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THE UNITY OF THE NATION
(A Speech of Introduction)
HON. WILLIAM J. CALHOUN
HE progress of nations towards a more perfect civilization is often attended with great social convulsions, with revolutions, and wars. It is in such times, when the need of the people is the sorest, when their cry for leadership is the loudest, that the great man appears. From obscurity he sometimes comes, and to the wondering eyes of men seems divinely commissioned for the needs of the hour and for the work he has to do.
Such a time in the history of this country was the Civil War, and such a man was Abraham Lincoln. The time was one of great excitement and of intense passion. The air resounded with the clamor of angry voices, with the tramp of armed men, and with the thunder of the great guns of war.
Lincoln, when called to the head of the Nation, was comparatively unknown and inexperienced. Many doubted his capacity for the emergency, and questioned the wisdom of his policies, but he continued to be the central figure of that great struggle. Around him men, strong men, fought and died, while women and children wept. Through it all, he was masterful in control, resolute and inflexible in purpose. But his resolution was always tempered with patience, with moderation, and with pity.
I lived in that time; I was but a boy, and vaguely understood the things I saw and heard, but I remember well the angry passion of the hour, the abuse and the epithets that were heaped upon him. But just as the bugles were blowing the sweet notes of victory, just as the sunshine of peace was breaking through the clouds of war, he too fell dead-the War's last and most precious victim. It was then the American people, North and South, seemed to awake to the realiza
tion that a great and good man had fallen. A wave of sympathy and love swept over the land, and removed every trace of bitterness. Friends and former foes alike crowded around his grave and covered it with laurels of fame and with flowers of praise.
The War bore heavily upon him. Its responsibilities were great. His rugged cheeks were furrowed with care. His heart was wrenched with the misery, the suffering, and the pity of it. But all through that dark and desperate night, his greatest hope, his greatest aspiration was to save the Union; for it he prayed and labored and suffered. Regardless of every cost and every sacrifice, his hope, his trust, his faith, was in and for the Union.
I do not know whether the immortals look down upon the earth and remember us as we remember them. I do not know whether Abraham Lincoln takes note of what is said and done here to-day. If he does, the fact that the Union which he loved is safe; that the warring sections which threatened its perpetuity are now closer together in personal relations, in common sympathies, and in purpose, than ever before, must gratify him.
The War is long since over. Its battle flags, blood-stained and tear-stained, have been furled and laid away, never again to wave in the battle front. Its forts are dismantled and levelled. Its guns and swords have turned to rust. Its dead quietly sleep in grass-covered graves. But the blessing of a profound peace rests upon the Republic. The prayer of Abraham Lincoln has been answered; the Union is saved. If I may be allowed the figure of speech, the North and the South now stand, as it were, side by side, with clasped hands, the heart of each full of sacred memories of the past, of courageous endeavor and heroic sacrifice. But their backs are turned upon the past; their uplifted faces are turned to the future, illuminated with a love of country that knows no North and no South, no East and no West. Their aspirations for the future are the same. Their common purpose is, that the American people shall meet the emergencies of the future with the same high resolve that distinguished
their past. And their common hope is, that this Union shall be maintained as a demonstration of the permanency of democracy; that its influence shall be for the betterment of the life of the world, for the uplift of humanity, and for the advancement of civilization.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE
PRESIDENT WOODROW WILSON
Y earliest recollection is of standing at my father's gateway in Augusta, Georgia, when I was four years old, and hearing some one pass and say that Mr. Lincoln was elected and there was to be war. Catching the intense tones of his excited voice, I remember running in to ask my father what it meant. What it meant, you need not be told. What it meant, we shall not here to-day dwell upon. We shall rather turn away from those scenes of struggle and of unhappy fraternal strife, and recall what has happened since to restore our balance, to remind us of the permanent issues of history, to make us single-hearted in our love of America, and united in our purpose for her advancement. We are met here to-day to recall the character and achievements of a man who did not stand for strife, but for peace, and whose glory it was to win the affection alike of those whom he led and of those whom he opposed, as indeed a man and a king among those who mean the right.
It is not necessary that I should rehearse for you the life of Abraham Lincoln. It has been written in every school book. It has been rehearsed in every family. It were to impeach your intelligence if I were to tell you the story of his life. I would rather attempt to expound for you the meaning of his life, the significance of his singular and unique career.
It is a very long century that separates us from the year of his birth. The nineteenth century was crowded with many significant events,-it seems to us in America as if it were more crowded with significant events for us than for any other nation of the world,-and that far year 1809 stands very near its opening, when men were only beginning to understand what was in store for them. It was a significant
century, not only in the field of politics but in the field of thought. Do you realize that modern science is not older than the middle of the last century? Modern science came into the world to revolutionize our thinking and our material enterprises just about the time that Mr. Lincoln was uttering those remarkable debates with Mr. Douglas. The struggle which determined the life of the Union came just at the time when a new issue was joined in the field of thought, and men began to reconstruct their conceptions of the universe and of their relation to nature, and even of their relation to God. There is, I believe, no more significant century in the history of man than the nineteenth century, and its whole sweep is behind us.
That year 1809 produced, as you know, a whole group of men who were to give distinction to its annals in many fields of thought and of endeavor. To mention only some of the great men who were born in 1809: the poet Tennyson was born in that year, our own poet Edgar Allan Poe, the great Sherman, the great Mendelssohn, Chopin, Charles Darwin, William E. Gladstone, and Abraham Lincoln. Merely read that list and you are aware of the singular variety of gifts and purposes represented. Tennyson was, to my thinking, something more than a poet. We are apt to be so beguiled by the music of his verse as to suppose that its charm and power lie in its music; but there is something about the poet which makes him the best interpreter, not only of life, but of national purpose, and there is to be found in Tennyson a great body of interpretation which utters the very voice of Anglo-Saxon liberty. That fine line in which he speaks of how English liberty has "broadened down from precedent to precedent" embodies the noble slowness, the very process and the very certainty, of the forces which made men politically free in the great century in which he wrote. He was a master who saw into the heart of affairs, as well as a great musician who seemed to give them the symphony of sound.
And then there was our own Poe, that exquisite workman in the human language, that exquisite artisan in all the nice