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war was at an end after the surrender of Lee at Appomattox and the surrender of Johnston at Raleigh, we saw the end was coming; and when the fact became apparent that we shou:d be separated, a meeting of the officers was called together for the purpose of perpetuating that friendly feeling that had grown up among us during the four years' struggle. It had no other object in view than to cement that friendship. It was not because we felt ourselves better than the common soldiers; we knew we were not better, We knew it was often the merest circumstance of good luck that put straps on our shoulders rather than on the shoulders of others. We had hundreds, we had thousands of men in our ranks who were well worthy to have stars upon their shoulders instead of carrying a musket there. [Applause.] We recognize that fact all the way through, and we often witnessed deeds of heroism, wisdom and shrewdness, and of real strategy on the part of privates that was astonishing to us, knowing them as we did all the way through. But our relations had not been such as to make us intimately acquainted with them. We had not become personally acquainted with them to the extent we had with the officers, and hence the personal friendships that existed between us had not grown up between us and them. There was not the cause for perpetuating that friendship.
But it was a great work, the idea of the organization of this Society, and its history has demonstrated the wisdom of the movement. If we had included the whole Army of the Tennes. see, we should have always been surrounded by a great number of those who would have been strangers to each other; but as it is, when we meet each other we are always acquainted, and we have thus continued to meet, although our number is growing less every year. We have enjoyed this meeting and they are grow. ing more enjoyable; and I hope our citizens here will correct any misapprehensions they have that we believe ourselves better than others.
One of the papers said it was an organization of dudes. [Laughter.] General Grant was a member of our organization; not much of a dude. General Sheridan; a pretty good specimen of a dude. General Sherman has been a member since its organization, and he is not much of a dude. General Logan is a member of our organization, and who ever thought of calling General Logan a dude? I might go on and enumerate every member of
the organization from beginning to end and there is not a dude among them. Dudes do not acquire scars, and you will find most of these veterans are marked with scars. You do not find them upon the arms or breasts of dudes.
General Fisk:-I do not think the newspapers understand about the dudes. I have this suggestion to make with reference to the subject of dudes, that whatever the Army of the Tennessee set out to do, why, they “dooed” it.
General Leggett:-I accept the suggestion.
Colonel Atkins:—There is sitting by my side a private soldier of the Army of the Tennessee, and he said to me, while General Leggett was talking, that while the private soldiers were not ad. mitted as members they had this advantage over the members themselves, they could come to all the meetings, enjoy everything that any of us did and have nothing to pay.
General Henderson:—A few words on the resolution, and I will not occupy but half a minute. The papers referred to, I will say, do not represent even the sentiment of their readers in this city, and I dismiss that subject with that remark.
As to the resolutions under consideration, I do not know how it is with the rest of the Society, but I know a friend from the expression of his face. When I was a green boy going through a big city trying to find my way, I would wait until I saw the right kind of a face come along; and when I saw a face filled with kindness that indicated good digestion, I would halt him and make the inquiry, and I was never fooled yet. So, the members of this Society know the qualities and companionship of the dwellers in a city the moment we enter it, and the city of Detroit has smiled all over upon us.
I have not been able to see the color of the brick or of the rock that enters into the buildings, for the bunting and loving tokens that hang out to us. We go about, and their hats are off and their hands are open. Their fathers, their youths and their daughters are with us all the time, God bless them, and never has the Society of the Army of the Tennessee had better cause to express sincerely its judgment than it will have, when they say aye to the resolution offered by my friend.
The resolution was adopted unanimously.
absence of General Hickenlooper. Since our last meeting two prominent members of this Society from Iowa have died; General E. W. Rice, a member of the Society from its organization, and I believe a division commander, and John M, Hendrick, brevet brigadier-general, of Ottumwa, Iowa, who died last October. Both were constant attendants upon our meetings, and I am sure the members of this Society will honor and revere their memory, as they do the memory of all soldiers, and as it is revered by the soldiers of their state.
The President:-Has any one taken the precaution of calling the attention of their friends to the absolute necessity of sending to the secretary an epitome of their lives, that it may go upon the records?
General Belknap:-I gave them to General Hickenlooper in both cases,
The President: If there be no other current business, I will invite Colonel Calkins to read a paper that he has prepared at my suggestion.
General Raum:-Mr. President, I desire to announce to the committee appointed upon the statue of General Logan, that there will be a meeting of that committee in room 12 of the Russell House immediately after the adjournment.
Colonel Calkins:-Some time ago I received a letter from the honored president of this Society, saying he desired me to prepare a paper to read at this meeting, announcing the subject to me. I then wrote what I thought to be a most magnificent paper on the subject, and submitted it to two or three comrades. They said it was not worth a cent, and I tore it up. Then I wrote another one and submitted that to some of my best friends, and they said it wouldn't do. Then I wrote the third one, and I have not submitted it to any body, and I don't intend to, until I submit it to you. The president told me I must write upon the conflict of opinions preceding the war. In my investigations upon that subject I have read a great many pages, and I confess I came across something new, although I thought I was pretty well posted; and while I have been compelled to compress what I have to say within the period of thirty minutes, I find that the president this morning extends the time. I shall leave off the
peroration, and shall commence at the point within your
recollection and within all of your reading-at the point of the formation of the present Constitution of the United States.
CONFLICT OF OPINION.
Standing as we do to-day upon an intellectual eminence thrown up by the accretions of time, and looking back over one hundred years of national existence, we can see the monuments and milestones, as well as the wrecks and ruins, which have been built and wrought by the conflicts of opinion. Sometimes like the storm they have left in their pathway the wreck of fortune and family, the wrecked ruins of home and state; and in other instances they have built monuments which are as imperishable as the truths of history and the foundations of republics.
Opinion rules the world. It has always done so; it will continue to do so while the world stands. It was said by James A. Garfield that opinion upon religious, philosophical, scientific and political subjects, “travel like a storm with a common center." The nucleus of thought is always intense; and from it radiate many minor issues which are but the evidences of the central point.
The United States government was the offspring of conflicting opinions. It is the result of a warfare waged on the one hand to sustain the divine right of kings to rule—and on the other hand the absolute right of the people to rule themselves.
For centuries before the United States became a nation, the same conflict had been raging in all the monarchies of the Old World. Sometimes it exhibited itself in rebellion against the sovereign, and at other times by the slower but surer processes of intellectual development.
The motive, which spurred Voltaire to compose and print many of his best works, was to educate the people of France against the abuses of the reigning sovereign. It has usually happened, however, that when a division of thought between people of the same nation arises, and there is no arbiter in the civil processes to quiet public judgment, a resort is had to that greatest of tribunals—a conflict of arms.
It must be borne in mind that contending armies confront each other only after all means of peaceable arbitration have been
exhausted. The arbitrament of the sword is the final and last earthly tribunal for the settlement of rational controversies.
I shall confine myself in this discussion to those conflicts which preceded the late great rebellion in this country; and while we are not yet far enough away from some of the exciting causes which led to the war, I shall try to state fairly the contentions of the leaders of those days, and the reasons which were given by them for maintaining their respective theories before the people.
At the close of the revolutionary war there was much less harmony among the fathers of our country than we at this day are willing to admit. It is true they had succeeded in throwing off their allegience to Great Britain, but this did not give them a government of their own. It is true the central thought for which they had fought was that of self-government and individual liberty. But the question was how they should associate them selves together as a nation for mutual protection, and for the performance of those duties which rest upon independent sovereignties. The divergence of sentiment among the revolutionary patriots was so great that it came near disrupting the friendly relations between the different colonies before a central government could be formed. It required the best efforts of the greatest men of those times to harmonize the conflicting opinions then extant, and bring harmony out of the chaotic condition in which the people found themselves at the end of the successful revolution.
Some favored a pure democracy, others again favored a representative form of government, and still another portion favored a strong central government with a responsible head-a government with power enough to deal with all subjects which might arise in the future.
It is strongly maintained by some that while Washington refused a
crown he favored this latter form of government. However this may be, it is undeniable that Alexander Hamilton, one of the greatest minds among the Revolutionary patriots, was a strong centralizationist. As early as 1787 he was chosen one of the delegates from New York to the Constitutional Convention which framed our present National Constitution. In that body there were two projects presented to take the place of the articles of confederation under which the colonies were then acting. One was known as the “ Virginia plan,” which contemplated the formation of a national government with an executive,