General Basil Wilson Duke (CSA)

The Morning Herald
October 17, 1896

General Duke Makes Able Speech
to a large crowd last night.

The Boys In Gray
turn out in goodly numbers to hear their old commander again.

A MASTERLY SPEECH !
 

General Basil W. Duke spoke last night for two hours in the Circuit Court room at the Court House.

His speech was entertaining and instructive to his audience from beginning to end.  Except in his peroration he made little effort at oratorical effect, but spoke in a clear, simple, comprehensible manner, that carried conviction with utterance.  It was the speech of an able lawyer before an intelligent jury, rather than the bombastic utterance of an eloquent demagogue.  It was full of important facts, and the conclusions he drew from them were logical and true.  Above all, it was a democratic speech, but of course Gen. Duke could not make any other kind of speech, as everyone knows who rode with him in the late war, when he daily risked his life and fortune in the lost cause.

He was frequently applauded and made many new and excellent points.  He devoted most of his time to the money question; showed up Maj P. P. Johnston's inconsistency, in first declaring so forcibly against fusion with the Populists, and immediately thereafter agreeing to a fusion, by which several Democrats were made to resign: and he finally devoted some time to the plank in the Chicago platform which praises Altgeld for the Chicago riots.

General Duke's peroration was very eloquent and showed that while he was a master of facts and figures and the science of logic, he was also master of the art of oratory.  Those who went to hear him had one of the treats of their life, and those who stayed away missed one the the best things of this campaign.  The court room was crowded, and many had to stand up out in the hall, for even standing room was at a premium.  Whatever the free silver men may say about the compatibility of the sound money leaders, they can not shake the confidence which the "boys in gray" have in Basil W. Duke.  On this account many of the old warriors were out last night to listen again to the ringing voice of their old commander and it is said that many will again enlist under his banner in a last long raid into the country of the enemy.


Note of explanation:
The reporter referred to Chicago "community organizer" type who at the time was the Governor of Illinois(1893-1897) by the name of John Peter Altged the son of German immigrants.  The Negro riots can be explained in the book "The Making of a Ghetto"

I was unable to find the Speech that Gen. Duke delivered.

Basil Wilson Duke was born and reared at my gggGrandfather Abraham Buford's Richland estate located near Georgetown, Scott County, Kentucky.  His Aunt was the daughter of Abraham, Mary Buford.  Mary married James Keith Duke who was the brother of Basil's father, Captain Nathaniel Wilson Duke.  Basil's mother was Mary Ann Rives Pickett Currie Duke. Captain Duke was a U.S. commissioned Naval officer who spent very little time with his son - seemed always to be 'at sea'.  Basil's parents divorced soon after his birth and his Mom died in 1847.  Mary Buford Duke, for all practical purposes, stood in as Basil's Mom until he reached adulthood.  The Buford family and the Duke family are closely tied - Lucy Ann Duke, the younger sister of Nathaniel and James married my gg Uncle Charles after the death of Charles' first wife.  The Civil war split the Duke family as it did the Buford family.  Although Basil's father and Uncle were Union men, Basil went with the South.  The families are well chronicled in my 2005 "Buford Families in America" book.

The Civil war is 'ill named'
It showed no civility - only the loss of life and blood.


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