Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/39
Heroes of the old Camden District, S. C. 33
we pass the scenes of them day by day. Let us forget them, if we can, for it is not only the part of wisdom but of patriotism to bury the remembrance of these great wrongs.
Lord Macaulay in his essay upon Hampden observes :
" How it chanced that a country conquered and enslaved by inva- ders; a country of which the soil had been portioned out among adventurers, and of which the laws were wr*,ten in a foreign tongue; a country given over to that worst tyranny, the tyranny of caste over caste, should have become the seat of civil liberty, the object of the admiration and envy of surrounding States, is one of the most obscure problems in the philosophy of history. But the fact is certain."
Will some future historian ponder how it chanced that the people of the South, conquered by the numbers and resources of the North; a people whose very soil had been in a great measure confiscated by alien adventurers, thieves and outcasts left in the wake of Sherman's plundering march ; a people who had been given over to a tyranny of caste infinitely greater and more galling than that of which Macaulay wrote, because it was the tyranny of the inferior caste over the superior ; became the restorers and guardians of civil liberty, the admiration of other people ?
We may not yet say that however difficult it is of explanation, the fact is certain. But we can truly say that the Southern people are wisely and patiently and courageously dealing with problems as great, if not greater, than those solved by the English Commons under Hamp- den. Your victorious ancestors, my comrades, proved themselves equal to the task of building up a government designed to preserve the liberties they had won. That government was perverted from the purposes for which it was formed, and in your attempt to exercise the right your forefathers had reserved for you, to withdraw from the Union should it become oppressive, you were defeated. It remains to be proven whether the people of the South can turn their defeat into victory. In God's providence it has happened that no nation has ever risen to greatness except through adversity. True national greatness survives conquest. Mr. Leckie, the historian, in his work upon "England in the Eighteenth Century" wisely observes that it was probably a misfortune to Ireland that she never passed, like the rest of Europe, under the subjection of the Romans, and a calamity to her that the Norman conquest was not finally effected as in Eng- land by a single battle. Conquered England absorbed and changed and moulded her conquerors. Will this be our case ?