Who were the women of ?
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My old Tennessee father used to teach me that there is a great deal more in the stock of people than there is in horses. Blood will tell. These women were the direct descendants of those bold, hardy Englishmen, who, under John Smith, Lord Delaware, Lord Baltimore and General Oglethorpe made settlements on the Southern shores and those who, from time to time, were added to their colonies. They were broad men, bringing broad ideas. They came, not because they were driven out of England, but because they wanted to come to America; who thought it no sin to bring the best things of old England, and give them a new and better growth in the new world; who first gave the new world trial by jury and the election of governors by popular vote.
English cavaliers who knew how to be gentlemen, even in the forest.
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This was the leading blood. From time to time it was made stronger by a considerable addition of Scotch and Scotch-Irish and an occasional healthful cross with the very best people of the North, more soulful and impulsive by some of the blood of Ireland, and more vivacious by the French Huguenot in the Carolinas and the Creole in Louisiana. There thus grew up a new English race—English, but not too English; English but American-English blood, 50 of which old England is proud to-day.
This was the blood that made America great, the blood from which the South gave her Washington and so many men like Henry, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe; that out of seventy-two first years of this Republic furnished the President for fifty-two years; the Chief Justice all the time, and the leaders of Senates and of Cabinets; the blood of Calhoun and Clay and Lowndes and Pinkney and Benton and Crawford; Cobb and Berrien, Hall and Jenkins, Toombs and Stevens; the blood that produced our Washington, Sumter and Marion to achieve our independence of Great Britain; Scott and Jackson to fight the war of , Clark and Jackson to conquer from the Indians all the splendid country between the mountains and the Mississippi, and Taylor and Scott to win vast territories from Mexico.
This was the blood that so often showed how naturally and gracefully a Southern woman could step from a country home to adorn the White House at Washington; the blood that made the South famous for its women, stars at the capital and at Saratoga; favorites in London and Paris; and queenly ladies in their homes, whether that home was a log cabin in the forest or a mansion by the sea. It was common for Northern and European people to praise the taste of Southern women, especially in matters of dress.
They did have remarkable taste in dressing, for they had a form to dress and a face to adorn that dress. Neither war nor poverty could mar their grace of form nor beauty of face. Imagine his chagrin when Bascomb walked up, looking in homespun as he looked in broadcloth, an Apollo in form and a Brummel in style. But by their fruits ye shall know them. Walk with me on the streets of Richmond and Charleston. Go with me to any of our country churches throughout these Southern States and I will show you, among the many poor daughters of these women, that same classic face that tells of the blood in their veins.
Stuart, Price, Hampton, Tracy, Ramseur, Ashby and thousands of private soldiers that face and form that tell of the knightly blood in the veins of the mothers that bore them. South Georgia is to be congratulated that in the Confederate monument recently unveiled at Cuthbert, the artist has at least given what is sadly lacking in other Confederate monuments to private soldiers, the genuine face of the Southern soldier, that face which is a just compliment to the Confederate mother. The artists who cast some other monuments in the South had seen too little of Southern people, and had put on some of our monuments the pug nose and bullet head of other people.
Our mothers and grandmothers lived mostly in the country, and drank in a splendid vigor from the ozone of 52 field, and forest, and mountain.
They were taught the philosophy of life by fathers who thought and manners by mothers who were the soul of inborn refinement. They thought for themselves, and indulged no craze for things new, and they aped no foreigners. Their entertainments were famous for elegance and pleasure, but they had no euchre-clubs. They were clothed and in their right mind. They never mounted platforms to speak nor pulpits to preach, and yet their influence and inspiration gave Southern pulpits and platforms a world-wide fame. Their highest ambition was to be president of home.
They were Southern women everywhere, at home and abroad, in church and on the streets, in parlor and kitchen, when they rode, when they walked. Gentle, but brave; modest, but independent.
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Seeking no recognition, the true Southern woman found it already won by her worth; courting no attention, at every turn it met her, to do willing homage to her native grace and genuine womanhood. Now, to appreciate the enthusiasm of such women in the Confederate war, you must remember that great principles were at stake in that struggle, and that woman 53 grasps great principles as clearly as man, and with a zeal known only to herself. See with what prompt intuition and sober enthusiasm woman received the Christian religion. Martha, of Bethany, uttered the great keynote of the Christian creed long before an apostle penned a line.
The primitive evangelist Timothy, the favorite of the great Apostle Paul, was trained by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice; and the pulpit orator Apollos studied at the feet of Priscilla. The great lamented Dr. In politics, as in religion, our mothers may not have read much, and they talked less, but they heard much and thought the more.
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Before the war the reproach was often hurled at Southern men that they talked politics. They had a religion to talk. Our fathers did talk politics, for, thank God, they had politics worth talking—not the picayune politics of the demagogue office-seeker of our day; not the almighty dollar politics of the bloated bond-holder and the trusts, the one-idea craze of the silver mine-owner, nor the tariff greed of the manufacturer; not the imported European communism that would crush one class to build up another, not the wild anarchy that would pull down everything above it and blast everything around it.
The South was intensely American, and her people loved American politics and talked American politics.
She entered into the Revolutionary war with all her soul. This was the great secession of To the Revolutionary war the South sent one hundred out of every two hundred and nine men of military age, while the North sent one hundred out of every two hundred 54 and twenty-seven.
We quote from the official report of General Knox, Secretary of War. Virginia sent 56, men. South Carolina sent 31, men, while New York, with more than double her military population, sent 29, New Hampshire, with double the population of South Carolina, sent only 18, The little Southern States sent more men in proportion to population than even Massachusetts and Connecticut, who did their part so well in that war.
It was Southern politics that proposed the great union of the sovereign States in To that union the three States of Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia have added out of their own bosoms ten more great States. Southern politics, prevailing in the national councils against the bitter protests of New England, carried through the war of ; added Florida to the Union, and, by the purchase of Louisiana, all the Trans-Mississippi valley from the Gulf to Canada.
It was Southern politics against the furious opposition of New England that annexed Texas, and, by the war with Mexico, brought in the vast territory far away to the Pacific.
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The South sent 45, volunteers to the Mexican war; the whole North, with three times the population, sent 23, Thus the South was the mother of territories, and was it not natural that she should talk of territories and of her rights in the territories? In political platforms, in legislative enactments, and notably in the election of Mr.
Lincoln in , the more populous North declared that the Southern States should be shut out from all share in the territories bought with common treasure and blood. Our women, a child, a negro, could see the iniquity of the claim. The action of the North in regard to national territory was an edict, too, that the negroes, through no fault of their own, should be shut up in one little corner of the country. Then when the South sought the only alternative left her, that of peaceable secession, her right to go was justified 55 by the terms of the Constitution; by the distinct understanding among the sovereign States when they entered the Union, more directly insisted and put on record by the three States of Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island than any other State; by the secession convention of New England in the war of ; by the Northern secession convention in Ohio in and the reiterated declarations of Henry Ward Beecher, and by Wendell Phillips, and Horace Greeley, William Lloyd Garrison and the other great leaders of Northern thought in Again, remember that wrongs pierce deeper into the heart of woman than into the more callous soul of man.
For years vast multitudes of the people of the North had kept up a furious war against the South in books and newspapers; in pulpits and religious conventions; in political platforms and State assemblies. Oh, it makes the blood run cold to think of the relentless malignity of the fanaticism of those days. No parlors nor churches too sacred for bitter onslaught on Southern people; no epithets too vile; no slanders too black; no curses too deadly to be hurled at Southern men and women.
The North made him a hero martyr. The Northern applause of John Brown drove her away from our unhappy land. Puritan intolerance scourged Roger Williams out of Massachusetts for nonconformity in religion; and 56 Puritanism scourged the South out of the Union in for nonconformity in politics. This is an age of monuments, and your speaker has undertaken to erect one in book form to the memory of Confederate women.
When this thought comes to be put in marble or brass, as it will some day soon, let that monument rest on the broad granite foundation of truth. Then as the artist begins to put in bas relief the symbols of the virtues of the Southern women of , and the souvenirs of her heroic life, let the first scene be that of a scroll, the Constitution of the United States, held in the unsullied hands of the great Jefferson Davis, as he marches out from the United States court, under whose warrants he had been held for treason, again a free man.
Let that picture tell of the undying loyalty of our mother and her people to the organic law of the land: that Southern men wrote it and their sons have ever honored and loved it: Tell it in Gath, publish it in the streets of Aekelon, that those who crushed us were the men who despised, hawked at and cursed the Constitution. The South at Montgomery swore fresh allegiance to the Constitution handed down by our American fathers, and carried with her through all the wilderness march the sacred old Ark of the Covenant. In the distance picture the faithful Bob or Mingo coming from the battlefield, bearing the dead body of his young master.
Let that picture tell to all generations the story of slavery. We had slavery, but, thank God, it was Southern slavery,—Christian slavery. Truth will explain the paradox, if there was any paradox. It had its evils, and nobody blushes because we had it, nor whines because it is gone. But as for any sin of the South in it, let the first stone of condemnation be thrown by that people who had no fathers cruel to their children, no husbands harsh to their wives, and no rich man unjust to the poor laborer.
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The South never enslaved a single negro, never brought one to America. Georgia was the first of the settlements to forbid slavery, and Georgia and Virginia were the foremost States in cutting off the slave trade. The colony of Virginia petitioned twenty times against the continuance of the slave trade.
The negroes were enslaved by their own savage chiefs in Africa.