On February 4, 1861, former president John Tyler met with representatives of the border states and several Northern states at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, for a last-ditch attempt at a reconciliation, even as the seceded states were meeting in Montgomery to form a Confederacy. Tyler was promptly elected to preside over the convention, and he made some opening remarks, including this statement of its goals.
Our godlike fathers created — we have to preserve. They built up, through their wisdom and patriotism, monuments which have eternalized their names. You have before you, gentlemen, a task equally grand, equally sublime, quite as full of glory and immortality. You have to snatch from ruin a great and glorious Confederation, to preserve the Government, and to renew and invigorate the Constitution. If you reach the height of this great occasion, your children’s children will rise up and call you blessed. I confess myself ambitious of haring in the glory of accomplishing this grand and magnificent result. To have our names enrolled in the Capitol, to be repeated by future generations with grateful applause, this is an honor higher than the mountains — more enduring than monumental alabaster.
More in the New York Times.