previous next

The Oration.

Mr. Speaker, Gentlemen of the General Assembly of Virginia, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Noble are the words of Cicero when he tells us that ‘it is the first and fundamental law of history that it should neither dare to say anything that is false, or fear to say anything that is true, nor give any just suspicion of favor or disaffection.’

No less a high standard must be invoked in considering the life, character, and services of Jefferson Davis—a great man of a great epoch, whose name is blended with the renown of American arms and with the civic glories of the Cabinet and the Congress hall—a son of the South, who became the head of a confederacy more populous and extensive than that for which Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, [116] and the commander-in-chief of armies many times greater than those of which Washington was the general.

He swayed Senates and led the soldiers of the Union—and he stood accused of treason in a court of justice.

He saw victory sweep illustrious battle-fields—and he became a captive.

He ruled millions—and he was put in chains.

He created a nation; he followed its bier; he wrote its epitaph—and he died a disfranchised citizen.

But though great in all vicissitudes and trials, he was greatest in that fortune which, lifting him first to the loftiest heights and casting him thence into the depths of disappointment, found him everywhere the erect and constant friend of truth. He conquered himself and forgave his enemies, but bent to no one but God.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George Washington (1)
Jefferson (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
Cicero (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: