Henry Clay

Philadelphia Bulletin, July 3, 1852

Obsequies of Henry Clay in Philadelphia

Friday Evening, July 2nd, 1852

Philadelphia has done due honor to the dust of the lamented patriot whom she so loved o honor when living. The remains of Henry Clay have arrived and departed from us, and now there is nothing left to his thousands of devoted friends but the memory of his great acts and his noble character.

Early in the evening the city gave signs of the approach of a great solemnity, in the closing of nearly all places of business, and the adorning of numerous private and public buildings with the emblems of mourning, some of the decorations being of great beauty, and highly appropriate.  As early as six o’clock a crowd began to pass down Broad street towards the new depot, at the corner of Prime street, and, remote as that point is from the centre of the city, a multitude of many thousands was soon assembled there. The whole route designated for the funeral procession was equally crowded; sidewalks, porticoes, steps, roofs, windows and every thing capable of affording standing room being densely filled. We passed over the greater part of the route just before the moving of the procession, and cannot estimate the multitude in the streets at less than two hundred thousand. In all this vast crowd there was no unseemly levity; but, though most of them waited for hours to see the cortege, no impatience was manifested, and a proper sense of the solemn object of their assembling seemed to pervade all.

The weather was extremely favorable. A fine cool breeze, which had blown all day, subsided at sunset, leaving the air, however, delightfully cool, and the stars and the moon, nearly at its full, shone brightly over the mournful pageant.  About half-past eight o’clock the discharge of signal rockets from the depot announced the arrival of the special train with the honored remains. Minute guns were immediately fired and the bells of the city began to toll, both continuing during the entire passage of the procession. The coffin, in charge of the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, and the Senatorial Pall-Bearers and Committee of Arrangements, was also accompanied by the committee of the Philadelphia City Councils, delegations from Newark, N.J., Chester, Pa., and New York city. It was received in the depot, from the interior of which the crowd had been excluded , by Major Peter Fritz, Chief Marshall, who delivered it to the Pall-Bearers, who were Hon. Geo. M. Dallas, Col. Jas. Page, Henry White, Esq., Dr. J. K. Mitchell, Hon. Charles Giplin, Dr. W. J. A. Birkey, Wm. G. Mentz, Esq., and Samuel K. Perkins, Esq. These gentlemen, dressed in mourning, and wearing black badges and scarfs, bore the coffin from the depot to the street, where they deposited it in a magnificent funeral car, heavily draped with black cloth and trimmed with silver bouillon fringe and tassels, decorated with white plumes, and drawn by six black horses led by grooms dressed in black suits.

As the coffin was borne to the funeral car, Beck’s band played a solemn funeral march in a most effective manner. The multitude around stood in subdued silence. They could see nothing owning to the darkness, but the solemn music and the booming cannon told them that all that was left of Henry Clay was before them, and no gorgeous pageant in broad light of day could have been more impressive.

It was quite nine o’clock when the procession began to move up Broad Street, through the passage formed amid the dense mass of people;  the Marshal of Police having a force of one hundred and sixty men on duty at the depot and along the route, while one hundred and thirty men of the Mayor’s Police were on duty at Independence Hall and the Square. They were all very active, but so marked was the good order of the vast crowd and so ready their compliance with every suggestion, that not the slightest disorder of any kind occurred. The following was the order of the procession as reported in the Ledger:

Chief Marshal- Major Peter Fritz and Aids.

Washing Greys, with Beck’s Philadelphia Brass Band.

First City Troop |HEAR E| First City Troop.

Pall Bearers.
Hon. George M. Dallas,         Peter McCall,

Mayor Giplin,                         William G. Mentz,

Col. James Page,                     Dr. W. J. A. Birkey,

Dr. J.K. Mitchell,                     S.H. Perkins,

Col. John Swift,                       Recorder R. M. Lee

Committee of Pall Bearers from Washington

Reverend. Clergy.

Committee of Reception.

Committee of Congress- Consisting of Hon. Messrs.

Joseph R. Underwood, Kentucky; James C. Jones, Tennessee;

Lewis Cass, Michigan; Hamilton Fish, New York; Samuel Houston, Texas;

and R.F. Stockton, New Jersey.

The City Corporation (Chief Mourners) in the following order:

Recorder of the City.

The Presidents, Members and Officers of the Select and Common Councils, on foot.

Alderman of the City.

Judges and Officers of the several Courts.

The Sheriff and other County Officials.

District Attorney of the United States and the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, in carriages.

Delegation of thirty persons residing in this city, from Kentucky, on foot.

Mayor and Councils of Baltimore.

Committees of Arrangement from New York, Newark, N.J., Wilmington, Del., in carriages.

Commissioners and Officers of the Districts of Southwark, Northern Liberties, Kensington, Spring Garden, Moyamensing, West Philadelphia, Penn District and Richmond, in carriages.

The Fire Department of the City and County, in charge of Chief Marshal Robert Warnock. Diligent Engine, assisted by the Special Aids:- John G. Hollick, Good Will Engine, Elias Stratton, Harmony Engine, C.B. Andress, Northern Liberty Hose; Joseph Alexander. Niagra Hose. Assistant Marshals- William Allman, Washington Hose; Thomas Owens, Western Hose; Wm. Lendell, Weccacoe Engine; P.M. Shultz, Hope Engine; S. Archer Batturs, Empire Hook and Ladder; O.H. Parker, Humane Hose; William Pierce, William Penn Hose; Jacob Peters, Jr., Eagle Hose, in the following order:

Hibernia Engine.

Northern Liberty Engine.

Philadelphia Hose.

Empire Hook and Ladder Company, accompanied by the Union Brass Band.

Vigilant Engine.

[The Company carried three large banners- one containing the name of the Company; another having “Henry Clay” inscribed upon it, and the third, “Honor to the illustrious dead.” They were accompanied by the United States Brass Band.]

Resolution Hose.

Reliance Engine.

Harmony Engine.

[This company, in addition to numerous torches, carried a variety of lanterns with inscriptions, among which were the following:- “None knew him but to love him; “We ne’er shall look upon his like again;” “The noblest Roman of them all;” “One of the few immortal names that were not born to die;” “His pure spirit looks down from Heaven upon the country he loved so well;” “A nation is in tears.”]

Perseverance Hose.

Neptune Hose, with Freeman’s Brass Band.

Diligent Engine.

Hope Hose.

America Engine.

Washington Hose.

Southwark Hose, with the Pennsylvania Cornet Band.

Phoenix Hose, with their handsome banner craped.

Washington Engine.

Friendship Hose.

Columbia Engine, with their banner covered with crape.

America Hose, with Gaul’s Band.

Philadelphia Engine.

Weccacoe Engine, with martial music.

Niagara Hose.

Northern Liberty Hose- Martial music.

Robert Morris Hose, carrying their banner covered with the emblems of mourning.

Good Will Engine.

Independence Hose.

Pennsylvania Hose.

Marion Hose.

United States Hose.

Diligent Hose.

United States Engine, accompanied by a band, and carrying their Banner craped.

Fairmount Engine.

Southwark Engine.

Hope Engine.

Moyamensing Hose.

Franklin Hose, carrying their new Banner, presented

at the last parade.

Weccacoe Hose.

Good Intent Engine.

Fairmount Hose.

The Columbia Star Library Association, followed the Firemen with the Junior Sons of America, a Society of lads. A cavalcade followed and closed the line of the procession.

Simple and unimposing as the array looks on paper, it surpassed in effect and solemnity any parade that we have ever witnessed. The Chief Marshal and his aids mounted leading the way, several platoons of torch-bearers, some ten or twelve deep, opened the passage for the rest of the procession. The band and the military, also surrounded by torch-bearers, some ten or twelve deep, came next, and then followed the Funeral Car, with the Pall-Bearers, flanked by a number of firemen with torches, and the old First City Troop, as a guard of Honor. As the Funeral car passed, the multitude as if by common consent, stood uncovered, and the most solemn silence prevailed.

The rest of the procession was equally marked with dignity and impressiveness. Delegations of citizens from Virginia and Kentucky, the native and adopted States of Clay, occupied honorable positions in the parade. The Firemen, however, were the chief feature, and to their public spirit is the success of the display, in a great measure, to be ascribed. There must have been nearly three thousand of them in procession, dressed in ordinary black dress, but wearing badges, carrying torches, banners and transparencies. No pen can do justice to the beauty of this torch-light procession. Seen from an elevation, as we saw it, looking up one continuous stream of fire; and as the solemn music, the silence of the multitude, the booming cannon, and the tolling bell, told of the object of all this pageant, the effect was indescribably impressive.

The progress of the procession was steady and uninterrupted, requiring about an hour in passing a given point. The head of it reached Independence Square at about eleven o’clock, and the coffin was taken through the south gate and borne up the main avenue to the State House, the military presenting arms and a band playing a funeral march. Several tar barrels were lighted up in the square at the moment, throwing a vivid glare upon the solemn scene. The corpse was conveyed into the interior of Independence Hall, which had been most tastefully hung with black drapery. The pictures, chandelier, the statue of Washington, and all the furniture, were covered with black crape.  In front of the statue stood the bier, heavily draped with black, and covered with white linen.

There entered the Hall, with the corpse, the Committee of Congress, City Councils, Committee of Arrangements and other authorized persons, and after the coffin had been deposited upon that bier, Major Fritz, the Chief Marshal, delivered it to Mr. Wetherill, Chairman of the Committee of Councils, in a few impressive words; Mr. W. responding and accepting the trust with much emotion. The Washington Greys were then charged with the care of the body for the night. The coffin and bier were then strewed with natural flowers of great beauty, a wreath of camellias being placed at the head.  Among the many flowers on the bier were several splendid specimens of the Night-blooming Cereus. The citizens were then admitted to view the coffin, passing around it in single file and in solemn silence. The scene was most impressive, and many were moved to tears.

The crowd lingered around the old Hall till after midnight, and it was long before the military were left to the quiet performance of their sacred trust.

There were many beautiful incidents during the evening, which we have no room to record. One of the most touching occurred at the corner of Fifth an Minor streets, where, as the head of the procession passed the house of Professor Norton, that distinguished musician struck up on his trumpet a plaintive and beautiful air, in the minor key, continuing to play during the passage of the first part.

The scene at the midnight hour in Independence Hall was one of the deepest gloom and sadness. The hall was clad in symbols of mourning of the most somber hue; the lamps burned dimly, and the silence of the passing hour was broken only by the slow and measured tread of the sentinel of the guard of honor, walking his dreary post, in the proud, though sorrowful duty.

Departure of the Remains for N. York.

At an early hour this morning the doors of the hall were thrown open, and the people to the number of thousands, of both sexes and of all ages, hues, and conditions were admitted to take a last look of the magnificent coffin. The face of the corpse was not exposed, as the effect of the light on it, in Baltimore, produced such a marked change as to show the necessity of the utmost caution, in order to preserve the lineaments of the great man perfect, for the gratification of his family and nearest friends, when the body shall reach its final destination in Kentucky. …


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