The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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was no hope for the South in the indefinite future that lay before us all, but in a frank recognition of this truth; and his was the honor, in virtue of superior sagacity and courage, to take the lead in the statesman-like work of reconstructing popular sentiment. There were many able men in North Carolina at that day who had ardently participated in the struggle for Southern independence--sound lawyers, practical statesmen, skilled in affairs--but it remained for Matt. W. Ransom to confront the people with the unwelcome truth, that they had passed through a revolution which could never go backward, and that all their hopes for the future must turn upon their unreserved acceptance of the results of that revolution and adaptation to them. At Henderson in 1869, he delivered an eloquent address to the thousands who were assembled at the Agricultural Fair, and it is not too much to say that all thoughtful men present were startled and delighted by his bold utterances. He was listened to with attention by all, and the salutary truths that day proclaimed by a man who had been a gallant soldier in the service of the confederacy had their echo returned from every part of the State.

        It was in this spirit that in a memorial address at the dedication of the Confederate Soldier's Cemetery at Raleigh, he uttered the beautiful sentiment, "I thank God that there are flowers enough in this beautiful land of the South to strew alike upon the graves of those who fell in the Grey and in the Blue; and that there are hearts large enough, and hands gentle and generous enough to perform this holy duty."

        In January 1872 General Ransom was elected to the United States Senate. In December, 1876, he was re-elected; and again, for the third time that honor was accorded him, in January, 1883. His career in that body has been one of great usefulness to the State and to the country. He speaks rarely, but always effectively. In 1875 he made an elaborate speech, the printed copy of which is entitled, "The South faithful to her duties." It attracted wide attention by its broad, liberal and unsectional spirit, and by many passages of true eloquence.

        Perhaps no man who has ever represented the State has been so successful in procuring appropriations for its rivers and harbors, and for public buildings. As a member of a body in which his party is in a minority, his success in carrying out his purposes has been remarkable. Without the sacrifice of principle, in the slightest degree, his habitual courtesy inspires confidence and wins favor with men of the most diverse views, while his knowledge of men often enables him to bring them over to his own. As a Senator, the purpose of General Ransom has been to develope his State and the South, and to pacificate the country.

        It is worthy of mention that General Ransom has associated his name permanently with that of the nation's capital, by his success in procuring large appropriations for removing or filling up the unsightly, pestilence-breeding flats, or marshes that have accumulated in the Potomac river, in front of the city. The supervision of this important work has been very properly entrusted, by his political opponents, the Republican majority of the Senate, to a sub-committee of which he is the Chairman.

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