Constitute a sublime spectacle.
How suggestive such an occasion.
These gatherings of the people of the South
to decorate the graves of those who died in defence of the Southern
cause, and to commemorate the deeds of valor of an army whose banners went down in an unsuccessful struggle, constitute the sublimest and yet most remarkable spectacle that the world has ever seen.
Were these men rebels against constitutional government?
If they were, then it would be treason in us to honor their memory; vindicate their principles, and praise their deeds.
They were not rebels, and the world will yet know it, and accord to them their meed as patriots.
For what did the South
Time would not suffice, nor would it be appropriate to give in detail the causes that led up to the war, nor to discuss the various issues that arose, which produced bittter feeling and stirred up sectional animosities.
I assert that the South
fought for the preservation of individual liberty and a right of local self-government, which we honestly believed were endangered by the usurpation of power by the Federal Government
, and a tendency to centralization and the ultimate destruction of the autonomy of the States.
The germ of free institutions is in the personal consciousness of the individual man, that he is born into the world as a creature of God, with responsibility to Him for the proper use of his God-given powers, and that to work out his personal destiny upon this personal accountability, he needs to be free from the constraints with which despotism would bind his body, mind, heart, and conscience.