PRESERVING THE PAST: MONUMENT DEDICATIONS
Closely related to the eulogy and the Memorial Day addresses are the orations delivered at the innumerable monument dedications that the South loved so well in the decades after the war. Literally every community below Mason and Dixon's line supported a fund-raising drive (usually sponsored by a Ladies Memorial Association) for statues of varying size and configuration. If the local town or county could not boast of a real hero, they dedicated the monument to the "Confederacy," or the "Boys in Gray," or the "Private Soldier." Each dedication ceremony involved the same essential ingredients: a parade through the city streets to the site, several brief welcoming addresses by local notables, some musical selections "appropriate to the occasion," a poem or two read by the local town laureate, and the ever-present oration; finally the cover was lifted from the monument and the memorial stood as a granite symbol of the Lost Cause. A casual drive through any Southern state today from Virginia to Texas will show these monuments still exhibited in places of honor and surrounded by well-kept greens.
For the purposes of this study, we shall examine six speeches made in Virginia and Georgia from 1875 to 1889. The first five were given in honor of individual heroes and at the dedication of monuments to these specific Southern leaders: Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Benjamin H. Hill. The last two were presented at monuments honoring the Confederate dead, in general.
In 1875 the last vestiges of Republican rule were ending in the South. Former Confederate leaders who had been kept out of leadership positions by the Fourteenth Amendment had been covered by a general amnesty bill passed by Congress in 1872, and they had begun to assume their pre-war posts in their respective states. Whites began more overtly to control the Negro through various "red-shirt" and other white-supremacy groups and by 1875 the Negro was fast becoming an economic ward of his former master. The conservatives had assumed control of all the Southern statehouses except Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina; these were to fall to conservative Southerners in the months following Rutherford Hayes' election to the Presidency and the "Compromise of 1877."
In national politics, the Democratic Party had captured the House of Representatives in 1875 and the scandals of the Grant regime forecast a possible Democratic win in 1876. Northerners were beginning to forget the Negro and were starting to believe that the South should control her own state governments. Civil service reform was drawing the attention of northern reformers. Since Southerners were becoming staunch supporters of industrialization and commerce, Northern businessmen began to look to the South as a target for their investments. Northern writers and editors urged their readers to forget the bloody past and to link hands over the sectional chasm.1
Although most of the Southern states had been "redeemed" by the mid-1870 s, the Southern economy, transportation, agriculture, education, and social system were still in a shambles. As late as 1880, "visitors reported the South crushed, wretched, and still licking its wounds."2 Reconciliation was not easily encouraged in a land which saw itself as having been ravaged by its conquerors.
The first of these orations to be considered is a bit atypical of the group, due to the fact that it is an introductory address and not the main "oration of the day," but it has such strong overtones of reconciliation spirit that it should be described. In October, 1875, the Commonwealth of Virginia unveiled a statue to its hero of Manassas and Malvern Hill: Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. Governor John Kemper inaugurated the Richmond celebration with a short speech of welcome and introduction.3 In this address, we find the usual combination of Southern arrogance and pride mingled with an apparently genuine call for intersectional reconciliation. Kemper hopes that the life of Jackson "speaks to our fellow-citizens of the North, and, reviving no animosities of the bloody past, commands their respect for the valor, manhood, integrity and honor of the people of whom this Christian warrior was a representative type." He then asserts that JacksonÕs old comrades will not "prove recreant to the parole and contract of honor which binds them ... to the constitution and the union of the States." At this point, the Governor says, "Let the spirit and design with which we erect this memorial today admonish our whole country that the actual reconciliation of the States must come, and, so far as honorably in us lies, shall come." He does, however, qualify this reconciliatory attitude by remarking that the "equal hour and equal liberties of each section shall be acknowledged, vindicated and maintained by both." In other words, the South will be reconciled on her terms. Kemper concludes the address with a plea that the statue of Jackson
endure as a symbol of the respect which both the sections will accord to the illustrious dead of each, signifying that while differing as to the past, each will assert its manhood, its rectitude and honor, and both will equally and jointly strive to consolidate the liberty and the peace, the strength and the glory of a common and indissoluble country.
Most of this brief welcoming address was focused on the theme of national harmony as these selected passages indicate.
Kemper's welcoming address was not aimed at the Northerner in his audience, apparently, so much as it was designed for the former Confederate. His tone is one of insistence; there is little of a compromising nature in this address. For example, he insists that the North accept Jackson's life as a model for all to follow; no reasons are given why they should. Again, the Governor insists that both sections must be treated as equals in the nation's councils. For the Southerners in the 1875 audience, this "no-compromise" attitude was probably commendable. Kemper does not try to persuade them to accept the verdict of the sword and be reconciled, he simply asserts that the South was willing to be reunited if it could be done on her terms. He bases his contentions not on extensive persuasive appeals, but, rather, on the force of his ethos and authority. Governor Kemper does, however, set a tone of reconciliation for the occasion by mentioning the urgent need for reunion and by asserting to his audience that the South was ready for it. He uses the life of Jackson as a reminder that the South will honor its defeat and parole. Jackson's "knightly and incorruptible fidelity to each engagement of duty," should be a model for the Southerner. The main orator of the day, Moses Hoge, approached the reconciliation theme in a more subtle and persuasive manner, but still Hoge was aided by Kemper's having introduced the theme of reconciliation.
These brief introductory remarks set the stage most appropriately for the ceremonies which followed and for the major address of the day presented by Richmond's great Presbyterian pastor, Moses Drury Hoge. One biographical sketch of Hoge expresses the belief that this speech at Jackson's statue was "perhaps the noblest oration of his later life."4 According to the Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper accounts of the ceremonies, the event was the "most imposing pageant ever seen"5 in Richmond. A recent history of Virginia in the post-war years included this description of the ceremonies:
With 40,000 people watching the Jackson procession which was two to three miles long, even the
Negroes wanted to be included. Moses D. Hogue [sic], the rector of St. Paul's was the feature
orator in Capital Square, and Jones describes the group on the speaker's stand
as a 'who's who' of Virginia Confederate and political leadership. Fireworks at
night were followed by a reception for Mrs. Jackson in the governor's mansion.6
Dr. Hoge's popularity was demonstrated by the fact that he was "greeted with much enthusiasm by the immense assemblage."7 Apparently he did not disappoint his auditors, as the "oration was frequently interrupted with enthusiastic applause."8
The Richmond religious leader had been unanimously elected moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1875.9 His fame and prestige had spread accordingly beyond the bounds of his native Virginia; this feature of his ethos was appropriate for these ceremonies, as was his devotion to the Confederate cause and his blockade-running trip to England during the Civil War to obtain Bibles for Confederate soldiers. The audience contained many visitors from across the nation as well as several Englishmen -- indeed, the statue was a gift from the Mother Country and had been created by an English sculptor.
Often the eulogistic biographical sketches found in the various works on Southern leaders are not particularly useful for the student of Southern culture. In the case of Hoge, however, one biographer gives an interesting clue about his rhetorical strategy, as he remarks, "Dr. Hoge, then, was not only an orator but a teacher ... He never for a moment relinquished or lowered his conception of the teaching function of the ministry."10 That this minister felt himself essentially a teacher is quite apparent in this address at Jackson's monument. It is obvious that his major purpose is to answer the question, "Why was General Jackson so cherished and honored by citizens of this and other nations?" In answering this query, Hoge intends to demonstrate that Jackson's life is a model worthy of imitation. By describing Jackson's virtues as a paradigm for the Christian, Southern gentleman, Hoge can easily fulfill his concept of the ministry's teaching function. And in relation to this study, as we shall see, Hoge used Jackson's life as illustrative material as he tries to enhance a reconciliatory mood in the minds of his listeners.11
In this speech, Hoge employs five reconciliatory themes: 1) We are patterning ourselves after the ancient Greeks who met together with their enemies during their festivals and promoted harmony; 2) Jackson's life serves as a model for us as we begin to become reconciled with the North; 3) The South respects the outcome of the sword; 4) National pride is and should be present in the South; and 5) The South's self-interest demands that the nation become reunited.
The first of these reconciliation themes is introduced early in the address when Hoge says:
More impressive is this assemblage of citizens and representatives from all parts of our own and of foreign lands, than ever gathered on the banks of the ancient Alpheus at one of the solemnities which united the men of all of the Grecian States and attracted strangers from the most distant countries. There was indeed one pleasing feature in the old Hellenic festivals. The entire territory around Olympia was consecrated to peace during their celebration, and there even enemies might meet as friends and brothers, and in harmony rejoice in their ancestral glories and national renown.
This comparison to the ideal of the ancient Greek state was doubtless quite meaningful to the Southern audience assembled in Richmond. The pre-war Southern culture had been based in part on the ideal of the Greek democracy,12 and if an orator pointed out that the Greeks could refrain from hatred of their enemies, then the Southerners should be able to do likewise.
The fact that there were Northerners present in the audience provided support for this theme and gave rhetorical meaning to the comparison. When Hoge refers in this analogy to the ancient Greeks meeting to "rejoice in their ancestral glories and national renown," he prepares his listeners for the reunion message he returns to later in the speech: the important role played by the South in the nation's history and the Southerners' pride in that contribution.
The second major reunion motif used by the Presbyterian minister was closely related to the subject of his oration and the person in whose honor the ceremony was being held: "Stonewall" Jackson. At several points in the address, Hoge uses Jackson as a model or focal point for his reconciliation message. His most obvious and explicit reference to this theme comes early in the speech:
We assert no monopoly in the glory of that leader. It was his happy lot to command, even while he lived, the respect and admiration of right-minded and right-hearted men in every part of this land, and in all lands. It is now his rare distinction to receive the homage of those who most differed with him on the questions which lately rent this republic in twain from ocean to ocean. From the North, and from the South, from the East, and from the West, men have gathered on these grounds today, widely divergent in their views on social, political, and religious topics, and yet they find in the attraction which concentrates their regard upon one name, a place where their hearts unexpectedly touch each other and beat in strange unison.
A few minutes later, Hoge briefly asserts, with no proof or explanation, that Jackson, "would have cheerfully laid down his life to avert the disruption" of the Union and the war which followed. Since the listener heard no supporting testimony, either from Jackson himself, or any of his cohorts, he would have to accept this assertion on Hoge's authority. If Jackson himself loved the Union, the auditor would perhaps see that the Union was, after all, not such an enemy.
Then late in the speech, the orator of the day returns to this theme when he praises the Governor of Virginia and implies again that Jackson is revered and honored by people outside his own Southland -- even in the North:
Your Excellency did well to make the path broad which leads through these capitol grounds to this statue, for it will be trodden by the feet of all who visit this city, whether they come from the banks of the Hudson, the Mississippi , or the Sacramento; whether from the Tiber, the Rhine, or the Danube.
If a Confederate General could be this well-respected and admired by those who did not sympathize with his section -- indeed, those who had fought against him -- then this fact would be a powerful example of magnanimity on the part of the victors in the civil struggle. Should not the Southerner return that good will? That was the implication of Hoge's message. In addition, given the widespread, eulogistic esteem with which Southerners held Jackson, indeed, most Confederate Generals, Hoge's use of Jackson as a symbol of reconciliation would be an effective rhetorical tactic.
A third important approach Hoge uses in his efforts to promote intersectional understanding and rapport centers around his contention that the South accepts the verdict rendered by the sword. At the first point in the speech where he discusses this theme, the speaker focuses on the attitude of the Confederate soldier after the war. The veterans:
laid down their arms at its close and mingled again with their fellow-citizens, distinguished from the rest only by their superior reverence for law, their patient industry, their avoidance of all that might cause needless irritation and provoke new humiliations, and their readiness to regard as friends in peace, those whom they had so recently resisted as enemies in war.
Doubtless, most in his audience had worn the gray, and thus, Hoge was speaking directly to them and appealing explicitly to their pride and honor -- two values held in great esteem by Southerners.
He then moves from the specific Confederate soldier to the general Southern public as he asserts that the "people" of the South followed the lead of their soldiers:
Defeat came, and they accepted it, with its consequences, just as they would have accepted victory with its fruits. They have sworn to maintain the government as it is now constituted. They will not attempt again to assert their views of state sovereignty by an appeal to the sword.
Hoge, in the next breath, turns back to the warrior, as he says:
None feel this obligation to be more binding than the soldiers of the late Confederate armies. A soldier's parole is a sacred thing, and the men who are willing to die for a principle in time of war, are the men of all others most likely to maintain their personal honor in time of peace.
In other words, the South will not again challenge the North on the field of battle.
As is so typical in these messages aimed at national unity, Hoge appeals to national pride. In this fourth conciliatory theme, the minister refers first to the American revolution in a manner calculated to stir national patriotism in the hearts of his listeners:
Such a crisis was the Revolution of 1776, when thirteen thinly-settled and widely-separated colonies dared to offer the gage of battle to the greatest military and naval power on the globe.
The story of that struggle is the most familiar in American annals. After innumerable reverses, and incredible sufferings and sacrifices, our fathers came forth from the ordeal victorious.
This appeal to Southern pride in the exploits of the Revolutionary War heroes served the purpose of creating a feeling of national pride in the minds of those Virginians who recalled the deeds of their own Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington. In fact, Hoge makes explicit the connection between these national heroes and the new statue of Jackson which will join the group of monuments in Richmond honoring the South's Revolutionary War heroes. This portion of his message comparing the Southern states and the Civil War with the English colonies and the Revolutionary War, and the Revolutionary heroes with the Southern Confederacy's heroes ,is a masterful rhetorical stroke and surely appealed to the varied audience which witnessed the dedication.
A few moments later, the Virginian asserts very quickly, and with no elaboration, the role played by his native state in helping to create the very Union she was later forced to fight. He declares, again with no evidence to support his contention, that Virginia had hoped to preserve the Union "which she had assisted in forming, and to whose glory she had made such contributions." He makes it appear that Virginia had withdrawn from the Union only as a last resort. He assumes that because of the State's significant role in the early national history of the country, the love of Union was still present in the hearts and minds of her citizens.
The final mediatory motif which Hoge uses is sectional self-interest:
I speak not for myself, but for the South, when I say it is our interest, our duty and determination to maintain the Union, and to make every possible contribution to its prosperity and glory, if all the states which compose it will unite in making it such a Union as our fathers framed, and in enthroning above it not a Caesar, but the Constitution in its old supremacy.
He goes on quickly to assert:
If ever these states are welded together in one great fraternal, enduring Union, with one heart pulsating through the entire frame as the tides throb through the bosom of the sea, it will be when they all stand on the same level, with such a jealous regard for each other's rights that when the interest or honor of one is as sailed, all the rest feeling the wound, even as the body feels the pain inflicted on one of its members, will kindle with just resentment at the outrage, because an injury done to a part is not only a wrong but an indignity offered to the whole .
Once more turning to the usually eulogistic and therefore not very helpful Southern biographical sketches, one can find interesting verbal pictures of Hoge in the pulpit or on the podium. Since the words used to describe his voice and appearance are heavily connotative, not much can be gained other than realizing what some of his contemporaries thought about him. To the student of public speaking in the 1970Õs, these descriptions have little meaning. For instance, this sentence is typical:
It was a voice in a million -- flexible, magnetic, thrilling, clear as a clarion; by turns tranquil and soothing, strenuous and stirring, as the speaker willed; now mellow as a cathedral bell heard in the twilight, now ringing like a trumpet, or rolling through the building like melodious thunder, with an occasional impassioned crash like artillery, accompanied by a resounding stamp of his foot on the floor, but never unpleasant or overstrained; no one ever heard him scream or tear his throat.13
Again, when describing his appearance the same writer uses similarly connotative language:
When he rose in the pulpit, tall, straight, slender, sinewy, commanding, with something vital and electric in his resolute attitudes and movements, yet singularly deliberate; and with swarthy, grave, intellectual face and almost melancholy eyes, surveyed the people in front of him, no one needed to be told that there stood a master of assemblies.14
Not knowing really what is meant by an "intellectual face," for instance, one can do little more today than agree in an uncritical manner with another contemporary of Hoge who wrote that the minister was, "Always captivating ... one of the SouthÕs most popular pulpit orators."15
Dr. Moses Hoge was uniquely qualified to speak at the unveiling of "Stonewall" JacksonÕs statue. During the war the Confederate commander had come into Richmond on at least one occasion specifically to hear Hoge preach and had welcomed the Presbyterian leader into the Stonewall Brigade camp near the capital city to hold Sunday afternoon services. Jackson had a high regard for Hoge as is demonstrated by the fact that he gave the preacher authority which enabled Hoge "to pass at pleasure from Richmond to any part of my command"; Jackson's chief biographer calls this privilege "an unusual pass."16 Doubtless Hoge had earned the respect and admiration of the devout Jackson at least in part through his preaching. It was, therefore, altogether fitting that Hoge dedicate this statue.
This address at Jackson's memorial should be considered as a "speech to inspire" or a "speech to stimulate." In 1875 the South was still nursing the economic, social, psychological, and physical wounds suffered in the "War of the Rebellion." Hoge was facing an audience whose general outlook was undoubtedly pessimistic and negative about its current situation and uncertain about its future. In this speech, Hoge's basic message is a positive, uplifting, forward-looking affirmation of the great future of the South and of the nation. After praising the role of the founding fathers in the American Revolution, the orator proclaims "But this day we inaugurate a new era." Throughout the address, Hoge's words create an optimistic tone which reinforces his reconciliatory message. Early in the speech, he implies the future well-being of the South when he says his section accepts the Jackson statue as a "pleasing omen for the future that the rebuilding of our shattered fortunes should be aided by the descendants of the men who laid the foundations of this commonwealth." He implies a bright and long future for the nation as he refers to the "peaceful relations which we trust will ever exist between Great Britain and the confederated empire formed by the United States of America."
By presenting Jackson's life as a positive, decisive model, Hoge continues his optimistic tone. He describes how Jackson's determination and spirit triumphed over his early years of ill-health and privation; this fact illustrates that the South, too, can triumph over the adversity resulting from its wartime losses. The minister then describes Jackson's great military genius and, finally, his strong piety and religiousness. All of this lengthy description of Jackson is handled in an optimistic and positive manner as it paints a verbal picture of "Stonewall" as a strong, decisive, dynamic figure who triumphed over his problems and weaknesses.
Hoge points out that one can see in Jackson's life illustration of the fact that what is good does not always succeed merely by virtue of its goodness. He says that this is the greatest lesson to be learned from a study of the Confederate general, thereby suggesting that the South can take solace for its defeats in this fact of life.
The speaker continues his positive affirmation of hope for the South throughout his address until at the end he says, "I look forward to the future with more of hope than of despondency," and he uses the testimony of George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Jackson as his conclusion. Jackson's words are the most forward-looking of the group, and, appropriately, Hoge closes with them:
And last, it is Jackson's clear ringing tone to which we listen: 'What is life without honor? Degradation is worse than death. We must think of the living and of those who are to come after us, and see that by God's blessing we transmit to them the freedom we have enjoyed.' Heaven! Hear the prayers of our dead, immortal hero!
By positively affirming throughout his speech that the future is hopeful and that national reunion should and would come to pass, Hoge promotes his reconciliatory message and speaks effectively to his Richmond audience.
Robert E. Lee was the great Southern folk hero of the Civil War. Although his armies were crushed by the might of Yankee forces, the gray-clad veterans revered Lee. Many monuments in the defeated Confederacy were dedicated to him, and the University where he served as president for five years changed its name to honor him and furnished a mausoleum for his body. At the unveiling of this tomb, in June, 1883, John Warwick Daniel, the "Lame Lion of Lynchburg," delivered the oration of the day.17 According to the official account, Daniel "for three hours held his audience [of some 8,000 to 10,000 people] by the spell of his eloquence, moving it now to applause, and now to tears."18 Jefferson Davis had been asked to deliver an address on Lee's military career, with Daniel to speak on "General Lee's life and character as a citizen and civilian." Davis' advancing years and precarious health, however, forced him to decline the invitation and "to Major Daniel was committed the whole of the splendid theme."19
Daniel was a life-long resident of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he was born in 1842. He studied at Gessner Harrison's classical school, enlisted as a private in the Southern Army and rose to the rank of major before being wounded in the Wilderness campaign.20 This injury forced him onto crutches for the rest of his life and "embalms his fidelity to the Lost Cause."21 This fidelity helped elect him to the United States Congress in 1884 and to the Senate the following year. Clement Eaton, the Southern historian, remarks in a recent book:
The loyalty of Southerners to the Confederate leaders and heroes continued to be a powerful force in Southern politics until the twentieth century. Sir George Campbell noted in 1878 that Southerners voted for one-armed and one-legged Confederate veterans for office as a means of providing them with some sort of pension.22
Doubtless this reaction worked in Congressman Daniel's behalf also.
Daniel develops four major lines of approach to his reconciliatory rhetoric in this speech at Lexington. The first is the orator's use of Lee's life as a springboard for his discussion of reunion. The second tactic is to praise the North for its various military and civil accomplishments. Then Daniel uses Northern testimony in praise of the Confederate armies, especially in their charge at Gettysburg, and in praise of Lee himself. And, finally, Senator Daniel asserts that the South supports the Union and has no intention of trying again to disrupt the normal functioning of the national government.
The reconciliation theme
Daniel uses more than any other in this address centers around the subject of
his oration: General Lee. In the first moments of the speech, Daniel points out
the contribution made by Lee's family to the nation's history. The Confederate chief
the son of the renowned
"light Horse Harry Lee," who was the devoted friend and compatriot of
Washington in the revolutionary struggle ... descended indeed from a long line
of illustrious progenitors, whose names are written on the brightest scrolls of
English and American history, from the conquest of the Norman at Hastings, to
the triumph of the Continentals at Yorktown.
Daniel moves immediately into the next point related to this theme, namely: that Lee had carved for himself a fine and notable career in the service of the United States Army, as "he had already established his own martial fame at Vera Cruz, Cerro Gordo, Contrera, Cherubusco, Molino del Ray, Chepultepec and Mexico, and had proved how little he depended upon any merit but his own."
Senator Daniel further develops the idea that Lee was a firm and patriotic American as reflected in this extended passage:
Colonel Lee was emphatically a Union man; and Virginia, to the crisis of disolution, was a Union State. He loved the Union with a soldier's ardent loyalty to the Government he served, and with a patriot's faith and hope in the institutions of his country. His ancestors had been among the most distinguished and revered of its founders; his own life from youth upward had been spent and his blood shed in its service, and two of his sons, following his footsteps, held commissions in the army.
He was born in the same county, and descended from the same strains of English blood from which Washington sprang, and was united in marriage with Mary Custis, the daughter of his [Washington's] adopted son ... He had been withdrawn by his military occupations from scenes calculated to irritate or chill his kindly feelings toward the people of the North; and on the contrary -- in camp, and field, and social circle -- he had formed many ties of friendship with its most esteemed soldiers and citizens .... Years of his professional life he had spent in Northern communities, and, always a close observer of men and things, he well understood the vast resources of that section, and the hardy, industrious, and resolute character of its people; and he justly weighted their strength as a military power. When men spoke of how easily the South would repel invasion he said: "You forget that we are all Americans ...." Every bias of his judgment, as every tendency of his history, filled him with yearning and aspiration for the peace of his country and the perpetuity of the Union.
Still following this train of thought, Daniel next uses an effective rhetorical tactic which he employs throughout this address with telling effect: the use of Lee's own words to demonstrate and support the point Daniel wishes to make. In this case, he quotes at length from a letter Lee wrote to one of his sons in January, 1861:
As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation
Daniel has, in Lee, a perfect illustrative model for his theme of national reconciliation, and the speaker uses the model well and on several occasions, as this passage demonstrates:
Lee thoroughly understood and thoroughly accepted the situation. He realized fully that the war had settled, settled forever, the peculiar issues which had embroiled it; but he knew also that only time could dissipate its rankling passions and restore freedom; and hence it was he taught that "Silence and patience on the part of the South was the true course" -- silence because it was vain to speak when prejudice ran too high for our late enemies to listen -- patience, because it was the duty of the hour to labor for recuperation and wait for reconciliation .... Thus was he reviled and harrassed, yet never a word of bitterness escaped him; but, on the contrary, only counsels of foreberance, patience and diligent attention to works of restoration.
Senator Daniel then completes this theme by quoting a series of five of Lee's own reconciliation statements. This passage is typical of these series of quotations: Lee had said that, "All good citizens must unite in honest efforts to obliterate the effects of war, and to restore the blessings of peace. They must not abandon their country, but go to work and build up its prosperity." And again, "It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, and give scope to every kindly feeling."
Much later in this long oration, Daniel returns to Lee as a model for reconciliation as he tells three short anecdotes concerning the Confederate commander. In the first story, Lee supposedly sent the widow of the Federal General, Philip Kearney, the dead General's horse and sword. Later, after Lincoln was shot, Lee said the assassination was "a crime previously unknown to the country, and one that must be deprecated by every American." And finally, Lee was reputed to have given a former Union soldier some money to help him after the war. Lee said about the incident: "That is one of our old soldiers who is in necessitous circumstances. He fought on the other side, but we must not remember that against him now."
Then a few moments later, Senator Daniel concludes this avenue of reconciliation with a lengthy section of his speech in which he discusses Lee's forgiveness. Among other things, Daniel says:
Lee had nothing in common with the little minds that know not how to forgive. His was the land that had been invaded; his the people who were cut down, ravaged and ruined; his the home that was torn away and spoliated [sic]; his was the cause that perished. He was the General discrowned of his mighty place, and he the citizen disfranchised. Yet Lee forgave, and counselled all to forgive and forget.
Also in this portion of the address Daniel tells two "human interest" stories of events in Lee's post-war life that illustrates Lee's forgiving nature. One of these narratives describes when the devout Lee chastized a minister for denouncing the North from the pulpit and not preaching the law of "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which dispitefully use you." According to the story, Lee continued:
I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South her dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and have never seen the day when I did not pray for them.
The second of the stories refers to a time when Lee read a poem about loving one's enemies, which had been written by a "Mahomedan [sic], the Poet of Shiraz, the immortal Hafiz"; Lee questions his listeners: "Ought not we, who profess to be governed by the principles of Christianity, rise at least to the standard of this Mahomedan [sic] poet, and learn to forgive our enemies?"
Daniel also uses praise of the North as a prominent reconciliation tactic throughout the speech. For example, very early in the address, indeed, in the first moments of his introduction, the orator praises the nation's capital and the city of Washington as he describes it this way: "the splendid avenues and ... gleaming spires of Washington; and over all, the great white dome of the National Capital looms up against the eastern sky, like a glory in the air."
His next attempt to glorify the North comes when he talks about the power and might of the victorious section:
On the other hand stands the foremost and most powerful Republic of the earth, rich in all that handiwork can fashion or that gold can buy. It is thickly populated. Its regular army, and its myriad volunteers, rush to do its bidding. Its navy rides the Western seas in undisputed sway. Its treasury teems with the sinews of war, and its arsenals with weapons. And the world is open to lend cheer and aid and comfort.
Daniel carries this praise a step further a short time later when he exalts the Northern soldier and his bravery and power. He contrasts the weak and ill-provided-for Southern troops with the might of the Union armies; calls them "sturdy foe"; and says they were "generously provided with the richest stores and most approved arms and munitions of war." Then, in the waning moments of his address, Daniel returns to this theme as he remarks that Lee fought "against the greatest nation of modern history, armed with steam and electricity, and all the appliances of modern science." This extensive praise of the Northern military machine must have been galling to some of the old Confederate veterans, but apparently Daniel believed it to be a valid topic -- he repeated it several times in the speech, as these excerpts show.
Daniel's third theme of reconciliation utilizes Northern praise of Southern military forces and fighting capabilities. He introduces this approach early in the speech by pointing out that Northern troops were fully aware of the valor and skill of the Southerners who made the charge at Gettysburg. Major Daniel says that the charge
was so characterized by brave design and dauntless execution that friend and foe alike burst into irrepressible praise of the great commander who directed and of the valorous men who made it.
Again, the orator returns to this topic when he tells this story of Lee after the war:
When he reached the fallen Capital of the dead Confederacy, and rode through its ashes and paling fires to his home, a body of Federal soldiers there, catching a glimpse of his noble countenance, lifted their hats and cheered; and as the great actor in the bloody drama stepped behind the scenes, and the curtain fell upon the tragic stage of the secession war, the last sounds that greeted his ears were the generous salutations of respect from those against whom he had wielded his knightly sword.
Then, very late in the address, Daniel once more repeats this idea as he says:
The men who wrested victory from his little band, stood wonder-stricken and abashed when they saw how few were those who dared oppose them, and generous admiration burst into spontaneous tribute to the splendid leader who bore defeat with the quiet resignation of a hero.
This theme of Northern praise for Southern heroes and military exploits must have been a useful one for Daniel. The Southern audience which heard Daniel must have felt a sense of magnanimity toward their former enemies. If the Yankee soldier could praise the valor and heroism of their enemies, the Southerners must have been compelled, to some degree, to return the praise.
The fourth theme Daniel uses to encourage reconciliation is mentioned only once in the speech, but the speaker is quite clear and explicit in his statement: "We have not a thought or fancy or desire to undo the perpetuity of the Union. For any man to pretend to think otherwise is proclamation of his falsehood, or his folly." Major Daniel asserts this Southern intention with no supporting or clarifying materials, so one simply has to accept his words through the force of his authority and credibility. But this assertion reinforces his theme throughout the speech that the Union is strong and mighty and should be and will be accepted and supported by Southerners even though they had recently fought against it.
Although this speech -- like most surveyed in this study -- was not presented with the sole or even primary purpose of speaking to reconcile the sections, there are portions of the address which reflect a mediatory spirit. Since the major reason for the oration was to eulogize General Lee, Daniel makes efficient use of Lee's life as a model for reconciliation. This theme is his most obvious -- and effective -- reconciliatory tactic. He points out that both Lee and his family had made valuable contributions to the security and government of the entire nation and that Lee himself was staunchly and emphatically a Union man; his love for the Union was overcome only by his love and loyalty for Virginia. In addition, Lee had counseled and demonstrated through both word and deed his interest in national reunion. And finally, Daniel was able to show that Lee was not at all vindictive toward the North. Throughout the speech, Daniel, in developing this approach to reconciliation, often uses Lee's own words as support in picturing the General as a model for the reunion message. Probably much of what he uses as illustrative material was commonplace to the post-war Southerner. Daniel's expert use of the material, though, would reinforce this common knowledge and make it more believable. If the South's greatest hero could counsel reconciliation, the former Confederate would be hard-pressed not to extend the hand of intersectional peace.
Daniel's praise for Northern industrial and military might help give the Southerner reasons for his defeat, and, at the same time, develop a sense of pride in his entire country. When the orator called the North "the greatest nation of modern history," his listeners had to realize that the North was part of the Union, too; enemies at one time, but brought back together by the verdict of the sword.
There were two major ways by which Daniel enhanced his rhetorical effectiveness in this speech. One technique was by addressing himself to the traditional Southern belief in a code of chivalry and the other method was by utilizing the Southern love for warfare and the martial spirit. Daniel capitalized on the Southern code of chivalry and interest in knighthood by several times referring to the Confederate commander's "knightly" attributes: appearance, leadership ability, and honor. For example, Lee, his officers, and men, "formed a fellowship as noble as that which bound the Knights of the Round Table to Arthur." After describing LeeÕs uniform and his appearance on Traveler, "the gray warhorse," Daniel sums up Lee: "he looked every inch the true knight -- the grand, invincible champion of a great principle." Daniel's strategy of appealing to this deep-rooted Southern traditional belief in chivalry could only gain for the speaker an attentive and appreciative audience which would listen with favor to his address – especially those passages of reconciliation which used Lee as their focal point.
The orator also enhanced his rhetorical impact by generally vocalizing a romantic picture of warfare -- a strategy which must have struck a responsive cord in his Southern audience. He especially glorifies war when speaking of Lee's military exploits as this passage reflects:
Then follows the boldest and grandest assault of modern war -- the charge upon the Federal centre entrenched on the heights of Gettysburg -- a charge that well-nigh ended the war with 'a clap of thunder,' and was so characterized by brave design and dauntless execution that friend and foe alike burst into irrepressible praise of the great commander who directed it and of the valorous men who made it.
Between these two strategies of audience identification and the awe with which General Lee was held, Daniel doubtless did hold his audience enthralled "by the spell of his eloquence."
On May 1, 1886, James C.C. Black, an Augusta, Georgia, lawyer and politician, delivered the Atlanta oration at the unveiling of Benjamin Harvey Hill's statue. Black had served in the Confederate Army, rising through the ranks from private to major. After the War, he studied law in Augusta, was admitted to the bar, and served as a member of the 53rd and 54th Congresses. He declined to run for re-election and spent the rest of his life as a distinguished lawyer, civic worker, and ceremonial orator.23
Benjamin Harvey Hill was an outstanding Georgia leader of the Civil War era. Born in Jasper County in 1823, he led a distinguished life as a lawyer, planter, and politician in the pre-war years. As the South moved toward the conflict, Hill counseled against secession as an active member of the Georgia state secession convention. When his state left the Union, however, Hill left with it and became a staunch Confederate. He was elected to the Confederate Congress where he served as a vigorous supporter of President Jefferson Davis; the Mississippian reflected his awareness of Hill's support by attending this dedication of Hill's statue. After the war, Hill urged his fellow Georgians to reject the Reconstruction Acts, but by 1870 he saw that further Southern resistance was futile; he changed his stand and counseled reconciliation and moderate feelings toward the North.24 After being elected to the United States House of Representatives and to the national Senate, he died of tongue cancer in August, 1882.25
Some of Black's contemporaries believed that this address at Hill's statue was the "masterpiece" of his entire speaking career; certainly there was consensus that it was "one of his great orations."26 Both Henry Grady and Jefferson Davis were present in the audience; Davis remarked that, "This oration is the grandest of the kind to which I have ever listened."27 The rest of the audience received the address with the same sort of judgment: "The speech began and proceeded to the close with unprecedented enthusiasm on the part of the vast assemblage; every noble period being punctuated with wild applause."28 A large crowd had gathered to pay tribute to Hill and to listen to the ever-present address; some estimated the audience to be as large as 25,000.29
There is basically only one major reconciliation theme in this address by Black: the fact that Hill's life was a model of devotion to country and that all men should follow this example.30 The orator of the day returns to this topic several times in the address. Early in the speech, he casually mentions that the meeting to honor Hill should serve to "move us with the higher purposes of devotion to our State and country that [Hill's] life and character inspire."
Black next mentions this theme in an extended passage in which he discusses Hill's knowledge and philosophy of the national and state system of government. Black asserts that, "Not only as a son of Georgia and the South does he merit the tribute of our highest praise, but as a citizen of the Republic. He was a profound student of our system of government." Black states that not even Daniel Webster had a deeper knowledge nor a more intense love of the Union than did Hill.
With the underlying principles of that Union he was familiar. To him the American Union was not the territory over which the flag floated and the laws were administered. It was a system of government embracing a general government for general purposes, and local governments for local purposes, each like the spheres in the heavens, to be confined to its own orbit, and neither could invade the domain of the other without chaos and ruin. In the solution of all problems, in the discussion of all questions, he looked to the Constitution .... He regarded the American system of government as the wisest ever devised by the wisdom of men, guided by a beneficent Providence which seemed to have chosen them for the highest achievements of the race.
Black went on in this passage to refer extensively to the love Hill had for the national flag, no doubt in reference to the speech Hill had made in 1876 on the occasion of receiving an American flag in Atlanta from a delegation of Ohio businessmen and tourists. In fact, Black paraphrased some of those remarks in this portion of his speech as evidence of Senator Hill's love for the Union and the national government, and its symbols.
The orator next continues this theme of reconciliation by saying how Hill had "rejoiced" at the restoration of the South and his state of Georgia to the Union. "No mariner tossed through long nights on unchosen and tempestuous seas ever hailed the day of return to tranquil port more gladly than he hailed the day of restoration of the States." His final reference to Hill as a worthy model of reconciliation and intersectional harmony came just moments later as he stated that after the war Hill, "devoted all the powers of his great mind, and all the impulses of his patriotic heart, to the reestablishment of that cordial respect and good feeling between the sections upon which alone our American system, more than all others, depends for permanent union and peace."
In saying that there was this single major theme of national harmony in this speech, no implication is made that it was devoid of any other reconciliatory rhetoric. Black briefly mentions several other ideas which could easily be interpreted as pleas for unity. For example, he uses one of the more traditional nationalistic appeals when he asks the rhetorical question, "It is asked what she [the South] had added to the glories of the Republic?" He then catalogs the traditional notations, such as Thomas Jefferson's writing the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's military and civil leadership, James Madison as Father of the Constitution, John Marshall's role as the founder of our system of jurisprudence. He also includes VirginiaÕs contribution of the Ohio Territory and the purchase of Louisiana by Jefferson. All of these achievements are designed to remind the audience of the prominent part played in the nationÕs history by the South and Southerners and to imply: "We can and must continue that great tradition."
In addition, Black asserts that the Southern soldier
returned to their homes like true cavaliers, willing to acknowledge their defeat, abide in good faith the terms of the surrender, accept all the legitimate results of the issue, respect the prowess of those who had conquered, and resume their relations to the government with all the duties those relations imposed.
Soon thereafter, the orator praises Lincoln and Webster to his Southern audience, then says:
We are willing to forget; we this day proclaim and bind it by the highest sanction -- the sacred obligation of Southern honor -- that we have forgotten all of the past that should not be cherished. We stand in the way of no true progress. We freely pledge our hearts and hands to everything that will promote the prosperity and glory of our country.
And finally, Black in the waning moments of his address urges his listeners to be loyal to the nation:
Citizens of the Republic, love your system of government, study and venerate the Constitution, cherish the Union, oppose all sectionalism, promote the weal and maintain the honor of the Republic.
Again, as with the Lee and Jackson statue speeches discussed in this chapter, we have a speech whose primary purpose is to eulogize a well-liked leader of the Southern Confederacy. In this address though, there are strong overtones of a message of concern for intersectional reconciliation; most of which centers around the life of Hill as a fit model for the reunion spirit. Black asserts that Hill "opposed the secession of the State"; although he was "loyal to Georgia and the South," he "rejoiced" at the restoration of the South. In describing Hill, Black says:
No son driven by fortunes he could not control from the paternal roof, ever left that roof with sadder parting than he left the Union, or returned from the storms without to shelter of home with wilder transport of joy than he felt when the South was again admitted to 'our father's house.'
The orator obviously hopes that his listeners will be as happy as Hill was to see the South and Georgia return fully to the national union of States.
Only twice does Black assert strongly and openly that the South was reconciled. First, when he talks of the Confederate soldiers who accepted "the legitimate results" of the war, and then, when he says, "We are willing to forget." He does, however, by use of Hill's example and through use of the traditional, "What has the South contributed to the Nation" theme imply that the nation was again one. In addition, he uses specific illustrations of national heroes and symbols -- for example, Washington's Monument which had been dedicated the year before, the Bunker Hill Monument, Lincoln, Webster, the national capital and the statues there -- to suggest that the war had solved the issues that divided the sections and that the nation's wounds were healed.
There were many towns and counties in the South which could not boast of a hero like Lee, Jackson, or Hill, to whom a monument could be raised. But even the smallest village had lost men in the civil struggle and all citizens could recall the days when their young men had marched off to war. To the soldier, the suffering of field and camp, prison and hospital, was still a real and vivid memory. And in most communities of the post-war South, there were empty sleeves and patched eyes to remind the people of the conflict. So it was a common task for many Southern villages to collect money to erect a monument to the Boys in Gray.
One of the first communities to sponsor a memorial monument was Augusta, Georgia, the headquarters city for the Confederate Survivors Association. After a bitter campaign concerning the best location for the monument, the citizens of Augusta voted to place it at the corner of Broad and McIntosh Street. Some had wanted to erect it in the city cemetery, but the center of the city was selected. As was the custom, the Ladies Memorial Association raised funds for the project.
On April 13, 1875, the officers of the Association met to lay the first bricks of the foundation:
About half-past three o'clock the ladies met at the site of the proposed monument, and going down into the excavation made for the foundation -- where the ground was prepared, with brick and mortar at hand -- took off their gloves and prepared themselves for work.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . It was indeed a novel sight to the large number of spectators to see the ladies, with delicate, ungloved hands, laying brick and handling the trowel, but it was a holy duty they performed -- one most appropriate to the occasion and the object -- that of rearing a shaft of marble in memory of the brave men who fought and died for a cause they considered just.31
The brick-laying ceremony was not all that the city did that Spring to commemorate the dead and consecrate the column. On Confederate Memorial Day, April 26, they dedicated the cornerstone of the memorial and had the usual procession, ceremony, and oration. The city merchants closed their shops at one o'clock, and "the streets soon after one began to be thronged with volunteers in uniform, members of societies, with badges, and citizens generally. Everything wore a holiday appearance ... Never before in the history of Augusta was there such a universal outpouring of the people known."32 Another observer wrote, "The street was packed and jammed, whilst every window and housetop, from pavement to roof, contained as many as it could hold. It was not only a sea of upturned faces, but a wall of faces on either side."33
In the procession that marched to the site of the monument were many groups from the area such as the Augusta Independent Volunteer Battalion, the Augusta Police Force "in full and beautiful grey uniform," the Medical Society, city and county clergy and officials, along with the officers of the Ladies Memorial Association. One writer was most effusive in his description of the parade: "The procession and the music eclipsed anything ever witnessed in Georgia since the dawn of civilization upon its soil!"34
Once at the site, a prayer was offered, an anthem was sung by the choir, a selection by Mozart was played by -- of all groups -- the Eighteenth United States Army Band stationed in Columbia, South Carolina, and the cornerstone was lowered into position. It was then dedicated by a Masonic ceremony with Grand Master C.E. Lewis pouring wheat, wine, and oil upon it, "assisted by the grand dignitaries and members of the Masonic order."35 Part of the cornerstone ritual was the emplacement of certain memorial items, such as the rolls of city and county officers, lists of church memberships, rolls of the local societies such as the Georgia Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Hebrew Benevolent Society, the rolls of local schools, and of course, Confederate memorabilia such as postage stamps, money, a Confederate flag, lists of Confederate dead and rolls of various Georgia military units.36 After the conclusion of the oration and another prayer, the procession reformed and marched to the cemetery for the annual decoration of the graves.
The orator of the day, Clement A. Evans, had enjoyed a varied and laudatory career before arriving in Augusta for these events. Born in Stewart County, Georgia, in 1836, he was admitted to legal practice before his nineteenth Birthday; at twenty-two he was elected judge of the county court and four years later served as state senator. In 1860, he was one of the Georgia electors for the Southern Democratic Breckinridge and Lane presidential ticket. After Lincoln was elected President, Evans favored Southern secession, but only upon the condition that all the states withdraw together as a unified group. Although the Southern states failed to achieve this cohesive action, Evans participated courageously in the struggle. He commanded a brigade, then a division in GordonÕs Corps in the Army of Northern Virginia, and was wounded five times. After Appomattox, the General turned from the saddle to the pulpit and became a preacher in the North Georgia Methodist Conference where he remained for twenty-seven years. Although he "cheerfully accepted the verdict" of war, he assisted in organizing the United Confederate Veterans Association and served in several positions of responsibility in that body, including a term as its Commander-in-Chief. In keeping with his military background and record, General Evans edited a twelve-volume work, The Confederate Military History. He was also a businessman, as he organized the successful Augusta Real Estate and Improvement Company and the Augusta Summerville Land Company; in addition to these business ventures he was a trustee of three colleges and managed the finances of the Preachers Aid Association.37
It is difficult to isolate specific themes of reconciliation rhetoric in this brief address.38 There are, however, scattered references throughout the speech which can be seen as contributing to a spirit of national reunion. The first of these statements occurs in the opening moments of the introduction:
In the mind of the people of all these United States there is a national reverence for popular rights, a deeply seated faith in the old maxims of our Government, and withal a respect for valor and virtue which are not extinguished, and cannot be much longer repressed. The long dispute between the Northern and Southern sections as such, which began in earnest fifty years ago, which had its four years reaping on fields of fraternal carnage, and its ten years aftermatter [sic] of crimination, distrust and misrule, is, I fervently hope, practically drawing to a close. We at least are here to-day from all parts of the Nation -- Confederates and Federals -- native and foreign born, with our sons and daughters, to say with united voice, 'let sectional strife cease!'
This assertion of a positive tone of reunion and national harmony is mentioned again at several points in the address, as when a short time later, Evans urges his listeners:
But let us do nothing fellow-citizens, to keep alive the passions of war. To study its lessons is prudence; to profit by its teachings is wisdom; but to stir up the old animosities is madness. The voice of this monument will not be for war, but peace.
Then Evans asks his listeners to believe that the Old Confederacy has expired. "We have buried it. We do not intend to exhume its remains. We were utterly defeated, and we dismiss our resentments ... we take with the true hand of Southern honor the staff that holds the flag of stars and stripes." There is, however, no proof offered in support of this contention.
The final approach Evans takes to the reconciliation theme is to say that both North and South unite in paying tribute to the courage and bloodshed of the other side in the conflict. He especially refers to Northern praise of Southern troops after the war was over. For example:
A Federal officer of high rank exclaimed in a public address before an appreciative Northern audience: 'That army of Northern Virginia! Who can help looking back upon them now with feelings half fraternal! Reduced to dire extremity at times, yet always ready to fight, and knowing well how to make a field illustrious!' Men distinguished as statesmen and as military men on the other Atlantic shore have taken up the pen to record their high estimate of Confederate valor, fortitude and skill .... We have not asked the Federal soldier or citizen to say that our secession was right. Fair difference of opinion may be indululged on that question. But we hear with fraternal gladness the tributes which they pay to the honesty of our motives and the valor of our troops.
I respond with truest feeling to-day to the fraternal words of General Bartlett, of Massachusetts, spoken on the 19th of this April, at the Centennial celebration of the first battle of the old revolution. Referring to the Southern soldiers, he said: 'As an American, I am proud of the men who bravely met and repulsed them there!'
The oration was well received by both the immediate audience and the nation at large. The Augusta Daily Chronicle and Sentinel contained a number of statements from other papers, both North and South, about the address, including this assessment from the New York Tribune:
Whatever the politicians may be about, it is very clear that the soldiers of the late war were drawing nearer together .... When such words as those of General Evans are received with favor by an audience of ex-Confederates, we can have no fear that the people of the South have not resumed their devotion to the flag and their loyalty to the Union.39
An article in the Southern Christian Advocate echoed this positive sentiment as it stated: "The press speaks in highest terms of praise of the address delivered at Augusta, Georgia, on Memorial Day, by our esteemed brother .... The address is instinct with patriotic ardor."40 An Augusta account the day after the address indicated that the speech was "frequently interrupted by applause";41 here is at least some indication of the impression the speech made on the immediate audience.
The occasion for this speech had a certain aura of reunion spirit even before Evans rose to speak. The official account of the proceeding, for instance, said about the presence of the Eighteenth United States Infantry Band:
One of the most striking features of the day was the appearance of the splendid band ... It was as novel as it was beautiful to see a portion of the regular army paying tribute to the dead of armies they had fought. It was but another token of that era of sincere peace and friendship upon which the whole country is now rapidly entering when the animosities engendered by the strife are to be indeed forgotten, and the heroism, devotion and patriotism of all only remembered.42
Evans early expressed his own positive faith in this new era when he reminded his audience that all parts of the nation were represented in the ceremonies to honor the Confederate dead and that this coming together of former enemies called out for intersectional peace. By recalling the recent centennial ceremonies at the Bunker Hi1l Monument and at Lexington and Concord, Evans reinforced his contention that the nation was indeed reunited.
General Evans also uses the monument itself as a symbol for reunion "The voice of this monument will not be for war, but peace ... The monument itself will say to us that the Confederacy has expired." By referring to the very reason for his speech and the gathering, he reinforces the desire he expresses for national harmony and subtly tells his listeners that their Confederate dead would themselves wish that peace would come to the warring sections.
The Robert E. Lee Camp of the Confederate Veterans, located in Alexandria, Virginia, dedicated a monument to the Confederate dead of that city in May, 1889. Captain R.T. Daniel presented the monument to the R. E. Lee Camp; Governor Fitzhugh Lee, who received the memorial in behalf of the organization, then proceeded to deliver the oration of the day.43
Fitzhugh Lee was well qualified to present this oration in reception of the memorial to the soldiers of the late Confederacy. A nephew of Robert E. Lee, the Governor had served in the gray uniform as an outstanding calvalry commander on many battlefields with his uncle. A few years after this address, he wrote a "full length biography that reveals his high regard for the general [Lee] as a military leader."44 A recent assessment of Governor Lee ranks him among Virginians as "next to Daniel [John W.] in popular favor among the Confederate heroes in public life."45
Although much of the speech is devoted to a review of some of the great battles of history: Thermopylae, Waterloo, and the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava and to Governor Lee's comparison of the bravery of those soldiers with the Confederate trooper at Gettysburg; the orator does attempt to reinforce some reconciliatory feelings. His major concern in this regard is simply to speak as though the nation is once again whole -- a united country, with all the States working together in unison for the good of the whole -- a sentiment which, by 1889, was no doubt more true than had it been uttered a decade and a half earlier. In this address, the reunion message is epitomized in this passage very early in the speech:
To-day Federal and Confederate soldiers are citizens of one country. Over their head flies one flag, and a common destiny is revealed to both as the curtain rises on the future and exhibits to the gaze of the world 60,000,000 people living in peace and equally interested in all that pertains to the common glory of the American republic.
Lee then goes on to point out that he believes it is right for the North to honor "the devotion to the Union of the States by Federal soldiers" and that,
celebrations in the South by southern soldiers in honor of the memory of those who died in the defence of their States, their homes, and their people should be equally recognized as the merited tribute to their valor, and in no sense inconsistent with all the responsibilities and duties that now devolve upon States and individuals with equal force.
A bit later, the speaker refers to the centennial commemoration which had been held the preceding day in New York City, "the greatest city of this great country"; without going into any detail, he calls it a "magnificent demonstration." Then he tells how the world gathered to pay tribute to the first great American, George Washington, and how, of course, Robert E. Lee was related to him and how he had been born in the same county as Washington. He goes through the typical description of his uncle's pre-war service to the nation and his agonizing decision to join with his native state in the Civil War. All this is designed to show the connection of the Confederacy's great hero with the great national hero in an effort to reinforce Southern pride in the contributions Southerners had made to the nation.
General Lee then makes his last attempt at a reconciliatory rhetoric as he says:
God grant the time may speedily come when the survivors of the contending armies of the war between the States may everywhere recognize that the conscience which Washington call 'celestial fire' guided the motives of the soldiers of each army, whether they fought for the blue, or died in defence of the gray, and even as the flags of England and America entwined in loving embrace to commemorate the renown of the great Washington, so may every section of what is now a common country, remembering the valor and the heroism of the soldiers who fought upon either side from 1861 to 1865, be able to exclaim, 'They were American soldiers, and were splendid illustrations of American prowess.' Rejoice with me that the smoke of battle has vanished and the roar of hostile guns is no longer heard.
Although this dedicatory oration is extremely martial in its themes and scope, Governor Lee does reinforce a feeling of national unity as these quotations reflect. He obviously believes that the nation is once again whole and that both sections are in harmony on national purpose and future. So nowhere does he bother to strongly support or clearly illustrate his contention that the nation's wounds and scars are healed. He does, however, distinctly imply that the reunion process is complete; this assertion doubtless was given credibility by his listeners due to his ethos as Governor and a former General as well as through his relationship with the great Confederate commander.
The dedication of monuments to war heroes throughout the South for many decades following the Civil War was an important feature of Southern culture. For a community to recall the sacrifices made for war and the passions engendered by bloodshed would seem a barrier to the reconciliation spirit. But as the dedicatory orators pointed out, men since time immemorial have praised in earthworks, stone, song, and word the deeds of their forebearers. The South, fully aware of the past, profoundly steeped in tradition, and passionately devoted to family and locality, could hardly do less, and, as we have seen, this memorial occasion was used to promote intersectional reunion. This lengthy quotation from an Augusta, Georgia, editorial sums up much of the SouthÕs feeling about her Confederate monuments and their role in rememberance of the past and reunion for the future:
But yesterday this sentiment of which we have spoken took appropriate and enduring shape in the beginning of the erection of a monument which will remain to future ages a witness to the valor of Southern men and the devotion of Southern women .... This memorial shaft bears testimony in their behalf -- is a protest to God and man of the righteousness of their cause and the purity of their motives .... It is a vindication as well as a rememberance. It is put in our most public throughfare that it may be a landmark in our city; that it may be seen by every eye; that it may speak to the world of a cause crushed but not disgraced, of a people vanquished but not dishonored. It commemorates the courage, the chivalry, the devotion of the dead and it bears testimony to the justice of their cause. There will be no shame for the children of the conquered. They will point with pride to this lofty column and say 'so honored the South her heroes.' In years to come the proudest patent of nobility will lie in the words 'my father fought for freedom in the ranks of the Confederate Army.'
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As it was fitting that it should be it was an occasion from which every evil passion was eliminated. There were tears and honors for the slain without bitterness or hatred for the slayers. The hearts which thrilled under the rememberances of past glories and of surviving griefs contained no feelings of resentment or of hostility for those who robbed us of our loved ones, who crushed our dearest hopes, who blighted our fondest aspirations .... We did not meet to swear hatred and vengeance upon the tombs of Southern soldiers; but rather to declare to the North that while we honor and lament our dead we cherish no malice for the living. We said to them 'here, across the graves of our sons and brothers, we extend to you the hand of peace and reconciliation. You believed in the justice of your cause, and battled for what we deemed the right. The God of Battles gave to you the victory. Let us, then, forget the enmities of the past, let us once more be friends and struggle together for the prosperity and glory of our common country.'46
With this abiding interest in the remembrance of things past, and the desire to once more see a united nation, it is easy to understand why the public address at the commemoration of these numberless monuments played a vital role in the shaping of Southern attitudes and values. Indeed, this ceremonial occasion has to be seen as one of the most important observances in the culture of the post-war South. The ceremonies and oration served to glorify the Lost Cause and give it almost mythical status, while, at the same time, helped to create or reinforce a positive spirit of national reunion.
The monument ceremonies provided an opportunity for the speaker to encourage his audience to forget the pettiness, hatred, and strife of decades of sectional bitterness. All citizens could forget their differences and come together to talk of their pleasant memories of the past and their harmonious plans for the future. For, like the eulogy, words which would rekindle the sectional spirit would be most inappropriate to the dedicatory circumstances. The occasion would have lent itself easily to the reaffirmation of intersectional peace. This was one occasion of public life where discord and argumentation were not in order.
These speeches examined in this chapter contain four basic reconciliation themes: First, that the South will honor the judgment of the sword. That is, the North does not need to fear that the "South would rise again"; the war settled the matter of secession. Second, the South has given much to the nation -- she is proud of that fact, and she will continue to contribute to the national well-being. Third, there is a positive affirmation that the reconciliation process was an accomplished fact; reunion was a reality. The orators who used this theme expressed their belief that there is a nation-wide feeling of faith in a re-united America; national patriotism and national pride are alive and well throughout the country and especially in the South. And, finally, the speakers said, "Let us follow the reconciliation example set for us by our wartime leaders, especially Lee, Hill, and Jackson."
In each of the six speeches examined in this chapter, the traditional Southern value of honor47 is emphasized. Each speaker, in some way, focuses on this value to reinforce his contention regarding reunion. Kemper, Hoge, Black, and Evans all stress that Southern soldiers and citizens accept the verdict of the sword and say, in effect, that our solemn honor is at stake; if we try to return to sectional warfare, we will be tarnishing our personal, state, and regional honor. Lee expresses this idea of honor as he claims both sections fought well enough to deserve each other's praise. Daniel carries this rhetorical approach even farther, as much of his speech stresses the values inherent in the Southern code of chivalry and honor, and the Southern respect for a standard of knighthood, as embodied in General Robert E. Lee. This rhetorical method -- relying on the value of honor as a support for reunion -- was effective for the Southern auditors who traditionally had placed such strong importance on this value.
A second effective rhetorical strategy employed by all six speakers involves a focus on Southern pride. Each of the speakers who spoke at a monument honoring a specific hero, of course, stresses his section's pride in that person and his contributions to the nation. In addition to this approach Hoge and BlackÕs use of this idea emphasizes the South's contribution to the nation. In addition to this approach, Hoge and Black's use of this idea emphasizes the South's contribution as a section to the nation's historical development. Daniel and Evans turn to Northern praise of Southern fighting ability to support and develop this idea. In all cases, this effective appeal to Southern pride was related to an implication that the nation was unified and therefore helped to support this call for reconciliation.
This chapter and the preceding one have discussed Southern speakers' strategy of reconciliation in speech situations in which the dead were memorialized and the memories of the past perpetuated in honor of the dead. We shall now turn to a Southern ceremonial situation in which the past was honored, but in terms of the living survivors of the war: the veterans' reunions. From what we have seen, it was claimed that the Southern (and Northern) soldiers were the first to forgive and forget. How did the speakers at the annual reunions reinforce this feeling of intersectional harmony?
1 Rembert W. Patrick, The Reconstruction of the Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 249-50.
2 Ibid., p. 243.
3 John Kemper, "Address at the Unveiling of JacksonÕs Statue," Richmond, Virginia, October 26, 1875. Text in the Columbia, South Carolina Register, October 31, 1875.
4 Edwin A. Alderman and Joel Chandler Harris, eds., Library of Southern Literature, VI (Atlanta: Martin and Hoyt Co., 1910), p. 2439.
5 "Jackson's Statue," The News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina), October 27, 1875.
6 Allen W. Moger, Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, 1870-1925 (Charlottesville: The University Press of Virginia, 1968), p. 26.
7 "Jackson's Statue," News and Courier.
9 Joseph D. Eggleston, "Moses Drury Hoge," Dictionary of American Biography, IX, Ed. by Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932), p. 121.
10 Alderman and Harris, Library of Southern Literature, p. 2438.
11 Rev. Moses D. Hoge, "Oration of the Inauguration of the Jackson Statue," Presented at Richmond, Virginia, October 26, 1875. Copy located at Duke University Library.
12 See Anthony Hillbruner, "Inequality, The Great Chain of Being, and Ante-Bellum Southern Oratory," The Southern Speech Journal, XXV (Spring, 1960), pp. 172-89.
13 Alderman and Harris, Library of Southern Literature, p. 2436.
15 Thomas E. Watson, ed., The South in the Building of the Nation, IX (Richmond: The Southern Historical Publication Society, 1909), p. 141.
16 Lenoir Chambers, Stonewall Jackson, II (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1959), p. 97.
17 John W. Daniel, Oration at the Inauguration of the Mausoleum and the Unveiling of the Recumbent Figure of General Robert Edward Lee at Washington and Lee University (Richmond: West, Johnston and Co., 1883).
18 W. Allan, Historical Sketch of the Lee Memorial Association (Richmond: West, Johnston and Co., 1883), p. 17.
19 "Ceremonies Connected with the Inauguration of the Mausoleum and the Unveiling of the Recumbent Figure of General Robert Edward Lee," N.P., N.D., p. 12.
20 C.C. Pearson, "John Warwick Daniel," Dictionary of American Biography, V, Ed. by Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930), p. 68.
21 Alderman and Harris, Library of Southern Literature, p. 108.
22 Clement Eaton, The Waning of the Old South Civilization, 1860-1880's, Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures, No. 10 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), p. 166.
23 "Memorial Exercises of Augusta Bar Association in Honor of J.C.C. Black." N.P., N.D., pp. 5-7.
24 "Benjamin H. Hill," The Story of Georgia, Biographical Volume (New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1938), p. 717.
25 Alderman and Harris, Library of Southern Literature, VI, p. 2390.
26 Ibid., p. 16.
29 Newspaper clipping, Augusta Evening News (Augusta, Georgia), May 1, 1886. Found in J.C.C. Black, Scrap Books, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.
30 J.C.C. Black, "Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue," delivered at Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 1886. Text found in the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina.
31 "The Hero Dead," Daily Chronicle and Sentinel (Augusta, Georgia), April 27, 1875, p. 3.
32 Ibid., p. 4.
33 Ibid., p. 6.
34 Ibid., p. 4.
35 Ibid., p. 7.
36 Ibid., pp. 7-8.
37 "General Element Anselm Evans," History of Georgia, II (Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1926), pp. 555-558.
38 Ceremonies in Augusta, Georgia, Laying the Cornerstone of the Confederate Monument April 26, 1875 (Augusta, Georgia: Chronicle and Constitutionalist Job Printing Establishment, 1878).
39 "Memorial Day in Augusta," Daily Chronicle and Sentinel (Augusta, Georgia), April 30, 1875, p. 2.
40 "Rev. C.A. Evans," ibid., May 5, 1875, p. 2.
41 "The Hero Dead," ibid., p. 4.
42 Ceremonies in Augusta, p. 5.
43 Fitzhugh Lee, "Oration at the Unveiling of the Monument to the Confederate Dead." (Alexandria, Virginia: No pub., 1889).
44 Fitzhugh Lee, General Lee. Introduction by Philip Van Doren Stern (New York: Fawcett Publications, 1961), p. vii.
45 Moger, Virginia: Bourbonism to Byrd, p. 96.
46 "Memorial Day," Daily Chronicle and Sentinel (Augusta, Georgia), April 27, 1875, p. 2.
47 As both Eaton and Weaver have pointed out, the Southerner, both common folk and planter, developed a sense of honor which served as one of the major bases for his life-style. See Eaton, Waning of the Old South, pp. 4, 30, 50-1, 53 and Richard M. Weaver, The Southern Tradition at Bay, A History of Postbellum Thought (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1968), pp. 47, 59-72.