« ZurückWeiter »
may know, our republic, purified in the furnace of revolution, has never been more free from the germs of disease and danger.
Through the rough experiences of the war and the enforced change in her system of labor, the South has learned the intrinsic value of her own natural powers and possessions. She is emulating the industrial spirit of the North. Activities and energies born of necessity and poverty have quickened every avenue of commerce. Magical cities have sprung into existence in a single decade, to herald the new era. A silent, steady wave of emigration and capital is flowing southward. Industries heretofore unknown are unlocking the forces of nature and developing a new wealth, until it seems as if Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, and other states may yet rival the great industrial states of the North. In coming years they will support a dense population of free laborers; homogeneous in their social system, their products and surroundings with the people of the North, and of necessity growing into unanimity with them in political sentiment.
The old agricultural and political South, the traditional South, is sometimes inclined to be jealous of the term “ New South,” but it is no reflection upon the old. The old and the new are the land of the same people. The new South of diversified industries, of commerical prosperity, of free labor, of practical methods, the new fraternal South is at hand. It is coming by the natural evolution of events. Its progress can not be stayed either by tradition or partisanship.
At the close of the war, an accident, a matrimonial accident I may say, led me to become a citizen of Tennessee. A young man sometimes, unexpectedly, finds himself in a state of mind and heart where he is apt to become ex
uberant in promises (the young ladies will understand this). I thus became a Tennesseean. And, by the way, I may say that the man who leaves the State of Ohio for a new home, North or South, should be very careful in its selection. He will find it difficult to improve his condition by any change, and if he be an old soldier he may lose the benefit of the Ohio idea, which is said to include an office.
I have lived for a quarter of a century in the heart of the Sonth, and in an atmosphere largely of Southern sentiment and sympathy upon the special political and social questions growing out of the war. I need not say to my old army comrades that my own views have not always been in accord with these sentiments; at the same time I would be recreant to the truth, and to my friends and neighbors in Tennessee, if I failed to state that I have personally received every kindness and consideration at their hands, that a self-respecting gentleman of my antecedents and political sentiments could ask or expect.
I have lived in Nashville, a beautiful and prosperous city, a city of churches and colleges, of good order and good citizenship, a city, I may say, representing, along with others of its class, the best educational and progressive forces of the South, and well representing also the industrial, commercial, and fraternal spirit of the new order of things. No considerable city, North or South, has a larger scholastic population in proportion to the number of its inhabitants. Nearly two thousand students come from other states to be educated there. It has occurred to me that as I have the honor to be the first comrade of Southern citizenship selected to address this Society, it may not be inappropriate to present a brief retrospect of the Southern situation from a Southern standpoint.
Absence from the comradeship of the North does not
dull the convictions of the Union soldier. Perhaps occasional antagonisms may sharpen them. Amid new surroundings he does not fail to recollect his individual share in the glory of a restored Union. Wherever he may be, its memories are as dear to him as the friends of his youth. They “rise from the heart;" they “gather in the eyes ;" they are never forgotten.
The Federal soldiers whose lots have been cast with the people of the South, since the war, especially those who have not been mere partisans in sentiment, and who have not engaged in politics as a profession, have proved a useful class of citizens. People who differ radically as to the causes and issues of the war, reach a better understanding at close quarters than at long range, or through a war of newspapers.
Acquaintance and frank discussion bring out the truth. The very war itself resulted from a series of stupendous misunderstandings and miscalculations.
If thirty years ago the material power of the North, or its vast reserve of force and courage, could by possibility have been realized by the South, we might both have been saved some lessons of rough experience. Mutual knowledge begets mutual respect; it prevents friction and distrust; it forms the very basis of political friendship.
If there be material differences in the inherited blood and tendencies of the people of the North and South, I have not been able to discover them. The popular impression upon the subject is not correct. The same ancestries are represented by both. The Americanized Anglo-Saxon, the Scotchman, the sturdy Welshman, the easily inflamed IIuguenot, a few Germans, were all in the South thirty years ago. Scotch-Irishmen in great numbers-tough in fiber of mind and body, the very heart, soul, brains, and
muscle of the Rebellion-were there. Some one has remarked (perhaps ARTEMUS WARD) that the Pilgrim Fathers came over to this country to secure freedom of conscience and keep every body else from enjoying the same blessings.
The Scotch-Irishman has some of the same metal in him. The very spirit of resistance to any thing even called by the name of " coercion” is born in him.
People of New England and Pennsylvania ancestry, and from all the older states of the North, resided in the South before the war. The same race that pitched the tea overboard in Boston harbor and signed the Declaration of Independence was there. Save that they were educated under a different social system at the South, and that the climate was perhaps a little more heating to blood and brains, the Southern people did not differ from their American brethren at the North. The great loved PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN and JEFFERSON Davis were born in neighboring counties of Kentucky.
No one can be long in the South without realizing the unanimity of sentiment regarding the war that must have prevailed in the old slave-holding districts after serious hostilities begun. The exceptions were rare.
He can not fail to realize that the soldiers of the South were sincere in their convictions of duty, and in their allegiance to their section. Men insincere or actuated by merely passionate impulses, or unworthy or base motives, have never shown such courage and fidelity.
The men who served in the Confederate army are among the best citizens of the South. In the main, they and their children compose the educated and conservative classes. No ex-Federal soldier or gentleman from the North can reside there without being brought into intimate relations with them. They have engaged in the earnest duties
of life with the faithfulness exhibited by the Union soldiers. The privations of war, the lessons of victory and defeat, the experiences of many campaigns, association with each other and with strangers, have had an educating and liberalizing effect upon them. The average ex-Confederate bas little time for partisan politics. He is minding his own business. There is nothing small about him. The old Johnny Reb usually salutes the old Blue Coat with a kind and hearty greeting. They generally become friends. Ostracism and discourtesy as a rule are unknown among people who understand the civilities of life, and have some respecť for the opinion of others. The individual who is so constituted that he can not be comfortable away from home excepting among people entirely of his own way of thinking, especially upon subjects political and social, will occasionally find himself, or imagine himself, in a reasonable amount of hot water at the South or North-in fact, anywhere else.
After a liberal experience in knocking about the world, I can justly say, looking from a standpoint above all political or local considerations, that the traveler or immigrant from the North will find no heartier welcome or people of more hospitable or generous impulses than in the South of to-day. To be justly appreciated they must be known at their firesides, in their churches, in their business relations, and not entirely through their own public journals, whose occasional passionate expressions are heralded at the North.
I may say also that the traveler and immigrant may sometimes find other kinds of people there. All the good people are not huddled together in any one section. In the war time, I once caught one of my soldiers in a very compromising predicament, trying to smother a lot of squalling chickens under his big army coat.
When I pressed him for an explanation, finding other