Quotes About The South

“There was a land of Cavaliers and Cotton Fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind.”
Prologue – Gone With The Wind

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles. ”
Robert E. Lee

“There are things in the old Book which I may not be able to explain, but I fully accept it as the infallible word of God, and receive its teachings as inspired by the Holy Spirit.”
Robert E. Lee

“Let us go home and cultivate our virtues.”
Robert E. Lee, addressing his soldiers at Appomattox

“[T]he contest is really for empire on the side of the North, and for independence on that of the South, and in this respect we recognize an exact analogy between the North and the Government of George III, and the South and the Thirteen Revolted Provinces. These opinions…are the general opinions of the English nation.”
London Times, November 7, 1861

“Our country demands all our strength, all our energies. To resist the powerful combination now forming against us will require every man at his place. If victorious, we will have everything to hope for in the future. If defeated, nothing will be left for us to live for.”
Robert E. Lee

“The principle for which we contend is bound to reassert it’s self, though it may be at another time and in another form.”
President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A.

“Nothing fills me with deeper sadness than to see a Southern man apologizing for the defense we made of our inheritance. Our cause was so just, so sacred, that had I known all that has come to pass, had I known what was to be inflicted upon me, all that my country was to suffer, all that our posterity was to endure, I would do it all over again.”
President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A.

“…the contest is not over, the strife is not ended. It has only entered upon a new and enlarged arena.”
President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A. 1

“We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honour and independence; we ask no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms.”
President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A. – 29 April 1861

“It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I’m readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I’ll, in turn, do my best for the Cause by writing editorials – after the fact.”
Robert E. Lee, 1863

“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less.”
Robert E. Lee

“All that the South has ever desired was that the Union as established by our forefathers should be preserved and that the government as originally organized should be administered in purity and truth.”
Robert E. Lee

“We could have pursued no other course without dishonour; and as sad as the results have been, if it had all to be done over again, we should be compelled to act in precisely the same manner.”
Robert E. Lee

“I am nothing but a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.”
Robert E. Lee

Definition of a Gentleman – “The forbearing use of power does not only form a touchstone, but the manner in which an individual enjoys certain advantages over others is a test of a true gentleman. The power which the strong have over the weak, the employer over the employed, the educated over the unlettered, the experienced over the confiding, even the clever over the silly — the forbearing or inoffensive use of all this power or authority, or a total abstinence from it when the case admits it, will show the gentleman in a plain light. The gentleman does not needlessly and unnecessarily remind an offender of a wrong he may have committed against him. He cannot only forgive, he can forget; and he strives for that nobleness of self and mildness of character which impart sufficient strength to let the past be but the past. A true man of honor feels humbled himself when he cannot help humbling others.”
Robert E. Lee

“Every man should endeavor to understand the meaning of subjugation before it is too late… It means the history of this heroic struggle will be written by the enemy; that our youth will be trained by Northern schoolteachers; will learn from Northern school books their version of the war; will be impressed by the influences of history and education to regard our gallant dead as traitors, and our maimed veterans as fit objects for derision… It is said slavery is all we are fighting for, and if we give it up we give up all. Even if this were true, which we deny, slavery is not all our enemies are fighting for. It is merely the pretense to establish sectional superiority and a more centralized form of government, and to deprive us of our rights and liberties.”
Maj. General Patrick R. Cleburne, CSA, January 1864

“Sirs, you have no reason to be ashamed of your Confederate dead; see to it they have no reason to be ashamed of you.”
Robert Lewis Dabney, Chaplain for Stonewall Jackson

“If you bring these [Confederate] leaders to trial it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution secession is not rebellion. Lincoln wanted Davis to escape, and he was right. His capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one.”
Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase 2

“Governor, if I had foreseen the use those people designed to make of their victory, there would have been no surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; no sir, not by me. Had I foreseen these results of subjugation, I would have preferred to die at Appomattox with my brave men, my sword in this right hand.”
General Robert E. Lee 3

“The Union government liberates the enemy’s slaves as it would the enemy’s cattle, simply to weaken them in the conflict. The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.”
London Spectator in reference to the Emancipation Proclamation

“The Northern onslaught upon slavery was no more than a piece of specious humbug designed to conceal its desire for economic control of the Southern states.”
Charles Dickens, 1862

“It is stated in books and papers that Southern children read and study that all the blood shedding and destruction of property of that conflict was because the South rebelled without cause against the best government the world ever saw; that although Southern soldiers were heroes in the field, skillfully massed and led, they and their leaders were rebels and traitors who fought to overthrow the Union, and to preserve human slavery, and that their defeat was necessary for free government and the welfare of the human family. As a Confederate soldier and as a citizen of Virginia, I deny the charge, and denounce it as a calumny. We were not rebels; we did not fight to perpetuate human slavery, but for our rights and privileges under a government established over us by our fathers and in defense of our homes.”
Colonel Richard Henry Lee, C.S.A.

“Let danger never turn you aside from the pursuit of honor or the service to your country … Know that death is inevitable and the fame of virtue is immortal”
Robert E. Lee

“The Slave must be made fit for his freedom by education and discipline, and thus made unfit for slavery. And as soon as he becomes unfit for slavery, the master will no longer desire to hold him as a slave.”
President Jefferson Davis, C.S.A.

“You have no right to ask, or expect that she will at once profess unbounded love to that Union from which for four years she tried to escape at the cost of her best blood and all her treasure. Nor can you believe her to be so unutterably hypocritical, so base, as to declare that the flag of the Union has already surpassed in her heart the place which has so long been sacred to the ‘Southern Cross.’ ”
General Wade Hampton

“I loved the old government in 1861. I loved the old Constitution yet. I think it is the best government in the world, if administered as it was before the war. I do not hate it; I am opposing now only the radical revolutionists who are trying to destroy it. I believe that party to be composed, as I know it is in Tennessee, of the worst men on Gods earth – men who would not hesitate at no crime, and who have only one object in view – to enrich themselves.”
Nathan Bedford Forrest 4

“Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”
Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson

“Our poor country has fallen a prey to the conqueror. The noblest cause ever defended by the sword is lost. The noble dead that sleep in their shallow though honored graves are far more fortunate than their survivors. I thought I had sounded the profoundest depth of human feeling, but this is the bitterest hour of my life.”
Colonel John Singleton Mosby

“As for the South, it is enough to say that perhaps eighty per cent. of her armies were neither slave-holders, nor had the remotest interest in the institution. No other proof, however, is needed than the undeniable fact that at any period of the war from its beginning to near its close the South could have saved slavery by simply laying down its arms and returning to the Union.”
Major General John B. Gordon 5

“The flags of the Confederate States of America were very important and a matter of great pride to those citizens living in the Confederacy. They are also a matter of great pride for their descendants as part of their heritage and history.”
Winston Churchill

“I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender.”
William Mack Lee (Robert E. Lee’s black servant)

“Any society which suppresses the heritage of its conquered minorities, prevents their history or denies them their symbols, has sown the seeds of their own destruction.”
Sir William Wallace, 1281

“His noble presence and gentle, kindly manner were sustained by religious faith and an exalted character.”
Winston Churchill on the character of Robert E. Lee

“He possessed every virtue of other great commanders without their vices. He was a foe without hate; a friend without treachery; a victor without oppression, and a victim without murmuring. He was a public officer without vices; a private citizen without reproach; a Christian without hypocrisy and a man without guile. He was a Caesar without his ambition; Frederick without his tyranny; Napoleon without his selfishness, and Washington without his reward. He was obedient to authority as a servant, and loyal in authority as a true king. He was gentle as a woman in life; modest and pure as a virgin in thought; watchful as a Roman vital in duty; submissive to law as Socrates, and grand in battle as Achilles!”
War-era Georgia Senator Ben Hill’s tribute to Robert E. Lee

“They (the South) know that it is their import trade that draws from the peoples pockets sixty or seventy millions of dollars per annum, in the shape of duties, to be expended mainly in the North, and in the protection and encouragement of Northern interest. These are the reasons why these people do not wish the South to secede from the union”.
New Orleans Daily Crescent-1861

“The Southern Confederacy will not employ our ships or buy our goods. What is our shipping without it? Literally nothing… it is very clear that the South gains by this process and we lose. No…we must not let the South go”.
Union Democrat Manchester 6

“The cause of the South was the cause of constitutional government, the cause of government regulated by law, and the cause of honesty and fidelity in public servants. No nobler cause did man ever fight for!”
Rep. Benjamin Franklin 7

“Instead of friends, I see in Washington only mortal enemies. Instead of loving the old flag of the stars and stripes, I see in it only the symbol of murder, plunder, oppression, and shame.”
Rose O’Neal Greenhow, Confederate Spy

“To me, the campaign by certain groups to remove all the symbols and memorials to our Southern past amounts to the same thing…a desecration of graves. Every flag or monument that is removed, every plaque taken down, every school or street or bridge that is renamed, is no different from a broken tombstone. It is wanton and hateful violence directed at the dead who can no longer defend themselves.”
John Field Pankow

“The real issue involved in the relations between the North and the South of the American States, is the great principle of self-government. Shall a dominant party of the North rule the South, or shall the people of the South rule themselves. This is the great matter in controversy.”
Robert Barnwell Rhett 8

“To tar the sacrifices of the Confederate soldier as simple acts of racism, and reduce the battle flag under which he fought to nothing more than the symbol of a racist heritage, is one of the great blasphemies of our modern age”.
James Webb-Secretary of Navy And Assistant Secretary of Defense under U.S. President Ronald Regan and current U.S. Senator (D.VA.) 9

“…We must forevermore do honor to our heroic dead. We must forevermore cherish the sacred memories of those four terrible but glorious years of unequal strife. We must forevermore consecrate in our hearts our old battle flag of the Southern Cross – not now as a political symbol, but as the consecrated emblem of an heroic epoch. The people that forgets its heroic dead is already dying at the heart, and we believe we shall be truer and better citizens of the United States if we are true to our past.”
Confederate Veteran Rev. Randolph Harrison McKim

“Had the cotton gin of Massachusetts inventor Eli Whitney not come on the scene in the late 1700’s, African slavery in this country was most likely doomed. The antislavery and emancipation feeling in the South was ascendant, but thwarted by profitable slave-trading and hungry cotton mills in New England which gave rise to more plantations in the South, and the perpetuation of slavery. And after years of treating the American South as an agricultural colony, New England set out in 1861 to strip it of political power.”
Bernhard Thuersam 10

“I love the Union and the Constitution, but I would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in the Union without it.”
Confederate President Jefferson Davis

“I tried all in my power to avert this war. I saw it coming, for twelve years I worked night and day to prevent it, but I could not. The North was mad and blind; it would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came, and now it must go on unless you acknowledge our right to self government. We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence.”
President Jefferson Davis, CSA

“When the South raised its sword against the Union’s Flag, it was in defense of the Union’s Constitution.”
Confederate General John B. Gordon

“Any people, anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world”.
Abraham Lincoln 11

A little over 10 years later after the South attempted precisely that, Lincoln, when asked, “Why not let the South go in peace”? replied; “I can’t let them go. Who would pay for the government”? “And, what then will become of my tariff”?
Abraham Lincoln 12

“The universal practice of carrying arms in the South is undoubtedly the cause of occasional loss of life, and is much to be regretted. On the other hand, this custom renders altercations and quarrels of very rare occurrence, for people are naturally careful what they say when a bullet may be the probable result.”
LtC Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle 13

“Breathe there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said,
This is my own, my native land!”
Sir Walter Scott

“The consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor of that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that have preceded it.”
Robert E. Lee 14

“Everyone should do all in his power to collect and disseminate the truth, in the hope that it may find a place in history and descend to posterity. History is not the relation of campaigns and battles and generals or other individuals, but that which shows the principles for which the South contended and which justified her struggle for those principles.”
Robert E. Lee

“It was necessary to put the South at a moral disadvantage by transforming the contest from a war waged against states fighting for their indepdence into a war waged against states fighting for the maintenance and extension of slavery…and the world, it might be hoped, would see it as a moral war, not a political; and the sympathy of nations would begin to run for the North, not for the South.”
Woodrow Wilson 15

“If they (the North) prevail, the whole character of the Government will be changed, and instead of a federal republic, the common agent of sovereign and independent States, we shall have a central despotism, with the notion of States forever abolished, deriving its powers from the will, and shaping its policy according to the wishes, of a numerical majority of the people; we shall have, in other words, a supreme, irresponsible democracy. The Government does not now recognize itself as an ordinance of God, and when all the checks and balances of the Constitution are gone, we may easily figure to ourselves the career and the destiny of this godless monster of democratic absolutism. The progress of regulated liberty on this continent will be arrested, anarchy will soon succeed, and the end will be a military despotism, which preserves order by the sacrifice of the last vestige of liberty.

They are now fighting the battle of despotism. They have put their Constitution under their feet; they have annulled its most sacred provisions; The future fortunes of our children, and of this continent, would then be determined by a tyranny which has no parallel in history.”
Dr. James Henly Thornwell of South Carolina 16

“Why doesn’t the Confederacy just fade away? Is it because we are irresistibly fascinated by catastrophic loss? Or is it something else? Is it because the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history?”
Professor David Blight

“If an abundance of those things which a people considers the goods and the riches of the earth defines wealth, then it follows that that particular culture is wealthy in proportion to the production and distribution of just those things and no others; and it does not depend upon what another people may consider the goods and riches, no matter how greatly those things have multiplied for them, nor how many individuals they have to possess them. What industrialism counts as the goods and riches of the earth the agrarian South does not, nor ever will.”
Andrew Nelson Lytle

“Uppermost in our minds was our feeling of intense disgust with the spiritual disorder of modern life —its destruction of human integrity and its lack of purpose; and, with this, we had a decided sense of impending fatality. We wanted a life which through its own conditions and purposefulness would engender naturally (rather than by artificial stimulation), order, leisure, character, stability, and that would also, in a larger sense, be aesthetically enjoyable.”
Donald Davidson, The Southern Agrarians, 1935


Please refer to the Challenges to Quotes page regarding the authenticity of some of these quotes.


Notes:

  1. Address to the Mississippi legislature in 1881
  2. July 1867, Foote, The Civil War, Vol. 3, p. 765
  3. August 1870 to Governor Stockdale of Texas
  4. in an interview shortly after the war
  5. From the book, Causes of the Civil War by Major General John B. Gordon.
  6. New Hampshire. 19 February, 1861
  7. Grady-Duplin Co. NC 1899
  8. Montgomery, Alabama, 1860
  9. Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, New York: Broadway Books, 2004, p. 225
  10. Director Cape Fear Historical Institute NC
  11. U.S. Congress, 1847
  12. Address to Virginia Compromise Delegation March 1861
  13. HM Coldstream Guards, 24 May 1863
  14. In a letter to Lord Acton dated December 15, 1866 source; some sources have a date of 1896
  15. “A History of The American People”, page 231
  16. in Our Danger and our Duty, 1862