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[348] when for long years they endure poverty and starvation, and dare danger and death to maintain principles which they deem sacred— when they shake a continent with their heroic endeavors and fill the world with the glory of their achievements, history can make for them no higher vindication than to point to their deeds and say— ‘behold!’

A people is its own judge. Under God there can be no higher judge for them to seek or court or fear. In the supreme moments of national life, as in the life of individuals, the actor must resolve and act within himself alone. The Southern States acted for themselves—the Northern States for themselves—Virginia for herself. And when the lines of battle formed, Robert Lee took his place in the line beside his people, his kindred, his children, his home. Let his defence rest on this fact alone. Nature speaks it. Nothing can strengthen it. Nothing can weaken it. The historian may compile; the casuist may dissect; the statesman may expatiate; the advocate may plead; the jurist may expound; but, after all, there can be no stronger or tenderer tie than that which binds the faithful heart to kindred and to home. And on that tie—stretching from the cradle to the grave, spanning the heavens, and riveted through eternity to the throne of God on high, and underneath in the souls of good men and true—on that tie rests, stainless and immortal, the fame of Robert Lee.

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