Stephens Cornerstone Speech

StephensCornerstone Speech

Stephenscontends that the Confederacy’s cornerstone is the need for thecontinued existence of African slavery since that was the appropriatesocial position for the blacks (3). The revolution that the leaguestarted came about as a result of the need to address issues that thesome of the institutions in the Union challenged. These problems,particularly, revolved on the existence of the African slavery, aswell as the status of the black people. The Confederacy also assumedthat for the slavery to continue, people had to abandon the idea thatdifferent races were equal (Stephens 3). Stephen affirms that thewhites belong to the superior race and that the black people couldnot have a similar status to them (Stephens 3). The Confederacy’sfoundation was also laid on the idea that it was acceptable to rankslaves at a lower social class than the whites (Stephens 3).

Stephen’smain argument is that the Confederacy could no longer be part of theUnion because the new constitution did not consider the races equal.The new charter sought to offer a solution to the issues thataffected those that did not want the government to abolish slavery.As Stephens argues about the inequality of races, he makes severalassumptions about blacks and whites. He asserts that white peoplebelong to the superior race and those who are black rank lower thanthey are on the social ladder (3). He also backs this justificationby indicating that it was natural for slaves to be inferior to whitepeople. Besides, he maintains that the rights and privileges affordedto whites cannot be the same as those that black people ought toreceive (3).

Stephenssupports his arguments by pointing out the adverse effects ofabolishing slavery and the manner in which the new government andconstitution would offer solutions to this issue. The revolution thatoccurred was also the result of speculations that the Union was aboutto abolish slavery (Stephens 3). He appears to persuade the people ofthe Southern states to accept the new constitution since it addressedissues regarding the equality of races and enabled them to continuewith slavery. Moreover, he appeals to the administration of the U.S.and, specifically, the Republican Party, as he encourages members ofthe Confederacy to fight for their rights in a peaceful way. Eventhough the Union was moving towards the abolishment of slavery, itstill enjoyed the benefits of captives’ labor (Stephens 4).

Forthe people that had a different view on the issue of slavery,Stephens summarizes their argument by indicating that they weretrying to make the races equal, although God had made them imbalanced(3). According to Stephens, the assumption made by Jefferson andother leading politicians regarding the moral and social evils thatresulted from slavery was wrong (3). Black people could be entitledto similar privileges and rights as the white man if God made the tworaces identical, this was where those with a differing view wentwrong (Stephens 3).

Nast’scartoon illustrates the different ways that people regarded Lincolnin the North, as well as the South. In this cartoon, he appears to bedressed in armor, as he tramples on the Southern states afterattacking them (Nast). It is apparent that the South did not receiveLincoln’s inaugural positively since they knew that his leadershipof the Union would threaten their way of life. An interesting featureabout Nast’s cartoon is that the caricature that represents theSouth holds a gun and a whip, and Lincoln appears to be pointing atthe scourge. Assuming that the whip represents slavery, the Southperceived Lincoln as a leader that would interfere with the politicalliberties of the whites.

Mostof the people that lived in the newly formed Confederate States wouldbe hostile towards Lincoln. The populations that would have the mostopposition toward Lincoln include those that felt that abolishingslavery would adversely affect their way of life. These individualsdid not consider slavery socially and morally wrong since theyperceived the slaves not to be equal to the whites (Stephens 3).Since the Confederate States knew that Lincoln would fight slaveryand put an end to it, they had to find ways to get out of the Unionand conduct their affairs as a separate government. The Southernpopulations also felt that it was wrong for the Union to benefit fromthe revenue obtained from the slave labor, yet they sought to abolishthe oppressive practice.

Stephensand Nast display different levels of sensitivity and tolerance indealing with the African Americans and women. A similar case appliesto the Northerners and Southerners. Stephens does not exhibitsensitivity in dealing with the African Americans, and his speechillustrates that he does not consider the blacks to have a similarsocial status with the whites. However, Nast shows that theNortherners were tolerant of the African Americans, and this was thereason that they positively received President Lincoln’s election.Stephens did not consider women to have the ability to make a fortuneon their own, considering that he equates the Confederacy to a youngman. However, Nast finds women to be symbols of peace as he portraysLincoln as a female in the caricature that illustrates his receptionin the North.


Nast,Thomas. PresidentLincoln’s Inaugural.March 23, 1861. Print.

Stephens,Alexander. “CornerstoneSpeech.”March 21, 1861. Savannah, Georgia. Web. Accessed September 28, 2016.