CHAPTER SIX

CONCLUSION: SOME OBSERVATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS

 

In this final chapter, we shall characterize the reconciliation message, method, and strategy discovered in these speeches, suggest some directions for contemporary reconciliation speaking, and point out possible avenues for further study which were prompted by this research project.

The Reconciliation Message: Themes, Symbols, and Values

The reconciliation theme used by more of these speakers than any other was the assertion that the nation is one again -- that reunion is here, that we are a reunited, reconciled country after the fire and sword experiences of war. The South had chosen this final arbiter and had lost; now the former Confederacy was back in the Union, a permanent part of a reunited people. Twenty out of the twenty-six speeches, or seventy-seven percent, included this topic in some manner. The second most frequently used theme was the claim that the South has made significant contributions to the nation and would continue to do so in the future. Those speakers, twelve out of the twenty-six, or forty-six percent, who stressed this idea invariably proclaimed that the South would be rejecting much of its past if it did not continue to contribute to the nationÕs well-being.

Thirty-eight percent of the speeches included the common theme of the reconciliatory model. That is, these orators urged their audiences to follow the example of national harmony and forgiveness as set by Lee, Hill, Garfield, Grant, or Lincoln, as well as by the typical soldier on both sides who counseled and practiced forgiveness. A similar number of speeches pointed to a scapegoat which allegedly hindered the achievement of total national harmony: the scheming politicians who prevented reunion for their own selfish and opportunistic reasons. Inevitably these speakers would assert that the common people and the former soldiers all longed for the peace that the politicians were keeping from them.

As could be expected, many of these speeches -- thirty-five percent -- strongly proclaimed the bright future of the nation and of the South within that nation. Three additional themes were used by these reunion orators. Praise for the victorious Northern armies and soldiers was used in thirty-one percent of the addresses; nineteen percent included expositions about the nation's problems as seen by the speaker, with the implication that they could be and would be solved by a common and united citizenry. And finally, twelve percent of the speeches praised the North's contributions to the nation's history and well-being.

When we examine the use of these various themes relative to the various types of ceremony, we find that the assertion that the nation is now reunited was the leading reconciliatory theme in all four ceremonial situations. In the Memorial Day and eulogy-producing situations, sixty-three percent of the speeches proclaimed that the nation was once again whole. When monuments were being dedicated, sixty-six percent of the speeches included this topic. The most popular occasion for this subject, however, was the veterans' reunion when all six of the speakers recited this claim, closely followed by the educational situations when eighty-three percent of the speeches included this bold assertion. The table on page 210 shows the five most frequently used themes in each speech category.

A chronological analysis of the various themes shows a rather common use of the several topics throughout the period 1875-1890. The only major variations concern (1) the "scapegoat" theme, and (2) the "bright-future-of-the-nation" theme. In 1875-1876, sixty-six percent of the six speeches made in those two years sought to identify the scapegoat for the lack of harmony. By 1889-1890, however, only one out of the seven addresses given included this theme. Apparently by this time, the reconciliation process was reasonably far advanced and the orators did not see a need to fix any blame for any lack of national harmony or for any roadblocks to unity. Again, in the years 1875-1876, eighty-three percent of the speeches proclaimed the "bright-future-of-the-nation" and of the South within the nation. By the last two years of the study, however, only one speaker alluded to this idea.

Going beyond these reconciliation themes, let us look at another part of the reunion message: the use of symbols to reinforce national harmony. The speeches of this investigation are replete with examples of symbols to vivify the abstraction of reconciliation. The national symbols of the flag, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the President,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text Box: Memorial Day Address and Eulogies              Theme                               Percent of Speeches

                                                Which Include the Theme

         l.   Nation-is-reunited  . . . . . . . . .       63%

              2.   Scapegoat . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       38%                              

              3.   Reconciliatory model  . . . . . . . .       25%

              4.   Solve-nationÕs-problems . . . . . . .       25%          

              5.   Our-nation-has-a-bright-future  . . .       25%          

Text Box: Monument Dedication Address        

                   

         l.   Nation-is-reunited  . . . . . . . . .       66%

              2.   Reconciliatory model  . . . . . . . .       66%                       

              3.   Southern contributions to nation  . .       50%

              4.   Praise of Northern armies . . . . . .       50%          

              5.   Our-nation-has-a-bright-future  . . .       33%          

             

Text Box: VeteransÕ Reunion Address
 


         l.   Nation-is-reunited  . . . . . . . . .      100%

              2.   Southern contributions to nation  . .       66%

              3.   Scapegoat . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       66%                              

              4.   Praise of Northern armies . . . . . .       50%          

              5.   Reconciliatory model  . . . . . . . .       50%

                                       

Text Box: Educational Address         l.   Nation-is-reunited  . . . . . . . . .       83%

              2.   Southern contributions to nation  . .       66%

              3.   Scapegoat . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       50%                             

              4.   Solve-nationÕs-problems . . . . . . .       50%          

              5.   Our-nation-has-a-bright-future  . . .       50%          

 

 

TABLE ONE: PERCENTAGE OF THEME USE

 

 

 

heroes of the Revolutionary War and the early national period all supported the reunion message since they gave tangible evidence of the nation's heritage and beliefs. In addition, the visible, concrete symbols of monuments, unified grave decoration ceremonies, and "arm-in-arm" parades, were referred to as tangible evidence that the nation was one.

Some of the ceremonies surveyed here used other overtly symbolic actions such as actually burying a hatchet or spiking a cannon to help demonstrate national solidarity. After Horace Greely used the "bloody chasm" phrase in the 1872 Presidential campaign, these speakers occasionally used that symbol in their reinforcement of reunion sentiment.

What were the sources for these examples and symbols used to make reunion real for their listeners? The prime source was American history: the Revolutionary and early national period. Many of these speakers compared their Confederate movement to the American Revolution; the only real difference they saw was that theirs had failed while the other had succeeded. A second major source of reconciliatory symbols was biographical: the lives of men like Lee and Grant who advocated national harmony in the post-war years. A third source, although not as widely used, was contemporary or recent events: those times and places where a reconciliatory event had occurred, such as a Blue-Gray reunion or a Revolutionary War Centennial celebration.

It was demonstrated in Chapter One that the ceremonial address is intended primarily to reaffirm shared community values and that this concern of the ceremonial orator would be the major focus of this study. It is important therefore to inquire: What were the values expressed in these speeches which would bear directly on the reconciliation message? It was suggested that it would seem reasonable to assume that patriotism, forgiveness, friendship, and cooperation would be discussed by these speakers in order to give meaning to their reunion message. The survey and description of these orations in the previous chapters seem to support this assumption. All four of these values were used by these speakers, although, as Table Two demonstrates, patriotism was appealed to much more extensively. In addition, it was found that they relied significantly on duty or honor, perhaps because of the important position of this value in the traditional Southern hierarchy of values.

 

 

              Value                               Percent of Speeches

                                                Which Include the Value

   

Duty/Honor  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      65%

         Patriotism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      54%                             

         Forgiveness . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      23%

    Friendship  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      19%          

         Cooperation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      12%          

 

TABLE TWO: PERCENTAGE OF VALUE USE

 

 

As is evident in Table Two, these speakers relied heavily on a human value which traditionally had been strong in the South: the concept of duty or honor.1 Many of the speakers surveyed here called upon their ancestors who had died in the war, or to their section. This responsibility was usually described as the Southerners' duty to be true to the Union which, they argued, had been made stronger by the "test of the sword." John Temple Graves expressed it this way:

We must tear aside this veil of prejudice and personal feelings. We must soar to higher realms of reason. We must speak peace to the troubled tides of passion and revenge that swept upon the surface of our sectional heart. We must peer through and beyond the subtle, treacherous web that dastardly and designing politicians weave, to the echoing hearts of our Northern breathren that beat true and pure behind the prosperous corruption of their representatives.2

At the Jackson statue unveiling; Moses Hoge said simply, "it is our interest, our duty, and determination to maintain the Union, and to make every possible contribution to its prosperity and glory."3

In the oration presented by John W. Daniel at the mausoleum for Robert E. Lee the value of duty was frequently invoked. During the entire early portion of the speech, Daniel discussed fully how Lee's sense of duty forced him to fight for the Southern forces. He is not only justifying Lee's course of action, he is also reinforcing the feeling of duty and its role in Lee's own life. Then later in the speech, Daniel cites Lee's own words to show that the duty a man has to himself and his country may lead him to a course of action that he would not have wished:

True patriotism [said Lee] sometimes requires of men to act exactly contrary at one period to that which it does at another, and the motive that impels them, the desire to do right, is precisely the same. The circumstances which govern their actions change and their conduct must conform to the new order of things.4

J.C.C. Black, in his oration at the B.H. Hill statue in Atlanta, used the following words in his description of the duty of the Southerners after the war:

Our Southern soldiers returned to their desolated 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.5

The second-most-used value was the appeal to patriotism or national loyalty. Perhaps John Temple Graves, Thomas M. Logan, and Henry Grady were the most patriotic of all the speakers surveyed here. Graves, in his Memorial Day address at West Point, Georgia, reminded his listeners: "We cannot fail to know that we are and ought to be numbered among the Union of original States. We still claim, and justly, the heritage and honor of American citizens."6

A different tack was taken by General Logan at the reunion of the Hampton Legion when he points out that "It requires neither prophet to foretell, nor oracle to pronounce, that there is a great future for the United States .... Truly, a vast empire is in process of formation."7

Perhaps Henry Grady was the most patriotic of this group of speakers for he speaks of the American mission to the world. He looks to a future when "under one language, one liberty, and one God, all the nations of the world harkening to the American drum-beat and girding up their loins shall march amid the breaking of the millennial dawn into the paths of righteousness and of peace!"8 Although his speech warns against the dangers of a strong central government, he is outspoken in his appeal to a country unified under the SouthÕs principles of state sovereignty.

A third important value appealed to by these speakers was forgiveness. Perhaps John W. Daniel's oration on Lee is the best example of the use of this value. Because he had such a subject as Lee, who tried after the war to be as forgiving as possible, Daniel built much of his address around this value. Time and again, he used Lee's own words and actions to suggest a model of the forgiving spirit. For example, after the war, Lee was "reviled and harrassed, yet never a word of bitterness escaped him; but, on the contrary, only counsels of forbearance, patience and diligent attention to works of restoration." Daniel used Lee's own testimony to make this clear: "It should be the object of all to avoid controversy, to allay passion, and give scope to every kindly reeling." And again, "It is wisest not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who have endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered." Late in the address, Daniel devoted an entire section to discussing this concept of forgiveness and how it applied to Lee's own life. He began by saying:

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 ...; 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.9

Another value often expressed by these reconciliation speakers is that of friendship. For example, Haygood, in his eulogy on Garfield, advocated that the American citizen "should cultivate a true spirit of national brotherhood. To say and do things simply to irritate or injure an opponent is mean, and unworthy a civilized, to say nothing of a Christian man."lO Thomas Logan phrased the appeal in this way: "Our feelings, as well as our interest, already incline us to strengthen and cement the bonds of real union, by cultivating feelings of good will and friendship."11 One of the clearest and most explicit declarations of intersectional friendship came from Thomas Jarvis in his Randolph Macon address:

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 an absolute and everlastingly reconciled brotherhood rise, never again to be dimmed while time shall last. 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 an 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.12

Finally, the value of cooperation was used by some of these reconciliation orators in appealing to national reunion. Throckmorton pointed to a specific example of cooperation:

The graves of Southern soldiers that died from wounds and disease in Northern prisons and hospitals are strewn with flowers by the wives and daughters of brave men who fe1l upon the battlefields of the South, and the graves of Northern soldiers who lie buried in the South are tenderly cared for by the fair women whose homes they invaded.13

Atticus G. Haygood, in the dedication speech for the new building at Emory College was also able to illustrate the spirit of cooperation with an actual example. In referring to George Seney, who had donated the money for the building, Haygood said:

He lives a thousand miles away; he belongs to a people with whom we have had conflicts long and bitter .... And yet, on his own motion and unsolicited, he has sent you, Methodists and people of Georgia, these gifts, because he wanted to help you, and because he loves you. And our people have received these gifts as gratefully as they are bestowed magnanimously.14

John Temple Graves, at the Union Decoration Day in Jacksonville, Florida, presented a number of concrete examples of intersectional cooperation:

We reca1l with glowing memories that a generous regiment of Maine sent to Congress a memorial for the pension of the maimed and disabled veterans of the dead Confederacy. We remember that a ga1lant regiment of New York started those ringing cheers for Fitzhugh Lee in the great procession of the 4th of March. We can never forget, while memory lasts, that cultured, classic and chivalric Boston poured the rich tribute of flowers and welcome words in the lap of Stonewall Jackson's widow. These deeds have stirred the Southern heart, and we have tried to give back an answering throb in the sincere and heartfelt and universal sympathy that we have sent to the bedside of the North's great hero, dying in New York.15

Perhaps the most direct expression of the value of national cooperation came from Moses Hoge in his address at Washington and Lee College when he explained at length the national drive to raise funds for that school.

Washington [wished] that it should 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 .... It was this that constrained men of public spirit in Boston and other northern cities ... to make a contribution of £ 700 .... It was this that suggested the happy plan of holding a centennial meeting in 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. It was fitly held in Independence Hall, and the spirit of the assembly was worthy of the place, of the occasion, and of the men who composed it.

Hoge then listed many of the outstanding men of the North and South who cooperated in this financial campaign for the Southern school.16

Suggestions for Reconiliatory Speaking

This study of a set of historical speeches seems to show that a speaker faced with a similar rhetorical situation might have several alternative strategies he could employ. First, he must ground his speech in those human values which are most closely related to this goal. For the speakers surveyed in this study, these values were: (1) national patriotism (which could be translated in a contemporary setting as group espirit de corps or group loyalty), (2) forgiveness for wrongs committed or supposedly committed. (3) friendship for people in the opposition section (or group faction), (4) cooperation of both sections (or factions) toward national (or group) goals and achievements, and (5) responsibility and duty of all citizens (or group members) to strive for harmony if the national (or group) goals are to be met.

Second, he must intensify these values for his listeners by illustrating them with contemporary examples of reconciliation being realized. Some of the speakers in this post-Civil War period gave detailed illustrations of North and South actively working together to promote harmony and to destroy intersectional barriers. In addition, this "visualization process" should take the form of realistic rewards which would serve to reinforce the message. For example, picturing for the audience what will be the positive, tangible benefits for them and their section (or group) if reconciliation does occur.17 General Thomas Logan pointed out, for instance, that had the sentiments of soldiers been followed nation-wide, "the whole country would have thus received new impetus in its career of progress and prosperity." He went on to say that if reunion fully occurs, "We will, then, unquestionably have on this continent a great country, inhabited by a great people."18 If a speaker is able to relate the values of reconciliation to the audience in such a way that his listeners can see clearly the benefits to be gained, then he will be achieving his rhetorical goal of reinforcing harmony and reunion.

Third, the reconciliation speaker must help his audience accept the fact that in a situation calling for reunion, there is generally a "loser" and a "winner." In spite of America's claim to be a nation of compromise, most argumentative situations provide for a winner and a loser in some sense. For a state of reconciliation to occur, the loser must accept his loss. In this post-war situation, the South at least claimed, again and again, to have accepted the verdict of the sword. This proclamation of acceptance doubtless helped to speed the reconciliation process for both Southerner and Northerner.

Fourth, the speech and the speech situation itself should provide specific examples of what the two groups or factions have in common -- their common heritage and tradition perhaps, as these speakers described, or their common goals-and purposes. These examples could be non-verbal as well as verbal such as the paintings of revered national heroes which were placed on the stage at a veteran's reunion, or crossed battle flags from two units meeting together in peace which had opposed each other in war, or the national flag or other visible symbols of group harmony and unity.

 

 

Further Studies Suggested

Based on the investigation of this topic, further research possibilities should be suggested for students who wish to explore related topics in the area of post-Civil War Southern public address. The following are five major areas of possible research: First, the attempts at reconciliatory speaking prior to the starting point of this study -- 1875 -- should be examined. Obviously some reunion sentiment had been created prior to the end of political reconstruction. What was the nature of the public speaking in the South which attempted to create and shape this early post-war reunion sentiment? Perhaps part of this early conciliatory speaking occurred in the United States Congress. Therefore, a future study of reconciliatory rhetoric should include speaking by the Southern Congressman and Senator in the national legislative halls. After all, that is where the legislation was enacted which provided for the end of Congressional reconstruction and for general amnesty to the South. What did Southerners do in their Congressional speeches to hasten that reunion spirit? Another focus could be the speaking in the South by Northerners -- especially educators, industrialists, and philanthropists, as well as politicians and soldiers. Did Northerners handle the reunion message any differently than did Southern speakers? An additional topic is the relationship of the Negro question and the movement toward national harmony. The present study suggests that the race question, and the North's response to it, probably helped the South become reconciled more than anyone single factor. Further exploration of this topic would help shed light on both Southern race relations and reconciliation. A final area of investigation would be the rhetoric of those Southern speakers such as Charles C. Jones, Jr. of Georgia, and Robert Dabney of Virginia, who were not reconciled to the North after the war. How did they attempt to convince their listeners that reconciliation was not good and that the South should stay armed against Northern aggression -- figuratively, at least? An additional research need is to make some of these reconciliation speeches more available to students of public address. These speeches do shed light on Southern public communication and values and should, therefore, be more accessible rather than scattered through a number of libraries in pamphlet form or newspaper accounts.

 

 

Conclusion

The ceremonial speakers examined in this study did attempt to reinforce the attitude of national reunion. There can be little doubt that Southerners after the war did feel a sentiment of national harmony. David M. Potter expresses it well when he writes that "one of the truly diagnostic, perennial features of the South has been the obsessive impulse of its people" to be both "Southerners and Americans." Potter demonstrates that "Southern loyalties to the Union were never really obliterated but rather were eclipsed by other loyalties, with which, for a time, they conflicted."19 These speakers did attempt to intensify those loyalties to the Union.

Reconciliation is not analogous to a religious philosophy of "once saved, always saved." Rather, it is a process with no clearly definable beginning and with no point in time when one is totally reconciled. It is more accurate to say that the post-Civil War South was in the process of becoming reconciled to national goals and purposes -- a process even yet unfinished. In spite of the end of Congressional reconstruction, the granting of general amnesty to Southerners, and other symbols of national reunion, the speakers surveyed here felt a need to further reinforce the sentiment of reconciliation. This study has described what these men said on the subject of national reunion and has suggested some possible rhetorical strategies and considerations for contemporary speakers who would attempt to reconcile antagonistic elements of our national life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Clement Eaton and Richard M. Weaver are two historians who have commented upon the important role of honor, duty, and chivalry in the code of the Southern gentleman. See, for example, Eaton, The Waning of the Old South Civilization, 1860's-1880's, Mercer University Lamar Memorial Lectures, No. 10 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), pp. 45 and 53; Weaver, The Southern Tradition at Bay, A History of Postbellum Thought, edited by George Core and M. E. Bradford (New York: Arlington House, 1968). p. 47.

 

2 John Temple Graves, "Memorial Address," delivered at West Point, Georgia, April 26, 1876.

3 Hoge, "Oration at the Inauguration of the Jackson Statue," delivered at Richmond, Virginia, October 26, 1875.

4 John W. Daniel, Oration at the Inauguration of the Mausoleum and the Unveiling of the Recumbent Figure of Genera1 Robert Edward Lee at Washington and Lee University (Richmond, Virginia: West, Johnston and Company, 1883).

5 James C. C. Black, "Address at the Unveiling of the Hill Statue," delivered at Atlanta, Georgia, May 1, 1886.

6 Graves, "Memorial Address."

7 Thomas M. Logan, "The Future of the South," delivered at Columbia, South Carolina, July 21, 1875.

8 Henry W. Grady, "Against Centralization," delivered at University of Virginia, June 15, 1889.

9 Daniel, Oration at Figure of Lee.

lO Atticus G. Haygood, "Garfield's Memory," delivered at Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, October 5, 1881.

11 Logan, "Future of the South."

12 Thomas J. Jarvis, Address Delivered Before Society of Alumni of Randolph Macon College (Richmond: Johns and Goolsby, 1881).

13  James W. Throckmorton, "Speech Delivered at Re-Union of Hood's Soldiers," delivered at Waco, Texas, June 27, 1889.

14 Haygood, "Seney Hall," delivered atá Emory College, Oxford, Georgia, June 8, 1881.

15 Graves, "Union Decoration Day Speech, " delivered at Jacksonville, Florida, May 30, 1885.

16 Moses D. Hoge, The Memories, Hopes and Duties of the Hour, delivered at Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, June 15, 1886 (Richmond, Virginia: Whittet and Shapperson, 1886).

17 As Erwin Bettinghaus points out, a reward is needed, if a speaker wishes to reinforce a response. Persuasive Communication (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968), pp. 56-58.

18 Logan, "Future of the South."

19 David M. Potter, The South and the Sectional Conflict (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968), pp. 30-31, 78-79, italics his.