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Good objects.

Comrades, no argument is needed to secure for those objects your enthusiastic endorsement. They have burdened your thoughts for many years; you have cherished them in sorrow, poverty and humiliation. In the face of misconstruction you have held them in your hearts with the strength of religious convictions. No misjudgments can defeat your peaceful purposes for the future. Your aspirations have been lifted by the mere force and urgency of surrounding conditions to a plane far above the paltry consideration of partisan triumphs. The honor of the American republic, the just powers of the Federal Government, the equal rights of States, the integrity of the constitutional union, the sanctions of laws and the enforcement of order have no class of defenders more true and devoted than the ex-soldier of the South and their worthy descendants. But you realize the great truth that a people without the memories of heroic suffering and sacrifices are a people without a history.

To cherish such memories and recall such a past, whether crowned with success or consecrated in defeat, is to idolize principle and strengthen character, intensify love of country and convert defeat and disaster into pillars of support for future manhood and noble womanhood. Whether the Southern people under their changed conditions may ever hope to witness another civilization which shall equal that which began with their Washington and ended with their Lee, [177] it is certainly true that devotion to their glorious past is not only the surest guarantee of future progress and the holiest bond of unity, but is also the strongest claim they can present to the confidence and respect of the other sections of the Union.


In conclusion, I beg to repeat in substance, at least, a few thoughts recently expressed by me to the State organization, which apply with equal force to this general brotherhood.

It is political in no sense except so far as the word ‘political’ is a synonym of the word ‘patriotic.’ It is a brotherhood over which the genius of philanthropy and patriotism, of truth and of justice will preside; of philanthopy, because it will succor the disabled, help the needy, strengthen the weak, and cheer the disconsolate; of patriotism, because it will cherish the past glories of the dead Confederacy and transmute them into living inspirations for future service to the living republic; of truth, because it will seek to gather and preserve as witnesses for history the unimpeachable facts which shall doom falsehood to die that truth may live; of justice, because it will cultivate national as well as Southern fraternity and will condemn narrowmind-endess and prejudice and passion, and cultivate that broader, higher nobler sentiment which would write on the grave of every soldier who fell on either side: ‘Here lies an American hero—a martyr to the right as his conscience conceived it.’

General organization.

I rejoice that a general organization too long neglected has been at last perfected. It is a brotherhood which all honorable men must approve and which heaven itself will bless. I call upon you, therefore, to organize in every State and community where exConfede-rates may reside and rally to the support of the high and peaceful objects of the ‘United Confederate Veterans,’ and move forward until by the power of organization and persistent effort your beneficient and Christian purposes are fully accomplished.

J. B. Gordon, Commanding General

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