The Military Order of the Loyal Legion was formed in response to the death of Abraham Lincoln.
The group of officers that gathered together in Philadelphia on April 15th 1865 decided to create a society to
"perpetuate the recollections of the day and of the war"1
After a rocky start the first commandery was finally formed and a celebration
was held on February 22, 1866. Most likely due to his background as Professor of Oratory,
Chamberlain was selected as orator of the evening and this is the second
of two speeches he would give.
These early speeches have a very different tone from his reminiscences in later years,
however in this speech as well as many to come Chamberlain eludes to General Warren's undue removal from command of the 5th Corps...
"Remarkable was the manner in which our soldiers bore themselves when some loved commander was suddenly removed by others from his place before their eyes.
No reasons apparent to them; yet the order acquiesced in,
patiently, trustingly, because perhaps required by some great interest or ends that as yet lay out of sight."
On page 46 - 48 Chamberlain looks at the causes for the war and the reasons soldiers gave for going.
Reviewing the country's long history with slavery, Chamberlain notes that even
President Lincoln declared "that they had not the power, the right nor the intention to meddle with slavery where it was."
"But when slavery was put above the Union- when the energies of war were turned against the
defenses of the Country; when the flag was shot down and trampled on, which stood not only for what had been done under it
for man, but what should be done - then a miracle of might rose that spirit which slow to wrath, does not stop till
its work is done- does not rest till the cause, which is the evil, is purged from the heart.
What a century of concession could not do, secession did - with marvelous demonstration, its own weapons turned to its
destruction. It pleased its maddened mood to invoke war; and the very laws of war gave the President
power to knell its doom; it proclaimed a Confederacy built on the corner-stone of slavery- and lo!
the corner-stone itself was overturned; it set slavery across the nation's way, and God - in his wrath,
in his justice, in his mercy, in his love, in his far purpose for man and earth - swept slavery from the path,
as the mighty pageant of the free people passed on to its glory."
On page 53, when speaking of reconstruction currently underway, Chamberlain makes what might have been a controversial statement for that time,
"A great and difficult duty is laid upon us all to help the poor, surprised race among us,
whose enfranchisement was the signal incident of the war, to make themselves truly free.
Still greater and more difficult is the task for the States now restored to their place in the Union,
having on them a double burden; of dealing with this multitude among them suddenly let loose from slavery;
and of settling in a new order civil, social and industrial relations which have been shaken to their very
foundations. A work which can effectually be done through the best minds of the South, although lately swept into the ranks
of the Rebellion..."
It is possible that Chamberlain was thinking of Lincoln's famous ten percent plan for reconstruction where Lincoln stated,
"And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that
any provision which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom,
provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, shall
not be objected to by the national executive."2
Chamberlain was forced to clarify his thoughts on reconstruction while campaigning for governor of Maine. See Gubernatorial Race