An interesting controversy has been carried on for the past month in the columns of the Bulletin, in regard to the suitability of having the names of Harvard men who died in the service of the Confederacy during the Civil War carved on the tablets in Memorial Hall. The suggestion was made by the Bulletin itself in an editorial which mentioned a southern graduate as speaker for Memorial Day, and the Discussion has been kept up by letters from several graduates.
Those who would have the names of the Harvard Confederates perpetuated in Memorial Hall point out that these men died for their principles no less than those who gave their lives for the Union, and that their defence of the principles which they held deserves the same commemoration that the University has accorded their more fortunate classmates. "If the University feels proud of her dead sons as men, even though enlisted in the Confederate service, her feelings and not the narrow prejudice of the section in which she happens to be located, should find expression in the memorials she erects."
It is easy to understand the feeling of those graduates who consider it inappropriate for the University to put side by side the names of men who for part of their lives were enemies. To them it doubtless seems like asking Democrats and Republicans to join in a post-election testimonial to the victors of one party. For the Civil War was a political campaign of armed men, and it was fought by patriots on both sides.
The men of the southern states were citizens of the country no less than the sons of the north, but they saw their duty differently. Their convictions were as intense, their devotion as sincere, but their cause, as we now believe, was wrong. Soldiers of the north or of the south, they fought well on the one side or the other, and those who died never knew the issue of the conflict. It is the fidelity which impelled her sons to give their lives unselfishly for a cause that Harvard has honored in building a memorial to the soldiers of the north, and not the victory of that cause. The fidelity of Harvard men who fought for the south was greater in that their cause was more desperate, and it is quite as deserving of commemoration as if they had been triumphant.