« AnteriorContinuar »
THE NEW SOUTH
Grady's speech was delivered before the New England Society of New York, after the agonies of reconstruction days were over and the South had already shown the vigor of a new life. It did much to soften the hard feelings between the North and South, and it at once distinguished Mr. Grady as an orator of high rank.
"There was a South of slavery and secession that South is dead. There is a South of union and freedom -- that South, thank God, is living, breathing, growing every hour." These words, delivered 5 from the immortal lips of Benjamin H. Hill, at Tammany Hall, in 1886, true then, and truer now, I shall make my text tonight.
Mr. President and Gentlemen: Let me express to you my appreciation of the kindness by which I 10 am permitted to address you. I make this abrupt
acknowledgment advisedly, for I feel that if, when I raised my provincial voice in this ancient and august presence, I could find courage for no more
than the opening sentence, it would be well if, in 15 that sentence, I had met in a rough sense my obliga
tion as a guest, and had perished, so to speak, with courtesy on my lips and grace in my heart.
Let me say that I appreciate the significance of being the first Southerner to speak at this board, which bears the substance, if it surpasses the sem- 20 blance of original New England hospitality, and honors a sentiment that in turn honors you, but in which my personality is lost and the compliment to my people made plain.
1 Benjamin H. Hill, a former governor of Georgia. 2 Significance, importance.
I beseech the utmost stretch of your courtesy 25 tonight. I beg that you will bring your full faith in American fairness and frankness to judgment upon what I shall say. There was an old preacher once, who told some boys of the Bible lesson he was going to read in the morning. The boys, finding 30 the place, glued together the connecting pages. The next morning he read on the bottom of one page,
“When Noah was one hundred and twenty years old he took unto himself a wife, who,” then turning the page, “was one hundred and forty 35 cubits long, forty cubits wide, built of gopher wood, and covered with pitch inside and out.” He was naturally puzzled at this. He read it again, verified it, and then said, "My friends, this is the first time I ever met this in the Bible, but I accept it as an 40 evidence of the assertion that we are fearfully and wonderfully made." If I could get you to hold such
' faith tonight, I could proceed cheerfully to the task I otherwise approach with a sense of consecration.
Let me picture to you the footsore Confederate 45 soldier, as, buttoning up in his faded gray jacket
the parole which was to bear testimony to his children of his fidelity and faith, he turned his face
southward from Appomattox' in April, 1865. 50 Think of him as ragged, half starved, heavy hearted,
enfeebled by want and wounds; having fought to exhaustion, he surrenders his gun, wrings the hands of his comrades in silence, and, lifting his tear
stained and pallid face for the last time to the graves 55 that dot the old Virginia hills, pulls his gray cap
over his brow and begins the slow and painful journey. What does he find? — let me ask you who went to your homes eager to find, in the wel
come you had justly earned, full payment for four 60 years' sacrifice – what does he find when, having
followed the battle-stained cross against overwhelming odds, dreading death not half so much as surrender, he reaches the home he left so prosperous
and beautiful? He finds his house in ruins, his farm 65 devastated, his slaves free, his stock killed, his barn
empty, his trade destroyed, his money worthless; his social system, feudal? in its magnificence, swept away; his people without law or legal status; his
comrades slain, and the burdens of others heavy on 70 his shoulders. Crushed by defeat, his very tra
ditions gone; without money, credit, employment,
Appomattox, the scene of the closing event of the Civil War.
2 Feudal, belonging to a state of society in which a few lords own all the land, while the rest serve these lords in various ways, especially in war, and are defended and supported by them.
material training; and besides all this, confronted with the gravest problem that ever met human intelligence—the establishing of a status for the vast body of his liberated slaves.
What does he do — this hero in gray, with a heart of gold? Does he sit down in sullenness and despair? Not for a day. Surely God, who had stripped him of his prosperity, inspired him in his adversity. As ruin was never before so whelming, never was restoration swifter. The soldier stepped from the trenches into the furrow; horses that had charged federal guns marched before the plow, and the fields that ran red with human blood in April were green with the harvest 85 in June; women reared in luxury cut up their dresses and made breeches for their husbands, and, with a patience and heroism that fit women always as a garment, gave their hands to work. There was little bitterness in all this. Cheerfulness and 90 frankness prevailed. “Bill Arp” struck the keynote when he said: “Well, I killed as many of
I them as they did of me, and now I am going to work.” Or the soldier returning home after defeat and roasting some corn on the roadside, who made 95 the remark to his comrades: “You may leave the South if you want to, but I am going to Sandersville, kiss my wife and raise a crop, and if the
1 Status, fixed condition.
Yankees fool with me any more, I will whip 'em 100 again.”
But in all this what have we accomplished ? What is the sum of our work? We have found out that in the general summary the free negro counts
more than he did as a slave. We have planted the 105 schoolhouse on the hilltop and made it free to
white and black. We have sowed towns and cities in the place of theories, and put business above politics. We have learned that four hundred million dollars
annually received from our cotton crop will make 110 us rich, when the supplies that make it are home
raised. We have reduced the commercial rate of interest from twenty-four to four per cent, and are floating four per cent bonds. We have learned that
one Northern immigrant is worth fifty foreigners, 115 and have smoothed the path to the southward,
wiped out the place where Mason and Dixon's Line' used to be, and hung out our latchstring to you and yours.
We have reached the point that marks perfect 120 harmony in every household, when the husband
confesses that the pies which his wife cooks are as good as those his mother used to bake; and we admit that the sun shines as brightly and the moon
as softly as it did “before the war." We have 125 established thrift in the city and country. We
1 Mason and Dixon's Line, a boundary established during slavery times between slave territory and free territory.