Oratory and Rhetoric in the Nineteenth-Century South: A Rhetoric of Defense

By W. Stuart Towns | Go to book overview

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.


NOTES
1.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 818-819.
2.
Clement Eaton, The Waning of the Old South Civilization 1860s-1880s ( Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968), 118-121.
3.
Quoted in Alan Conway, The Reconstruction of Georgia ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1966), 26.
4.
Howard N. Rabinowitz, The First New South, 1865-1920 (Arlington Heights, IL: Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1992), 75.
5.
There is not a good biography of Alfred Waddell; he deserves a thorough study. The best available sources are a brief sketch in the Dictionary of American Biography, vol. XIX, Dumas Malone, ed. ( New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936), 300-301, and The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. VIII ( New York: James T. White and Co, 1924), 124-125.
6.
Alfred M. Waddell, Enforcement of Fourteenth Amendment. Delivered in the U.S. House of Representatives, April 1, 1871 ( Washington, D.C.: F. and J. Rives and Geo. A. Bailey, 1871).
7.
Again, there is little good biographical work on Hill. The one full-length treatment is Haywood J. Pearce, Benjamin H. Hill: Secession and Reconstruction ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1928). A brief eulogistic treatment by Lucian Lamar Knight appears in Library of Southern Literature, vol. 6, Edwin A. Alderman and Joel C. Harris, eds. ( New Orleans: The Martin & Hoyt Company, 1908), 2389-2394, and an even briefer eulogy in The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. X, 194.
8.
Delivered on May 12, 1875. Benjamin H. Hill, Jr., Senator B. H. Hill, of Georgia, His Life, Speeches, and Writings ( Atlanta, GA: T.H.P. Bloodworth, 1893), 432-441.

-118-

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