Our present condition, achieved in a manner unprecedented in the history of nations, illustrates the American idea that governments rest upon the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish governments whenever they become destructive to the ends for which they were established. The declared compact of the Union from which we have withdrawn was to establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; and, when, in the judgment of the sovereign states now composing the Confederacy, it has been perverted from the purposes for which it was ordained and ceased to answer the ends for which it was established, a peaceful appeal to the ballot box declared that, so far as they are concerned, the government created by that compact should cease to exist.
In this they merely asserted the right which the Declaration of Independence of 1776 defined to be "inalienable." Of the time and occasion of its exercise, they, as sovereigns, were the final judges, each for itself. The impartial, enlightened verdict of mankind will vindicate the rectitude of our conduct; and He who knows the hearts of men will judge the sincerity with which we labored to preserve the government of our fathers in its spirit.
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