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Letter from President Davis to the Reunion of Confederate veterans at Dallas, Texas, August 6th, 1884.

My Dear Sir. :I have received yours of the 28th instant, and the renewed invitation to attend the reunion in Texas of the old settlers and ex-Confederates intensifies the regret heretofore expressed at my inability to be present on that occasion. The very gratifying terms of your letter revives the grateful recollection of the many manifestations of the kind regard of your people. From the date of your revolution and admission as an independent State of the Union, I have watched your progress and development with the hope and expectation that Texas would be in the fulfilment of her destiny the Empire State of the American Union. Her vast territory, with a corresponding variety of climate, soil, mineral and agricultural products, form a solid basis for such an anticipation should her territory remain undivided. It was with such hopes for her future that, in the official position to which I refer, I resisted the transfer of the northern portion of the State to the public domain of the United States; but shorn of that portion of her territory which was north of the [335] parallel of 36° 30′, there yet remains enough to justify the expectation alluded to above. The expansion of cultivation has no doubt changed the appearance of the country, substituting the useful of agricultural man for the beautiful of nature. Years ago, in its wilder state, I went over wide spreading plains carpeted with primroses, while here and there arose isolated groves of sturdy oaks, and felt the charm of a scene where nature had, on a scale too grand for man's imitation, laid out parks replete with beauty; but the most cherished memory is that of the cordial, unconventional welcome of the gallant, free-hearted sons of Texas. Thereafter, I have said a Texan, instead of a ‘Highland welcome,’ the wide world o'er.

The approaching reunion is to bring together the men whose friendships were formed in camp, and which have the sure, enduring foundation of having been cemented under the severe tests of toil, privation, suffering, and danger by which all that is weak or meanly selfish is exposed. Happy indeed must such reunion be, and from afar I send you my warmest congratulations. Of the hardy ‘old settlers’ who, against desperate odds, won the battles of the war for independence, of the veterans who served in the war with Mexico, ‘how few—all weak and withered—of their force wait on the verge of dark eternity.’

The Romans gave to Great Britain and to the United States in the rules and articles of war the basis of the military establishments of three peoples, who have attained to the highest degree of military glory, and it was a rule among the Romans richly to reward their generals when returning successful from a foreign war, but never to grant a triumph for a victory won in internecine strife. With us the rule has been reversed, and the veterans of the war with Mexico have been the subjects of a special discrimination.

During the progress of the Texas revolution a distinguished officer left the United States army and went, unheralded, to join the struggling Texans, and entered their service as a private. His ability, as well as his reputation, attracted notice, and step by step lie rose to the command of one of her armies. Baptized in her service, he became her adopted son. When the war occurred between the United States and Mexico he led a regiment of Texans to join the army of the Rio Grande. Thus he was an ‘old settler’ and ‘a veteran of the war with Mexico.’ He subsequently re-entered the army of the United States, of which he was a brevet BrigadierGen-eral when Texas seceded from the Union and war was inaugurated between the States. True to his allegiance to his adopted mother [336] and sovereign, he left the army of the United States and offered his sword to the Confederacy. When commanding a Confederate army in one of the great battles of the war, and victory was within his immediate grasp, he fell, mortally wounded, and died upon the field. Great in council as in action, faithful in every relation of life, he died as he had lived, the devotee to duty, and left behind him the good name which gives grace and perpetuity to glory. Need it be said to Texans that I refer to Albert Sidney Johnston? All that was mortal of that hero reposes in the soil of the land he loved. Generous, patriotic Louisiana is constructing an equestrian statue to his memory—a tribute twice blessed.

From that portion of the State in which your reunion is to be held there came to the army in Mexico Colonel Wood's regiment of cavalry. I was closely associated with them on a critical occasion in the attack on Monterey. Should any of the survivors be with you, please present my fraternal greeting to them.

Rocked in the cradle of revolution, the history of Texas is full of heroic deeds, from the self-sacrificing band of the Alamo, who gave to their State the example of how men should dare and die to protect the helpless, to the defence of Sabine Pass, which for intrepidity and extraordinary success must, I think, be admitted to have no parallel in the annals of ancient or modern warfare. Texas is now boldly striding onward in the conquests of peace, and I cannot wish for her a brighter future than that in agricultural, mining, manufacturing, educational, social and religious efforts she may gather wreaths of oak worthy to mingle with the fadeless laurel that decks her brow.

Deprived of the happiness of meeting, probably for the last time, the ‘Old Settlers’ and ex-Confederates in their reunion, of receiving the friendly welcome and feeling the warm grasp of their hands, I send to them my earnest prayer that every ‘good and perfect gift’ may be vouchsafed to them, and remain faithfully,

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