For Mother’s Day: “If All That Has Been Said”

Mary Bannister, wife of Private George H. Bannister of Company H, 13th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment (LOC)

President Lincoln made some remarks at the Patent Office Fair in Washington City, an event had been organized to raise funds for the Union war effort and support the work of the U.S. Christian Commission. Mrs. Lincoln and Robert also attended with the president on February 22, 1864. During his visit to the fundraiser fair, Lincoln offered a tribute to the Union women, briefly and powerfully shifting focus from the battlefield soldier to the homefront ladies.

“Ladies and Gentlemen: I appear, to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all classes of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, ‘All that a man hath will he give for his life;’ and while all contribute of their substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his country’s cause. This highest merit, then, is due to the soldier.

“In this extraordinary war extraordinary developments have manifested themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these Fairs for the relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in these Fairs are the women of America.

“I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy; I have never studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say, that if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the world in praise of woman were applied to the women of America, it would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will close by saying, God bless the women of America.”

Happy Mother’s Day from Emerging Civil War! And we echo the sixteenth president’s sentiment and wish all women a day of blessings and joy.

Quote Source: The Civil War in Song and Story. Collection published in 1882. Page 266.

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