William McKinley photo

Speech Before the Legislature in Joint Assembly at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia

December 14, 1898

Mr. President and Gentlemen: [See APP Note.]

It is with more than common pleasure that I meet these representatives of this great State. I am more than glad to be with you here at this time and share with you in the general rejoicing over the signing of the treaty of peace between the United States and Spain.

Sectional lines no longer mar the map of the United States. [Great applause.] Sectional feeling no longer holds back the love we bear each other. [Applause.] Fraternity is the national anthem, sung by a chorus of forty-five States and our Territories at home and beyond the seas. [Applause.] The Union is once more the common altar of our love and loyalty, our devotion and sacrifice. The old flag again waves over us in peace, with new glories which your sons and ours have this year added to its sacred folds. What cause we have for rejoicing, saddened only by the fact that so many of our brave men fell on the field or sickened and died from hardship and exposure, and others returning bring wounds and disease from which they will long suffer. The memory of the dead will be a precious legacy, and the disabled will be the nation's care. [Applause.]

A nation which cares for its disabled soldiers as we have always done will never lack defenders. The national cemeteries for those who fell in battle are proof that the dead as well as the living have our love. What an army of silent sentinels we have, and with what loving care their graves are kept! Every soldier's grave made during our unfortunate Civil War is a tribute to American valor. [Applause.] And while, when those graves were made, we differed widely about the future of this government, those differences were long ago settled by the arbitrament of arms; and the time has now come, in the evolution of sentiment and feeling under the providence of God, when in the spirit of fraternity we should share with you in the care of the graves of the Confederate soldiers. [Tremendous applause and long-continued cheering.]

The cordial feeling now happily existing between the North and South prompts this gracious act, and if it needed further justification, it is found in the gallant loyalty to the Union and the flag so conspicuously shown in the year just past by the sons and grandsons of these heroic dead. [Tremendous applause.]

What a glorious future awaits us if unitedly, wisely, and bravely we face the new problems now pressing upon us, determined to solve them for right and humanity! [Prolonged applause and repeated cheers.]

Source:  Speeches and Addresses of William McKinley, New York:  Doubleday & McClure Co., 1900, p 158.

In his opening remarks, President McKinley referred to Georgia Senate President William A. Dodson.  The New York Times reported that when the President entered the House chambers, "legislators arose and applauded and cheered the Nation's chief lustily."

William McKinley, Speech Before the Legislature in Joint Assembly at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/371768

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