Page images

memories which are the inspiration of the highest patriotism. For more than a quarter of a century you and your comrades have stood before the youth of this land as worthy exemplars, and your fame has adorned the annals of American chivalry and citizenship.

Though time, more sure and deadly than the bullets of the enemy, has decimated your ranks, yet the spirit which prompted your devotion in '61, which steeled your hearts against reverses in '63, and tempered with mercy for the vanquished your triumph in 265, is immortal; it made you first good citizens, then good soldiers, and again good citizens; moved by it you have wrought deeds which have earned for you the gratitude of your country and undying fame. And I account for it a proud heritage that among you was numbered one whose memory I cherish and whose name I bear.

A generation has passed since, in the dark days of ’61, you answered your country's call to arms; and those whom you then left behind as children are grown to manhood. It is meet that you should know from them what is in their hearts and where they stand. It is the last guardmount of the century, and it is right that you who fought the fight, should know whether those who are to relieve you have the spirit and the patriotism to receive the countersign and mount guard in your stead over the honor of the Nation. As one of these, I am here to-night to answer.

When you, gentlemen of the Army of the Tennessee, and your fellow soldiers laid down your arms, you had indeed saved the Union. Never again can a foe from without threaten its existence: but you knew then, and you know to-night that it is not alone by foes from without that its safety is imperiled. You who have passed through the stormy days of reconstruction and those other great contests which have since shaken the Nation to its center, are well aware that the fight for the right has since been as unceasing as in the great battle for the Union itself. We who follow in your footsteps see looming up before us dangers well nigh as appalling as those which confronted you. We see among our people a growing spirit of commercial dishonesty; a spirit which, if unchecked, will sap the life-blood of the nation's honor. We see a greed for office which, if unchecked, will utterly degrade the public service. We see a contemptuous disregard of the reform of the civil service, a tendency among our public men to sacrifice statesmenship to partisan success, and in the frantic effort to succeed a willingness to degrade their manhood by descending to the lowest arts of the demagogue. The government of our great cities are polluted by open and shameful corruption. In parts of the land we see violations of the right of suffrage which menace the very foundation of our national existence, and worst of all, we see a horde of ignorant immigrants pouring in upon us, whose coming is fraught with more danger to our institutions than universal war! They come ignorant of the duties of citizenship, clamoring for lib. erty without law, hostile to the very spirit and essence of constitutional freedom. I speak not now of the honest citizen of Europe, who seeks refuge from the tyranny of despotism, but of him who comes with treason in his heart, breathing the spirit of social revolution. He comes because the old world casts him out; he would not, and he cannot be a part of our civilization; he contaminates our morals, debauches our politics and scoffs at the faith of our forefathers; he is a social leper and unless we bar him out, our constitution, our Union, our national spirit, tainted by his insidious poison, shall surely sink in infamy and ruin.

These are the problems which we are to face and solve; these the foemen which are arrayed against us; but we would be unworthy of our lineage, unworthy of the priceless heritage of that Union won for us by your valor, did we not feel within us the courage to meet and vanquish them. Aided by your counsels, inspired by your heroic example and emulous of your valiant deeds, we shall face them without fear. The unflinching tenacity which turned defeat into victory at Shiloh; the undaunted heroism which carried you over the else impregnable defenses of Vicksburg; your matchless fortitude in the march to the sea, these shall inspire us with a high hearted determination to meet and overcome these foes. Gratefully therefore, we pledge ourselves to maintain against the attacks of foes without and foes within, that glorious union saved by your valor and consecrated by your blood; and it shall be our proudest boast if, at the last great roll call, we shall be accounted as faithful to our trust as the Army of the Tennessee.

Fifth Toast.—The Reward of Patriotism.

Response by General J. W. NOBLE.


This occasion, on which we meet once more to recall the eventful times of our military life, is to me one not only filled with regret for the losses we have sustained but equally filled with hope. To all of us it is an occasion of sorrow, in that our old commander, our president, our friend and comrade, General Sherman, is no more. His presence and soul-inspiring speech we have not; but we possess his memory, and the example of his patriotism still to inspire us. Our renowned General, whose monument was unveiled yesterday, has long been sorely missed, but his glorious deeds and their results are yet with us to admire and enjoy.

It has been my good fortune during the last few years to move amid associations of our nation's greatness and its gratitude. Before me every morning is the monument that proclaims from the capital our reverent memory of Washington. The statue of Lincoln freeing the slave holds an honored place. On my right hand arises the majestic equestrian figure of Scott, the hero of the latest war before that for the Union and the loyal soldier in the incipient days of the Rebellion; on my left, that of Farragut, the naval commander, who upon the sea maintained the flag, as you, my companions, did upon the land. On my daily path arises the statue of McPherson, who fell in the fore-front of battle, and many another of men whom our country delights to honor.

Coming west, where my home and heart have always been, it has delighted me to see within these days of our celebration, not only a statue, magnificent in art and worthy in sentiment, but also to witness the enthusiasm and public spirit of our greatest western metropolis and of its surrounding States. I was present when the body of our greatest General was borne through the avenues of New York, where towering buildings and wide avenues scarcely gave room for the loving multitudes; I was present again when those same avenues were filled with uncovered heads, and faces upturned in sorrow, as the body of Sherman went by; and as one was left at Riverside and the other on the banks of the Mississippi, I saw a nation in tears; but here I have beheld the counterpart of this sorrow in a vaster multitude than was seen on either of those occasions, reverencing in pride the memory of our great commander, and through him the army of the Union.

Since the war began we know that our population has doubled; since then there have entered into the Union ten great States; our fields have been productive and our powers have expanded; our people have multiplied their homes and are now enjoying wonderful prosperity; our schools have prospered; justice has been sus


tained in all our courts; and the broad realms of the Republic enjoy civil and religious liberty. Do

you ask me what this has to do with the - Reward of Patri. otism?” I reply: Nothing-and everything. As for those who have gone before, it is nothing. Who shall teil what thought, what motives, led those noble souls that fell in the first battles for our country? Let us not, my comrades, confine our memory to our own time and era. We did a good deed; our gallant comrades died well, and those surviving deserve the honor and gratitude of the nation. But they were preceded by others who did as well. Who shall measure that devotion to liberty, that led our forefathers across the ocean and settled the colonies of Plymouth Rock and Jamestown? Who can count the sacrifices, the heroism, and the devotion of those pioneers who first moved out toward the Alleghenies? Who can tell the sufferings and privations of those who, entering upon the vast fields of the far distant West, settled the Western Reserve, the bloody ground of Kentucky, and passed through the Indian tribes of the Iroquois upon the Mississippi? Who can depict, even in outline, the sufferings of those who fell upon the far Western plains? The pages of future history are yet to recount all the trials and the sacrifices of the pioneers of the great West, who, fighting savage foes and the obdurate and almost insurmountable forces of nature, crossed the Rocky Mountains and established our empire on the Pacific ocean.

The heroes of the Rebellion are not alone among the multitudes of those who have labored and died for the Union and our great Republic. Let us rejoice, my comrades, in what we have done, but let us never forget the services of others to our country. Each in his day and generation has done his part. Look at the battlefields of the Revolution; look at the fields of the war of 1812; look at the Mexican war, and then at tl:e bloody fields with which you are familiar. Which service will you select as that to be the most rewarded? The commander and the private, the citizens, the pa. triotic men and women in each of these eras, knew of but one impulse and expected but one reward – the consciousness at that hour, and the memory for all time to come that to its full height and its utmost significance, their individual duty was performed. Will you measure a reward for the dead, those young, vigorous, manly spirits, the embodiment of their country's enterprise and grandeur, by money? Can you reward them by high monuments? Ther have gone beyond earthly eulogy. In that supreme hour of devo. tion to their country's cause their souls expanded to a larger life, and they have received their reward in the fruition of character. They are going on:

“ Glory of warrior, glory of orator, glory of song,

Paid with a voice flying to be lost on an endless sea.
Glory of Virtue, to fight, to struggle to right the wrong.

Nay, but she aimed not at glory, no lover of glory she:

Give her the glory of going on and still to be." The war for the Union was a people's war for the nation, and no virtue was ever higher than that which inspired the self-sacrifice and patriotic devotion of the Union soldier. It led to a thousand acts of heroism greater than any now remembered. It led to a redeemed and restored Union, and it let us have peace. It was not for fame; it was for country and for conscience. Its reward for those who died and those who survived was the consciousness that duty had been accomplished and the power thus achieved to attain further greatness.

But the virtue of patriotism is possessed not only by the actor on the field or in the time of dangers and emergency.

There is a patriotic gratitude that is the counterpart of patriotic achievement. It is its recognition. It writes the eulogy. It rears the monument. It aspires towards equal and even greater development in case of need; and thus teaches itself by the contemplation of great examples. It fills the avenues of Chicago and spreads out an immense multitute upon the borders of the lake when the statue of our hero is unveiled. It pervades every part of our varied national life, and is the elevating and glorious enthusiasm of a free people for a strong and patriotic government. It is allegiance no longer to persons but to principles. Its result is a national conscience that will suffer no wrong to itself and will indulge in no wrong to others. It is the unique spectacle that our country has produced-American character. It substitutes public spirit in a democracy for allegiance in a monarchy, and it will destroy public selfishness, as want of fealty was punished in earlier and ruder days by death. It estimates the treasures of a millionaire as dross compared to the display of the wealth of a people's love for a man like Sherman, dying without fortune, but with a record of inestimable service for his country. It looks upon the heroic deeds of a great General who commanded the armies of a continent, even, as trivial compared

« EelmineJätka »