previous next


[from the Baltimore Exchange, August, 9.]

The announcement that a persuade would be given to Messrs. Breckinridge and Vallandigham last evening attracted to the Eutaw House an immense assemblage of persons long before the hour appointed for the serenade. The windows and balcony of the Eutaw were packed with ladies, whilst every available space in the street surrounding the hotel was crowded to excess. Mr. Breckinridge was absent in the early part of the evening, but returned to the hotel about half-past 9 o'clock, when he was greeted with cheer after cheer by the multitude.

A few minutes afterwards Mr. Breckinridge appeared on the balcony of the hotel fronting on Eutaw street, when he was again cheered. He began by expressing his surprise at the demonstration, as he had not expected so large and so enthusiastic a meeting. He presumed the demonstration was a token of their confidence, personally and politically, and of respect for the quiet and temperate, but decided manner in which he had asserted the principles of personal and political liberty in the Congress of the United States.--The defenders and friends of the Constitution and of rights of the States could hardly be heard.

The cry in Congress was ‘"action, not words;"’ argument is exhausted; we want to know nothing of the origin and causes of our difficulties. But a small, undaunted band of patriots determined to be heard; they attempted to call the public mind to the present condition of the country; to those principles of personal and public liberty which have existed, and will continue to exist, whether the Union lives or dies. [Here the speaker was cheered; but it had hardly begun, when several vice-policemen made an attack with their clubs upon a citizen who proposed ‘"three cheers for Jeff Davis."’ The greatest uproar prevailed for about five minutes.] He hoped that the few remarks he had to deliver would be heard in silence by his friends and his foes. On this occasion he would not undertake to discuss the causes of the present troubles, or the manner of settlement; but he would speak of the right of the people to the safeguards of political and personal freedom. He said we were living to-day under the broad shadow of a spreading military despotism.--He would repeat that he — a Senator in Congress — was living under the shadow of an irresponsible military despotism. How is it in Maryland? [Cries of ‘"That's so"’] He exhorted all to be quiet, and then proceeded.--Maryland was a State of the Union--a coequal member of the Confederacy. [Another premeditated assault was here made upon the citizens by the vice police, and a panic was created which caused a portion of the great assemblage to retire for a moment. They, however, soon came back, and the rowdies and vice police, numbering in all about one hundred, kept quiet for a while. One of the rowdies called to Mr. Breckinridge to leave the stand or they would hang him.]

Mr. B. continued as follows: ‘We will stay here and cannot be driven away. This uproar don't disturb me. Kentuckians are used to such things. [The rewdies here proposed ‘"three cheers for Kentucky"’ and hissed the speaker.] Now, if that enthusiastic little squad on my right will listen, I will reciprocate. I propose ‘"three more cheers for Kentucky,"’ for never in my life have I uttered a word or committed an act in violation of the Constitution.’

After this interruption, he continued to speak of Maryland. He said that the Police Commissioners of Baltimore were imprisoned without the shadow of law, without specification, without charge, in a fort in Maryland, and then removed beyond the limits of the Commonwealth to another fort. And when the House of Representatives passed a resolution asking the President to inform the people why these arrests were made, he answered that it would be adverse to the public interests to let the people know the Police Commissioners of Baltimore were thrown into prison.

Do you call this liberty? Do you call this law? [There were loud cries of ‘"No! No! No! "’ from the crowd, when ruffians instantly commenced another onslaught, and after the vice-policemen had beaten unmercifully a man who cheered for Jeff. Davis, quiet was again restored.] Mr. Breckinridge asked them to be quiet. He was pleading their cause, not his own. It was the cause of the rich and the poor — of every man, however humble he might be, who relied upon the Constitution for his rights.

The rowdies continued to make a great deal of noise, and the speaker asked them what they came for but to hear him speak. Poor fellows, said he, you are weaving the cords to bind your own limbs; your children will bless me for what I am now saying. Poor, miserable wretches, I am acquainted with your character, and do not intend to be intimidated by you. I have said nothing inflammatory, but came here to speak to you of your rights, which are being trampled in the dust. Then, why not listen to reason?"

He said that he knew they were not a fair representative of the sentiment of Baltimore, or of Maryland. Whenever they were ready to hear him, he would prove to them that every right they had under the Constitution of Maryland or of the United States was trampled under foot by the Administration at Washington. Talk of the dungeons of Naples! the Inquisition of to-day outstrips everything in the shape of usurpation which the world has ever heard of; there has been nothing to equal it since the time when mankind first undertook to rule the will of despots.

The action of the Federal Government in relation to your Police Commissioners is unequalled in the annals of outrage and despotism. He was here to contend for the eternal principles of political and personal liberty — principles which had lived before the formation of the Colonies; before the Union was formed, and which would survive after the Union was gone. The Union is a means, not an end; the Union was formed to secure and make eternal these principles. When the attempt to preserve these principles becomes inconsistent with the preservation of the Union, the principles will live, whatever else perish.

Whenever the issue arises between the preservation of the Union and the preservation of the principles of personal liberty, personal right and public liberty, the Union will have to go down. [The speaker was here hissed by the rowdies, and another disgraceful squabble ensued.] After quiet had been restored, Mr. Breckinridge said he would give his observations to the country; he had watched these disturbances and they were invariably gotten up by men with sticks in their hands, called police.

If the police would let the people alone, he would be enabled to proceed. He knew he would have met a hearty welcome in Baltimore if a down-trodden and oppressed people were allowed to speak. A just God, who rules all nations has our cause in his hands, and before him all despots must sink, cowed and appalled. We have had a day of freedom and liberty, and may God speed the return of it.

Mr. Breckinridge here closed, when Mr. Vallandigham was called for, but declined to speak, on account of the disturbance. The crowd lingered around the hotel for some time after, and slowly returned to their homes at a late hour.

The action of the vice-police throughout was most disgraceful; and they were aided by several persons holding office under the Federal Government.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (6)
United States (United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Breckinridge (7)
Vallandigham (2)
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
September, 8 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: