Visitors From Boston (1854)

Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 24, 1854


Committee of Boston Councils.The Committee from Boston, now on a visit to this city, is composed of the following named gentlemen: Alderman Odiorne, Alderman J. Dunham, Jr., Mr. G. Clark, S. Jones, of Common Council, and Dr. Walker, Dr. Thaxter, and Mr. Calrow, a committee from the Boston Lunatic Asylum.

Yesterday morning, at 9 o’clock, the guests were escorted to the Hall of Independence by John H. Diehl, President of Common Council, and Messrs. Balch, Martien, Eastwick, and Moran, of the same chamber. The Select Chamber was represented by the President, S.C. Verres, and Wm. S. Smith, Pratt, Hutchinson, and P.A. Keyser. After the visitors had entered the room, Mr. John H. Diehl, President of Common Council, introduced the Bostonians to Mayor Conrad, and said: “Mr. Mayor — I have the honor to present to you a Committee of gentlemen from the corporation of the city of Boston, who are on a visit to Philadelphia, for the purpose of inspecting some of the institutions connected with the municipality. As they are, by a resolution of the legislative branch of this government approved by yourself, with us, as the guests of the city, I bespeak for them at your hands a cordial greeting, such as I am sure will be in unison with your own feelings, and such as I believe will indicate the fraternal regard which the people of this community entertain toward the citizens of the Metropolis of the Old Bay State.”

Mayor Conrad spoke as follows: Mr. President of the Common Council, I thank you for this introduction to our friends.

Gentlemen of Boston: My official station could afford no more grateful privilege than that of expressing the cordial feeling with which the city of Philadelphia greets and welcomes you. Not as strangers (though, individually, I have not had the pleasure of meeting you,) hardly as guests, do we welcome you; but we greet you as brothers, sharing a common heritage and a common home.

Boston and Philadelphia were sisters in the Revolution, and have been–may they ever be!–sisters throughout the teeming years that have followed, rejoicing in annals whose noble records are so interwoven that if one State were wounded the other must bleed–if one could be darkened half the glory of the other would be lost. It is your renown, that you were first to act and first to suffer in the cause which ascertained the sacred rights of man; it is our boast that we were first to close our port and steel our hearts against your enemies. And since then, till now, perhaps no two great communities have more nearly sympathised in sentiment, character and policy. Our hearts have kept time in their throbbings in every over-ruling excitement, and have pointed to the same patriotic object in all the great political struggles of our country. We have cherished the same sentiments; and, directed by the same principles, acknowledging the same giant guides, we have trod, though good and ill fortune the same pathway. If Philadelphia were not Philadelphia, (you will pardon the egotism of the paraphrased expression, for which its Macedonian author must be accomitable,) if she were not Philadelphia she would choose to be Boston.

We are proud of our sage, and bright and beautiful elder sister; proud of her for everything that constitutes her character and career; proud of the triumphs of her genius and virtues; proud of her history, of her great men, of her great mind and her great heart; and well we may be. You will visit, before you leave us, the lowly tomb–the more illustrious because he willed that it will be lowly–of Franklin; and your hearts will thrill with a natural and just pride in the remembrance that Boston gave him to Philadelphia. You will think, too, of Pickering, a noble name in Pennsylvania annals, who, in the self-sacrificing spirit of New England in the Revolution, said, when Salem, his native town, was urged to open her harbor against Boston, “No, never! we will never raise our fortunes upon the ruins of suffering neighbors.” But I need not refer to history for noble Pennsylvanians given to us by your glorious New England sons. They are with us, of us, round about us, in every walk of life, and adorning all–familiar to our hearts and hearthstones, and, for their noble energies and exalted virtues, near and dear to us as heart and hearthstone.

Let me add that our city recognized a kindly debt of gratitude for valuable information and generous hospitalities extended by your authorities to Committees of this municipality, and that it rejoices in an opportunity to acknowledge and reciprocate them. In the name then of the Councils, permit me most cordially to welcome you to the city of Philadelphia.

To this Hall–the birth-place of American Independence and American Union, it is hardly our privilege to invite you;–for it is your own. The men of Massachusetts, when they come here, come home. What made this the holy of holies in which the Ark of God and Protestant Liberty, the rights of a race and the hopes of all time, were deposited, but the divine spirit which your fathers and ours breathed in it? Your John Hancock, your Sam Adams, (the latter of whom wrote–when his head was at stake, “Tell Governor Gate it is the advice of Samuel Adams no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people,”) made this the Mecca of the pilgrims of liberty. The genius of the men of Boston it was that rendered this humble structure august–their eloquence consecrated. And no wonder, when it breathed such a spirit as that of John Adams, the Prophet of Liberty, as echoed, not originated, by Dan Webster, in those words of lightning, “Live or die, sink or swim, survive or perish, I stand by this Declaration.” These were the men, and such the influences that have made this lowly structure, in the heart of every native and true American, a temple more lofty and sublime than the wonder and glory of Delphos.

But, I repeat, that we of Philadelphia do not hold this temple, dedicated by the holy past to American independence and American freedom, as ours alone. It is our proud and peculiar privilege to be, in this regard, the Levites of Liberty, to serve within the temple, and near the altar; but the temple and altar, the liberty, the memory and the fame belong, in common, to all whose birthright it is to inherit the glory and the virtues of those whose genius and patriotism made these precincts haunted, holy ground. We hold it for them–we hold it for you–we hold it for all who can appreciate and cherish American liberty, religious and civil–the religious liberty that craves no aid from the inquisition, the civil liberty that acknowledges no temporal prince, and kisses the foot of no earthly potentate. We hold it thus, as trustees, for all our country, for all time, and for the aspirations and hopes of a world beyond the sea–a sea which Jefferson wished were a sea of fire–a world crushed by gigantic hierarchies and their kindred despots. We welcome you, therefore, to your own–to the hall rendered illustrious, in part, by Massachusetts wisdom, eloquence and devotion, and we hope that your children’s children may press the floor you stand upon, exulting in the privileges which you enjoy, and emulating the virtues which made these precincts sacred. Again, gentlemen, I extend to you a sincere and cordial welcome.

At the conclusion of the Mayor’s address, Ald. Odiorne, of Boston, came forward and replied as follows:

MR. MAYOR–I can say for myself, and also for the Committee, that your kind expressions have filled us with lively emotions of gratification and pleasure. We were appointed a Committee by our city government to visit our sister cities and perform a quiet duty. Owing to the crowded state of our lunatic asylum, we are now considering the expediency of erecting a new and more extensive asylum for the insane poor of our city; and it is our object to examine the various institutions of the kind in other places, that we may have the advantage of the experience of others. We feel highly gratified that, in the performance of this duty, we should have the pleasure of visiting your city; and not the least among the pleasures anticipated by us in this visit, was that of having an opportunity of taking again by the hand those gentlemen of your city government who lately visited us, and whom we had learned to respect and esteem. It is a pleasure to us to meet you in this Hall. It is consecrated and made sacred by the recollections of the past. It is famous as the birth-place of liberty in America. Where we now stand, once stood those great and good men, whose memories are dear to us all; and it is well for us, who are constantly occupied with the business of the day, with the constant strife of life, if I may so say, to stop and occasionally turn our thoughts to those times and those men, that we may gather a lesson for our own individual good. But while I say this, and while I would not seek to lessen in the least their just fame, or dim at all the halo of glory which surrounds their memories, I am proud to think and to feel that those around me now would be equally ready to spend and be spent in the cause of the country should they in the providence of God be called to such trials and such a work.

The visitors, and the Committee of Councils then took hacks, and proceeded to the Friends’ Insane Asylum, near Frankford. At this place, the company were shown through the Institution by Dr. Worthington. There are now in the Asylum 67 inmates, a majority of whom are women. Of this number, 7 are now convalescent, and nearly ready to leave the Institution. The Committee from Boston expressed themselves highly delighted with the manner in which the affairs of this praiseworthy Institution are conducted. After an hour or so had been spent here, the company proceeded to the Falls of the Schuylkill, where a sumptuous lunch had been prepared, and at the conclusion of the repast, Laurel Hill Cemetery and Girard College were visited. At the latter place, the guests were conducted through the building and over the grounds, by President Allen and Mr. Airey, and all of them appeared to be much gratified at the internal arrangements, as well as at the grandeur of the edifice itself.


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