“Jefferson Davis,” New Orleans (LA) Picayune, January 27, 1890, p. 1: 5.
Address of Hon. John W. Daniel Before the Virginia House of Delegates.
RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 26.— Mozart Academy of Music, the larges public hall in the city, was crowded last night with ladies and distinguished citizens of the state to hear Senator John W. Daniel deliver an oration upon the life and character of Jefferson Davis upon invitation of the legislature. Governor McKinney and General Jubal A. Early were among the prominent citizens present.
Hon. F. Cardwell, speaker of the house of representatives, introduced Senator Daniel, who said: “Noble are the words of Cicero when he tells us that ‘is is the first and fundamental law of history that it should neither dare to say anything that is false or fear to say anything that is true, nor give any just suspicions of favor or disaffection.
“No less high a standard must be invoked in considering the life, character and services of Jefferson Davis,
whose name is blended with the renown of American arms and with the civil glories of the cabinet and congress hall—a son of the south who became the head of a confederacy more populous and more extensive than that for which Jefferson wrote the declaration of independence, and commander-in-chief of armies greater than those of which Washington was the general. He swayed senates and led the soldiers of the union, and he stood accused of treason in a court of justice. He saw victory sweep illustrious battle fields and became a native. He ruled millions and was put in chains. Creating a nation he followed its bier and he died a disfranchised citizen.
“But though great in many things, he was greatest in that fortune, which, lifting him first to the loftiest height, and casting him hence to the depth of disappointment, found him everywhere the erect and constant friend of truth. He conquered himself and forgave his enemies, but he bent to none but god. Severe scrutiny of his life and character—no public man was ever subjected to sterner ordeals of character of closer scrutiny of conduct; he was in the public gaze for nearly half a century; and in the fate which at last overwhelmed the southern confederacy and its president, official records and private papers fell into the hands of his enemies. Wary eyes now searched to see if he had overstepped the bounds which the laws of war have set to action; and could such evidence be found, wrathful hearts would have cried for vengeance, but though every hiding place was opened and reward was ready for any who would betray
whose armies were scattered and whose hands were chained—though the sea gave up its dead in the convulsion of his country—there could be found no guilty fact, and accusing tongues were silenced.
“Whatever record leaped to light his name could not be stained.
“I could not, indeed, nor would I, divest myself of those identities and partialities which made me on with the people of whom he was the chief in their supreme conflict. But surely if records were stainless and enemies were dumb, and if the principals pronounce now favorable judgment upon the agent notwithstanding that he failed, there can be no suspicion of undue favor on the part of those who do him honor, and the contrary inclination could only spring from disaffection.
“The people of the south knew Jefferson Davis. He mingled his daily life with theirs under the eager kin of those who had bound up with him all that life can cherish.
“To his hands they consigned their destinies and under his guidance they committed the land they loved with husbands, fathers, sons and brothers to the God of battles.
“Ruin, wounds and death became their portion, and yet they do declare that Jefferson Davis was
and a noble gentleman; that as the trustee of the highest trust that man can place in man, he was clear and faithful, and that in his office he exhibited those grand heroic attributes which were worthy of its dignity and their struggles for independence. Thus it was that when the news came that he was no more there was no southern house that did not pass under the shadow of affliction. Thus it was that the governors of commonwealths bore his body to the tomb and that multitudes gathered from afar to bow in reverence. Thus it was that throughout the south the scarred soldiers, the widowed wives, the kindred of those who had died in the battle which he delivered, met to give the utterance to their respect and sorrow. Thus it was that the general assembly of Virginia is now convened to pay their tribute. Completer testimony to human worth was never given and thus it will be that the south will build a monument to record their verdict that he was true to his people, his conscience and his God, and no stone that covers the dead will be worthier of the Roman legend: Clarus et vir fortissimus.
Senator Daniel’s speech consumed about two hours in its delivery.