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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/97

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Statue of General Robert E. Lee. 89

fathers, or the true construction of a written instrument, for on that point the Constitution was silent wisely and as I hold it, inten- tionally silent.

" In studying the history of that period we are again confronted by a condition and not a theory; but as I read the record, and under- stand the real facts of that now forgotten social and political existence, in case of direct and insoluble issue between sovereign State and sovereign Nation, between 1788 and 1861, every man was not only free to decide, but had to decide for himself; and whichever way he decided he was right. The Constitution gave him two masters. Both he could not serve; and the average man decided which to serve in the light of sentiment, tradition and environment. Of this I feel as historically confident as I feel of any fact not matter of ab- solute record or susceptible of demonstration."

Mr. Adams is himself a soldier and a gentleman, who shows him- self worthy of the Presidential line from which he sprung, by his magnanimous appreciation of the valor and manhood of his former enemies. In another speech, delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society of the University of Chicago in June of last year,* he effect- ually rebukes those who would apply to Lee the epithet of "traitor," and with merciless and faultless logic, demonstrates that if Lee was a traitor, "so also, and indisputably, were George Washington, Oliver Cromwell, John Hampden and William of Orange," and further, that the man who pursued Lee's course after the war "had not, could not have had in his whole being one drop of traitor's blood or conceived a treacherous thought."

It is in this speech, which is entitled "Shall Cromwell have a Statue?" that he proposes that the Federal Government shall pro- vide a site for an equestrian statue of Lee in the city of Washington, and shows that the choice of Lee, when he put aside the temptations of ambition, place and power (being unreservedly tendered the command of the Union forces shortly afterwards held by General McDowell), and cast in his lot with his own people, his State, his kindred and his home, was the choice of a high-minded gentleman and loyal patriot. He then adds these words :

" Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the course of Lee when the choice was made, of Lee as a foe and the commander of an army, but one opinion can be entertained. Every inch a soldier, he was an opponent not less generous and humane than formidable,

  • See Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXX, pp. 1-33.