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Grant and his fellow-soldiers who fought through the war, and his fellow-statesmen who completed the work partly done by the soldiers, not only left us the heritage of a reunited country and of a land from which slavery had been banished, but left us what was quite as important, the great memory of their great deeds, to serve forever as an example and an inspiration, to spur us on so that we may not fall below the level reached by our fathers. The rough, strong poet of democracy has sung of Grant as "the man of mighty days, and equal to the days.” The days are less mighty now, and that is all the more reason why we should show ourselves equal to them. We meet here to pay glad homage to the memory of our illustrious dead; but let us keep ever clear before our minds the fact that mere lip-loyalty is no loyalty at all, and that the only homage that counts is the homage of deeds, not of words. It is but an idle waste of time to celebrate the memory of the dead unless we, the living, in our lives strive to show ourselves not unworthy of them. If the careers of Washington and Grant are not vital and full of meaning to us, if they are merely part of the storied past, and stir us to no eager emulation in the ceaseless, endless war for right against wrong, then the root of right thinking is not in us; and where we do not think right we can not act right.
It is not my purpose in this address to sketch, in
even the briefest manner, the life and deeds of Grant. It is not even my purpose to touch on the points where his influence has told so tremendously in the making of our history. It is part of the man's greatness that now we can use his career purely for illustration. We can take for granted the fact that each American who knows the history of the country must know the history of this man, at least in its broad outline; and that we no more need to explain Vicksburg and Appomattox than we need to explain Yorktown. I shall ask attention, not to Grant's life, but to the lessons taught by that life as we of to-day should learn them.
Foremost of all is the lesson of tenacity, of stubborn fixity of purpose. In the Union armies there were generals as brilliant as Grant, but none with his iron determination. This quality he showed as President no less than as general. He was no more to be influenced by a hostile majority in Congress into abandoning his attitude in favor of a sound and stable currency than he was to be influenced by check or repulse into releasing his grip on beleaguered Richmond. It is this element of unshakable strength to which we are apt specially to refer when we praise a man in the simplest and most effective way, by praising him as a man. It is the one quality which we can least afford to lose. It is the only quality the lack of which is as unpardonable in the nation as in the man. It is the antithesis of levity, fickleness, volatility, of undue exaltation, of undue depression, of hysteria and neuroticism in all their myriad forms. The lesson of unyielding, unflinching, unfaltering perseverance in the course upon which the nation has entered is one very necessary for a generation whose preachers sometimes dwell overmuch on the policies of the moment. There are not a few public men, not a few men who try to mold opinion within Congress and without, on the stump and in the daily press, who seem to aim at instability, who pander to and thereby increase the thirst for overstatement of eachi situation as it arises, whose effort is, accordingly, to make the people move in zigzags instead of in a straight line. We all saw this in the Spanish War, when the very men who at one time branded as traitors everybody who said there was anything wrong in the army at another time branded as traitors everybody who said there was anything right. Of course such an attitude is as unhealthy on one side as on the other, and it is equally destructive of any effort to do away with abuse.
Hysterics of this kind may have all the results of extreme timidity. A nation that has not the power of endurance, the power of dogged insistence on a determined policy, come weal or woe, has lost one chief element of greatness. The people who wish to abandon the Philippines because we have had heavy skirmishing out there, or who think that our rule is a failure whenever they discover some sporadic upgrowth of evil, would do well to remember the two long years of disaster this nation suffered before the July morning when the news was flashed to the waiting millions that Vicksburg had fallen in the West and that in the East the splendid soldiery of Lee had recoiled at last from the low hills of Gettysburg. Even after this nearly two years more were to pass before the end came at Appomattox. Throughout this time the cry of prophets of disaster never ceased. The peace-at-any-price men never wearied of de- . claiming against the war, of describing the evils of conquest and subjugation as worse than any possible benefits that could result therefrom. The hysterical minority passed alternately from unreasoning confidence to unreasoning despair; and at times they even infected for the moment many of their sober, steady countrymen. Eighteen months after the war began the State and Congressional elections went heavily against the war party, and two years later the opposition party actually waged the Presidential campaign on the issue that the war was a failure. Meanwhile there was plenty of blundering at the front, plenty of mistakes at Washington. The country was saved by the fact that our people, as a whole, were steadfast and unshaken. Both at Washington and at the front the leaders were men of undaunted resolu
tion, who would not abandon the policy to which the nation was definitely committed, who regarded disaster as merely a spur to fresh effort, who saw in each blunder merely something to be retrieved, and not a reason for abandoning the long-determined course. Above all, the great mass of the people possessed a tough and stubborn fibre of character.
There was then, as always, ample room for criticism, and there was every reason why the mistakes should be corrected. But in the long run our gratitude was due primarily, not to the critics, not to the fault-finders, but to the men who actually did the work; not to the men of negative policy, but to those who struggled toward the given goal. Merciful oblivion has swallowed up the names of those who railed at the men who were saving the Union, while it has given us the memory of these same men as a heritage of honor forever; and brightest among their names flame those of Lincoln and Grant, the steadfast, the unswerving, the enduring, the finally triumphant.
Grant's supreme virtue as a soldier was his doggedness, the quality which found expression in his famous phrases of "unconditional surrender” and “fighting it out on this line if it takes all summer.” He was a master of strategy and tactics, but he was also a master of hard hitting, of that "continuous hammering" which finally broke through even Lee's