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Secession condemned in A Southern convention.
Of the Hon. A.H. Stephens, made at the Georgia State Convention, held January, 1861, for the purpose of determining whether the State of Georgia was to secede. Notwithstanding this remarkable speech of an extraordinary man, the Convention decided on secession. Mr. Stephens was afterwards elected Vice President of the so-called Confederacy. This distinction shows the estimate of his powers, and adds force to the deliverance, the prophetic declarations of which are now being fulfilled to the letter.
This step (of secession) once taken, can never be recalled; and all the baleful and withering consequences that must follow, will rest on the convention for all coming time. When we and our posterity shall see our lovely South desolated by the demon of war, which this act of yours will inevitably invite and call forth; when our green fields of waving harvests shall be trodden down by the murderous soldiery and fiery car of war sweeping over our land; our temples of justice laid in ashes; all the horrors and desolations of war upon us; who, but this Convention will be held responsible for it? and but him who shall have given his vote for this unwise and ill-timed measure, as I honestly think and believe, shall be held to strict account for this suicidal act by the present generation, and probably cursed and execrated by posterity for all coming time, for the wide and desolating ruin that will inevitably follow this act you now propose to perpetrate? Pause, I entreat you, and consider for a moment what reason you can give that will even satisfy yourselves in calmer moments—what reasons you can give to your fellow-sufferers in this calamity that it will bring upon us. What reasons can you give to the nations of the earth to justify it? They will be the calm and deliberate judges in the case? and what cause or one overt act can you name or point, on which to rest the plea of justification? What right has the North assailed? What interest of the South has been invaded? What justice has been denied? and what claim founded in justice and right has been withheld? Can either of you to-day name one governmental act of wrong deliberately and purposely done by the government of Washington, of which the South has a right to complain? I challenge the answer. While, on the other hand, let me show the facts (and believe me, gentlemen, I am not here the advocate of the North; but I am here the friend, the firm friend and lover of the South and her institutions; and for this reason I speak thus plainly and faithfully—for yours, mine, and every other man’s interest—the words of truth and soberness), of which I wish you to judge; and I will only state facts which are clear and undeniable, and which now stand as records authentic in the history of our country. When we of the