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While the feeling between the union- vention, suggested by the State of Virists and secessionists was thus becom-ginia, had assembled in Washington and ing daily more exasperated, and threat- been organized, with ex-President Tyler ening a collision of arms, a peace con- | to preside over it.
The Meeting of the General Congress of the Seceding States at Montgomery.-Organization.-Formation of Provisional
Government and Constitution.—No Conciliation or Compromise. - Nature of the New Constitution.--Its Politic Clauses.-Election of President and Vice-President.-Good Choice.-Extremists and Moderates both suited. --Life of Jefferson Davis.-His Birth.-Parentage.—Military Career.—Resignation.-Cotton Planting.--Political Career.A Volunteer Officer in the Mexican War.- Turns the Tide of Battle at Buena Vista --Appointed Brigadier-General. -Scruples of a States Rights Man.--Senator of the United States.-Chairman of Committee on Military Affairs. -Unsuccessful Candidate for Governor.-Electioneering for Pierce.--Secretary of War, and services in that office.Personal Character and Appearance.- Elected President of the Confederate States.- Inaugural Address.—Biography of Alexander H. Stephens.-A poor Youth.-Educated by Charity.--Rapid eminence as a Lawyer.- Leader of the Whig Party in Congress.--Retirement from Public Life.-Disease.--Stirred by the Secession Movement.--Strong for the Union.-A sudden Conversion. ---An earnest Proselyte. - Personal Appearance and Character.-A remarkable Speech.—The Cabinet of President Davis.-Robert Toombs : his Life and Character.-Charles Gustavus Memminger : his Life and Character.-Le Roy Pope Walker : his Life and Character.-Judab P. Benjamin : his Life and Character.-Stephen M. Mallory : his Life and Character. -John H. Reagan : his Life and Character.
In accordance with a proposition of | The constitution adopted was based Alabama, all the conventions of the se- on that of the United States, with mod
ceding States sent delegates to a ifications peculiar to the new govern
general congress, which met at ment. The preamble dwelt especially on Montgomery on the 4th of February. the separate sovereignty of the individIn a few days after its organization, the ual States of the new confederacy, and Feb. form of a provisional government thus strove to give legal sanction to that
8. and a constitution were unani- heresy which had proved so fatal to the mously agreed upon, to take effect im- harmony of the Union. It declared : mediately. No suggestion was made “We, the deputies of the sovereign for the restoration of harmony with the and independent States of South CaroUnion from which the States repre- lina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississented in the convention had separated. sippi, and Louisiana, invoking the favor The subjects of conciliation and com of Almighty God, do hereby, in behalf promise were waived as totally obsolete. | of these States, ordain and establish this To form an independent nation and constitution for the provisional governprovide for its government and defence ment of the same, to continue one year was the sole object, apparently, of the from the inauguration of the President, desire, as it was the motive of the action, or until a permanent constitution or conof the members of the convention. | federation between the said States shall
be put in operation, whichsoever shall In the clause relating to the tariff, first occur.”
| the favorite Southern doctrine of taxiTo conciliate the governments of Eu- tion for revenue, and not for protection, rope, on whose interposition in behalf was distinctly enunciated thus: of the new confederacy great calcula- “The Congress shall have power to tions were made, but whose policy of lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, abolishing the slave-trade seemed fatal and excises for revenue necessary to pay to an alliance with any state which the debts and carry on the government might favor that cruel commerce, the of the confederacy, and all duties, imfollowing article was adopted :
posts, and excises shall be uniform "The importation of African negroes | throughout the confederacy." from any foreign country other than the To close up all accounts with the old slaveholding States of the United States, Union and start the new under the most is hereby forbidden, and Congress is favorable auspices, an ostentatious prorequired to pass such laws as shall fusion of fairness of dealing was made effectually prevent the same.”
in an article declaring that “the govAt the same time, to give full protec- erument hereby instituted shall take tion to the institution as it existed in the immediate steps for the settlement of slave States comprising the confederacy, all matters between the States forming i stringent fugitive law set forth that: it and their late confederates of the
"A slave in one State escaping to United States, in relation to the public another shall be delivered up on the property and public debt at the time of claim of the party to whom said slave their withdrawal from them, these States may belong, by the executive authority hereby declaring it to be their wish and of the State in which such slave may earnest desire to adjust everything perbe found ; and in case of any abduction | taining to the common property, comor forcible rescue, full compensation, mon liabilities, and common obligations including the value of the slave, and all of that union upon principles of right, costs and expenses, shall be made to justice, equity, and good faith.” the party by the State in which such. After the adoption of the Constitution, abduction or rescue shall take place." the Congress proceeded at once to the
The following clause was ingeniously election of a provisional President and introduced as a forcible appeal to Vir- and Vice-President. Jefferson Davis, ginia and other border States, still re of Mississippi, was chosen the former, luctant to leave the Union and try the and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, hazards of the new confederacy.
the latter. No better appointments "Congress shall also have power to could have been made to further the prohibit the introduction of slaves from purposes of the new confederacy. Both any State not a member of this confed were experienced statesmen of prac
| tised executive talents. Davis, who had
been long known as an advocate of side of his political friends, the DemoState Rights, served to give assurance crats. The Mexican war having in the to the extremists of the South that their mean time broken out, and a Mississippi special interests were safe in his keep regiment having elected him its colonel, ing, while Stephens, whose reluctant se- he left at once his seat in the House of cessionism had been equally conspicu- Representatives, and hastened to the ous, gave confidence to the moderate scene of hostilities. He was with Taylor men, and encouraged them to give in at the storming of Monterey, and at the their adherence to a government of battle of Buena Vista came up, in the which he was a prominent executive nick of time, at the head of his Missisofficer.
sippians, and turned the waving tide of Jefferson Davis was born on the third battle in favor of the American troops. of June, 1808, in Christian, now Todd, He was wounded while pertinaciously County, Kentucky. His father, who resisting a superior force, but still rewas a planter and an officer in the army mained in the saddle until the end of the of Revolutionary renown, removed to battle. General Taylor complimented Mississippi while his son was yet a child. him highly in his dispatch. On the exAfter a sound preliminary academical piration of the term of service of his discipline at school and college, young regiment he returned home, but on his Davis was admitted a cadet at West way he was met with a commission of Point in 1824. In 1828 he graduated, brigadier-general of volunteers from and entered into active military service. President Polk. This, however, with a In the Black Hawk war he earned pro- scrupulous regard for the “sovereign” motion by his gallantry, and being raised rights of his State, he refused to accept, to a first lieutenantcy of dragoons, served on the ground that the Federal authorin that rank in various expeditions ity, in making such an appointment, against the Indian tribes of the West. was interfering with the prerogative of In 1835 he resigned his commission and took to cotton planting in Missis- In 1847, Davis was appointed by the sippi. He was, however, soon with- Governor of Mississippi senator of the drawn from his retirement by the polit United States, to fill a casual vacancy. ical interests of the country, and in | In the next year, however, he was 1844 was chosen a Presidential elector | unanimously elected by the Legislature of Mississippi, to vote for Polk and to complete the term, and again in Dallas, the candidates of the Democratic 1850 was a second time chosen. He party, for which Davis had early shown was appointed chairman of the comhis partiality.
mittee on military affairs, and took a In 1845, Davis was chosen a member prominent part in the debates on most of Congress, and at once assumed a important questions, but especially on prominent position, as a debater, on the those which bore upon the interests of