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‘ [197] The most important personal business I have had compels me to remain at home at the time indicated and deprives me of a very great pleasure—that of meeting in Tennessee many of my military associates not seen by me for some five-and twenty years—meetings that give me as much pleasure as I am now capable of feeling. Begging you to assure your association of the regret this deprivation causes me, and thanking you cordially for the very agreeable terms of your invitation, I am, yours faithfully.’

Such is the brief outline of the career of this noted man, whose character and deeds we commemorate to-day. For four-score years and more he was making that record which he leaves to the country. During much of this period he was of the men of this country one of the most notable. He lived and labored among generations of men not without great leadership. Fitted for his chosen profession by a finished education, his after life gave ample proof of the talents with which he was endowed and the great capacity for affairs which marked his career. He was not only a man of mental force, but likewise had those other characteristics which fitted him for the field in which his lot was cast. The impressions of his youth and the trend of his political thought were such as we would naturally expect from one of his noble manhood, and his associations with the illustrious thinkers and statesmen with whom he lived, who wielded for generations the affairs of this Republic, and whose manly virtues shine conspicuous in the annals of these States. That under such tutelage, circumstances and surroundings from his earliest youth he should have an exalted idea of the sovereignty of his State and a genuine love for her welfare, as did Lee and other gifted patriots, we might well expect. While he held these views and entertained such convictions as to his duty, he held in no less honor those of a different political faith. At the same time he gave up his conscience to the keeping of no man, however great, or however exalted.

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