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any of her sons for whatever would promote her weal, and warned
against every danger his sagacious eye detected threatening her
prosperity. Called into public service at an early age, he at once
gave assurance of the high distinction he afterwards attained. For
years his public career was a struggle against prevailing principles
and policies he believed to be dangerous, and he stood conspicuous
against as powerful a combination of ability and craft as ever ruled
in the politics of any State. Upon every field where her proudest
gladiators met, he stood the peer of the knighdiest. He did not
always achieve popular success, but that has been true of the greatest
and best. His apparent failures to achieve victory only called for a
renewal of the struggle with unbroken spirit and purpose. Failure
he did not suffer, for his very defeats were victories. To say, as may
be justly said, that he was conspicuous among those who have made
our history for thirty years is high encomium. During that period
the most memorable events of our past have transpired. It recalls
besides his own the names and careers of Stephens, Toombs, the
Cobbs, Johnson and Jenkins. In what sky has brighter galaxy ever
shone ? The statesmanship, the oratory, the public and private virtue
it exhibits should swell every breast with patriotic pride. In some
of the highest qualifications of leadership none of his day surpassed
him. He did not seek success by the schemes of hidden caucus or
crafty manipulation. He won his triumphs on the arena of open,
fair debate before the people. An earnest student of public ques-
tions, he boldly proclaimed his conclusions. The power of opposing
majorities did not deter him. As a leader of minorities he was
unequalled. As an orator at the forum, before a popular assembly
or Convention, in the House of Representatives, or the Senate Cham-
ber in Congress, he was the acknowledged equal of the greatest men
who have illustrated our State and national history for a quarter of a
century. He was thoroughly equipped with a masterly logic, a cap-
tivating eloquence, a burning invective, a power of denunciation —
with every weapon in the armory of spoken and written language,
and used all with a force and skill that entitled him as a debater to
the highest distinction, While the most unfriendly criticism cannot
deny him the highest gifts of oratory, some have withheld from him

Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue. 16T

the praise due to that cah-n judgment that looks at results, that poli-
tical foresight that belongs to a wise statesmanship. Judged by this
just standard, who among the distinguished sons of Georgia, in that
period when her people most needed that judgment and sagacity, is
entitled to a higher honor ? Who more clearly foresaw in the clouds
that flecked our political sky the storm that was coming ? What
watchman, stationed to signal the first approach of danger, had more
far-reaching vision ? What pilot, charged with the guidance of thq
ship of State, struggled more earnestly to guide it into clearer skies
and calmer seas ? With that devotion to the Union that always
characterized him, and believing that the wrongs of which we justly
complained could be better redressed in than out of the Union, or
had better be borne than the greater evils that would follow dissolu-
tion, he opposed the secession of the State. We may not now under-
take to trace the operation of the causes that brought about that
event. We can justly appreciate how it could not appear to others
as it did to us. As to us, it was not prompted by hatred of the
Union resting in the consent of the people, and governed by the
Constitution of our fathers. It was not intended to subvert the vital
principles of the government they founded, but to perpetuate them.
The government of the new did not differ in its form or any of its
essential principles from the old Confederacy. The Coi^titutions
were the same, except such changes as the wisdom of experience
suggested. The Southern Confederacy contemplated no invasion or
conquest. Its chief corner-stone was not African slavery. Its
foundations were laid in the doctrines of the Fathers of the
Republic, and the chief corner-stone was the essential fundamen-
tal principle of free government ; that all governments derive their
just powers from the consent of the governed. Its purpose was not
to perpetuate the slavery of the black race, but to preserve the liberty
of the white race of the South. It was another declaration of Ameri-
can Independence. In the purity of their motives, in the loftiness of
their patriotism, in their love of liberty, they who declared and
maintained the first were not wortheir than they who declared, and
failed, in the last. Animated by such purposes, aspiring to such
destiny, feeling justified then (and without shame now), we entered
upon that movement. It was opposed by war on the South and her
people. What was the South, and who were her people ? There
are those who seem to think she nurtured a Upas whose very shadow
blighted wherever it fell, and made her civilization inferior. What
was that civilization ? Let its products as seen in the people it pro-

168 Southern Historical Society Papers.

duced, and the character and history of that people answer. Where
do you look for the civilization of a people ? In their history, in
their achievements, in their institutions, in their character, in their
men and women, in their love of liberty and country, in their fear of
God, in their contributions to the progress of society and the race.
Measured by this high standard, where was there a grander and
nobler civilization than hers ? Where has there been greater love of
learning than that which established her colleges and universities ?
Where better preparatory schools, sustained by private patronage
and not the exactions of the tax-gatherer — now unhappily dwarfed
and well-nigh blighted by our modern system. Whose people had
higher sense of personal honor ? Whose business and commerce
were controlled by higher integrity ? Whose public men had cleaner
hands and purer records ? Whose soldiers were braver or knightlier ?
Whose orators more eloquent and persuasive ? Whose statesmen
more wise and conservative ? Whose young men more chivalric ?
Whose young women more chaste ? Whose fathers and mothers
worthier examples ? Whose homes more abounded in hospitality as
genial and free to every friendly comer as the sun that covered them
with its splendor ? Where was there more respect for woman, for
the church, for the Sabbath, for God, and for the law, which, next to
God, is eptitled to the highest respect and veneration of man, for it is
the fittest representative of His awful majesty, and power and good-
ness ? Where was there more love of home, of country and of
liberty? Deriving their theories of government from the Constitu-
tion, her public officers never abandoned those principles upon which
alone the government could stand ; esteeming their public virtue as
highly as their private honor, they watched and exposed every form
of extravagance, and every approach of corruption. Her religious
teachers, deriving their theology from the Bible, guarded the Church
from being spoiled " through philosophy and vain deceit after the
traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
Christ." Her women adorned the highest social circles of Europe
and America with their modesty, beauty and culture. Her men, in
every society, won a higher title than " the grand old name of ' gen-
tleman'" — that of "Southern gentlemen." This in herself what
contributions did she make to the material growth of the country !
Look at the map of that country and see the five States formed out
of the territory north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi gen-
erously and patriotically surrendered by Virginia. Look at that vast
extent of country acquired under the administration of one of her

Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue. 169

Presidents, which to-day constitutes the States of Louisiana, Arkan-
sas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota west of the Mis-
sissippi, Colorado north of the Arkansas, besides the Indian Terri-
tory and the Territories of Dakota, Wyoming and Montana.

Is it asked what she had added to the glories of the Republic?
Who wrote the Declaration of Independence ? Jefferson. Who led
the armies of the Republic in maintaining and establishing that inde-
pendence ? " Who gave mankind new ideas of greatness ? " Who
has furnished the sublimest illustration of self-government? Who
has taught us that human virtue can set proper limits to human am-
bition ? Who has taught the ruled of the world that man may be
entrusted with power ? Who has taught the rulers of the world
when and how to surrender power ? Of whom did Bancroft write,
" but for him the country would not have achieved its independence,,
but for him it could not have formed its Union, and now, but for him
it could not set the Federal Government in successful motion " ? Of
whom did Erskine say, " you are the only being for whom I have an
awful reverence " ? Of whom did Charles James Fox say in the
House of Commons, " illustrious man, before whom all borrowed
greatness sinks into insignificance" ? Washington.

What State first made the call for the convention that framed the
Constitution ? Virginia. Who was the father of the Constitution ?
Madison. Who made our system of jurisprudence, unsurpassed by
the civil law of Rome and the common law of England ? Marshall.
Who was Marshall's worthy successor? Taney. Washington, Jef-
ferson, Madison, Marshall, Taney — these were her sons. Their
illustrious examples, their eminent services, the glory they shed upon
the American name and character were her contributions to the com-
mon renown. Is it asked where her history was written ? It was
written upon the brightest page of American annals. It was written
upon the records of the convention that made the Constitution. It
was written in the debates of Congresses that met, not to wrangle
over questions of mere party supremacy, but, like statesmen and
philosophers, to discuss and solve great problems of human govern-
ment. It was written in the decisions of the country's most illus-
trious judges, in the treaties of her most skillful diplomats, in the
blood of the Revolution, and the battles of every subsequent war,
led by her generals from Chippewa to the proud halls of the Monte-


" Breathes there a man with soul so dead.
Who to himself hath never said,

' This is my own, my native land ' ? "

170 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Forced to defend our homes and liberties after every honorable
effort for peaceful separation, we went to war. Our leaders were
worthy of their high comniission. I say our leaders, for I believe
that he who led our armies was not more loyal, and made no better
use of the resources at his command than he to whom was entrusted
our civil administration. Our people sealed their sincerity with the
richest treasure ever offered, and the noblest holocaust ever con-
sumed upon the altar of country. To many of you who enjoy the
honor of having participated in it the history is known. You ought
to prove yourselves worthy of that honor by teaching that history to
those who come after you. Though in no wise responsible for it,
though he had warned and struggled to avert it, Georgia's fortune
was his fortune, Georgia's destiny was his destiny, though it led to
war. Others who had been influential in bringing about dissolution
and the first to take up arms, engendered disaffection, by petty cavils,
discouraged when they should have cheered, weakened when they
should have strengthened, but the spirit of his devotion never fal-
tered, and through all the stormy life of the young republic, what
Stonewall Jackson was to Lee, he was to Davis. If the soldier who
leads his country through the perils of war is entitled to his country's
praise and honor, no less the statesman who furnishes and sustains
the resources of war. Our flag went down at Appomattox. Weak-
ened by stabs behind, inflicted by hands that should have upheld;
her front covered with the wounds of the mightiest war of modern
times; dripping with as pure blood as ever hallowed freedom's cause,
our Confederacy fell, and Liberty stood weeping at the grave of her
youngest and fairest daughter. Our peerless military chieftain went
to the noble pursuit of supervising the education of the young, pro-
claiming that human virtue should be equal to human calamity.
Our great civil chieftain went to prison and chains, and there as well
as afterward in the dignified retirement of his private life for twenty
years has shown how human virtue can be equal to human calamity.
The one has gone, leaving us the priceless legacy of his most illus-
trious character; the other still lingers, bearing majestically the suf-
ferings of his people, and calmly awaiting the summons that shall
call him to the rewards and glories of those who have suffered for
the right.

Our Southern soldiers returned to their desolated homes like true
cavaliers, willing to acknowledge their defeat, abide in good faith the
terms of the surrender, accept all the legitimate results of the issue,
respect the prowess of those who had conquered, and resume their

Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue. 171

relations to the government with all the duties those relations im-
posed. The victorious generals and leaders of the North awaited the
highest honors a grateful people could confer. Their armies having
operated over an area of 800,000 square miles in extent, bearing on
their rolls on the day of disbandment 1,000,516 men, were peace-
fully dissolved. Then followed the most remarkable period in
American history — in any history. After spending billions of treas-
ure, and offering thousands of lives to establish that the States could
not withdraw from the Union, it was not only declared that they were
out of the Union, but the door of admission was closed against them.
While it cannot be denied that gravest problems confronted those
who were charged with the administration of the government, a just
and impartial judgment must declare that the most ingenious state-
craft could not have inspired a spirit which, if it permanently ruled,
would more certainly have destroyed all the States. Its success
would have been worse for the North than the success of the South-
ern Confederacy, for if final separation had been estabhshed, each
new government would have retained the essentials of the old, while
the dominance of this spirit would have destroyed every vital prin-
ciple of our institutions. The success of the Confederacy would have
divided the old into two Republics. If this spirit had ruled, it would
have left no Republic. It was, therefore, a monumental folly, as
well as crime. It was not born of the brave men who fought to pre-
serve the Union ; it was the offspring of that fanaticism that had in
our early history, while the walls of the capital were blackened with
the fires kindled by the invading army of England, threatened dis-
union, and from that day forward turned the ministers of religion
into political Jacobins, degraded the church of God into a political
junto, in the name of liberty denounced the Constitution and laws of
the country, and by ceaseless agitation from press and rostrum and
pulpit, lashed the people into the fury of war.

In this presence, at the bar of the enlightened public opinion of
America and the world, I arraign that fell spirit of fanaticism, and
charge it with, all the treasure expended and blood shed on both
sides of that war, all the sufferings and sacrifices it cost, and all the
fearful ruin it wrought. And in the name of the living and the dead
I warn you, my countrymen, against the admission of that spirit,
under any guise or pretext, into your social or political systems.

There are trials severer than war, and calamities worse than the
defeat of arms. The South was to pass through such trials and be
threatened with such calamities by the events of that period. Now

172 Southern Historical Society Papers.

and then it seems that all the latent and pent up forces of the natural
world are turned loose for terrible destruction. The foundations of
the earth, laid in the depths of the ages, are shaken by mighty up-
heavals, the heavens, whose blackness is unrelieved by a single star,
roll their portentous thunderings, "and nature, writhing in pain
through all her works, gives signs of woe." The fruits of years of
industry are swept away in an hour ; the landmarks of ages are ob-
literated without a vestige ; the sturdiest oak that has struck deep
its roots in the bosom of the earth is the plaything of the maddened
winds ; the rocks that mark the formation of whole geological pe-
riods are rent, and deep gorges in the mountain side, like ugly scars
in the face of the earth, tell of the force and fury of the storm. Such
was that period to our social, domestic, and political institutions.
Law no longer held its benign sway, but gave place to the mandate
of petty dictators enforced by the bayonet. What little of property
remained was held by no tenure but the capricious will of the plun
derer ; liberty and life were at the mercy of the conqueror ; the
sanctity of home was invaded ; vice triumphed over virtue ; igno-
rance ruled in lordly and haughty dominion over intelligence ; the
weak were oppressed ; the unoffending insulted ; the fallen warred
on; truth was silenced; falsehood, unblushing and brazen, stalked
abroad unchallenged ; anxiety filled every heart ; apprehension
clouded every prospect; despair shadowed every hearthstone; so-
ciety was disorganized ; Legislatures dispersed ; judges torn from
their seats by the strong arm of military power; States subverted;
arrests made, trials had and sentences pronounced without evidence ;
madness, lust, hate, and crime of every hue, defiant, wicked, and
diabolical, ruled the hour, until the very air was rent with the cry,
and heaven's deep concave echoed the wail :

"Alas ! Our country sinks beneath the yoke. It weeps, it bleeds,
and each new day a gash is added to her wounds."

All this Georgia and her sister States of the South sufifered at the
hands of her enemies, but more cruel than wrongs done by hostile
hands were the wounds inflicted by some of their own children.
They basely bartered themselves for the spoils of office. They
aligned themselves with the enemies of the people and their liberties
until the battle was fought, and then, with satanic effrontery, insulted
the presence of the virtuous and the brave by coming among them,
and forever fixed upon their own ignoble brows the stigma of a
double treachery by proclaiming that they had joined our enemies
to betray them. They were enemies to the mother who had nur-


Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue. 173

tured them. " They bowed the knee and spit upon her ; they cried,
' Hail ! ' and smote her on the cheek ; they put a scepter into her
hand, but it was a fragile reed ; they crowned her, but it was with
thorns ; they covered with purple the wounds which their own hands
had inflicted on her, and inscribed magnificent titles over the cross
on which they had fixed her to perish in ignominy and pain." They
had quarreled with and weakened the Confederacy, out of pretended
love for the habeas corpus, and now they sustained a government
that trampled upon every form of law and every principle of liberty.
They had been foremost in leading the people into war, and now
they turned upon them to punish them for treason. Even some who
were still loyal at heart, appalled by the danger that surrounded,
overwhelmed by the powers that threatened us, were timid in spirit
and stood silent witnesses of their country's ruin. Others there were^
many others, as loyal, brave, noble, heroic spirits as ever enlisted in
freedom's cause. They could suffer defeat in honorable war, but
would not, without resistance, though fallen, submit to insult and op-
pression. Their fortunes were destroyed, their fields desolated, their
homes laid in ashes, their hopes blighted, but they would not de-
grade their manhood. To their invincible spirit and heroic resist-
ance we are indebted for the peace, prosperity, and good government
we enjoy to-day. Long live their names and deeds. Let our poets
sing them in undying song ; let our historians register them in imper-
ishable records ; let our teachers teach them in our schools ; let our
mothers recount them in our homes ; let the painter transfer their
very forms and features to the canvas to adorn our public halls ;
let the deft hand of the sculptor chisel them out of the granite and
marble to beautify our thoroughfares ; let every true heart and mem-
ory, born and to be born, embalm them forever.

Among all the true sons of Georgia and of the South in that day,
one form stands conspicuous. No fear blanched his cheek, no dan-
ger daunted his courageous soul. His very presence imparted
courage, his very eye flashed enthusiasm. Unawed by power, un-
bribed by honor, he stood in the midst of the perils that environed
him, brave as Paul before the Sanhedrim, ready for bonds or death,
true as the men at Runnymede, and as eloquent as Henry kindling
the fires of the Revolution. As we look back upon that struggle
one figure above all others fixes our admiring gaze. His crested
helmet waves high where the battle is fiercest, the pure rays of the
sun reflected from his glittering shield are not purer than the fires
that burn in the breast it covers. His clarion voice rang out louder

174 Southern Historical Society Papers.

than the din of battle, like the bugle blast of a Highland Chief re-
sounding over hill and mountain and glen, summoning his clans to
the defence of home and liberty, and thrilled every heart and nerved
every arm.

It was the form and voice of Hill.

Not only is he entitled to the honor we confer upon him by the
events of this day, and higher honor, if higher there could be, as a
Georgian, but as a son of the South. The great West boasts that it
gave Lincoln to the country and the world. New England exults
with peculiar pride in the name and history of Webster, and one of
her most distinguished sons, upon the recent occasion of the com-
pletion of the Washington monument, in an oration worthy of his
subject, did not hesitate to say : " I am myself a New Englander by
birth. A son of Massachusetts, bound by the strongest ties of affec-
tion and of blood to honor and venerate the earlier and the later
■worthies of the old Puritan Commonwealth, jealous of their fair fame,
and ever ready to assert and vindicate their just renown." Why
should not we cherish the same honorable sentiment, and point with
pride to the names with which we have adorned our country's his-
tory ? What is there in our past of which we need be ashamed ?
What is there in which we ought not to glory ?

They tell us to let the dead Past be buried. Well, be it so. We
are willing to forget; we this day proclaim and bind it by the high-
est sanction — the sacred obligation of Southern honor — that we have
forgotten all of the past that should not be cherished. We stand in
the way of no true progress. We freely pledge our hearts and
hands to every thing that will promote the prosperity and glory of
our country. But there is a past that is not dead — that cannot die.
It moves upon us, it speaks to us. Every instinct of noble manhood,
every impulse of gratitude, every obligation of honor demand that
we cherish it. We are bound to it by ties stronger than the cable
that binds the continents, and laid as deep in human nature. We
cannot cease to honor it until we lose the sentiment that has moved
all ages and countries. We find the expression of that sentiment in
every memorial we erect to commemorate those we love. In the
unpretentious slab of the country churchyard, in the painted win-
dows of the cathedral, in the unpolished head stone and the costliest
mausolem of our cities of the dead. It dedicated the Roman Pan-
theon. It has filled Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey with
memorials of those who for centuries have made the poetry, the lite-
rature, the science, the statesmanship, the oratory, the military and

Address at the Unveiling of tlie Hill Statue. 175

naval glory — the civilization of England. It has adorned the squares
of our own Washington City and filled every rotunda, corridor and
niche of the Capitol with statues and monuments and busts, until -we

Online LibrarySouthern Historical Society. cnSouthern Historical Society papers (Volume 14) → online text (page 18 of 61)