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plumb the quicksands of human ambition, I know he will be stirred when he reflects upon what the sons of this Southland have endured. Shoulder to shoulder they have fought through revolutions, side by side they have fallen on the field of battle, and, brothers even in death, have rested in common graves.
Hand clasped in hand, they have enjoyed victory together, and together reaped in honor and dignity the fruits of their triumph. Heart locked in heart, they have stood undaunted in the desolation of defeat, and, fortified by unfailing comradeship, have wrought gladness and peace from the tumult and bitterness of despair. No king that ever sat on a throne, though backed by autocratic power, would have dared to subject his kingdom to the strain that our prostrate, impoverished and helpless South has been subjected to. Every son in this land of Dixie knows that whatever he does in honor shall deepen, and whatever he does in dishonor shall dim the luster of the shining record made by our fathers in bravery and endurance.
If I were a sculptor, I would chisel from the marble my ideal of a hero. I would make it the figure of a Southern youth, sacrificing his hopes and his life on the altar of his country, and I would carve on its pedestal the name of Sam Davis.
If I were a painter, I would make the canvas eloquent with the deeds of the bravest people who ever lived, whose proud spirit no power can ever conquer, and whose loyalty and devotion to home and free government no tyrant can ever crush. I would write under the picture_“Dixie.”
If I were a poet, I would melt the world to tears
with the pathos of my song. I would touch the heart of humanity with the mournful threnody of the wrongs and the woes of our Southland. I would weave the cotton blossom and the goldenrod into garlands of glory for this Southland, the land of martyrs and memories, the cradle of heroes, the nursery of liberty.
Tortured in dungeons and murdered on scaffolds, robbed of the fruits of their sweat and toil, scourged by famine and plundered by the avarice of heartless power,
driven like the leaves of autumn before the keen winter winds, this sturdy race of Dixie's sons and daughters have become princes and lords in every land where merit is the measure of the man.
Where is the battlefield that has not been glorified by Southern courage and baptized with Southern blood? And where is the free country whose councils have not been strengthened by her brains and whose wealth has not been increased by her brawn?
Wherever the flag of war flutters, the spirit of Southern chivalry is there, whether it be Washington leading the forces at Monmouth, Sam Houston crushing the armies of Santa Anna, or Davy Crockett courting death at the Alamo; whether it be Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, or Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville, whether it be Robert E. Lee in the saddle riding like a god of war into the thickest of the fight at Gettysburg, it is the same intrepid, unconquerable spirit of sublime courage which flows like a stream of inspiration from the heart of Dixie to fire the souls of the world's greatest leaders and to burn forever on the altars of liberty.
This same irresistible spirit has ever been present, shaping the destiny of our Republic.
It warmed the heart of Alexander Stephens, whose brain was a mighty loom which wove tapestries of glory for America and for mankind. It inspired the souls of Joel Chandler Harris and Thomas Nelson Page, whose dreams will linger in literature forever.
It lighted up the brain of Sidney Lanier who broke out in songs sweeter than the song of the nightingale. It kindled the soul of Eugene Field into flame, and like an angel of light from the realms of dreams, he swept the strings of Dixie's harp, and lo! the whole world thrilled with its melody. His body is now dust, but his spirit lives.
I would rather be a Southerner and be the humblest among those who have given hope to the hopeless and happiness to the distressed of my race, than to live in history as a conqueror with my hands stained with innocent blood. I would rather have my name written among those who have loved their fellow man than to wear the laurels that encircled the brow of the Iron Prince.
I would rather sleep in some quiet churchyard, unknown and unremembered save by those in whose hearts I have scattered seeds of kindness, and upon whose lips I have conjured smiles of joy, than to be confined in a sarcophagus of gold, with desolate homes as my monuments, and with widows and orphans as living witnesses of my glory.
Away back yonder in the dying hours of the eighteenth century, when monarchs held their sway beyond the seas, and when the spirit of revolution had sounded the tocsin of war upon our shores, there strode out from the flame and smoke of Bunker Hill a colossal figure that stood on the horizon of human hope, casting his shadow around the world. His eagle-like visage was surmounted with a bell crowned plug hat of fur, and his chin whiskers swept down like the tail of a comet over a vest bespangled with stars; his clawhammer coat was as blue as the sky, and his tight fitting pantaloons of red and white stripes were held down with straps under his boots. The earth trembled under his tread, and the angels named him Uncle Sam.
He was the embodiment of a universal dream which had played dimly and fitfully through ages of slumbering liberty. He was the culmination of a world's ideal. Behind his high resolve, was the yearning of centuries, and from his falcon eye flashed the fierceness of a warring god. His mission was one of deepest tragedy, to smite with equality's sword the armed and brazen
of Tyranny. Through the long, long years democracy had dwelt only in the heart of man, but now it had suddenly leaped to his brain and was becoming vital with method and force. The principle of man's
equality is as old as history, but how feebly has it manifested itself. Its radiance glinted for a moment on the spears of Alexander's soldiers in the burning desert, when their god-like king disdainfully cast upon the sand the last cup of water which might have preserved his life because there was not enough for every man. It fluttered with awful prophesy in Caesar's victorious banners on the fateful plains of Pharsalia when the remnant of his diminished legions, drawn from the common people, marched forth to shatter Pompey's mighty host, representing the wealth, aristocracy, and power of Rome. It sank into the blackest night amid the bloody orgies of Nero's reign, and through the turbulent ages that followed, it flickered but dimly. In Shakespeare's dramas it found matchless tongues to sing to the very stars the dire deeds of heartless monarchs. It haloed the immortal Cromwell's head, and shone with warning above the death warrant of Charles the First; but the great Cromwell could not bequeath his spirit to those who followed him, so kings vaulted to the human saddle and rode again, rode madly into the eighteenth century and on into the twilight of its evening.
As this widely scattered caravan of kings and cavalcade of lords moved on to that epoch-making period, they smiled at the audacity of our gaunt hero looming above the discords of battle. Victory had not yet settled upon him, but determination that never yields had measured itself in the length of his firm-set jaws; and had these mighty rulers been wise astrologers they could have read a fearful prophecy from the stars that sprinkled his garments.
Sad was the plight of mankind on that uncommon