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Chapter 3:

The people of Massachusetts were deeply moved by the departure of the three months men, and the attack made upon the Sixth Regiment at Baltimore. Meetings were held in city and town. Speeches were made by the most distinguished orators in the State. In some of the towns, the people were called together by the ringing of church-bells, and in others by the town-crier. The meetings generally were opened with prayer; and the oldest and most venerable of the inhabitants were seated on the platform. The veterans of the Revolution had passed away, and the seats which they would have filled were occupied by the surviving soldiers of the War of 1812. Addresses were made by clergymen, lawyers, and by young men, to whom the [110] cause gave words of earnest eloquence. The Union, one and inseparable, and how Massachusetts could best serve it, were the themes which inspired them all. Resolutions were passed, pledging life and fortune to the cause. Large sums of money were subscribed and paid. Historic memories were revived, and the sacrifices of the fathers in the War for Independence held up for imitation. The women formed aid societies to sew and knit and work for the absent soldiers and for their families at home. Young men formed military companies, and more companies were offered than the Government would receive; and more articles of clothing and stores of provisions than the men required.

The public journals of the Commonwealth spoke with one voice. Party spirit was allayed, political differences forgotten. The past was buried with the past. The Boston Morning Post, the leading Democratic paper in New England, gave to the cause its strong support. It had sustained the nomination of John C. Breckinridge for President the preceding year; but it did so without intent or thought of following him into rebellion. On the morning of April 16, the Post published a patriotic appeal to the people, from which we make the following extract:—

Patriotic citizens! choose you which you will serve, the world's best hope,—our noble Republican Government,—or that bottomless pit,—social anarchy. Adjourn other issues until this self-preserving issue is settled. Hitherto a good Providence has smiled upon the American Union. This was the morning star that led on the men of the Revolution. It is precisely the truth to say, that when those sages and heroes labored they made Union the vital condition of their labor. It was faith in Union that destroyed the tea, and thus nerved the resistance to British aggression. Without it, patriots felt they were nothing; and with it they felt equal to all things. The Union flag they transmitted to their posterity. To-day it waves over those who are rallying under the standard of the law; and God grant, that in the end, as it was with the old Mother Country, after wars between White and Red Roses and Roundheads and Cavaliers, so it may be with the daughter; that she may see peace in her borders, and all her children loving each other better than ever!

The Boston Liberator, edited by William Lloyd Garrison, [111] the well-known and ably conducted organ of the extreme Abolition party, spoke with equal spirit in support of the Government. The religious press, without exception, invoked the blessings of Heaven upon our soldiers and the holy cause they had gone forth to uphold. Religious creeds, like political dogmas, were harmonized in the general current of opinion. Edward Everett, who in the preceding fall election was the Conservative candidate for Vice-President, threw himself, with all his powers of eloquence and culture, into the struggle. He was absent from the State when the call for troops was made, but returned to Boston on the 18th of April. He fully approved the measures taken by the Government, and thought the Administration ought to be cordially supported by all good citizens.

Among the first to raise a regiment for the service was Fletcher Webster, the sole surviving child of Daniel Webster. On Sunday morning, April 21, an immense meeting was held in State Street, in front of the Merchants' Exchange. It had been announced in the papers of the preceding day that Mr. Webster and other gentlemen would speak. There was much excitement and enthusiasm, notwithstanding it was the sabbath. Mr. Webster began his address from the steps of the Merchants' Exchange. The position was unfavorable; the crowd could not hear, and calls were made to adjourn to the rear of the Old State House. The adjournment was carried. The crowd remained in the street. Mr. Webster spoke from the rear balcony, facing State Street. He was received with great favor. He said he could see no better use to which the day could be put than to show our gratitude to Divine Providence for bestowing upon us the best Government in the world, and to pledge ourselves to stand by it and maintain it. He whose name he bore had the good fortune to defend the Union and the Constitution in the forum. This he could not do; but he was ready to defend them on the field. [Applause.] But this is no time for speeches; it is a time for action. He proposed to raise a regiment for active service; he called for volunteers. Mr. Webster then gave directions regarding the manner in which companies were to be raised, in order to comply with the laws [112] of the State and the requirements of the War Department. He concluded by saying,—

Time presses. The enemy is approaching the capital of the nation. It may be in their hands now. [Cries of “Never; it never shall be.” ] Promptness is needed. Let us show the world that the patriotism of ‘61 is not less than that of the heroes of ‘76; that the noble impulses of those patriot hearts have descended to us. Let us do our duty, and we shall yet see the nation united, and our old flag remain without a star dimmed or a stripe obliterated.

The report of the meeting in the Daily Advertiser says,—

The remarks of Mr. Webster were received with great enthusiasm, and at the close of his speech he was loudly cheered. Loud calls were then made for General Schouler, who was seen upon the balcony. In response, he stepped forward, and thanked the vast assembly in an almost inaudible voice for their good feeling, and asked Mr. Webster to speak for him. Mr. Webster at once informed the audience that the General was utterly prostrated with the arduous labors during the past week, and that he had scarcely been in bed for fifty-four hours; that he must be excused, as he was utterly unable to address them. The crowd then gave three cheers for General Schouler.

The meeting was ably addressed by William Dehon, Edward Riddle, and Charles Levi Woodbury, who were received with great favor and satisfaction. Mr. Webster's appeal met with a prompt response. More companies were offered than he could accept; but, before the regiment was ready to leave the State, orders came from Washington that no more three months regiments would be received. On the receipt of this information, Mr. Webster's regiment immediately volunteered to serve for three years: it was accepted, and during the war was known as the Twelfth Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry.

Wendell Phillips spoke in the afternoon of this memorable Sunday in the great Music Hall, which was crowded in every part; and thousands were unable to gain admission. Many feared that he would not be permitted to speak; and that, if he attempted to sustain the position which he assumed in his speech at New Bedford ten days before, a riot would occur. The first sentence uttered by

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