Public Exercises 571
prevailing mania of the day, ambition for political distinctions without
regard to qualifications and the means of obtaining them." The
following extract8 will indicate its general character
Gentlemen, of all the uninspired sons of Adam one only has acquired fame-the
real fame of a great man. While the mightiest of earth's conquerors and heroes,
rulers and statesman, have succeeded only in gaining a partial eminence, whence to
be descried by the admiring gaze of a single eye or a single party-while men have
disputed and will dispute about the merits of all others, the fame of Washington,
like the sun in heaven, will shine in unclouded glory on all nations and in all time.
All people of all ages-every party every caste-the Christian and the Jew-the Turk
and the Pagan-the philosopher and the historian-the novelist and the man of science-
the sanguine enthusiast of democracy-the loyal monarchist, and the gloomy, mis-
anthropic votary of depotism-all, all, with one consenting vote, join in proclaiming
him, of moral and fallible men, "the first the last, the only" great. And thus glorious,
universal and all-pervading will his fame remain; growing brighter and brighter,
amid the crumbling and evanescent things of earth, till the great drama of time shall
His is a reputation sufficiently extensive and enduring to satisfy the craving of
the most hungry soul; and yet how simple the secret of his greatness-how short an
essay his political creed-"My highest ambition," said he, "is to be the private citizen
of a free country." Here, gentlemen, is the portion of his conduct which you ought
to emulate.
The address in 1846 was by William B. Rodman, a young lawyer of
Washington, North Carolina, who then lacked a week of completing
his twenty-ninth year. He had graduated ten years before at the
University of North Carolina, with the highest honors. His selection
for the address at this time shows that he was already manifesting
those talents which were to gain him recognition as one of the most
cultivated gentlemen and ablest jurists in our history (Moore), and to
bring him to the Supreme Court Bench. His speech on this occasion,
though somewhat rhetorical and youthful, reveals a wonderful
acquaintance with
8 Reprinted from the Biblical Recorder of August 23,
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