The Great Union Speech of Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Southern Confederacy. Alexander H. Stephens, falsely ascribed.
The Great Union Speech of Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Southern Confederacy.

The Great Union Speech of Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Southern Confederacy.

New York: P. W. Derham, Printer and Stationer, 15 Nassau Street, [1864]. Broadside, 48 x 28 cm.

An interesting broadside issued by Northern supporters of Abraham Lincoln prior to the election of 1864, containing an essentially forged speech by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens, in which the purported author objects to Southern secession and foretells the calamity that would follow.

Addressed to “Peace-and-Secession” Democrats, this pro-Lincoln campaign broadside contains extracts from a speech supposedly delivered by Stephens at an unidentified convention in Georgia prior to Secession. Stephens biographers R. M. Johnston and W. H. Brown note that the ‘reproduced’ speech “purport[s] to have been made by him” and was “extensively circulated in the North in 1864,” arguing that “[it is] a mere forgery, contrived in that section for political purposes” (Johnston and Brown. Life of Alexander H. Stephens (1878), p. 383). Hummel concurs, describing it as a “forged speech for the political campaign” (R. O. Hummel. Southeastern Broadsides, #542). While Stephens was indeed opposed to secession, it is unclear to what extent—if at all—this forged text is based upon any speeches he actually gave.

The fictional Stephens here argues—as he has “often done before”—that America’s government is the “best and freest” and can accommodate for the South’s interests:

Now, for you to attempt to overthrow such a Government as this, under which we have lived for more than three-quarters of a century—in which we have gained our wealth, our standing as a nation, our domestic safety while the elements of peril are around us, with peace and tranquility, accompanied with unbounded prosperity and rights unassailed—is the height of madness, folly and wickedness, to which I can neither lend my sanction nor my vote.

“Stephens” further argues that secession is a “suicidal act” by which the present generation will be “probably cursed and execrated by posterity for all coming time.” He queries: “What right has the North assailed? What interest of the South has been invaded? Can either of you to-day name one governmental act of wrong deliberately and purposely done by the Government of Washington of which the South has a right to complain?” Claiming not to be an advocate of the North, he asserts he is a “firm friend and lover of the South and her institutions.”

A fascinating piece of Civil War era political propaganda.

REFERENCES: Brown, W.H., and R.M. Johnston. Life of Alexander H. Stephens (1878), p. 383; Hummel, Ray Orvin. Southeastern Broadsides Before 1877, 542.

CONDITION: Good, some light chipping and a few tiny punctures along upper margin and corners, a handful of letters weekly printed or absent.

Item #5359

Price: $1,600.00

See all items in Broadsides & Ephemera