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of its infancy. Of the five first Presidents of the Union, four were her citizens; and it is a remarkable fact, that the second President of the United States, the only one of the five to whom was not given the honour of having his rule prolonged for a second term, was also the only one who was not her citizen. Since the presidency of Monroe she has taken a less prominent part." Having started the Republic in its career, and presided over its destinies for the best part of half a century, she seems to have withdrawn from the charge ; and from that time, in all moral respects, though not in material ones, the course of the Republic has been steadily down hill.
In accordance with this history has been her conduct in these latter days. Though the election of Lincoln was fraught with as much danger to her as it was to South Carolina, and though she has had fully as much cause for complaint and resentment from Northern insults and Northern injuries, she was too much bound by the recollection of her own glorious past to be in a hurry to destroy the Union which her citizens had the greatest share in creating. As soon as it became apparent that the States of the Gulf were determined to secede, the first thought of Virginia was to endeavour to find some way to prevent them from doing so. She offered to mediate between them and the Federal Government; and her representatives were busy, up to the very last, in endeavouring to arrange the terms of some compromise by which South Carolina and her allies might have their interests sufficiently secured to induce them to return to the old connection. But Lincoln and Seward's perfidious attempt to throw supplies into Sumter, and, still more, the mad cry for war which the capture of that fort produced in the North, showed that the time for negotiation was past; and when war was to burst in reality, every feeling, association, sympathy, interest, justice, generosity towards the weaker side, indignation against perfidy and wrong, compelled her to stand by the side of South Carolina. The accession of her splendid and powerful name to the roll of the Confederate States was hailed by the rest with joy and triumph; and the precedency due to her old renown was deferred to her by the unanimous resolve of those States to transfer their common capital from Montgomery to Richmond.
The example of Virginia was not productive of such an outburst among the border States as that of South Carolina had produced along the Gulf. In the first place, there was not the same homogeneousness in character and interest among the former as among the latter. There had at one time been an idea of fusing all the States of the original secession into a single indivisible republic, stretching from Cape
Fear to the Rio Grande ; but no such idea could have prevailed further north. To fuse Virginia with Arkansas, Delaware with Missouri, would have been preposterous; and it might very well be that the varying interests of the different States might lead them to take different views about the desirability of secession. Besides this, it was now known, what was not known when South Carolina and her allies seceded, that secession meant nothing less than war; and of that war the border States would have to bear the brunt. But if there was not always an identity of interests, there was communion of feeling, not as deep and strong as that which prevailed among the Gulf States, but still too strong to be accounted for by the mere fact of the permission of slavery; and the tendency to break away became irresistible. North Carolina, which lies southward from Virginia, followed her lead at once. Maryland and Delaware, lying right in the jaws of the North, hesitated for an instant before plunging into the awful chasm; and before they could resolve to do so, the Federal armies poured over their border, occupied their cities, and fixed upon their people that hideous yoke under which they have writhed ceaselessly from that day till now. In the West, Kentucky has resounded ever since with the tramp of opposing armies, and has never had the respite necessary to deliberate. Tennessee, though she has had to suffer from the same cause, has contrived to assemble her legislature, and pass the ordinance of secession; while Arkansas and Missouri, on the further shores of the Father of Waters, and far more Western than Southern in their conditions, have become among the most ardent members of the Confederacy, and have been the theatre of some of the most brilliant exploits of the war.
But I have gone on too fast. I was speaking of the part Virginia has played all along. She has always been liberal and magnificent, but never wasteful.* She has always abundantly supplied what was
* Since this was finished, or rather about the time that it was being so, I have had the opportunity of reading Mr Williams's
South Vindicated.' The account there given of Virginia's grand cession of her North-Western territories as a free gift to the encumbered and impoverished Union, affords amazing strength, I think, to the views which I here try to give of her character and the services which she has rendered ; at the same time, it rather diminishes the force of any encomium I may have passed on her prudence in not wasting. I must make a short extract. Till I read it, I did not fully appreciate the character of the cession to which it refers.
" The general Government of the Union, being then poor and with scarcely strength to sustain itself, implored the States having large territorial possessions to transfer a portion thereof to the general use of all the States. Virginia responded to this call for aid by an act of prodigal generosity, the magnanimity of which was only exceeded by its uncalculating and unselfish improvidence. The whole of that vast territory now embraced within the limits of the five great Western States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michi. gan, Wisconsin, was, under certain named conditions, trans
required, but has not ostentatiously given what was not required. For the original revolution, statesmen were required rather than generals. England, removed from the scene of action by the width of the broad Atlantic, not yet bridged by steam, could not pour her endless multitudes into the countries of the rebellion; and all that the colonists required was a little patience and constancy to lure the invaders on to their destruction, and wear them out. The great need was to keep up the spirit of the colonists; and for that purpose there was more need of civil than of military genius. Virginia supplied exactly what was wanted. Washington was perhaps
ferred to the Government of the Union,” to be divided into five parts, each of which was to be afterwards admitted as a sovereign State. “By a still greater exertion of magnanimity, she consented that, in the territory thus voluntarily surrendered, slavery should not exist; thus depriving her own citizens of the right of immigrating with their property into the ceded territory. We have not an example in all history of such an unselfish and improvident act of self-immolation for what was conceived to be the general welfare of the country.”
Virginia thus made the Union. It is not only indebted to her for the great man who was its founder, for the ablest members of the Convocation which framed its Constitution, and for all, save one, of the Presidents of its best and brightest age, but for its very soil ; for she gave, and gave freely, lands which doubled its extent and saved it from bankruptcy. How has the Union and its Government repaid her? It is only due to her own matchless constancy and courage, that she has not been done to death by those who owe it to her that their Republic is alive.