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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/89

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Statue of General Robert E. Lee 81

ROBERT EDWARD LEE. THE SPEECH OF HONORABLE DON P. HALSEY

On the Bill to Provide a Statue of Robert Edward Lee to be Placed in Statuary Hall in the Capitol at Wash- ington, Delivered in the Senate of Virginia, February 6, 1903.

[The preservation in these pages of this just and admirable expo- sition will be held in satisfaction, generally in this country, as well as in the broad domain of civilization. It would seem incredible to conceive of a dissentient to the meed due an exemplar of the noblest embodiment of the patriot, citizen and soldier, of which history has cognizance. ED. ]

MR. PRESIDENT:

In presenting the Bill now under consideration, I did so from no desire to offend Northern sentiment, or to re-open old wounds now happily healed. Rather I did so from entirely opposite motives, for, believing that the feeling of good will between the sections is now greater than ever before, I considered this an opportune time for Virginia to accept the invitation so long held out to her by the Federal Government, and place in the National Valhalla, by the side of her Washington, the figure of him whom she deems to be his peer, and the fittest of all her sons for this high distinction, there- by showing her good feeling towards the reunited nation of which she is a part.

Right glad am I to feel that those who are the truest exponents of the sentiment of the North, sustain me in my belief that in this era of good feeling the statue of Lee may be thus placed without justly exciting passions of sectional animosity or tirades of bitter comment. I did not hope, of course, that the idea would meet with the approval of everybody the man does not live who can win universal approbation, no matter how well he may deserve it, and neither can a proposition to do any act, no matter how meritorious, be made without there being some who will disapprove, and, per- haps, condemn it.