Cephas Brainerd.

The New England society orations; addresses, sermons, and poems delivered before the New England society in the city of New York, 1820-1885 (Volume 2) online

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Hbe Century Co*




TWT! CoPiEa r'?Cf - lveo

DEC. 17 'OQi

OopxmoHr nrmy


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Copyright, 1901, by

The New England Society in

THE City of New York



The DeVinne Press




THERE is a "natural piety" in the sentiment that
moved a New Englander of the New Englanders,
the senior editor of this collection, to preserve the Society-
addresses of his own day, and to seek with a scholar's in-
stinct, and with loyalty to the region that bred him, for
those printed in the earlier years of our time-honored
league. The New England Society in the City of New
York can point to no better estate, transmitted to it from
the past century, than this of which the administration
has devolved upon Mr. Cephas Brainerd and his daugh-
ter. To Miss Brainerd's zeal and ability these volumes
owe their editorial supervision, Introduction, and bio-
graphical and other Notes preceding the respective ad-
dresses. Father and daughter alike are to be envied for
their conjunction in a labor congenial to both ; and the
Society well may felicitate itself upon the result which
now crowns the work.

The collection is in truth one that our members need
not hesitate to set forth. The record and influence of
the Society's annual celebrations are of no slight import ;
again and again these festivals have been among the
' memorable events of historic years. At present, when
cyclopedias of oratory compete for favor, it is easy to
overestimate the relative value of speeches on current
themes, —

"To give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o'er-dusted."


Through the dust of the past the true metal of the New
England addresses warrants their preservation in authen-
tic and dignified form. The granitic conviction of the
early utterances now recalled was the basis upon which
grew, from decade to decade, a hospitable structure,
touched with beauty, warm with patriotism, inscribed
with ancestral tradition but steadfastly open to increase
of light.

Taken together, "The New England Society Orations,"
of the years embraced in this their first collection, form
of themselves a class of forensic literature which no book-
lover, especially if he be a member of the Society that it
honors and illustrates, may not with satisfaction place
upon his shelves.

Edmund C. Stedman.

By Direction of the Board of Officers.


np HE annual celebrations on Forefathers' Day of the
-^ New England Society have always, save on a
few special occasions, included a dinner, followed by
speeches and the singing or recitation of original
verses. Until 1820 there is little report of what took
place at any except the first three of these yearly meet-
ings. In 18 19, however, the following preamble and
resolution were put on record :

"Whereas his Excellency, the Governor of the State
of New York, having recommended that the 226. day
of December instant be celebrated by the people of
this State as a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and
said day being the anniversary of this Society,

''Resolved that the celebration of the Society on that
day be omitted."

The custom of preceding the dinner by a public ora-
tion seems then already established, for when the ser-
mon of Dr. Spring was published, the Society asked
Mr. Fessenden and Mr. Zechariah Lewis, the editor of
the Commercial Advertiser, for their addresses also.
No copies of these latter have been found, nor has
most diligent search unearthed any trace of two later


discourses recorded as published by the Society — that
of Bishop Wainwright in 1823, and that of Henry R.
Storrs in 1834. Mr. Fessenden refused to give for
publication his address of 1826. With these excep-
tions, the present collection of formal addresses, as
noted in the Society's reports, is complete. Though
some of the poems delivered before the Society were
published, few have been preserved. Two of the ear-
liest exist — the song written by Thomas Green Fessen-
den in 1805 for the first festival, and that written by
Joseph Warren Brackett for the exercises of 1807.
Grenville Mellen, Rev. Mr. Flint, Mr. Stone, then
editor of the Commercial Advertiser, and Mr. P.
Hawes contributed verses for several celebrations, but
there remain of these only Mr. Mellen's grave ode and
Mr. Hawes's rollicking jingle to the tune of "Yankee
Doodle." The ode by William Cullen Bryant and the
verses by Dr. Pierpont are here printed with the ora-
tions of the same dates.

It was voted inexpedient to have an oration in 1859,
and this long series of worthy celebrations closed with
the speaker of two years before, Dr. Storrs. In 1870,
the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the landing
of the Pilgrims, the custom was revived and an address
given by Ralph Waldo Emerson. At the unveiling in
Central Park of Ward's statue of ''The Puritan," the
gift of the Society to the city, George William Curtis
pronounced the oration.

With allowance for the personal element in each of
these addresses, there may yet to some extent be traced


in them the development of national thought and ex-
perience. The earliest deal primarily with the reli-
gious aspect and influence of the Plymouth settlement.
Later, notably in the paper by Dr. Bacon, the careful
historical temper predominates. But the pressure of
the hour more and more turned the speakers' thoughts
from the deeds of the seventeenth century to the doings
of their own time, to the contrasts between these two
and the dangers lurking in change.

A mention of a menacing growth of ritualism and
an allusion to a prevalent fear of the influence of
Rome m.ark the time of two addresses. Mr. Webster's
reiterated statement of confidence that all danger of
dissolution of the Union had passed discloses the pe-
riod of his utterances. One whisper of disquiet, how-
ever, sounds nearly throughout the entire series. Save
in the fiery lines of the enthusiast, Dr. Pierpont, this
is ever reserved, inclining now to the one, now to the
other side of the question. But the thought of slavery
could not be banished from addresses which were
necessarily, whatever the taste or training of the indi-
vidual speaker, national in character. The warnings
against unrestricted emigration and the spoils system
show that the lapse of fifty years has made surpris-
ingly little change in some problems.

The estimate of the Pilgrims, varying in details,
comes close to the position given them in later judg-
ment. Their share in the founding of the nation, their
intellectual and spiritual leadership, the force of their
religious and political convictions, potent after many


of their tenets have passed from men's belief — on
these points the speakers, themselves of differing creeds
and differing environments, and all men holding by
their worth commanding positions, spoke as one.

Appreciation of their courtesy is heartily accorded
to the publishers of Mr. Choate's works, Messrs. Little,
Brown & Co.; of Dr. Bushnell's, Messrs. Charles
Scribner's Sons; of Dr. Holmes's and Mr. Emerson's,
Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co. ; and of Mr. Curtis's,
Messrs. Harper and Brothers, The greater part of the
addresses, however, have appeared only in the pam-
phlets issued by the Society, and peculiarities in spell-
ing, use of capitals, and punctuation found therein
have been generally retained as characteristic of period
or writer.

E. W. B.

New York,
November, 1901.


WooLSEY Rogers Hopkins ....

Beginnings of the New England Society of New York, 1884

Gardiner Spring, D.D

A Tribute to New England, 1820


Remarks on the Charges made by the Rev. Gardiner Spring
U.D.. against the Religion and Morals of the People of Bos-
ton and its Vicinity, 1821

John Broderick Romeyn

The Duty and Reward of Honouring God, 18

Philip Melancthon Whelpley

"The Memory of the Just is Blessed," 1822

Samuel L. Knapp

Address, 1829

Leonard Bacon ....

Address, 1838

Robert C. Winthrop

Address, 1839

Charles Brickett Hadduck .

The Elements of National Greatness, 1841

George B. Cheever ....

The Elements of National Greatness, 1842

RuFus Choate ....

The Age of the Pilgrims the Heroic Period of

Daniel Webster ....

The Landing at Plymouth, 1843

George Perkins Marsh

Address, 1844

Charles Wentworth Upham

The Spirit of the Day and its Lessons, 1846

our History,

















[From ike Magazine of American History for Jatiuary, 1884,
by permission 0/ the publisher. ]

AS New England Societies are now a power in the
_t\_ land, it may entertain the readers of the Magazine
of American History to learn something of the origi-
nal organization of the first one of its kind in America
— the New England Society of New York.

In 1805, when the metropolis was a much smaller
and a very different city from the New York of to-day,
James Watson, the first president of the New England
Society, then a gentleman of leisure, culture, and hos-
pitality, resided in a handsome old-time mansion in the
shady and gently curved street bordering the Battery
Park. He was much respected in his little world, was
the intimate friend of General Samuel B. Webb, and of
Trumbull, the famous artist, and many other persons
of eminence. He died, however, in early middle life,
and might have passed from the memory of man — as
he left no kin — but for a beautiful portrait painted by
his friend Trumbull, which hangs before me as I write
these lines. We find him represented in the picture as
a man of some forty well-rounded years, with a florid
complexion, high forehead fringed by soft hair gath-
ered back in a queue, beautiful eyes, a pleasing expres-


sion of countenance, and stylishly dressed in the coat of
the period, with large old-fashioned ruffles escaping
from the vest. At No. 7 State Street, in the mansion
adjoining that of James Watson, resided Moses Rog-
ers, of Connecticut birth and parentage, a merchant
of the great firm of Woolsey & Rogers. His wife was
Sarah Woolsey, sister of the wife of President Dwight
of Yale College. At 68 Stone Street resided William
Walton Woolsey (a brother of Mrs. Rogers), whose
wife was a sister of President Dwight, and grand-
daughter of President Edwards. These gentlemen, to-
gether with Samuel M. Hopkins and several others,
had been talking about establishing a New England
Society, and had finally agreed to meet informally on
a certain evening and give the project shape and per-
manent direction. On the morning of the day ap-
pointed, the occupants of the State Street houses, look-
ing under the tall trees, saw a schooner luff up and
flap her sails while a boat was lowered. A tall, fine-
looking clerical gentleman stepped in, and a moment
later the yawl grated on the beach, and the passenger,
bag in one hand and a very baggy umbrella in the
other, landed on the hard sand. Majestically he moved
up the slight ascent, taking off his capacious cocked
hat under the shade of perhaps the same oak that
stretched its arms over the heads of Henry Hudson
and his crew nearly two centuries before, and after
standing a moment to enjoy the view, turned and
crossed the velvety green square, directing his steps to
the home of Moses Rogers. He was greeted by the lady
of the mansion with "Welcome, Dr. Dwight; you are
better than you promised!" He replied, "Yes; I had
a quick passage, favored by wind and tide, and thus
made the trip from New Haven in two days." His
hostess inquired for "her sister and the children," and


congratulated him on being in time to attend the ex-
pected gathering in the evening, which had for its ob-
ject, she explained, the formation of a new society, to
be called the "New England Society."

President Dwight was much pleased, and advanced
many useful suggestions concerning the proposed or-
ganization. The subject came up again and again dur-
ing the day, as friends and relatives dropped in to greet
the distinguished visitor. The meeting, when evening
came, was held in James Watson's parlor, No. 6 State
Street; a dozen or more earnest, thoughtful men gath-
ered about the bright, sparkling wood fire. Samuel M.
Hopkins, the first secretary of the Society, came from
the upper part of Pearl Street, bringing a tin lantern
in his hand. If we had seen him on his way we should
have noted that he moved irresolutely, questioning
whether he should pass the lower point of the Swamp,
and up Fulton Street, so as to avoid high tide and wet
feet at Cedar and Pine streets, or go through Chatham
Street by the Tea Water Pump. He chose the latter
route, and had a hard time struggling through the mire
of the unpaved road, but reached Broadway finally,
and, calling for Col. Trumbull, arrived in State Street
at the hour named. Among others present were Gen-
eral Ebenezer Stevens, Samuel A. Lawrence, President
Dwight, Moses Rogers, William Walton Woolsey, Oli-
ver Wolcott, Francis Bayard Winthrop, then residing
in Wall Street, and D. G. Hubbard. After some pre-
liminary conversation, Nathaniel Prime was called to
the chair and William Leffingwell appointed secretary.
But little was accomplished on the occasion, except the
formation of a committee to draft the constitution, a
general discussion as to the principles which the docu-
ment should embody, and an arrangement for a public
meeting at the City Hotel on May 6, to consummate


the contemplated organization. In turning over the
time-browned leaves of the precious original records,
carefully preserved during the three fourths of a cen-
tury since they were written (in a clear, beautiful
hand), we read as follows:

"We whose names are herewith subscribed, con-
vinced that it is the duty of all men to promote the
happiness and welfare of each other, witnessing the ad-
vantages which have arisen from the voluntary asso-
ciations of individuals, allied to each other by a simi-
larity of habits and education, and being desirous of
diffusing and extending the like benefits, do hereby asso-
ciate ourselves under the name of the 'New England
Society of the City and State of New York.'

"The objects of this Society are friendship, charity,
and mutual assistance; and to promote these purposes
we have formed and do assent to the following arti-
cles," and then follows : Article ist, defining the titles
and duties of the officers; Article 2d, stating that as
soon as seventy persons, natives of New England and
residing in the city of New York, shall have subscribed,
they shall meet and elect officers ; Article gtJi, affirming
that each member shall be a New England man by
birth, or the son of a member; Article loth, defining
that, by a vote of two thirds, persons not having these
qualifications may be admitted; Article nth, explain-
ing that by a two-thirds vote, given viva voce and en-
tered on the minutes, a member may be suspended. No
fear of responsibility, it seems. The present masked
method of admitting and suspending by black balls was
not known to these honorable gentlemen. Article 12th,
states that this Society shall have no power to impose

A brief extract from the minutes will inform the
reader concerning the first public meeting :


"At a general meeting of the New England Society,
held at the City Hotel on the 6th of May, 1805, Wm.
Henderson was named chairman and Benj. M. Mum-
ford secretary. The articles of association being read
by the secretary, and it appearing to this meeting that
the same had been subscribed by more than seventy per-
sons, natives of the New England States, it was

"Resolved, To proceed to the election of officers ac-
cording to the said articles; viz., president, two vice-
presidents, four counsellors, and eight assistants; all
upon one ticket ; and on counting the ballots the follow-
ing gentlemen appeared to have been elected.

"President — James Watson; Vice-Presidents — Ebe-
nezer Stevens and Francis Bayard Winthrop ; Board of
Counsellors, Rufus King, Saml. Osgood, Abijah Ham-
mond, Oliver Wolcott.

"Assistants — Moses Rogers, Wm. Lovett, Wm.
Henderson, Wm. Leffingwell, Saml. Mansfield, Elisha
Coit, John P. Mumford, and Gurdon S. Mumford."
On the same day the board of officers met at the house
of Gen. Ebenezer Stevens, and chose Jonathan Burrall
treasurer, and Samuel M. Hopkins and Benj. M. Mum-
ford secretaries. Henceforward the meetings were held
at different places.

On May 17th, at Ross's Hotel, Broad Street, and
on Dec. 6th, following, it was resolved "that Col.
Trumbull be requested to form a certificate to be fur-
nished to the members in testimony of their belonging
to the Society." The first dinner was given Dec. 21,
1805, and the toasts were, "The City of Leyden,"
"John Carver," "John Winthrop," and "The Memory
of Washington." The first volunteer toast was by
Gen. Stevens, "Our President, James Watson, a man
who is the delight of his friends and an honor to the
Society over which he presides." A song was com-


posed for this occasion by Thomas Green Fessenden.
At this and succeeding anniversary dinners, when the
"Clergy of New England" was given as a toast, the
music was invariably "Old Hundred." Other songs
on various occasions were "Hail Columbia," "Yankee
Doodle," "Roslyn Castle," and "Anacreon in Heaven."
For some years the meetings were held at the Tontine
Coffee House, at Barden's Long Room, Broad Street,
and at Benjamin Butler's in Wall Street, but about
1 812 the Society settled at Niblo's Bank Coffee House.
The charming old house where the first meeting was
held is still standing. But architectural reformers en-
tered it not very long since and now little remains of
its original antiquarian elegance.





Although he was a native of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and
born in the last century, the life and work of Dr. Gardiner
Spring belong to New York, and almost to this generation.
In 1819 he entered on his sixty-three years of service in the
Brick Church, a pastorate famous and widely influential.

The following address, given before the New England Society
in 1820, contained strictures resented by the Unitarian hearers.
It was the first of several of the anniversary speeches to occa-
sion heated debate. This rather bitter controversy between
the strict, and indeed harsh, Calvinist and the sensitive Uni-
tarians, brought forth to-day from kindly oblivion, shows hu-
morously and pitifully, as is often the fate of the transient
when robbed of the dignity of its hour.


Psalm cvii. 7.

And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go
to a city of habitation.

I REJOICE, my friends, that, after so many memori-
als of the event we now celebrate, the time has ar-
rived, when the Sons of the Pilgrims in this City, deem
it a privilege publicly and in the house of prayer, to
honour the only wise God, in their rehearsal of scenes,
which so often drew tears from the eyes and praises
from the lips of their pious progenitors. Two hundred
years ago this day, our forefathers landed on the shores
of this Western World. We cannot but feel, that this
event deserves a grateful acknowledgment and com-
memoration. The ancient people of God, scattered
as they had been in different portions of the globe,
enslaved by one enemy after another, oppressed by
difHculty and danger from every side, found no sweeter
theme for their praise, than that eternal mercy to which
they owed all their hopes, and that incessant guar-
dianship which had so often interposed in miracles of
mercy and judgment, to guide them to "a city of
habitation." Their danger and their deliverance are
exquisitely set forth by the Psalmist in the touching
imagery of travellers lost in a pathless desert, wan-
dering about this great wilderness world as "pilgrims


and strangers on the earth," but at last directed and
conducted home. The way in which they are led is
often dark and mysterious; but in the issue there is
every thing to advance the praises of their guide and

Nor can we at once advert to a series of events
more illustrative of these sentiments, than the course
in which a wise Providence conducted our ancestors.
The first settlers of New-England were descended
from a highly respectable class of men, who took their
rise in England, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and
were called Puritans.^ After the year 1662, when
the famous Act of Uniformity was passed by the Eng-
lish Parliament, requiring a solemn declaration of as-
sent to every thing contained in the book of Common
Prayer, and the administration of the Sacraments,
they were called Non-Conformists, and since that pe-
riod they have been more commonly called Dissenters.

Europe was not without the expectation of a partial
reform as early as the fourteenth century. Not far
from this period, the authority and influence of the
Roman Pontiffs began to decline; and in the fifteenth
century, some attempts at reformation were, to say
the least, the ostensible objects of two important Coun-
cils of the Latin Church.^ No serious advance was
made in this cause, until the shameless profligacy of

* The title Puritans appears ply with the fashionable vices

originally to have been a term of the times ; he was called a

of reproach. Mr. Neal, in his Puritan."

history of these excellent men, " The Council of Constance

remarks, "If a man maintained and the Council of Basil.

his steady adherence to the The Council of Constance

doctrines of Calvin and the was assembled by the Emperor

Synod of Dort ; if he kept the Sigisniund, in 1414; and after

Sabbath and frequented ser- sitting three years and six

mons ; if he maintained family months, was dissolved in April,

religion, and would neither 1418. The great design of this

swear, nor be drunk, nor com- Council was to put an end to


the Popes, and the martyrdom of several distinguished
witnesses ^ for the truth, together with the firmness
and increase of the Lollards in England, and the Huss-
ites on the Continent of Europe, had prepared the
way for Martin Luther to enter upon a work, which
was destined not only to suppress the preposterous
pretensions of Papacy, but to give an effectual and
salutary influence to the Church of God for centuries
to come. This memorable reformation was estab-
lished in the sixteenth century. The principles of the
Reformed Church, as adopted by Luther, were exten-
sively received in different parts of Germany; found
very powerful abettors in Switzerland, Geneva, France,
and Sweden; and were introduced into England to-
wards the close of the reign of Henry VIII, and dur-
ing that of his successor, Edward VI. With the ex-
ception of the Eucharist, there was a happy agreement
in the Reformed Churches on all the leading points
of Christian theology; and with the exception of the
Church of England, there was also a very general con-
currence in the essential principles of Church govern-
ment. A lingering attachment to the rites and cere-
monies of the Latin Church, in several of the Monarchs
and Bishops who took a leading part in the Reforma-
tion, and especially in Elizabeth, in whose reign the

the schism which arose in the one of its professed objects, it

fourteenth century in conse- met with very little encourage-

Online LibraryCephas BrainerdThe New England society orations; addresses, sermons, and poems delivered before the New England society in the city of New York, 1820-1885 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 34)