Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/102

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

in the South, I always gave my opinion against the organization and the proposed measures of the party now controlling the General Administration. I always held that organization to be not only needless, but mischievous. When it became sectionally dominant, I hoped still that the more thoughtful members of it would shape its course. They seem to have been overborne. The unfortunate proclamation of the President and the measures which were its immediate antecedents have utterly disappointed me and saddened me; but, as I said, I do not enter into the political aspect of the great question now before us. I would regard it as a Christian should, and especially a Christian minister. My feeble voice I lift for peace. I have often turned my thoughts to Colonel Lee. The world knows his services in the Mexican war. Years ago I asked my brother-in-law, Major A. H. Bowman (now of West Point), what army officers thought of him as a soldier. I remember well his emphatic answer: "If those who were with him (Colonel Lee) in Mexico should answer, they would unanimously declare him to be, in all military qualifications, without a rival in the service." But my interest in him was quickened by hearing of his Christian character. During his absence in Mexico, I visited his family at Arlington, and heard from Mrs. Lee allusions to his private letters. I received then my opinion of him as a Christian, and have had my eye on him ever since. May we not hope that God has put him in his present position to be an instrument of abating the storm which now threatens shipwreck to the whole country? It is sad that so few of our public men are Christians. Colonel Lee is a grand exception. I know, in an official post, which is not that of head of the government, he would find it difficult to follow the private promptings of his own Christian mind, for a soldier's business is not to advise his superiors, but to obey. But great respect would be shown to the judgment and Christian spirit of one so distinguished as he. Virginia gave us our original independence through her Washington. She gave us our national constitution through Jefferson, Madison and others. Can she not now, while we are threatened with the immeasurable evils of civil war, give us, through Colonel Lee, peace? In common with other States she may justly complain of wrongs; but will civil war repair them? Christianity teaches not only the duty, but the wisdom of patience and forgiveness. Virginia, from her geographical position, from her glorious share in the past, and from her great political weight, has it in her power, (am I presumptuous in saying it?) to