Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Speaker of the House of Commons of North Carolina, informed Governor Tryon that the law would be resisted to every extent. On the arrival of the British sloop-of-war Diligence in the Cape Fear, he and Colonel Waddell, at the head of a body of the citizens of the counties of New Hanover and Brunswick, marched down in a body, frightened the captain of the ship so that he did not attempt to land the stamp paper, seized her boat and carried it, with flags flying, to Wilmington, and the whole town was illuminated that night. On the next day they marched to the Governor's house and demanded that Governor Tryon should desist from all attempts to execute the Stamp Act, and obliged him to deliver up Houston, the stamp-master for North Carolina. Having seized upon him, they carried him to the public market-house and compelled him to take an oath never to attempt to execute his office as stamp-master.

It was nearly ten years after this act that the Boston tea party assembled, when a number of citizens, disguised as Indians, went on board a ship and threw overboard the tea imported in her. This latter act was done in the night, by men in disguise, and was directed against a defenceless ship. But the North Carolina movement, ten years earlier in point of time, occurred in open day, and was made against the Governor himself, ensconced in his palace, and by men who scorned all disguise. While both deeds were meritorious on account of their daring, and also the motives of the actors, that at Boston partook of the stealthy manuer of the cautious fox, while the North Carolina act resembled the lofty bearing of the lordly lion, whose defiant roar sends challenge loud to all that oppose his way. And yet the one occurrence has been lauded unsparingly, while the other is scarcely known out of the limits of our State. Historians, whose main object has been to elevate other States, have ignored it, because of its brilliancy. It has been suggested, however, by way of excuse for this, that the tea movement led immediately to a collision of arms. But will any man pretend that a blow which merely irritates an adversary and causes him to make an attack, is more meritorious than one so decided as to overawe him and compel him to retreat?

The same spirit continued to animate our people, and led to the uprising of the Regulators to resist the oppressive taxation and exactions of the colonial government. It was on the 16th day of May, 1771, that the battle of the Alamance was fought, in which more than three thousand men were engaged. Here occurred the first collision of arms between Great Britain and her rebellious colonies, and here was shed the first blood of the American Revolution. Though superiority of arms and discipline enabled Governor Tryon to win the victory, yet such was the terror inspired by the movement, that he required the people, in all the middle and upper parts of the State, to be drawn out in battalions, and to take an oath of allegiance to the British Government. In addition to this, the prominent men who were most suspected, were notified from time to time to appear at each Court, and renew the oath to sustain the Government. As the contest waxed warmer and warmer between the colonies and the mother country, the spirit of our people continued to rise. And on the 20th of May, 1775, the citizens of Mecklenburg, more than a year in advance of the general declaration, proclaimed Indepen

dence, and, at a subsequent meeting, perfected their system of Government. The conduct of her sons throughout the whole struggle vindicated the opinion expressed by Lord Cornwallis and Colonel Tarleton, that Mecklenburg was the most rebellious county in America. Such a county was a fitting birth-place for Andrew Jackson.

As the first blood of the Revolutionary contest had been shed in our State, so in it the first victory was won, in the well-fought battle of Moore's Creek, on the 27th of February, 1776. Nor were the exertions of our citizens confined to their own territory. General Francis Nash and Colonel Edward Buncombe gave up their lives on the soil of Pennsylvania, and at the battle of Eutaw the North Carolina militia maintained the fight, in the open field, against a greatly superior force of British regulars. so long, and so obstinately refused to retire, when ordered by their officers, that the Commader-in-Chief declared that their conduct would have done to honor Prussian veterans. And when the gloomy cloud of British domination was moving steadily on from the northeast, like the dark shadow of an eclipse, it paused before it reached our western border. The tide of our enemies' success recoiled from the base of those "unknown mountains," and became refluent when Ferguson fell. Soon after, in the bloody battle of Guilford, the power of Cornwallis, the ablest and most dangerous of our enemies, was broken, and he retired, with drooping spirits, to the sea-side, to become a captive. That North Carolina declined, for two nearly two years after its formation, to become a member of our present Union, is in no respect to her discredit. Having profited by her own experience, she was slow to part with the right of absolute self-government, and finally, only adopted the Federal Constitution after important amendments had been made. And should it, from any cause, fail to afford her that protection to which she is entitled, the spirit which animated her early colonists, which, resisted the Stamp Act and other British aggressions, and rose still higher at Mecklenburg and King's Mountain, will again be ready to vindicate the great principles of civil liberty. That she may be spared the necessity of new exertions to that end, ought to be the wish of all her sons. The whole human race is largely interested in the result of our present system; and should it be successful, there will be presented such an empire of confederated sovereignties as has never yet existed on the face of the globe.

SPEECH

DELIVERED AT THE CHARLOTTE CENTENNIAL, MAY 20, 1875.

By Hon. T. L. CLINGMAN.

After General Cox, Hon. Thos. L. Clingman was called for and spoke as follows:

GENTLEMEN-You have been truthfully told by the eloquent speakers who have preceded me to-day, that North Carolina was the first of the colonies to appeal to arms against Great Britain, and the first to declare independence. There is nothing left for me to add on this point. Even if I had been the first speaker, I doubt if I should have deemed it necessary to argue the last of these questions, for I have never seen or heard of but three North Carolinians who professed to have doubts on the subject, and for the sake of contrast I am quite willing that they should go in a set by themselves.

During the discussions of the day, one consideration presented itself to my mind which ought to be gratifying to us all. When the war of the Revolution began, the free white population of the colonies was very nearly two millions and a half, and yet General Washington's ariny sometimes was allowed to dwindle down to two or three thousand men. Why was this? The people of these colonies had been acccustomed only to live under a monarchy, and practically knew no other government. There were intelligent, high-toned, brave men who led in the movement, and to whose efforts its success was chiefly due, but the masses were, in the main, so slow, careless, indifferent, or divided, that Lord Cornwallis was surprised when he found a community like that of Mecklenburg all arrayed against him.

A century has passed by, and what has been the result? Has the enjoyment of constitutional government and free institutions caused us to degenerate? Why, in our late civil war, our whole population, whatever might be the side they espoused, seemed ready to embark in the

contest.

North Carolina alone, with a white population of little more than six hundred thousand, or only one-fourth of that of all the colonies, if you compute the length of the service of her men, placed in the field more troops than all the old thirteen States did, nor have I a doubt but that she had twice as many men killed in battle as all those that were slain on the American side during the entire revolutionary struggle. Why one of our North Carolina brigades would probably have arrested the march of Cornwallis across the State. I have little doubt but that the brigade I commanded so long, many surviving members of which I have seen here assembled to-day, would, if present at Guilford Court House, by

one of its charges, have relieved Lord Cornwallis of the necessity of marching all the way up to Yorktown to find some one to capture him.

The difference between our people of revolutionary times and those of the present day, is to be attributed partly to our experience of the advantages of free institutions, and also to that general diffusion of intelligence and public spirit, which the great material progress around us has produced by means of such instrumentalities as railroads, telegraphs and a widely extended press.

Our civil war, too, has strikingly presented the contrast between the United States and European nations. In the year 1859 I was in Italy during a great war waged by France and Italy against Austria, and two battles, which occurred in the same month, decided the contest. A few years later, the power of the Austrian empire, with seven or eight hundred thousand men, was broken in a single battle at Sadowa. In the more recent war between France and Germany, the French Emperor, at Sedan, surrendered in the open field one hundred and thirty thousand men. Just think of one hundred and thirty thousand men surrendered in the open field. Why, I doubt if General Grant, even, ever had as large a number of men as that present in a single engagement under his eye, while General Lee never had half that number present at one time. How striking the difference between Europe and the United States. Men who fight for a king fight feebly, with little heart, and are easily subdued, but in a republic each citizen feels that he is fighting for himself and for his own country. It thus happens that the entire strength of the country is called into action. Nor does any other condition so greatly develop material progress. When in London, I happened, during a conversation with Lord Macaulay, one of the best informed men in Europe, to say that the United States had as many miles of railroad as all the rest of the world, and he seemed surprised to learn the fact.

Our late war developed all that was most striking in ancient or modern warfare. When at sunrise on the field of Waterloo, Napoleon saw that Wellington's army, instead of having retreated, as he had apprehended it would do, was in position before him, he exclaimed, "We have them, these English!" Marshal Soult, who had been fighting them for years in Portugal and Spain, said, "Sire, the infantry of England in battle is the devil." Napoleon, at the close of the day, found this to be true, and at St. Helena, referring to their steady resistance under attack, said, "There is no moving them." But nothing that England's soldiers ever did, surpassed the unshaken courage of our North Carolina Confederates under the most formidable assaults. On more than one occasion, when attacked again and again, at the same time in front and flank, by more than ten times its numbers, one of its brigades remained unbroken.

But the most striking feature of the late war was the Confederate charge. The student will remember that at Marathon the Athenians for the first time made a wild dash against the mass of their enemies. Julius Cæsar said that Pompey, at Pharsalia, made a great mistake in not allowing his men to go into the battle with a running charge. This mode of fighting had, however, gone into disuse in the world for centuries, and was revived only in our day by the Confederate soldiers. When after the seven days' fight at Richmond, the Orleans Princes returned to Europe, to account for McClellan's defeat they referred to this feature,

idea of the effect of a Our friend, General Often as I witnessed

and said that people in Europe could have no charge extending over a length of three miles. D. H. Hill, if present, could tell us all about this. this charge, I never saw it fail to break and carry down the force against which it was directed.

If we wish our country to be the greatest in war and in peace, the first in material progress and the grandest in public spirit and patriotism, we must preserve a free system of constitutional government. I say to gentlemen of the North here present, as well as those of the South, that this is our highest duty to our country and to humanity. In such a cause, we here present are fully prepared to co-operate with them.

On this point I speak as a Confederate who did not abandon the contest till its close. That they may understand what sort of a Confederate I was, I may, perhaps, repeat without impropriety a conversation with General Joseph E. Johnston, which not long since he well remembered. Just before the surrender at Greensboro, I said to him, "General, much has been said about dying in the last ditch; you have still left with you here fourteen thousand of as brave men as the sun ever shone upon; let us stand here and fight the two armies of Grant and Sherman, and thus show to the world how far we can surpass the Thermopylæ of the Greeks." He remained in silent thought for some moments, as if hesitating, and thus answered, "General, if they were all like you, I would do it, but there are many young men here who have a future, and I ought not to sacrifice their lives." I then, and sometimes since, have felt, as doubtless many other Confederates have done, a regret that I had not fallen in the last battle. I say to gentlemen from the North, that since the day of that surrender, I have not met one North Carolinian who expressed a desire to renew the war against the United States. have regarded the contest as finally settled, as after a Presidential election the party beaten acquiesce in the result and stand by the govern ment of their country administered by one against whom they had voted. It never was pretended that men were disloyal to the country because they might have voted for Greely, or Seymour, or Scott, or Clay, unless they would come forward and declare that they had been wrong and were sorry for what they had done. While, as far as I know, our citizens are satisfied that they did right in the late war; but having been beaten, they are willing now to join cordially with those to whom they were once opposed, in all honest and fair efforts to mi hay sound constitutional governinent and the true principles of p, and cloverty.

We

As the hour is late, gentlemen, I uue these remarks with an expression of my thanks to the citizens of Charlotte for the generous hospitality they have extended to those whose presence they have invited.

« AnteriorContinuar »