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brave and skillful men, and served your country well in her hour of great need—although this, by the common instinct of our natures, receives the approbation and homage of mankind—as it is the cause for which you fought. The army which you routed and overpowered had oflicers as brave and skilled as you. The French army that endured all the sufferings of famine and froze on the barren plains of Muscovy and perished by thousands in the freezing waves of the Berezina under Napoleon had officers as brave and skilled as those who piloted their way through floating ice, across the Delaware, under Washington; but how differently they stand in the common estimate of mankind. In the first case the suffering was endured that the power and empire sought by unlimited ambition might be extended over new subjects and countries; in the other that a people might establish a government of their own for the protection of themselves against the oppression of irresponsible power; and while hardly an emotion is produced in the mind by the suffering and destruction of the army of six hundred thousand in the retreat on the plains of Muscovy, the story of the crossing of the Delaware and of Valley Forge is still read with moist eyes and heaving hearts by millions of liberty-loving people in all lands.
It is the cause in which you fought that sheds the chief glory on your names and characters, and leads to the well-merited esteem in which you are held by all men. And it was this cause which in the dark and despairing days of the war renewed your energy and nerved at times your almost palsied arms to strike again and strike a deadlier blow. This gave to the immortal emancipation proclamation that force whereby new armies were raised and organized, new battles fought and greater victories won.
The change that came over the spirit of the troops, who had been enlisted in a war to maintain a government as it was, when it recognized the servitude of a race—when it was changed by that proclamation to a war for the universal legal cquality of all men, can never be forgotten by any of us. Despondency was changed to hope, discontent to satisfaction, doubts to certainty, and ultimate triumph was thereby assured. You have the proud double distinction of having fought hard and long in a war of your country to maintain its legal and constitutional principles and also to establish the law of freedom over a whole continent and to raise a whole race of men from the level of beasts to the
exalted position of manhood. As such men we, your old comrades on the committee, bound to you by double ties, with all the other members, in common with all our people, bid you
welcome, thrice welcome to our homes, our hearths and our hearts.
Music by the Band.
General Sherman made response, in behalf of the Society, to the welcome addresses of Gov. Hubbard and General Sanborn. As he arose, some gentleman at the rear of the room requested that for the benefit of those near him, the speaker talk louder, as those who had spoken had not been heard.
General Sherman:- The less you hear of what I have got to say, the better for you; [laughter] but I think the suggestion is well made, and I hope the orator of the evening, who is to speak his long piece slaughter]—the real object of our meeting-will take notice. But my office this evening, gentlemen, is a very simple one,-a plain thank you. We needed no words to assure us that we are welcome here in Minnesota. Why, everybody here is union to the core; it may be that there are some rebels who have slipped up here by mistake, but every human being within three or four hundred miles of this place is union to the core, and our orator this evening, and Governor Hubbard, who has welcomed us to the State of Minnesota, and General Sanborn, all are not only good union men but are members of the Army of the Tennessee. [Applause.] Nevertheless, I thank them in the name of our Society in the same cordial terms they extend to us the welcome of the State of Minnesota, and the great cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul—thank them from our hearts that they have prepared this beautiful banqueting hall, and although this is not a good room for speaking in, gentlemen, you who are in the back end of the room are taxing my voice at this moment, and will tax our orator's still more, however, this is the best that could be done in this Hotel Lafayette, great and grand as it is, and we thank the local committee for having provided so magnificent a hall on this short notice. These gentlemen of war in front here, are the persons to whom we address our words, and you who are in the rear are welcome to all you can hear and all you can get. [Great laughter and applause.] Can you hear me?
If you cannot hear me at the far end of the hall, it is for the
purpose that I ask simply, gentlemen, to assure you that he who is to follow me will profit by the lesson. He may have something worthy of being heard (I have no doubt he has) although a short time to prepare it in, and I have no doubt he will pitch his voice to split yonder curtain [applause) and make you all hear.
Again, gentlemen, assuring our friends Governor Hubbard and General Sanborn that we are perfectly conscious of the preparations which they have made to welcome us here to-night and tomorrow, we feel in our hearts a kindlier response than words will convey to them of the means in which they have conveyed the welcome of the great State of Minnesota and the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and I thank them in the name of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee. [Applause.]
By the programme, a copy of which I think most of you hold in your hands, you will see that the next is an old army songone that has tortured me all around the world, [laughter) and one which you appreciate, I hope, more than I do; it is entitled “Varching Through Georgia." You will also perceive, upon looking at the programme, a request to join in the chorus, which I hope you will do. We will now have “Marching Through Georgia."
Song, as above.
The President:-Ladies and gentlemen, we have now reached the real object of our meeting here to-night,-for which w adjourned at Cleveland at twelve-month ago. On that occasion we selected, (as I mentioned this morning at our business meeting, but there are more present to-night than then) we selected General Grant as our orator. Unfortunately, General Grant is unable to be with us, all of which has been explained to our members, but may not be known to the people in the far end of the room. [Laughter.] But about two weeks, or less than two weeks ago, we learned that General Grant could not be here, and we had a meeting in St. Paul, when Governor Davis, (who is a member of our Society) who served with us faithfully during the war, and has become an eminent citizen since, with generosity and manliness which I wish to commend to your special notice, undertook the task, and it affords me unusual pleasure this evening to present him as the orator for this evening. Governor Davis. [Prolonged applause.]
Governor Davis spoke as follows:
Mr. PRESIDENT, MEMBERS OF THE SOCIETY OF THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:
It was with great diffidence that I undertook the duty of the present hour. It is but two weeks since I was detailed to its performance by the man who was supreme in the Army of the Tennessee while it was militant, who is here in the glory of unfading laurels, and who, when in after ages history shall have translated to the constellated splendors of its firmament the men of that great army, will shine forever as the bright particular star thereof.
The same authority admonished me that details of fact would not be expected. These, he said, have been recited over and over again from every point of view. It is true. The world saw the triumphal procession with all its figures, which sent its stream along rivers until the Mississippi “rolled unvexed" to the Gulf, and which then, descending from mountain ranges. rolled seaward again, and then northward until it marched through the capital, having given to the nation that pax inconcussa which Tacitus describes to have been at one time the unbroken quiet of the Roman world.
He said he wished to hear something concerning the philosophy of war; of its nation-making properties; of its functions in the evolution of civilization; of the consequences of this war, and, of these, not only those that are apparent, but also those which are remote and secondary,-occult yet to some extent in their causes.
To this duty let us address ourselves. For truly it cannot be profitless to show that war is something more than the effusion of blood and the expenditure of treasure; that from its fields springs a perennial growth of better institutions; that its red hand lays the corner-stone of political structures which defy “the crumbling touches of time, and the misty vaporousness of oblivion;" that it has been the precursor of civilization, and that doubtless it will continue to do and to be all these until that millenial age when the nations shall not learn it
any more. To inquire why such results are reached by such an agency, why destruction is the mother of growth, why thousands of one generation must die that millions of the members of succeeding
generations may be free, why Christianity has followed the sword with which its Founder came to destroy, profits little to inquire. Vain for thousands of years have been such speculations. The volcano sheds its fiery rain and rolls its liquid surge over splendid cities, burying the treasures of art and literature, the peaceful homes, the brave men, lovely women and innocent children. The ocean heaps up a tidal wave whose flanks rest on arctic and antarctic fields of ice, whose centre strikes tropical shores, sweeping cities before it, like the sand bastions built by boys upon the beach, and in tremendous irony drives great battle ships beyond the shore, leaving them stranded far inland on desert sands. Evil contends with good throughout the structure of the moral and physical universe. We know that all these have been, are, and will be. We know not why, but we do know that through them all man rises to higher planes, nations plant thereon their immovable foundations, and abstract right becomes concrete and efficient law in regions where man was a slave of force, where nations did not exist, where right was as unknown to men as in the Cyclopean age, when,
No laws have ther; they hola
To what the others do. We are thus placed in the beginnings of society in view of the action of antagonistic forces which in the primeval times, made man inimical to man, tribe to tribe, and which, as they have their scene of conflict in the personality of solitary man, (his better element warring with that which is his worst constituent,) have endured with an active persistence which no ameliorations otherwise have weakened, and have resulted in the evolution of the social state into the most complex forms, and into the most delicately adjusted conceptions of political organization.
To effect the transformation of the liberty of the individual when, in a state of nature, he is a law unto himself, to that artificial liberty of the individual in a state of society which consists of an entire freedom of action, to this extent, that it shall not in its operation come into collision with the liberty of another, has been the endeavor of man from the beginning. This definition of liberty is not a new one. It was ordained as a political conception by our Redeemer in the commandment to "render unto