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BUHRI GRAD 42081531 HART
To Henry M. Flagler,
WHOSE INVITATION, COMING AT A MOMENT OF ILLNESS,
TOOK ME AWAY TO A PARADISE OF REST,
AND GAVE ME STRENGTH TO BEGIN THIS BOOK,
I NOW RETURN IT COMPLETE
IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS GREAT KINDNESS,
AND IN TOKEN OF A FRIENDSHIP
THAT IS VERY DEAR TO ME.
Migration to the South at the approach of Winter, has become almost as regular as the migration of birds. A journey that is so familiar needs little in the way of description; and if I linger here and there, or turn to some out-of-the-way place like Jupiter Inlet, it is not to magnify slight accessories, but to prepare a larger canvas for a principal figure, as these tropical surroundings furnish a background, the more effective by contrast, for the dark subject of my story. It is under these “bright skies” that the “shadows” creep on the scene. Out of the palms and the orange groves starts up a spectre, the ghost of something gone, that, though dead and buried, sleeps in an unquiet grave, and comes forth at midnight to haunt us in our dreams. The Race Problem is the gravest that ever touched a nation's life. The subject at once fascinates and repels by its tremendous import, its difficulty and its danger. I have been so oppressed by it that I could not keep from speaking, even if it were only to ask questions. That is the way to get light, by groping after it. Confession of ignorance is the first step towards knowledge. To one in perplexity of mind on a difficult question, it is a help to talk it over in a friendly way: to exchange suggestions with those who give as well as receive. Ideas which were extremely vague, crystallize in expression, and are useful if only to draw forth something better from others. With this frank statement, I give my thoughts for what they are worth, but do not
assume for one moment to set myself up as an authority. I boast no superior wisdom : I only claim to have a few grains of common-sense, an earnest desire for the good of both races, and a boundless charity.
After this grave discussion of a question that has been the brooding mother of all our woes, last and greatest of which was the late civil war, it is not a violent transition to a stirring event in the war itself, the Battle of Franklin. As I went over the field with those who had a part in the scenes of that terrible day, I have tried to tell the story in a way to be just alike to friend and foe. Then, by way of contrast and relief, we turn to a quiet old mansion on the banks of the Cumberland, where one of our earlier heroes, Andrew Jackson, lived and died.
Returning home across the mountains, it came in my way to visit the graves of Lee and Stonewall Jackson, in writing of whom I have not sought to revive recollections that could stir up bitterness, but to contribute at once to the truth of history and to the cause of peace. These very sketches serve to show us “how near and yet how far” is the great drama in which these distinguished actors bore a part—so near as to be remembered vividly by the living generation, and yet so far as to have removed all irritation, so that we can write of these recent events with the calm, judicial temper of posterity. Can we make a better use of history than to learn from it this double lesson : to honor all the heroic dead, and to think kindly and generously of the living ?