From the 21 March 1903 issue of The New York Times.


Executives of Massachusetts and Virginia on Federal Unity.

Northern Fraternity Men Cheer the Suggestion of a Lee Monument in Washington.

Representatives of thirty-two colleges and universities, members of the Beta Theta Pi, gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria last night on the occasion of the banquet given by the alumni of the fraternity and District II. in honor of Gov. Benjamin B. Odell, Jr., of this State, Gov. John L. Bates of Massachusetts, and Gov. Andrew J. Montague of Virginia. The dinner was made memorable by a display of sectional goodwill, and when Gov. Montague eulogized Gen. Robert E. Lee in connection with the proposed statue of the Confederate leader in Washington the young men of the North and West drowned with their cheers the “rebel yell” of those from the South.

Gov. Odell sent a letter of regret, saying that he had attended no public entertainments since the death of his sister. A little later a letter of regret from Judge L. P. Hale of St. Lawrence County was read, in which he took occasion to refer to the relations between Gov. Odell and Senator Platt. The letter was received with tremendous applause. It read in part as follows:

I had hoped to say a few words of appreciation of the services of Brother Odell, who has restored the Governorship of the State to its rightful position and removed it from lower Broadway to the Executive Chamber at Albany, and who has incidentally restored to the Legislature its Constitutional functions.

Ex-Gov. James A. Beaver of Pennsylvania presided. The Rev. Rollin A. Sawyer offered the invocation. Just before the speaking began, the representatives of the many colleges gave their various cries, and sometimes all at once, with the result that the orchestra at the top of the stairs at the corner of Astor Court and Thirty-fourth Street abandoned its attempt to make itself heard. When the diners had cheered and sung themselves to a state of exhaustion, the first speaker, Gov. John L. Bates of Massachusetts, was introduced. Turning to the Governor of Virginia, he said:

As the representative of hte old Bay State, I have the honor and the pleasure to extend her good will to the Governor of Virginia as the representative of the oldest State in the indissoluble Union. Massachusetts extends her greeting and affection to Virginia and cannot forget the old days when Virginia lit the torch of the Revolution and fought with the sons of the Puritans for liberty.

We of the old Commonwealth of Massachusetts are proud of the old Commonwealth of Virginia. As the veteran States we wish that Pennsylvania and Ohio and the others would leave to us the running of the universe. We have been on opposite sides, but the memory of the war grows dim and we realize that both sides fought for what they considered to be the right.

Gov. Montague was greeted with enthusiam, and it was several minutes before he could begin his speech, as the representatives of thirty-two colleges had to give their individual cheers with his name thrice repeated. When he could be heard, the Governor said in part:

It is iwth very great pride that I greet my brothers of this fraternity which represents all sections of our big and glorious country, and it is with particular pleasure that I respond for the State of Virginia to the very gracious and earnest words of his excellency the Governor of Massachusetts. We are the elder sisters of the Republic, and for thirteen years before that splendid band landed on Plymouth Rock there was a colony in Virginia working out the problem of representative government.

In all our pride, we Virginians do not forget that it was Massachusetts first to join issue iwth us against the British, and to select as the commander George Washington of Virginia. And we do not forget the splendid patriotism of the citizens of other States—men like Robert Morris, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, and many whose names are recalled without my repeating them.

We have forgotten the past differences and thank God for the Union of hte States, but you don’t ask us to forget that we fought according to what seemed to us the right with courage and fidelity to our belief. That is all past, and the Union is indestructible, and shall last.

We do not ask you to remember that in ceding the Northwest Territory there was one paragraph, and that written by Thomas Jefferson, that prohibited slavery in that vast territory. It was stricken out, and would to God that it had not been, as it would have saved us from the dreadful war and the shedding of blood.

I have not as yet given my approval to the joint action of the Legislature of Virginia for the erection of a statue of Gen. Robert E Lee in Washington, but I want you young men of to-day, who will hear of this measure again, to think it over carefully and dispassionately, and to take into your consideration the fact that in time the memory of Robert E. Lee, in so far as personal character, personal worth, courage, manliness, and domestic virtue count for any thing, will be the common heritage of the American people.

The Governor of Virginia was here interrupted with long continued cheers. He ended his speech with telling of the prosperity of the Virginia of to-day, which he said hoped to bring forth men who shall add to the sum total of the glory of the American Republic. The cheering was renewed, and one of the men from a Northern university started “Dixie” on the piano, arousing the diners to a high pitch of enthusiasm.

The other speakers were Dr. Hobart A. Hare, the Rev. Robert W. Courtney, the Rev. George A. Crawford, James Lindsay Gordon, and Representative William D. Bynum of Indiana.