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Author Post
Wed Jun 30 2010, 02:59PM

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Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
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Jefferson Davis Prays for Peace

Unionists were still plentiful in all the Southern States, but the secessionists had the known leaders, the determined purpose, the party organizations, and they acted in concert.

Most of all, they acted.

In the midst of that winter of turmoil and heartache, Senator [Jefferson] Davis was ill again when he was notified of the withdrawal from the Union of the “State from which he was accredited.” Mississippi was the second to go, precipitating the rush of the other five cotton States (Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and, late, Texas). Time had brought the long-dreaded hour to Davis, who regarded the South’s independent future with a pessimism unshared by the enthusiastic secessionists.

Mrs. Chestnut, the sharp-eyed and sharp tongued wife of the resigned South Carolina senator, wrote in her diary, “We separated from the North because…we have hated each other so.”

Davis feared that hate carried to the extremes of disunion would not be resolved by peaceful separation. The fight had been too long building to a climax. The Northern fanatics would no more let the South go than the Southern extremists would remain in the Union with them. There was too little concern with “the Union,” which even anti-Southern Henry Adams said “was a sentiment and not much more.”

It was a sentiment to Southerners too. When Jefferson Davis worked on his farewell address, his mood was similar to the sadness in which Calhoun, ten years before, had composed his final speech. Davis was still sick when he went for the last time to the Senate…still the imposing gentleman of unimpeachable honor [and] leading representative of the South’s defense. He stated without elaboration the rights of secession, and the “pressing necessity” of it for their own protection, but “not in hostility to others.” [The Southern people, he said] hope for peaceful relations with you, though we must part.”

But his dread of war hung over everything. Though Davis was not then a communicant of any church, the last words the defender of the South’s rights said on his last night in Washington were the prayer: “May God have us in His holy keeping, and grant that before it is too late peaceful councils will prevail.”

(The Land They Fought For, Clifford Dowdey, Doubleday & Company, 1955, pp. 69-71)

(Used With Permission)
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