'These people... have... demonstrated their utter incapacity for self-government'
In December of 1862 President Jefferson Davis spoke to the Mississippi legislature in Jackson. The United States’ war against the South was in full swing and clearly horrified President Davis in its scope and savagery. He referred to the Union forces as ‘worse than vandal hordes’ and was appalled by their criminal behaviour towards people whom they claimed to be their countrymen. Many interesting things could be pointed out in this speech. One which is of particular interest to those interested in the question of liberty and self-determination is Davis’ assertion that the Union, without the civilising effect of the South, was incapable of self-government and maintaining liberty. Northerners clearly did not value personal liberty, the rule of law, freedom of the press and local autonomy to the same degree as did Southerners. Yet, ‘these are the people who claim to be your masters,’ Davis said. Indeed, the Confederate President was correct. Without Southern resistance, Northerners discarded their remaining economic, civil and political liberties. They gave them up for the sake of power and conquest and ‘demonstrated their utter incapacity for self-government.’ US history since then as been a continuation down this same road towards greater tyranny and destruction. A century and a half of Reconstruction and our diminished position has left the South unable to mount any serious resistance to Yankee values, politics and designs for continental – and now global – domination. Today, we see the truthfulness of President Davis’ claim in spades. Each day seems to bring some new level of tyranny upon us, some word of new horrors practiced by the foreign order which rules over us. For this nightmare to end, for this dark age to be brought to a close, our people must be free.
The issue before us is one of no ordinary character. We are not engaged in a conflict for conquest, or for aggrandizement, or for the settlement of a point of international law. The question for you to decide is, “will you be slaves or will you be independent?” Will you transmit to your children the freedom and equality which your fathers transmitted to you or will you bow down in adoration before an idol baser than ever was worshipped by Eastern idolators? Nothing more is necessary than the mere statement of this issue. Whatever may be the personal sacrifices involved, I am sure that you will not shrink from them whenever the question comes before you. Those men who now assail us, who have been associated with us in a common Union, who have inherited a government which they claim to be the best the world ever saw– these men, when left to themselves, have shown that they are incapable of preserving their own personal liberty. They have destroyed the freedom of the press; they have seized upon and imprisoned members of State Legislatures and of municipal councils, who were suspected of sympathy with the South. Men have been carried off into captivity in distant States without indictment, without a knowledge of the accusations brought against them, in utter defiance of all rights guaranteed by the institutions under which they live. These people, when separated from the South and left entirely to themselves, have, in six months, demonstrated their utter incapacity for self-government. And yet these are the people who claim to be your masters. These are the people who have determined to divide out the South among their Yankee troops. Mississippi they have devoted to the direst vengeance of all. “But vengeance is the Lord’s,” and beneath his banner you will meet and hurl back these worse than vandal hordes.