Wednesday, October 17, 2007

October 17, 1978:

Citizenship Restored to Jefferson Davis

On this day in 1978, President Carter signed a joint resolution of Congress restoring U.S. citizenship to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America.

According to the United Daughters of the Confederacy: "Some 11 years after the war, a universal amnesty bill was pending in Congress. A Senator from Maine rose at the last minute to offer an amendment reading: '...with the exception of Jefferson Davis.' A storm of protest arose, but the amendment passed and Jefferson Davis alone remained a non-citizen.

"Many people urged Davis to apply for a pardon, so that the Mississippi legislature could elect him United States senator, but Davis would not apply, and he avoided politics. The Mississippi legislature, on March 10, 1884, in a joint meeting of both houses, honored Davis, who spoke to that body: 'It has been said that I should apply to the United States for a pardon, but repentance must precede the right of pardon, and I have not repented. Remembering, as I must, all which has been suffered, all which has been lost, disappointed hopes and crushed aspirations, yet I deliberately say, if I were to do it all over again, I would again do just as I did in 1861.'

" '...Our people have accepted the decree. It therefore behooves them to promote the general welfare of the Union, to show the world that hereafter, as heretofore, the patriotism of our people is not measured by lines of latitude and longitude, but is as broad as the obligations they have assumed and embraces the whole of our ocean-bound domain.' He always spoke of the fact that the United States was now one country and on the theme of reconciliation.

"In 1887, following a speech in Georgia, Davis became seriously ill. When he recovered, he considered his days of public speaking over. But a convention of young men was held in March of 1889 at Mississippi City, only six miles from Beauvoir, and a delegation asked him to address them. He began his remarks with:'Friends and fellow citizens,' but he stopped and said: 'Ah, pardon me, the laws of the United States no longer permit me to designate you as fellow citizens, but I am thankful that I may address you as friends. I feel no regret that I stand before you a man without a country, for my ambition lies buried in the grave of the Confederacy.'

"He continued with these memorable words for his young audience: 'The faces I see before me are those of young men; had I not known this I would not have appeared before you. Men in whose hands the destinies of our Southland lie, for love of her I break my silence, to speak to you a few words of respectful admonition. The past is dead; let it bury its dead, its hopes and aspirations. Before you lies the future - a future full of golden promise; a future expanding national glory, before which all the world shall stand amazed. Let me beseech you to lay aside all rancor, all bitter sectional feeling, and to take your places in the ranks of those who will bring about a consummation devoutly to be wished - a reunited country.' "


Anonymous said...

The Confederacy was motivated by a desire to restrict government to the rule of the Constitution. The Southern States had despaired of getting the United States to adhere to its own Constitution, so they intended to secede and form their own union, just as the thirteen original States had done in seceding from England.
The Confederates had no desire to overthrow the government of the United States, any more than the United States had desired to overthrow king George and Parliament. They simply wished to go their own way: self-determination, which doctrine the United States still claims to support.
Davis had not repented of the desire to restore the Constitution and to adhere to it in fact, not merely in sanctimonious wordage. Should any American?

Anonymous said...

The 13th amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery.

Anonymous said...

Slavery was never authorized by the Constitution except as punishment for crime duly convicted. However, slavery was acknowledged by taxing importation of slaves, and by providing that slavery could not be abolished before January 1, 1808, which it was.