Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/401

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Lees Birthday. 395


Commodore Maury said that ninety miles from the Virginia coast is the point more free from storms .than any other place in America. The storm that killed Conklin had its head centre in the great lakes, passed south behind the Appalachian hills, and struck the Atlantic below Charleston, then returned with the Gulf stream, struck the Jersey coast at Cape Henlopen. We hardly felt it here. What wonderful hidden stores of wealth are in your soil ? At New river, near White Top mountain, Virginia, Washington got lead to kill the Indians. From these mines he had bullets made to shoot the Brit- ish. The same mines furnished that material to fight the war of 1812, and then the Mexicans, and then the Yankees, and still they are un- exhausted. Money, like water, will seek its level. It pays better here, and despite all prejudice it will come. Already it has spread the golden wings of its flight to this Southland. Almost all the rail- ways now building are in the South ; transportation and commerce, manufacturing plants and men are moving South. The proximity to raw material, the evenness of our climate, the brevity of our win- ters, and the immensity of our water-power, make us feel as we recognize the " Fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man," and welcome the good and true to come with us. The South, with its growing enterprise and increasing population, is obliged to partici- pate in the prosperity of the nation. The cotton crop for 1891 is placed at three hundred million dollars ; tobacco at fifty million dol- lars, with her part in the one billion, seven hundred million dollars of cereals, to say nothing of hay, molasses, sugar, potatoes, wool, forests and mines, make us feel that we stand in the place of proph- ecy as we look at the opening of the golden gates of a future rich in promise. And the vision widens with the horizon. You say what becomes of the race question, precipitated upon us by the results of the war ? I answer. That question was on us before the war, and it may be on our children when we are dead. I believe in a special providence over nations as over individuals. I do not understand the providence that brought the negroes to these shores as slaves, nor do I understand the slave agitation which culminated in the bloodi- est war of the ages. Nor still do I understand the present condition of the negro. I cannot see the wisdom of our Government in enfran- chising a nation yet in its swaddling clothes, and elevating an incon- gruous people some of whom are, to say the least, not far removed