« EelmineJätka »
Gentlemen, I beg that you will not be apprehensive. I know full well that his is neither a time, nor place, for abstract econ omies; and I am not going to afflict you with a dissertation upon free trade, or free silver. I came, primarily, to bow my head and to pay my measure of homage to the statue that was unveiled today. The career and the name which that statue commemorates belong to me no less than to you. When I followed him to the grave - proud to appear in his obsequies, though as the obscurest of those who bore any official part therein-I felt that I was helping to bury, not only a great man, but a true friend. From that day to this, the story of the life and death of General Grant has more and more impressed and touched me.
I never allowed myself to make his acquaintance until he had quitted the White House. The period of his political activity was full of uncouth and unsparing partisan contention. It was a kind of civil war. I had my duty to do, and I did not dare trust myself to the subduing influence of what I was sure must follow friendly relations between such a man as he was and such a man as I knew myself to be. In this I was not mistaken, as the sequel proved. I met him for the first time beneath my own vine and fig-tree, and a happy series of accidents, thereafter, gave me the opportunity to meet him often and to know him well. He was the embodiment of simplicity, integrity and courage; every inch a General, a soldier and a man; but in the circumstances of his last illness, a figure of heroic proportions for the contemplation of the ages. I recall nothing in history so sublime as the spectacle of that brave spirit, broken in fortune and in health, with the dread hand of the dark angel clutched about his throat, struggling with every breath to hold the clumsy, unfamiliar weapon with which he sought to wrest from the jaws of death a little something for the support of wife and children when he was gone! If he had done nothing else, that would have made his exit from the world an immortal epic!
A little while after I came home from the last scene of all, I found that a woman's hand had collected the insignia I had worni in the magnificent, melancholy pageant-the orders assigning me to duty and the funeral scarfs and badges—and had grouped and 'framed them; unbidden, silently, tenderly; and when I reflected that the hands that did this were those of a loving Southern woman, whose father had fallen on the Confederate side in the battle, I said: “The war indeed is over; let us have peace!” Gentlemen; soldiers; comrades; the silken folds that twine about us here, for all their soft and careless grace, are yet as strong as hooks of steel! They hold together a united people and a great nation; for realizing the truth at last, with no wounds to be healed and no stings of defeat to remember—the South says to the North, as simply and as truly as was said three thousand years ago in that far away meadow upon the margin of the mystic sea: · Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
Third TOAST—“The Loyal Press in the War for the Union.”
Response by Honorable JOSEPH MEDILL. (Read by Captain TUTHILL).
It is impossible to discuss this toast properly in the few minutes of your time which can be spared to it.
The loyal press was so busy, during the war for the Union, in upholding the cause for which it contended, that it overlooked the important part it played in the great drama, and has left no avail. able literature bearing on the subject. This self-effacement has been carried so far that it may seem egotistical to talk about its work at this late day; but bear in mind that your committee has selected the topic and invited remarks upon it.
The work of the loyal press may be dated from the memorable 12th of April, 1861, when the Confederates under General Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter, held by a handfull of United States troops under Major Anderson. With the fall of Fort Sumter, the doors of the Temple of Janus were swung wide open, and not closed until after Appomattox and the collapse of the rebellion.
When the Union flag went down at Sumter, a thousand emblematical banners were defiantly nailed to the mastheads of the loyal Union press. They fluttered to the breeze from Maine to California. On that day the compromising politicians ceased their futile efforts to bridge the yawning chasm which had opened between the North and South. It was too late for opiates; only by surgery could the Union be saved.
The loyal press, with one accord, voiced the popular sentiment that the authority of the national government must be re-established in the South at whatever cost and sacrifice; and that the right of separate states to secede and set up other governments outside of the Union must be tried and decided by the court of last resort-by the wager of battle, by the arbitrament of arms. A dozen important states had declared their severance from the Union, or were preparing to make the avowal; and a “big job,” as Lincoln called it, confronted the Unionists.
Throughout the whole struggle only one loyal newspaper of influence faltered or became disheartened. It was controlled by a great but eccentric man, whose horror of bloodshed overmastered, in his mind, the fatal consequences of a dismemberment of the Union. With this notable exception, the loyal press stood firmly for an indivisible Union, from the opening of the drama till the curtain fell on the last act.
A majority of Northern opinion favored putting down the secession movement at any sacrifice of blood and treasure. The aim of the loyal press was to organize, concentrate and intensify this patriotic Union sentiment to the utmost. The loyal press set forth every argument depicting the calamitous consequences of a dismemberment of the Republic, founded by the wisdom of Washington and his compatriots; and the consequences of a partition line extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with double rows of custom houses strung along it; and of two standing armies confronting and menacing each section, and of escaping slaves not surrendered, and the irritating raids aud reprisals along the border ; with burdensome taxation to support standing armies and fighting fleets; with embittered party contentions in the North growing out of secession, constantly threatening civil war in our section. These, and many other evils, were pointed out. The remedy for them all was the suppression of the rebellion and re-establishment of the National authority over every acre of the Republic. The oft-repeated calls of “Father Abraham for 300,000 more” men to fill up the gaps made by disease and battle, were endorsed by the loyal press as necessary. Congress was urged to increase pay and bounty, and state and county to put forth every effort to meet the drafts for more soldiers. Congress was upheld in levying all kinds of war taxes, and issuing bonds without limit. Every encouragement was given to the soldiers at the front to press forward the edge of battle.
The government was urged to push the war more vigorously.
The President was besought to proclaim the emancipation of the slaves, and to arm and employ them for military purposes, as war
The loyal press vigorously combatted the disloyal press and politicians who sympathized with the Confederates and opened a fire-in-the-rear on the Union cause, and, metaphorically, jumped on them with both feet.
But it was often cynically said that the patriotic efforts of the loyal press resembled the zeal of Artemus Ward, who declared his entire willingness to sacrifice all of his wife's relations to save the Union. The sarcasm was inapplicable. It is well remembered in the offices of the loyal press that so many volunteers went to the field from them that often they had tough work to get out their issues. They were frequently as short of help as a newspaper office is with a printer's strike on its hands. The loyal press furnished and lost as many men in the defense of the Union, in proportion to its physical strength, as any other occupation or profes. sion. It contributed its full fighting quota to the Union armies. Every loyal newspaper practiced what it preached, and a good many of the disloyal papers could not keep their young men out of the Union regiments.
It is written that the pen is mightier than the sword, but that depends upon the cause. The pen wielded in behalf of a wrong cause is no match for the sword in a just one; for he whose cause is just is thrice armed, whether he fights with pen or sword.
The reasons given by the loyal press for standing by an indivisi. ble Union, and the clarion appeals to strike for the old flag and the constitution, so strengthened the hearts of the Union soldiers, and nerved their arms in battle, that they were invincible, and the great rebellion was hewn to pieces. Under their stalwart blows the Union was saved.
This is a free country, controlled by popular opinion, and that opinion is largely influenced by the facts and arguments presented by the press. Statesmen and politicians reach the minds of the people chiefly through the medium of the press. The press influences the public sentiment somewhat as oxygen acts on carbon when a spark is applied-blowing it into a flame that consumes everything in its path. There is action, and interaction. The people support the press, the press informs the people, and then they act.
At this long interval of time it is impossible to make the new
generation comprehend how much the loyal press did contribute toward saving the Union "in those days that tried men's souls." But they may form some idea if they will consider it from the point of view of what might have happened if the loyal press had become discouraged, and had ceased its efforts in the crisis of the war, and had let the peace-at-any-price press get the ear of the public with their jeremiads and the "war a failure" arguments, and treacherous appeals to “stop the effusion of blood,” and “settle the quarrel by commissions with power to act.” How would the calls for more soldiers have been filled? How many more victories would a disheartened army have won, who saw their efforts unsupported by the press at home, and no more recruits coming to fill their decimated ranks? How long before a new Congress would have stopped the supplies of money and munitions, and declared the war for the Union a failure, ordered it ended, and the troops marched north of Mason and Dixon's line? And over what would have happened after that, let us draw a veil. But the loyal press did not become disheartened, or sit down to rest, but stood by their cause till it was won. It required a union of all loyal hearts, and a grasp of all loyal hands—a united effort of loyal press and loyal people-to bring the tremendous issue to a successful conclusion, and to restore the flag and the Constitution over all the South. The work done was worth vastly more than it cost, terrible as that was in blood, and tears and treasure, for its value will increase with each succeeding generation to the end of time. No history of the long and bitter struggle will be complete which ignores or slurs the work done by the loyal press in the war for the restoration of the Union.
FOURTH TOAST.-“The Generation After the War."
Response by JAMES L. BLAIR, Son of General Frank P. Blair.
Mr. PRESIDENT, LADIES, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE SOCIETY OF THE ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE:
In historical interest your Society is second only to the "Society of the Cincinnati," the child of the Revolution; in patriotism and in the affectionate regard of your countrymen, it is second to none. Organized upon the very field of battle, ere the smoke and roar of the enemy's guns had died away, it has, "with malice toward none, and charity for all,” perpetuated those friendships and