Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/100

This page needs to be proofread.

92 Southern Historical Society Papers.

no objection, it has been left for Virginians to suggest objections and to say that we are trying to place a statue of Lee ' ' on Northern soil."

Again, I ask, sir, whose country is this anyway, and whose Cap- itol is it in which we propose to place this statue ? If any State more than another can claim both the country and Capitol for her own, that State is Virginia, since seven of the greatest States of the Union (not counting either of the Virginias) occupy ground once owned by her, but freely given to others for the general good. Is Virginia a conquered province, or an equal among her equals in the union of the States ? Northern soil, indeed ! Take away the part that Virginia has played in the foundation and upbuilding of this country, and its most glorious memories will be blotted out. When we think of the debt of gratitude which this country owes to Vir- ginia it seems to me that we, as Virginians, ought indeed to feel that we are in "our father's house," and not talk or act as if the Federal government were a foreign power and we were in fear of straining international relations.

Forty years seems a long enough probation for Virginia to serve in order to prove her loyalty and devotion to the reunited country, especially when her sons have shown their willingness to shed their blood for it, and to my mind the time has come, if it is ever to come, when Virginia should realize and every other State should realize, as I believe they do, that in the Union no State has superior rights to hers, and that there is no reason why she should hesitate to claim her rights more than any other State.

as the ultimate and final personal expression of the highest and finest ideals of public and private life that two centuries of Virginia civilization has evolved.

" It is for reasons of this sort that Virginians wish to place a statue of Lee by the side of that of Washington in the rotunda of the national CapitoL In making this selection there is no thought in Virginia of belittling the greatness of Jefferson on the one hand or of giving offense on the other by recalling the terrible strife of forty years ago. Virginia has the good fortune to possess a sculptor equal to the work of designing the Lee statue. Mr. Edward Virginius Valentine knew him intimately, and made ample studies and notes while the great general was still living as president of what is now known as Washington and Lee University, after the close of the war. What is probably the finest recumbent statue in America marks the tomb of Lee r which adjoins the chapel of the University, at Lexington, and Mr. Valentine is the sculptor who created this masterly monument. We may be assured, therefore, of a notable Lee statue for the galaxy of great Americans in the national Capitol."