This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 some words of greeting to my fellow-countrymen, who this day do honor to themselves in rendering homage to the memory of Virginia's illustrious son. I cannot repress an emotion of awe as I vainly attempt to overlook the mighty throng, extending as it does beyond the limits of these Capitol grounds, and covering spaces which cannot even be reached by the eye of the speaker. More impressive is this assemblage of citizens and representatives from all parts of our own and of foreign lands, than ever gathered on the banks of the ancient Alpheus at one of the solemnities which united the men of all the Grecian states and attracted strangers from the most distant countries. There was indeed one pleasing feature in the old Hellenic festivals. The entire territory around Olmypia was consecrated to peace during their celebration, and there even enemies might meet as friends and brothers and in harmony rejoice in their ancestral glories and national renown. It is so with us to-day. But how deficient in moral interest was the old Olympiad, and how wanting in one feature which gives grace to our solemnity. No citizen, no stranger, however honored, was permitted to bring with him either mother, wife, or daughter; but here to-day how many of the noble women of the land, of whom the fabled Alcestis, Antigone, and Iphigenia were but the imperfect types, lend the charm of their presence to the scene—Christian women of a nobler civilization than Pagan antiquity even knew. We have come from the seashore, the mountains and the valleys of our South-land, not only to inaugurate a statue, but a new era in our history. Here on this Capitoline Hill, on this 26th day of October, 1875, and in the one hundredth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in sight of that historic river that more than two centuries and a half ago bore on its bosom the bark freighted with the civilization of the North American Continent, on whose banks Powhatan wielded his sceptre and Pocahontas launched her skiff, under the shadow of that Capitol whose foundations were laid before the present Federal Constitution was framed, and from which the edicts of Virginia went forth over her realm that stretched from the Atlantic to the Mississippi—edicts framed by some of the patriots whose manly forms on yonder monument still gather around him whose name is the purest in human history—we have met to inaugurate a new Pantheon to the glory of our common mother. In the story of the empires of the earth some crisis often occurs which develops the genius of the era, and impresses the imperishable stamp on the character of a whole people.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.