The following is excerpted from a memorial address by Governor John W. Ellis, probably in 1859, extolling the patriotic virtue of those who had given their lives in defense of the Old North State, and whose precious legacy was defended with the call to arms in May of 1861.
They have reared to themselves a monument that mocks the regal splendor of marble, and the durability of perennial brass.
That monument is the soil that gave us birth, and the liberties that surround our lives; the political privileges we enjoy, and this edifice to God, at whose altars we are permitted to bow with freedom of conscience and devotion.
It rises from the earth round and about us, till its summit is lost in the heavens; and there it will stand till the reign of reason is debased and overthrown, and the slaves grovels where now the freeman stands.
To whom can I appeal with more propriety than the freemen of Mecklenburgh, to know when, if ever, that day shall come?
Truly, standing here as I do, at the end of seventy-three years of experience, -- when I see rising star after star in rapid succession, and increasing brilliancy, in that sky of my country’s glory, where once it was all dark, -- when I look upon this assembly, advancing in all the virtues that adorn a Christian people, and see them preserving the original gifts of liberty with the freshness or morning, I am prompted to exclaim, Never! Never shall that hour come! No!
Not until the bountiful heavens shall melt from above our heads, and the earth pass from under our feet; till nature gives signs of decay, and the “sun shall slumber in the clouds, forgetful of the voice of the morning.”
“When earth’s cities have no sound or tread,And ships are drifting with the dead,To shores where all is dumb.”
Till when, ever as our own Yadkin and Catawba roll their currents to the mighty ocean, the rippling song of their waters will be blended with the anthems of freemen, swelling with the praises of the past, the blessings of the present, and the prospects of the future!”
(North Carolina Reader, Number III, C.H. Wiley, A.S. Barnes & Burr, 1860, pp 280-281)
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