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intelligent men had become known to Mr. Memminger, or whether he desired employment, without a consciousness of the operations of the law, it is not at all necessary to discuss ⚫ here. His experiences could not have been exceptions to a general rule, in this respect; and he worked on to the end of a life protracted through more than four-score years. Full of honors, and held in the highest esteem among his fellow citizens; blessed with fortune, which always comes to reward the judicious labor of the prudent, he might have retired to the dignified seclusion of his charming home at Flat Rock, or spent the evening of his life with the loves of his "City by the Sea."
It was about this time that the enterprise of uniting the commercial centers of the West to the seaboard at Charleston, by a more direct line of railway than was then existing, was revived in the project of the Spartanburg and Asheville railroad. The route surveyed was deemed more practicable than the one located by Rabun Gap, and that had burdened the State with the attempted construction of the Blue Ridge railroad. Always ready to advance the interests of the State and to add to the commercial facilities of her leading seaport, Mr. Memminger accepted the presidency of this railway company, and brought to the discharge of this duty the earnest spirit and honest purpose which had always been his leading business characteristic. He held the office but a short time; long enough, however, to have made the construction of the road an assured fact. He then resigned the presidency and transferred its responsibility to other hands.
In the discharge of the routine duties of his extensive law practice, in the fostering care of the public schools of Charleston, with the loves of his elegant city home, or in the summer at Rock Hill, his well-spent life found a beautiful evening of entertainment and rational repose. He still continued to take a lively interest in public affairs, especially in such matters as affected the interests of the city in whose
welfare he had labored and spent the best years of his life. Charleston was visited by a calamity on the 31st of August, 1886, unprecedented in the history of the cities of the United States. To the demoralizations of a long and unsuccessful war; to the wreck and the ruin of a protracted blockade of her port and bombardment, was now added the indescribable horrors of an earthquake that shook the devoted city to its foundations. While there have been many descriptions given of this appalling disaster; while in the shattered walls and marred features of many historic buildings the artist has made pictures to exhibit the effect of the terrible force that well nigh wrought the complete destruction of the city, no pen or skill of art can convey an adequate idea of the consternation that overwhelmed the good people who, amid every disaster and under every circumstance of misfortune, remained to share the fate of their loved home. This memorable event was not without those features of good that are more or less connected with all evil. Great calamities never befall individuals or communities but that there is aroused a sympathy which overcomes all ill-will, and in acts of generous kindness give expression to the best traits of our humanity. Charleston-contemned by those who only knew of the good city as the "Birthplace of Secession," and who were embittered against her citizens by the misrepresentations of malignant enemies—the city that had been traduced by her rivals in commerce, and had been ridiculed in her misfortunes of war, even by those she had once fostered, now received good words of cheer from every section, and substantial evidences of the fact that behind all censures and all jealousies, there was a respect for the historic place, and an admiration for her gallant citizens stronger than passion and superior to all prejudices.
Among the many of her citizens who came to the relief of the stricken city, and whose energies were freely spent in meeting the greatest emergency in her history, none were
more devoted than her worthy mayor. Without delay he organized every force at his command for the restoration of the city, and in a few months had the satisfaction of seeing Charleston restored, at least in appearance, to as good; if not better, condition than before the earthquake filled her streets with shattered walls and broken columns. In this work the city administration met with so much opposition to the plans adopted as to threaten with delay the restoration of the city. At this juncture of affairs Mr. Memminger published the following "open letter," which had the desired effect, and the city administration continued its great work without further molestation :
To the Hon. Wm. A. Courtney, Mayor of Charleston:
The writer of this article is a reader of history, and he has in his reading frequently been called to notice the fact that every important achievement has been the work of some one man. This man has planned, and really been the efficient agent of the work, and if he had never lived, the work would probably never have had existence.
It seems to me, therefore, that where in any community, an individual takes hold of an enterprise, which it is evident that he completely understands and is eminently fitted to promote, that it exhibits great unwisdom in that community to check his zeal or to tie his hands.
We need some such person to come to our aid at this time, when so many calamities have fallen upon our unfortunate city, and I am one of those who think that you have the qualities which can help us to overcome our difficulties. I am, therefore, much concerned to see that there are persons among us who are endeavoring to discourage your efforts, and I have thought it might repress their action, if they knew how much a single individual has been able to effect under like, or even more untoward, circumstances.
In 1755, about 130 years ago, the earthquake occurred which destroyed the city of Lisbon, with 60,000 of its inhabitants; this catastrophe occurred at a most unfortunate time, for an unwise King had just wasted the entire contents of his treasury in erecting a useless and very expensive building, and when he died could not command money enough for the expenses of his funeral.
With his capital in ruins, his people disheartened, and every public institution in a state of destitution, the Marquis of Pombal, one of the statesmen of Portugal, had the courage to take in hand the reins of government. The people had the good sense to trust him, and in twenty-seven years the capital was rebuilt, and under the judicious
management of the minister, the army and navy was restored, the public institutions all set in healthy action, and with one hundred and sixtysix millions of money collected and deposited in the treasury, he resigned his office, and delivered up his country to the prosperity which followed him.
Now there is no reason why, in some other country, another statesman with equal zeal and less resources, may not at least come within sight of like achievements; and with the success which has attended what you have accomplished, it seems to me that these fault-finders had better stay their hands, but above all, that you should disregard their complaints, and go on, according to your own judgment, and follow the noble example which I have cited. There are many of us, your fellowcitizens, who are looking on, and who will most cordially receive the results, which we believe will follow your exertions here, as they have followed the very successful fire department of Charleston.
C. G. MEMMINGER.
With increased years came the failure of the strong physical constitution of Mr. Memminger, and to such an extent that the active duties of his law office were transferred to his junior partner.
There is nothing that brings more satisfaction, that gives a more substantial joy to old age, than the realization of a successful and a well-spent life. Add to this the respect of an appreciative people, their proper recognition of his merit, and the good man's cup is full.
Mr. Memminger lived to realize all of this; to receive in public and in private the sincere expressions of a grateful people's regard, and finally to pass the dividing line between time and eternity with their blessings as a most gracious benediction.
In recognition of his services to the city and to the State, the Legislature of South Carolina authorized the Board of Education in Charleston to erect a suitable memorial of the work that had so long engaged the mind of Mr. Memminger, and to which he had devoted himself in the most unselfish manner. I can give no better description of the memorial, and of the handsome manner in which it was placed among the treasures of Charleston, than by transferring to these
pages the report of the ceremonies on the occasion of its reception by the mayor and city council.
The following report of these proceedings is taken from the Charleston Courier of March 1, 1888:
The unveiling of the marble bust of the Hon. C. G. Memminger, in the city council chamber yesterday afternoon, was a significant event. The ceremonies took place in the presence of quite a large assemblage of the friends and supporters of education in this city, and, considering the shining worth of the man whom they were designed to honor, they were of that impressive character that befitted the man and the occasion.
Something of the origin of the ceremony will not be inappropriate at this time. On November 4, 1885, Mr. Memminger's advancing years induced him to withdraw from his wonted activity as chairman of the public school board, which position he had held for nearly the third of a century. The first proposition of the board from which he had retired was to have his portrait painted and hung in the parlor of the Memminger School. It was, however, subsequently deemed more suitable by the board that his gratuitous services for thirty-three years in the cause of education merited a more formal and public recognition. But having no authority for any considerable expenditure of money, the board laid the matter before the General Assembly of South Carolina, and by an act of the Legislature they were authorized to expend such a sum as in their judgment would secure the execution of a suitable public memorial of Mr. Memminger's able and highly appreciated work. The commissioners thought that public expectation would be satisfied and pleased with a memorial embracing a marble bust and pediment, and sent a commission to confer with Valentine, the distinguished Virginian sculptor. This was in 1886, the committee consisting of Messrs. Julian Mitchell, G. W. Dingle, Dr. H. Baer and Judge Simonton, ex-officio chairman of the board of commissioners. As a result of their arrangements the bust was received last fall, but owing to some necessary delay the pediment was not received until later.
The bust has been inspected by Mr. Memminger and his immediate family, who have expressed themselves as much gratified with the likeness and general truth to nature of the admirable work of art. As a work of art, indeed, it has been pronounced by competent judges who have traveled abroad, to be as fine as any sculpture that may be found in Westminster Abbey.
It was also decided that the most suitable place for the memorial was in the council chamber, and upon application to that body the council unanimously granted the position which it now occupies-along the south wall adjacent to Trumble's full length portrait of Washington and Valentine's bust of Robert Y. Hayne.