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This Day in Georgia Civil War History

December 13, 1860

Eugenius A. Nisbet Speech Supporting Secession

The Weekly Georgia Telegraph from Macon published a summary of a speech by Eugenius A. Nisbet; Nisbet was one of the first three Georgia Supreme Court Justices, and he would be a delegate to the secession convention - where he would formally introduce the Ordinance of Secession. Not surprisingly, the speech was in favor of secession, although Nisbet had not always felt that way. Excerpts from the summary follow:

…Those who have known anything of my opinions, touching our relations to the Federal Government, for a number of years, know that I have been a decided conservative. The events of a few months have constrained me to adopt views which heretofore I have not entertained. It is due to myself to declare therein, and the reasons for their adoption. … Grievous as our wrongs have been, I could not believe that they justified a disruption of the Union whilst Southern councils controlled the action of the Government. Up to the day of Mr. Lincoln’s election, the South ruled at Washington. Our friends were in power. … I was then content to fight under the Constitution and the rampart of federal power. The election of Mr. Lincoln made a new phrase in our relations to the antislavery party. It has come in like a flood and swept away the bulwark that had stayed its desolating progress - it has seized the Government. That is a defence for them, which I am satisfied we can never scale in the Union. Our mode and measure of redress is for Georgia to resume her sovereignty - peaceably if she may, forcibly if she must; and in concert with her sister slave States, to organize a Southern Confederacy. I have not arrived at this conclusion without studious thought, and painful anxiety. Revolutions are not things to be sported with as a holiday bauble. I know what we yield, and I know what we risk. A brave man and a wise man will count the cost, but there comes a time in the history of men and of States when they are compelled to choose between the evil of submission to wrong and a vigorous assertion of right. In my judgment we have reached that point in our national history. …