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[549]

And now when you ask what influence made these men so great and good, I tell you that it was the influence of the pure Virginia women. In that civilization which was our privilege, woman in all her highest and gentlest influences reigned supreme. Established in her hereditary home, surrounded by kindred and congenial friends, served by hereditary servants, she was secluded from every contamination of the coarser life of cities, as from the depressing effects of domestic drudgery. She was the Lady Bountiful of her domain, but she was no idler—with the lark, she saw her household in order, she ministered to the sick and comforted the afflicted; bond and free alike rejoiced in her gentle care.

‘The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.’

‘She will do him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.’

‘Her children rise up and call her blessed.’

She clung with loving reverence to the traditions of her race, and she taught her sons to be brave, to tell the truth, to love God, and to respect and protect woman. These were the women who have made our men so great and good.

And the struggle of the Southern people, under the trials of the past eighteen years, give assurance there is no decay of manhood in our men, nor of womanliness in our women. The sunset of the day of Appomattox enshrouded Virginia in the gloom of the direst desolation that ever overwhelmed a people. Her whole land had been ravaged and wasted by war; thousands of her noblest sons had been slain and maimed, and languished in prison; her labor was all gone; her mills and her barns, her horses and her oxen, and the very implements of husbandry had been swept away. In one day all the currency of the country became worthless, and worst of all the degradations history records of a conquered people, her menial slaves were elevated to be the political masters of her population. But, with the dawn of the next day, Virginia began her retrieval. She buried her dead out of her sight, washed away her tears, and with no stain of shame upon her cheek, she marched on her new career, and such a victory has never been snatched from such a defeat as hers. Peace and prosperity abound through all her borders, and she is again in the very van of the States of this great Republic, cooperating with all for the common good of the whole country, and the glory of her sons and her daughters who have done all this, is worthy of all the glories their fathers have won.

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Appomattox (Virginia, United States) (1)

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