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Mr. President; Mr. Mayor; and you the men and women
of the Palmetto State, men and women of the South;
my fellow-citizens of the Union : It is indeed to me a peculiar pleasure to have the chance of coming here to this Exposition held in your old, your beautiful, your historic city. My mother's people were from Georgia; but before they came to Georgia, before the Revolution, in the days of Colonial rule, they dwelt for nearly a century in South Carolina; and therefore I can claim your State as mine by inheritance no less than by the stronger and nobler right which makes each foot of American soil in a sense the property of all Americans.
Charleston is not only a typical Southern city; it is also a city whose history teems with events which link themselves to American history as a whole. In the early Colonial days Charleston was the outpost of our people against the Spaniard in the South. In the days of the Revolution there occurred here some of the events which vitally affected the outcome of the struggle for Independence, and which impressed themselves most deeply upon the popular mind. It was here that the tremendous, terrible drama of the Civil War opened.
With delicate and thoughtful courtesy you originally asked me to come to this Exposition on the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The invitation not only showed a fine generosity and manliness in you, my hosts, but it also emphasized as hardly anything else could have emphasized how completely we are now a united people. The wounds left by the great Civil War, incomparably the greatest war of modern times, have healed; and its memories are now priceless heritages of honor alike to the North and to the South. The devotion, the self-sacrifice, the steadfast resolution and lofty daring, the high devotion to the right as each man saw it, whether Northerner or Southerner-all these qualities of the men and women of the early sixties now shine luminous and brilliant before our eyes, while the mists of anger and hatred that once dimmed them have passed away forever.
All of us, North and South, can glory alike in the valor of the men who wore the blue and of the men who wore the gray. Those were iron times, and only iron men could fight to its terrible finish the giant struggle between the hosts of Grant and Lee, the struggle that came to an end thirty-seven years ago this very day. To us of the present day, and to our children and children's children, the valiant deeds, the high endeavor, and abnegation of self shown in that struggle by those who took part therein will remain for evermore to mark the level to which we in our turn must rise whenever the hour of the Nation's need may come.
When four years ago this Nation was compelled to face a foreign foe, the completeness of the reunion became instantly and strikingly evident. The war was not one which called for the exercise of more than an insignificant fraction of our strength, and the strain put upon us was slight indeed compared with the results. But it was a satisfactory thing to see the way in which the sons of the soldier of the Union and the soldier of the Confederacy leaped eagerly forward, emulous to show in brotherly rivalry the qualities which had won renown for their fathers, the men of the great war. It was my good fortune to serve under an ex-Confederate general, gallant old Joe Wheeler, who commanded the cavalry division at Santiago.
In my regiment there were certainly as many men whose fathers had served in the Southern, as there were men whose fathers had served in the Northern, army. Among the captains there was opportunity to promote but one to field rank. The man who was singled out for this promotion because of conspicuous gallantry in the field was the son of a Confederate general and was himself a citizen of this, the Palmetto State; and no American officer could wish to march to battle beside a more loyal, gallant, and absolutely fearless comrade than my former captain and major, your fellow-citizen, Micah Jenkins.
A few months ago, owing to the enforced absence of the Governor of the Philippines, it became necessary to nominate a Vice-Governor to take his place--one of the most important places in our Government at this time. I nominated as Vice-Governor an ex-Confederate, General Luke Wright, of Tennessee. It is therefore an ex-Confederate who now stands as the exponent of this Government and this people in that great group of islands in the eastern seas over which the American flag floats. General Wright has taken a leading part in the work of steadily bringing order and peace out of the bloody chaos in which we found the islands. He is now taking a leading part not merely in upholding the honor of the flag by making it respected as the symbol of our power, but still more in upholding its honor by unwearied labor for the establishment of ordered liberty-of law-creating, law-abiding civil government-under its folds.
The progress which has been made under General Wright and those like him has been indeed marvellous. In fact, a letter of the General's the other day seemed to show that he considered there was far more warfare about the Philippines in this country than there was warfare in the Philippines themselves! It is an added proof of the completeness of the reunion of our country that one of the foremost men who have been instrumental in driving forward the great work for civilization and humanity in the Philippines has been a man who in the Civil War fought with distinction in a uniform of Confederate gray.
If ever the need comes in the future, the past has made abundantly evident the fact that from this time on Northerner and Southerner will in war know only the generous desire to strive how each can do the more effective service for the flag of our common country. The same thing is true in the endless work of peace, the neverending work of building and keeping the marvellous fabric of our industrial prosperity. The upbuilding of any part of our country is a benefit to the whole, and every such effort as this to stimulate the resources and industry of a particular section is entitled to the heartiest support from every quarter of the Union. Thoroughly good national work can be done only if each of us works hard for himself, and at the same time keeps constantly in mind that he must work in conjunction with others.
You have made a particular effort in your Exhibition to get into touch with the West Indies. This is wise. The events of the last four years have shown us that the West Indies and the Isthmus must in the future occupy a far larger place in our national policy than in the past. This is proved by the negotiations for the purchase of the Danish islands, the acquisition of Porto Rico, the preparation for building an Isthmian canal, and, finally, by the changed relations which these years have produced between us and Cuba. As a Nation we have an especial right to take honest pride in what we have done for Cuba. Our critics abroad and at home have insisted that we never intended to leave the island. But on the 20th of next month Cuba becomes a free republic, and we turn over