Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feb. 22, 1862

Feb. 22, 1862: Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America, beginning his one six-year term, as the Provisional government gives way to the permanent one. Davis is inaugurated on a very rainy Washington’s birthday—not by chance, either—and the CSA adopts a national seal with a mounted George Washington in the center, festooned with the crops upon which the Southern economy is built: cotton, tobacco, wheat, rice, and sugar cane, with a motto in Latin, Deo Vindice (God Will Vindicate Us). In his inaugural address, he offers these thoughts:
Follow-Citizens On this, the birth-day of the man most identified with the establishment of American independence, and beneath the monument erected to commemorate his heroic virtues and those of his compatriots, we have assembled to usher into existence the permanent Government of the Confederate States. Through the instrumentality, under the favor of Divine Providence, we hope to perpetuate the principles of our Revolutionary Fathers. The day, the memory’ and the purpose, seem fitly associated.
It is with mingled feelings of humility and pride that I appear to take, in the presence of the people and before high Heaven, the oath prescribed as a qualification for the exalted nation to which the unanimous voice of the people has called me. . . .
The experiment instituted by our revolutionary fathers, of a voluntary Union of sovereign States for purposes specified in a solemn compact, had been perverted by those who, feeling power and forgetting right, were determined to respect no law but their own will. The Government had ceased to answer the ends for which it was ordained and established. . . .
Fellow-citizens, after the struggles of ages had consecrated the right of the Englishman to Constitutional. Representative Government, our colonial ancestors were forced to vindicate that birthright by an appeal to arms. Success crowned their efforts, and they provided for their posterity a peaceful remedy against future aggression.
The tyranny of an unbridled majority, the most odious, and least responsible form of despotism has denied us both the right and the remedy; therefore, we are in arms to renew such sacrifices as our fathers made to the holy cause of Constitutional liberty. At the darkest hour of our struggle the Provisional gives place to the Permanent Government. After a series of successes and victories, which covered our arms with glory, we have recently met with serious disasters.–But in the heart of a people resolved to be free, these disasters tend but to stimulate to increased resistance.
To show ourselves worthy of the inheritance bequeathed to us by the patriots of the Revolution, we must emulate that heroic devotion which made reverse to them but the crucible in which their patriotism was refined. [Applause.] . . .

—Judith White McGuire, living in Richmond, writes in her diary:
To-day I had hoped to see our President inaugurated, but the rain falls in torrents, and I cannot go. So many persons are disappointed, but we are comforted by knowing that the inauguration will take place, and that the reins of our government will continue to be in strong hands. His term of six years must be eventful, and to him, and all others, so full of anxiety! What may we not experience during those six years? Oh, that all hearts may this day be raised to Almighty God for his guidance! Has there been a day since the Fourth of July, 1776, so full of interest, so fraught with danger, so encompassed by anxiety, so sorrowful, and yet so hopeful, as this 22d of February, 1862? Our wrongs then were great, and our enemy powerful, but neither can the one nor the other compare with all that we have endured from the oppression, and must meet in the gigantic efforts of the Federal Government.—Major Rutherford B. Hayes, an officer in the 23rd Ohio Infantry serving in western Virginia (and future President of the United States), writes home to his mother:
The recent victories convince everybody that the Rebellion can be conquered. Most people anticipate a speedy end of the war. I am not so sanguine of a sudden wind-up, but do not doubt that the Confederacy is fatally wounded. We are having a gaudy celebration of the 22nd here with the usual accompaniments which delight the children.
Affectionately, your son,

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