of the House
to tears and woke the applause of the Nation by a eulogy conceived in the most magnanimous temper and closing with a plea for a fuller understanding and a closer union.
How quickly the prayer was being answered appeared in 1876.
The hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence
was celebrated by the International Industrial Exhibition
The honor of writing the official cantata for this national occasion was conferred upon the Southern
poet, Sidney Lanier
The cantata, composed for Dudley Buck
's music, was sung ‘in the open air, by a chorus of many hundred voices, and with the accompaniment of a majestic orchestra.’
Daniel Coit Gilman
thus describes the occasion: ‘The devotional exercises awakened no sentiment of reverence.
At length came the cantata.
From the overture to the closing cadence it held the attention of the vast throng of listeners, and when it was concluded loud applause rang through the air. A noble conception had been nobly rendered.’
The same glorification of American freedom was expressed by Lanier
in the freer poetic form of the Psalm of the West,
and by including the revised ballad, The Tournament,
he voiced his own joy at the uniting of the recently antagonistic sections.
The celebration itself, followed by the immense wave of enthusiasm that ran over the country, and taken in connection with the withdrawal of Federal troops from the South
in the early weeks of the Hayes administration, was significant in many ways.
In the South
, it marked the return to power of the responsible classes; in the North
, the return of political parties to something nearer equality; and in the country as a whole, the confirmation of a conviction, arising from the panic of 1873, that problems unconnected with the war were in most pressing need of solution.
The resulting consciousness of national unity, deeper and broader than had existed before, was hastened by the gathering of economic forces for an unparalleled material development.
The civilization of the South
was in a few