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The Women of the Confederacy by Charles Scott

The Women of the Confederacy
Charles Scott

Of the Rosedale (Miss.) Bar

[Extract from an address delivered on "Confederate Day'' at the [Mississippi Chautauqua, Crystal Springs, Miss., July 30, 1906.] 

Yet a little while and the last of the thin gray line will cross over the river to rest beneath the shade of the trees. These heroes of the lost cause should be and will be remembered and revered throughout all the recurring years. Here, as in all acts of grace and kindliness, where the heart speaks best and surest, it has been the province of the fair daughters of the South to point the way. And so Decoration Day comes to us as a direct inspiration from their pure hearts, and if the truth were known I dare say that some noble Southern woman first suggested "Confederate Day" for this Chautauqua. And so it is with the stately monuments to the Confederate dead found in all parts of the Sunny South. They, too, are the noble work of our Southern women, inspired by their devoted love and consecrated by their sacred tears. 

There is, my countrymen, just one thing in all the world better and truer and nobler than the Southern soldier, and that — God bless her now and always is the Southern woman. We can never hope, gentlemen of the South, to adequately express our gratitude to these noble women for their labor of love. It is impossible. But Southern chivalry and Southern manhood will be recreant to their loftiest ideals and traditions if we fail to erect, at some suitable place in the South, to be hereafter selected, a chaste and beautiful monument of the purest marble in honor of the women of the South, who have already erected thousands of monuments to its men. I propose, therefore, my friends, that Mississippi have the honor of taking the first decisive step in this noble and patriotic work. She was first in chartering an institution of learning for the higher education of young women; first to remove the common law disabilities of married women, to be followed by a removal of all their disabilities; and she was the first to establish an institution supported by the State for the advanced education of young women. Why not first in the patriotic movement to erect a monument to the noble women of the Confederacy? It will partly express to present and future generations our love and admiration of those who are perhaps more deserving of our gratitude than the Confederate soldier himself. When complete, let us chisel on the polished surface of the spotless marble shaft the beautiful words used by the revered chieftain of the lost cause in the dedication of his great work on the Southern Confederacy: 

"To the women of the Confederacy, whose pious ministrations to our wounded soldiers smoothed the last hours of those who died far from the objects of their tenderest love; whose domestic labor contributed much to supply the wants of our defenders in the field; whose jealous faith in our cause showed a guiding star undimmed by the darkest clouds of war; whose fortitude sustained them under all the privations to which they were subjected; whose annual tribute expresses their enduring grief, love and reverence for our sacred dead, and whose patriotism will teach their children to emulate the deeds of our revolutionary sires," this monument is dedicated by the people of the South. 

Edwin Dubois Shurter, Oratory of the South: From the Civil War to the Present Time (New York: The Neale Publishing Company, 1908), 31-34.

Tribute to the Women of the South
Albert H. Whitfield

Chief Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court 

[Extract from an address delivered at the dedication of Mississippi's new capitol, June 3, 1903.] 

God has so ordained that man may meet the brunt of some sudden storm, may live through and master some single great crisis; but it is woman alone who can wear through the supreme crises of individual or national life, by the endurance, the fortitude, and the patience which she alone possesses. 

And so in the midst of the gloom the woman of the South rose resplendent to the occasion. She remembered that grief sanctified makes great.' What though she stood amid the wreck of desolated and dismantled homes with the bright relics of princely fortunes strewn ruthlessly about her — the qualities of the eternal granite were integrated into her endurance. What though her household penates lay dashed to fragments on the hearthstone, her idols in the eternal silence, and the power of the despot attempted to bury, in the grave of the slain, the hopes of her country, set its seal upon the grave, rolled the rock upon the sepulcher and placed its watch. Her sublime faith has lived to see the resurrection angel of the South roll back the stone from the sepulcher, destroy the seal, break the fetters of political disability, shatter the bonds of the industrial, agricultural, and commercial subordination, and raise, radiant from the grave of the old, the figure of the new South, to stand in transfigured beauty, fronting the deepening glories of the twentieth century, "like the winged god breathing from his flight." 

She remembered that whatever was sublimest in the annals of Christianity looms o'er the ocean of time, like the northern lights, more resplendent for the surrounding shadows. She recalled that whatever is most glorious in the achievements of military heroes has been the triumphs of men who were cradled in storms and schooled by adversity. She remembered that whatever in literature is truly immortal, unvarying history proves the ripened product of intellects that have towered to the regions of perpetual sunlight through atmospheres dark with clouds and tempests! And, remembering these things, she called her patience to her aid — she summoned her endurance to the tremendous task; she nerved the returning husband, or father, or son, to the herculean tasks of the years that have just receded from us. 'And to-day, women of the South, if there be hope in this land, it is due to your courage; if there be promise in the future, it is the result of your faith; and if, my countrymen and countrywomen, if, I say, in the years that are to come, when we who stand under this evening sky shall sleep the dreamless slumber of the grave, when we shall no more be known amongst men, these Southern States shall fill with fifty millions of happy men and women; if the Isthmian canal shall be gay with the merchantmen of every nation upon earth; if the Galveston of the future shall remember the Galveston of the tempest but as a nightmare dream; if New Orleans, and Mobile, and Savannah, and Charleston, and Wilmington, and our own Gulfport and a hundred other marts shall become imperial "cities proud with spires and turrets crowned, in whose broad armed ports shall ride rich navies laughing at the storm"; if, above all that, and better than all that, literature, and religion, and art shall fill this land with temples and lyceums, and galleries glorious with immortal paintings and statuary, and with a knowledge universally diffused — if, I repeat, that glorious day shall come to this land we love, the land of the magnolia, and the orange, the land of the mountain and the sea and of the tropic stars, the land of Lee and Jackson and Davis, if the coming years shall bring these splendors to this clime, it will be due, women of the South, to the deathless fidelity with which you have held fast to the principles of justice and right and truth, immutable and eternal, because of the possession of which God has made the heart of woman, in every age, the last repository of the faith of every creed and the patriotism of every land. 

Meet indeed it is, soldiers of the Confederacy, that your sons have determined to erect, in honor of the transcendent women of the South — who for forty years have annually covered the graves of your dead with the flowers and tears of fadeless affection — a monument, the noblest in its proportions, the most exquisite in its carvings, the loftiest in its inscriptions, affection has ever reared to make virtue immortal! Let it rise in the purity of spotless white, against the dark background of our national sorrows, high up into the serene heavens! And through the ages to come, when garish day has gone, and with it the harsh clangor of commercialism, let the vast silences of the starry midnight steep it in holy, healing quiet! 

And there through all time may those who shall continue to place honor above gold, principle above power, the reign of justice, and truth, and right above the hollow magnificence of perishing materialism, be permitted, in the twilight of soothed feeling and softened remembrance, to catch, faint and far off though it be, the trembling refrain of the music of the Sunny South of old! 

Edwin Dubois Shurter, Oratory of the South: From the Civil War to the Present Time (New York: The Neale Publishing Company, 1908), 34-39.


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