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But the Southerners believed with all their hearts that they were fighting for their own land and their freedom; they never thought of the whole land as their own but only of the South and especially of their own State. For a whole generation of them had been educated to believe in slavery and State's Rights. They thought that allegiance was due to their own State above any allegiance that they owed to the nation, and that the rights of their States were being trampled upon, and must be defended. Many of the Southerners really believed that the North intended to destroy their liberties.
In some way, the end of this state of things had to come; and the whole country is glad that out of all the suffering and strife came good results. One of these was that when the Northern soldiers and the Southern soldiers stood face to face and fought each other day after day, and sometimes the wounded of one side were cared for and helped by the other, they learned that after all they were brothers, and now they have come to love one another. And then the cause of all the trouble-slavery—was taken away. So, after long years it has come to pass that North and South no longer stand face to face like foes, but shoulder to shoulder, like true brothers, as they are. In this narrative we shall have to recall many hard times and terrible
battles and wrongs. But through all we must remember that these days have gone by.
In the Presidential campaign of 1860, the extreme Democrats of the party to which Jefferson Davis and others like him belonged, nominated John C. Breckinridge for President and declared that slavery was morally right and a blessing to the country and that they would extend it into the Territories and into new States. The regular Democratic party nominated Douglas and declared that it did not care whether slavery was right or wrong, or limited or extended; it would let the people of the Territories do as they pleased about it, and would obey the Constitution and the Supreme Court. The party which nominated Bell and Everett, pretended to ignore slavery and stand only by "the Constitution, the Union, and the Laws." But the Republican party believed slavery morally wrong and hurtful to society, and intended to restrict it to where it was at that time under the constitutions and laws of the slave States.
The leader of this party, the man who had declared the Kansas-Nebraska bill to mean: "That if any one man chooses to enslave another, no third man shall be allowed to object," Abraham Lincoln, in November, 1860, was elected President of the United States.
This meant to the South that in its own province it would not be interfered with; but that there were people in the country with both will and vote; and the South could not then rule the nation by the ballot.
Seeing this, the Southern leaders withdrew their States from the Union to form a Southern Confederacy. Many of the Southern people did not realize what they were doing; and some did not want to go; but they were swept on in the tide. Indeed, the people of some of the States never had a chance to say whether they wanted to secede or not; they were not asked to vote on the matter; they simply followed their leaders.
South Carolina, however, was delighted to go out of the Union, and passed an ordinance of secession on the twentieth of December, 1860; Mississippi seceded the ninth of the following January; and Alabama, Florida, Georgia soon after; Louisiana went out January twentyeighth; and Texas, February first. On the sixth of February delegates from these seven States met at Montgomery, Alabama, and organized the "Confederate States of America"; they elected Jefferson Davis as President, and he was installed on the eighteenth. Then a law was passed to raise an army for these Confederate States and in place of the dear old "stars and stripes" of our flag, they made a flag of
"stars and bars." As we know, Virginia followed these States; and so did Arkansas; and in Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri, border States, there was a hard struggle between the loyal and the disloyal men.
Many more Southerners than Northerners had been educated at the United States West Point Military Academy. A large number of these officers followed their States and gave their services to the Southern Confederacy; there were between two and three hundred of these. So when it came to a question of war between North and South, these skilfully trained officers were a great loss to the North. But many of these men went over to the South promptly and openly; and although they were false to the country which had educated them, they did the thing they believed right; for, as has been said, they had been taught that they owed allegiance to their State rather than to the nation. Those officers who were true to the nation had a hard time, if they happened to be stationed at the South, in getting away and offering their services to their country.
But there was another class of men; and what word can we have for these? They were men who kept their positions of trust under the United States government, some even in President Buchanan's cabinet, learned all the secrets
of the forts and arsenals and arms belonging to the nation, sent the ships away to foreign ports in order that they might not be on hand at time of need, stole for the Southern Confederacy all the government arms and ammunition they could lay hands on, captured some of the forts in Southern harbors, and in every way possible deceived and frightened the weak President into yielding to their wishes.
It would take a volume to tell of all the things that were going on at the South where everybody was preparing for war; at the North where everybody hoped that war need not come; in Congress where parties were trying to patch up a peace; in the army where the most skilful officers were resigning from their commands; in the navy where many officers were false to their trusts, although many were very true-all the country was in stress and strain, doing it did not realize what, waiting for it knew not what. For very much went on between November, 1860, and the following March, 1861.
But Abraham Lincoln was not yet President; he was only President-elect. He could do nothing yet to oust the traitors from the cabinet and councils of Buchanan.