Revisiting Gettysburg


The reading lessons below are from textbooks used by students in the late 1800s.

'South Carolina'

This lesson was included in "McGuffey's Sixth Eclectic Reader," published in 1879. South Carolina had attacked U.S. soldiers at Fort Sumter and the state was the first to leave the Union, in 1860:

Robert Young Hayne, 1791-1846, was born in Colleton District, South Carolina, and studied and practiced law in Charleston. He was early elected to the State Legislature, and became Speaker of the House and Attorney-general of the state. He entered the Senate of the United States at the age of thirty-one. He was Governor of South Carolina during the "Nullification" troubles of 1832 and 1833. Mr. Hayne was a clear and able debater, and a stanch advocate of the extreme doctrine of "State Rights." In the Senate he opposed the Tariff Bill of 1828; and out of this struggle, grew his famous debate with Daniel Webster in 1830. The following selection is an extract from Mr. Hayne's speech on that memorable occasion.

If there be one state in the Union, Mr. President that may challenge comparison with any other, for a uniform zealous, ardent, and uncalculating devotion to the Union, that state is South Carolina. Sir, from the very commencement of the Revolution, up to this hour, there is no sacrifice, howevcr great, she has not cheerfully made; no service she has ever hesitated to perform.

She has adhered to you in your prosperity; but in your adversity she has clung to you with more than filial affection. No matter what was the condition of her domestic affairs; though deprived of her resources, divided by parties, or surrounded by difficulties, the call of the country has been to her as the voice of God. Domestic discord ceased at the sound; every man became at once reconciled to his brethren, and the sons of Carolina were all seen, crowding to the temple, bringing their gifts to the altar of their common country.

What, sir, was the conduct of the South, during the Revolution? Sir, I honor New England for her conduct in that glorious struggle. But great as is the praise which belongs to her, I think at least equal honor is due to the South. Never were there exhibited, in the history of the world higher examples of noble daring, dreadful suffering, and heroic endurance, than by the whigs of Carolina, during the Revolution. The whole state, from the mountains to the sea, was overrun by an overwhelming force of the enemy. The fruits of industry perished on the spot where they were produced, or were consumed by the foe.

The plains of Carolina drank up the most precious blood of her citizens. Black, smoking ruins marked the places which had been the habitation of her children. Driven from their homes into the gloomy and almost impenetrable swamps, even there the spirit of liberty survived, and South Carolina, sustained by thc example of her Sumters and her Marions, proved, by her conduct, that though her soil might be overrun, the spirit of her people was invincible.

Notes: Thomas Sumter (b. 1734, d. 1832) was by birth a Virginian but during the Revolution commanded South Carolina troops. He was one of thc most active and able of the Southern generals, and, after the war, was prominent in politics. He was the last surviving general of the Revolution.

Francis Marion (b. 1732, d. 1795), known as the "Swamp Fox," was a native South Carolinian, of French descent. Marion's brigade became noted during the Revolution for its daring and surprising attacks.

'The Soldier'

After the Civil War, the people of the United States were very proud of their country, but the wounds of the war were deep. Schools tried to teach patriotism by studying the time before the war. This poem by J. G. Adams was used in the 1879 edition of "McGuffey's Third Eclectic Reader" to teach reading:

1. A soldier! a soldier! I'm longing to be:

The name and the life of a soldier for me!

I would not be living at ease and at play;

True honor and glory I'd win every day.

2. A soldier! a soldier! in armor arrayed;

My weapons in hand, of no contest afraid;

I'd ever be ready to strike the first blow,

And to fight my way through the ranks of the foe.

3. But then, let me tell you, no blood would I shed,

No victory seek o'er the dying and dead;

A far braver soldier than this would I be;

A warrior of Truth, in the ranks of the free.

4. A soldier! a soldier! Oh, then, let me be!

My friends, I invite you, enlist now with me.

Truth's bands shall be mustered, love's foes shall give way!

Let's up and be clad in our battle array!

Pub Date: 6/28/98

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