and I returned to the chancel. As I entered I found the congregation streaming out of the church, and I sprang forward and called out, “Stop! Stop! There is no necessity for your leaving the church; “and most of them (all who had not left before I got back) returned. Then I recalled my appointment for service that night, told the people that we had met with disaster before Petersburg, and a meeting of the citizens would be called by the alarm-bell at 3 o’clock in the Capitol Square; that there was no occasion for them to leave at once, and requested the communicants to stay to the celebration. About 250 or 300 remained, and some felt as if they were kneeling there with the halter around their necks. The panic was so great.
That evening Mr. Davis left Richmond. A week later, after the battle of Appomattox, General Lee surrendered, and whilst General Johnston was still in the field and Kirby Smith with his army on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was virtually at an end.
By the request of the publishers the incidents of my intercourse with Mr. Davis—although they have already appeared in some newspapers—are here inserted to make the article complete.
I cannot describe my meeting with Mr. Davis in his cell. He knew nothing of my coming, and it was difficult to control ourselves. Mr. Davis’ room (he had been removed from the casemate and the infamous outrage of putting him in chains) was an end room on the second floor, with a passage and window on each side of the room, and an ante-room in front separated by an open grated door—a sentinel on each passage and before the grated door of the ante-room. Six eyes were always upon him day and night; all alone, no one to see, and no one to speak to!
I must hurry on. You may yourselves make out what our conversation must have been.
The noble man showed the effect of the confinement; but his spirit could not be subdued, and no indignity—angry as it made him at the time—could humiliate him.
I was his pastor, and of course our conversation was influenced by that and there could be no holding back between us. I had come to sympathize and comfort and pray with him.
QUESTION OF COMMUNION
At last the question of the Holy Communion came up. I really do not remember whether he or I first mentioned it. He was very anxious to take it. He was a purely pious man, and felt the need and value of the means of grace. But there was one difficulty. Could he take it in the proper spirit—in the frame of a forgiving mind, after all the ill treatment he had been subjected to? He was too upright and conscientious a Christian man “to eat and drink unworthily”—i.e., not in the proper spirit, and, as far as lay in him, in peace with God and man.
I left him to settle that question between himself and his own conscience and what he understood God’s law to be.
In the afternoon General Miles took me to him again. I had spoken to him about the communion and he promised to make preparation for me.
I found Mr. Davis with his mind made up. Knowing the honesty of the man, and that there would be, could be, “no shamming,” nor mere “superstitious belief in the ordinance, I was delighted when I found him ready to commune. He had laid the bridle upon his very natural feeling and was ready to pray “Father, forgive them.”
A NOTABLE COMMUNION
Then came the communion—he and I alone, but with God.
It was one of those cases where the Rubric cannot be binding.
It was night. The fortress was so still that you could hear a pin fall. General Miles, with his back to us leaning against the fireplace in the ante-room; his head in his hands not moving; the sentinels ordered to stand still, and they stood like statues.
I cannot conceive of a more solemn communion scene. But it was telling upon both of us; I trust for lasting good.
Whenever I could I went down to see him, if only for an hour or two; and when his wife was admitted to see him it was plain that their communing were with God.
Time passed; not a sign of any humiliating giving way to the manner in which he was treated; he was above that. He suffered, but was willing to suffer in the cause of the people who had given him their confidence and who still loved and admired and wept for the man that so nobly represented the cause which in their hearts they considered right and constitutional.
A USELESS APPEAL TO STANTON
His health began to be affected. The officers of the fortress all felt that he ought to have the liberty of the fort, not only because that could in no way facilitate any attempt to escape, but because they knew he did not wish to escape. He wanted to be tried and defend and justify his course. I happened to be in Washington for a few hours at that time, and as I had been told by Rev. Dr. Hall more than once that Mr. Stanton spoke of me very kindly, he encouraged me to see him about any matter I thought proper in Mr. Davis’ case.
1 went to see Mr. Stanton. He had recently lost his son and had been deeply distressed—softened one would think; I hoped so. I was admitted.
A bow and nothing more.
I began by expressing my thanks to him for allowing me to visit Mr. Davis, and that as I was in town; I thought it would not be uninteresting to him to hear a report about Mr. Davis.
Not a word in reply.
I gradually approached the subject of Mr. Davis’ health, and that without the least danger of any kind as to his safe imprisonment he might enjoy some privileges, especially the liberty of the fort, or there was danger of his health failing.
The silence was broken.
“It makes no difference what the state of the health of Jeff Davis is. His trial will soon come on, no doubt. Time enough till that settles it.” It settled it in my leaving the presence of that man.
But the time came for his release. The way he conducted himself just showed neither the man, whom no distress could put down nor a glimpse of hope could unduly excite. He had seen too much and had placed his all in higher hands than man’s.
We brought him to the Spotswood and then to the custom-house. There the trial was to take place. We were in a carriage, the people, and especially” the colored people, testifying their sympathy. Mr. Davis was greatly touched by this.
All know that the proceedings in court were very brief.
Mr. Davis stood erect, looking steadily upon the judge, but without either defiance or fear. He was bailed, and the first man to go on his bond was Horace Greeley.
Our carriage passed with difficulty through the crowd of rejoicing negroes with their tender affection, climbing up on the carriage, shaking and kissing his hand, and calling out, “God bless Mars Davis.” But we got safely to the Spotswood.
We found Mrs. Davis awaiting us, and the Hon. George Davis, Attorney-General of the last Cabinet, and a few others.
Mr. George Davis and I just fell into each other’s arms with tears in our eyes.
But Mr. Davis turned to me: ” Mr. Minnigerode, you have been with me in my sufferings, and comforted and strengthened me with your prayers, is it not right that we now once more should kneel down together and return thanks ?”
There was not a dry eye in the room.
Mrs. Davis led the way into the adjoining room, more private; and there, in the deeply-felt prayer and thanksgiving, closed the story of Jefferson Davis’ prison life.
His end has come and silence reigns over his grave. But I cannot close without referring to Mr. Davis’ home life, just in a few words, for delicate regard for the feelings of the living, forbids me to draw the vail from that sacred spot. It was a bright, happy home, in the midst of our trials and dangers. He shone there in his best light, his gentle, courteous, loving character, sustained by the truest wife in all his trials and sorrows, sharing them and bearing them with constancy and loving bravery, such as is the glorious privilege of womanhood. Where ever the memory of the “dead hero ” is revived in the hearts of his people, there stands beside him, and will ever be loved and honored that noble woman, the wife of Jefferson Davis.
AN AMERICAN TO BE PROUD OF
BY COL. CHARLES MARSHALL,
Member of General R. E. Lee’s Staff
THE last time I saw Mr. Davis was at a memorial meeting in Richmond in honor of his distinguished associate, Robert E. Lee, and to-night is the first opportunity I have had of giving voice to my undying respect and veneration for him. I wish to say something to defend him from the assaults made upon him, and to vindicate his right to the place he holds in the hearts of the Southern people, and which he will hold as long as a Southern heartbeats.
The course of the Federal Government toward Mr. Davis has caused him to become the representative of the people of the Confederate States, and of those who held their views, in a much broader sense than he might otherwise have been. The people of the South, while agreeing in the main in assigning to Mr. Davis the foremost place among Confederate statesmen, and without dissent assigning to him the first rank as a patriot, a pure and disinterested leader and a fearless representative of their principles, differed in their opinion as to the general policy of the Confederate Government under his administration. But the sight of Mr. Davis in chains, and pursued with all the inventions of envy, hatred and malice, and all uncharitableness effaced these differences, and the Southern people accepted him with one consent as the representative of their cause.
Thus it came to pass that the policy of the Federal Government more than anything else helped to keep in the memory of the people the exciting subjects connected with the war, and to minister to the fierce and vindictive passions that the war had kindled. The Northern people came to regard Mr. Davis most unjustly as a political sinner above all other sinners, and to the people of the South he became more fully than he had been during the war, and more fully, perhaps, than he would have been under different circumstances after the war, the representative of Southern views, of Southern opinion and of Southern regret.
On the one hand, the imprisonment of Mr. Davis, the threat of an ignominious death, the false charges made against him, the vile calumnies heaped upon him, turned upon him the full force of Northern prejudice and passion. On the other hand, his sufferings, his persecution, and above all his high and unshaken courage, turned toward him the ardent sympathy and love of his generous fellow-citizens of the South.
As we stand to-day beside his open grave it cannot be inappropriate to consider for a moment the title of Mr. Davis to the place that he holds in the hearts and minds of the Southern people, and in passing to inquire whether the judgment against him pronounced by almost all the people of the North is warranted by the facts.
From the beginning of those unhappy days of blood and strife it has been the custom of Northern speakers and writers to represent the people of the South as having been led astray by their political leaders, and to have undertaken to destroy the old Union and to create an independent government for themselves under some sort of compulsion, and to speak of Mr. Davis as the leader. Nothing could be further from the truth. If ever there was a spontaneous movement of any people, that of the Southern people became such a movement when the proclamation of President Lincoln, of April 16, 1861, presented the real issue to their astonished view. That proclamation and the hostile measures toward the South which quickly followed it forced the most reluctant to admit to themselves what they had long refused to believe—that the real issue between the people of the South and those into whose hands the control of federal power had fallen involved the continued existence of constitutional government for the States of the South, indeed, for all the States, and the maintenance of rights older than the Constitution, older than the Union, and higher and more sacred than either the Union or the Constitution.
In such an emergency and with such vital interests at stake, they greatly mistake the character of the Southern people who suppose that they needed to be led or driven to meet the advancing storm of battle as it rolled down upon them. It is safe to say that up to the middle of April, 1862, the greater part of the preparations for war had been made by the States, or by the spontaneous action of the people themselves. It will thus be seen that so far is it from the truth that Mr. Davis was in any sense the author or leader of the secession movement, he was selected by the people as best fitted by his ability, his experience, his fidelity to principle, his tried courage and his exalted character to lead a movement of the people in a time of imminent public danger.
It is as the trusted leader in the cause I have described that Mr. Davis possessed and deserved, in the midst of the most arduous labors, the most perplexing cares, the greatest dangers, the sorest trials, the love and confidence of the great body of the Southern people, including the most eminent commanders of their armies, and it is as such a leader in such a cause that he has this day gone to his grave followed by the undying gratitude and veneration of all for whom he endured and dared so much. There is nothing in his life and history to impair his title to that gratitude and veneration. If it be treason to prefer constitutional liberty and those rights which are as the breath of life to men of our race to territorial greatness and material wealth, then Mr. Davis was a traitor, and so, please God, may every American be whenever that constitutional liberty and those ancient rights shall be again put in jeopardy by enemies at home or abroad. In his life and public services before the war there is everything to make us proud of our dead leader.
If devotion to the public service, stainless integrity, great capacity for affairs and spotless purity of life can entitle a public man to respect and esteem, the career of Mr. Davis while connected with the government of the United States, whether as a soldier or statesman, is an example which no friend of his country would like to have neglected or forgotten.
I have called your attention to one or two only of the reasons why we reverence the memory of Mr. Davis. With his death all prejudice should pass away—in his grave should be buried all animosities, and by the side of that grave all men should take a vow that in the service of the Government and the Union they will bring cheerfully and. gladly, as far as lies in their power, the fidelity, the truth, the faith, the courage and the endurance of him whose name we are here to-night to honor. Who is there that is not proud to be the countryman of such a man, who was faithful to the last?
ADDRESS AND TRIBUTE
BY GENERAI. FITZHUGH LEE,
Governor of Virginia
WHEN the messenger of Death, flying with electric wing from the “Crescent City” to Virginia’s capital, brought to us his recent sad tidings, the hand of mourning touched the heartstrings of our people, and they are still vibrating with genuine grief to the accompanying voice of the mother Commonwealth— “How hath the mighty fallen.”
A PICTURE OF OUE SORROW
Aye, a shadow has been cast over our plains and valleys; our rivers roll troubled to the sea; the covering cloak of gloom has o’erspread our towns and cities; sorrow’s cloud has tipped our mountaintops. Virginia weeps for Jefferson Davis! How appropriate is her lamentation! Bound as she has been to constitutional government from the early formation of the republic by the sword of Washington, the pen of Jefferson, the voice of Henry, the wisdom of Mason, and the efforts of Madison, in and out of the Federal Convention that constructed the Constitution, and mixed with the very marrow of her bones is the knowledge that in constructing that instrument in Philadelphia, in a body presided over by one of her sons, and in its ratification by her afterwards, there was no denial of her right to withdraw from the Union then formed when she should decide to do so; and believing, too, in that sentence of the Declaration of Independence, drafted by another son, that it is the right of the people ” to alter or abolish any form of government” that becomes, in their opinion, destructive to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and ” institute a new government,” Virginia was in thorough accord with the constitutional construction of which Mr. Davis was so conspicuous a defender.
It was easy then in those days of ’61, for Virginia to exclaim, ” Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God!”
WE WERE HIS PEOPLE
To-night this splendid assemblage, in gathering to pay homage to his memory, speaks in no uncertain tones to the country that our people to the end were his people, and that the God who looks down from His throne of mercy beyond the blue dome above, and binds up the broken hearts of the sorrowing wife and children, is the same God to whom we bow in humble submission to this exercise of His divine will.
WHY SHE HONORS HIM
Do you ask me if Virginia honors Davis? Ask her if she admires courage in a soldier, patriotism in a representative, conscientiousness in a Cabinet officer, integrity in a senator, fearless fidelity in a ruler, and unaffected piety in all that constitutes a Christian gentleman!
If Kentucky produced this hero, we do not forget that she was the daughter of Virginia. If Mississippi was his adopted State, we remember she is Virginia’s sister, chained to her by the loving links of a mighty past, bound by the holy memories of the present, and united heart to heart in the great future unrolling before us.
As Dr. Hoge so eloquently expressed it on our memorial day, “there should be no geographical boundaries to the qualities which constitute noble manhood.” “In seven-fold glory Hope spans the arch of Heaven, and weaves chaplets for the tomb,” says another. Let that same Hope leap geographical limits, and teach the American people to admire an American who measured up to the full height of all that constitutes a noble man.
HIS SERVICES TO THE COUNTRY
Cannot the North, South, East, and West remember him when, as an officer of dragoons, his life was freely exposed for his country in the Indian wars? Is not the heart of the whole republic big enough to throb with pride when the picture is presented of his charging at the head of his Mississippians, and planting, amid a storm of shot and shell, the Stars and Stripes on the grand plaza of Monterey? Cannot his fame be trumpeted as an inheritance to all sections when he is portrayed bursting with fiery fury through the Mexican Lancers at Buena Vista, carrying proudly to victory the star-spangled banner, when he reddened the burning sands of old Mexico with his blood ?
Does not all this, to use Mr. Davis’ very words in referring to the battles of the Revolution, “form a monument to the common glory of our common country?”
Did not his splendid administration of the portfolio of war in Franklin Pierce’s Cabinet redound to the credit and renown of the United States?
Was not his advocacy and introduction of new systems of tactics, iron gun-carriages, rifle-muskets and pistols, as well as the “Minnie ball,” and the strengthening of the defences on the sea-coast and frontier, productive of benefit to the whole republic?
SECTIONAL HATE SHOULD PERISH
Perish, then, the sectional hate in the narrow mind of the mover of the resolution that he alone should be excluded from the benefits of the Mexican pension act, for well could Mr. Davis reply to him as Uncle Toby said to the fly, “Go, little wretch, there is room in the world for you and I.”
Away, too, forever, with the pitiful prejudice in the heart of the man who ordered his name to be chiselled from the stone which commemorated his successful efforts in erecting a bridge across the Potomac above Washington. What matters it now to the people of the South, if, after all he did to promote the glory of the United -States, that there is not magnanimity enough left to conform to the usual custom of putting at half-mast the flag over the department of the government he did so much to adorn, so long as the flag of their affection floats so high above such action, and i^ so richly draped in the habiliments of mourning at his death?
PASSION DISPELS REASON
I know when the passions of men are inflamed reason departs; I know amid the clash of arms the laws are silent; I know when blood is spilt human hyenas roar ; but does all this prevent a civilized world from shuddering at the recital of the horrors of the inquisition or the terrors of the French Revolution?
I pray that the curtain of oblivion may be rung down to prevent future ages, when looking upon the great four-year drama of the past, from seeing the blood-stain upon the shield of a great government, placed there, in the nineteenth century by the hands of a few men, some of whom, if reports are true, have already been visited by the power of an avenging God. But so long as the sun rolls on in flaming splendor, bringing to light the innumerable mysteries of life; so long as the moon gilds the grassy slope and the wild ravine; so long as there is a restless sea, and the stars of heaven guide the traveller on his way, so long will the finer feelings of noble women and brave men quiver with shame when the finger of past history points to the murder of Wirtz; the suspension of an innocent woman in mid-air, when the rope was closing around the neck of Mrs. Surratt; and to that memorable 23d of May, 1865, when the cold, rough, rattling iron shackles were placed upon the limbs of Jefferson Davis.
MR. DAVIS’ IMPRISONMENT
The sea of oblivion cannot wash out that scene in the underground casemate at Fortress Monroe, nor can the ears shut out the voice as he exclaimed, “My God! You cannot have been sent to bind me! The war is over. I have no longer any country but America, and it is for the honor of America that I plead against this degradation. Kill me, kill me, rather than inflict on my people through me this insult.” Sorry am I for the soldier who had to obey his orders, but may God forgive the man who issued them. I never can!
But let us change the scene. It is the next day, and Washington, the capital city of the United States, is in holiday attire. Two hundred thousand armed men are marching in review before the Chief Magistrate of the republic. Conquering banners are fluttering in the sunlight of peace; bayonets no longer bristle; the rifle’s barrel is empty; the point of the sword is turned to the scabbard; the hearts of bronzed and brave veterans beat with happiness at the thought of the old mother at the family fireside, whose lips were already trembling to greet the soldier son’s safe return from the war; peace and joy reign in Washington! Go to your homes. Oh, soldiers of the Union; there is an undivided country stretching from lake to gulf, from ocean to ocean. Tell your people of the brave men who were foemen worthy of your steel upon the blood-stained fields of conflict, who fought and lost without sacrificing their own honor or your self-respect. But whisper it low that the revenge of Government has been settled upon the one man who at that hour lay guarded by sentinels within his prison doors and by soldiers on the watch-towers without, but whose courage was so lofty that the harsh clank of the chain broke against it in vain.
There were many in the ranks of those heavy battalions even at that time who would have averted such treatment to a prisoner of war if they could have done so.
CHARGED WITH HERESY AND TREASON
But once again, let us change the scene. Stand forth for trial, Jefferson Davis. Upon your shoulder alone shall be placed a violated Constitution, the heresy of secession, and the ruby garment of treason. Let the victim be brought forth and let him have the form of a trial, and then let him die the death of a traitor. And lo! there he stands, clothed in the full robes of his Confederate faith, for no one knows better than he where the powers of the General Government should end and the reserved rights of the States begin. But the trial must proceed, for an hundred thousand dollars of blood-money had been offered for his head, and posterity must be taught that treason is odious and punishable with death. The party in power in the United States Senate and House of Representatives were eager and impatient and on the 25th day of September, 1865, called, by resolution, on the President, to know what was the matter. The reports of the Secretary of War and the Attorney-General were submitted, stating that while Virginia was the proper place to hold the court, it was not possible then to hold a peaceable United States court there, and Chief-Justice Chase said he would not hold court in a district under martial law.
AN UNWILLINGNESS TO PROSECUTE
Later on, on the 10th of April, 1866, the Judiciary Committee of the House thought there was no reason why the trial should not be at once proceeded with, and on the 8th of May, 1866, a grand jury of the United States at Norfolk—Judge Underwood presiding— found an indictment for treason. On the 5th of June, at the session of the court held there, Mr. Davis’s counsel begged that he be tried without delay, but the Government, it is said, was not ready. A year afterwards he was admitted to bail, and in December, 1868, a nolle prosequi was entered.
NO LAW TO CONVICT
Why this unwillingness to prosecute? Ah, my countrymen, would I could say it proceeded from a forgiving Christian spirit in the bosom of those in power, but the stern cold facts tell us it was because the Government did not dare to test the case before a court of justice, for there is not a single line in the Constitution of the United States which prohibits the withdrawal of a State from the American Union, and there were still enough jurists learned in the law and constitutional lawyers profound in the construction of the Government left in the land to say so. And yet Mr. Davis never was a secessionist per se, but resigned his seat in the Senate reluctantly, hoping to the last that peace, not war, would be the country’s fate. Indeed in his first message to the Confederate Congress he spoke of secession as a necessity, not a choice.
THE GOVERNOR’S PERORATION
Such is the man. Ladies and gentlemen, the capital city of the Confederacy remembers this evening. For four years he was a familiar figure on our streets, in his executive office, and on horseback as he rode around the lines of fire then circling the city.
When the ship of the new republic was launched he was called to the command and was with her “rocked in the cradle of the deep.” Storms of war burst upon her deck before her machinery was even put in motion; but through the thunder’s roar, when the cordage was rent, when the breakers were dashing against her, when despair was visible upon the faces of some of the crew, and when she began to settle and sink amid the lurid flashing of the lightning, the captain was seen standing calm, heroic, resolute, grand in all the glory of a man, grasping with a firm hand the helm as she sank down, down, in the sea of eternity.
Within the bosom of Virginia repose the ashes of great men whose lips and lives have taught us to love the Commonwealth. She proudly numbers the graves of Presidents of the Republic. The Father of his country lies buried where the majestic Potomac sweeps in graceful curve upon the shores of Mt.Vernon.
The grave of the distinguished author of the “Declaration of Independence” is found where the Little Mountain rears its proud head from the beautiful plains of Albemarle. The Sage of Montpelier, “the father of the Constitution,” is resting quietly at its old homestead, while the remains of two others lie in beautiful Hollywood, near this city, where the waters of the James musically rolling from rock to rock are forever murmuring an eternal requiem.
Virginia, holding in her loving embrace the sacred graves of five Presidents of the United States, opens wide her arms, and asks that she may be permitted to guard the last resting-place of the President of the Confederate States.
Here let the soldier sleeps whose sword flashes no longer in the forefront of battle.
Here let the orator be buried upon whose lips audiences were once suspended magically as if by golden chains.
Here let the statesman rest watched over and guarded by the city that ever received his loving attention.
Here let the chieftain be brought and buried in May, when a monument is to be unveiled to one of his army commanders, when Nature spreads her carpet of green, when in the aisles of the orchard the blossoms are drifting and “the tulip’s pale stalk in the garden is lifting a goblet of gems to the sun.” And here too let us erect a monument that will stand in lofty and lasting attestation to tell our children’s children of our love for the memory of Jefferson Davis.
BY UNITED STATES SENATOR REAGAN,
Member of the Davis Cabinet
I HAVE had a personal acquaintance with Mr. Davis for thirty-two years. I have known him in the domestic circle as the most genial and lovable man I ever knew. I have been with him around the council board and witnessed the great care and ability with which he considered great public questions. I have been with him on the battlefield, and have seen the calm courage with which he faced the chances of death. I have been with him in the hours of victory and of triumph, and never saw him unduly elated. I have been with him in defeat and disaster, and never saw him unduly depressed. The people he served respected him for his virtues and integrity. They admired him for his ability and devotion to duty and to them. They reverenced him for the grandeur and nobility of his character. And they mourn his death with unfeigned sorrow.
The public had the impression that Mr. Davis was an austere and arbitrary man, when just the reverse was the case. He had two characters—one for public affairs and one for his personal and private relations. He was not hasty at forming conclusions, and was ever ready to receive suggestions from his friends and political advisers. I remember well the first Cabinet meeting I attended. Mr. Davis then informed his advisers that he wanted us to be as frank with him as he would be with us. In the preparation of his messages to Congress he invited the fullest and freest discussion of the subjects treated. I remember well one of his favorite remarks, and that was, “If a paper can’t stand the criticism of its friends, it will be in a bad way when it gets into the hands of its enemies.” I have always remembered that remark, because it has frequently been my guide in matters of legislation.
In the organization of the various departments under the Confederacy, Mr. Davis, at one of the Cabinet meetings, informed us that we would be called upon to select the men whom we needed to assist us, and he would appoint them. But he impressed upon us the fact that we would be held responsible for the conduct and efficiency of the appointees. Mr. Davis was a civil service reformer in a certain sense. He was firm in his conclusions and patient in his investigations. In his domestic life he was amiable and gentle, but in official life he knew no word but duty. I remember very well our last formal Cabinet meeting. It was after we had left Richmond, and were travelling through the southern portion of North Carolina. It was just near the border of the two States, North and South Carolina. It was under a big pine-tree that we stopped to take some lunch. Mr. Trenholm, the Secretary of the Treasury, was absent. He had been taken sick at Charlotte, and after trying to keep up with us for about twenty miles he gave out and tendered his resignation. The resignation of Mr. Trenholm was discussed, and it was finally accepted, and I was selected to take charge of his ofiice in conjunction with that of Postmaster-General. I remember on that occasion Mr. Davis said, when I requested to be relieved from that additional duty: “You can look after that without much trouble. We have concluded that there is not much for the Secretary of the Treasury to do, and there is but little money left for him to steal.” That was in April, 1865.
Some time after that George Davis, the Attorney General, asked Mr. Davis’ advice about retiring from the Cabinet. The Attorney-General said he wanted to stand by the Confederacy, but his family and his property were at Wilmington, and he was in doubt as to where his duty called him. “By the side of your family,” promptly responded Mr. Davis. After the Attorney-General left us there were only four members of the Cabinet left to continue the journey to Washington, Ga., which was our destination. We put up at Abbeville, S. C, for the night, because we were informed that a lot of Yankee cavalry were in Washington, Ga. At that point Benjamin said he proposed to leave the country and get as far away from the United States as possible. Mr. Davis asked him how he proposed to get down to the coast. “Oh,” replied Benjamin, “there is a distinguished Frenchman whose name and initials are the same as mine, and as I can talk a little French I propose to pass myself off as the French Benjamin.”
While passing through South Carolina I was particularly struck with Mr. Davis’ generosity. We were passing a little cabin on the road, and we stopped to get a drink of water. A woman, poorly clad, came out to serve us. She recognized Mr. Davis, and informed him that her only son was named after him. It was a very warm day, and the cool water was very refreshing. Mr. Davis took from his pocket the last piece of coin he possessed and gave it to the woman and told her to give it to his namesake. At our next stopping-place we compared our cash accounts, and Mr. Davis had a few Confederate notes, which was every cent of money possessed in this world.
Mr. Davis was one of the few men who measured the full force of the war. He from the first contended that it was likely to last a number of years instead of a few months, as many persons predicted. It was at first proposed to enlist an army of two or three hundred thousand men for six months, for by that time it was supposed that the war would be over. Mr. Davis promptly disposed of that suggestion by declaring that it would take at least a year to organize an efficient army, as soldiers could not be made in a few days. He said it would be wiser to establish a smaller army—one that we could afford to arm and equip. From the first he maintained that it would be a long and bloody war, but many Southern men differed with him, and the result was we were obliged to pass that terrible act of conscription to keep our men in the service.
There is another question that I wish to touch upon in this connection. I have frequently referred to the question of his disabilities, and we have discussed the subject from various standpoints. Invariably Mr. Davis declared that he could not conscientiously ask to have his disabilities removed, for he could not induce himself to believe that he had done wrong. He was firm in his convictions on that point, and nothing could move him.
Mr. Davis was greatly misjudged in many ways. He was the most devout Christian I ever knew, and the most self-sacrificing man. When his plantation was in danger of being seized and the property destroyed, he was urged by friends to send a force of men to protect it. “The President of the Confederacy,” he responded, “cannot afford to use public means to preserve private interests, and I cannot employ men to take care of my property.” And so when his hill property in Hinds County was threatened, and all his books and papers were in danger of destruction, he again resisted all persuasions of friends to have them protected.
The memory of his services, of his virtues, and of his vicarious sufferings demand this alike from the Christian sentiment and from the manhood of those he served so faithfully. And it is matter of special gratification that the general tone of the greater part of the press of the country. North and South, have treated kindly the memory of this illustrious man.
When General Grant suffered in affliction, the people of the South as well as North gave him their sincere sympathy. When he died the people of the South, as well as of the North, mourned his death. The same feeling of respect for genius, for greatness and for worth, and the same feeling of Christian charity for the dead, and of sympathy for the bereaved who survive, has shown itself North as well as South for Mr. Davis.
This is as it should be, and will have its influence in restoring that more perfect fraternity of feeling which is so necessary and so important to the welfare and happiness of the whole country.
It is fitting in this connection that I should add the following dispatch and letter, published in the Washington Star of December 12, 1889, showing Mr.
Davis’ participation in this feeling of charity and fraternity:
A CHARACTERISTIC LETTER
When General Grant was dying at Mount Mc- Gregor the Boston Globe instructed its New Orleans correspondent to interview Jefferson Davis. Mr. Davis was not seen personally, but a few days later he penned the following letter:
“Dear Sir—Your request in behalf of a Boston journalist for me to prepare a criticism of Gen. Grant’s military career cannot be complied with for the following reasons:
“1. Gen. Grant is dying,
“2. Though he invaded our country, it was with an open hand, and, as far as I know, he abetted neither arson nor pillage, and has since the war, I believe, showed no malignity to Confederates either of the military or civil service.
“Therefore, instead of seeking to disturb the quiet of his closing hours I would, if it were in my power, contribute to the peace of his mind and the comfort of his body.
The people of the Southern States have manifested their deep sorrow for the death of Mr. Davis by messages of condolence, by resolutions of public meetings, by the action of municipal governments, by proclamations of mayors of cities and Governors of States, by resolutions of legislative assemblages, by draping public and private buildings in mourning, through the columns of the newspapers, by appropriate religious services throughout the South on the day of his funeral, and by the suspension of all business on the day of his funeral.
Such honors have never before been shown to the leader of a lost cause, and few of the successful heroes of the world have ever received such honors as have been paid to the memory of Mr. Davis. The hero and leader of a lost cause, after one of the most stupendous struggles known to history, denied the right of citizenship, powerless to confer benefits on others, he still enjoyed the unbounded respect and confidence and love and gratitude of the people he served with so much ability and fidelity and courage. And while in law an exile among the people who loved him so much, he bore imprisonment, and chains, and deprivation of political rights, and the bitter denunciation of his enemies, with a manly patience and Christian fortitude never before shown by mortal man under such circumstances except in the case of General Robert E. Lee. But his trials and sufferings were greater than those which fell upon our great general. Hannibal, the great Carthagenian general, and Napoleon, the conqueror of Europe, when defeat and disaster fell upon them, complained much of their misfortunes. But Jefferson Davis has borne his misfortunes in dignified and uncomplaining silence. It may be permitted to his friends to say that in every position he filled in life, his fidelity commanded respect and his ability compelled admiration; whether as a young officer of the United States army, as a successful planter, as a student of the sciences during the years of his retirement from the public service, as a member of the United States House of Representatives, as a colonel in the Mexican War whose genius and courage won the victory of Buena Vista, as Secretary of War in perfecting the organization of the army and otherwise improving the service, in directing the surveys for the Pacific Railroad, in aiding in the extension of the wings of the national Capitol and in the construction of the Smithsonian Institution and constructing the water-works of the national capital, and in the improvement of the public grounds of that city; or as Senator of the United States, where he showed himself the peer of our greatest statesmen and debaters, or as President of the Confederate States, where he did all that human skill and courage could do to sustain the cause in whose service he was engaged. The glories of all these achievements, however, it seems to me, were surpassed by the patience and fortitude with which he met the disastrous results of defeat.
As illustrative of Mr. Davis’ self-denial, of his sympathy for the poor and afflicted, and for the wounded and disabled soldiers who suffered in a common cause with him, I give an extract from a dispatch sent by- Henry W. Grady, editor of the Atlanta Constitution, in answer to a dispatch sent to him from the city of New York:
To the Editor of the World:
“Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 6.—I thank you heartily for your dispatch. Three or four times in the past ten years, touched by Mr. Davis’ known poverty, we have started to make a fund for him, and once had a considerable amount subscribed without his knowledge. Each time he gratefully but firmly declined, saying that so many widows and orphans of our soldiers and so many disabled veterans themselves were poor and in need of the necessaries of life, that all generous offerings had best be directed to them and to their betterment. He has grown steadily poorer, and I fear leaves his family nothing.”
This is not a proper occasion for the discussion of the question of the righteousness of the cause which he served with such fidelity and ability, and for which he has suffered so much. That must be deferred to other occasions and probably to other times. But his friends may safely leave his fame to the unimpassioned verdict to be rendered by the historian of the future.
BY GOVERNOR J. B. GORDON
*State of Geokgia, Executive Department.
Atlanta, Ga., January 22, 1890.
R. H. Woodward & Co., Baltimore, Md.
Gentlemen:—Your letter received. The preparation of an article for your “Reminiscences of Jefferson Davis” would require more time than it is possible for me now to devote to it. It would, indeed, be a labor of love, if I were able to accomplish it, but my time is so completely preoccupied that I cannot attempt it.
Very truly yours,
J. B. Gordon.
WITHOUT any time for preparation, or one moment’s consecutive thought, you must allow me to speak as the spirit of the occasion may prompt.
To me, as to you, this is one of the saddest, and yet one of the sweetest and proudest occasions of all my life. Saddest, because it is the occasion upon which we have carried to his last resting-place the great chieftain whom we loved, followed and honored.
Sweetest, because we have laid him to rest after “life’s fitful fever,” with all the honors we could bestow, embalmed in the esteem and boundless affections of a great and grateful people. Proudest to me, because it was my good fortune to participate in giving to that grand man, dead as he was, the tribute of my respect and love; and now the privilege of taking you all to my heart and saying, as he would have said with the last lisp of his tongue, God bless you, my fellow sufferers.
It was my great privilege to know Mr. Davis well, although, as stated on another occasion, I saw him but twice in that eventful period from 1861 to the autumn of 1865. I saw him on the battle-field of Manassas, as he rode in triumph, with the stars and bars of the Confederacy floating in the white smoke of the battle, and with the shouts of his victorious legions ringing in his ears.
The next time I saw him was in prison at Fortress Monroe. It is no exaggeration to say that he rose to grander height as prisoner of State, as self-poised and unbending he bore his misfortunes, and
WORE HIS SHACKLES FOR ALL HIS PEOPLE
I have followed his course and marked his career from that hour to this with an unfaltering faith that he would neither lower this high standard nor betray the holy trust which he carried in his person. I never doubted for one moment how he would live or how he would die, and I have not been disappointed.
To us, whatever it may be to mankind, it is a glorious heritage that this Southland has produced so grand a vicarious sufferer. Here is a man upon whom the gaze of Christendom was concentrated, and upon whom criticism has expended all its arrows, and yet no blemish is found in his private character.
It was fitting that around his bier and his body, sacred to us, should have been wrapped the flag that went down with his fall from power. But it was also fitting that above his dead body the stars and stripes of the Republic, for the honor and glory of which his blood was shed, should also have floated.
Could his cold lips speak his injunction would be to us be true to your Confederate memories; be true to the past, but be true to the future of the Union and the Republic as well.
The flag of the Republic, which is our flag in all the ages to come, was made dearer because Jefferson Davis fought in its defense. It is a glorious thought to me, as doubtless to you, that there is not a star upon its blue field that has not been made brighter by Southern courage and Southern patriotism. That there is not one of its red stripes that is not made deeper and richer by Southern blood. That there is not one of its white lines that has not been made purer, whiter and holier by Southern character in all public offices.
Now, my countrymen, I come to the debt we owe the living. Mr. Davis is dead. The grief is ours, full and sacred. His fame belongs not only to the South, but to his country and to Christendom. Ours it is to cherish. Ours the still higher privilege of taking care of that memory by taking care of those who were
IMPOVERISHED IN OUR CAUSE.
I have been told since I come to New Orleans that his widow, following his illustrious example, declines to accept such tributes as we may choose to offer.
My brothers, the reply I make is, that we did not ask the consent of Jefferson Davis or of his family, when we- put the burden upon him that led to shackles for our sakes, nor will we consult any one now, when we choose to pay the tribute due to him and to his children, out of our pockets. If it be thought best to pay it in a particular channel, all right, but calling God to witness the purity of motive and consecration which we feel in this duty, we intend, because of our love for him as our representative; because of our love for those who have shared his fate; because of our love for our own honor, we intend to see to it that his wife and children do not suffer want.
The outside world may not appreciate it, but, so far as you and I are concerned, we feel that not one dollar of property is ours so long as his wife and his child need our assistance. This we intend to render because Southern manhood demands it as a tribute to the man who suffered for us. [Great applause.] I shall not insult you by asking you if you are ready.
IMPRISONMENT OF JEFFERSON DAVIS
BY HON. S. TEAKLE WALLIS,
Member of Baltimore Bar
THE theme of this little volume, f in itself and without words, is at once a sermon and a history. It tells of a change in the political institutions of a mighty nation more rapid and more thorough than any other which the annals of men record. It points to the melancholy spectacle of a government, founded on consent and consecrated to freedom, converted by the willing hands of a majority of the people whose birthright it was, into a despotism controlled by popular passion and sectional interests. It signalizes, by a conspicuous and incontestable example, the substitution of a scheme of arbitrary violence, for a system based on written constitutions and ruling and punishing only through its laws. More sad, a thousand-fold, than all, it proclaims to us—whether as cause or effect it is unnecessary here to discuss—the decadence of that high and manly spirit, that generous and wholesome sense of right, that love of justice and fair-play, which animated and exalted our once noble institutions, through the first stage of their development, as with the inspiration of a great and living soul. The children are yet clinging round our knees, who were born before “State prisoners” were imagined as a possibility upon our soil, and the generation who preceded them—scarce half-grown even now—were taught the stories of the Doges’ Palace, the Tower and the Bastille, of Olmutz and St. Helena and Ham, as a warning against the wickedness of kings and lords, and a lesson of thankfulness to the good God, who had made a republic their birthplace. And yet, to-day, after having for five years seen with approval every fortress in the North stuffed full of men and women, dragged from their homes, at midnight or at mid-day, without warrant or authority or even form of law ; after having witnessed the infliction upon large classes of their neighbors and friends, of all the contumely and outrage that brutality suggested to capricious and unbridled power, as a penalty for the exercise of freedom of opinion ; the masses of the Northern people can behold, not only without shame, but with rejoicing, the long imprisonment and barbarous personal ill treatment of one of their most prominent and distinguished fellow-citizens, in notorious violation of the most rudimental of the principles, on which they go on vaunting, day after day, that their government reposes. And this too, not in the heat of conflict, when the best of men go sometimes mad with zeal or passion, but in the midst of profound and established peace, when those who were lately in arms against them are not only vanquished but crushed, and nothing stands in the way of perfect harmony and reconstruction but the incapacity or unwillingness of the victors to be either generous or just.
Nor in the political antecedents or personal character or conduct of the chief victim, upon whom the unmanly vengeance of the Northern people is thus wreaked, is there anything to excuse, or even furnish a reasonable pretext for so relentless a persecution. There is no public man now living in the United States who has gone through the political conflicts of the last twenty years with a more stainless name. As a soldier, a senator, a Cabinet minister of the old Union, gallant, able, active and efficient always, and developing those positive and somewhat aggressive traits of character, which provoke and stimulate antagonism and resentment, he never found an enemy so reckless as to question his patriotism or asperse his purity. Even now, shorn as he is of power and influence, the vanquished and captive chief of a ruined and, of course, unpopular cause, with all the personal and official animosities and criminations which belong to such a position crowding round him, there is yet to be heard among his constituents the first whisper of imputation upon his loyalty to the people who chose him as their leader, or his integrity in the administration of his office according to his judgment. Of those particular political opinions which are now held to be his crime, he not only made no concealment, while he was in the service of the United States, but was their open, avowed, conspicuous champion. He was elected and appointed to places of honor and responsibility, with the full knowledge, on the part of both Government and people, that he was the uncompromising advocate of States rights, in the broad Southern understanding of that term, and that, as he wrote to Mr. Bostick in the well-known letter of May 14th, 1858, the honor and safety of the Southern people, their respect for their ancestors, and their regard for their posterity would require them to “meet, at whatever sacrifice,” any issue in which the maintenance of those rights might be involved.* The resolutions introduced by him into the Senate of the United States in February or March, 1860, and in which his political creed on the vexed question of State sovereignty was set forth, did no more than place permanently upon record, the familiar and oft defended doctrines and principles of his whole public life. He was therefore as well known to be a secessionist at Charleston, in 1860, when General Butler voted fifty times to make him a candidate for the Presidency, as he now is, at Fortress Monroe, where General Butler would gibbet him, without trial, to-day, for the inconceivable crime of secession. Of his entire and honorable freedom from every imputation that could justly make a gentleman ashamed—unless the wickedness, incomprehensible to General Butler, of risking his life and fortune in defence of his most cherished convictions, be supposed to belong to that class—there can be no evidence more conclusive than the attempts which have been made under the auspices of the high officials of the Federal Government, to bring his name and person into unjust contempt, and to attract to him, by false and infamous charges, the vindictive hatred of the populace.
The reader will recall the wretched and indecent fabrications transmitted by the Associated Press, from Washington, under the inspiration of Mr. Secretary Stanton, at the time of the capture of Mr. Davis, whereby the foolish and credulous were instructed that “Jeff.” was making his way to the Mississippi, with a wagon-load of gold which he had seized as his “private plunder, and that when taken prisoner he was disguised ” in his wife’s crinoline,” and pretended to be a woman. Of course, the authors of so vulgar and paltry a defamation well knew that it would impose on no one who understood the character of Mr. Davis, or had observed his public or private career, and that it would turn to nothing in the course of time, along with the thousand other official slanders which had hissed and died during the war. But they knew, equally well, that it would tend to hinder, for a while, among the masses of the people, that respectful sympathy which spontaneously opens itself to the misfortunes of a brave and fallen foe, and that it would contribute its share towards preparing them for the wholly un-American system of persecution which the parties in question had already devised for the torment of their victim.
And here, it may properly be observed, that there was one thing more than any other and perhaps than all others put together, in which the Cabinet organized by Mr. Lincoln displayed especial and remarkable sagacity. Indeed, in summing up their career as an administration, we might perhaps be justified in saying that it was at the foundation of their whole success, and stood them, throughout, instead of those high qualities of statesmanship, which such a crisis as the Confederate War would have developed in any nation less devoid of really great men than the Northern section of the United States. We refer to that perfect comprehension of the passions, prejudices, susceptibilities, vices, virtues, knowledge and ignorance of the people upon whom they had to practice. They knew every quiver of the popular pulse, and what it signified. They could weigh out, to a grain, the small quantity of truth to which the public appetite was equal, and they perfectly understood and measured the preternatural extent to which the popular digestion could assimilate falsehood. They were masters of every artifice that could mystify or mislead, and of every trick that could excite hope, or confidence, or rage. They knew every common-place and claptrap that would affect the popular imagination or temper, as familiarly and as accurately as a stage manager is acquainted with the oldest of his theatrical properties. Understanding their part thus well, they played to it, with wonderful tact and effect. They filled their armies, established their financial system, controlled the press and silenced opposition by the same universal system of ingenious and bold imposture. I have before me an editorial article of Mr. Raymond, of the New York Times, in which he testifies that on the night after the battle of Bull Run, he prepared an accurate and candid statement of the federal disaster, and left it at the office of the Telegraph, to be transmitted to the journal which he conducted, but that the censor of the War Department, to his surprise and without his knowledge, caused his report to be suppressed and forwarded in its place the well-known telegram, in which the triumph of the federal arms, at all points, was announced in startling capitals to the delighted North. The equally notorious despatch of Mr. Stanton to Governor Curtin, after the battle of Fredericksburg, is but one out of a thousand evidences that the Carnot—as Mr. Seward called him—of the Lincoln Cabinet, was as notable an adept as his predecessor, in that ancient art, which was practiced with less impunity in the days of Ananias and Sapphira.
It was not to be expected that the War Department of the United States, thus taught by long success the value of judicious falsehood, should content itself with seeking merely to bring into contempt the head of the fallen Confederate Government. The war, in itself so violently antagonistic to the whole spirit and principles of the Constitution of the United States, could not, of course, be conducted without unconstitutional means and appliances. Among the most iniquitous of the contrivances resorted to was the anomalous, inquisitorial tribunal, called the Bureau of Military Justice. A few years ago no man would have dared to suggest such an engine of persecution to the most unscrupulous of political organizations in this country. If established, it would have collapsed in a week, under the scorn and indignation of a people yet uneducated by philanthropy in violence and usurpation. Nevertheless, at the close of the war, it exercised almost unlimited power for evil. It was the centre of all the schemes of hidden wickedness and mischief which consumed so many millions of secret service money and raised up and debauched such an army of spies and informers throughout the land. It had grown to monopolize the getting up of persecutions, the organization of military commissions, the fabrication of evidence and the subornation of witnesses. Guided by the constitutional doctrines of Solicitor Whiting, the legal and military ethics of Dr. Lieber, and the systematized and ingenious malignity and invention of Judge Advocate General Holt, it could only have been surpassed, had Jeffreys, Vidocq and Haynau been revived to sit in judgment together. Had its plans not been thwarted, by the interposition of President Johnson, when the Supreme Court, under the most disreputable political influences, postponed, for a whole year, the promulgation of its opinion upon the constitutionality of Military Commissions, it would have opened a general campaign of judicial murder, beside which the Bloody Assizes of King James’ Chief Justice would have lost their hitherto pre-eminent infamy. Under the inspiration of this Bureau, with the sympathetic assistance of Mr. Secretary Stanton, the well known proclamation was issued, in which Mr. Davis was charged with having been accessory to the assassination of President Lincoln. It was a painful feature of that abominable outrage, that the confidence of President Johnson should have been abused by his official advisers to the extent of inducing him, in the first moment of his accession, to put his name to such a paper. To consider even for a moment, here, whether the parties by whom the calumny was made to take an official shape had any grounds for suspecting it to be true, which the bitterest honorable enemy of Mr. Davis would not have scorned to examine, would be an insult to our readers, not less than an indignity to the gallant gentleman against whose life and honor the poisoned shaft was aimed. It is safe to say that not one of the conspirators at the War Department ever harbored, for an instant, a sincere belief in the truth of the charge, either before or after it was made. If it had been honestly started under the passionate influences of the troubled hour in which it saw the light, it would have been manfully disavowed when the excitement was over, and especially after the disgraceful and utter failure of the attempt to maintain it, with other injurious accusations, before the military inquisitions which decreed the murder of Mrs. Surratt and Captain Wirz. But it had done its work in filling the minds of the ignorant with prejudice and stimulating the hatred and fanaticism of party, and to have admitted its falsehood would have been to create a just reaction in favor of the victim. It was therefore allowed to stand without qualification as it was uttered, until the publication of the confidential correspondence between Mr. Holt and his agent Conover, disclosed not merely the perjury which had been suborned, but the deliberate and disgusting circumstances of the purchase. Then, for the first time, the head of the Bureau of Military Justice found himself forced into an attitude of defence, and was compelled to vindicate his integrity in the newspapers by a weak attempt to shift the blame upon the unsuspecting credulousness of his nature. It is now probably too late for him to escape the retributive justice of public and historical opinion, by pretending to punish the perjury-broker, whose hirelings he paid and used. Posterity will contemplate these incidents and others like them in the history of the war with inexpressible astonishment that the gigantic hopes and wonderful resources of such a nation as this should have been entrusted, in the vital moment of its destiny, to minds so little and souls so mean. Nor will they, we are sorry to believe, forget that for rulers like these and for their doings, the responsibility, under a Republican form of Government, is upon the people who endure such rule. The impartial times to come will hardly understand how a nation, which not only permitted, but encouraged its government to declare medicines and surgical instruments contraband of war, and to destroy by fire and sword the habitations and food of non-combatants, as well as the fruits of the earth and the implements of tillage, should afterwards have clamoured for the blood of captive enemies, because they did not feed their prisoners out of their own starvation and heal them in their succorless hospitals. And when a final and accurate development shall have been made of the facts connected with the exchange of prisoners between the belligerents, and it shall have been demonstrated, as even now it is perfectly understood, that all the nameless horrors which are recorded of the prison-houses upon both sides, were the result of a deliberate and inexorable policy of non-exchange on the part of the United States, founded on an equally deliberate calculation of their ability to furnish a greater mass of humanity than the Confederacy could afford, for starvation and the shambles, men will wonder how it was that a people, passing for civilized and Christian, should have consigned Jefferson Davis to a cell, while they tolerated Edwin M. Stanton as a Cabinet minister.
I have referred to these apparently extraneous matters, for the purpose of showing, upon what foundations the prodigal slanders were rested, by which the American people were induced to acquiesce in what we have already described as the un-American system of persecution to which Mr. Davis has been surrendered. One by one they have been demolished or tacitly abandoned, and it is now conceded upon all sides, that the only ground upon which the late President of the Confederate States has been or can be further restrained of his liberty, under any color of right, is the fact of his having been engaged in levying war against the United States. The act which these latter words describe is treason within the language of the 3d section of 3d article of the Federal Constitution, and upon the applicability of that section to the case of Mr. Davis, depends, of course, the right to hold and try him for the crime which it defines. But before proceeding to the few observations upon that point, to which our space and the nature of this article confines us, we cannot avoid renewing the inquiry, why is it that Mr. Davis has been singled out for imputed treason, from the millions whom the Supreme Court of the United States has solemnly declared to be as guilty as he. “All persons,” says Mr. Justice Grier, in delivering the opinion of that tribunal, in the Prize cases, * “residing within this territory, whose property may be used to increase the revenues of the hostile power, are liable to be treated as enemies, though not foreigners. They have cast off their allegiance and made war on the Government and are none the less enemies because they are traitors.” Lawyers and publicists will of course judge for themselves in regard to the soundness of the doctrine thus announced, but it conveys, at all events, the deliberate judgment of the highest judicial authority under the Constitution. How is it, then, that one man out of all these millions of “traitors ” and “enemies” is sought to be made their scapegoat? Nay, the Supreme Court have gone further than the language we have quoted. They have determined in the same eases, by the mouth of the same judge,* that the people of the South “in organizing this rebellion,” “acted as States, (sic) claiming to be sovereign over all persons and property within their respective limits, and asserting a right to absolve their citizens from their allegiance to the Federal Government. Several of these States,” adds Judge Grier, “have combined to form a new Confederacy, claiming to be acknowledged by the world as a sovereign State.” How is it, then, that Mr. Davis alone is to be held as the representative for punishment, not only of the millions of individual men by whom “the rebellion” was conducted, but also of the States whose corporate capacity and action the Supreme Court thus recognizes, and of the Confederacy, to which these States entrusted, as their representative, the belligerent powers and resources of the sovereignty which they respectively asserted? It is simply impossible that any reasonable answer can be given to these inquiries. That Mr. Davis had anything more to do with originating the Southern movement than hundreds of other prominent and able men, cannot be asserted with any respect for the truth. No Southern member of the Senate in 1861 was more anxious and ready than he for a compromise and pacific solution of the questions which were inflaming the public mind. No man retired from the Senate with more unfeigned and sorrowful reluctance, or left behind him a more respectful appreciation of his honesty, sincerity, dignity and manhood. His valedictory moistened the eyes of those who were most hostile to his political movements and opinions, and produced a sensation which no man, who witnessed the scene, will ever forget. He was elevated to the Presidential chair of the new-formed Confederacy, not as the representative of extreme opinions or bitter feelings, but because of the respect in which his consistency, his honor, his single-heartedness, his courage and ability were held by the whole Southern people. With what perplexities and trials he had to struggle, yet with what earnestness and success he managed, above all things, to prevent the action of his government and the conduct of its armies from being controlled by the vindictive rancor which the circumstances rendered so natural and so difficult to restrain, all who knew anything of the internal struggles of the Confederacy can testify. The same history which canonizes the successful determination of Lamartine, at the Hotel de Ville, to prevent the rising republic of 1848 from lifting the red flag anew, which had been drenched in the blood of the people, will place side by side with it the moral heroism of Jefferson Davis, in forbidding the black flag to be unfurled by any of the soldiers of the Confederate States against the enemies who were menacing their homes, institutions and freedom.
Nor was it alone in the belligerent relations of the Confederacy that Mr. Davis was the representative of the spirit of moderation. In a contest, in which everything (and especially upon the weaker side) depended upon executive energy, concentration and promptness, he shrank from grasping a single power which was not confided to him by the Constitution. While the Federal Government of the United States, looking only to success, and regardless of the means by which it might be assured, went trampling to the right and left, over every Constitutional guaranty, over individual liberty and State authority alike, Mr. Davis persistently confined himself within the limits constitutionally assigned to him, determined, whatever might betide, that the Confederacy should at least not suffer at his hands the evils of executive usurpation. There are those among the best friends of Mr Davis, who believe, with sadness, that in this he was perhaps more nice than wise, and that the circumstances would have justified him in temporarily opposing to the vigor of the despotism into which the Government of the United States had been converted by Mr. Lincoln, a corresponding vigor, purchased at the same cost to the Southern people. This, of course, resolves itself into a question which we shall not discuss, between regarding Mr. Davis as the chief of a mere revolution, or as the head of an organized and constitutional government.
There is another particular, too, in which the administration of Mr. Davis has been exposed to the censure of both friends and foes, among his own constituents, which seems to render doubly heinous his selection as a victim from among the whole people whom he served. We refer to that peculiar gentleness and kindness of heart, which made it impossible for him to deal, in the spirit of his otherwise just and resolute character, with the thousand cases of individual and official delinquency, defect or misconduct which required his action. How much, in such a contest as the Confederate War, depends upon the inflexible maintenance of discipline and the relentless enforcement of official obligation, in every branch of the public service, civil as well as military, the experience of both parties to the struggle has sufficiently demonstrated. Whether they are in the right or not, who maintain that the sternness of Mr. Davis was not equal to the demands of his position in that regard, it is certainly true, that the instincts of his nature were in constant struggle with the harsher requirements of duty, and that the influence of his personal kindness was felt, not only among the soldiers and people of the Confederacy, but whenever he was able to mitigate, as to its enemies, the dread severity of war.
Except, then, that he was the official chief and representative of the Confederate Government and people; that by his ability, statesmanship and moderation, and the admirable official papers which came from his hand, he at once gave to his cause a position of honor and respect before the world and its rulers,* and elevated the American name among all the nations; that his constancy and patriotism shared in every sacrifice and animated every effort of the struggle; that his dignity and courage gave consolation even to despair, and have ennobled defeat and captivity—except in these, there is no reason why he should not breathe the air to-day, as much a freeman as any other man who lifted the Confederate flag or fought beneath it. It were a sad commentary, at the best, on civilization and Christianity, and especially upon the vaunted influence of political liberty and Republican institutions, that a war of political opinion—a war not waged for the subversion of society or government, but in vindication, upon both sides, of principles which they respectively assumed to be the basis of the constitutional system that had united them so long—should not end upon the battle-field, but should lead the vanquished to the dungeon and the scaffold. To have settled by brute force a question of constitutional right and self-government would seem reproach enough, in itself, to the citizens of a Republic which was founded on consent, and whose very origin made sacred and indefeasible the right of mankind to abrogate old governments and set up new.
But that the victors in such a strife, not content with accepting their own superiority in numbers and material resources as conclusive upon a matter of reason and right, should select from the millions of their fellow-citizens who have laid down their arms, the most conspicuous and honored of their public servants, to atone by his personal sufferings for the sinful opinions of his people, would seem like closing the volume of human progress, and dispelling forever the dreams of the enthusiasts who believe that freedom and self-government improve and enlighten men. With what humiliation do we turn from such a picture to the noble spectacle of the Provisional Government of the French Republic of 1848, on the immortal occasion to which we have alluded. What a lesson in the grand words of Lamartine, when he proclaimed to his people in the first flush of their triumph, that it became them to make it “a victory and not a vengeance!” What an example in the abolition of the death-penalty for political offences, as the first act of a government yet struggling with the infuriated passions of those who had created it, upon the arena still slippery with their own and their brothers’ blood!
But assuming that all these teachings and examples, and all the better instincts of men and nations are to be as naught, and that the South is to suffer, in the person of Mr. Davis, for the crime of its treason—if treason it were—let us consider for a moment how such a determination gets rid of the difficulty, which Mr. Burke found so insurmountable, of framing an indictment against a people. It may be premised, we suppose, without contradiction, that the idea of settling the’ question of the right of secession, by a judicial decision in the premises, is a simple and empty pretext. No one imagines that the Supreme Court would dare to pronounce in favour of that right, if the opinion of every judge on the bench was conscientiously and deliberately upon that side. The people of the North would not tolerate such a decision, nor abide by it if it were given, for, as we have said, the question is claimed, upon all hands, to have been settled forever by the result of the war. Nay, the Supreme Court itself, in 1862, in the Prize cases,* after using the language which we have quoted above, as to the assumption of the seceding States to absolve their citizens from allegiance to the Federal Government and form a new Confederacy, declares in express terms that “their right to do so is now being decided by wager of battle.” The wager has long since been won, and the Supreme Court, with the rest of the winners, has possession of the bloody stakes. To imagine that the judges of that tribunal could now hold otherwise than that the “right” in dispute had been “decided,” would be sheer fatuity. The question is no longer open. The conclusion is already foregone. The trial, conviction and execution of every surviving soldier of the Confederate armies would not strengthen it a jot or a tittle. Their universal acquittal, with Mr. Davis at their head, would not shake it, for an instant, in the popular mind and determination of the North. To moot the question before the courts is therefore but to enact a judicial farce—none the less a farce because death is hid under the motley. Still, if the form of a hearing is to be gone through, the form of a defence is presupposed as part of the drama, and it becomes those who think that bayonets are not pure reason, to suggest what reason they have to the contrary.
The Supreme Court, as we have shown, has settled the question of both fact and law, that the Southern States “acted as States ” in “organizing the rebellion.” This was not merely the recital of a historical incident by the Court, but was absolutely necessary as an element in the maintenance of the doctrine which the Prize cases established. It was contended by the counsel of some of the claimants, citizens of Virginia, that they were not alleged or proven to be “traitors:” that insurrection was the crime of individuals and that the relation of citizens to the Government of the United States was purely an individual one; that the ordinances of secession, being unconstitutional and invalid, could not sever the allegiance of the citizen from the United States, or make him an enemy, and expose his property to capture and confiscation, if he was not, by his own individual act, in rebellion or hostility. There was but one possible escape, in the interest of the Government, from this argument, and that was, to declare that the States went out ” as States,” in their corporate capacity, and that such State action, of itself, and without their personal participation, made every man, woman and child within the State limits an “enemy,” in law, whether friend or enemy infact. How a legal “nullity” could work such a legal result, is among the unexplained mysteries of belligerent jurisprudence—but still it was so decided, and the fact, legal and actual, that the States corporately, and not the individuals who composed them, “organized the rebellion,” and formed the new Confederacy, was not only admitted, but set up, affirmatively, by the counsel of the United States, and by the court itself, as part of the case of this Government. Carried honestly out to its legitimate consequences, under the law of nations, this decision disposes of the whole “treason” pretence. If an act of war, committed by a State, makes its citizens enemies, ipso facto, without reference to any conduct of their own, it must follow, of logical necessity, that all belligerent acts, done by the citizen, are the acts of the State and not of the individual, and that they entail on the latter only the responsibility which attaches to enemies in arms, flagrante hello, and ceases when the war is over.
They are, in the language of Burke, “offences of war,” which are “obliterated by peace.”
But, be this as it may, it is, at all events, impossible to dispute one logical result of the decision in question, viz.: that if State action and authority can exonerate the individual citizen who has obeyed them, from the crime of treason to the United States in the act of such obedience, neither Mr. Davis nor any other Southern citizen or soldier can lawfully be charged with that offence. To those who recognize the broad Southern doctrine of the right of secession, as expounded and defended by Dr. Bledsoe in a remarkable work, entitled, “Is Davis a Traitor?” the case, of course, presents no difficulty in this aspect. The exercise of a right cannot involve a crime, and upon that theory the several State ordinances dissolved, at once, the relation and responsibility of the citizen to the general Government. Under the modified doctrine, maintained with so much ability by Mr. Bayard, of Delaware, the case is equally clear—for assuming, with him, the right of any of the States to withdraw from the constitutional compact, as sovereigns, whenever in their judgment its terms are infringed, coupled with the equal right of the other States to make war on those seceding, if they deem the secession to be causeless—it is still a question of war between sovereigns, involving belligerent rights and their consequences, but merging all responsibility of the individual citizen on either side. Nor is it easy to perceive how a different practical result can be arrived at under the doctrine of Mr. Buchanan’s message to the Congress of December, 1860. That message, although since denounced with unexampled bitterness, undoubtedly represented at the time the opinion of nearly all the leaders of the Democratic party North, who were not secessionists avowed, and on the faith of it they pledged themselves, as everyone remembers, to interpose their bodies, in the most heroic manner, between the coercionists on their own soil and their cherished brethren of the South. That they apostatized from their convictions and falsified their pledges as never a great party was known to do before; that they not only did not attempt to resist the advancing armies of abolitionism and coercion, but applied, in crowds, at once, for captaincies, colonelcies, major-generalships and particularly paymasterships, as they had been wont to rush for places in the post-offices and the custom-houses, in the bygone and beloved days of ” rotation ” and ” the spoils,” is well known to all who are acquainted with the annals of political cowardice, bad faith and prostitution. But, as we have said, before the Dickinsons, the Bancrofts, the Butlers, and such like had been taught the inestimable value (in currency) of “the life of the nation,” they agreed with Mr. Buchanan, that even if there was no constitutional right to secede, there was no constitutional right to coerce a State seceding. This being admitted, and the States having resisted, “as States,” the exercise of an unconstitutional power, it would seem necessarily to follow, that their authority in such resistance was a legal protection and security to their citizens—unless it can be shown that a State can repel an armed assault upon its rights, without the aid of its people, and that they commit a crime in aiding it to resist a forcible breach of the Constitution. It was upon this, among other grounds, that the Legislature of Maryland, in 1861, asserted the right of the State, if she saw fit, to prevent the passage of Federal troops across her soil, on their march to coerce and invade the South. The right to coerce being denied, under the Constitution, it was assumed to follow, that the assemblage and movement of troops for the purpose of coercion was a palpable violation of the Constitution, in furtherance of which the Federal Government could not claim the right of transit, which belonged to it only in aid and pursuance of its constitutional functions and powers.
And this leads to a view of the immediate question under discussion, which we have never seen presented, although it appears to be obvious, and would certainly seem to dispose of the charge of treason, so far as concerns Mr. Davis and all others in like case with him. It has the great advantage, too, of being connected, in no way, with the exciting questions of secession and coercion, and of involving no decision as to the right or wrong of the action which the seceding States deemed themselves justified in adopting.
Whatever may be said as to State rights and State sovereignty, in the Southern or Democratic sense of those terms, no one entitled to be heard will deny, we presume, that the States are, in some respects, sovereign, and have rights, of some sort, attached to their sovereignty. That the rights they thus possess are as incapable of violation, without a violation of the Constitution, and as fully entitled to protection and vindication, as the rights delegated to the general Government, is of course equally indisputable. Let it be assumed, for the sake of the argument, that some clear and conceded constitutional right of a State, or of all the States, is invaded or about to be invaded by the Federal power—that some unquestionable attribute of State sovereignty is about to be assailed, in a manner which will be incontestably in derogation of the Constitution. In many of such cases, a judicial solution of the difficulty may be practicable. There are others, of course—and especially when the scheme of usurpation is instant and forcible—in which delay puts an end to the possibility of defence or remedy. Assume, for instance, that a usurping President, under the direction of a usurping Congress or despising the remonstrances of a faithful one, is about to overthrow a State Government, by force of arms, and appropriate its territory to his own or the Federal uses, in acknowledged violation and contempt of the fundamental law. Let it be a case in which liberty is sought to be crushed as well as right. Can there be any dispute as to the duty and right of the State Government, to resist such an aggression, by force if it can—to marshal its troops, and defend its soil and the freedom of its people, by all the means within its reach? Can the right and duty of the sister States to join in such resistance be denied? And by right and duty, we mean, not in a revolutionary nor a merely moral sense, but under the Constitution, in order to resist its overthrow and maintain its inviolability? Surely none but the most besotted of consolidationists can say nay to these inquiries. In the twenty-eighth number of the Federalist, General Hamilton himself lays it down as “an axiom in our political system, that the State Governments, within all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority. . . . Possessing all the organs of civil power and the confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the community. They can readily communicate with each other, in the different States, and unite their common forces for the protection of their common liberty.” Mr. Madison expands the same idea over the whole of the forty-sixth number, in which he endeavors to allay all apprehensions of danger from the Federal power, by showing that “its schemes of usurpation will be readily defeated by the State Governments, which will be supported by the people.” Indeed, he denounces with indignation those who “insult the free and gallant citizens of America” by the suspicion that they would hesitate about thus defending their liberties. Assuming, then, that there are cases, few or many, in which the Federal Government may trench, with violence, upon the acknowledged rights and sovereignty of the States, and that the States have the right to resist its aggressions by force—which they must have, unless we are slaves—who is to determine when and whether such an occasion has arisen? Not the Federal Government, of course, for that would reduce the right of resistance to an absurdity. The Supreme Court, in the well-known case of Martin vs. Mott,* involving the exercise of the military powers of the Federal Executive in certain contingencies of Invasion or insurrection, determined, that from the nature of the powers and the objects to be accomplished, the officer entrusted with the authority is the sole and exclusive judge whether the exigency has arisen. In the parallel case of Luther vs. Borden’ the court has added “that the ordinary proceedings in courts of justice would be utterly unfit for the crisis.” By inevitable parity of reason, the States, in the cases I have assumed, and in a like crisis, must be the judges of their exigency also, and so being, the exercise of their judgment and their commands to their citizens, in that exercise, must be a shield to the citizens who obey. In the case of Mitchell vs. Harmony* the Supreme Court decided, that where a superior has a lawful discretion and exercises it, the inferior whom he commands is justified in his obedience, and cannot be held responsible, though a wrong to third parties may result from it, and though the superior ” may have abused his power, or acted through improper motives.” This doctrine, which is founded on reason as well as authority, seems to place the conclusion above controversy, that where one of the States of the Union, in the exercise of its undoubted right to resist a Federal usurpation, sees fit to determine that a case for such resistance has arisen, the citizen who acts under the State authority, and is punishable under its laws if he refuses so to act, is not responsible to the Federal tribunals, though the State may have exercised its discretion unwisely, or prematurely, or even wrongfully, in the premises. Whether the State has ” abused its power, or acted through improper motives,” is a matter for the State and the Union to settle, but the citizen is shielded, let it be settled as it may.
I have suggested these points (from among the many which present themselves) with the necessary brevity, and rather for the mere sake of truth and right, than from any hope that such things will be heeded. When a judge of the highest tribunal of the United States, like Mr. Justice Grier, in delivering its opinion upon the gravest case ever presented to its consideration, is so lost to the decencies of his position as to sneer at an objection to Executive action, on the ground of its unconstitutionality, and to print the word “unconstitutional!!!” in italics and with three notes of admiration, in order to make his contempt typographically conspicuous,* it is, we fear, but wasted time, to appeal to any principle of the Constitution, however solemn, which stands between fanaticism or vindictiveness and the victim for whom they rage.
But were Mr. Davis ever so much the “traitor” that the Holts and Butlers call him, he would still have some rights—the right to a speedy and impartial trial under the provisions of the Constitution which he is accused of having violated—the right to be bailed, if the Government declines to try him. Need we quote anew the language of the fifth and sixth Amendments to the Constitution, unhappily too well remembered through the land, from the contempt with which the usurpations of the war went trampling daily over them? When the sixth article declares that in “all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and impartial trial,” does it mean that he shall be mocked, for eighteen weary months of insolent and harassing outrage and delay, by every subterfuge that official prevarication can devise or party clamor can encourage? Does it mean that he shall be bandied from military commissions to judges and grand juries; that Underwoods and Chandlers and Chases shall hold him prisoner at their will, and try him or not, as their caprice or malice may suggest? Does it signify that Republican Conventions shall determine upon the disposition to be made of him, and that Radical orators shall insist on his being held, that they may make a standing clap-trap of his life and his gibbet ? Does it mean that the civil authorities are not to try him, because the military authorities have him in custody, and are not to deliver him from that custody on habeas corpus, lest they should then have to try him? Does the Constitution of the United States intend that the President shall have the power to hand the prisoner over to the civil authority—in other words, to pass him from his own military hand to his civil hand—and yet not have the power to see that the civil authority, of which he is the head, discharges its duty or releases its prisoner? Time was, when to ask these questions were an insult. It is, now, perhaps only to provoke an official smile at the weakness which still talks about the Constitution!
We read in the very highest English authority upon criminal law and practice * that “The principal ground for bailing, upon habeas corpus, and indeed the evil the writ was intended to remedy, is the neglect of the accuser to prosecute in due time. Even in case of high treason, where the party has been committed upon the warrant of the Secretary of State, after a year has elapsed without his prosecution, the court will discharge him, upon adequate security being given for his appearance.” As early as the close of the Revolution of 1776, Mr. Henry Laurens, then a prisoner in the Tower, was able to satisfy one of the British peers who visited him, that the writ of habeas corpus was already more speedily and thoroughly remedial in the colonies than in the mother country. And yet there are those who think that we have improved on the institutions of that generation and the wisdom and patriotism of the men who made them.
There is but one more topic which the imprisonment of Mr. Davis suggests, and upon that I touch with the reluctance which comes from utter disgust and shame. We refer, of course, to the personal indignities which have attended it—indignities at which the gorge of every decent, dispassionate man in the wide world must rise, and the obloquy of which must rest more heavily forever on the nation which has tolerated them, than even on the ruffians in office, who had the baseness to direct their perpetration. There is something in the very idea of an old and honored citizen—once a Cabinet officer of the nation, and unsurpassed in the ability with which his duties were discharged—a man of eloquence and thought—a Senator and statesman—a soldier whose body is scarred with honorable wounds suffered in the service of his country—a pure and upright public servant, whose lips were never sullied by falsehood and whose hands are clean of corruption— there is something, I say, in the mere idea that such a man—wasted by disease and physically broken by disaster—should be manacled and fettered, with barbarous violence, in a fortress of this Republic—which must call the blush to every American cheek that conscious disgrace can redden. But even shame must give way to indignation and scorn, when it is remembered that the infamy was perpetrated by the order of the very department over which the victim once presided with so much usefulness and honor; that it was commanded in utter wantonness, merely to lacerate and sting a sensitive, proud spirit, and that a general of the armies of the Union was the gratified instrument of its infliction. It recalls the last days of the Roman Republic, when the tongue of a Cicero, captive and murdered, was pierced by the spiteful bodkin of a strumpet. And even this outrage of the manacles apart—the story of daily and nightly torments, and hourly petty persecutions—of needless hardships and discomforts, and gratuitous insults—has something in it which makes belief almost impossible, without a contempt for our race. Then, too, the mean espionage, and paltry overlooking—the swarm of impertinent men and women let loose by his jailor on his feeble walks and domestic privacy—the sick man driven to his cell by the insufferable peering of rude and vulgar eyes—what a spectacle these things present of the magnanimity of a great nation! And when at last the prisoner is allowed the common decencies of a country jail and is permitted to share the society of his wife and children, what a clamor over the land it causes—some cursing the indulgence—some magnifying the generosity of the Government! The Associated Press anticipates the wishes of the War Department and the taste of its constituents, by exaggerating the “luxuries” of “Jeff.’s” new and commodious quarters, and by telling how “grateful” he is for the “clemency” which has been extended him. The readers of its despatches—ninety out of an hundred of them—are quite sure that it is indeed a case for gratitude, and that the “traitor” ought to bless his stars that, after having committed the awful crime of entertaining and fighting for the constitutional opinions of himself and his fathers, he was not drawn and quartered for it, in Faneuil Hall, after morning prayer, on Lord’s day following his arrest.
BY GENERAI, JOSEPH WHEEI.ER,
Member of Congress from Alabama.
MY commission as lieutenant of cavalry in the United States Army was signed by Mr, Lincoln; but my warrant as a cadet at the Military Academy, and all my commissions in the Confederate Army, were signed by Mr. Davis. My first recollection of this remarkable man recalls him as a visitor, either in the character of Secretary of War or of United States Senator, to the Military Academy at West Point while I was a cadet. Particularly do I remember his visit in the autumn of 1858. He was then comparatively young, but little more than fifty years of age, his tall and erect figure and soldierly bearing giving him the appearance of a much younger man. His military reputation won at Buena Vista was still fresh, and added much to attract to him the youthful cadets, most of whom were familiar with the stirring events which had made him famous.
My first meeting with Mr, Davis during the war was during his visit to the army at Murfreesboro’ in December, 18G2. I was stationed in command of the outposts, crowded close up to the enemy, and General Bragg invited me to headquarters and to a dinner, at which the corps and division commanders were to dine with the President. I was quite young at the time, barely twenty-six years of age, and I enjoyed most heartily the uninterrupted flow of wit and repartee which characterized gatherings composed of such men as Davis, Breckenridge, Polk, Hardee and Bragg.
The battle of Murfreesboro’ took place immediately after this event, and I was so fortunate as to succeed in winning the approval of my commander and with it the commission of Major-General. It was not until then General Bragg told me that Mr.
Davis, during his visit, had earnestly insisted upon then giving me the grade of Major-General and placing me in command of the Department of the Gulf; this was, however, opposed by Bragg, who urged that I would be of more value in the field. It was probably fortunate for me that I did not receive the appointment and transfer, for it would have deprived me of much active service, which I preferred to the more quiet duties of a Department commander.
I did not see Mr. Davis again until the dying days of the Confederacy, at Charlotte, North Carolina. It was two weeks after the fearful struggle of Appomattox. General Johnston had withdrawn his army to Greensboro’, and was negotiating a surrender with his Federal opponent, General Sherman. Mr. Davis sent for me to assist in arranging his plans and to determine his movements at that critical period. I found him, I think, it was the morning of April 28th, giving directions to his Cabinet with a precision which, by no means indicated that the Government of which he was the head had virtually ceased to exist. He realized that he could not remain at Charlotte; and his desire was to keep at least some semblance of Government together as long as possible. He wished as large a force of cavalry as he could obtain for his escort, and directed that a depot be established at Cokesboro’, South Carolina, where he intended to remain until driven from that place by the enemy.
Mr. Davis seemed surprised when informed of the condition of the army, that the soldiers quite generally regarded the war as over, and thought that their obligations to the Confederacy were discharged. He also appeared greatly disappointed when I informed him of the movements of Federal cavalry, which would threaten the proposed depot at Cokesboro’; and- after some discussion, I was directed to organize a force and join him without delay. I returned to Greensboro’, hastily complied with his directions, and started by rapid march to join him. The conditions became so greatly altered for the worse that the President was compelled to change his plans, and I was directed to disband the force of gallant men who had pledged themselves to defend him or to die in the effort to to accomplish it.
I next met Mr. Davis at Augusta, Georgia. He had been taken prisoner in Southern Georgia, and I had been arrested upon the supposed charge of not having surrendered with General Johnston’s army. We went to Savannah on a small steamboat, thence to Hilton Head, where we boarded the transport “Clyde,” and, conveyed by the frigate ” Tuscarora,” we sailed for Fortress Monroe.
Our party included Mr. and Mrs. Davis, their daughter, a very young girl in short dresses, and Miss Winnie, a baby in arms; also Miss Howell, a sister of Mrs. Davis, Mr. Reagan, Senator and Mrs. C. C. Clay, Alexander Stephens, Colonel Preston Johnston, Colonels Lubboch and Burton Harrison, of Mr. Davis’ staff, and my three staff officers—Colonel Marcellus Hudson, Captain Rawle and Lieutenant Ryan.
We formed a very pleasant group, and considering all things, enjoyed the trip more than might have been expected. Mr. Davis’ noble courage never forsook him for a moment; he was perfectly calm, and seemed to have no regard for himself or his fate. He fully appreciated the sad condition of the people of the Confederacy, and much that he said showed how clearly his penetrating mind peered into the future. He talked of the war, of our successes and defeats, of the difficulties against which we had contended, of the courage and devotion of our soldiers; and to some extent he spoke of the officers who had become prominent on both sides during the eventful period in which he had been so important a figure.
I saw two possible chances for his escape, both of which I made known to him, but he expressed himself as not desiring to make the attempt. It was evident that he felt his relief from responsibility, and amid all his trials and troubles he evidently enjoyed the pleasure of having a few days which he could so entirely devote to his family. He walked the deck with his baby Winnie in his arms, and frequently allowed me the same privilege, which I was always delighted to accept. We were at sea several days, the “Tuscarora ” always being near us.
Mr. Stephens and myself occupied the same stateroom. He was less cheerful than Mr. Davis, and seemed very much more apprehensive regarding our fate. I tried to reassure him, and reminded him of his Savannah speech and of his extensive acquaintance with men who held prominent positions in the Government; but my arguments were without effect, and he expressed himself as convinced that his confinement would be very long, if not perpetual. I said: “Why, Mr. Stephens, if you expect such treatment, what about Mr. Davis?” His only reply was: “My young friend, do not speak of it.”
On reaching Fortress Monroe we found the more radical press of the country, backed by an excited people, loudly demanding blood; but even this did not move Mr. Davis in the slightest. While he seemed ready for anything, he appeared to fear nothing. We saw a fine steamboat, with probably a thousand flags and streamers flying from the masts, spars and rigging; and on inquiring, we were informed that General Halleck was on board, his mission being to dispose of the prisoners.
Orders were received on the next day. Mr. Davis and Mr. Clay were sent ashore to the fort. Captain Farley, of the “Tuscarora,” was ordered to transport Mr. Stephens and Mr. Reagan to Fort Warren. Colonel Preston Johnson, my staff officers and myself were sent by Captain Parker, of the steamer “Maumee,” to Fort Delaware.
I met Mr. Davis in New Orleans some two or three years later, and again saw more of him during the period he was a citizen of Memphis, where he was earnestly engaged in an effort to recuperate his broken fortunes. In private conversations with him I learned to appreciate the difficulties which surrounded Mr. Davis during a trying period, which would have crushed many a brave spirit. This great man was undaunted to the last, solving every problem, surmounting obstacle after obstacle, and braving difficulties before which a less noble spirit would have succumbed.
Probably no man in this country has ever been so thoroughly misrepresented and misunderstood as Mr. Davis. Nearly every utterance of his has been misinterpreted or misconstrued. It has been charged that he lived too much in the past, and took too little part in the great strides of this progressive, material age; but the more thoughtful will concur in the view that his peculiar position fully justified his action. He was the special custodian of the history of events, which constitute the most important period of our national existence, and it might well be contended that his life should have been consecrated to the cause of which he was the leader.
Mr. Davis was too thorough a student of the events of both modern and ancient times to doubt the verdict of the calm historian. He knew that when passions have subsided and when the lines of sectionalism are obliterated, the unbiassed pen of history will record his deeds and his true worth will be appreciated by posterity. This has been the case with all great civil conflicts. History tells of the brave and chivalrous deeds of the heroes of both sides in such struggles, and in their admiration for types of true nobility, people will not stop to inquire who were finally the victors and who the vanquished. In reading the heroic deeds performed during the War of the Roses, is our admiration influenced by the thought of whether the hero fought with the victorious hosts of York or beneath the crimson banner of Lancaster? Certainly the glory of the gallant men who so bravely struggled in the Vendee is not tarnished by the fact that the overwhelming power of the French Republic finally crushed them to the dust. The same is true of the fruitless efforts of Marco Bozarris to establish freedom in Greece, and of the valiant Poles to maintain the integrity and independence of their Government and the freedom of their native land.
BY MAJOR CHARLES S. STRINGFELLOW
Delivered December 21st, in the Academy of Music, Richmond, Va.
IN the historic capital of Lombardy there is a monument, modest in proportions, but yet of exquisite beauty and design. A solid block of white marble rests upon a base to which lead some five or six steps. Upon this block, of life-size, is the statue of a man in senatorial robes, and kneeling at its base is the figure of a woman supporting herself with one arm resting on the block at the feet of the statue and with the other outstretched, with pen in hand, writing upon the marble the single word “Cavour.” The idea, as I interpret it, is simply this: When Italy writes the name of her great son she need add no epitaph to tell the world who and what he was.
And quite as little need have I to address to this vast assemblage any labored argument in behalf of the object which has called it together. It is enough for you to know that you have met to give point and emphasis to the wish, the earnest, heartfelt desire, not merely of the citizens of Richmond, but of the whole people of this good old Commonwealth, that the mortal remains of Jefferson Davis may find their final resting-place here in our beautiful city, so indelibly linked with his name and his fame. I need prefix no title to that name, for all men know, and while they cherish the memory of the great and the good, who adorn the annals of the world, will know that he was the first and only President of that Confederacy which, in its heroic struggle to perpetuate constitutional liberty and preserve constitutional law, excited the wonder and compelled the admiration of mankind; and which, though like a meteor it rose upon the sight of the nations and like a meteor fell, has left behind it a blaze of light which will never go out in utter darkness until mankind shall cease to honor courage, love justice, and respect that unselfish devotion to duty which, in defence of honest opinions honestly entertained, is willing to risk and lose fortune, life, and all save honor.
WAS A GALLANT SOLDIER
That Jefferson Davis was a gallant soldier even his bitterest opponent has never dared deny. When a member of the Congress of the United States he resigned his high and honorable office to accept the command of the First Mississippi Volunteers, to which he had been called by his neighbors and friends, who best knew those great qualities of head and heart which even then pointed him out as one born to rule. As colonel of that regiment he distinguished himself at Monterey and at Buena Vista by his instinctive military perceptions and superb courage on the field, more than any other man contributed to win the victory which shed such renown on American arms. Tendered the promotion he had so nobly won with his sword, he refused to accept it because he doubted the power of the President to appoint to office in the volunteer troops which the States had raised. In 1847, as in 18G1, regardless of self, he was mindful of and obedient to law, and above all to that law which, as embodied in the Constitution, was then, as now, the bond of our great Union.
IN THE CABINET AND SENATE
As a Cabinet officer he discharged the duties incident to that position with such fidelity and ability as to win universal applause. Calm, dispassionate and self-reliant, he was a wise counselor, and, sinking all private interests in his love for the public weal, left behind a reputation for administrative capacity and incorruptible integrity second to none. But he was not content to be an adviser only, and originated reforms of great and far-reaching importance, the value of which is still felt and acknowledged.
A laborious student, with a memory almost phenomenal, and a profound knowledge of the history and institutions of his country, he was one of the acknowledged leaders and ablest debaters in the Senate when that body was graced by such men as Benton, Cass, Webster, Clay and Calhoun. Clear in his perceptions and firm in his convictions, by force of his imperial will, incorruptible honor and great abilities, he maintained his opinions with a power of logic, a perfect command of language and a determined purpose which ever made him an ally to be courted and an opponent to be feared. He was ardently attached to the Union of our fathers, and loved its flag, which he himself had borne to victory, and he looked to the dissolution of that Union as the direst of all calamities save the destruction of individual freedom and those great principles of constitutional law upon which that union was founded. He consented to sever its bonds only when convinced that in no other way could these principles be preserved—only when satisfied that they had been deliberately disregarded, and that the best interests of social and individual liberty demanded that the Southern States should revoke those powers they had conferred upon the General Government, which, as he believed, had been perverted to the threatened ruin of the States by whom they had been granted. No man had a more profound appreciation of the tremendous consequences which secession involved or more bitterly regretted its necessity.
GOOD, PURE, ABLE, BRAVE
One of the best and purest, and, all things considered, the ablest exponents and embodiments of the life and soul of southern society in all of its developments and relations, though when war was imminent he preferred to risk his life on the field in defence of the cause he had espoused, he was called to the Presidency of the Southern Confederacy by the almost unanimous voice of his fellow-citizens. The office sought him, not he the office, for Jefferson Davis
“Never sold the truth to serve the hour,
Nor paltered with the eternal God for power.”
Never was man placed in more trying circumstances, never did man undertake a more herculean task nor sustain himself with greater dignity, more lofty courage, and unbending determination, or more unfaltering devotion in prosperity and adversity to the great interests committed to his charge.
NOT PERFECT, BUT PURE
Against the spotless purity of our illustrious Chieftain slander itself has never dared to breathe one single word. To say that he made no mistakes would be to claim for him that infallibility which is accorded to none. Men may differ as to the wisdom or expediency of some of the measures he proposed and some which he carried out, but no man denies to-day that his motives were pure, his aims high, his convictions honest, and his every energy of mind and body freely given to his country and her cause. An ardent patriot, he loved this southern land, for which he risked and lost so much, and for whose people he suffered so greatly,
“With love far brought
From out the storied Past, and used
Within the Present, but transfused
Thro’ future time by the power of thought.”
But, my fellow-citizens, brave as he was on the battle-field, wise as he was in Cabinet council, superb as he was on the Senate floor, and grandly as he towered above all others as the chosen head and undaunted leader of the Southern Confederacy, there was one character in which he shone with a light more resplendent still—in the majesty which like a halo encompasses around the honest, true and fearless Christian man.
“O, good gray head which all men knew;
O, voice from which their omens all men drew,
O, iron nerve to true occasion true;
O, fall’n at length that tower of strength
Which stood four-square to all the winds that blew.”
THIS THE SPOT
What more suitable spot could be selected for that resting-place than this, the permanent capital of the Southern Confederacy, forever linked as it is with the name of its great President, and with its hopes and fears, its victories and defeats, its brilliant rise and its honorable fall? And who would more sacredly guard his tomb than the citizens of this capital of Old Virginia, in whose battle-scarred bosom lie countless thousands of those heroic soldiers whose march from Big Bethel to Appomattox is blazed in glory? Richmond was the gateway and citadel of the Southern Confederacy, and its burning houses and homes its grand funeral pyre; here its honoured President lived and moved, and had his being in the most eventful years of his long and eventful life. Here still stands the church in which he worshipped the God whom alone he feared, and where he sat when he first learned that the southern cause was irretrievably” lost. On yonder hill, in that mansion historic now and forever safe, I trust, from the vandal hand of ill-timed economy, with the noble wife who still lives to mourn her irreparable loss and in whose sacred sorrow everyone here present claims a share, he knew the purest joys and the deepest sorrows earth can bring. There a son, the pride and the hope of his heart, met an untimely end, and from that house was borne to his little grave in our City of the Dead which loving hands still tend. There was born to him a daughter, whose bruised heart now bleeds in a foreign land, to watch over his declining years and soothe with tenderest hand the infirmities of age.
LEFT A PRECIOUS LEGACY
His grand life’s work is done, but his name, his fame, and his example remain to us a precious legacy, and though they will forever remain embalmed in the grand mausoleum of a great people’s heart, it is fitting that some appropriate monument should he reared by that people to tell posterity where rests all that the grave can claim of their soldier, statesman, patriot chief.
THERE REST HILL, STUART, PICKETT AND PEGRAM
The gallant Hill lies under the grand old oaks at Hollywood; there the knightly Stuart sleeps, whose waving plume his dashing troopers followed in many a desperate charge, while right and left in the forefront of battle flashed his glittering sword. There brave Pickett rests, the leader of that heroic brigade whose unparalleled courage would alone make the name of Gettysburg immortal, and there the winter winds chant their funeral-dirge over the grave of Richmond’s boy hero, the stainless Pegram, in all save age and rank the peer of the noblest, while all around that ivy-covered granite-pile which we have reared in their honor are the little grass-grown hillocks which tell where thousands upon thousands of the unknown dead who followed the Confederate flag with courage and fortitude almost sublime rest in their soldier graves.
Surely, if the dead could speak to us from the unseen world it would be in the midst of such associations and in the company of such kindred spirits he would ask to lie. Stonewall Jackson’s statue already stands in our public square, and before another year has closed the figure of our peerless Lee shall from its granite pedestal look down on us. See to it, my fellow-citizens, that here, too, shall rise some appropriate shaft in honor of our and their great chief.
In asking that his final interment may be here we honor ourselves no less than him, for this desire springs from the noblest sentiments of the human heart. Perhaps I overestimate the influence which historic monuments and the associations which cluster around the graves of the mighty dead exert over a people’s character and development. Nevertheless that magnificent invocation of Demosthenes to the disembodied spirits of those who fell at Marathon still stirs a fever in the veins of men. The Acropolis, which crowned with the trophies of her arms was once the object of her veneration, is still the pride of Athens, and something of the awe with which the Roman in the days of his pride and power regarded the Capitoline Rock has come down through all the intervening ages even to the present day.
RICHMOND MUST HAVE THE REMAINS
Enter the grand old Cathedral at Glasgow by the stone steps which in the lapse of centuries the tread of human feet has almost worn away and take off your hat before the torn, time-eaten flag hanging against its walls which the Twenty-sixth Cameronian Regiment carried to victory at Malplacquet, Oudinot and Ramillies; look upon the splendid monument to old John Knox which crowns the cemetery height in rear of the Cathedral, then stop a moment before the window of his house in Edinburgh, and wander through old St. Giles, which echoed to his voice, and stand by the iron plate sunk in the pavement of the street, once its yard, which marks his grave not far from the little heart of brass which tells you where the centre of the Tolbooth was; wonder at the beauty of those superb monuments to the memory of Scott and Burns and Hume ; go through the historic halls of Holyrood and Stirling Castle, visit the field of Bannockburn and call up the scenes enacted there when Robert the Bruce planted his standard by the rough stone at your feet; and then, when you go to Melrose, drop a sprig of heather on that beneath which his great heart was buried, and I think you will better understand the Scotchman’s love for his native land. It is a land of monuments and memories, and out from its storied past comes an influence and an inspiration whose value and importance money cannot measure. I pity the man who does not feel his heart throb with a somewhat nobler feeling as he looks upon the magnificent monuments which a grateful country has erected under the grand old dome of St. Paul’s to commemorate the deeds of Nelson and Wellington and perpetuate the memories of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Cold indeed must be he, and dead to all the highest, holiest impulses of our nature, who can walk unmoved through the long aisles of England’s great burial-place for the soldiers and statesmen, the poets and philosophers, the men of thought and the men of action who have shed such imperishable glory on her name, who cannot to some extent at least sympathize with the memorable exclamation of one of her greatest heroes as he went into battle—Victory or Westminster Abbey! Yes, my fellow-citizens, Richmond must have the remains of our noble Chieftain, and here we must rear some suitable monument to tell to our children’s children the story of his heroic life. Let no such word as fail be found in the lexicon of manhood any more than in that of youth when lofty motives, intelligent action and concerted efforts are cheered by woman’s presence and approval. In those days that so sorely tried the souls of her men, the women of Virginia displayed courage as true, patriotism as pure, and will as undaunted as the Spartan mother who, with tearless eye, bidding good-bye to her only son as she sent him to the field, pointed to his shield with the simple words: This or upon this!
Many of them, with their fair daughters, yet survive to bless our hearts and homes. To them I make no appeal, for their hearts ever beat in unison with all that is true, all that is beautiful and all that is good.
Let us, then, take such steps as may be necessary to show, not in words only, but in act and deed as well, the sincerity of our desire to be trusted with watch and ward over our honored dead as he sleeps, crowned with the reverence and the love of his people.
“So sleep the brave who sink to rest,
By all their country’s wishes blest;
By fairy bands their knell is rung,
By forms unseen their dirge is sung.
There Honor comes, a pilgrim gray,
To deck the turf that wraps their clay;
And Freedom shall awhile repair
To dwell, a weeping hermit, there.”
BY COL. CHARI,ES C. JONES, JR., I.I..D.,
President of the Confederate Survivors’ Association.
WHEN Wilkie was in the Escurial studying those famous pictures which have so long attracted the notice of all lovers of art, an old Jeronymite said to him : ” I have sat daily in sight of those paintings for nearly four-score years. During that time all who were more aged than myself have passed away. My contemporaries are gone. Many younger than myself are in their graves; and still the figures upon those canvases remain unchanged. I look at them until I sometimes think they are the realities, and we but the shadows.”
The battle scenes which the heroes of the South have painted; the memories which Confederate valor, loyalty and endurance have bequeathed; the blessed recollections which the pious labors, the saintly ministrations and the more than Spartan inspiration of the women of the Revolution have embalmed—these will dignify for all time the annals of the civilized world; but the actors in that memorable crisis, they—the shadows—will pass away. Johnston—the Bayard of the South,—Jackson— our military meteor streaming upward and onward in an unbroken track of light, and ascending to the skies in the zenith of his fame,—Lee— the most stainless of earthly commanders and, except in fortune, the greatest—and multitudes of their companions in arms have already gone
“To where beyond these voices there is peace.”
But yesterday Jefferson Davis—the commander of them all—the most distinguished representative of a cause which electrified the civilized world by the grandeur of its sacrifices, the dignity and rectitude of its aims, the nobility of its pursuit, and the magnitude and brilliancy of the deeds performed in its support—entered into rest. The President of the dead Confederacy lies in state in the metropolis of the South, and every Southern Commonwealth is clothed in the habiliments of mourning. At this moment, throughout the wide borders of this Southern land, there is not a village or a hamlet which bears not the tokens of sorrow. By common consent, the entire region consecrates this hour to the observance of funeral ceremonies in honor of our departed chief. General and heart-felt grief pervades the whole territory once claimed by the Confederacy. Was sorrow so spontaneous, so genuine, so unselfish, so universal, ever known in the history of community and nation,—sorrow at the departure of one who long ago refrained from a participation in public affairs, who had no pecuniary or political legacies to bequeath, and whose supreme blessings were utterly devoid of utilitarian advantage? This spectacle, grand, pathetic and unique, is not incapable of explanation or devoid of special significance.
Within that coffin in New Orleans in silent majesty reposes all that was mortal of him whom impartial history will designate as one of the most remarkable men of the nineteenth century. Around his bier in profound respect and loving veneration are assembled the trustworthy representatives of the South. Encircling that venerable and uncrowned head are memories of valor, of knightly courtesy, of intellectual, moral and political pre-eminence, of high endeavor, and of heroic martyrdom. In that dignified form—so calm, so cold in the embrace of death—we recognized the highest type of the Southern gentleman. In his person, carriage, cultivated address and superior endowments, we hailed the culmination of our patriarchal civilization. In him was personified all that was highest, truest, grandest, alike in the hour of triumph and in the day of defeat. He was the chosen head and the prime exponent of the aspirations and the heroism of the Southern Confederacy. As such his people looked up to and rallied around him in the period of proud endeavor, and as such they still saluted him amid the gloom of disappointment. As we approach that revered form and render signal tribute at the grave of our dead President, every recollection of a glorious past is revived, and our souls are filled with memories over which the “iniquity of oblivion” should never be allowed blindly to “scatter her poppy.” It is a great privilege, my friends, to render honor to this illustrious man. Ours be the mission to guard well his memory—accepting it in the present and commending it to the future as redolent of manhood most exalted, of virtues varied and most admirable.
Although no Federal flag be displayed at halfmast, or Union guns deliver the funeral salute customary upon the demise of an ex-Secretary of War, we may regard with composure the littleness of the attempted slight, and pity the timidity, the narrow-mindedness and the malevolence of the powers that be. The great soul of the dead chief has passed into a higher, a purer sphere uncontaminated by sectional hatred, wholly purged of all dross engendered by contemptible human animosity.
It were impossible, my friends, within the limits of this hour to even allude to the leading events and mighty occurrences in the life and career of him whose obsequies we are now solemnizing. Born of Georgia parents in bountiful Kentucky, while yet an infant his home was transferred to Mississippi, where his childhood and youth were spent in a community remarkable for the lofty, honorable, hospitable and courteous bearing of its men, and the chastity, polish and loveliness of its women. In such an atmosphere he acquired at the outset those gallant, urbane, refined, elevated and commanding traits which characterized him through the whole course of his prominent and checkered career.
Leaving Transylvania College in 1824, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point. Upon his graduation in 1828 he was assigned to the First Infantry, and saw his earliest active service in the Black Hawk War. On June 30, 1835, he resigned his commission as first lieutenant of dragoons; and, having married a daughter of Colonel Zachary Taylor—afterwards President of this Republic— established his home near Vicksburg, where, pursuing the avocation of a cotton planter, for some eight years he led a retired life, devoted to earnest thought and intelligent study. Entering the political arena in 1843, in the midst of an exciting gubernatorial canvass, he rapidly acquired such popularity as a public speaker and as a political leader, that two years afterwards he was complimented with a seat in the Lower House of the National Congress. During this service, and in debates upon prominent issues, he bore a leading part; never once wavering in his devotion to the Union of our fathers, but, on the contrary, with loyal lip and ready hand endeavouring to promote the ” common glory of our common country.”
In June, 1846, he resigned his seat in Congress to accept the colonelcy of the First Regiment of Mississippi Rifles, to which position he had been unanimously elected. Joining his command at New Orleans, he proceeded at once to reinforce General Taylor on the Rio Grande and, during our war with Mexico, conducted himself with a courage and soldierly skill which reflected honor upon American arms, enriched the history of that important period, and won for him, from the chief executive of the nation, promotion to the grade of brigadier-general.
Well do you remember the conspicuous gallantry of Colonel Davis when, at Monterey, he stormed Fort Leneria without bayonets, and, amid a hurricane of shot and shell, led his regiment as far as the Grand Plaza. At Buena Vista, too, he attracted the notice of, and evoked hearty plaudits from, the entire army of invasion. It was there, by his celebrated V-shaped formation, that, unsupported, with his regiment he utterly routed a charging brigade of Mexican Lancers, thrilling the nation by the brilliancy and the intrepidity of the movement, and eliciting from the commanding general commendation couched in the most complimentary terms. It was then, my countrymen that he received a severe wound from the effects of which he suffered to the day of his death. Yes, my friends, for more than forty years Jefferson Davis bore upon his person the marks of a painful and well-nigh mortal hurt encountered in supporting the flag of his country.
Entering the United States Senate in 1847, he became chairman of the committee on military affairs, and exerted an influence second to none in the discussion and settlement of the important questions which then agitated the legislative mind.
Upon the election of General Pierce as President of the United States, Senator Davis accepted from his hands the portfolio of war ; and I am persuaded that I indulge in no extravagant statement when I affirm that his administration of the affairs of that important bureau was more efficient, noteworthy and satisfactory than that of any Cabinet officer who preceded or has followed him in that position. This I believe to be the consentient verdict alike of friend and enemy.
Resuming his seat in the Senate Chamber in 1857, he was recognized as the Democratic leader of the Thirty-sixth Congress. This distinguished honor he maintained, with consummate ability, during a period of unusual anxiety and profound responsibility, until the secession of Mississippi in January, 18G1, when he withdrew from the national councils and returned home, where a commission as commander-in-chief of the Army of Mississippi awaited him.
In this exciting political service no smell of fire touched the hem of his garment. No truculent spirit contaminated the manhood of his soul. No utilitarian methods dwarfed the dignity of his acts, or questionable policy impaired the honesty of his utterances. With no uncertain voice he denounced all partisans who purposed an obliteration of the landmarks of the fathers. The doctrine of popular sovereignty he utterly repudiated. Carefully distinguishing “between the independence which the States had achieved at great cost,” and the Union which had been compassed by an expenditure of “little time, little money, and no blood,” he eloquently and effectively maintained the State-rights theory which had taken such firm root in the constitutional thought of the Southern people. Although the admitted champion of his section, he professed and exhibited an abounding love for the Union, and avowed a willingness to make any sacrifice, consistent with the preservation of constitutional liberty, to avert the impending struggle. Mr. Davis was no political iconoclast—no disunionist in the vulgar acceptation of that term.
In the first volume of his ” Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,” he has presented in a masterly manner his views upon the weighty question of the reserved rights of the States, and has submitted to the world an argument which, in my judgment, has not yet been answered save by the arbitrament of the sword, clearly demonstrating that the ” Southern States had rightfully the power to withdraw from a union into which they had, as sovereign communities, voluntarily entered; that the denial of that right was a violation of the letter and spirit of the compact between the States; and that the war waged by the Federal Government against the seceding States was in disregard of the limitations of the Constitution, and destructive of the principles of the Declaration of Independence.”
I have no desire, my countrymen, in this presence and on this occasion, to discuss issues which have been, at least for the present, settled at the cannon’s mouth; and yet, in justice to the illustrious dead, who, by ribald tongue has been denounced as a “rebel ” and a “traitor,” in defence of you—brave women and gallant men of the South—who followed the fortunes of the Confederacy and who are now gathered together to pay homage at the shrine of him who occupied the chief seat of honor in the day of our nation’s hope and peril, I cannot refrain from saying, in all truth and soberness, that the States never having surrendered their sovereignty, “it is a palpable absurdity to apply to them, and to their citizens when obeying their mandates, the terms rebellion and treason : that the Confederate States, so far from making war against, or seeking to destroy the United States, so soon as they had an official organ, strove earnestly, by peaceful recognition, to equitably adjust all questions growing out of the separation from their late associates,” and that the ‘” arraignment of the men who participated in the formation of the Confederacy and who bore arms in its defence as the instigators of a controversy leading to disunion,” is wholly unjustifiable.
For many years prior to the Civil War the Honorable Jefferson Davis was one of the most commanding figures in the public eye. His services in the Mexican War had won for him military distinction, while his intellect, his oratory, his statesmanship and his ability in dealing with questions of moment in the Senate of the United States, and in conducting the affairs of the bureau of war, were admitted by his opponents and applauded by his friends.
In his esteem constitutional liberty was dearer than life. Possessing in an extraordinary degree those moral traits which are intensified under the test of heroic trial, he lived to show to the world “the matchless and unconquerable grandeur of Southern character.”
“In mind, manners and heart he was a type of that old race of Southern gentleman whom these bustling times are fast crowding out of our civilization.” With him fidelity, chivalry, honor and patriotism were realities, not words—entities, not abstractions. To the South, and the cause which it represented, he remained faithful even unto death.
On February 9, 1861, in his personal absence, and without any solicitation on his part, Mr. Davis was, by the Provisional Congress assembled at Montgomery, Alabama, chosen President of the Confederate States. This foremost office in the gift of the South he continued to hold until the disastrous conclusion of the Confederate struggle for independence. It is historically true that if his inclination had been consulted, President Davis would have preferred high military command to the station of chief executive of the nation.
Summoning to his aid such heads of departments as appeared most suitable, and proclaiming in his inaugural address that necessity, not choice, had compelled the secession of the Southern States; that the true policy of the South—an agricultural community—was peace; and that the constituent parts, but not the system of the Government, had been changed, he bent his every energy to the creation and the confirmation of the Republic newly born into the sisterhood of nations. Herculean was the effort, involving, as it did, the entire organization of the Confederacy, the accumulation of supplies, the consummation of Governmental plans and the enlistment, equipment and mobilization of armies at a formative period when that union of seceding commonwealths was little more than a political name. Volunteers there were of exalted spirit and capable of the highest endeavor, but the problem was how to arm them for efficient service. In the language of the venerable historian of Louisiana: “If Minerva, with wisdom, courage, justice and right, was on the side of the Southern champion, it was Minerva not only without any armor, but even without the necessary garments to protect her against the inclemencies of the weather; whilst on the other side stood Mars in full panoply, Ceres with her inexhaustible cornucopia, Jupiter with his thunderbolts, Neptune with his trident. Mercury with his winged feet and emblematic rod, Plutus with his hounds and Vulcan with his forge and hammer.”
It is even now a marvel, transcending comprehension, that the Confederate States were able so rapidly to place in the field large bodies of troops. Equally astounding is it that a government, born in a day and erected in the midst of a population almost wholly agricultural, could so quickly summon to its support the entire manhood of the land, establish machine-shops and foundries, compass the importation and manufacture of quartermaster stores and munitions of war, accumulate commissary and other supplies at convenient points, erect and man heavy batteries, furnish field artillery, place muskets and sabres in the hands of expectant soldiery, and organize the various departments requisite for the efficient administration of public affairs; and all this in the face of an impending war of gigantic proportions. That President Davis, in the consummation of this complex and most difficult business, evinced a patriotism, an energy, a capacity and a devotion worthy of the highest commendation, will be freely admitted.
And what, my friends, shall I say of his conduct as Chief Magistrate of the Confederacy during the more than four long and bloody years which marked the duration of our heroic struggle in defence of vested rights and in behalf of a separate national existence? Time would fail me to enumerate even the salient points of his overshadowing intervention in, and- controlling guidance of, the operations—civil and military—appurtenant to that eventful epoch. He was the central sun of our system, around which all lesser luminaries revolved in subordinated orbits. He was the guardian of our national honor and the conservator of the public weal. Amid trials the most oppressive, and disasters the most appalling, he never forfeited the confidence of his people, but under all circumstances retained their loves and their allegiance. His messages, State papers and public utterances were model alike of statesmanship and of scholarly diction. His constant effort was to maintain, upon the highest plane, the purposes and acts of the government. Every suggestion was discountenanced which was not in harmony with the dictates of the most approved international ethics and the principles of civilized warfare. In communing with citizens and soldiers he inculcated sentiments exalted in their character, and counseled every sacrifice necessary for the accomplishment of the vital purpose in view. His energy in the discharge of the multifarious, perplexing and important duties which devolved upon him, never flagged. His sacrifice of self was conspicuous. His spotless integrity, tenacity of convictions, courage in maintaining his opinions, his enlightened conscience, his resolute temper and his clear conception of right and honor in every relation were potent factors in the solution of the tremendous problems claiming his attention. His resolution— formed after the most careful consideration—was followed with a relentless fidelity. Some men thought him dictatorial; but an iron will, inflexible nerve and the bravest assumption of personal responsibility were demanded by the occasion. For the guidance of the time and the control of events there were no precedents. Action, immediate, decisive, was the watchword of the hour. “They that stand high have many blasts to shake them,” and the marvel is that he was able to endure the tremendous pressure, and to bear the burthens incident to the position he occupied and consequent upon the perils which environed his beleaguered nation. Some there were who questioned the propriety of certain appointments to and removals from important commands,—criticised his plans, and denied the advisability of some of the public measures which he favored; but no one ever doubted either the sincerity of his convictions or his absolute devotion to the best interests of people and government as he comprehended them. Difficult beyond expression was the execution of the momentous trust committed to his keeping. To say that he perpetrated no mistakes, would be to proclaim him more than mortal. In the light of past events, and in expression of the general verdict, this we will venture to affirm : that with the resources at command, and in view of the desperate odds encountered, President Davis and the Southern people achieved wonders, and accomplished all that the purest patriotism, the most unswerving valor, the loftiest aspirations and the most patient endurance could have compassed.
“Till the future dares
Forget the past,
the fame of both shall be
“An echo and a light unto eternity.”
With the surrender of the armies of Generals Lee and Johnston, and upon the disintegration of the Confederate Government at Washington, Georgia, the end came. While attempting to reach the trans- Mississippi Department, and cherishing the hope that, with the assistance of Generals E. Kirby Smith and J. B. Magruder and the forces under their command, he would there be able to prolong the struggle, President Davis was captured by a detachment of Federal cavalry. Subjected to petty pillage and to annoyances inconsistent with the usages of civilized warfare, he was conveyed under guard to Fortress Monroe where, charged with being an accomplice in the assassination of President Lincoln, and accused of treason, separated from family and companions, heavy fetters riveted upon him, he was immured in a stone casemate. “Bitter tears have been shed by the gentle, and stern reproaches” have been uttered by the ” magnanimous on account of the needless torture ” to which he was then subjected. For two long years did this illustrious prisoner endure this unmerited disgrace,—this unwarranted and oppressive confinement. Could you, my friends, at this moment, with uncovered heads approach the coffin which encloses the mortal remains of our dead President, and reverently lift the shroud which enfolds his precious body, you would even now discover, on those pale and shrunken limbs, the abrasions caused by Federal gyves. Behold, my countrymen, what he suffered as the representative of the South! Behold the martyrdom he then endured for the alleged sins of his people. He was indeed “a nation’s prisoner.”
Bravely did he bear himself during this season of privation, of loneliness, of insult, and of attempted degradation, protracted until satiated by their own cruelty and baffled in their rage, the prison doors were opened, and the Federal authorities were forced to acknowledge that the charge of complicity in the assassination of President Lincoln was a lie; and that Jefferson Davis—President of the Confederate States—was not a traitor.
If anything were needed to consecrate his memory in the affection and the gratitude of the Southern people, it is surely supplied in this vicarious suffering, and in the nobleness of spirit with which it was endured.
Time and again since his liberation have the shafts of falsehood, of hatred, of detraction, and of jealousy, been directed against him; but, successfully parried, they have returned to wound the hands which launched them. In his quiet home at Beauvoir, ennobled by the presence of the live-oak—that monarch of the Southern forest—beautified by the queenly magnoliagrandiflora, redolent of the perfumes of a semitropical region, fanned by the soft breezes from the Gulf, and cheered by exhibitions of respect, affection and veneration most sincere, President Davis passed the evening of his eventful life. Since the hush of that great storm which convulsed this land, he has borne himself with a dignity and a composure, with a fidelity to Confederate traditions, with a just observance of the proprieties of the situation, and with an exalted manhood worthy of all admiration.
Conspicuous for his gallantry and ability as a military leader—prominent as a Federal Secretary of War—as a Senator and statesman renowned in the political annals of these United States—illustrious for all time as the President of a nation which, although maintaining its existence for only a brief space, bequeathed glorious names, notable events and proud memories, which will survive the flood of years—most active, intelligent and successful in vindicating the aims, the impulses, the rights and the conduct of the Southern people during their phenomenal struggle for independence—his reputation abides, unclouded by defeat, unimpaired by the mutations of fortune and the shadows of disappointment.
Surely no token of affection can be too profuse—no mark of respect too emphatic—no rendition of honor too conspicuous—no funeral tribute too imposing for this dead chieftain of the South. Dead, did I say?
“To live in hearts we leave behind
Is not to die.”
Even now his name is upon every Southern lip, and his memory enshrined in every Southern heart.
Even now, all through this brave Southland, funeral bells are tolling his requiem. The bravest and the knightliest are reverently bearing his precious body to the tomb. Benedictions, invoked by lips touched with a live coal from off the altar, are descending like the dew of Hermon. Pious drops bedew the cheeks of noble women, and the heads of stalwart men are bowed in grief. The hour is holy, and the occasion most privileged.
In bidding farewell to our President, we rejoice that, by a kind Providence, it was granted unto him to spend in our midst
“His twelve long hoars
Bright to the edge of darkness; then the calm
Repose of twilight—and a crown of stars.”
We rejoice that he was permitted to render back his great spirit into the hands of the God who gave it, surrounded by devoted friends, accompanied by the loves of Southern hearts, and amid the comforts of the metropolis of the South. We rejoice that, having attained unto the full measure of human life and enjoyed the highest honors which Southern hands could offer—all mundane cares overpast—he has, as we confidently believe, serenely entered into that Upper Realm where there are ” trees of unfading loveliness, pavements of emerald, canopies of brightest radiance, gardens of deep and tranquil security, palaces of proud and stately decoration, and a city of lofty pinnacles through which there unceasingly flows the river of gladness, and where jubilee is ever rung with the concord of seraphic voices.”
SOME RECOLLECTIONS OF PRESIDENT DAVIS
BY MAJOR THOMAS W. HALL
IT was the fortune of the writer to be in the little town of Washington, Georgia, when President Jefferson Davis arrived, a few days before his capture, in May, 1865. It was during Mr. Davis’ brief stay in Washington that the last semblance of organization of the Confederate Government was formally abandoned, and the cavalry force which had accompanied Mr. Davis in his journey from North Carolina, after the surrender of Johnston’s army, was finally disbanded. One or two incidents which occurred at the time, within the writer’s personal knowledge and observation, and which illustrate Mr. Davis’ dignified bearing at this trying and critical period in his life and career, may seem to be worth narrating and recording. There were not more than two or three persons in Washington who knew of Mr. Davis’ approach, until his actual arrival. Such was the difficulty in obtaining news from any quarter, that on the very morning of his arrival, a group of distinguished Confederates, including one or two Senators, might have been heard speculating as to Mr. Davis’ possible whereabouts, and discussing the chances of his having been able to make his way in safety to the Mississippi River, and across to the Trans-Mississippi Department. A few hours later Mr. Davis rode into the town, with a small escort, including some members of his Cabinet and personal staff, and several general officers. He was received and entertained during his brief stay, which lasted only until the next morning, beneath the hospitable roof of Dr. Robertson, a citizen of Washington, and cashier of the bank at that place. Although everyone and none better than Mr. Davis, knew that the end of the long struggle had come, his manner was as calm and composed as if he were still occupying the President’s house in Richmond, guarded and defended by the heroic legions of Lee. He was still the President, and respected as such, as much as in the plenitude of his power and the most hopeful days of the Confederacy. And as such, he bore himself with tranquil dignity. One of the incidents referred to occurred shortly after his arrival, while he and the principal members of his party were seated at dinner. Some of the officers present, who were graduates of West Point, began to discuss their individual future plans. Realizing that the close of the war would end their military career at home, they spoke of seeking professional employment abroad—in Mexico, Brazil, Egypt—plans which some of them subsequently carried into execution. Mr. Davis, who had been listening in silence, presently remarked: “Gentlemen, it will be time enough for you to be thinking of seeking a foreign service when you are sure that your own country has no need of your services at home.” The subject was not renewed in Mr. Davis’ presence.
Later on, the question of the best course for Mr. Davis to pursue, to avoid capture and the risk of the indignities to which he might be exposed if taken prisoner, was discussed by some of his closest and most devoted associates and friends. It was stated that’ Mr. Davis’ own idea had been to continue his journey westward, with a cavalry escort, and, if possible, try to reach the Trans-Mississippi Department. The writer, who had just returned from a tour of military duty, which had taken him to Macon, Georgia, at which point he was compelled to abandon all effort to reach Columbus and Selma, places already in the possession of the Federals, was able to furnish information which showed the impossibility of the President, with an escort either large or small, being able to pass in safety through a country occupied by the Union forces, who were then rapidly advancing eastward and spreading themselves through the interior of Georgia. There was but one way and avenue of escape which seemed to be open. That was for Mr. Davis, with a small party-—the smaller the better—to proceed directly southward to Florida, and thence escape from the coast by boat to Cuba. This plan was thought entirely feasible, but upon being submitted to and even urged upon Mr. Davis, he rejected it, saying in substance, that no circumstances had arisen which could induce him to abandon his people, and seek his own personal safety in flight. That evening the resolution was arrived at in a council of general officers, presided over by General Breckinridge, then Secretary of War, that it was inadvisable to attempt to keep together the small cavalry force, two or three thousand strong, which had accompanied Mr. Davis, and was then encamped a few miles from Washington; and that it was due to the men themselves that they should be disbanded and suffered to take their arms and horses, and make their way, as they best could, to their families and homes. The same day, a Cabinet meeting—the last Cabinet meeting of the Confederate Government—was held in the room occupied by Mr. Davis in Dr. Robertson’s house. After the meeting adjourned, the writer saw a rough draft or minute of a resolution discharging the several heads of departments from the duty of further personal attendance upon the Executive. Whether such a resolution was actually passed, the writer does not know, but if so, such was the formal dissolution of the Confederate Government. The next morning, after an early breakfast, accompanied by a few friends, among them Judge (now Senator) Reagan, of Texas, then Postmaster-General of the Confederacy, Mr. Davis set out on horseback to follow and overtake Mrs. Davis, who, with a small party, had passed through Washington a few days before. The circumstances of Mr. Davis’ subsequent capture, which followed a day or two afterward, have become matter of history, and also, it may be said, the subject of much misrepresentation.
MEMORIAL NOTICE OF PRESIDENT DAVIS
PREPARED AND READ BY MAJOR THOMAS W. HALL,
At a memorial meeting of the citizens of Baltimore, held under the auspices of the
Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States, in the
State of Maryland, December 11, 1889.
MAJOR HALL said: “Since the last shot was fired in anger in the war between the States, the flowers of more than twenty springs have bloomed over the once naked graves of those who fell on either side in that great struggle. Surely, after the lapse of so many years, and in view of the now happily restored political and fraternal relations of all the States, we may speak to-day of Jefferson Davis, dead and in his tomb, to all the world, as we thought and felt of and toward him when living, without fear and without risk of incurring the censure which justly falls on those who lightly or rashly tread—
‘Upon the smouldering fires,
By deceitful ashes scarce concealed,’
of recent civil strife.
“This is not the time or place for attempting any extended or elaborate review of the public career or personal character of Mr. Davis, nor should I feel equal to the task were such expected. The duty which has been assigned to me this evening is the far less ambitious one of presenting in behalf of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland, under whose auspices this meeting is held, a brief memorial notice of our dead leader as an expression of the feelings with which we have received the announcement of his death, and in testimony of the sacred regard in which we shall ever hold his memory. I will read, with your permission, what, at the request of a committee of the society, I have prepared:
“The Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States in Maryland have heard with feelings of deep emotion of the death of Jefferson Davis, once President of the Confederate States of America. Dying in the very fullness of years, long withdrawn from the activities of a public career, and debarred the privilege of serving his countrymen in any public station, the sorrow which the announcement of his death calls forth is that of respectful and affectionate sympathy for his bereaved and stricken family. Having reached the age of more than fourscore years, many of which were years of trial and trouble, only one that ‘hates him’.
‘Upon the rack of this rough world’—
would have stretched him longer.
“With the great events in which he was so great an actor his name has long since passed into history, and to the impartial verdict of history, yet to be written, after the passions and prejudices of the generation in which he lived shall have passed away, we may confidently commit the guardianship of his fame.
“It is none the less the duty, however, of the generation which knew him, and of those who trusted, loved and honored him, to place on record as their contribution to that history some memorial of their estimate of his character and worth. As all human judgments are necessarily relative, and, both in the moral and physical world, things for the most part appear great or small by comparison, it is proper to resort to comparison in order to form an estimate of Mr. Davis’ proper place in the opinions of mankind. And the comparison which most naturally suggests itself, despite the dissimilarity of their fortunes, by reason of resemblances in character stronger than any contrast in circumstances, is between George Washington, the great and successful leader in the war of independence, and Jefferson Davis, the great though unsuccessful leader in the war of secession. In the spirit of the undertakings in which they engaged, and which led to such different issues; in the sincerity of conviction and singleness of purpose by which they were actuated, in the austere dignity of their personal presence and bearing, in the moral elevation of their characters, in their solemn trust and reliance upon an overruling Providence, in their heroic constancy under adverse conditions and circumstances, their moderation in victory and fortitude in defeat, these two great men were singularly alike. Each was a leader in a great popular and sectional uprising against existing authority. Although success makes all the difference in law between a rebel and a patriot, in morals Jefferson Davis was no more of a rebel and no less a patriot than George Washington. The American colonies revolted against the authority of the mother country and of the British Government. The Southern States revolted—they did not call it rebellion — against the authority of the Federal Union and the government which it created. Washington, nurtured in the love of constitutional liberty and in the principles of Hampden and Sydney, joined his hand and fortunes with the patriots who held that taxation without representation was tyranny, and rebelled against the claim of royal prerogative.
“Jefferson Davis, educated in a school of constitutional construction, which was coeval with the constitution, and a firm believer in doctrines which he had been taught were those of Madison and Jefferson, joined his fortunes with those who held that the attempted coercion of the seceded States was federal usurpation. Those who dissent most strongly from Mr. Davis’ political opinions cannot call in question the sincerity and fervor with which he held them. He was as honest and sincere in his conviction of the rightfulness and the duty of resistance to federal coercion of sovereign States as any patriot of 1776 who took up arms because the British Government sought to enforce the stamp act and imposed a tax upon tea. The fact that the revolt of the colonies in 1776 succeeded, and that the attempted secession of the Southern States in 1861 failed, cannot affect the moral judgment of mankind as to the character and motives of the men who took part in either movement.
“Washington defeated and despoiled of his rights as a British subject, ending his days at Mount Vernon as a disfranchised rebel, would have been the same Washington still. Although he would have had to bear all the obloquy which attends defeat, would have been stigmatized, doubtless, as the man responsible above others for all the bloodshed and suffering of the revolutionary struggle, and as owing his life and liberty, forfeited by the crime of rebellion, to royal clemency, his place would have been the same in the loving hearts and memories of the patriots whose cause he had championed, and of the veterans whom he had led to victory at Trenton and Yorktown, and whose sufferings he had shared at Valley Forge.
“If Lee and Jackson, rather than Davis, were the military heroes of the Confederacy, it must be remembered that the responsibilities of the civil head of a State seeking to establish its existence by force of arms were not less trying than those of a general in the field; that those responsibilities were not of Mr. Davis’ own seeking, but were thrust upon him, and that by education and preference a soldier, it would have been his choice to serve the Confederacy with his sword. Jefferson Davis will, therefore, live in the hearts and memories of the Southern people as another Washington, uncrowned by the laurel wreaths of victory and the rewards of civic honor which fell to the happier lot of the first. The inflexible consistency with which Mr. Davis bore himself from the close of the war until the last hour of his life recalls another comparison. Few persons, comparatively, to-day trouble themselves with the details or the merits of the strife of Roman factions, but the austere unbending figure of Cato occupies for all time a niche in the Pantheon of the world’s greatest men. To Jefferson Davis, firm and unyielding to the last, bowing submissively to the just decrees of Providence, but bending to no censure or opinion of man, we may apply with equal truth and appositeness Lucan’s famous line:
‘Victrix causa dcis placuit, sed victa Catoni.’
”It is especially appropriate that Marylanders should unite in a public tribute to the memory of Mr. Davis, for to all Marylanders who espoused the Confederate cause, and thereby made themselves exiles from their homes, Mr. Davis was ever particularly sympathetic and kind, and they should mourn him not only as their leader, but as their friend.”
MR. DAVIS’ STATE PAPERS
BY HON. HILARY A. HERBERT
Member of Congress from California
“* * Callidus juventa
“In my hot youth, when George the Third was King.”—BYRON.
I WAS never in the immediate presence of Mr. Davis but once; so these reminiscences must consist principally of the impressions made by the President of the Confederacy upon a young soldier in the field. The recollections of one who saw and felt the power of the man from that stand-point may be helpful to him who would to-day picture accurately in his mind the President of the Confederacy as he moved amid the heroic forms that surrounded him from 1861 to 1865. It is not alone by the touch of the hand, the glance of the eye or the magnetic sound of the voice that a leader of men impresses his personality on those who environ him. His intellect quickens, his spirit infuses, his hand is felt in spite of physical distance almost as if he were visibly present. And most emphatically was this true of Mr. Davis.
His selection as Provisional President by the Congress which met at Montgomery February 4th, 1861, was ratified by the people of the new Government with wonderful unanimity. It was the common thought: “The man and the hour have met.”
The man had been educated as a soldier, acquired experience in early life in the army ; then resigning, had by severe study in private life trained himself for the duties of statesmanship ; had won fame in the Mexican War; had administered with distinguished success the War Department of the Government, and in the Senate of the United States as a defender of the rights of his section was “primus inter pares” When to all this it is added that Mr. Davis was a man of singular personal purity, it is easy to understand the pride and satisfaction with which the people of the Confederacy hailed him as their chief.
That about him which most impressed the writer of this brief and hurried memoir was the great ability of his State papers. To call attention to these is the chief purpose of this contribution. Extracts will also be given liberal enough, not only to exemplify the conspicuous literary excellence of these papers, but also to serve as a contemporaneous statement of the case of the Confederacy by its President. Mr. Davis’ messages have never been published, as the writer understands, since the close of the war, and can, it is believed, only be found in collected form among the archives of the War Department at
If one would see from a Southern stand-point the reasons upon which the Confederacy grounded itself, and would look upon the progress of the war as the Confederates saw it^ he should read these papers. A more elaborate exposition of the doctrine of States’ rights, as then held in the South, is contained in the first volume of the “Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.” There is to be found what the writer deems the most masterly and thorough argument for secession ever made; but the messages present the question in shorter and more attractive form.
The style of Jefferson Davis is always clear, compact and nervous; his thoughts never fail to be admirably arranged, and the earnestness of deep conviction pervades all his writings; but these communications to the Confederate Congress were his masterpieces.
The eyes of the world were upon him. He was the head of a people struggling for recognition among the nations of the earth. By the people of all these nations his words would be read and pondered. If he would win their respect, he must not pervert the history of the past or misrepresent the present. The papers were equal to the occasion that called them forth. They were read and admired by the statesmen and savants of the world; they dignified the cause of the Confederacy abroad and were greeted at home with the liveliest satisfaction. There, nothing contributed more to broaden and intensify the conviction already fixed in the minds of the majority, that, if fight they must, it was to be in a cause that was justified alike by the laws of man and of God.
In the message of April 29th, 1861, the case of the Confederate States is thus stated:
“During the war waged against Great Britain by her colonies on this continent, a common danger impelled them to a close alliance, and to the formation of a confederation, by the terms of which the colonies, styling themselves States, entered ‘severally into a firm league of friendship with each other for their common defence, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade or any other pretence whatever.’
“In order to guard against any misconstruction of their compact, the several States made explicit declaration, in a distinct article, that ‘each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right which is not by this confederation ‘expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.’
“Under this contract of alliance, the war of the Revolution was successfully waged, and resulted in the treaty of peace with Great Britain in 1783, by the terms of which the several States were, each by name, recognized to be independent.’
“The articles of confederation contained a clause whereby all alterations were prohibited unless confirmed by Legislatures of every State, after being agreed to by Congress; and in obedience to this provision under the resolution of Congress of the 21st of February, 1787, the several States appointed delegates who attended a Convention for the sole and express ‘purpose of revising the articles of confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several Legislatures such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union.
“It was, by the delegates chosen, by the several States under the resolution just quoted, that the Constitution of the United States was framed in 1787, and submitted to the several States for ratification, as shown by the 7th article, which is in these words:
‘“The ratification of the Conventions of nine States shall be sufficient for the establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the same.’
“I have italicized several words in the quotations just made for the purpose of attracting attention to the singular and marked caution with which the States endeavored in every possible form, to exclude the idea that the separate and independent sovereignty of each State was merged into one common government and nation, and the earnest desire they evinced to impress on the Constitution its true character—that of a compact BETWEEN independent States.
“The Constitution of 1787 having, however, omitted the clause already recited from the articles of Confederation, which provided in explicit terms, that each State retained its sovereignty and independence, some alarm was felt in the States when invited to ratify the Constitution, lest this omission should be construed into an abandonment of their cherished principle, and they refused to be satisfied until amendments were added to the Constitution, placing beyond any pretence of doubt, the reservation by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers—not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution.
“Strange indeed must it appear to the impartial observer, but it is none the less true, that all these carefully worded clauses proved unavailing to prevent the rise and growth in the Northern States of a political school which has persistently claimed that the government thus formed was not a compact between States, but was in effect a national government set up above and over the States.
“An organization, created by the States to secure the blessings of liberty and independence, against foreign aggression, has been gradually perverted into a machine for their control in their domestic affairs: the creature has been exalted above its creators; the principals have been made subordinate to the agent appointed by themselves.
“The people of the Southern States, whose almost exclusive occupation was agriculture, early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render the common government subservient to their purposes, by imposing burthens on commerce as a protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests.
“Long and angry controversy grew out of these attempts, often successful, to benefit one section of the country at the expense of the other.
“And the danger of disruption arising from this cause was enhanced by the fact that the Northern population was increasing by immigration and other causes in a greater ratio than the population of the South. By degrees as the Northern States gained preponderance in the National Congress, self-interest taught their people to yield ready assent to any plausible advocacy of their right as a majority to govern the minority without control: they learned to listen with impatience to the suggestion of any constitutional impediment to the exercise of their will; and so utterly have the principles of the Constitution been corrupted in the Northern mind, that in the inaugural address delivered by President Lincoln in March last, he asserts as an axiom which he plainly deems to be undeniable, that the theory of the Constitution requires that in all cases the majority shall govern; and in another memorable instance, the same Chief Magistrate did not hesitate to liken the relations between a State and the United States to those which exist between a county and the State in which it is situated and by which it was created.
“This is the lamentable and fundamental error on which rests the policy that has culminated in his declaration of war against these Confederate States.
“In addition to the long-continued and deep-seated resentment felt by the Southern States at the persistent abuse of the powers they had delegated to the Congress, for the purpose of enriching the manufacturing and shipping classes of the North at the expense of the South, there has existed for nearly half a century another subject of discord, involving interests of such transcendent magnitude, as at all times to create the apprehension in the minds of many devoted lovers of the Union, that its permanence was impossible.
“When the several States delegated certain powers to the United States Congress, a large portion of the laboring population consisted of African slaves imported into the colonies by the mother country.
“In twelve out of the thirteen States, negro slavery existed, and the right of property in slaves was protected by law.
“This property was recognized in the Constitution, nd provision was made against its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in the number of slaves by further importation from Africa was also secured by a clause forbidding Congress to prohibit the slave trade anterior to a certain date; and in no clause can there be found any delegation of power to the Congress authorizing it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detriment or discouragement of the owners of that species of property, or excluding it from the protection of the government.
“The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections, the Northern States consulted their own interest by selling their slaves to the South, and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of the acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited, not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves.
“As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the right of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated, and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves: fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting among the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond; the constitutional provision for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promises contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed, and even murdered in open day, solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the legislatures of many of the Northern States, and law were passed providing for the punishment by ruinous fines and long continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries, of citizens of the Southern States, who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property.
“Emboldened by success, the theatre of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was, not ‘ to promote the general welfare or ensure domestic tranquillity,’ but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciations of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing the States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally, a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefit of the public domain, acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars.
“This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
“In the mean time, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upwards of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts, but with careful religious instruction.
“Under the supervision of a superior race, their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness into cultivated lands, covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slave-holding States had augmented from about 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution, to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three-fourths of the exports of the whole United States, and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man.
“With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperilled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced.
“With this view, the Legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to Conventions, to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history.
“Here it may be proper to observe that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party, almost uninterruptedly in the majority, based upon the creed that each State was, in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that, under the law of nations, this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign States, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic Party of the United States repeated, in its successful canvass in 1856, the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799, and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed.”
“The principles thus emphatically announced, embrace that to which I have already adverted,—the right of each to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809 and Mr. Pierce in 1852.
“In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States in their conventions, determined that the wrongs which they had suffered, and the evils with which they were men aced, required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and independent States, and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.”
This message was written after the fall of Fort Sumter. It will be curious to many modern readers to run over a portion of what Mr. Davis said about the firing of the first gun of the war. That gun had electrified the North. Thousands sprang to arms who had been hesitating. The “rebels had fired on the flag.” The Secessionists had precipitated war while multitudes of patriotic citizens were still praying and planning and even hoping for the continuance of peace. This was the Northern view of the question, and it is the theory accepted in the current history of to-day. The Union prevailed in the contest that was then beginning. Her courts have construed the conduct and her historians have written the story of the war.
History as written hereafter, may not and probably will not, accept fully either the Federal or Confederate version. But one thing is beyond peradventure. The Confederates had been led to believe that Fort Sumter, commanding Charleston Harbor, was not to be victualed, that the United States forces there under Major Anderson were not to be placed in a condition to continue the siege of the city. Nothing puts in so sharp a contrast the views then held North and South as Fort Sumter. The attempt by the Federal Government to provision it was looked upon in the South as a first step in the parricidal crime of coercing a sovereign State.
President Davis in his message, after a narrative ending with the fall of Sumter, says:
“In this connection I cannot refrain from a well deserved tribute to the noble State, the eminent soldierly qualities of whose people were so conspicuously displayed in the port of Charleston. For months they had been irritated by the spectacle of a fortress held within their principal harbor, as a standing menace against their peace and independence. Built in part with their own money, its custody confided with their own consent to an agent who held no power over them, other than such as they had themselves delegated for their own benefit, intended to be used by that agent for their own protection against foreign attack, they saw it held with persistent tenacity as a means of offence against them by the very government which they had established for their protection. They had beleaguered it for months—felt entire confidence in their power to capture it, yet yielded to the requirements of discipline, curbed their impatience, submitted without complaint to the unaccustomed hardships, labors and privations of a protracted siege; and when at length their patience was rewarded by the signal for attack, and success had crowned their steady and gallant conduct—even in the very moment of triumph, they evinced a chivalrous regard for the feelings of the brave but unfortunate officer who had been compelled to lower his flag. All manifestations of exultation were checked in his presence. Their commanding general, with their cordial approval and the consent of his government, refrained from imposing any terms that could wound the sensibilities of the commander of the Fort. He was permitted to retire with the honors of war—to salute his flag, to depart freely with all his command, and was escorted to the vessel in which he embarked, with the highest marks of respect from those against whom his guns had been so recently directed. Not only does every event connected with the siege reflect the highest honor on South Carolina, but the forbearance of her people and of this government, from making any harsh use of a victory obtained under circumstances of such peculiar provocation, attest to the fullest extent the absence of any purpose beyond securing their own tranquillity, and the sincere desire to avoid the calamities of the war.”
Tennessee that, by a vote of many thousands, had indicated her intention to remain in the Union, almost before the sound of the Fort Sumter guns had died away, voted herself out by an immense majority. So in North Carolina and so it was in
Between sections holding such diverse views war was inevitable. It had already begun, the seceding and adhering States each holding the other responsible for its commencement.
It is impossible to describe the enthusiasm that pervaded the South. Banners were flying and drums were beating. The heroic age had come again. The day of the Almighty Dollar was gone. Money, ease, luxury, all these were as nought when liberty, the right of self-government that our fathers had fought for, was at stake.
It was on a bright morning in the latter part of the month of May, 18G1, that a company from Butler County, Alabama—the Greenville Guards— boarded the cars bound for the seat of war in Virginia. The writer of this had been chosen Captain, and was in charge, but he had received no commission and none of the men or officers had been mustered in. Their enlistment, however, needed no sanction then from the law. They had volunteered to fight together the battles of their country and were on their way to the front. The spirit that animated the Captain and each of his men was aptly described by Mr. Davis when he said, in concluding his message of April 29th:
“We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice, save that of honor and independence; we seek no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms. This we will, this we must resist to the direst extremity. The moment that this pretension is abandoned, the sword will drop from our grasp and we shall be ready to enter into treaties of amity and commerce that cannot but be mutually beneficial. So long as this pretension is maintained, with a firm reliance on that Divine Power which covers with its protection the just cause, we will continue to struggle for our inherent right to freedom, independence and self-government.”
This feeling pervaded the whole country; it was manifest everywhere. At every station men, women and children were gathered to bid the soldiers Godspeed.
At Covington, Georgia, the young ladies of a Female College had come down to the cars to greet us with flowers and refreshments. They gave an immense and beautiful bouquet to the young captain. We had learned that Mrs. Davis, the wife of the President, was on board, travelling without especial escort to Richmond. As soon as the fair donors of the bouquet were left behind, Captain Herbert approached and, in the happiest phrases he could command, presented it to Mrs. Davis, proffering at the same time his Company as a guard of honor. She was very gracious, invited the young officer to lunch with her, and in a short time had taken him completely captive. Since she left the train at Richmond I have never seen Mrs. Davis. If these lines shall ever meet her eyes, let me convey to her through this medium the lasting gratitude of the young man who cherishes still the memory of the pleasant moments he spent in her presence. She has probably forgotten him. He will never cease to remember her. She appeared then to be twenty eight or thirty years old, tall, queenly and handsome, making no effort at sprightliness of manner, but she was always earnest, unaffected and womanly.
Shortly after our arrival in Richmond the officers of the ten companies which were to form the Eighth Alabama Regiment met and selected three of their number as field officers, Major, Lieutenant-Colonel and Colonel. As the writer was not of these, he became one of a committee to wait upon President Davis and ask him to commission the officers we had thus, without authorization, elected. Mr. Davis received us pleasantly, listened attentively to all we had to say, and then told us he had other plans for the regiment. He was very courteous and explained at some length why he could not comply with our wishes. The interview impressed us all with the idea that the President knew what he was about, though it is quite probable that the gentlemen who failed to get the positions to which they had been chosen were of a different opinion.
The writer never saw Mr. Davis again. But he remembers well that though he did not accept without question the wisdom of his every act, he never failed to admire every document that came from the President of the Confederacy. Not only did he state with unsurpassed cleverness the political case of the Confederacy, but his discussions of the manner in which the war was conducted by the enemy, of campaigns, of the law of blockage and the rights of neutrals, and his appeals to the spirit and patriotism of the people were all such as could only come from a statesman of ripe culture, rare ability and sincere patriotism.
BY HON. W. C. P. BRKCKINRIDGE
Member of Congress from Kentucky.
JEFFERSON DAVIS was born in what is now Todd County, Kentucky, on the 3d day of June, 1808, and was a student at the Transylvania University in the City of Lexington, Ky., when he received his warrant as cadet at the Military Academy of West Point. His first wife was a Kentucky girl, the daughter of Zachary Taylor; and during his life he was intimately connected with a good many of the most distinguished Kentuckians of that period.
His father was a farmer, in the Virginia and Kentucky sense of that word; a man owning slaves and living upon and managing the land which was tilled by those slaves 5 and the early boyhood of Mr. Davis was spent upon a Kentucky farm. There cannot be a more simple, moral and happy life than that of the average Virginia and Kentucky farmer; the influences which surround children born and reared in such families were good, and only good. The constant open air exercise; the habitual work required; the frequent out-door sports; the necessary horse-back exercise; the simple but nutritious food; developed to the highest capacity the physical faculties. The boys unconsciously became expert shots, daring and skillful horsemen, ready and handy in every form of agricultural labor, stout, active and graceful; keen and accurate of eye; ready, skilful and expert of hand. The moral influence was equally beneficent; daily family prayers and the constant and open recognition of the presence of an overruling Providence, and the habitual and reverent instruction in religious truths, made the children of such a household sincere and earnest believers in the Bible and its truths, even when they did not profess to be Christians and in their daily life were not controlled by its regulations. The simple rudiments of the field school were well taught, and while the curriculum was comparatively narrow, it was thorough, and laid the foundation of any educational and intellectual superstructure that the ambition, intellect and opportunities of the scholar might urge him to build thereon.
When Mr. Davis, a mere lad, entered West Point he was a high but still a fair type of the southwestern country lad; above average height, muscular, athletic, expert, a keen sportsman, a graceful rider, a fine shot, a good dancer; in morals clean, truthful, admirable; in mind earnest, thoughtful, well prepared and well-trained. His training at West Point developed his better qualities, and when he graduated he was thoroughly prepared for a brilliant army career either in peace or war; and from the day on which he received his commission until the day of his death, an old and broken man, it is not too much to say that he never faced an emergency which either dazed, surprised or confused him. During that long and marvelous career he had the thorough command of himself and all his faculties.
It is not within the scope of the duty allotted to me to give any account of his deeds or any history of his life. But the personality of Mr. Davis was so marked and so impressive that no one ever came into contact with him, even the most casual and incidental, who was not impressed therewith. And it is this which made the most lasting impression on me in the few personal interviews I had with him, and in the somewhat rare occasions when I came into personal relations with him.
It so happened that I reached Richmond, Virginia, late on Saturday, July 20th, 1861, the evening before the Battle of Manassas, and that I had an interview with Mr. Davis on the Thursday succeeding that battle—an interview concerning the state of affairs in ‘Kentucky, the policy which ought to be pursued by the Confederate Government towards such Kentuckians as desired to enter the Confederate service, and the action which Mr. Davis might see his way clear to take in the acceptance and organization of these Kentuckians. It was to me an entirely unsatisfactory interview; he declined in the most positive, though kindly and gentle manner to do or authorize to be done everything which I urged upon him; and our views did not at all agree.
In the winter of 1864, after the romantic escape of General John H. Morgan from the Columbus Penitentiary, I was ordered to Richmond, and was present at an interview between Mr. Davis and General Morgan; and the views earnestly pressed by General Morgan and in which I cordially shared were not agreeable to Mr. Davis and did not receive his approval, though his personal bearing was exceedingly complimentary to General Morgan and personally kind to the younger officers who were present.
In April, 1865, the cavalry division of General Geo. G. Dibrell, of Tennessee, which consisted of a Tennessee brigade under Colonel McLemore, and a Kentucky brigade of which I was then in command, was ordered to report to Mr. Davis at Greensborough, North Carolina; and that division remained with him from about April the 15th until May the 3d, when it divided, the larger part accepting the terms of surrender agreed upon between Generals Johnston and Sherman, and the smaller part delaying their surrender for some days. During this march from Greensborough to Washington, Georgia, covering that period of the disintegration of the Confederacy, from the middle of April to the first days in May, necessarily I saw much of Mr. Davis and his cabinet and the officers of rank who were with him. One of the most striking scenes I recall is of a conference held at the residence of Mr. Burt, at Abbeville, South Carolina, on the afternoon of May the 1st, at which conference Mr. Davis presided, and General Bragg, John C. Breckinridge, then acting Secretary of War, John 0. Vaughan of Tennessee, General Dibrell of Tennessee, General S. W. Ferguson of Mississippi, General Basil W. Duke of Kentucky and I were present. The surrender of the army of General Johnston had taken place some days prior thereto. General Wilson had captured Macon and substantially closed the war west of Washington, Georgia; Mobile had fallen, and the only organized troops east of the Mississippi River of which we had any knowledge were the five small cavalry brigades commanded by the five cavalry officers present at the conference. The result of that conference was that Mr. Davis pushed on to Washington, Ga., crossing the Savannah River, with the purpose of making his way to the trans-Mississippi. His speedy capture, caused by an unfortunate report of danger to his wife, which made him change his course and join her, of course put an end to any possibility, if indeed there was any such possibility, of any continuance of hostilities.
I have never seen Mr. Davis since we separated that May afternoon in Abbeville.
On all these occasions the impression of the personal virtues, capacity and power of Mr. Davis constantly deepened. He was an absolutely frank, direct and positive man; he never paltered in any double sense with any one; he made himself thoroughly and perfectly understood; he consented or refused to do with entire frankness, so that no one ever justly left him with a doubtful impression as to what his views were or what would be his conduct. He was veracious in the highest sense of that phrase,—not merely truthful in the narration of past occurrences or accurate in his utterances, but of the highest integrity of thought and act and life; and this was, of course, accompanied with the most intrepid courage, for superb veracity of character is based on dauntless courage—that universal courage which is sometimes separated and called physical or mental or moral; his pervaded every quality of his nature. He never knew what it was to fear an adversary in any arena. As lieutenant on the frontier; as commander of a regiment in the crisis at Buena Vista; as Secretary of War in the conflicting debates with distinguished officers; on the stump in Mississippi, with able and adroit debaters; in the Senate of the United States in perhaps its ablest and brightest period; at the head of the Cabinet councils during the darkest day of the Confederate War, amid the disastrous and disintegrating days when he saw the Confederacy going to pieces around him; bearing the cruelties inflicted upon him in the casemate at Fortress Monroe; a disfranchised citizen of the Republic; or as an old man, calmly facing death,—he exhibited the same calm, composed and unaffected intrepidity. This combined courage and veracity made him a pure man in all the relations of private and public life, so that during all the years in which malignancy searched with microscopic power for a flaw in his life or conduct, there was never found a single act of which any friend need be ashamed, nor a single word which might not have been uttered in the presence of his wife or to his daughter.
This is a superb life,—so veracious that no man was ever deceived, so intrepid that no duty was ever shirked, and so pure that no flaw was ever found.
To these great personal qualities were added unusual mental gifts. It may be hereafter held that Mr. Davis did not belong to the rank of the very greatest intellects; that those who followed him had fair ground to claim that he did, will be granted readily by those who studied most closely what he did rather than merely what he uttered. For while Mr. Davis was an orator of high rank, a debater of unusual power and a writer of pure and forcible English, he will perhaps hereafter rank higher as an executive officer and as a man of action than as an orator or writer. His State papers are indeed models, and his short speeches are among the very highest specimens of that form of public oratory; but when we attempt to measure what was done by him and under his supervision, it may well be admitted that he was greater in the cabinet and as a man of action than as a man of speech. He is easily the peer of the very greatest Secretary of War which our Government has ever had, and he administered the affairs of that important department with uncommon skill, exhibiting the highest administrative ability.
What he did as President of the Confederate States has not yet been entirely ascertained and published. The history of the military operations during the war is so much more attractive that it has obscured the investigation into, and the necessary publication of the facts connected with the civil administration of the Government; using the word civil as including all that was necessary for the maintenance of order, the preservation of liberty, the organization of the armies, the obtaining and furnishing of the munitions of war, and the maintenance of the troops in the field. No one has ever doubted that Mr, Davis was in fact the President, and that as President, he was Commander-in-chief. The charge made most often against him is, that his imperious will and his obstinate and unyielding disposition and his inflexible purpose made him too much the Commander-in-chief, and hampered with unnecessary, if not improper restrictions the commanding generals in the field; but, taken as a whole, when the contrast between the two combatants in that great struggle is accurately drawn, the world will assign to Mr. Davis a position which has not yet been accorded to him.
There never was a more unequal contest. The South fought at every disadvantage. Its white population was about five and a half millions. Its arms-bearing population was less than nine hundred thousand, and the populous and powerful States of Maryland, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia were divided with perhaps the larger part of their population against the South. It did not have a regular military organization nor a regular soldier; it was without even the form and semblance of an army; without a ship of war, or a navy yard in which a ship could be made; it had but few guns, and those of antique patterns, inferior, and many practically useless; it had not a manufactory in all its limits where any part of a gun or any part of its munitions could be made ; it was without money or organized credit; before it had fairly organized its Government, its ports were blockaded with a rigorous and effectual blockade, so that the markets of the world were absolutely shut to it ; and it had no medicines for its sick, no means of obtaining the simplest necessaries of a hospital, no factories at which the clothing or blankets of the soldiers could be fabricated, and no means by which the machinery necessary for the establishment of such factories could be obtained. Under Mr. Davis the armies were organized, and in those armies were more soldiers than the white arms-bearing population living within the military lines of the Confederacy. In some way under his administration these soldiers were admirably armed, fairly supplied with a fair quality of the necessary munitions of war; were clad, not sufficiently, but so as to be protected from the severer weather; and fed, not amply, but so as to fit them for the most fatiguing marches and glorious victories. Out of mere debris thrown away as useless, the Merrimac was made, and naval warfare entirely revolutionized. Hospitals were supplied, true, with sad insufficiency, but yet so as that the wounded found careful nursing and the sick had their pains alleviated. Civil government was preserved and public order was maintained; and the usual machinery of republican institutions never for a moment interfered with. Enormous sums of money were raised, and apparently from nothing; credit was organized so as to keep in the field these troops and to put on the seas cruisers sufficient in number to make the commerce of the country flee before them.
I am not now attempting to describe the military operations which were conducted under his orders, but to call attention to the obscurer but vital duties which were performed by him or under his order, and which have not received the attention and the commendation which they deserve.
My personal acquaintance with Mr. Davis was too slight for me to attempt to describe him in the private relations of life, but those who came in contact ‘with him even for a moment could not fail to be struck with the mingled gentleness and dignity which characterized him; the patience with which he listened until patience ceased to be a virtue, and then the dignity with which he could assert his power. On the march from Greensborough to Washington there was an unfailing courtesy which rendered the approach of any private pleasant and easy; a kindly deference to those with whom he happened to be thrown, and a gentle dignity which prevented any undue familiarity.
For twenty-five years he has been the representative of the disasters, the destroyed hopes, and the sorrows of that great struggle. All who participated in it felt that he had borne the odium of our acts, and been made the vicarious sacrifice for us. During those years he has kept with unimpaired fidelity and unfailing dignity the central conception of that great movement—that the States which composed the Federal Union did have such duties to their citizens as to render it proper under proper circumstances to assert for those citizens the liberties which they inherited; that there existed no power under any constitution, nor under any form of government, to take from the citizens of any State or section those liberties which are above constitutions, and to protect which governments are formed. He never, either in his own name or as the representative of his followers, gave any utterance to the possibility of a renewal of that struggle; no one more fully recognized than he that the defeat of that Confederacy was final and conclusive, and that whatever there was of value in liberty must be preserved within the Union and under the present Constitution. But his very life was a protest against the tendency to centralization. He stood, if nothing more, as a monument to the ancient construction of the Constitution which the fathers believed was that which gave hope to the permanency of free institutions; and so long as the rising generation could hear his name, it caused a pause and created the interrogatory as to whether a Republic of States can be preserved by centralization.
Near in time and near in locality were Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis born; each loved liberty with a boundless devotion; one felt that constitutional liberty could be preserved only by a strict adherence to constitutional duties, by the preservation of the autonomy of the States, and the rigorous restriction of the powers of the general government within the limits of the warrant which gave it any rights at all; the other felt called upon to give his life to the preservation of the territorial union based upon the universal enfranchisement of the individual citizen. It may be that the generations which follow us will conclude that true liberty needs all, the universal enfranchisement of the citizens, the territorial union which gives an arena for a great nation, and yet the autonomy of the States and the strict limitations of the Constitution.