Delaware County NY Genealogy and History Site

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I found a Memorial Day address that Joseph Eveland (owner/editor of "Dairyman") gave in Franklin in 1936. It addresses the slavery issues of north and south. . . . It does give one Delaware County man's perspective in the mid-30's.
Courtesy of Dean Hunter, October 19, 2002

M E M O R I A L . D A Y, 1936

By Joseph Eveland, Franklin, N. Y.

To have lived over a span of time extending from 1844 to 1936 is to suggest and invite a retrospect of that historic period embracing the so called Civil war and the events previous and subsequent thereto in America.

The founders of our great American Republic, patriots and statesmen that they were, had not the wisdom and experience nor knowledge that had come to Abraham Lincoln when he said, "No nation can long survive half slave and half free." And so the makers of the Constitution were wary of the question of negro slavery and it was left in an unsettled and vague state to be dealt with by the States or the Central government of the Union. There were two distinct schools of thought prevailing in those early days-one, known as "States' Rights"; the other based on the first sentences of the Constitution wherein it is written "we the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union * * *. "

At first these diverse thoughts were not governed by geographical sections, North and South. Even the legislature of Connecticut passed resolutions for secession from the Union at one time and New England was divided over the subject. The question, however, finally crystallized by the North's adoption of the national view and the South, that of so-called "States' Rights" which would permit the slaveholders to carry slavery into free states and make it nationally legal. This condition existed until the discussions in Congress and elsewhere became known as the "irrepressible conflict." It had a temporary adjustment in what was known as the "Missouri Compromise" which admitted that state into the Union with the provision that this should mark the future boundary of legal slavery. This "compromise" was later repealed and the conflict continued more acrimoniously than before especially between the ultra-abolitionists of the North and the radical "fire eaters" of the South. Nothing but bloodshed or a higher power could settle the question of slavery which had fastened itself upon the country. As Alexander H. Stephens, later to be vice president of the Confederacy, said, "Nothing would satisfy the secessionists but rule or ruin," and so secession was the outcome.

Ten years ago a Southern author (Reed of Atlanta) published an historical book entitled "The Brothers' War", fairly and honestly written from the Southern viewpoint in which he expressed the sentiment that there was a Providence in the war that abolished slavery. The author of the book, "Meet General Grant", also a Southern writer, expressed the thought that the war was inevitable in order that the "brothers" North and South might come to know each other better. As L. Q. C. Lamar expressed it in his eulogy of Charles Sumner, his political enemy, "know each other better and you will love one another."

As I was about to leave Florida this spring a gentleman of casual acquaintance gave the ordinary military salute in passing. I remarked, "I suppose that was for the button," referring to the G. A. R. button that I wore. "No," he said. "I am the son of a Confederate soldier and I still think the South had a right to secede, but it was for the best interests of the country that they lost the flight as we never could have been the great nation that we are had the Confederacy won in the conflict."

And this is the general sentiment in the Southland today.

Returning from the South this spring the Greyhound bus halted at Spartansburg, S. C., and while waiting, this passenger walked the street and engaged a gentleman in conversation, remarking on the prosperous appearance of the town and environment. "Yes," he said, "the cotton mills of New England gave the place a boost but it has suffered terribly the past few years and will continue to suffer until the government gets its hands off of business," and then the South Carolinian began to deplore the great waste attending the administration finances. "But," he said, "we are all Democrats down here."

The bus driver said, "All aboard", and this passenger was off, murmuring, "all Democrats down here of the Jeffersonian or Rooseveltian type, no matter which, for the Solid South was a legacy left by the Confederacy to the Democratic party, logically enough in view of the experience the South had with "carpetbag" rule following the "Brothers" war."

There would have been no such reconstruction experience had Lincoln lived but instead a rehabilitation in the order and spirit which characterized the negotiations of Grant and Lee in the surrender at Appomattox and in which the South would have more quickly and peacefully, adopted the new order under the law, with or without universal suffrage. The people could have better adjusted their relations with their former slaves without the aid of outside help.

Nevertheless, Time, the great healer and adjuster, has rapidly made of us, as the author of "The Brothers' War" puts it in closing his book, "one great nation of brothers, profiting by one another's progress, all alike proud of our civilization, our Constitution and our flag."

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