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 patiently endured without the sacrifice of manhood or self-respect—followed by sixteen years of new hopes and reviving business, order gradually restored, the laws observed, blooming fields and the blessings of education liberally dispensed, until now no State in the Union outside the South shows such signs of relative improvement as ours. In all this you see the hand of the Southern soldier as a citizen in peace, and the resolution, the conservatism and unconquerable spirit of which he is the type. Those who fell upon the battle-field or died from disease or the severities of Northern prisons left an unrivalled record of duty done for State, for honor and for home, but in the providence of God they were spared the trials and the woes which tell the story of the high achievement of those they left behind. If they could reach us from the grave they would tell us that the survivors lived to encounter much that was worse than an honorable death, and that the crowning glory of this people lies in the stern virtue, the courage to endure, the self-respecting dignity and the inborn pride of character which signalized their conduct after that mockery of peace came which for a time was worse than war. The final test—the cruel, crucial test—came not when our brave men had arms in their hands and were using them in their bloody work, and our anxious women were praying for the victory which they never doubted would ultimately come, but in the dismal reconstruction period which began when the conflict of arms had ended, and brought us the rule of bayonet and with it usurpation and oppression. Then the iron heel of power was set upon the necks of the defenceless; aliens clothed with authority came among us to rule over us and to plunder us, to degrade the brave men and affront the fair women of the land. Ignorance, venality and brutality were installed in the State's high places and trampled on its laws and ,upon every right belonging to its people; and the climax of crime was completed when our new rulers armed the ignorant and deluded negroes with dangerous powers and set them in authority in the State. Through the necessities of the people these rulers tried to tempt them, and by the offers of preferment which they had the power to bestow they sought to bribe their leading men to break their faith with those who had honored them and followed them. At that time there was poverty in every house; men in every walk of life were uncertain of their bread, and gentle women were reduced to drudgery in many a stately home. The old were bowed down by the agony of disappointment, their hopes gone,
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