Chapter 28: the city Oration,—‘the true grandeur of nations.’—an argument against war.—July 4, 1845.—Age 34.
In civic pride Boston
has been conspicuous among cities.
This distinction, now modified by expanded territory and miscellaneous population, she inherited from the earliest times.
She came out of the Revolution with a history worthy of perpetual record.
The British ministry and the American
people alike singled her out as foremost in that struggle.
The memorials of her devotion were left in halls where Liberty was born, and in graveyards where patriots slept.
In the years which followed she bore a good repute for commerce, education, and public spirit.
Her citizens rejoiced in her prosperity and fame, and regarded her with an affection almost personal.
In thought and aspiration they identified themselves with her as individuals and political bodies have rarely been identified.
She has been called—sometimes in irony—the American Athens
; but whatever may be her title to that name, in this at least she may claim kindred with the leader of Greece
,—that her citizens have with singular unity of spirit made her honor and well-being their own. In all her festal days,—the welcome of statesmen, the honors accorded to illustrious visitors, the burial of benefactors, the commemoration of historic events,—conducted with grace, decorum, and a common sentiment,—many a stranger has remarked how well sustained is her civic life, how abiding among her people is the thought of her history and of their duty to serve her. Among the influences which kept warm and vigorous this feeling of identity, the continuous celebration of our National Independence on the Fourth of July, during a period when there were fewer patriotic anniversaries than now, is entitled to a place.
Her population in 1845 had reached 115,000; and, although then ranking in numbers as the fourth city in the United States
, she was still strongly marked by the