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rights. He considered slavery a righteous institution, and sought to perpetuate it, but he thought the policy of secession an unwise one. It was his settled conviction that the Union was essential to prosperity. His fearless advocacy of peace won him many followers among the cooler heads of the South, and he was elected Vice President of the Confederacy.
He spent the closing years of his life at Liberty Hall, his plantation near Crawfordville, Georgia. Here he was surrounded by his former slaves, who refused to leave him when they found themselves free at the close of the war. He died at Atlanta on March 4, 1883.
THE FUTURE OF THE SOUTH
DELIVERED BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE OF GEORGIA,
FEBRUARY 22, 1866
This speech was made less than one year after the close of the war. It well shows the broad statesmanship of the orator and had a most wholesome effect upon the listeners.
Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives: I appear before you in answer to your call. This call, coming in the imposing form it does, and under the circumstances it does, requires a re5 sponse from me,
You have assigned to me a very high, a very honorable, and responsible position. This position you know I did not seek.
The great object with me now is to see a restoration, if possible, of peace, prosperity, and constitutional liberty in this once happy, but now disturbed, 10 agitated, and distracted country. To this end, all my energies and efforts, to the extent of their powers, will be devoted.
The first great duty, then, I would enjoin at this time, is the exercise of the simple, though difficult 15 and trying, but nevertheless indispensable, quality of patience. Patience requires of those afflicted to bear and to suffer with fortitude whatever ills may befall them. This is often, and especially is it the case with us now, essential for their ultimate re-20 moval by any instrumentalities whatever. We are in the condition of a man with a dislocated limb, or a broken leg, and a very bad compound fracture of that. How it became broken should not be with him a question of so much importance, as how it can 25 be restored to health, vigor, and strength. This requires of him, as the highest duty to himself, to wait quietly and patiently in splints and bandages until nature resumes her active powers, until the vital functions perform their office. The knitting 30 of the bones and the granulation of the flesh require time; perfect quiet and repose, even under the severest pain, is necessary. It will not do to make too great haste to get well; an attempt to walk too soon
35 will only make the matter worse. We must or ought
now, therefore, in a similar manner to discipline ourselves to the same or like degree of patience. I know the anxiety and restlessness of the popular
mind to be fully on our feet again, to walk abroad 40 as we once did, to enjoy once more the free out
door air of heaven, with the perfect use of all our limbs. I know how trying it is to be denied representation in Congress, while we are paying our
proportion of the taxes, how annoying it is to be 45 even partially under military rule, and how in
jurious it is to the general interest and business of the country to be without post offices and mail communications; to say nothing of divers other matters
on the long list of our present inconveniences and 50 privations. All these, however, we must patiently
bear and endure for a season. With quiet and repose we may get wel
may get once more on our feet again. One thing is certain, that bad humor, ill
temper, exhibited in restlessness or grumbling, will 55 not hasten it.
Next to this, another great duty we owe to ourselves is the exercise of a liberal spirit of forbearance amongst ourselves.
The first step toward local or general harmony 60 is the banishment from our breasts of every feeling
and sentiment calculated to stir the discords of the past. Let there be no criminations or recriminations on account of acts of other days. No canvassing of past conduct or motives. Great disasters are upon us and upon the whole country, and with-65 out inquiring how these originated, or at whose door the fault should be laid, let us now as common sharers of common misfortunes, on all occasions, consult only as to the best means, under the circumstances as we find them, to secure the best ends 70 toward future amelioration. Good government is what we want. This should be the leading desire and the controlling object with all; and I need not assure you if this can be obtained, that our desolated fields, our towns and villages, and cities now 75 in ruin, will soon, like the Phænix,' rise again from their ashes; and all our waste places will again, at no distant day, blossom as the rose.
I could enjoin no greater duty upon my countrymen now, North and South, than the exercise of 80 that degree of forbearance which would enable them to conquer their prejudices. One of the highest exhibitions of the moral sublime the world ever witnessed was that of Daniel Webster, when, in an open barouche in the streets of Boston, he proclaimed 85 in substance, to a vast assembly of his constituents - unwilling hearers — that "they had conquered an uncongenial clime; they had conquered a sterile soil; they had conquered the winds and currents of the ocean; they had conquered most of the elements 90 of nature; but they must yet learn to conquer their prejudices !” I know of no more fitting incident or scene in the life of that wonderful man, "Clarus et
1 Phænix, a fabulous bird, said to destroy itself by fire and then to rise again from its ashes, - used as a symbol of immortality.
vir fortissimus,"1 for perpetuating the memory of the 95 true greatness of his character, on canvas or in
marble, than a representation of him as he then and there stood and spoke! It was an exhibition of moral grandeur surpassing that of Aristides 2 when
he said, “O Athenians, what Themistocles 3 recom100 mends would be greatly to your interest, but it would be unjust !”
I say to you, and if my voice could extend throughout this vast country, over hill and dale, over moun
tain and valley, to hovel, hamlet, and mansion, 105 village, town, and city, I would say, among the first,
looking to restoration of peace, prosperity, and harmony in this land, is the great duty of exercising that degree of forbearance which will enable them
to conquer their prejudices, prejudices against com110 munities as well as individuals.
And next to that the indulgence of a Christian spirit of charity. "Judge not that ye be not judged," especially in matters growing out of the late war.
Most of the wars that have scourged the world, 115 even in the Christian era, have arisen on points of
conscience, or differences as to the surest way of
1 Distinguished and very brave man.