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But a week since I passed by the remains of the most formidable fortress erected on the soil of Virginia for her defence during the war, and its menacing form, that once trembled with the discharge of the heaviest seige guns, had become a very evangel of peace.

The thunders of its parting shot had scarcely died away in vanishing echoes before kindly nature, with Divine diligence, began to hide the scars of strife. Winter's frost vied with Summer's rains in beating down every sharp and angry lineament which marked it; and where these great levelers had encountered obstacles too powerful to be overthrown, earth's gay magician, laughing Spring, had smitten the brown soil with her fairy wand and summoned a mantle of green to cover every wound of war. The white blossoms of berries, and the pale blue of wild violets, spangled the frowning embrasures of the guns, and a thousand twittering swallows, tunneling the fort's grim face with the long archways to their nests, made the air alive with their merry reveille as we passed.

And where should this lesson of peace have freer utterance and more solemn and attentive heed than in the presence of the dead of either section?

Side by side on a hundred battlefields these children of a common mother still are lying. The grass which covers the blue grave and the gray mingles its leaves above and interlaces its roots below. One verdure adorns them through the long summer, and the snowy pall of winter which shrouds them both is woven of continuous threads. The shadows these humble hillocks cast may end in homes, and darken hearts separated by the width of a continent, but they begin together, and their origin is one. Their tenants however once divided and discordant, slumber now in eternal amity.

Let us give ear to the lesson. The mighty and irreversible judgment of concluded war has determined that we who survive shall be and remain one people. With sacramental blood and fire that union has been ordained, and nothing is now needed to crown it with a happiness and prosperity rivaling its best estate, but the simple recognition that the strife is past — so long past that the face of continental Europe has twice been changed by bloody, almost universal war, since our arms were stacked and our banners furled. And surely we have a domain large enough to inhabit in peace. We said as Abram to Lot, “Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me,” and you would not. Let us also forever say, with the patriarch, “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between thee and me, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen., for we be brethren.”

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