PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE: ACADEMIC CEREMONIES
We turn now to an examination of a wholly different speaking situation. The academic ceremony was not oriented toward emotional battlefield and military exploits as were the Memorial Day celebrations, war monument dedications, and veterans' reunions, but, rather was centered in environments of intellectual training and in the considerations of the future role of youth. One might suspect that in the decades after the war the orator's admonitions to the young graduate would include attempts to promote intersectional reconciliation. And so they did. In this chapter, we shall consider six speeches delivered in Virginia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, from 1881 to 1889. These addresses were presented at college and academy cornerstone-laying and building-dedicating ceremonies, literary society meetings, alumni reunions, and general convocations.
The first of these speeches to be examined was delivered at Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, on June 8, 1881,1 by the College President, Atticus G. Haygood. The occasion itself was most conducive to reconciliation oratory, as the New York railroad magnate and financier George I. Seney, had donated some $50,000 to Emory College for the erection of a new building. Seney had designated Emory College and Weslyan Female College (Emory's "sister" school) at Macon, Georgia, as the recepients of $100,000 due partly to the appreciation and interest created by Haygood in his 1880 "New South" Thanksgiving sermon. Haygood, through that address, became an acknowledged Southern spokesman for the New South and national reunion.2 So the generous gift by a Northern industrialist to a pair of Georgia institutions of higher learning created at atmosphere in which Haygood could eloquently advocate intersectional peace. Although there is some evidence that Seney's gift was motivated by a desire to obtain a charter for his Georgia railroad extension,3 President Haygood used the occasion of the cornerstone-laying to praise the North and call for true harmony.
Haygood was used to making pleas for national unity. For example, in May, 1880, he served as a delegate to the Northern Methodist Church's General Conference in Cincinnati where he addressed the Conference with a speech in which he said, "The different sections ... are being brought close together by steam and electricity. May they be brought together in affection also."4 Again, in his famous Thanksgiving sermon, he advocated national peace:
We are to do the work of today, looking forward and not backward. We have no divine call to stand eternal guard by the grave of dead issues. Here certainly we may say, 'Let the dead bury their dead.'5
Apparently Haygood made an impressive appearance while speaking. One biographer says of him:
Though not an orator in the usually accepted sense of that term, men listened to him with fixed and undivided attention .... Simple and natural on the platform as on the street, a man of few gestures, utterly devoid of that disgusting mannerism so characteristic of those who would supply in attitudes what they lack in thought, he spoke with directness and force to human hearts and human consciences.6
Another writer describes the Methodist minister this way:
He was low in stature and stocky in build. In manner he was cordial, quietly self-confident, and gave the impression of having unusual stores of reserve power. He strove after simplicity and clearness in public speech and in his writings.7
This 1881 event was plagued by "heavy and continuous rain," but the "college chapel was filled with an appreciative audience." An anthem composed for the occasion was enjoyed, two hymns were sung, Dr. Means gave a "full, strong, eloquent" prayer, there were" appropriate selections from the Old and New Testaments" read to the audience, and Haygood presented his speech. A newspaper reporter evaluated the oration in this manner: "The noble, patriotic sentiments of this admirable paper thrilled the hearts of every lover of Christian education in that interested audience."8
After a positive, optimistic, forward-looking discussion of the future use of the new building and the aims of education at Emory, Haygood moves into the next major portion of the speech: his message of reconciliation and his call for a better South. In an assertive section entitled "Peace and Brotherhood" Haygood says:
We enter now upon a 'new era'. We are getting away from the horrid war that drenched our land in the blood of her best and bravest sons. The sea, so long swept by storms of passion, is not yet at rest, but the fury of its tossing waves is spent. This much we may be sure of -- we are passing out of the era of hate and prejudice. Deep down in the hearts of the people, are undercurrents of sentiment that seek Christian brotherhood, and long for peace. God grant our better instincts may have their satisfaction! He who seeks to perpetuate the hates of the war, and of the years that followed it, is a traitor to his country. We can commit no folly so mad as to spend our whole lives hating each other. We can commit no civil crime of greater magnitude than to hand down to our children the bitterness of a quarrel which they did not begin, and for which they are not responsible.
Haygood seems to believe that his position and his credibility are enough to sustain the dogmatic nature of these words. Apparently he considers his high ethos an effective persuasive tool.
Next he proclaims a ringing call for a new and better South in the post-reconstruction years. "God has given us a good country," declares Haygood. The climate and soil are the best to be found and Haygood says that:
If we do not make it the finest country in America, the fault is ours. Nature has given us every advantage; Providence gives us every opportunity. We have not yet made the South such a country, very far from it. But we can do it. Not by croaking, complaining, whining over what we have lost and suffered but by industry, economy, righteousness. These virtues will win.
These positive, future-oriented remarks pervade the entire address and set the tone of Haygood's rhetoric.
The minister's next reconciliatory expression comes when he reads a telegram from Seney which in itself is reconciliatory. Seney telegraphed some businessmen in Atlanta on May 26, 1881: "The Empire State of the North desires to join the Empire State of the South in developing its Railroads, Commerce and Manufacturers, and in building a fraternity that shall never die." Haygood then calls on his listeners to "make fitting response to this true national sentiment of a man who loves God and his whole country."
After urging that the church become more business-like and saying that, "there are good qualities and characteristics in our Southern civilization that we should preserve," Haygood again praises Emory's northern benefactor. Although "he lives a thousand miles away, he belongs to a people with whom we have had conflicts long and bitter"; he has sent "on his own motion and unsolicited ... Methodists and people of Georgia and of the South, these gifts, because he wanted to help you, and because he loves you." Again he quotes from Seney's own words: "'I believe that my friends here approve what I have done. But if any of them should ask me, 'Why did you not give this money to your own people?,' my answer is they also are my people; we are our people.'" Haygood closes then with these words, "Let us plant ourselves squarely on this platform of good sense and Christian brotherhood. On any other platform, we perish, and ought to perish. Hatred tears down, love build up; hatred destroys, love creates."
In this address at Emory, Haygood, through his skillful strategy of praising a Northerner who saw fit to help the South and Georgia, makes a clear call for intersectional peace. If a Yankee industrialist could give so much to help the South, should not the South repay him by helping to heal the wounds of sectionalism? Granted, the situation created the theme, but Haygood created from it a speech which effectively supported national harmony.
The college President seemed very much at home in this academic setting. His word choice and organization, such as it appears in the written text, is that of a clear, direct, simple lecture to his students. He praises the history, founders, and contributions of his school and thus reinforces pride in the college. His tone is quite dogmatic and authoritarian -- much in keeping, one suspects, with the typical lecturing tone of many nineteenth century professors. Also in keeping with the educational situation, Haygood stresses the value of scholarship as this passage indicates:
[We must] provide for our children more perfect educational adjustments and facilities than we ourselves have enjoyed. Only thus can we make our fitting contribution to the progress of the race; if we are to save our posterity from lapsing into barbarism, if civilization is to grow into larger and better things, from age to age, then each generation must transmit to the next some increment in culture and worthy life that it did not inherit, but something of its own won by its own efforts.
This appeal to educational values fit the situation well and gave further support to his address.
A similar building dedication occurred at Franklin, Tennessee, on October 5, 1889, when General William B. Bate delivered an address at the dedication of the "Battle-Ground Academy."9 The ceremonies were appropriately elaborate, with the Perkins Rifles and drum corps leading a parade from the railroad depot to the Academy. There was a prayer and several speeches in addition to Bate's oration. After the exercises the 2000 people in attendance ate barbeque on the Academy grounds.10 The reporter for the Nashville Daily American wrote that Bate's speech was "frequently interrupted by bursts of applause."11 The following day he wrote that the "speech was listened to with great interest, and inspired the enthusiasm that always greets the utterances of the distinguished orator."12
General Bate had a useful career of public service to the state of Tennessee. He was born in 1826 and was a life-long resident of the Volunteer State. He had served as a Lieutenant in the Mexican War. Early in his career he published "an intensely democratic" weekly newspaper, The Tenth Legion, in Sumner County and was elected to the state legislature at the age of twenty-three. He graduated from Cumberland University Law School in 1852 and began practice in Gallatin, where he was elected attorney-general for a three-county district in 1854; he held this post until 1860. On the eve of the war, Bate was a "strong state-sovereignty man and a supporter of secession."
Early in the Civil War, at Shiloh, his leg was shattered but he remained in the Confederate service where he was twice again wounded. Refusing to run for war-time Governor, he was made Brigadier-General and was considered by some second only to Nathan Bedford Forrest as TennesseeÕs leading general officer. After the War, Bate returned to the practice of law in Nashville and resumed his interest in Tennessee politics. He was elected Governor in 1882 and served two terms before being elected to the United States Senate in 1886. He remained in the nation's upper house until his death in 1905. During this post-war period, Bate was also "in demand at various gatherings, as orator of the day."13
In a sense, this speech is similar to the orations discussed in the third chapter, the addresses at monument dedications, for Bate sees the newly-formed Battle-Ground Academy as "an educational monument, so to speak -- in memory of that battle which occurred years ago on this spot." And much of what he says probably would have been said at a military monument dedication in Franklin. An additional example of the similarity lies in the fact that nowhere in the printed program containing the oration, nor in the newspaper accounts, is Bate referred to in any way except as General Bate. By 1889, he had been both Governor and Senator; surely one would think at least one of these titles would have been used. Apparently, however, the military significance of the situation was an overriding consideration, and Bate reflects the martial overtones of the meeting in his address.
Bate established a sense of common ground with his listeners in the beginning of the speech by praising the foresight and wisdom of the citizens of Franklin in establishing the school and expresses his hope that the school will bring a greater and brighter future for the area and its people. After a lengthy, disjointed, and irrelevant discourse on the need for a common universal language, Bate jumps into a brief discussion of how important the study of science is to the young scholar. He then expresses his feeling that the site of the new Academy is "better adapted to the acquisition of a high order of educational attainment," than any other place he had known. The orator describes the "consecrated spot" with these words:
In the heart of the most beautiful of countries, populated by a citizenry noted for high character, culture, Christian devotion and hospitality; scenery that is variegated and inspiring, with forest and field, with hill and dale and river; and, added to all this, a renowned battlefield to inspire patriotism and valor as it lends an aroma to the page of history.
After rambling through quite a lengthy and disorganized portion of his speech, General Bate next enters into a detailed eulogy of a local citizen: Lieutenant Matthew F. Maury, the world-renowned oceanographic pioneer. Not only does he use Maury as an example of scholarship which the students of the Battle-Ground Academy should emulate, Bates also uses the manÕs reputation as a subtle reconciliation strategy. Through his strong and direct appeal to local pride in one of their own people, Bate can indirectly encourage a reconciliatory sentiment by implying that a "local boy" was able to contribute so much to the nationsÕ benefit and reputation. Bate thereby uses Maury as an example of not only scholarly attainments, but also as an example of unselfish service to the nationÕs good. He hopes that his listeners will follow this model in both areas of life: scholarship -- appropriate for this educational situation -- and patriotic service -- relevant to his theme of reunion.
Then the former Governor uses a more obvious reconciliation theme:
'Tis over now, and you and I, and all of us, North and South, are at peace, and rejoice that it is so. Time, the great healer, has been pouring balm upon the sounds, and they are healing. Scars are graduadually wearing away, and most naturally under the curative influence of intercourse -- commercial, social, and political -- may eventually disappear 'as does the path of the eagle in the air, or the track of the ship in the sea.'
He continues this call for reunion by comparing the American Civil War to the English War of the Roses and concludes this reconciliatory thrust with these words in reference to the house of York and Lancaster:
And when the strife between them was ended, the perfume of the bruised rose -- the sweeter for its misfortunes -- went into the blood of its twin and gave it increased beauty and redolence, and with a united strength built up modern England, one of the most powerful nations known to the history of man. And though we may have, as the house of York, found a Bosworth field, yet the victors so keenly felt the point of our lance that they rejoice, as we do, that the conflict is ended, and that we are a united people, with one destiny and one flag, and ready alike with our late foes to defend it.
Bate then rambles through an expression of pride in the effort made by the Confederate Armies in face of overwhelming odds and in the changes wrought in the South by the Confederate veteran in the post-war years. In this same portion of the speech, Bate employs at length the time-worn reconciliation theme used so often by Southern speakers: the contributions made by the South to the Revolutionary War.
Then General Bate describes in minute detail the battle of Franklin which was fought upon the spot where the new Academy was being built. Throughout this description, Bate extolls the glories of war and he urges the young student to turn from his Virgil and Herodotus to look upon the very ground where a battle has been fought which was just as grand as any described in days of old. This theme is very much in keeping with the military orientation of the day's ceremonies and the surroundings.
The oration includes much which was reconciliatory in nature. His major message for intersectional peace was, one suspects, rather outmoded and trite to the Southern audience of 1889. If the speeches examined in this study are truly representative, doubtless Southerners had heard enough about Southern contributions to the Revolutionary War and the early national period. But his discussion of the career and contributions of Lieutenant Maury was a new and a fresh approach -- one admirably suited to the audience and occasion. Granted, it was an implied, subtle tack toward conciliation, nevertheless, his auditors doubtless felt a vividness and reality because of this illustration.
Bate's primary supporting material is drawn from both military history and classical literature -- both admirably suited to the situation. He also stresses the value of education, especially science and language study, and urges his listeners to make the most of their educational opportunity. These illustrations help to make his speech appropriate for the setting and thus contribute to his effectiveness. Much of the impact of his message -- reconciliatory or educational -- is doubtless lost, however, due to Bate's rambling organizational format which is the chief rhetorical weakness in the address.
Turning a different type of educational gathering, we shall examine two speeches made to college literary societies. The first of the pair was delivered by Senator Matthew C. Butler before the literary societies of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on June 15, 1886.14 Butler had been born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1836, where as a youngster, he attended the male academy. In 1848 he went with his father to Fort Gibson in Indian Territory where his father served as agent to the Cherokees until his death in 1850. Young Matthew returned to South Carolina where he lived with his uncle, A.P. Butler, at Edgefield.
He entered South Carolina College as a junior in 1856, but did not remain to finish his senior year, as he was admitted to the bar in 1857. He was elected to the South Carolina legislature in 1860 but resigned the following year to become a Captain in the Edgefield Company of Cavalry. By the War's end he had lost his right foot at Brandy Station and attained the rank of Major General, thus becoming a genuine hero in the eyes of his future audiences and constituents.
After the war, General Butler returned to the practice of law in Edgefield. Elected to the state assembly he worked for several fusion tickets, and in 1876 turned wholeheartedly to support of the straight Democratic Party. In that year he was elected by the Democratic legislature to the United States Senate. The South Carolina Republican "legislature" was meeting in competition also, and they elected D.T. Corbin as their Senator. The Senate, however, voted to seat Butler, and he took his place in 1877 where he remained for three terms. It was said that during those years, he was "instinctively friendly and wholly free from inflamatory rhetoric, [and] he did much to reconciliate more stubborn Northern sentiment concerning the South." He lost his Senate seat to Benjamin R. Tillman in the Populist revolt of 1894.15
Butler titles his address, "The Constitution," and tells his audience that the speech will focus on an exposition of the basic law of the American nation. He states that "among the first and highest duties of an American citizen is to acquaint himself with the system of government under which he lives." He believes that all citizens should "acquire a reasonable familiarity with the controlling features and operations of his Government, so that he may exercise his responsibility with intelligence." Butler goes so far as to compare the national constitution to the Bible: "[The] written constitution, ... contains the gospel of his political salvation, as the Bible does of his religious belief and hope." Thus, the South Carolinian intends to examine the federal constitution and see what its basic tenents are and what dangers lurk in the shadows of anarchism to destroy its perfection. To us today, it might seem that this is a rather trite subject to discuss to graduating college students, and apparently Butler feels this concern, too, as he remarks, "I trust, young gentlemen, you will not write me down as an old fogy for discussing this proposition in an elementary way. It is as full of significance and as vital a question now as when the Constitution was first adopted." Of course, by focusing on the American Constitution as he does, Butler implies a national wholeness which subtly enhances a reconciliation sentiment in his auditors.
Senator Butler lists and discusses the first three articles of the document which outline the duties and responsibilities of the three branches of government. He urges his young listeners to "bear these distinctions constantly in mind -- keep them separate and distinct, each within its own sphere." He points out that if one of the branches interferes with the operation of another, then "confusion must follow."
The next major point in his exposition is that the officers of the government from the President down to Constable are all servants of the people. "He is charged with a trust. He has no more power than that conferred upon him by the people. Not a whit more than the humblest citizen. The office is not his. It belongs to the people." The orator admits that "these are very trite observations made in passing, but they are worthy of being remembered, and repeated over and over and over again." To Butler, the "perpetuity of Republican institutions and the preservation of constitutional freedom" depends upon our always recalling them and observing them.
Next, Butler turns to a discussion of the dangers to which the American form of government is heir. "The greatest strains to which popular government in this country has ever been subjected have arisen in determining the Presidential succession." He cites three examples out of recent United States history: the election of Lincoln, the crisis of the 1876 election between Hayes and Tilden, and the matter of GarfieldÕs assassination in 1881. He vaguely asserts that the best way to counter this weakness is to study carefully the Constitution and its statements about the "enforcement and exaction of official responsibility and obedience to law as it is fixed" in that document.
Butler then points out that the original seven Articles of the Constitution are, along with the first twelve amendments, "intact and undisturbed," by Civil War and are as vitally important to the well-being of the defeated as well as to the victors. In fact, the speaker believes that the "weak, [the South] the minority, are especially the wards of the law and should never relax in jealous watchfulness of its rigid execution."
Senator Butler moves next into a description of how complex the federal government has become, with the "vast volume of business transacted by the hundred and odd thousand office-holders of the Government." He then takes each of the departments of the national government: Treasury, Interior, Post Office, Justice, State, War, and Navy, and illustrates Some of the major duties each has in the operations of the nation. In short, ours is "the most complex system of human Government." Butler is quick to assert, however, that none of these agencies "have one vestige of power except that conferred by law [and] ... the law may be changed, modified, or repealed as the people direct." In other words, no matter how large the operations of the system become, the people still have control over it through their elected representatives.
In a reference to the labor unrest of the decade of the eighties and Garrison's abolition crusade, Butler asserts:
He who proclaims or has proclaimed 'the Constitution is a league with the devil and a covenant with hell' is an ally of the Anarchists and the apostle of despotism. He preaches the gospel of dynamite and the terrors of the sword, the licentiousness of chaos and the iron hand of unrestrained force. He who sneers at the Constitution as a useless obsoletism paves the way for the rule of unbridled majorities and the planting upon the ruins of a limited constitutional republic the reckless experiment of a parliamentary government uncontrolled by any power save the will of a majority.
He believes that the laws of nature regarding the centrifugal forces of the planets in their orbits should apply to the creation of a government. In other words, he holds that the states should operate in their own sphere and the Federal government in its own realm and that the force should be centrifugal, not centripetal. In short, Butler sees the Constitution as a states rights document and believes that this aspect of it to be a priceless lesson to be learned and followed and safeguarded by his young auditors. He asserts in his concluding remarks that we should never forget that "the truest loyalty to the Union is best illustrated by the most zealous regard for the glory and grandeur of the separate States." This is one of his most important premises in the speech as he is essentially attempting to show what he considers the proper interpretation of the Constitution to be, i.e., a states' rights interpretation. Butler fails to bring this point past the level of an unproved, generalized assertion, and thus, it is one of the major weaknesses of the address.
It is difficult to isolate specific, overt themes of reconciliation in Senator Butler's speech, for there are few. The South CarolinianÕs address is, however, filled with an implied premise which should have contributed to an intersectional reconciliatory reaction from the audience. Since Butler time and again praises the Constitution and the Founding Fathers for their genius in writing it, he is calling for support of that document. If the young Southerners to whom he was speaking followed his request to study carefully and safeguard the basic rights of the Constitution, then they would have to go a step further and support the government and the union which the Constitution was designed to organize and control. By saying that it is the responsibility of all citizens to know the Constitution, it would be hard for a young graduate not to at least consider support and study of it. And in speaking of citizen responsibility, Butler was referring to the responsibility to the national as well as the state governments. Also, by putting the Constitution on an equal footing with the Holy Word, the orator was endowing it with an aura that the heavily religious South would be hard pressed to ignore.
Another way in which Butler engenders a feeling of reconciliation is by pointing out that the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments, enacted by a Radical Republican Congress, were "none the less binding upon us all." Since these amendments were generally hated and largely ignored in the South, one may suspect that it took some degree of courage to urge his listeners to follow and support them. It would have been a simple matter to have left them out entirely from his discussion, but he chose not to do so.
Through his strongly states' rights interpretation of the Constitution, Butler doubtless encouraged some in his audience to support his reasoning and accept his plea to revere the Constitution. In addition, he called for the strictest interpretation possible of the document and invoked the name of a fellow-Southerner and strict-constructionist, Thomas Jefferson, "the most sagacious and far-seeing disciple of civil liberty and the world has ever produced."
Butler employs the emotion of pride in this address as he praises the Founding Fathers and the Constitution as almost being inspired by God; by his praise of Jefferson as a strict constructionist; and by his praise for the efficiency and strength of the various federal departments. His pride in the greatness of the Constitution is obvious and clear: "the best plan ever discovered for the governing of mankind." His concluding remarks stress this feeling of pride.
Now that slavery is gone, an institution which kept the sections apart -- an institution by the way, which was not an unmixed evil -- the people of the country will become more and more homogeneous in thought, in habit, in custom and in purposes as the years rolls [sic] on, and if we are true to the teaching of the fathers and preserve the Constitution as they transmitted it to us, as we shall develop a civilization greater than any that has ever blessed the human race.
This address to the literary societies at Wofford College must be evaluated as being effective as a message reinforcing reconciliation. Through his clear and simple language and organizational pattern, Butler doubtless communicated easily with his young listeners. His strong ethos which would have come in part from his position as a United States Senator must have made a favorable impression on the graduates. And his overall message was a clear and well-organized lecture on Constitutional law and history -- doubtless a speech form well-known by the auditors.
By appealing to national and sectional pride and by urging support of the United States Constitution, the speaker implicitly called for a reconciliatory attitude toward the national union itself. And through his tactic of appealing to the traditional Southern faith in states rights and a strict construction of the Constitution, Butler must have won a sympathetic hearing and made an impact for reconciliation on his audience.
Or all the speakers surveyed in this study, Henry W. Grady was probably the most well-known and well-respected in both the North and the South.16 For several years prior to his famous New England Society speech in 1886, Grady had been speaking throughout his section and editorializing in the pages of the Atlanta Constitution about the future of the "New South." As a necessary corollary to this New South message, he had been promoting, also, national harmony and reunion.
His speech in New York City propelled him to the forefront of the group of Southerners who called for an industrialization of the South, a close commercial tie with the North and East, a Southern solution to the racial question, and a diversification of Southern agriculture. Before his untimely death in 1889, Grady spoke and wrote many times on these themes. The speech we shall consider here was given to the Literary Societies of the University of Virginia in June, 1889 -- less than six months before he died.
The young editor entitled this address, "Against Centralization,"17 and it is basically an appeal for the South to stand fast against the centralizing tendencies of the national government and the consolidation of financial power in the hands of a few. Throughout the oration, however, Grady promotes national reunion, sometimes subtly and through implication, at other points directly. In sum, this oration is an unqualified reconciliation speech by the South's leading spokesman for harmony.
Early in the speech Grady demonstrates why his fame as an orator had spread across the land, as his introduction creates easily a sense of identity and a common ground between himself, his audience, and his surroundings. He praises the year that he spent at the University of Virginia and the learning he gained there, and thanks the school for inviting him back to speak. In addition, he recalls some of the old days as a student and some of the experiences he and his fellow students enjoyed. He then claims not to have a "studied oration" to present to the audience, "but from a loving heart I shall speak to you this morning in comradely sympathy of that which concerns us." And, finally, as he concludes his introductory remarks he fits himself into his Virginia surroundings:
For the first time in man's responsibility I speak in Virginia to Virginia. Beyond its ancient glories that made it matchless among States, its later martyrdom has made it the Mecca of my people. It was on these hills that our fathers gave new and deeper meaning to heroism, and advanced the world in honor! It is in these valleys that our dead lie sleeping. Out there is Appomattox, where on every ragged gray cap the Lord God Almighty laid the sword of His imperishable knighthood. Beyond is Petersburg, where he whose name I bear, and who was prince to me among men, dropped his stainless sword and yielded up his stainless life. Dear to me, sir, are the people among whom my father died -- sacred to me, sir, the soil that drank his precious blood. From a heart stirred by these emotions and sobered by these memories, let me speak to you today, my countrymen -- and God give me wisdom to speak aright and the words wherewithal to challenge and hold your attention.
Through these appeals to Virginia's role in the war, the honor of family and of the South, and by his plea to God to guide his address, doubtless Grady created a feeling of identity with his Virginia audience.
Moving into the main body of the address, Grady describes the condition of the Republic as he says, "The fixed stars are fading from the sky, and we grope in uncertain light. Strange shapes have come with the night. Established ways are lost -- new roads perplex, and widening fields stretch beyond the sight." The church "is besieged from without and betrayed from within." The courts are threatened by the "rioter's torch" and by anarchists. Government is too partisan and "the prey of spoilsmen." Cities are swollen, the rich live in splendor and "squalor crouches in the home." But amid all these and other problems, the American heart beats undismayed and the "citizen of the Republic ... calmly awaits the full disclosures of the day." Who will lead the nation out of this morass of uncertain times which Grady has portrayed? In keeping with the audience and the educational occasion, the orator sees the future in the hands of the students he is addressing. In his words, "The university is the training camp of the future. The scholar the champion of the coming years." The hand is nothing -- but the brain everything." As proof he reflects how science
butchers a hog in Chicago, draws Boston within three hours of New York, renews the famished soil, routs her viewless bondsmen from the electric center of the earth, and then turns to watch the new Icarus as mounting in his flight to the sun he darkens the burnished ceiling of the sky with the shadow of his wing.
He asserts that "Learning is supreme and you are its prophets." It is up to the college man to grapple with the nation's problems and to solve them for the good of all mankind. Grady calls for the "manifest destiny" of America as he observes:
This government carries the hopes of the human race. Blot out the beacon that lights the portals of this Republic and the world is adrift again. But save the Republic; establish the light of its beacon over the troubled waters, and one by one the nations of the earth shall drop anchor and be at rest in the harbor of universal liberty.
After having thus alerted his young charges that he sees dangers ahead for the nation, but that he sees his audience as among the leaders who will solve the problems, Grady becomes more specific when he leads into the major premise of the address. He remarks: "Let one who loves this Republic as he loves his life, and whose heart is thrilled with the majesty of its mission, speak to you now of the dangers that threaten its peace and prosperity, and the means by which they may be honorably averted."
For the Atlanta editor:
The unmistakable danger that threatens free government in America, is the increasing tendency to concentrate in the Federal Government powers and privileges that should be left with the States, and to create powers that neither the State nor Federal government should have.
He then describes that this tendency has developed as the "legacy of the war." The "splendor," "opulence," "strength," "patronage," and "powers" of a strong Federal government offer something for everyone and thus there was really a natural consolidation which was almost inevitable; these sentiments are similar in nature to the feelings expressed by General Logan in the speech to the Hampton Legion Reunion discussed earlier. Grady claims that the nation is seeing "paternalism run mad." He expresses it as "The centrifugal force of our system is weakened, the centripetal force is increased, and the revolving spheres are veering inward from their orbits."
There is a necessary corollary to this phenomenon of increased Federal government. Grady calls it the "consolidation of capital." He then presents several concrete examples of the people being hurt by certain industrialists exploiting the goods necessary for life, such as wheat and pork. Grady uses an interesting example to illustrate what he sees happening:
We have read of the robber barons of the Rhine who from their castles sent a shot across the bow of every passing craft, and descending as hawks from the crags, tore and robbed and plundered the voyagers until their greed was glutted, or the strength of their victims spent.
He asks, "Shall this shame of Europe against which the world revolted, shall it be repeated in this free country?"
The orator believes that when the Founding Fathers, especially Jefferson, outlawed primogeniture they provided for the good of the nation, but this concept is being reinstated by the large corporations. The captains of industry are "the eldest sons of the Republic for whom the feudal right of primogeniture is revived, and who inherit its estate to the impoverishment of their brothers."
What is the remedy for this pessimistic picture Grady has painted? "To exalt the hearthstone, to strengthen the home -- to build up the individual -- to magnify and defend the principle of local self-government." He urges his listeners to "Exalt the citizen. As the State is the unit of government, he is the unit of the State. Teach him that his home is his castle and his sovereignty rests beneath his hat." In addition, Grady wants the Virginia graduates to "Go out, determined to magnify the community in which your lot is cast .... Make every village and cross-roads as far as may be sovereign to its own wants .... Preserve the straight and simple homogeneity of our people .... Honor and emulate the virtues and the faith of your forefathers." Grady concludes on a positive and optimistic note as he says, "And the Republic will endure." In fact, Grady sees "the vision of this Republic"
chief among the federation of English-speaking people -- plenty streaming from its borders, and light from its mountain tops -- working out its mission under God's approving eye, until the dark continents are opened -- and the highways of earth established, and the shadows lifted, -- and the jargon of the nations stilled and the perplexities of Babel straightened -- and under one language ,one liberty, and one God, all the nations of the world hearkening to the American drum-beat and girding up their loins, shall march amid the breaking of the millennial into the paths of righteousness and of peace!
As this passage reflects, Grady thinks of the nation as reunited into one great and glorious example for the world to follow. Throughout the address, the famed orator weaves a theme of intersectional "peace and prosperity." By stating early in the speech that the students he is addressing will be the "heralds of this coming day," Grady implies that the nation's future is to be full and exciting for all the nation's people -- not just one section. In fact the Southern citizen holds the key to the continued well-being of the country; if the country is to survive, the Southerner, with his ideals of local self-government, will help it survive. Time and again, Grady refers to "this Republic," "this vast Republic," "sons of the Republic" or "this free Republic," in a manner calculated to reinforce his point that nation's wounds were indeed healed and "the Republic" one again.
Much of the speech is oriented toward what will make the country greater and stronger, thus reinforcing Grady's feeling that America's intersectional rivalry was dead. He calls on the South to uphold its values, and by so doing, she will uphold the nation.
This love [of family and country] shall not be pent up or provincial. The home should be consecrated to humanity, and from its roof-tree should fly the flag of the Republic. Every simple fruit gathered there -- every sacrifice endured, and every victory won, should bring better joy and inspiration in the knowledge that it will deepen the glory of our Republic and widen the harvest of humanity! Be not like the peasant of France who hates the Paris he cannot comprehend -- but emulate the example of your fathers in the South, who, holding to the sovereignty of the States, yet gave to the Republic its chief glory of statesmanship, and under Jackson at New Orleans, and Taylor and Scott in Mexico, saved it twice from the storm of war.
Although the nation, "Your Republic," is "menaced with great dangers," Grady calls on his listeners to "defend her, as you would defend the most precious concerns of your own life." He wishes to be perfectly clear that he is "no pessimist as to this Republic, for I always bet on sunshine in America." He goes on to express a theme common in American oratory since St. Augustine and Jamestown: God is on our side -- who can be against us?
I know that my country has reached the point of perilous greatness, and that strange forces not to be measured or comprehended are hurrying her to heights that dazzle and blind all mortal eyes -- but I know that beyond the utter-most glory is enthroned the Lord God Almighty, and that when the hour of her trial has come He will lift up His everlasting gates and bend down above her in mercy and in love. For with her He has surely lodged the ark of His covenant with the sons of men. Emerson wisely said, 'Our whole history looks like the last effort by Divine Providence in behalf of the human race.' And the Republic will endure.
By setting up problems for the nation on the one hand, and showing what he sees as solutions to them, Grady implies what he states emphatically in this passage, "The Republic will endure." He shows how Southerners can continue their long historical tradition of contribution to the nation in its time of need, thus implying again, that the Republic will endure. In these ways, Grady's conservative rhetoric contributes to the sentiment for a reunited nation.
Turning now from these two speeches presented to literary societies of undergraduate students, we shall examine an address delivered by Governor Thomas Jordan Jarvis on June 15, 1881, to the Society of Alumni of Randolph Macon College, Ashland, Virginia.18 Jarvis was himself a graduate of Randolph Macon, having received a B.A. in 1860 and an M.A. in 1861. When the war began he enlisted, became a Captain two years later and was permanently disabled at Drewry's Bluff. After the war he opened a store and began to read law; he became a licensed advocate in 1867. In 1868 he was elected to the lower house in his native state of North Carolina and was elected speaker of the House in 1870. Six years later he was elected Lieutenant Governor; Governor Vance resigned in 1879 and Jarvis became the state's chief executive. The following year he was elected to a full term. After his term was over, President Cleveland appointed the North Carolinian Minister to Brazil, where he served until 1889. In 1898 he was appointed to fill a one-year vacancy in the United States Senate. His biographical sketch in Dictionary of American Biography describes him with these words: "As a man he was plain and unassuming, thoroughly human, and had sound though not brilliant abilities. Tall and engagingly ugly, he was an impressive figure."19 Not knowing just what "engagingly ugly" means, the twentieth century student can only accept this description uncritically. At any rate, Jarvis was an important figure in post-war North Carolina politics.
This speech was received well by its auditors. A committee of three representing the Society of Alumni was delegated to get a copy of the speech from Governor Jarvis so that it might be published. In their letter to Jarvis, the committee wrote:
Emanating from one occupying the highest position to the gift of a great Commonwealth, and so eminently conservative, conciliatory and patriotic in its utterances, we feel assured that happy results will follow its circulation.20
Jarvis begins his address with a fairly lengthy but standard introduction in which he tries to create a common bond between himself and his audience. He reminisces about the days at Randolph Macon when he was a student and of the people he knew during those years. Jarvis appeals to some Civil War sentiment as he tries to enhance his ethos in this first section when he describes a "class reunion" of himself and four members of the Society of Alumni. All five were badly disabled by the war:
for between the five there brought together on that Sunday afternoon, there was a strange, sad bond of sympathetic union: two were permanently disabled in their right arms and from the shoulders of the other three, there dangled three empty sleeves.
After this extended introduction, Jarvis turns to his first major theme. He says he will spend the remainder of his time "with some practical remarks intended more particularly for those who are about to be enrolled among the Alumni." He then develops an analogy of the boys about to go out into the "waves of the wide sea." Among other things, he urges them to follow the beacon-lights of "those who have gone before us," in order to avoid the shoals of life.
Jarvis declares that he hopes the new graduates will take as their motto "I serve," because "service has been the natural condition of man" since time immemorial. "It is universal in its application, and its obligation ends only with the grave .... It is the condition of success." Then Jarvis discusses a related idea which was important to the future growth and prosperity of the South: "All honest labor is honorable ... the successful farmer, merchant or mechanic is the equal of the successful lawyer, doctor or politician." For the 1881 graduate of Randolph Macon, this assertion doubtless was somewhat of a jolt. It can be guessed that many of the young men intended to enter the professions and doubtless felt uncomfortable at the admonition of the orator: "Neither turn your back upon manual labor or those who are engaged in it."
Next Jarvis lists six rules of life for the young graduate. First, their service must be done with "energy and determination." Second, "it must be done bravely." Third, it must be "straightforward and direct." Fourth, their service must be honest and legal. Fifth, "it must be continued until the work is done." And sixth, it must be performed "solely in the interest of the party for whom the service is rendered."
This address is a typical "advice to young men" lecture. Jarvis, like many of the Chautauqua speakers and public lecturers of this era followed a format of "you do this and you shall succeed" -- much in the Horatio Alger and Russell Conwell tradition. For example, he admonishes his listeners: "Never be idle. Be always at work -- never out of service." Again, he says, "Incentive to all service is the hope of reward .... A few suggestions as to how this service should be performed may not prove amiss." After listing these suggestions, Jarvis says, "They are the simple rules that should govern in the every-day transactions of live." Not only does he tell the young men how to live, he issues, "A word of advice to the young ladies present ... do not marry a lazy man. He is not worth marrying." This theme of advice-giving doubtless meets the situational expectations of his listeners -- certainly advice is even today one of the staples of graduation-oriented addresses. Thus meeting the expectations of his audience, Jarvis has set the stage for his reunion message.
The final section of the address is oriented toward the reconciliation theme. JarvisÕ major point urging reconciliation is that the college graduate owes his country service. Perhaps not as a professional government worker or politician, but at least as an intelligent voter and well-informed citizen. Jarvis asserts, "there is no service in which you can engage, save that of your Creator, more sacred than that of your country." He urges his listeners to "discard every other consideration from that service but the interest of your country."
As examples of when Southern men have contributed greatly to the nationÕs welfare, Jarvis cites the 1775 Mecklenburg, North Carolina, Declaration of Independence, JeffersonÕs writing of the national Declaration of Independence, the battle of Yorktown, and the writing of the United States Constitution. All of these examples, of course, are Southern in nature, thus following the pattern we have seen in the preceding chapters of calling for reunion on the grounds that the South and the Southern citizen have already given much to the nation and should continue to do so.
The orator blames the postponement of reconciliation, typically, upon those who "prostituted public service." Jarvis, is, however, optimistic about the current situation and the future prospects for intersectional peace as he remarks, "But thank heaven! the clouds are disappearing, the sun of fraternal harmony once more begins to shine upon us, and the men who have so long delayed his blessed coming are one by one passing away."
Then Jarvis employs one of the most useful of his reconciliation themes: the Centennial of the American Revolutionary War. Doubtless this appeal was well-worn in the 1875-1876 period, but here at Ashland in 1881, Jarvis gives it a new and timely twist: He discusses the centennial celebrations for the end of the war, rather than the earlier celebrations for the Declaration of Independence and the early battles of the war. Jarvis says:
I pray God that this great Centennial year will be the end of all strife in this land of ours. As this year one hundred years ago was the end of the struggle for freedom, may this year be the end of our struggle for reconciliation; and, as from the bloody plains of Yorktown in 1781, the sun of liberty rose to shed his beneficent rays for all time to come upon free America, so, in 1881, from these fields, may the sun of absolute and everlastingly reconciled brotherhood rise, never again to be dimmed while time shall 1ast. Yes, my friends, as the people gather from the North and from the South, from the East and from the West, and meet upon that sacred soil, may the spirit of a hundred years ago fall upon them and bind them together in bonds of love and confidence that can never be rent asunder. And when they leave that hallowed ground, may that spirit go with them, and abide with them, and all the people, forevermore.
The orator concludes his plea for reconciliation by strongly declaring that he believes his wish will be granted: "That such will be the case I verily believe. I have an abiding faith in the people."
Jarvis calls on his listeners to serve most the cause of God as the "Creator of all things and the Ruler of all things." He urges, "Let nothing shake your faith in the Christian religion, or keep you from obeying its teachings and walking in its ways." After continuing in this vein for a few moments, the Governor concludes by reaffirming the ties established with the college:
Wherever we go, let us remember our dear old Alma Mater's eyes are upon us, watching over us with tender and affectionate solicitude. And in return it is our high and loyal duty to render glad service, worthy of such a mother, to keep her fair name untarnished, her bright record unstained.
In this address to the Society of Alumni, Governor Jarvis was successful in one of the most important tasks before a speaker: establishing a common bond between himself and listeners; this common ground helped him, in turn, communicate more easily his message of reunion. Jarvis created this bridge by skillfully relating names and places of by-gone Randolph-Macon years. In addition, he called the students to follow those who had gone before and sketched out some guidelines gleaned from his observations of life; all of which would be difficult to refute. After gaining audience assent, he then delivered a message of reconciliation and reunion which would also be difficult to counter since to do so would be to reject the Southern contributions the orator mentioned. From a careful reading of this address, one can see to some degree how Jarvis' political career was so successful, and why he was an able leader. In this speech, he is direct, personable, and speaks "to the point." A biographical sketch of the Governor uses words such as "responsible," "successful," "aggressive," and "an advocate."21 These personal leadership characteristics are evident in this 1881 address and contributed to an effective message of reconciliation.
Once again, the Richmond minister, Moses D. Hoge, returns to our discussion of reconciliatory public speeches. On June 15, 1886, Hoge spoke to a general convocation at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, on the subject, The Memories, Hopes and Duties of the Hour.22 This entire address appeals to patriotic pride in America and, like Hoge's other messages of reunion, assumes that America's days of sectionalism are over -- the bloody shirt orators stilled.
The Presbyterian leader praises the founder of the nation and demonstrates that the same spirit which animated the struggle for independence and adopted a Republican form of government was responsible for founding and fostering the older colleges in Virginia -- notably Washington and Lee. Students at the two Valley of Virginia Schools, Hampden-Sidney College and Liberty Hall (Washington and Lee) fought in the Revolutionary War as well as the Civil War; they realized that liberty could be won with the sword, but could be maintained only with education.
Hoge c1aims that America is the greatest Republic known to man; he compares this nation with European countries and points out how they are adapting to our model. As further proof of this contention Hoge shows that no nation had ever lasted so long with such prosperity and that no country had ever recovered so quickly and so completely from such a devastating Civil War.
Although much of the address reflects Hoge's belief in a reunited America as demonstrated by his repeated patriotic appeals to national pride, his most overt reconciliatory message is saved for the waning moments of his address. As he recounts briefly the history of the "Augusta Academy" which became "Liberty Hall," later known as Washington College, then finally as Washington and Lee, Hoge declares that George Washington himself accompanied a "generous bequest to the college" with a wish that it be a school "of the purest patriotism, around which the men of the North and South could rally in the spirit of fraternal devotion to the glory of a common country." He then asserts that Washington's "fostering care" led the "Society of Cincinnati" -- a group of influential Revolutionary War officers -- to make a "large donation," as well as that which led "men of public spirit in Boston and other northern cities, in the early days of its history, to make a contribution of £ 700." Nor did Washington's influence stop there. His interest in the school, according to Hoge, prompted
the happy plan of holding a centennial meeting of the city of Philadelphia to organize an effort for the larger endowment of the University. This meeting was made successful beyond anticipation by the attendance of representative citizens from all parts of the country, without regard to political associations.
Hoge lists many leading Northern citizens who participated in this national financial drive for the school. Among others on his list were Charles Francis Adams and George Hoar of Massachusetts, William Evarts and Samuel Tilden of New York, and T.A. Hendricks of Indiana. To Hoge, a no "less significant fact" about this drive was that the "great journals of the North" such as the Herald, Tribune, Post, and Times of New York, as well as others
in eloquent editorials commended the effort to secure a larger endowment, because the influence of such united action would have in reconciling all sections of the country by honoring together their Revolutional ancestors, rekindling around one altar the patriotism to which all the States owe their common origin, and thus realizing the hopes of Washington for a united and happy country.
Hoge then remarks that these successful appeals for national support of a Southern university
are some of the demonstrations of a restored fraternity which give a stern and just rebuke to those who would perpetuate alienation between the North and the South, and who propose to conduct coming presidential campaigns under the leadership of candidates who persist in waving the bloody rag, unmentionable here, but branded by its own vulgar name as the basest of banners, -- symbol of sectional hatred and strife -- while we, instead of this, declare it to be our intention to unfurl to all the winds of heaven the flag emblazoned with the stars which glitter to the names of thirty-eight sovereign States, all leagued and linked together for the defence of the tights of each, and for the perpetuation of the common glory of a united and indissoluble republic.
This address -- subtitled "A Historic Discourse" -- was ostensibly an historical account of Washington and Lee University presented during graduation week by a noted Virginian. Hoge not only fulfills the purpose he was asked to honor, he uses the occasion to appeal to national as well as regional and local pride to reinforce a reconciliatory sentiment. By selecting examples from the school's history which demonstrate relationships between the school and the nation and national heroes such as Washington, the minister is able to easily reinforce a national pride and thereby contribute to intersectional reunion. Specifically denouncing the "bloody shirt" leadership of political parties, Hoge skillfully counters that political scapegoat with his assertion that the South -- and, by implication -- right-thinking men everywhere -- would stand behind a different symbol: the national flag.
By this time, it should be evident that there is scant fresh and original rhetorical invention going on in the process of reconciliation rhetoric of the post-war South. The themes, methods of support, indeed, even word choice, are remarkably similar as we examine addresses made at different speech occasions. As Daniel Boorstin has observed, "The public speech, whether sermon, commencement address, or whistle-stop campaign talk is a public affirmation that the listeners share a common discourse and a common body of values."23 The speeches examined in this chapter certainly reflect this common, shared discourse. There is little new originality as the common themes of (1) the South's economic future depends on reconciliation (Haygood); (2) the South has always contributed heavily to the glory of the entire nation (Bate, Butler and Jarvis); (3) the South has an inherent patriotic pride in the nation (all the speakers); and (4) the slow arrival of intersectional peace is due to the politician not the general citizen (Haygood, Jarvis, and Hoge) are all themes which were used throughout this period by many of these speakers. In addition, all these orators presented a positive and optimistic view of the future of a reunited nation -- surely with this much repetition of "a common discourse and a common body of values," the Southern audience grew to accept the speakers' claims that the nation was reconciled.
1 Atticus G. Haygood, "Seney Hall," An Address by Atticus G. Haygood, delivered June 8, 1881 at Emory College, Oxford, Georgia.
2 As an indication of HaygoodÕs leadership in this respect, Henry Grady once remarked that he "lighted [his] torch at HaygoodÕs flame." Elam F. Dempsey, Atticus Greene Haygood (Nashville: Partheon Press, 1940), p. 6.
3 Harold W. Mann, Atticus Greene Haygood (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1965), pp. 138-142,
4 Ibid., p. 133.
5 Haygood, The New South, edited by Judson C. Ward (Atlanta: Emory University Library, 1950), pp. 11-12.
6 W.H. Crogman, "He Became the Golden Clasp," A Memorial Tribute to Bishop Atticus G. Haygood (N. P.: The Advisory Council of Clark College, 1896), p. 10.
7 "Atticus G. Haygood," Dictionary of American Biography, VIII, edited by Dumas Malone (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932), p. 453.
8 "Seney Hall," Daily Constitution (Atlanta), June 10, 1881.
9 William B. Bate "Battle-Ground Academy." Delivered at Franklin, Tennessee, October 5, 1889.
10 "Battle Field Academy," Nashville Banner, October 7, 1889.
11 "Battle Field Academy," The Daily American (Nashville), October 6, 1889.
12 Ibid., October 7, 1889.
13 This biographical sketch of Governor Bate has been taken from the following sources: "William Brimage Bate," Dictionary of American Biography, II, pp. 42-43; Park Marshall, A Life of William B. Bate (Nashville: The Cumberland Press, 1908); and Robert H. White, ed., Messages of the Governors of Tennessee, 1883-1899, VII, (Nashville, The Tennessee Historical Commission, 1967), pp. 1-3.
14 Matthew C. Butler, The Constitution, Address delivered at Wofford College, Spartanburg, South Carolina, June 15, 1886. (Washington, D.C.: R.O. Polkinhorn, 1886).
15 "Matthew Calbraith Butler," Dictionary of American Biography, III, pp. 363-64.
16 Francis Pendleton Gaines, Southern Oratory: A Study in Idealism (University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1946), p. 57.
17 Henry W. Grady, "Against Centralization," Address delivered before the Literary Societies of the University of Virginia, June 15, 1889. (N.P., N.D.) Text found at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
18 Thomas J. Jarvis, Address Delivered Before the Society of Alumni of Randolph Macon College (Richmond: Johns and Goolsby, 1881).
19 "Thomas Jordan Jarvis," Dictionary of American Biography, IX, pp. 623-24.
20 Thomas J. Jarvis, Address.
21 Dictionary of American Biography, IX, p. 624.
22 Moses D. Hoge, The Memories, Hopes and Duties of the Hour Address delivered at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, June 15, 1886. (Richmond: Whittet and Shepperson, 1886).
23 Daniel J. Boorstin, The Americans: The Colonial Experience (New York: Random House, 1958), p. 10.