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[365] of undeserved oppression, of political persecution, and of social outrage—still I declare—and know that I speak for you in declaring—: That we would not turn back the tide of time, and have expunged the record of that heroic fight for fireside and for freedom, not if all we have endured could be undone, not if all that was wasted could be restored, not even could our dead be given back to us and all be as it were in the olden times.

We have long ago accepted the new destiny, as loyally as we battled to avert it. We are pledged without reserve to the duties of the present, and out of the wrecks of our ancient fortunes and systems we have builded a new industrial and political South. We have confronted rude fortune with a courage no less than that the Confederate soldier displayed upon the field. There is no stain upon the faith we plighted when the hard tutelage of reconstruction was ended and we renewed allegiance to the United States Government. Our representatives are in Congress, striving with fidelity to legislate for the good of the whole country. Once and again in recent years our sons have answered the drum beat of the Union and rallied to the flag which Washington made illustrious at Yorktown, and Scott at Lundy's Lane, and Davis at Buena Vista, and Lee at Chapultepec. And but now, in supremest evidence that we hold the new bond of union to be one of fellowship, Virginia has tendered, for a place in the capital at Washington, a statue of her best beloved son, the flower of Southern chivalry, the lion of the ConfederacyRobert Lee.

Ah, little they knew us who deem that we would offer up his noble effigy as the pledge of a half-hearted allegiance! And as little those who think that we would have him there on subtle legal plea—or on reluctantant sufferance—or on any other terms than those of grateful welcome to the American Hall of Fame to the great captain and Christian gentleman whose name is the synonym of genius, valor and virtue throughout the wide, wide world.

But, notwithstanding the truth of all that I have said; nay, rather because of its truth—for, were we recreated to our past, of little worth would be our plighted faith for the time that is and is to be—just as true it is that, still, our souls are haunted, as the faithful shell by the murmur of its mother sea, by the proud and tender recollections of the days that were and are not. To have borne a part in them—no matter how humble, if faithful—is to us a badge of honor such as no earthly prince or potentate could confer.

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