REUNION OF THE 36TH OHIO VOLUNTEER INFANTRY RECEPTION
September 7, 1877
Ladies, Fellow-Citizens and Survivors of the Great War: I wish that I was prepared to speak suitably on this occasion. My friend, Mayor Palmer, in his address, informs me that in every speech made at this great National Reunion encouragement has been given to that spirit of fraternity which it is the desire of those associated with me in the Administration to do something during our term of service to advance. We do not, in meeting the people, propose to discuss any of the great party questions which divide the people who honor us with their attention. Questions of administration and economic questions we leave to to be discussed before the people by those who may be appointed by the respective parties to carry on those debates. But we do not feel that if in visiting our fellow-citizens in different States we can add anything to strengthen the sentiment alluded to by the Mayor. It is right and proper that we should do it. All who are familiar with the history of our country know that a hundred years ago there was no North, no South. The fathers were one throughout the whole country. Washington and Jefferson were side by side with Franklin and Adams. Daniel Morgan and his Virginians marched from Virginia to Boston. They were at Saratoga, and Nathaniel Green and his Continentals were in the Carolinas. The whole country belonged to the fathers. It is to that state of harmony of fraternal friendship that we desire our country to return. We are for the Union as it is. We are for the Constitution as it is with all its Amendments. We want the citizens of every State to feel at home in every other State. If a citizen of Vermont travels to Georgia or Texas, for business or pleasure, we want him to feel at home in those States. If a citizen of Texas or Georgia travels North, we want him to feel at home everywhere throughout the Union.
Now, my friends, I do not propose to detain you. I have made a much longer speech already than I intended to when I entered your town, but you understand the purpose. We may make mistakes in method, mistakes in measures, but the sentiment we would encourage is a sentiment of nationality throughout the Union. We all regard the service of that four years' war; we regard that period of four years as the most interesting of our lives. We fought then, those of us who were in the Union army, as we believed, to make this forever hereafter a united people, forever hereafter a free people; and we rejoice, to-day, to believe that those who were against us, in that struggle, now are with us on both of these questions, and will forever remain with us on both of these questions .
And now, my friends, you will desire to hear from some of those who are associated with me in the Government. Two members of the cabinet are here, the Postmaster-General, Judge Key of Tennessee, and Gen. Devens, Attorney-General. They fought on opposite sides during those four years, but to-day and here they are prepared to fight, if need be, on the same side. I will introduce to you Judge Key. I am sure he is an able man; I am sure he is an honest man; I am sure he is a patriotic man.