Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens delivered his famous extemporaneous Cornerstone Speech today in 1861 at Savannah, Georgia in which he defended slavery as the natural condition of blacks and the foundation of the Confederacy. Now WE know em

Alexander Stephens

Alexander Stephens

The Confederate States of America was established February 4, 1861.

On February 18, 1861, the Confederate Congress elected Jefferson Davis as President of the Confederate States of America and Alexander Stephens as Vice President.

President Abraham Lincoln took his oath of office on March 4, 1861.

The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted on March 11, 1861.

Then on March 21, 1861, Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens gave an extemporaneous speech at the Athenaeum in Savannah, Georgia that became famous.

His speech is known as the Cornerstone Speech, or the Cornerstone Address.

In it, Alexander Stephens declared that slavery was the natural condition of blacks and the foundation of the Confederacy.

On that day in March of 1861, he declared, “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

With the speech, Stephens defended slavery, laid out the Confederate causes for the immanent American Civil War, and tried to explain what the fundamental differences were between the constitutions of the Confederacy and of the Union Federalists with this assertion:

 Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.

Stephens went on to declare that:

The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.

. . . look with confidence to the ultimate universal acknowledgement of the truths upon which our system rests? It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws.

Finally, Alexander Stephens predicted that his new nation would succeed or fail based on the character of its constituent body politic.

Hostilities between the two sides finally launched the American Civil War when Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered the attack on Fort Sumter which began on April 12, 1862.

Now WE know em

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