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In Their Own Words

January 17, 1861

Alexander Stephens Speech Opposing Secession at Secession Convention

Alexander Stephens delivered a speech against secession at the convention (the precise date of the speech is not given). In his introduction he uttered what turned out to be some prophetic statements about the consequences of secession.

This step, once taken, can never be recalled; and all the baleful and withering consequences that must follow, will rest on the Convention for all coming time. When we and our posterity shall see our lovely South desolated by the demon of war which this act of yours will inevitably invite and call forth; when our green fields of waving harvests shall be trodden down by the murderous soldiery and fiery car of war sweeping over our land; our temples of justice laid in ashes; all the horrors and desolations of war upon us - who but this Convention shall be held responsible for it? and who but whom who shall have given his vote for this unwise and ill-timed measure (as I honestly think and believe) shall be held to strict account for this suicidal act, by the present generation, and probably curse and execrated by posterity for all coming time, for the wide and desolating ruin that will inevitably follow this act you now propose to perpetrate? …

Read more of the speech here.