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The best evidence of our complete reconciliation is that there is no subject that we need to hurry by with our fingers on our lips. The time has come when Americans, North, South, East, and West, may discuss any question of public interest in a friendly and quiet spirit, without recrimination and without heat, each understanding the other, each striving to help the other, as men who are bearing a common burden and looking forward with a common hope. I know that this is the feeling of the people of the North. I think I know that it is the feeling of the people of the South. In our part of the country we have to deal with the great problems of the strife between labor and capital, and of the government of cities where vast masses of men born on foreign soil, of different nationalities and of different races, strangers to American principles, to American ideas, to American history, are gathered together to exercise the unaccustomed functions of self-government in an almost unrestricted liberty. You have to deal with a race problem rendered more difficult still by a still larger difference in the physical and intellectual qualities of the two races whom Providence has brought together.
I should be false to my own manhood if I failed to express my profound regret and sorrow for some occurrences which have taken place recently, both in the North and in the South. I am bound to say that, considering all the circumstances, the Northern community has been the worse offender.
It is well known (or if it be not well known I am willing to make it known) that I look with inexpressible alarm and dread upon the prospect of adding to our population millions of persons dwelling in tropical climes, aliens in race and in religion, either to share in our self-government, or, what is worse still, to set an example to mankind of the subjection of one people to another. We have not yet solved the problem how men of different races can dwell together in the same land in accordance with our principles of republican rule and republican liberty. I am not one of those who despair of the solution of that problem in justice and in freedom. I do not look upon the dark side when I think of the future of our beloved land. I count it the one chief good fortune of my own
life that, as I grow older, I look out on the world with hope and not despair. We have made wonderful advances within the lifetime of the youngest of us. While we hear from time to time of occurrences much to be deplored and utterly to be condemned, yet, on the whole, we are advancing quite as rapidly as could be expected to the time when these races will live together on American soil in freedom, in honor and in peace, every man enjoying his just right wherever the American Constitution reigns and wherever the American flag floats—when the influence of intelligence, of courage, of energy, inspired by a lofty patriotism and by a Christian love will have its full and legitimate effect, not through disorder, or force, or lawlessness, but under the silent and sure law by which always the superior leads and the inferior follows. The time has already come when throughout large spaces in our country both races are dwelling together in peace and harmony. I believe that condition of things to be the rule in the South and not to be the exception. We have a right to claim that the country and the South shall be judged by the rule and not the exception.
But we want you to stand by us in our troubles as brethren and as countrymen. We shall have to look, in many perils that are before us in the near future, to the conservatism and wisdom of the South. And if the time shall come when you think we can help you, your draft shall be fully honored.
But to-night belongs to the memory of the Pilgrims. The Pilgrim of Plymouth has a character in history distinct from any other. He differed from the Puritan of Salem or Boston in everything but the formula in which his religious faith was expressed. He was gentle, peaceful, tolerant, gracious. There was no intolerance or hatred or bigotry in his little commonwealth. He hanged no witches, he whipped no Quakers, he banished no heretics. His little State existed for seventy-two years, when it was blended with the Puritan Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He enacted the mildest code of laws on the face of the earth. There were but eight capital offenses in Plymouth. Sir. James Mackintosh held in his hand a list of two hundred and twenty-three when he addressed the House of Commons at the beginning of the present cen
tury. He held no foot of land not fairly obtained by honest purchase. He treated the Indian with justice and good faith, setting an example which Vattel, the foremost writer on the law of nations, commends to mankind. In his earliest days his tolerance was an example to Roger Williams himself, who has left on record his gratitude for the generous friendship of Winslow. Governor Bradford's courtesy entertained the Catholic priest, who was his guest, with a fish dinner on Friday. John Robinson, the great leader of the Pilgrims, uttered the world's declaration of religious independence when he told his little flock on the wharf at Delfshaven, as reported by Winslow: “We are ere long to part asunder, and the Lord knoweth whether he should live to see our face again. But, whether the Lord hath appointed it or not, he charged us before God and His blessed angels to follow him no further than he followed Christ; and, if God should reveal anything to us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to receive it as we were to receive any truth by his ministry, for he was very confident the Lord had more truth and light yet to break out of His Holy Word.”
The Pilgrim was a model and an example of a beautiful, simple, and stately courtesy. John Robinson, and Bradford, and Brewster, and Carver, and Winslow differ as much from the dark and haughty Endicott, or the bigoted Cotton Mather as, in the English church, Jeremy Taylor, and George Herbert, and Donne, and Vaughan differ from Laud, or Bonner, or Bancroft.
Let us not be misunderstood. I am not myself a descendant from the Pilgrims. Every drop of my blood through every line of descent for three centuries has come from a Puritan ancestor. I am ready to do battle for the name and fame of the Massachusetts Puritan in any field and against any antagonist. Let others, if they like, trace their lineage to Norman pirate or to robber baron. The children of the Puritan are not ashamed of him. The Puritan, as a distinct, vital, and predominant power, lived less than a century in England. He appeared early in the reign of Elizabeth, who came to the throne in 1558, and departed at the restoration of Charles II, in 1660. But in that brief period he was the preserver, aye, the creator of English freedom. By the confession of the historians who
most dislike him, it is due to him that there is an English constitution. He created the modern House of Commons. That House, when he took his seat in it, was the feeble and timid instrument of despotism. When he left it, it was what it has ever since been—the strongest, freest, most venerable legislative body the world has ever seen. When he took his seat in it, it was little more than the register of the King's command. When he left it, it was the main depository of the national dignity and the national will. King and minister and prelate who 'stood in his way he brought to the bar and to the block. In the brief but crowded century he made the name of Englishman the highest title of honor upon the earth. A great historian has said: “The dread of his invincible army was on all the inhabitants of the island. He placed the name of John Milton high on the illustrious roll of the great poets of the world, and the name of Oliver Cromwell highest on the roll of English sovereigns.” The historian might have added that the dread of this invincible leader was on all the inhabitants of Europe.
And so, when a son of the Puritans comes to the South, when he visits the home of the Rutledges and the Pinckneys and of John C. Calhoun, if there be any relationship in heroism or among the lovers of constitutional liberty, he feels that he can
“ Claim kindred there and have the claim allowed."
The Puritan differs from the Pilgrim as the Hebrew prophet from St. John. Abraham, ready to sacrifice Isaac at the command of God; Jeremiah, uttering his terrible prophecy of the downfall of Judea; Brutus, condemning his son to death; Brutus, slaying his friend for the liberty of Rome; Aristides, going into exile, are his spiritual progenitors, as Stonewall Jackson was of his spiritual kindred. You will find him wherever men are sacrificing life or the delights of life on the altar of Duty.
But the Pilgrim is of a gentler and a lovelier nature. He, too, if Duty or Honor call, is ready for the sacrifice. But his weapon is love and not hate. His spirit is the spirit of John, the beloved disciple, the spirit of Grace, Mercy, and Peace. His memory is as sweet and fragrant
as the perfume of the little flower which gave its name to the ship which brought him over.
So, Mr. President, responding to your sentiment, I give you mine: South Carolina and Massachusetts, the Presbyterian and the Puritan, the Huguenot and the Pilgrim; however separated by distance or by difference, they will at last surely be drawn together by a common love of liberty and a common faith in God.