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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

March 19, 1864

Resolution on War and Peace Terms

The Georgia General Assembly passed a resolution “declaring the ground on which the Confederate State stand in this War, and the terms on which peace ought to offered to the enemy.”

Full Title: Resolutions declaring the ground on which the Confederate State stand in this War, and the terms on which peace ought to offered to the enemy. The General Assembly of the State of Georgia do resolve, [Illegible Text] That to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, “Governments were instituted among men, deriving the just powers from the consent of the governed; that when eye any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principles, an organizing its powers in such form as shall seem to them [Illegible Text] likely to effect their safety and happiness.” [Sidenote: Declaratory of the objects of all good governments, and the right of “the people” to alter or abolish, to secure those objects.] 2nd. That the best possible commentary upon this grand text [Illegible Text] our fathers of 1776, is their accompanying action, which it was put forth to justify; and that action was the immortal declaration that the former political connection between the Colonies and the State of Great Britain, was dissolved and the thirteen Colonies were, and of right, ought to be, not one independent State, [Illegible Text] thirteen independent States, each of them being such a “people as had the right, whenever they chose to exercise it, to separate themselves from a political association and government of their [Illegible Text] choice, and institute a new government to suit themselves. [Sidenote: The Declaration of Independence the result of this principle.] 3rd. That if Rhode Island, with her meagre elements of nationality, was such a “people” in 1776, when her separation from [Illegible Text] government and people of Great Britain took place, much more was Georgia and each of the other seceding States, with the large territories, populations and resources, such a “people,” [Illegible Text] untitled to exercise the same right in 1861, when they decreed their separation from the Government and people of the United States; and if the separation was rightful in the first case, it was [Illegible Text] clearly so in the last, the right depending, as it does in the case of every “people” for whom it is claimed, simply upon their [Illegible Text] and their will to constitute an independent State. [Sidenote: Georgia and the seceded States declared such a people as were entitled to exeroise the right of self government.] 4th. That this right was perfect in each of the States to be exercised by her at her own pleasure, without challenge or resistance from any other power whatsoever; and while these Southern states had long had reason enough to justify its assertion against some of their faithless associates, yet, remembering the dictate of prudence” that “governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes,” they forbore a resort to [Illegible Text] exercise, until numbers of the Northern States, State after [Illegible Text] through a series of years, and by studied legislation, had [Illegible Text] themselves in open hostility against an acknowledged provision of the Constitution, and had at last succeeded in the election [Illegible Text] a President who was the avowed exponent and executioner of their faithless designs against the Constitutional rights of their [Illegible Text] sisters – rights which had been often adjudicated by the [Illegible Text] and which were never denied by the abolitionists themselves, but upon the ground that the Constitution itself was void whenever it came in conflict with a “higher law” which they [Illegible Text] not find among the laws of God, and which depended, for [Illegible Text] exposition, solely upon the elastic consciences of rancorous [Illegible Text] The Constitution thus broken, and deliberately and [Illegible Text] repudiated by several of the States who were parties it, ceased, according to universal law, to be binding on any [Illegible Text] the rest, and those States who had been wronged by the reach, were justified in using their rights to provide “new guards or their future security.” [Sidenote: The causes of separation stated, and the act of secession justified.] 5th. That the reasons which justified the separation when it [Illegible Text] place, have been vindicated and enhanced in force by the subsequent course of the Government of Mr. Lincoln – by his [Illegible Text] rejection of the Confederate Commissioners who were sent to Washington before the war, to settle all matters of difference without a resort to arms, thus evincing his determination to have war: by his armed occupation of the territory of the [Illegible Text] States, and especially by his treacherous attempt to [Illegible Text] his garrisons in their midst, after they had, in pursuance [Illegible Text] their right, withdrawn their people and territory from the [Illegible Text] of his government, thus rendering war a necessity, and [Illegible Text] inaugurating the present lamentable war: by his official [Illegible Text] of the Confederate States, as “rebel” and “disloyal” [Illegible Text] for their rightful withdrawal from their faithless associate [Illegible Text] whilst no word of censure has ever fallen from him against [Illegible Text] faithless States who were truly “disloyal” to the Union and [Illegible Text] Constitution, which was the only cement of the Union, and who were the true authors of all the wrong and all the mischief of the separation, thus insulting the innocent by charging upon them the crimes of his own guilty allies: And finally, by his monstrous usurpations of power and undisguised repudiation of the Constitution, and his mocking scheme of securing a Republican form of government to sovereign States by putting nine-tenths of the people under the dominion of one-tenth, who may be abject enough to swear allegiance to his usurpation, thus betraying his design to subvert true constitutional republicanism in the North as well as the South. [Sidenote: The separation originally just, vindicated by the subsequent policy of Mr. Lineoln.] 6th. That while we regard the present war between these Confederate States and the United States as a huge crime, whose beginning and continuance are justly chargeable to the government of our enemy, yet we do not hesitate to affirm that, if our own government, and the people of both governments, would avoid all participation in the guilt of its continuance, it becomes all of them, on all proper occasions, and in all proper ways – the people acting through their State organizations and popular assemblies, and our government through its appropriate departments – to use their earnest efforts to put an end to this unnatural, unchristian and savage work of carnage and havoc. And to this end, we earnestly recommend that our government, immediately after signal successes of our arms, and on other occasions, when none can impute its action to alarm, instead of a sincere desire for peace, shall make to the government of our enemy, an official offer of peace, on the basis of the great principle declared by our common fathers in 1776, accompanied by the distinct expression of a willingness, on our part, to follow that principle to its true logical consequences, by agreeing that any border State, whose preference for our association may be doubted, (doubts having been expressed as to the wishes of the border States) shall settle the question for herself, by a Convention, to be elected for that purpose, after the withdrawal of all military forces, of both sides, from her limits. [Sidenote: An honorable close of the war highly desirable.] [Sidenote: After signal success of our arms, and on all appropriate occagions, terms of peace should be officially tendered the enemy on the great principles of 1776, and in pursuance of it, the border States allowed to make free choice of future association.] 7th. That we believe this course, on the part of our government, would constantly weaken, and sooner or later, break down the war power of our enemy, by showing to his people the justice of our cause, our willingness to make peace on the principles of 1776, and the shoulders on which rests the responsibility for the continuance of the unnatural strife; that it would be hailed by our people and citizen soldiery, who are bearing the brunt of the war, as an assurance that peace will not be unnecessarily delayed, nor their sufferings unnecessarily prolonged; and that it would be regretted by nobody on either side, except men whose importance, or whose gains, would be diminished by peace and men whose ambitious designs would need cover under the ever-recurring [Illegible Text] of the necessities of war. [Sidenote: Reasons of policy for this course.] 8th. That while the foregoing is an expression of the sentiments of this General Assembly respecting the manner in which peace should be sought, we renew our pledges of the resources and power of this State to the prosecution of the war, defensive on our part, until peace is obtained upon just and honorable terms, and until the independence and nationality of the Confederate States is established upon a permanent and enduring basis. [Sidenote: In meantime, all the resources of the State pledged to the prosecution of the war.] Approval Date: Approved March 19th, 1864.