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any poor words of mine, is of Fairfield county; that the leading minds of the House of Representatives is from Mentor; that the President of the United Stateso is from Fremont. If I should enter upon your roll of ordinary immortals, we should get no dinner to-day.
As to the other charge that we have not been sufficiently eager in our culture of the spirit of chivalry, it is idle to make any answer. No body of Americans, take them together, are braver than any other body. The Pioneers of Ohio, as of all the other Western States, in building their civil structure, wrought like the workmen of Judea, with the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other. And when the time came for their sons to decide whether the civilization thus built was worth defending in the battlefield; when men bred in other ideas, under different influences, forswore their loyalty and attempted to destroy the costly work of the past century; when our nearest neighbor of the South, called to her duty by the authoritative voice of Abraham Lincoln, denied her allegiance and trampled her sacred faith under foot, it is written that a Governor of Ohio sent over the wires, which should have thrilled with a message so knightly: “If Kentucky will not fill her quota, Ohio will fill it for her.” I will
I not rehearse the part which your State took in the war which followed: this has been done by an abler hand than mine, the Ohio editor I mentioned a moment ago. The record is safe, and there are few brighter pages in human annals.
One word, in closing, to the men of my own age, and to those still younger. We have a goodly heritage in the institutions and the traditions bequeathed to us by our fathers. We need go no further back than 1787 to find the beginning of a pedigree which will make any man who is worthy of it noble enough. A great many Americans, I know, trace their undoubted descent from well-known families in the Old World. I do not refer to those pitiable beings who invent or
bJ. A. Garfield OR. B. Hayes
appropriate the arms of others; but at best this is a child's amusement unworthy a full-grown man. We have no distinction of classes in this country. I believe and hope we never shall have. But descended as you are from a race of men pre-eminent in virtue and capacity, you have the obligation laid upon you never to forget your origin, and never to fall below the standard which they unconsciously and instinctively set up. As the result of their fruitful labors, our lives have become more complex than theirs, our wants greater, our duties not so simply defined. But one or two ideas come out clearly enough from the study of their character. They believed in order, decency, sobriety; in reverence for all things reverend, for religion, for law. They were always more ready to fight in a public than in a private quarrel. They were honest, and severe in their honesty; they claimed their own, while they allowed each man his own. The enemy of the public welfare was their enemy, but they did not rashly conclude that their enemy was necessarily the enemy of the public good. They were loyal to the last drop of their blood, to their consciences, to their families, to their country.
We can hardly hope to emulate a character so unique, so simply complete and heroic. But let us strive, by God's help, to be not entirely unworthy of the names they have left us, and the country they have given us to guard.