Open main menu

Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/92

This page needs to be proofread.


84 Southern Historical Society Papers.

mere mechanical act involved. The statue of Washington is already one of the places allotted to Virginia, and as she has the right to choose another of her illustrious sons to fill the vacant niche, whom shall it be but Lee ? *

Ah ! but it is suggested by some that we might possibly offend Northern sentiment, we might perchance raise a sectional issue, and perhaps we had better consult the Secretary of State. Mr. Presi- dent, I see no necessity for propriety in such a course. Why should Virginia consult the Secretary of State as to whether it will be agreeable to him for her to exercise a plain legal right, a right as clearly written in the law of the land as her right to choose her own representatives in Congress? It has not been her habit, nor the habit of any Southern State to consult any representative of the na- tional government about whom they should choose to represent them in any capacity, so why should she do it now ? At one time there were more ex-Confederates in the United States Senate than would have filled the Confederate Senate, and five of them were from anti-secession States. Joseph E. Johnston and John B. Gordon, generals of the Confederate army, sat in Congress without having to

  • The law on the subject was passed in 1864, and was introduced by Mr.

Justin S. Morrill, of Vermont. To show that it was intended to apply equally to all the States and that there was no thought of excluding any or hamper- ing any in making an absolutely free choice of representatives, may be quoted the language of Mr. Morrill himself, who said in a speech on the occasion when the statue of Lewis Cass was placed in the Hall in 1889:

"We have much reason to expect the grand old hall will ere long be adorned by such notable figures, possibly, as would be that of Benton, from Missouri, or those of Charles Carroll and William Wirt, from Maryland; Lincoln and Douglas, from Illinois; Grimes, from Iowa; Morton and Hen- dricks, of Indiana; Webster, from New Hampshire; Macon, once styled "the last of the Romans," from North Carolina; Clay, from Kentucky; Calhoun, from South Carolina; William H. Crawford and George M. Troup, from Georgia; Austin and Sam Houston, from Texas, and Madison and Patrick Henry, from Virginia, with a long illustrious list of others easily to be mentioned, sufficient to show that our materials to make the hall nation- ally attractive are in no danger of being exhausted, but in some States may prove embarrassing from their abundance.

"This truly representative hall, with its fraternal congress of the dead, who yet speak in marble and bronze, will tend to increase mutual respect, tend to knit us together as a homogeneous people, here united forever in a common tribute of high regard to Americans not unknown to fame, and designated and crowned by their respective States as worthy of national commemoration."