• 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 ...
  • First Inaugural Address

     |  Secession and Civil War

    First Inaugural Address First Inaugural Address 1 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, delivered a month after the formation of the Confederacy, served as a final plea for Americans to reunite. Lincoln makes clear that he has no intention to change the status of slavery in the states where it exists, having no constitutional authority to do so. He makes equally clear that secession is not a constitutional option. March 4, 1861 Fellow citizens of the United States: In compliance with a custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of ...
  • 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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