Valedictory Addresses Given by Thomas Hart Law, April 9, 1859


Valedictory Addresses Given by Thomas Hart Law, April 9, 1859


These addresses were given during The Citadel's 1859 commencement ceremonies and expressed Hart's gratitude to his fellow cadets, The Citadel's Board of Visitors, and the citizens of Charleston for their contributions to the Class of 1859's success.


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Valedictory Addresses.
Thomas H. Law

Delivered at the Annual Commencement
of the
Citadel Academy.
April 9th 1859

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Valedictory Addresses.

Gentlemen of the Board of Visitors.

The event which has just transpired, closes the connection which we have for more than four years, held with you. And though the relation has not been very immediate, as you are the highest authority of the Institution to which we have belonged - those to whose hands its keeping has been intrusted [sic] by the State, that relation is by no means one of little importance. We must ever respect you for the dignified and gentlemanly manner in which you have presided over us. And you cannot but feel a deep interest in the welfare of those who go forth as the representations of this Institution. It would be needless for me Gent. to flatter you with promises of our future deportment, for if the spirit be wanting, words will be of little avail. But I trust Gent. that it will never be your sad fortune to reason with emotions, other than those of pride and

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gratification the graduating class of 1859.
In closing our connection with you, we would accord to you due praise for the fostering care which you have extended over our Institution, and at the same time, we would thank you for the interest you have manifested in our behalf, and for whatever benefit we have derived at your hands. With many wishes for your future, prosperity and success, we bid you Farewell!

Gentlemen of the Corps of Cadets,
An event which we have all doubtless, contemplated with joy, has arrived. It is but natural that you should view with emotions of pleasure, an occasion which marks an important step in your course. Nor is it strange that we should welcome the day on which we attain to an end which we have long anticipated with anxiety. But the occasion reality comes not without its attending pain. When we reflect that we are now paying our last

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duty to those who have, for so long, been our brethren and companions, - that we shall no longer be of your number, we cannot suppress the painful emotions which fill our bosoms. I would [illegible] to break the last link of the chain which has bound us together. But though we shall no longer be designated by the same attire, no more hear the familiar voice at the accustomed roll call, nor exchange the cordial salutation in our daily intercourse, I trust we shall ever live in each other's hearts; and that, when memory, on her angelic wings, shall bear us back to the bright scenes of the sunny past, we shall ever contemplate each other with feelings of tender regard.

Independent of our personal considerations for you, we shall ever feel an interest in your behalf, for the sake of our common Alma Mater, whose keeping now rests mainly on your shoulders. You who wear constantly the badge of the Institution, who stand forth daily as her exponents, are indeed her true representa-

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tives. By you her character will be judged, by you her destiny may be sealed. And I hope Gent. you will consider the importance of your position, and be awake to its responsibility. Your interest and hers are one. I could therefore offer to each of you, no surer guide then to be true to himself -

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(“to thine own self be true.
It must follow the night as the day-
Thou canst not then be false to any man.”)

Preserve with watchful care, the fair name which you have so long enjoyed. Fix your standard still higher, and rest not till your foot be planted at its very side.

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(Then may you [illegible] in its proper sense the name which has illegible words applied to you, “The chivalry of the State”.)

(But the task which has been assigned me, has not yet been accomplished. That lovely word does indeed “bring a sigh”, but there in its onward march, lingers not while we delay.)

*I therefore on behalf of my class, I bid you an affectionate farewell!
*See next page

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“With the earnest hope that such may be your ambition,” &c inserted in its place -

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Ladies and Gentlemen of Charleston.

We would be doing an injury to the feelings of gratitude and esteem which we bear toward you, were we to allow this occasion to pass without addressing you a parting word. It would indeed be indicative of base ingratitude, were we not, on this appropriate to thank you for the kindness and attention which we have ever received at your hands, - were we not to acknowledge our indebtedness to you whose smiles have continually cheered up our spirits amid the hardships of a military course, whose kind hospitality has [illegible] our leisure moments, and tinged with gold the otherwise gloomy picture. Strangers we were, to most of you, yet we were welcomed at your very homes, and admitted to the pleasant associations of your own firesides. And now in leaving you, we have nothing to offer in return, but sincere thanks, and the assurance that you will ever be regarded with feelings of gratitude and love. The halo which

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you have cast over our stay in your midst cannot be forgotten; and when in the turmoil of life, our minds shall be pressed down under the weight of its stern realities, the memory of you will come, like the sweet melody of distant sounds to cheer and gladden the desponding soul. Thanking you for the parting tribute which you have this day paid us by your presence and attention, we bid you a heartfelt Farewell!

N. B.

The address to the People of Charleston, was entirely forgotten at the Commencement, amid the excitement occasioned by slighting the Faculty, as it has not been customary. However, I trust however that it was not observed by the audience.

T. H. Law

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Law, Thomas Hart, 1838-1923, “Valedictory Addresses Given by Thomas Hart Law, April 9, 1859,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 15, 2024,