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 when they come to you with school—books in which hard things are said of one or another of these comrades; it is much to be able to say he is a man who for thirty years has lived in the utmost peace, and in such a way that the community has been redeemed from bankruptcy, has been saved from reconstruction, has been enriched by his superb and noble manhood. And in that aspect of it the story that can be told of the last twenty-seven years is a story that will always have value; but there is a broader value to it. We are charged that if our cause had been successful it would have been a mere rope of sand; that we were dreamers—men without knowledge of technical principles, and ignorant of the practical affairs of life; that we were a race of planter gentlemen, living in pastoral retirement; and that the government we founded would have been swept away at the first phrenetic impulse from within. Now, if it be true that we were a race of dreamers, a mere visionary race, it would seem to follow that when disaster came, when the storm had beaten upon us until there was nothing left, when the lightning (apparently) of God's indignation had shorn us of the values accumulated during one hundred years and carried away everything we had that was valuable, our institutions and our private corporations, that we would have passed the remainder of our lives in either despair or repining. But when the storm came there was left to us God, manhood and faith, and out of that struggle, with nothing but our own courage, we have fought our way with such success that we can now say to the world, ‘See what we have done in disaster, and estimate what we might have done in success.’ No man can fitly portray the condition of the South when the war ended, and I do not attempt it, and if I were to attempt it I beg you to believe that I do not do it for the purpose of bringing back sad .memories. You who are old enough to have passed through that period recollect it. It was not that there had passed over us a pecuniary disaster; it was not, in its main features, that our corporations were bankrupt, that our fences were destroyed, that our houses were burnt or greatly impaired, that we were starting life afresh without money or organized credit—and any one who has ever thought about it can see what there is of doubt and difficulty in that single sentence, ‘without money or organized credit’—but it was that we were in a perfectly unprecedented condition in all those relations which up to that time had been considered stable among
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