« PreviousContinue »
of manumission, emulating the action of the laws of freedom, successively enacted.
Lincoln, like Washington, is one of the few great men in history about whom the moral sense of mankind is not divided. His record is, throughout, one of inspiration. His part at the White House was that of the national Fate. To-day, when one looks from this distance of time to the fields of that terrible Civil War, one sees in them, not only the shortest cut, but the only possible road, to a common national destiny. I construe to myself that War as one of those illusions of life, in which men seem to move of their own free will, projected by a Providence intent on saving their nation from the course she was pursuing. Nobody can say what would have been the duration of slavery, if the Southern States had not acted as they did. By seceding, they doomed it to death and saved themselves. In that way the Secession, although a wholly different episode, will have had in the history of the United States the same effect that the secession of the people to the Sacred Mount had in the history of Rome, in the early period of the Republic-that is, that of cementing the national unity and of assuring the destiny of the nation for centuries of everwidening power.
Lincoln, with the special sense bestowed by the Author of that great Play, upon one entrusted with its leading part, saw distinctly that the South was not a nation, and that it would not think of being one, except during the hallucination of the crisis. If the South had been a nation, the North, with all its strength, would not have subdued it. Neither would the American people care to have a foreign nation attached to its side by conquest; nor would a coerced nation, after such a bloody war, reënter the Union in the spirit of staying forever, as did the South, once the passion spent that moved it to secede.
I believe such was the feeling of General Lee during the whole campaign; only he could not utter it, and the secret died with him. But only such a feeling could have kept his surrender free from all bitterness, as if he had only fought a duel of honor for the South. Nothing is so beautiful to me
in the celebration of this first centenary of Lincoln, as the tributes of men who represent the noblest spirit of the South.
I came here to say a word-I have said it. With the increased velocity of modern changes, we do not know what the world will be a hundred years hence. For, surely, the ideals of the generation of the year 2000 will not be the same as those of the generation of the year 1900. Nations will then be governed by currents of political thought which we can no more anticipate than could the seventeenth century anticipate the political currents of the eighteenth, which still in part sway us. But whether the spirit of authority-or that of freedom-increases, Lincoln's story will ever appear more luminous in the amalgamation of centuries, because he supremely incarnated both those spirits. And this veneration for Lincoln's memory, throughout the world, is bound more and more to centre in this city-which was the exclusive theatre of his glory, and which alone could reflect the anxieties and the elations of his heart during the whole performance of his great part in history—as holding the great preeminent title of being the place of his martyrdom.
I am proud of having spoken here at his first Centennial in the name of Latin America. We all owe to Lincoln the immense debt of having fixed forever the free character of American civilization.
THE PHILADELPHIA COMMEMORATION
HILADELPHIA had no official celebration of the day, there being no general Committee organized, but the observances took place under private initiative, or under the auspices of the various organizations and societies of the city. It was estimated, however, that over half a million persons participated in the various memorial meetings and exercises.
All of the schools observed the day with appropriate programmes and special observances; there were elaborate exercises under the auspices of the Loyal Legion, Pennsylvania Commandery; a commemorative programme by the University Extension Society; and an observance by the Philadelphia Association of Naval Veterans.
The Historical Society had on exhibition the famous Lambert collection of Lincoln autographs and books, while at the rooms of The Union League was displayed a loan collection of rare prints and portraits, from the private collection of Major Lambert, who is known as possibly the greatest collector of Lincolniana in our country.
The banquet held in the evening at The Union League, was perhaps the most notable celebration of the day. This was presided over by Mr. James F. Hope, President of the Club; Major William H. Lambert, the speaker, lending wonderful significance to the day with his personal reminiscences of Lincoln. The Marine Band from Washington furnished a musical programme, both afternoon and evening.
The Grand Army Association of Philadelphia held a meeting at the Opera House, at which Henry Watterson made the address; and commemorative exercises under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic were held in the afternoon.