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[87] Like the mighty throes and upheavals of nature, which lifted the everlasting hills and have left everywhere upon the earth traces of their power, it has made an impress on American character and institutions which will last while history and tradition live. Rebellion it never was, and never could be under the conditions that produced and attended it, and the future will place its emphatic veto upon the stigma.

The civil war between Charles I and the Parliament of England, in which the King ended his life upon the scaffold, is styled by the courtly historian Clarendon ‘the great rebellion,’ but later generations have recognized it as a revolution which heralded one of the grandest epochs in English history. And so with our revolution of 1861-‘65. When the verdict of the future shall be rendered, the odious word rebellion will be forever expunged from our annals. It will be acknowledged as a conflict of principles which admitted of no arbitrament but the sword, and the heroisms of both victors and vanquished will be claimed as the common heritage of the American people. Be it ours, then, to stand as sentinels by the graves of our fallen comrades, to guard their memories from stain and their motives from dishonor while we live, when we may safely commit both theirs and ours to the just judgment of posterity.

The justification of neither side in our civil war is to be found in its physical result. Many a brave people have fallen in the struggle for what they believed to be right, but failure has not always had the power to affix the seal of wrong. Thus State sovereignty, the cardinal principle of the Confederate revolution, and the most majestic pillar in the temple of our constitutional Union, though despoiled by ruthless hands of its ancient dignity and strength, still lives to sustain and vitalize the grandest system of government which human wisdom has ever evolved, and must in some form always remain the grand conservator of American free institutions.

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