• Reply in the Senate to William Seward

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Reply in the Senate to William Seward Reply in the Senate to William Seward 1 Jefferson Davis (1808-1889) The Senate of 1860 looked little like the Senate of 1790, its proceedings having degenerated into unbridled partisanship. Several years before this debate, South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks savagely beat Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner following anti-slavery remarks on the Senate floor. The South had few defenders more tenacious than Mississippi's Senator Jefferson Davis. He had opposed the Compromise of 1850 and hoped for the annexation of much of northern Mexico, which he believed a natural place to expand Southern interests. Here, in response to New York Senator William Seward, Davis makes clear that, like John C. Calhoun, he rejects the ...
  • Farewell Address to the Senate

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Farewell Address to the Senate Farewell Address to the Senate 1 Jefferson Davis Most Southern members of Congress followed their states into secession. In this farewell speech, Senator Davis expresses admiration for the late Senator John C. Calhoun, author of the nullification doctrine, and surprisingly invokes the Declaration of Independence in his cause. January 21, 1861 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 ...
  • Message to Congress in Special Session

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Message to Congress in Special Session Message to Congress in Special Session 1 Abraham Lincoln On April 12, 1861, a Confederate commander informed the Union forces stationed at Fort Sumter, in the Charleston harbor, of his plans to attack. The Civil War began an hour later. President Lincoln immediately called for 75,000 volunteers. Four states from the upper South seceded over the following month. With Congress out of session, Lincoln led the military effort without congressional approval for nearly three months. In this speech to Congress, which convened on Independence Day, he depicts the Confederacy as a section of the Union in insurrection rather than a foreign nation requiring a declaration of war. July 4, 1861 Fellow-citizens of the ...
  • Gettysburg Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Gettysburg Address Gettysburg Address 1 Abraham Lincoln From July 1 to 3, 1863, 160,000 men from the Union and Confederate armies met at Gettysburg in southern Pennsylvania. It would prove to be the turning point of the war, but with more than 50,000 casualties from both sides it was among the most costly of battles. President Lincoln's speech, delivered four months later, lasted only two minutes. But it said as much or more about the Civil War than any book written since. November 19, 1863 Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or ...
  • Cornerstone Speech

     |  Secession and Civil War

    Cornerstone Speech Cornerstone Speech 1 Alexander Stephens (1812-1883) Former Senator Jefferson Davis became president of the Confederate government, while former Georgia Congressman Alexander Stephens became vice president. Three weeks after Abraham Lincoln's inauguration, Stephens delivered this speech in Savannah, identifying the cornerstone of the Confederacy as an idea opposite to the equality principle of the American founding. March 21, 1861 At half past seven o'clock on Thursday evening, the largest audience ever assembled at the Athenaeum was in the house, waiting most impatiently for the appearance of the orator of the evening, Honorable A. H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederate States of America. The committee, with invited ...
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