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 Such a crisis was the Revolution of 1776, when thirteen thinly-settled and widely-separated colonies dared to offer the gage of battle to the greatest military and naval power on the globe. The story of that struggle is the most familiar in American annals. After innumerable reverses, and incredible sufferings and sacrifices, our fathers came forth from the ordeal victorious. And though during the progress of the strife, before calm reflection had quieted the violence of inflamed passion, they were branded by opprobrious names and their revolt denounced as rebellion and treason, the justice of their cause, and the wisdom, the valor and the determination with which they vindicated it, were quickly recognized and generously acknowledged by the bravest and purest of British soldiers and statesmen; so that now, when we seek the noblest eulogies of the founders of American republicanism, we find them in the writings of the essayists and historians of the mother-country. We honor ourselves and do homage to virtue, when we hallow the names of those who in the council and in the field achieved such victories. We bequeath an influence which will bless coming generations, when with the brush and the chisel we perpetuate the images of our fathers and the founders of the State. Already has the noble office been begun. Here on this hill the forms of Washington, and Henry, and Lewis, and Mason, and Nelson, and Jefferson, and Marshall, arrest our eyes and make their silent but salutary and stirring appeals to our hearts. Nor are these all who merit eternal commemoration. As I look on that monument, I miss James Madison and others of venerable and illustrious name. Let us not cease our patriotic work until we have reared a Pantheon worthy of the undying glory of the past. But this day we inaugurate a new era. We lay the corner-stone of a new Pantheon in commemoration of our country's fame. We come to honor the memory of one who was the impersonation of our Confederate cause, and whose genius illumined the great contest which has recently ended, and which made an epoch not only in our own history, but in that of the age. We assert no monopoly in the glory of that leader. It was his happy lot to command, even while he lived, the respect and admiration of right-minded and right-hearted men in every part of this land, and in all lands. It is now his rare distinction to receive the homage of those who most differed with him on the questions which lately rent this republic in twain from ocean to ocean. From the North and from the South, from the East and from the West, men have gathered on these grounds to-day, widely divergent in their
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