From the 20 January 1900 issue of The New York Times.

SOUTHERN VETERANS DINE


Revive with Rhetoric and Song Memories of Dixie’s Land.


Ovation for Mrs. Davis—Thomas Nelson Page and John Temple Graves Talk—The President’s Letter


Members of the Confederate Veteran Camp of New York held their tenth annual banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria last night in honor and memory of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the leader of “the Lost Cause.” Nearly 300 sons and daughters of the old South and the new were gathered with their guests at the flower-covered tables in the large dining hall, and revived again with rhetoric and song memories of “Dixie’s Land.”

There was a great demonstration when Mrs. Jefferson Davis arrived and was escorted to a centre box in the balcony overlooking the banquet room while the dinner was in progress. She had no sooner appeared than she was recognized, and received a great ovation. Round upon round of cheers went up. Fans and napkins were in the air, and many flowers were tossed into the box from the tables below. Mrs. Davis was visibly affected as she bowed her acknowledgements.

The banquet began at 7:30 o’clock with Edward Owen, Commander of the camp, in the presiding chair. On his right sat Thomas Nelson Page, and on the seat to the left was John Temple Graves of Atlanta. Others at the guest table were Past Commander A. R. Chisolm, John C. Hertle, Past Commander J. H. Parker, John W. Keller, Lieut. Commander Clarence Cary, William M. Polk, President Southern Society; Past Commander G. T. Harrison, Chaplain George S. Baker, and Past Chaplain S. H. Granberry. Others present were Hugh S. Thompson, Col. John C. Calhoun and family, Thomas P. Ochiltree, Charles Broadway Rouss, Col. S. B. Paul, Col. Peter Mallett, Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Day, Mr. and Mrs. John F. Black, and Richard Henry Savage.

After the dinner had been served amid the strains of Southern airs Commander Owen welcomed the guests and proposed a toast to “The President of the United States and the Army and Navy.” It was drunk standing, while the orchestra played “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Thomas Nelson Page was then introduced and responded to the toast “The South Beyond Her Borders.”

In speaking of the South Mr. Page said: “I know there are those who use the term New South to signify a new regeneration of a former unregenerate condition, and there are others who use it merely to indicate the appearance and growth of a new vernal upspringing of material prosperity. When the term was first coined it had only the latter meaning, but there were those who were glad to infuse into it a significance that implied censure of the old South.

“It simply proves their ignorance of what the old South was. They behold a picture taken by an enemy or an ignoramus, distorted through the lens of hostility or ignorance, and say, ‘Is this the idea you worship? Are these the features which you have told us are the ideal of beauty and virtue?’ No, these are not the features of which we have told you. These faults to which you point are but blemishes on the fair countenance of our mother, which was radiant in her prime, and, though marred by the marks of the reviler, still beams for us who love her with an unquenchable and ineffable light.”

The speaker then referred to Stonewall Jackson and paid that Southern hero a stirring tribute. He then spoke of the life of Gen Lee as a civilian and as President of an educational institution, and said that his motto was, “Duty is the sublimest word in the language.”

At the close of Mr. Page’s address Commander Owen read letters of regret from President McKinley, Gov. Roosevelt, Mayor Van Wyck, and Gen. Longstreet. The President’s letter was as follows:

Executive Mansion
washington, Jan. 13, 1900.

My Dear Sir: I have received your kind letter inviting me to be present and respond to a toast at the tenth annual banquet of your camp on the 19th inst., and I regret very much that engagements already made prevent me from sending an acceptance.

The cordial feeling of mutual respect and good will existing between the sections of our now reunited country and among all the people is most gratifying to me. It would afford me peculiar pleasure to be with you on this occasion and give renewed expression to my grateful appreciation of the promptness and patriotism with which the citizens of the South, as well as of the North, respond to the call of country, and of the ever-increasing help they are giving to those things which contribute to its prosperity and advancement, its permanence and influence.

Thanking you for the courtesy extended, and with best wishes for the success of the reunion, believe me, very sincerely yours

WILLIAM McKINLEY.

The toasts, “The City of New York” and “The Man on the Monument and the Memory of Robert E. Lee,” were responded to by John W. Keller and John Temple Graves, respectively. The toasts were interspersed with songs and recitations by prominent musicians and elocutionists.

Mr. Graves eulogized the memory of Lee, dwelling at lenght on his life and character. He painted a picture of the unification of the whole country. The South still fighting, but now engaged in a friendly contest with the abolitionist States of the East for the supremacy in the manufacture of cotton goods. He spoke of Gen. Joseph Wheeler, a Confederate rider, battling for the United Staes, and two grandsons of Union chiefs serving on the staff of Gen. Lee, an ex-Confederate General. “When the roll call of history is finally made,” said the speaker, “we will remember the men who came from all sections of our country.”