Patriotism and Fraternity.
The true significance and meaning of memorial day, whether in honor of those who followed Lee or in honor of those who followed Grant. Memorial day in North Carolina. An address by R. D. W. Connor:
“On this memorial day, dear to our hearts for the memories it brings, the gallant spirits of Federal and Confederate, who so freely gave of their best blood in the service of their country, call to us to give as freely of ourselves to our great reunited Nation, and in the service of that Nation to think the highest that is in us to think, to do the best that is in us to do, and to be the noblest that is in us to be.”SPEECH OF HON. JOHN H. SMALL, OF NORTH CAROLINA, In the House of Representatives, Thursday, May 23, 1912.
The House being in committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and having under consideration the bill (H. R. 24565) making appropriations for the naval service for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1913, and for other purposes—
Mr. SMALL said:
Mr. Chairman: In my home State of North Carolina the 10th day of May in each year is set apart as a memorial day, on which the men and women gather in their respective communities to do honor to the living ex-Confederate veterans and to recall the virtues and the heroism of those who gave up their lives in the great Civil War. It is a day which evokes tender and grateful memories of that fratricidal strife, and for the larger number of those who participate the event is only a matter of history. We of the South find nothing inconsistent or unpatriotic in preserving the memory and recalling the courage and virtues of the men who wore the gray. To those of us who have no personal recollection of that great war we feel that we would be unworthy sons of those brave men if we forgot their virtues or ceased to be proud of the record which they made in a cause which they believed to be right. For all time to come their deeds and their achievements as men will make a bright page in history and add distinction to our country.
No brave soldier who followed Grant will deny this privilege or disparage the courage and manhood of his former foes. We are all American citizens, and as we of the South honor the brave men who fought to preserve the Union, so will all good men upon the other side and their descendants continue to honor the brave men who followed Lee and Jackson.
I was at my home in the town of Washington, N. C., on the 10th day of May this year and participated in the memorial exercises. The Daughters of the Confederacy joined with the veterans and the citizens in this sweet memorial. Under a bright sun, with a gentle breeze, the old and decrepit veterans marched with stirring music and accompanied by citizens and children. The exercises were held in the auditorium of the public-school building, where, as a part of the program, an address
was delivered by Mr. R. D. W. Connor, of Raleigh, N. C. Mr. Connor is a young man of only 33 years, but he has accomplished much. He is the secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission, secretary of the State Teachers’ Assembly, and president of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association. He is a student and writer upon historical subjects and has contributed much toward preserving the history of the State and the country. His address was couched in such chaste language, was so replete with historical facts, and, withal, was so appropriate and patriotic that I resolved, after its delivery, to request a copy of the address with a view of asking the leave of the House to publish the same in the Record. It was an address which might have been delivered before any Grand Army post or before any audience in any State of the Union, regardless of their attitude or the attitude of their ancestors in that great conflict. Like myself, Mr. Connor belongs to the new generation who did not participate in the Civil War. The people of my State are proud of the Republic, loyal to the Constitution and the Union of the States, and have no higher ideal than the preservation of that Union for all time to come. If this speech could be read by the people of every section, I believe it would contribute to cementing the ties which should bind us in one common patriotic purpose to preserve our Government, to perpetuate its institutions, and to maintain fraternity among all sections. If I am permitted to insert this speech in the Record, it is my purpose to distribute it as far as possible in other sections, and particularly among the veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic.
I therefore ask leave, Mr. Chairman, to append as a part of my remarks the address of Mr. R. D. W. Conner, of North Carolina.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman from North Carolina [Mr. Small] asks unanimous consent to extend his remarks in the Record. Is there objection?
There was no objection.
The address referred to is as follows:
THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF MEMORIAL DAY.
“Forty-nine years ago to-day the spirit of Stonewall Jackson passed over the river and rested in the shade of the trees. The flight of that heroic soul marked the 10th day of May as an anniversary to be forever hallowed in the grateful heart of the South. For in the career of Stonewall Jackson, more perfectly than in the career of any other man, was personified the Southern Confederacy. As the Confederacy by one bold storke rose to a place among the powers of the world, so Stonewall Jackson at one bound leaped from obscurity to a place among the immortals of history. The Confederacy, in a brief spasm of glory astounded the world by the brilliancy of its achievements, and Stonewall Jackson, like a passing meteor across the dark clouds of war, dazzled the eyes of mankind by the brilliancy of his genius. And as the English poet declared of the Confederacy—
- “No nation rose so white and fair,
- Or fell so pure of crime,
“so Stonewall Jackson, like a stainless knight of chivalry, rose to a place among heroes and, facing death with inspired heroism,
left to fame a name untarnished by a single blot. In him, too, we find personified those qualities of fearless courage, dashing enthusiasm, and steadfast loyalty that characterized the soldiers of the South and won for them in defeat laurels as splendid as those that crowned the brows of their foes in victory. Nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that the daughters of the South, searching the calendar for a day to consecrate to the memory of the Confederacy, should select the anniversary of the day on which Stonewall Jackson gave his life in defense of their homes and firesides.
“It is, then, in memory of this hero and of those who followed him that, in the very midst of an age inspired by the spirit of a living present and cheered with the hopefulness of those who have learned to fight and win, we pause to-day to commune for a brief moment with a past that is dead and to pay tribute to the memory of those who fought and lost. Truly a paradoxical situation. And yet, perhaps not so very paradoxical after all, for these memorial day ceremonies have a much deeper meaning than may at first appear. The past is dead, and yet it lives; our fathers lost, and yet they won; and to-day we come to review not the dead, but the living past; to commemorate not the defeat, but the victory of the vanquished. Looking back over the past we see in the American Civil War, underneath all the blare of bugles and the roar of cannon, the conflict of two great ideas. Behind the Stars and Stripes of Lincoln and Grant we see arrayed the idea of nationality; behind the Stars and Bars of Davis and Lee, the idea of sovereign statehood. Looking out into the future, we see the day when the historian, coming to pronounce his judgment on the final results of that conflict, will declare that in the end both ideas were triumphant, for out of that struggle came a more perfect and more enduring Union, and out of it came a freer and a nobler State. Now, happily no longer in conflict, State and Union move along their destined paths to a common heritage of liberty and truth and justice for all mankind. In this happy consummation both Federal and Confederate have their allotted parts to play.
“The Confederate soldier, as I have said, represented the idea of sovereign Statehood. In defense of this idea thousands of men died on the field of battle, and for it to-day other thousands rejoice in an opportunity to live. What, then, is this thing for which men are so willing to give their lives? What do we mean by the State? By the State I mean something more than acres of land and millions of people; something more than constitutions and laws, than governors and legislatures, than courts and constables and prisons. I mean something more than material wealth and political power. The State of North Carolina is not the 52,000 square miles of territory lying between Virginia and South Carolina, the Atlantic and the Blue Ridge; nor is it the two and a half millions of people whose homes are here. The State is not to be found in the capitol at Raleigh, nor in the courthouses of our 100 counties. Soil and climate, fields and forests, rivers and mountains, railroads and factories, cottages and mansions, schools and churches—all these are but outward and visible forms of the real, living State. The first white men who settled on our shores 300 years ago found the
same 52,000 square miles of territory stretching out before them; the same rivers pouring their waters into the same sea; the same mountain ranges lifting their lofty peaks up into the same blue sky; the same smiling plains and the same rolling hills presented to their view; the same panorama of natural beauty and grandeur. They found forests growing then as they grow now. They cleared fields and built houses. They, too, had a constitution and laws, a governor, and a lawmaking body. All these things they had in substance as we have them to-day. They had the possibilities of a State, but they did not have the State itself, and certainly they did not have the State of North Carolina to which we acknowledge allegiance. If these things constituted the real State, it would be but a dead thing, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever.
“But the State is not a dead thing. It is a living, breathing, changing organism, never to-day what it was yesterday, and never to be to-morrow what it is to-day. The State of 1912 is not the State of 1812. Every generation in the past has added its contributions, modifying its character and changing its ideals; and every generation in the future must contribute something for good or ill. As Dr. McIver used to say: ‘Sometimes we think it is a pity that a good man who has learned to be of service to his fellows should be called out of the world. So sometimes we may think about an enterprising and useful generation, but after all the generations of men are but relays in civilization's march on its journey from savagery to the millennium. Each generation owes it to the past and to the future that no previous worthy attainment or achievement, whether of thought or deed or vision, shall be lost. It is also under the highest obligation to make at least as much progress on the march as has been made by any generation that has gone before.’ It is then in the contributions of all the generations that have gone before us, and in the contributions that we are to-day making to the generations that shall come after us that we find the real, living State.
“Let us suppose that it were possible to blot out of our lives all the story of the past, to erase from our memories all recollection of the men and events, the thoughts and the ideals, that have made us what we are to-day, to lose all knowledge of our forefathers’ conceptions of liberty and law, all their successes and failures, their hopes and ambitions, their customs, traditions, and history—suppose all these things were torn out of our annals, what would we have left of the State which our Revolutionary ancestors founded and handed down to us? If we had never seen the gallant Wyatt rushing to his death at Bethel; if we had never watched with speechless wonder and admiration the long gray line of Pettigrew's division sweeping up the heights of Gettysburg; if we had never beheld the splendid figure of the gallant Grimes leading the last desperate charge at Appomattox, would we still have the same glorious old North State which we have now? Robert E. Lee, sitting despondently amid the ruins of his noble army, as his soldiers straggled by on the retreat from Petersburg, without order and without discipline, was suddenly aroused from his reverie by the steady, disciplined tread of a brigade keeping perfect step to the drumbeat. Quickly raising his head, while a pleased
smile chased shadows of despondency from his face, he asked, ‘What brigade is that?’ ‘Cox's North Carolina,’ was the reply. Then, lifting his hat in salute, the great commander exclaimed, with deep emotion, ‘God bless old North Carolina.’ Blot all of these memories out of our lives and what should we have left? The same vast stretch of territory would still throw itself across the continent for a distance of 500 miles, the same plains and hills and plateaus would still delight the eye with their varied beauty, the same lofty mountain peaks would still cast their dark shadows across the same deep valleys, the same sky would still bend its blue arch above us, but in it all we should behold but a vain, hollow, empty shell of dead materialism, and not that State for which the Confederate soldier offered his life on the field of battle and which we to-day delight to love and serve. That State, ladies and gentlemen, we find in the hearts and minds of her people; in all they have been in the past, in all they are in the present, and in all they hope to be in the future; in the memories of the men and events by which, in peace and in war, in the council chamber and on the battle field, we have won our place among the States of the American Union; in the ideals upon which the State was founded by the fathers and in the aspirations that stir in us an ambition to serve the State and worthily to maintain what they have nobly secured.
“Such was the Confederate soldier's conception of the State, and as it was his duty and privilege to defend it, so it is ours to preserve and hand it down unimpaired to his children forever. For this purpose, then, that we may the better fulfill this duty, we have set apart this memorial day in order that we may annually pass in review what the State has been in the past, consider what it is in the present, and forecast what we shall make it in the future.
“The first purpose of memorial day, then, is to keep fresh in our minds what the State has been in the past, and surely it would be hard for one who loves his State to find a more important or a more pleasing task. A generation ago it was a favorite boast with us in the South that we had been too busy making history to have time for writing it. But when we come to think of the State as the Confederate soldier thought of it, we shall understand that not only is each generation under obligation to make at least as much progress on the march of civilization as any generation that has gone before, but it is also under equal obligations to preserve the record of its progress for the benefit of generations that shall come after it; for as history is the foundaton of all knowledge and the measure of all progress, so a failure to record the great events of history would result in setting each generation back to the point from which its predecessor started, and would close to posterity the source of its richest treasures. Modesty, no doubt, is a commendable trait in the character of any people, but a sober, reasonable, and intelligent pride in the achievements of one's country is the best incentive to public virtue and real patriotism; and a people who have not the pride to record their history will not long have the virtue to make history that is worth recording.
“But I speak now of a State pride that is sober, reasonable, and intelligent, for certainly there is nothing either patriotic
or elevating in that foolish, extravagant, and ignorant pride that provoked Kipling's famous prayer:
- “If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
- Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe—
- Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
- Or lesser breeds without the law—
- * * * * *
- For frantic boast and foolish word,
- Thy mercy, on Thy people, Lord!
“Such a pride develops neither virtue nor patriotism. It only excites the ridicule of the world and brings shame on the good name of the State. It places false values on unworthy things and degrades the character of the people. It produces self-conceit, provincialism, and stagnation, and destroys manly vigor and ambition. It is to be avoided as the worst enemy of true State pride. Rather let us use memorial day to cultivate a sober pride of country, which knows how to hold itself in proper reserve, yet ever stands guard over the true honor and welfare of the State; a reasonable pride of country, which knows the difference between the good and the evil, the true and the false, the beautiful and the ugly in the life of the State, and will accept the one but reject the other; an intelligent pride of country, which will seek to draw from the past lessons of service and inspiration for the present and the future.
- “Love thou thy land, with love far-brought
- From out the storied past, and used
- Within the present, but transfused
- Thro’ future time by power of thought.
“The importance of the cultivation of such a pride among a self-governing people in the achievements of their country can not be easily overestimated. The great events in the history of a democratic country are the achievements of the people themselves. The Czar of Russia may issue his decree granting a free Parliament to his subjects and is entitled to claim all the credit and the glory as his own; but when an American Congress promulgates a Declaration of Independence or an American President emancipates 3,000,000 slaves, it is not Congress nor the President, but the people themselves, who speak. The American soldier, whether he wore the blue or whether he wore the gray, who answered the call of his country in 1861 and through four long years of war wrote his unsurpassed record of devotion to duty, of courage in the field, of endurance in suffering, of patience in defeat, of fidelity in temptation, of loyalty in the hour of trial, won for himself a place in history beside the imperial legionary of Cæsar and the old guardsman of Napoleon; but the glory of the Roman legionary and the glory of the French guardsman belong to them alone, the glory of the American soldier belongs to his country. So, too, the great men in a republic of self-governing people spring from among the people themselves, and in a republic no man is counted great by the accident of birth, but only by reason of some eminent service rendered to his fellow countrymen. Every man feels, therefore, that what other men have been and done, he himself may be and do. The fame of a Hannibal or a Cæsar, or of a Frederick or a Napoleon, is his own; but the fame of Lee and Grant, of Lincoln and Davis and Vance belongs to the American people. When we turn aside from our daily affairs, therefore, to commemorate the great events in our
history, we simply take an inventory of the best that we ourselves have been able to contribute to the making of the State; and when we offer tribute to the great men of the State, we simply pay tribute to the highest types of character that we ourselves have been able to develop, for our own character is reflected in the character of the men whose memories we revere, whose lives we study, and whose virtues we admire.
“This, then, is the meaning of memorial day as it relates to the State of the past; for the State of the present it has a yet deeper meaning. From this study of our contributions to the State of the past we shall draw experience and inspiration for our contributions to the State of the present, for in a free State not only the demands of patriotism but also the qualifications of good citizenship require that those who control and direct the affairs of the State shall be familiar with the ideas and events that have shaped its destiny. In such a State every citizen is a director in its affairs and from time to time is called upon to decide great questions that will affect the welfare of the remotest posterity. In his hands he holds the fate of political parties; he controls public policies; he formulates social creeds; he solves educational problems; he determines great industrial issues; in a word, he forms public opinion, and in free States public opinion rules politicians, governs social conduct, regulates industrial affairs, and shapes the destinies of the people. This much at least every citizen must pay for the privilege of his citizenship; and if he is a patriotic citizen, intent upon the conscentious performance of his duty, he needs as the foundation stone of his citizenship a knowledge of the past.
“Oh, but men say, ‘The past is dead, and we are practical men who live in the present. What need have we for the dead past?’ The past is not dead. ‘The roots of the present lie deep in the past, and nothing in the past is dead to the man who would understand how the present came to be what it is.’ The present was born of the past and is the parent of the future. Every problem which you are called upon to solve comes to you out of the past, molded into shape by its influence and charged with its spirit. If your problem be to choose between candidates for the United States Senate, for governor, for constable, or for any other public office, your first inquiry is for a knowledge of their past. If your problem be to reorganize a bank, a school, a factory, or any other institution, your first task is to learn how the institution was formed and whence it grew. If your problem be to formulate a social creed for the guidance of your community, your first step is to learn what social creeds have risen and vanished before. If your problem be to determine upon an educational policy for your city, your county, or your State, you must first of all investigate the hundred policies that have already been put to the test. If your problem be to agree upon some plan for the better marketing of your cotton crop, for the regulation of labor, or to settle any other industrial policy, you must first of all know the origin and history of the trouble to be corrected. Whatever your problem may be you can not understand it clearly or solve it intelligently until you are familiar with its past.
“And yet how often do we see wise men who refuse to acknowledge this plain truth blundering along in their blindness, consulting their invention and rejecting their experience until
they find that every step taken in advance seems to be hurled back by some silent and unnoticed power, and their enthusiasm gives way to despair, their hopes fade into recollections.
“What is this unseen power which seems to undo the best human efforts as if it were some overbearing weight against which no man can struggle? What is this ever-acting force which seems to revive the dead, to restore what we destroy, to renew forgotten watchwords, exploded fallacies, discredited doctrines, and condemned institutions; against which enthusiasm, intellect, truth, high purpose, and self-devotion seem to beat themselves to death in vain? It is the past. It is the accumulated wills and works of all mankind around us and before us. It is civilization. It is that power which to understand is strength, which to repudiate is weakness. (Frederic Harrison: The Meaning of History.)
“Surely no people in all the history of the world have had more reason to be impressed with these truths than we Americans of the Southern States. During the decade following the Civil War we saw a triumphant people, flushed with victory and drunk with power, attempt to remodel every institution of these Southern States in defiance of all the lessons of 10 centuries of English history. We saw them attempt to erect a political structure on a basis that turned back the wheel of time a thousand years. We saw them formulate a social creed proclaiming an equality between the white man and the black man that flew into the face of all civilization. We saw them plan an industrial scheme to place the former master under the feet of his recent slave, that gave the lie to the teachings of history throughout the ages. And we saw them all—institutions, political structure, social ideals, and industrial schemes, though supported by the arms of a victorious Nation, rise in the night only to fall crushed and destroyed in the day, leaving as their contributions to the State naught but the
- “* * * sword and fire,
- Red ruin, and the breaking up of laws.
“Crushed and destroyed, not because they were evil, evil though they were, but destroyed because they were not born of the past. The best work of some of the truest reformers in the history of the world has not been exempt from a similar fate. Indeed, the whole path of civilization is strewn with the wrecks of institutions, social and religious creeds, political and industrial structures, to which millions looked for the cure of all human ills and upon which they founded their hopes of human happiness—wrecked because their roots were not sunk deep in the teachings of the past. The past is the conservative, steadying, guiding power in the present; and the present, without the influence of the past, would be as unsteady in its motions, as helpless to guide its course, and as uncertain of its goal as a ship without sails, ballast, or rudder. No pilot is fit to be intrusted with control of a ship who is ignorant of his chart, and no crew who are indifferent to their chart need hope to reach their haven safely; so no man is fit to be intrusted with control of the present who is ignorant of the past, and no people who are indifferent to their past need hope to make their future great.
“For this State of the future, memorial day has yet a deeper meaning. Paradoxical as this may seem, it is yet necessarily true. All our aims and ambitions and hopes look to the future. That State pride which the study of the past cultivates is a meaningless vanity if it does not inspire in us high and splendid
ideals for the State of the future. That equipment for service which such study develops has but little purpose if it does not enable us the better to realize those ideals. If we shall find that the contributions made by our fathers to the State of the past were good, shall we not resolve that our contributions to the State of the future shall be better? If we shall find that they have left to us a noble heritage, shall we not determine to leave to our children a yet richer legacy? If we shall find that they were ready without thought of self to bear the burdens of the State and equipped to do its service, shall we falter because we, too, have burdens to bear and services to perform? No State ever called her people into her service with greater confidence in their spirit of willingness and determination than North Carolina in 1861, and no people ever responded with a more absolute forgetfulness of self in their duty to their country. In like manner the State of the future is calling us into her service; and shall we not respond in like spirit? No invading foe threatens us with a foreign tyranny, no bugle calls us to arms in her defense; but there are other tyrannies none the less oppressive, other duties none the less important. There is the tyranny of ignorance, the tyranny of poverty, the tyranny of disease, the tyranny of a backward industrial life, the tyranny of prejudice, the tyranny of intolerance. There are schools to be supported, resources to be developed, social conditions to be reformed, fields to be cultivated, prejudices to be overthrown, truth and justice to be established—all great problems that have come to us out of the past. What, then, has the past to teach us with regard to their solution?
“The past will teach us that since the dawn of civilization ignorance has contributed nothing to the progress of mankind or to the amelioration of man's condition on earth; hence we shall learn that the supreme duty of the State of the future is the education of her children—not some of her children, but every child of them, without regard to its sex or condition, its wealth or poverty, its race or color. Ignorance is no respecter of persons. It chooses its agents regardless of their race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It is thoroughly democratic. It strikes through the ruler in the seat of power; it strikes through the money king on his throne of gold: it strikes through the beggar on the street. It is as blind as justice itself. The scholar in his study, the man with the hoe, the banker, the merchant, the manufacturer, the editor, the teacher, the lawyer, the farmer, all feel the deadening effects of its blows, and wherever they fall they leave behind a trail of poverty and failure and suffering. It flaunts itself in our faces to-day with all the arrogance of long-intrenched power, daring us to more terrific battles and inviting us to more glorious victories than any that were ever won by the Confederate soldier. To these battles the State of the future is calling us as the State of the past called to our fathers:
“Bring up all your cohorts of truth and light and power. Open all your batteries and sound the onset, for the conflict is now on with the enemy. The powers of ignorance and of darkness are arrayed against us, and the fight must be to the finish.
“The past will teach us that material resources—unlimited water power, boundless forests, inexhaustible minerals, fertile soil, and genial climate—contribute nothing to the wealth or the power of a people who do not know how to use them.
Gettysburg and Appomattox taught this lesson with fearful force, for behind the armies of the South were neglected fields, unopened mines, impassable highways, unexplored forests, and rivers that sent their waters unfettered to the sea; behind the armies of the North were cultivated farms and gardens, rivers that had been harnessed to the spindle and the loom, mines that had been made to yield up their secret treasures, forests that gave their timbers to be fashioned into a thousand useful forms, and great railroads and highways that carried life and vigor to the uttermost parts of the country. In 1865 the armies of Lee and Johnston surrendered not to the armies of Grant and Sherman, who faced them on the fields of Virginia and Carolina, but to the mills and factories that dotted the river banks of New England, to the open mines that poured their riches into the laps of California and Pennsylvania, to the trade and commerce that brought the produce of the world to the doors of New York and Chicago and Philadelphia. History teaches no lesson more forcibly than the lesson that Providence does not long tolerate a people who neglect the gifts of nature. And so in the State of the future, before we can come into our inheritance, we, too, must learn how to go down into the bowels of the earth and bring up the hidden treasures, how to penetrate the depths of the forests and hew down the timbers with foresight and intelligence, how to tunnel the mountains and bridge the gorges for great railroads and highways of commerce and travel. In a word, we must learn how to use the natural wealth that a generous Creator has poured into our laps or become the hewers of wood and the drawers of water for those who do know how to use them.
“The past will teach us that no State ever grew strong or prosperous except through the strength and prosperity of the great toiling masses of its people. Hence we shall learn that in the State of the future the 80 per cent of her people who cultivate her soil and not the 20 per cent who live in her towns will determine her power and wealth. The great economic problem of this State then, as Mr. Poe states it, is not the building of towns and cities, but the increasing of the earning capacity of her average farm at least $500 a year, so as to bring it up to the earning capacity of the farms in other parts of our country. In order to do this—
“We must rebuild our wasted soils, restore the valuable woods to our forests, construct economic and enduring highways, substitute in the country substantial structures of brick or stone for our frail tenements of wood, the meadows must send their fragrance to the valleys, the fruit trees must cover the hilltops with bloom, the schoolhouse, the church, and the factory must gladden the view from every summit. We must build a more complete and enduring rural civilization, where strong and vigorous manhood is reared and where the purest and rarest forms of womanhood are in bloom. * * * Every idle acre of land must be made to produce, every idle man and woman must be drafted into the army of toil, extravagance and waste must cease, intelligence must dominate matter, and universal vigor must take up the tasks of general frailty. (Seaman A. Knapp in an address before the North Carolina Teachers’ Assembly, 1908.)
“Our industrial Lees and Jacksons must lead their armies of toilers against the foes that are beating back from our rural sections the comforts and conveniences and pleasures of modern life.
“The past will teach us that the foundation upon which rests the power and stability of the State is the physical well-being
of its people. The battlefield soaked in human blood, strewn with mangled bodies, and groaning from the suffering of its victims, fills us with unspeakable loathing; and, turning away with horror-stricken faces, we cry aloud against ‘man's inhumanity to man.’ With a thousand voices from every pulpit and press in the land we denounce war as the great crime against civilization, and upon a thousand gilded trumpets we hail the dawn of universal peace as civilization's last and greatest triumph. But if war is a crime against civilization, what shall be said of the existence among us of those conditions which produce preventable disease? Where war has claimed its thousands disease has reaped its tens of thousands. During the Civil War, whose heroes we honor to-day, while 19,000 brave North Carolina soldiers fell on the battlefield, disease increased the number to more than 40,000. For every American soldier killed in that struggle by bullets, three fell before the invisible shafts of diesase. During the Spanish-American War the common house fly slew five times as many American soldiers as were killed by Spaniards, and in that short and unequal struggle for every American soldier who fell before a Spanish bullet disease slew 14. It matters not how brave the soldier may be, how loyal to his flag, how enthusiastic in his cause, no measure of bravery, no degree of loyalty, no amount of enthusiasm can avail him aught if his body be wasted with disease, if his limbs refuse to obey the demands upon them, if his mind be dulled and deadened by living under insanitary conditions. And what is true of the soldier in war is equally true of the citizen in peace. Rome, once the world's mightiest empire, we are told, was destroyed by malaria. Last year alone in the United States, among the most enlightened people on earth, one single preventable disease destroyed as many persons as were slain on both sides during the four years of our Civil War. No people weak and sickly from living under insanitary conditions can ever make a strong, a prosperous, and a happy community. Though they may dwell in the most beautiful region on earth, though manufactures may prosper, though agriculture may thrive, though the arts and sciences may flourish, though architects may cover the land with gorgeous temples and palaces, though they build navies and raise armies greater than any the world has yet seen, if they do not destroy the conditions that produce disease, disease will take its silent and insidious course, daily undermining the health and decreasing the vigor of the race, and that nation must perish. We shall learn no lesson from the past more vital to our welfare than the lesson that it is the duty of every community to protect the lives and health of its people.
“The past will teach us that the supreme test of the capacity of any people for the great task of self-government is the degree of patience with which they are willing to submit to necessary and salutary restraints upon their will in the exercise of political power, and if I do not misread the signs of the times there is no lesson which we need to take to heart just at this time more than this. Self-government, if it means anything, means self-restraint, self-restraint in the exercise of political power not merely by individuals, but also by communities, by States, and even by mighty nations. In every self-governing community the well-considered will of the majority of those upon whom
political power is conferred must, of course, prevail; but before that majority is fit for the task of self-government it must recognize the fact that there are certain great principles of right, justice, and liberty, fundamental, eternal, and unchanging, which it can not overleap with impunity, and which must always be maintained at every hazard by those in authority. These principles of government our fathers embodied in our State and Federal Constitutions for the protection of the weak against the strong, the minority against the temporary passions of the majority. But to-day there is rapidly developing among us a disposition to regard these restrictions with disfavor, to look upon our constitutions as antiquated documents, very good in their day but now decidedly behind the times; and we are growing more and more impatient with courts and judges who dare uphold their provisions when they conflict with the passing whims of the hour. Looking back over our history, I find that likewise the abolitionists denounced the courts and judges in the days of Chief Justice Taney and the Dred Scott decision; and so, too, did the carpetbaggers and their northern supporters in the days of Chief Justice Chase and the reconstruction acts. I would not to-day say one word that would revive the bitter memories of reconstruction, yet I would not have you soon forget the lessons to be drawn from that memorable epoch in our history. When the majority of the American people, swayed by vindictive passions of sectional hatred, attempted to reduce the whole South to a condition like that of a Roman province under the Cæsars, what great instrument stood in their way? The Federal Constitution. When that majority withdrew from southern leaders the benefits of the amnesty granted them by the President, when they forbade southern lawyers to practice in the courts and southern preachers to preach the gospel from their pulpits, when they abolished the right of trial by jury in the South and substituted for it trial by irresponsible military commissions, when they denied to the southern people the privilege of the great writ of habeas corpus, when by these monstrous violations of the Constitution they attempted to withdraw the protection of the law of the land from all those who refused to ‘crook the pregnant hinges of the knee that thrift might follow fawning,’ who was it that stayed their hands and saved the liberties of the southern people? It was none other than the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. Thwarted in their purpose, the majority chafed and stormed, denounced the judges, and threatened to abolish the court, but the good ship Constitution rode calmly through the raging tempest and carried her precious cargo safely into port. And so to-day, when we become impatient at the salutary restraints placed upon our actions by that great charter of our liberties, when we feel inclined to join in the cry of those who condemn it as antiquated and unsuited to the times, when in our eagerness to make ‘progress’ we are tempted to demand that its time-tested provisions give way to hastily conceived expedients, let us pause—let us pause and call to mind the great part it has played in the establishment of human liberty on earth; let us look about us and consider how it has carried light and hope and inspiration to the teeming millions, not of America only, but of Europe, of Africa, of Asia, of Australia, and the far-off islands of the sea, and let us learn to place a
little less confidence in the judgment of the day and a greater faith and reliance in the wisdom and the teachings of the ages.
“The past will teach us that no State has ever survived the assaults of time that was not built on the solid corner stone of truth and justice and equality of opportunity for all men. We shall learn, too, that there can be no truth without freedom of thought, no justice without freedom of discussion, no equality of opportunity without freedom of action. Every tyranny that has oppressed mankind since the beginning of history, whether it be the tyranny of autocracy, the tyranny of aristocracy, or the tyranny of democracy, flourished on intolerance of free thought, on suppression of free speech, and on denial of free action. In the state of the future we must set our faces like flint against every tendency to encourage these servants of tyranny. We must learn to expose every question affecting the welfare of the State to the searching light of free and full discussion and to abide the judgment of the people. But we must learn also that hackneyed oratory is not discussion, denunciation is not criticism, license is not freedom. We must learn that judgments rendered at the dictation of passion and prejudice are not likely to be ‘true and righteous altogether.’ We must learn that ideas are greater than persons, and principles more enduring than personalities. We must learn that as true liberty is liberty regulated by law, so nothing is more important to the people of a self-governing State than that stern and splendid regard for law which was the glory of Rome in her best days, and without which no people can be truly great or truly free. And, finally, we must learn that, while eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, eternal agitation is not eternal vigilance. Not till we have taken these lessons to heart shall we throw open the door of opportunity to every child in the State; not till then shall justice be enthroned in all the beauty of righteousness; and not till then shall ‘Truth, shining patiently like a star, bid us advance, and we will not turn aside.’
“To educate the children of the State, to develop her resources, to revolutionize her industrial and agricultural system, to maintain her authority, to preserve her freedom—these are all great problems that have come to us out of the past; to solve them is the work of the future. We shall not solve them without the expenditure of much money and toil and sacrifice. But to these tasks the State is calling her best sons, and shall we shrink from her call? Consider the Confederate soldier. The one sentiment that overshadowed all others in his heart, was devotion to his State. For the State he lived, and in her defense he went forth to die. He knew no duty above his duty to the State, and he coveted no honor save the honor of the State. No labor was too hard, no burden too heavy, no sacrifice too great in her behalf. When she called him into her service, he invented no excuse, he uttered no murmur, he asked no reward. Inspired by his pride in her achievements, he imagined no greater joy than to share in the brightness of her glory; and warmed by her love, he sought no other fate than to go down with her in the darkness of defeat. If in the same spirit we too shall answer the call of the State of the future we may rest assured that we shall not go down with her in the darkness of defeat, but that we shall rejoice with her in the ever-increasing brightness of her eternal glory.
“Such then is that freer and nobler State that came triumphant out of the conflict of the sixties. Out of that conflict came also, as I have said, a more perfect and a more enduring Union—a Union of States, not of sections—of States sprung from a common source, created for a common purpose, and builded on a common foundation; a Union of States bound together by the history and traditions of a common past, united in the work of a common present, and destined to the glories of a common future.
“For this Union, memorial day, whether it honors the memory of those who followed Lee or the memory of those who followed Grant, has its final and deepest meaning. We shall not come to the observance of memorial day in the right spirit if our purpose be to rekindle the fires of bitter memories or of sectional animosities. But rather let us come in that spirit which declares:
“The sons will preserve and will magnify the fame of their fathers, but they will not foster or fight over again their feuds, since the fathers, themselves * * * long ago renounced rancor and dissolved differences. * * * We will filially honor the shades of our ancestors, but we will not cut ourselves among their tombs. * * * Our fathers fought out the questions which their fathers left unsettled. We recognize and rejoice in the settlement of those questions. But we are resolved that neither the charm of historical study, nor the passion nor the pathos of poetry, nor the pious exaltation which shrines excite and monuments inspire shall to-day hold back North and South from the new and noble obligations, and from the benign and brotherly competitions of this teeming time. Better a decade of love and peace than a cycle of the mutilations and of the memories of the Civil War. (St. Clair McKelway, in an address before the Conference for Education in the South, 1903.)
“In such a spirit the Confederate soldier, after four long years of conflict, submitted to the judgment of the God of battles, and in such a spirit the Nation will yet acknowledge the great debt which it owes to him. He fought the war in good faith; he laid down his arms in good faith; and he accepted the result in good faith. No apology for his course arose to his lips to belie his conscience; no vain regrets lingered in his heart to embitter his spirit. He turned from the battle field to his civic duties feeling ‘malice toward none,’ but ‘charity for all’; ready to lend his hand to the task of binding up the Nation's wounds, and determined to contribute by voice and conduct toward establishing and cherishing a just and lasting peace between the torn and bleeding sections. Keeping always in view the harmony, peace, and happiness of the whole country, joining in the desire of all good men everywhere to hush forever the passions and prejudices of civil strife, disdaining to renounce his own faith or principles, but willing to trust his vindication to—
- “That flight of ages which are God's
- Own voice to justify the dead.
“he called on all sections of his country to ignore sectional issues, and to address themselves to the task of restoring the Union in heart and soul.
“That task, ladies and gentlemen, has been accomplished; the Union has been restored. Fifty years after her secession the vanquished South sits in the councils of the Nation, an equal member with the triumphant North. By order of the President the name of Jefferson Davis, which was stricken in the heat of Civil War from a great national work made possible
by his genius, has been recarved on the corner stone of Cabin John Bridge and his image has been graven upon the silver service of the mighty battleship which bears the name of Mississippi, to be an inspiration of patriotism to her officers and her gallant crew. The beloved form of Robert E. Lee, clad in Confederate uniform, stands by that of Washington under the Dome of the National Capitol. And in the seat of John Marshall a Confederate soldier with learning, wisdom, and patriotism worthy of his great predecessor guides the deliberations of the Nation's highest court of justice. To-day the South holds in her hands the destinies of this Union, and all men know that they are in safe and honorable keeping.
“A half century is but a brief span in the life of a Nation. Yet the fiftieth anniversary of the morning on which the opening rear of those guns in Charleston Harbor shook this Union to its very foundations and threatened to tear it asunder found these States more closely bound together in the bonds of brotherhood than ever before, saw this Union more firmly established than ever in its whole history, and, in the glorious words of Daniel Webster, beheld the gorgeous ensign of the Republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in their original luster, not a stripe erased or polluted nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory as “What is all this worth?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, ‘Liberty first and union afterwards,’ but everywhere spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds as they float over the sea and over the land and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart, ‘Liberty and union, now and forever, one and inseparable!’ The accomplishment of this mighty task within the brief space of 50 years is one of the greatest triumphs of civilization in the history of mankind, and in this triumph no section of our country has borne a more honorable part than the old Confederate States, no man has contributed more nobly than the old Confederate soldier. His wisdom and prudence, his saneness and patience, his loyalty and patriotism through all the years since the war have won for him a warm place in the Nation's heart, and there it shall abide forever.
“And to-day as we gather to do honor to his memory shall we not resolve to follow his example and emulate his spirit? Let us forget the bitter memories, the passions, and the prejudices left in the wake of sectional strife and join heart and soul with all throughout our common country who pay tribute to those, whatever banner they may have followed, who unselfishly answered the call of duty as God gave them to see and understand it. On this memorial day, dear to our hearts for the memories it brings, the gallant spirits of Federal and Confederate, who so freely gave of their best blood in the service of their country, call to us to give as freely of ourselves to our great reunited Nation, and in the service of that Nation to think the highest that is in us to think, to do the best that is in us to do, and to be the noblest that is in us to be.”
WASHINGTON: GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE: 1912