Fellow-citizens, I am charged with being ambitious. So I have been ambitious; but for what? To save the South from the abyss of secession; the Union from the horrors of war; liberty from the perils of sectional hate, and my own race from the infamy of self-degradation. I am ambitious; but for what? Simply to hold office? How I pity the poor creature who could think so. I live high above the man who could find a gratification of mere personal vanity in the fact of holding office. I am ambitious once more to see peace! Peace between the sections; peace between the States; peace between the races, and peace--fraternal peace--between those who love the Constitution and those who love the Union. And if, before I die, I can be permitted to see States accordant, sections reconciled, the rights of all our people preserved, with the honor of none tarnished or destroyed, and the rich legacy of free Constitutional government, bequeathed to us by our fathers, transmitted unimpaired to our children, I shall go to my grave with a comfort which the diadems of kings could not confer, and which the wealth and power of emperors could neither buy nor take away.
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Publication information: Book title: Oratory and Rhetoric in the Nineteenth-Century South:A Rhetoric of Defense. Contributors: W. Stuart Towns - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 118.
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