Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 38.djvu/251
Virginia Mourning Her Dead. 237
We look into a nation's Pantheon to discover the real objects of its worship, We, of the South, are content that the verdict which history may render on the merit of the cause in which these young heroes fell may be founded on the principles, the motives and the lives of themselves and their leaders. Aye, more. We are eager and anxious that the justice of the real cause for which the people of the South took up arms and fought to the death may be ascertained and determined by the relative height and breadth and depth of the lives and the characters of the leaders — civil and military — of the opposing side.
We would — that in some vast Hall of Fame — these leaders be exposed, the one over against the other and their personal lives, as the eye of Omniscience reads them, be laid bare before the unerring scrutiny of Time. We would have them tried, as by some infallible touchstone, potent as Ithuriel's spear, that the purity of their motives, the unselfishness of their efforts, the temper of their courage and the truth of their patriotism might be ascertained and established. We would have them known by their fruits. Good men do not, by concerted, sustained and per- sistent action devote their lives, their fortunes and their honor to the defence and maintenance of an evil cause. Men of clean hearts and right spirit and sound minds do not confound moral principles, are not led away by false doctrines and do not conspire and combine to work iniquity. The righteousness of a cause may well be determined by the characters of the men who in- augurate, espouse and maintain it. We are content that in such Hall of Fame the lives and characters of the opposing leaders, from 1861 to 1865, may be set up for monuments, and the ver- dict of history be rendered on the issue so presented.
There would be Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
We need not to invoke divine aid for enlightenment as to his life and character. We accept, without qualification, the reve- lations made by his own admiring and approving biographers, who wrote as they were informed by intimate personal relations and friendship. His stability of purpose and fidelity to admitted obligations may be illustrated by a single extract from his most important official utterance.