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FEBRUARY 4, 1847.

HON. Samuel Greele presided at this meeting. The other speakers, besides Mr. Sumner, were Rev. James Freeman Clarke, Hon John M. Williams, Rev. Theodore Parker, Elizur Wright, and Dr. Walter Channing. There was interruption at times from lawless persons trying to drown the voice of the speaker. One of the papers remarks, that "a number of the volunteers were among the most active."



N the winter of 1775, five years after what was called


few months only before the Battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, Boston was occupied by a British army under General Gage, as Mexican Monterey, a town not far from the size of Boston in those days, is now occupied by American troops under General Taylor. The people of Boston felt keenly all the grievance of this garrison, holding the control of Massachusetts Bay with iron hand. With earnest voice they called for its withdrawal, as the beginning of reconciliation and peace. Their remonstrances found unexpected echo in the House of Lords, when Lord Chatham, on the 20th of January, brought forward his memorable motion for the withdrawal of the troops from Boston. Josiah Quincy, Jr., dear to Bostonians for his own services, and for the services of his descendants in two generations, was present

on this occasion, and has preserved an interesting and authentic sketch of Lord Chatham's speech. From his report I take the following important words.

"There ought to be no delay in entering upon this matter. We ought to proceed to it immediately. We ought to seize the first moment to open the door of reconciliation. The Americans will never be in a temper or state to be reconciled, they ought not to be, till the troops are withdrawn. The troops are a perpetual irritation to these people; they are a bar to all confidence and all cordial reconcilement. I, therefore, my Lords, move, 'That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, most humbly to advise and beseech His Majesty, that, in order to open the way towards an happy settlement of the dangerous troubles in America, by beginning to allay ferments and soften animosities there, and above all for preventing in the mean time any sudden and fatal catastrophe at Boston, now suffering under the daily irritation of an army before their eyes, posted in their town, it may graciously please His Majesty that immediate orders may be despatched to General Gage for removing His Majesty's forces from the town of Boston, as soon as the rigor of the season, and other circumstances indispensable to the safety and accommodation of the said troops, may render the same practicable.' "1

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It is to promote a similar measure of justice and reconciliation that we are now assembled. Adopting the language of Chatham, we ask the cessation of this unjust war, and the withdrawal of the American forces from Mexico, "as soon as the rigor of the season, and other circumstances indispensable to the safety and accommodation of the said troops, may render the same practicable."

It is hoped that this movement will extend throughout the country, but it is proper that it should begin here. Boston herself in former times suffered. The war-horse

1 Life of Josiah Quincy, Jr., p. 320.

was stalled in one of her most venerable churches. Her streets echoed to the tread of hostile troops. Her inhabitants were waked by the morning drum-beat of oppressors. On their own narrow peninsula they have seen the smoke of an enemy's camp. Though these things are beyond the memory of any in this multitude, yet faithful History has entered them on her record, so that they can never be forgotten. It is proper, then, that Boston, mindful of the past and of her own trials, mindful of her own pleadings for the withdrawal of the British troops, as the beginning of reconciliation, should now come forward and ask for others what she once so earnestly asked for herself. It is proper that Boston should confess her obligations to the generous eloquence of Chatham, by vindicating his arguments of policy, humanity, and justice, in their application to the citizens of a sister Republic. Franklin, in dispensing a charity, said to the receiver, "When you are able, return this, - not to me, but to some one in need, like yourself now." In the same spirit, Boston should now repay her debt by insisting on the withdrawal of the American troops from Mexico.

Other considerations call upon her to take the lead. Boston has always led the generous actions of our history. Boston led the cause of the Revolution. Here commenced that discussion, pregnant with independence, which, at first occupying a few warm, but true spirits only, finally absorbed all the best energies of the continent, the eloquence of Adams, the patriotism of Jefferson, the wisdom of Washington. Boston is the home of noble charities, the nurse of true learning, the city of churches. By all these tokens she stands conspicuous; and other parts of the country are not unwilling to follow her example. Athens was called "the eye of Greece." Boston

may be called "the eye of America"; and the influence which she exerts proceeds not from size, for there are other cities larger far,— but from moral and intellectual character. It is only just, then, that a town foremost in the struggles of the Revolution, foremost in all the humane and enlightened labors of our country, should take the lead now.

The war in which the United States are engaged has been from this platform pronounced unconstitutional. Such was the judgment of him who has earned the title of Defender of the Constitution. Would that, instead of innocuous threat to impeach its alleged author, he had spoken in the spirit of another time, when, branding an appropriation as unconstitutional, he boldly said he would not vote for it, if the enemy were thundering at the gates of the Capitol !

Assuming that the war commenced in violation of the Constitution, we have ample reason for its arrest on this account alone. Of course the troops should be withdrawn to where they were, when, in defiance of the Constitution, they moved upon disputed territory.

But the war is not only unconstitutional, it is unjust, and it is vile in object and character. It had its origin in a well-known series of measures to extend and perpetuate Slavery. It is a war which must ever be odious in history, beyond the outrages of brutality which disgrace other nations and times. It is a slave-driving In principle it is only a little above those miserable conflicts between barbarian chiefs of Central Africa to obtain slaves for the inhuman markets of Brazil. Such a war must be accursed in the sight of God. Why is it not accursed in the sight of man?


We are told that the country is engaged in the war,

and therefore it must be maintained, or, as it is sometimes expressed, vigorously prosecuted. In other words, the violation of the Constitution and the outrage upon justice sink out of sight, and we are urged to these same acts again. By what necromancy do these pass from wrong to right? In what book of morals is it written, that what is bad before it is undertaken becomes righteous merely from the circumstance that it is commenced? Who on earth is authorized to transmute wrong into right? Whoso admits the unconstitutionality and injustice of the war, and yet sanctions its prosecution, must approve the Heaven-defying sentiment, "Our country, right or wrong." Can this be the sentiment of Boston? If so, in vain are her children nurtured in the churches of the Pilgrims, in vain fed from the common table of knowledge bountifully supplied by our common schools. Who would profess allegiance to wrong? Who would deny allegiance to right? Right is one of the attributes of God, or rather it is part of his Divinity, immortal as himself. The mortal cannot be higher than the immortal. Had this sentiment been received by our English defenders in the war of the Revolution, no fiery tongue of Chatham, Burke, Fox, or Camden would have been heard in our behalf. Their great testimony would have failed. All would have been silenced, while crying that the country, right or wrong, must be carried through the war.

Here is a gross confusion of opposite duties in cases of defence and of offence. When a country is invaded, its soil pressed by hostile footsteps, its churches desecrated, its inhabitants despoiled of homes, its national life assailed, then the indignant spirit of a free people rises to repel the aggressor. Such an occasion challenges all the energies of self-defence. It has about it all that dismal glory

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