PRESIDENTIAL SOUTHERN TOUR, ADDRESS AT CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
September 25, 1877
Ladies and Gentlemen and my Friends of Charlottesville and Albemarie county: We accept your invitation with great pleasure, and it now gives me great gratification to exchange situations. We are now at the end of our appointments, during which we have passed through five of the greatest states of the union, four of which were large slaveholding states, and that which rejoices me more than anything else is the fact that everywhere we have found growing and increasing sentiments in behalf of the union and the constitution, which regards alike the interests and rights of every section and every state, and which regards alike and equally all classes without distinction of race or color. The equality under the laws of all citizens is the corner-stone of the structure of restored harmony, from which the ancient friendship is to rise. I am going in the pathway which your illustrious men led—your Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and your Washington. Our hope is that the people of the whole country will unite to reconcile the feeling which prevailed when the union was formed. We wish the harmony our father gave us preserved and transmitted to those who come after. This is the want of your future. Uniting in sentiments like these, there is no reason why there should be any distinction between north and south. That wise man whose home was here saw plainly the danger in the future. Jefferson, in 1820, during the Missouri controversy, spoke of the agitation of that question as the fire bell in the night, In due time he clearly saw what would come on us. Efforts at compromise by wise and patriotic men delayed the subject from time to time, but in the course of events the question had to be submitted to the arbitrament of war. You who fought so gallantly on many a battle-field fought for what you believed to be right, and no man, no woman, can fail to respect you for it. We fought and risked our lives for our convictions and we are sure you will accord the same respect to us that we accord to you. Let us join hands together and go forward. Many cannot follow, for they are not ready to follow; but we have no ill will for them. A grand army is composed without regard to stragglers. I doubt not, as months go on, we will once more return to the harmony of our fathers.