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Dec December

In Their Own Words

December 14, 1898

McKinley Addressed Georgia General Assembly

Pres. William McKinley came to Georgia to participate in a Peace Jubilee to mark the end of the Spanish-American War. His address to the Georgia General Assembly, however, was one of reconciliation over the Civil War:

“Sectional lines no longer mar the map of the United States. Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we bear each other. Fraternity is the national anthem, sung by a chorus of forty-five states and our territories at home and beyond the seas. The union is once more the common alter of our love and loyalty, our devotion and sacrifice. The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories and sacrifice. The old flag again waves over us in peace with new glories, which your sons and ours have this year added to its sacred folds. What cause we have for rejoicing, saddened only by the fact that so many of our brave men fell on field or sickened and died from hardship and exposure, and others returning bring wounds and disease from which they will long suffer. The memory of the dead will be a precious legacy, and the disabled will be the nation’s care.

“A nation which cares for its disabled soldiers, as we have always done, will never lack defenders. The national cemeteries for those who fell in battle are proof that the dead as well as the living have our love. What an army of silent sentinels we have, and with what loving care their graves are kept! Every soldier’s grave made during our unfortunate civil war is a tribute to American valor.

“And while when those graves were made we differed widely about the future of this government, these differences were long ago settled by the arbitrament of arms–and the time has now come in the evolution of sentiment and feeling under the providence of God, when in the spirit of fraternity we should share with you in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers.

“The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act, and if it needed further justification, it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just passed by the sons and grandsons of these heroic dead.

“What a glorious future awaits us if unitedly, wisely and bravely we face the new problems now pressing upon us, determined to solve them for right and humanity.”

Source: Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 15, 1898