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Jefferson Davis Essay

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Jefferson Davis

In the aftermath of the passage of the Great Compromise of 1850 Jefferson Davis, Senator from Mississippi, rose to refute the allegations and insinuations of his opponents that his object in the recent crisis, and that of many Southern Democrats, had been the dissolution of the Union of the States created by the Constitution of 1789. "Lightly and loosely," he observed, "representatives of the Southern people have been denounced as disunionists by that portion of the Northern press which most disturbs the harmony and endangers the perpetuity of the Union. Such, even, has been my case, though a man does not breathe at whose door the charge of disunion might not as well be laid as at mine. The son of a revolutionary soldier, attachment to the Union was among the first lessons of my childhood bred to the service of my country, from boyhood to mature age I wore its uniform. Through the brightest portion of my life, I was accustomed to see our flag, historic emblem of the Union, rise with the rising and fall with the setting sun. I look upon it now with the affection of early love, and seek to preserve it by a strict adherence to the Constitution, from which it had its birth, and by the nurture of which its stars have come so much to outnumber its original stripes." With these words the hero of Buena Vista dismissed his critics and looked to posterity for his vindication.
Regrettably the majority of recent historians have given such statements little regard, and instead accepted the polemical slanders of the Northern popular press, and Davis' political opponents, as evidence of the revolutionary intentions of Southern political leaders in the years immediately preceding the War for Southern Independence. Today it is widely believed, and more widely taught, that the impetus to secession in 1860 came from an unrepresentative Southern political class which, having failed in its attempt to force its doctrines upon the nation as a whole, resolved to...

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