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[309] there have been none to question their rightful status or challenge their official equality.

We have seen the stream of public justice so polluted that great judges left the bench and disdained to exercise the powers of a court ‘in subordination to the behests of a military commander,’ and for a decade and a half we have seen that bench adorned by the equals of those who left it in disgust, dispensing justice freely, with a firm and even hand.

We have seen our laws dictated by a spirit of plunder and oppression, and passed by ignorant strangers and pretenders; we see them now the product of intelligence and honest purpose, bearing equally upon the rich and poor and fostering every worthy interest in the State.

At a time when the passions of war had not subsided, and there was bitterness in the hearts of those in one section toward their countrymen in the other; at a time when the South was no readier than the North for the lessons of forgiveness and fraternity which had to be taught and learned before there could be any real peace or progress for us here; at such a time as this we saw a great Mississippian move out in advance of his own people, a pioneer in a dangerous field, and sound the first note of pacification, which in time brought the North and South together. We heard him tell our estranged and distrustful brethren that ‘the South prostrate, exhausted, drained of her life blood, but still honorable and true, accepts the bitter award of the bloody arbitrament without reservation,’ and we saw men turn and listen to his plea for peace, good-will, and justice. We have seen the influence of that plea widen and extend from the day when it was offered, have seen it reinforced by the efforts of patriots North and South, until lately we saw a sectionalism openly condemned by the United States Senate in the rejection of a harmful measure aimed directly against the Southern States. The prime mover in this great work of restoration and conciliation, though always an ardent Southerner, and once a secessionist and a Southern soldier, was called to the cabinet of a Northern president, and sits to-day in honor in that great court where the Federal Constitution is finally construed, a living witness that the success of Southern statesmanship involves no abandonment of principle or independence.

It is a far reach in our State's history back to 1865, but these few incidents, selected here and there, tell of our transition from evil days to these. The period covers ten years of oppression, spoliation, contempt of the laws, humiliation and poverty—all bravely and

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