Danvers (Mass.).

Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 online

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your invitation to be present at this festival with great pleasure. I
well knew that the town of Danvers was rich in the incidents of her
history, and in the romance of her traditions, and that she had sons of
talent and genius by whom the deeds and legends of the past would
be ably rehearsed in prose and verse. I therefore expected much, and
have enjoyed much ; but I did not expect to hear announced at this
time such a generous donation as that which you have just received
from your distinguished townsman in London. Sir, I congratulate
you, I congratulate the people of this favored town on such a valuable
gift. That it will confer great advantages on you, I doubt not ; that it
reflects great honor on the donor, I am sure. It is not the munificence
of the gift, great as that is, but the excellence of the object to which it
is to be devoted, that makes it such a benefaction to your town, and
such an honor to him who gives it. Sir, this generous act speaks a
volume of the character and feelings of hs author. It shows that,
elevated and distinguished as he is abroad, he has not forgotten his
early home ; that, surrounded as he is by the elegance and opulence
of the world's metropolis, he remembers, with gratitude and affection,
the friends and associates of his childhood and youth. And more, it
shows that he justly appreciates the state of society in his native land,
and the wants of the age. It indicates that he has kept up with the
progress of events, and knows that popular education, the enlightenment
or the masses, the diffusion of intelligence amongst the people by
lectures, lyceums, and libraries, is one of the greatest demands of
the present time. In this, too, he shows that he sympathizes with the
people, and that if he is a British subject, he is still worthy to be an
American citizen, for he has an American heart, and republican ideas.

Lyceums, voluntary associations for the extension of useful knowl-
edge, are no longer an experiment ; they have become established
institutions in our country ; they are exerting a vast influence on the
public mind, and doing much for the moral and intellectual cultivation
of the people. Your friend, Mr. President, judged rightly when he
determined that his liberal donation should be appropriated to these
excellent objects. In no way could he have conferred greater benefits



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on -^/Ou. In no way could he have impressed himself more deeply or
favorably on the youthful mind of the present and coming generations.

Thouo-h not an inhabitant of this much honored town, and though
neither 1, nor mine, may ever receive any direct benefit from this
generous act of your friend, yet, as an early and earnest, though fee-
ble advocate of these now useful and popular institutions, I feel myself
laid under personal obligations, and am emboldened to call on you,
sir, and all who may hereafter be entrusted with the management of
this fund, to use the utmost vigilance and fidelity in the discharge of
your sacred trust. Let the income be ever judiciously and econom-
ically devoted to its appropriate objects. Let nothing be wasted in
show, nothing be spent on favorites, nothing lost by neglect. Remem-
ber that this fund is not the property of any sect or party, of any
clique or coterie. It has been given to the town of Danvers ; it is the
property of the people, for their use and behoof, forever. So let it be
understood and felt. Well appropriated and managed, this fund may
be made to produce great and beneficent results, and afford superior
advantages to the young people of this town. I hope, sir, they will
feel inspired with an ardent desire to avail themselves to the utmost, of
the means of improvement thus afforded them.

Mr. President, while, on an occasion like this, our minds are mostly
filled with the memories of the past, and the interesting events of the
present, it is quite impossible that we should fail to cast a glimpse
down the long vista of the future. If the last one hundred years has
done so much for human progress and development, how much may
Ave not anticipate for a hundred years to come .? At the same rate of
progress for the next century, what will be the achievements, what the
position of the race in the sciences and arts, in morals and religion, in
all that elevates and adorns the social state, on the return of your next
centennial ? The mJnd is overwhelmed as it contemplates the future.
Progress is the destiny of man. Higher views of duty, nobler aspira-
tions, truer conceptions of the great principles of Christianity, and a
more universal practical application of its leading truths, these must
mark the century before us ; these must harmonize the antagonisms of
the social state, and hasten the advent of that day when the spirit of
peace, and the sentiment of human brotherhood, " shall cover the
earth as the waters do the sea."

The President then proposed the following sentiment :

The Toton of Beverly — Our elder sister, and one of Mother Salem's most
comely daughters. Her distinguished sona are her brightest jewels.

To this toast, Mr. THAYER responded as follows : —

In justice, Mr. President, to my own feelings, as well as in behalf of
my fellow-townsmen, I desire to make some response to the sentiment
you have proposed, so complimentary to the place of my residence.
For them and for myself, I assure you, the sentiments of kindness and
respect it implies are cordially reciprocated. And 1 am most happy
to congratulate you and the people of Danvers on the signal success of
this celebration. When I heard it was undertaken, I did not doubt



152

that here were the ability and public spirit to make it a very interesting
and creditable one. But I confess I was not prepared to anticipate
all I have this day witnessed. While the external display has been
highly peculiar and brilliant, and this wide-spread and bountiful feast
has been provided for us, a far richer provision has been prepared for
the mind and heart. History and poetry, sentiment and song, sober
reflection and facetious allusion, have together and largely contributed
to our entertainment and instruction. The various historical reminis-
cences, the important views, and facts, and events, which have been
made to cluster around this town, must have taken the most of us by
surprise. They certainly have evinced extensive research and exceed-
ing ingenuity in those who have been at the pains to gather and ar-
range them. I hope that with the aid of the press, they may be care-
fully treasured and preserved to inform and delight the present and
future generations. They would afford materials for a volume of great
value and interest, not merely for the antiquarian, or for those imme-
diately concerned as residents here or in the vicinity, but for all who
would learn our origin and progress as a community, and would
closely observe the chief elements by W'hich a little one has become
thousands and millions, and a small one a vast, mighty, and wonder-
fully growing nation.

In the sentiment, which alone has induced me at this late hour to
offer a few brief remarks, are recognized justly the family relations
existing between our neighboring towns, and which constitute them in
in the most essential respects one people. They are bound together
by the strong ties of a common origin, a common history, and a com-
mon destiny. The associations connected with their settlement, with
the toils, privations and sacrifices of their ancestors, with the patriotic
endurance and exertions of their fathers, with the grand interests of
education, reform, progress, religion, are to a large extent the same
with them all. They have the same characteristics of intelligence,
industry, enterprise, order, sobriety, love of country, moral and Christ-
ian worth. The three populations of Salem, Beverly and Danvers —
the mother, with the elder and younger daughters, though under differ-
ent municipalities, are, by location, by facilities of intercourse, by social
and business relations, and by the manner in which they run into and
blend with each other, substantially one. If united as formerly, they
would now form a city of over thirty thousand inhabitants, which would
combine within itself as great an amount of beauty and desirableness
in position, and of what makes human life most valuable, as any other
equally populous city of the land. Something has at this time been
said about vanishing lines between this and Salem, And let Danvers
be forewarned, that when such donations, as that which has just been
announced from her munificent son in London, come pouring upon
her, she must expect to encounter schemes of annexation fronn other
quarters beside that of her venerable and loving parent.

Seriously, sir, if we borderers may not claim an equal share with
you in that noble endowment, we shall make no ceremony in stepping
over your limits, and appropriating to ourselves some of the best por-
tions of it — at least, that which consists of the feelings of pride, admi-
ration and satisfaction with which it cannot fail to be viewed. The



153

spectacle thus presented is truly an inspiring one. It has a moral
beauty and glory. Would that it might have its legitimate effect in
prompting others, near to or distant from the places of their birth, to
like generous uses of wealth and like splendid benefactions. Its author
having, by diligence, talent, high character, and no doubt favoring for-
tune, risen to opulence and commanding station, has had the wisdom
to turn these to ends alike creditable and useful. In a dark hour of
misfortune and disgrace he brought them to retrieve and support his
country's commercial honor. By a stroke of social policy not less
felicitous than bold, he converted a celebration of our national birth-
day on British ground into an enduring cement of peaceful union be-
tween our mother-land and her rebel offspring. To his countrymen
abroad he has extended a heartfelt welcome and a cherishing hand,
and among foreigners made them at home. He has not unwisely, as
so many do, waited to have his superfluous abundance dispensed from
a lifeless hand — to cast his bread on the waters when it could return to
him no more. He Avould not die without a sight of the tree or without
gathering from the fruit of the tree, which he had himself planted.
Not content, too, with cultivating the field immediately before him, and
doing the good which lies directly about him, his large and true heart,
quitting the cares and whirl of business in the world's great centre,
leaving the scenes of his triumphs — of the affluence and splendor
which surround him there, where he dwells a prince among princes, a
merchant-prince indeed, a prince of right-royal blood — that which
flows in the veins of nature's noblemen, — with the beautiful love for the
place of his nativity that is akin to the affection for one's own mother,
traverses the ocean and comes hither, seeking out the house in which
he was born ; the humble school-room in which he was early trained ;
the spot where stood the ancient church in which he was taught to
worship God, and from which it is provided with touching simplicity,
in the conditions on which the institution he has so liberally devised is
bestowed, that it shall not be far removed. That enlarged and liberal
heart is with us to-day — in spirit, though not in person, mingling with
a ready and thorough sympathy in these joyous festivities, and crown-
ing them with a wreath of princely benevolence ; — thus rendering them
thrice joyful, and by this golden offering laid on the festive board,
and consecrated to good learning with the virtues and graces by which
it is rightfully attended and adorned, gladdening the hearts and im-
measurably blessing the minds of multitudes of the present, and
countless future generations. Such an example, while it sheds lustre
on our nature and universal man, belongs to the world. All of us in
this community, whence it originated, have a peculiar property in it,
which, were it necessary, we should strenuously assert, — of which you
could not if you would, though I am sure you would not if you could,
have any, even the humblest of us, deprived.

But there is one species of annexation I will engage that we in Bev-
erly will not press. It is that of the fame — be it credit or discredit —
which proporly belongs here, in connection with the witchcraft of
1692. We are quite content to let that matter stand as it does, —
namely, that while your ancestors set it going, ours opposed the first
effectual check to it. There are some other facts on which with all
20 t



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requisite modesty we would pride ourselves, as, that our harbor sent
forth the first armed vessel of the revolution, thus cradling the Ameri-
can navy — that with us was established the first cotton factory in this
country — that among us, also, was founded the first Sunday School, as
that institution now exists, in the United States, — but on no other event
in our annals may we dwell with more satisfaction than upon this.
The orator of the day has alluded to the circumstances, which were
simply these. When the awful tragedy was at its height, Mrs. Hale,
wife of the first minister of Beverly, was cried out against as being in
league with Satan. Such, however, was her remarkable excellence,
that all who knew her felt at once that the accusation was false, the
devil being the last person with whom she would be likely to cultivate
any friendship or affinity. The eyes of her husband, who had previous-
ly yielded to the delusion, were opened to its real nature ; and he forth-
with composed a treatise, which was published in a small volume, and
contributed much to stay the evil. I have in my possession a copy of
it, and I know of but one other copy in existence. It is marked with
the peculiarities in style and thought of the times in which it was writ-
ten, but shows thorough investigation coupled with deep conviction and
ardent love of truth. It will ever be honorable to his memory, and
will reflect lasting honor on the scene of his labors and the spot whence
it emanated. And Danvers, notwithstanding she might, in a former
age and in common with the rest of the world, have labored under the
disastrous eclipse of superstitious terror, was not slow to come out from
its dismal shadow, and to avail herself of the improved lights of learn-
ing and religion. For her zeal in cherishing her churches and schools,
and other means of disseminating knowledge, and high and pure prin-
ciples, she has long been distinguished. This day, certainly, she stands
forth in the clear, genial sunshine of enlightened reason and right feel-
ing, in regard to the delusion to which particular attention has naturally
been drawn, and to all kindred ones. It appears to me, that on this
point precisely the right key has, both in prose and poetry, been struck.
Who shall deny that it needs to be struck with all the force of strong
reason and high character, when we behold the many otherwise happy
homes, which in consequence of prevailing superstitions and fanaticisms
are in deepest misery, and the many otherwise useful members of so-
ciety and advancing Christians, who are by them doomed to the ma-
niac's cell ? I ask leave, then, in closing, to offer this sentiment :

Intelligence and ViHue — The great weapons with which to combat every
kind of delusion.

The President next proposed the honored name of Nathan Dane,
which was responded to by the Rev. E. M. STONE, of Providence : —

I thank you, Mr. President, for the very kind manner in which you
have been pleased to connect my name with Beverly, — a town in which
I spent many pleasant years, and from whose citizens, as I gratefully
remember, I have received many tokens of confidence and favor.

A thought naturally suggested by the interesting scenes of this day,
is the influence of towns on the character and destiny of a nation.
Towns act through individuals. They have their representative men



155

through whom they speak, and by whom they illustrate the principles
they hold dear. Of this class was Hon. Nathan Dane, — a name around
which clusters all we venerate in man as a Christian, a Jurist, and a
Statesman. On the 27th of December next, one hundred years will
have elapsed since he first drew breath in Ipswich, and full seventy
years have gone by since he established himself in the profession of
law in Beverly. His long and honorable career is well known to the
citizens of this town. It is marked by many acts of public usefulness
and private munificence. Of his public acts, the most important are
those to which your sentiment refers. By the first, the Federal consti-
tution was rendered " adequate to the exigencies of government and
preservation of the union." By the second, freedom from involuntary-
servitude was secured to four hundred thousand square miles of terri-
tory, and the interminable West saved from a blighting evil that has so
sadly marred the prosperity of other sections of qur great and glorious
confederacy. The ordinance of 1T87 evinced a far seeing wisdom.
It marked an epoch in our history, from which freedom dates mo-
mentous results. It struck a chord of humanity and civil rights, that
will not cease to vibrate until the last link of oppression's chain is
broken. It has drawn from the most gifted minds in our land the
strongest expressions of admiration. "I doubt," said Mr. Webster,
on one of the most intensely interesting occasions of his public life,
"whether one single law of any law-giver, ancient or modern, has
produced efl^ects of a more distinct and marked and lasting character
than the ordinance of '87, — and certainly it has happened to few men,
to be the authors of a political measure of more large and enduring
consequence. It fixed, forever, the character of the population in the
vast regions northwest of the Ohio, by excluding from them involuntary
servitude. It impressed on the soil itself, while it was yet a wilderness,
an incapacity to bear up any other than freemen. It laid the interdict
against personal servitude, in original compact, not only deeper than
all local law, but deeper, also, than all local constitutions. Under the
circumstances then existing, I look upon this original and seasonable
provision as a real good attained. We see its consequences at this
moment, and we shall never cease to see them, perhaps, while the
Ohio shall flow."

In the labors thus eulogized, Mr. Dane represented the sentiment, or
rather, I may say, the principles of the town of Beverly, — principles
by which her citizens were actuated during the revolutionary struggle,
and which are recorded on almost every page of her revolutionary
transactions.

It was the good fortune of Mr. Dane, while the ordinance of 1787
was under consideration, to be seconded in his eiforts by men imbued
with the same spirit ; and there comes to my mind, in this connection,
the name of one whose important services |o the political, social, intel-
lectual, and religious interests of the great West, are yet to be made
known. I refer to the late Rev. Manasseh Cutler, LL.D., of Ham-
ilton, the earnest and judicious coadjutor of Mr. Dane, (though not
then a member of Congress,) in securing the passage of the ordinance,
and to whom, in his own person, and through his honored son, Judge
Ephraim Cutler, Ohio is more indebted than to any other man, for



156

those distinguishing traits which give her a proud preeminence among
her western sisters. Sir, the influence of Beverly and Hamihon,
through these their representative men, upon the public opinion and
present position of our nation, can scarcely be over-estimated, and the
debt of gratitude due to them will be as enduring as the institutions of
our country. Of Mr. Dane, it is sufficient to add that his highest
eulogy is found in the works with which his name is identified, and it
is glory enough for Beverly that for more than half a century she could
number him among her most distinguished citizens. The period em-
braced in the anniversary of this day, Mr. President, covers the most
important acts in the history of our country, — its resistance of oppres-
sion, its struggle for civil freedom, and its triumphant achievement of
a name among the nations of the earth. In the stirring events that led
on to these results, Danvers took a decided and active part. In the
field and in the public councils she had representative men worthy the
trust reposed in them, and worthy a place on the roll inscribed with
the name of Nathan Dane. Her Fosters and Pages, her Hutchinsons,
Putnams and Proctors, and their associates, were men of mark, — men
upon whom the lesson at North Bridge had not been lost, and who, at
Lexington, Bunker Hill, Monmouth, and other points distinguished for
heroic deeds, did good service for their country, and won for themselves
an imperishable fame.

Another of her representative men was Judge Samuel Holten, a
compeer of Mr. Dane, and a patriot of the Washington school. In the
dark hours of his country's peril, in the provincial, and subsequently
in the national councils, he proved himself equal to the weighty respon-
sibilities imposed upon him, and by his position and influence contributed
much to the glorious consummation in which twenty-three millions of
freemen this day rejoice. To show the spirit of the man, and the
ready sacrifice he made of pecuniary interest and health for the sacred
cause of freedom, I will present a few extracts from letters written
while in Congress to a member of the General Court of ]\Iassachusetts,

Under date, Philadelphia, March 30, 1779, he says, after speaking
of the alarming state of the public finances, " you are pleased to ask
me when I think of coming home. In answer, permit me to observe,
that when I had the honor of being elected to a seat in Congress, I was
sensible my friends had overrated my abilities, yet I was determined to
give place to no man in my endeavors to serve my distressed country,
and having given my constant attendance in Congress, not having been
absent one day since I took my seat, (excepting three days I was confined
by sickness,) 1 now find myself so much engaged, and the distresses
of my country so great, that I have no thought of returning till some
of my colleagues arrive to take my place, for if the State is not as
fully represented as they expect, it shall not be my fault, though it
may he very destructive to ^ly health.''''

Again, June 8, he writes upon the same subject : " It is vain for us to
expect that we can carry on the war by emitting bills. We must now
all part with a part of our bills or other estate to procure them for
public use. You may be assured, my worthy colleagues as well as
myself, have been and still are exerting ourselves in this great affair
of finance. I am sure you will agree with me in sentiment, that we



157

had much better pay a tenth of our estates, than lose all that is worth
living in this ivorld to enjoy^

Again, under date of November 8, on the same theme, he writes,
" Our all seems to be at stake, and I fear the good people are not sen-
sible of it.******Your greatest concern appears to be about a new
army. My greatest concern is how we shall support the army, &c., (Ssc.
But don't suppose I despair of the common cause. No, it is too good
and just to despair of. It is the dangers I foresee that makes me press
this important matter. I put great dependence, under God, upon the
knowledge and virtue of the New England States, and I think I shall
not be disappointed."

Once more, writing under date of April 21, 1780, he says, " My
engagements are such that I can write you but a few lines upon our
public affairs, which are truly distressing. The depreciation of our
currency has not only deranged and embarrassed the public affairs, but
almost put a total stop to all the movements of our armies. Is the
Honorable Assembly really sensible of our situation and their own
danger > I fear not. Men, money and provisions are what are so
much needed, but the two last give me the greatest concern, for without
them it will be impossible for the army to keep together. I can truly
say I have met nothing like it since the war. But donH, my loorthy
friend, think I despair of the common cause ; no, not if the army
disbands, which some think will be the case. My fears are that we
shall be reduced to still greater difficulties before the good people will
be fully sensible of their danger, and exert themselves accordingly."

One other extract must suffice. Under date of Philadelphia, May 2,


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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 15 of 22)