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Proceedings of the Fourth Congress at Atlanta, GA., April 28 to May 1, 1892
An Address by Hon. D. D. Roper, Slatington, Pa.


Mr. President, Ladies, and Gentlemen: I am certainly much obliged to my friend for his compliment, but fear that I am not entitled to all of it. I did not expect to address an audience here to-day. I am a new recruit, having got my papers from the Secretary only a week ago to-day, therefore having been a member of this association only one week. I came here without the slightest idea of being called upon to make an address. I came to see these Southern people whose hearts are proverbially as warm as their climate. I came to see the city that had been built where a few years ago was desolation ; that, Phoenix-like, had risen from its ashes and developed until to-day it stands the peer of many of the busy and bustling cities of the North. I came here to see and get acquainted with the people, and I have met the honorable Executive of the state and his charming wife; I have met the worthy Mayor and the business people of this place, and in fact, my friend who came with me and myself thought we had things all our own way until this committee came to me and said: "You have got to make an address." I endeavored to get out of it, but no use; they said I had to make an address. I said: "I am in the hands of my friends, the enemy, and I am willing to do what they say, and will agree to do the best that I can." But when I thought of addressing the people of Georgia on any subject some peculiar ideas came into my mind. I thought of some of the worthy people of this state, some of the ablest men in the history of the country, some of the greatest orators and profoundest statesmen who have been citizens of Georgia, and I have found since I came here that you have some natural born orators among you. [Applause.] And when I thought of appearing before such an audience and facing the culture and the beauty of the ladies of the South and the intelligence and the chivalry of the gentlemen of Georgia, I began to feel a little like the old German soldier away up in the North. One time he and his Colonel and a few men were outside the picket lines reconnoitering the position of the enemy—you know the first thing they do is to reconnoiter. The Colonel looked and finally said: "They are coming; the woods are full of them; we will be cut off in five minutes; we are gone. Take my glass, and see how they are coming." "Why, my gracious, Colonel," said he, "I am scared nearly to death with the naked eye. What should I look through the glass for?" [Laughter.] I was scared nearly to death with the naked eye, but when I am compelled to look through the glass it is a little bit more alarming.

I will not detain you long. I will say a few words, and perhaps the best thing 'for me to do is to stick to the text that has been given me, "The Scotch-Irish Race," and I feel that when I discuss this subject I am in the hands of my friends, in the hands of a large number of people of my own blood, who are willing to overlook any shortcomings of mine. These people were as sturdy a race as the world has ever known. In fact, in reading the history of that race I was put in mind of a little incident which I once read of in the history of the great Napoleon. In one of his most sanguinary battles with the Austrians part of his army was captured, and among the number a little drummer boy. The prisoners were being hurried to the rear when their captors commanded the boy to sound the retreat on his drum. The little drummer boy looked with amazement. "Why, sir," said he, "I never learned a retreat, I never heard a retreat, I know no retreat." And, gentlemen, such has been the history of the Scotch-Irish. They know no retreat: their course has been onward and upward. [Applause.] They are a peculiar people, they are really a people without a country; they are not a people without a history, but they are to a great extent a people without a country. What can you say of a man that answers when you ask him, "What is your country?" "Well, my father was born in Scotland and my mother was born in Scotland, I was born in Ireland and raised in America." "Where is your country?" There is but one answer that man can give you, and that is the answer of every true Scotch-Irishman: "Where liberty dwells is my country, there and only there." [Applause.] When asked, "What are your principles of government?" he will answer in the language of our leading Southern men: "My principles of government are: Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God." Those are the principles that have made those men great, and we are here to remember the acts of those men; we are here to commemorate their deeds on many a bloody field in defense of those principles, and we are here to perpetuate their memory.

I have been asked by men since I came here: "What is the object of your Society?" I said: "So far as I know, it is educational, it is fraternal, and it is to give us closer relations to each other in many respects; it is to get up more fully the history of this race which is without a country, but not without a history." I believe it is an advantage for us to study the history of these men. I believe we should not be man-worshipers. I am opposed to the principle, but we should be admirers of honorable and honest acts. We should admire the honorable acts of those men who have gone before us. Benjamin Franklin said he could always judge a people and their advancement in civilization when he went to their graveyard. Those who don't respect the memory of the dead don't respect the living; and why do you here of the South and we at the North pluck the first fresh flowers of spring and go out and scatter them over the graves of those we loved? Is it to revive the memories of the terrible past? No; every honorable, honest man to-day is glad that every heart-burning, every strife, and every bitter feeling growing out of those times are buried so deep beneath the dark waters of oblivion that not one bubble will ever rise to the surface to show where they sleep. [Applause.] It is simply to perpetuate the memories of brave men and their deeds, and no man can fail to respect the deeds of men who go to battle for their principles and give their lives for what they believe to be the principles of eternal right.

Capt. Forbes's kind remarks in reference to myself have made me think of a little incident about the boys in the early days of the war. My friend, Col. Echols, here asked me to come down to the meeting of the Scotch-Irish Society and see Atlanta. I told him I would endeavor to do so. I had never been farther South than Richmond, and I did not get there as soon as I wanted to. I believe I had the idea when I was a boy that I was going to come down this way and reach the Gulf in about thirty days. I concluded, however, after I had been out in the army a little while to put it off until a later date, when it might be more healthy to come. That is the reason I have been so long in coming down. [Laughter.] That reminds me of the little anecdote I was about to tell. A Union soldier was traveling in England once, and the fact that he had belonged to the Union army becoming known, he was asked by an Englishman: "Weren't you fellows ashamed to let that handful of Confederates stop you four or five years?" "No," the Union soldier replied, "we were not ashamed of it at all, because the men we fought were American citizens, and they were American soldiers like ourselves; but if they had been a lot of Englishmen, we would have been ashamed of ourselves if we had not driven them into the Gulf in thirty days." [Applause.] I think we would have done it in sixty, but if I had spoken to that Englishman I would not have said only that we were American soldiers, but I would have added that the best blood of the Scotch-Irish race was amongst those American soldiers. [Applause.] We can speak of all these things now and meet again as brothers in fraternal intercourse. We wish to bring as many brothers into this Society as we can, and we wish to grow wider and extend the circle of brotherhood until that time shall come mentioned by the poet:

When the war drums cease to throb
And the battle flags are furled In the parliament of man,
The confederation of the world.


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