Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

What did Jefferson Davis say at his inaugural?

Davis made a strange but compelling presence that day. Worn out from years of political and administrative work, he had suffered a severe attack of the shingles three years earlier, and he was far from well. He covered his weakness well, however, and his tone struck many of his listeners as melodious.

The Confederacy was a political experiment unequaled in the memory of man, Davis declared. Never had a people risen so suddenly to make a separation from their former countrymen, and never had a government been so swiftly created (if not wholly true, this was at least true in parts). Between an agrarian nation such as the Confederate States of America and a commercial and industrial one such as the United States of America, there need be little contact and no friction, he asserted. But if the Northern and Western men should perceive his kindness as soft or weak, then “we must prepare to meet the emergency and maintain, by the final arbitrament of the sword, the position which we have assumed among the nations of the earth.”


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