‘I now (1865) feel sure—though at the time I did not so look upon them—that the town meetings held in Boston during the war of 1812 were more like the popular meetings in Athens than anything of the kind the world has ever seen. Commerce and trade were dead; the whole population was idle, and all minds intent on the politics of the day, as affecting their individual existence and happiness. Faneuil Hall could be filled with an eager and intelligent crowd at any moment of day or night. Town meetings were often continued two or three days, morning and evening. Caucuses were constantly held on Sunday evenings, and often it was necessary to adjourn from the small hall, where they might have been collected, to the Old South Church, for greater space. The orators were eloquent, and sometimes adverse parties met to discuss questions together. Governor Eustis, Mr. George Blake, and others on one side; Mr. H. G. Otis, Mr. Samuel Dexter, Mr. William Sullivan, on the other. All the speeches were extemporaneous; it would have lowered a man's reputation materially if it had been supposed that he had prepared and committed a speech to memory. Such a thing was never ’
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