True to the time, 21-year old Miss Sallie Wiley gave a resounding speech to embolden local young men, her peers, of the Lamar Rifles. She shows a truly articulate speech calling on strong arms and uncoiled hearts before the town of Oxford, Mississippi on March 9, 1861. On that day, Miss Wiley presented a flag to the Lamar Rifles on behalf of the women of Oxford. Parham was likely present among the ranks listening to the speech. North and South entered into war a little more than one month later on April 12, 1861 when Confederate artillery opened fire upon the Union occupation of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
Captain Green and Volunteers of Lamar Rifles: I have been deputed by the ladies of Oxford and vicinity, to deliver to you the flag which I hold in my hand. Before doing so, however, it is expected that I should say a word. In the progress of every nation there are times of security and quietness, and times of difficulty and danger. In times of peace the minds of men become engaged with their business relations. The pursuit of gain so absorbs the mind that it excludes all other ideas and makes it difficult to introducing people to desist from the objects of their aims. These pursuits tend to effeminacy and tend to destroy that lively sensibility to their rights which characterize proud and independent freemen. The glory of a people depends upon their watchfulness and readiness to maintain the integrity of their rights and the full possession of the liberty which has been secured to them. Encroachment must be resisted. If we sleep upon our posts, it is certain we will be betrayed. Our country has reached that period in her history when our safety is in danger and our honor is compromised. To submit not only dishonors us in the esteem of all true and patriotic men, but it is convincing proof that the spirit of liberty which inspired the fathers of the Revolution, has passed from our midst. Our noble State, looking the danger full in the face, has resolved that she will submit to no inequality of, or denial of her rights. And by your volunteering to bear her flag against all opposers, you have shown your determination to uphold her in her lawful stand. She believes she has a right to maintain her honor and equality without the resort to force. But it may be otherwise. It may be that fanaticism, bloated with ambition and maddened with the possession of power, may attempt to invade our land and lay waste our fields, in order to constrain us to submit to degradation. When that hour comes, if come it should, we rely upon your strong arms and uncoiling hearts to defend our rights, protect the mothers, shield the honor of the maidens of the land, and give security and peace to our firesides. When you yield, our cause is hopeless.
It is on this account we feel so much interest in your organization, and we desire to present to you this memorial of our confidence and our approval. We hope you will accept it and bear it with you on the tedious march, the tented field, and in the hour of danger. As you gaze upon it you must remember that our eyes are upon you. We will sympathize with you in your labors and discomfitures, and rejoice in your triumphs. But we have no misgivings, no apprehensions that it’s honor will ever be tarnished. Whenever and wherever its folds are unfurled, we feel assured your stout hearts will rally to the rescue and we shall be safe. There is one consideration, however, which gives us pain. Those whom you expect to meet as foes ought to be our friends. Instead of trespassing upon our rights, they should be among the foremost in their defense. Ten thousand recollections of the past should impel them to throw their shields over our rights, and to draw their swords in defense of our honor and their equality. But we fear that patriotism has abandoned their bosoms, and mad ambition spurs them on to our subjugation. If it must be so, let the trial come; our brothers will prove sufficient for the protection of ourselves and our country.
As man cannot love and cherish woman bereft of honor, so one cannot reverence and honor man devoid of courage. We commit the flag into your hands. It is an emblem of the independence of Mississippi, and that proud position of our State must be maintained at any cost or sacrifice. We rely upon you to do it.