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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/101

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Statue of General Robert E. Lee. 93

We are not trying to force the North to honor Lee. We could not if we would, and would not if we could, although we believe that the time will come when the North will honor him with one voice, but we are choosing Lee just as we choose Washington, and in so doing only exercise our legal right to choose those characters whom we consider best fitted to represent Virginia in a place where every other State may exercise the same privilege without complaint or objection from us, and where every State is supposed to send the two she deems her greatest and her best. If there be those who would deny us this right, then let them understand that they cannot do it without denying it to themselves.

No, Mr. President, there is no sectionalism in the proposition contained in this bill, and there should be no sectional prejudices aroused by its passage. Sectionalism belongs to the past, and we do not now propose to revive it, but simply to recognize and realize that it is dead and buried, and that reunion and reconciliation have taken its place. Reunion and Reconciliation these are the watch- words now with us who would honor Lee's memory. Reunion and Reconciliation, with Peace and Friendship. The aspiration of Grant for peace has reached its fulfillment, and in spite of the feelings of enmity which may still exist in some "little hearts that know not how to forgive," I fondly and firmly believe that now to a greater degree than at any time in its history we have the spirit of peace in all our country's borders. Unless we have been deceived, the con- summation for which Grady prayed has been reached, and we may truly see a nation "reunited in the bonds of love, loving from the Lakes to the Gulf, with the wounds of war healed in every heart and on every hill." Reunion and Reconciliation! Let who will stand against them, the stars in their courses are for them, and all the con- stellations in the heavens will twinkle when the statue of Lee goes to Washington, as Virginia's offering to the Union she helped to make and which she stands forever ready to defend!

I am one of the generation born since the war, but the son of one who faithfully followed the fortunes of Lee and his cause for four long years, and gloriously fought with him at Gettysburg, and speak- ing for the young men of Virginia I unhesitatingly declare that we have no bitterness in our hearts towards those who fought our fathers, and that to the government that survived the conflict we render loyalty and patriotic citizenship, holding it the freest, the grandest, the brightest and best of all the empires, kingdoms and republics upon which the sun looks down in his circuit through the heavens. We