Danvers (Mass.).

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

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1780, he writes, " As it is not my intention ever to return to Congress,
I shall have only to take leave of you, and my other worthy friends at
Court, and retire to private life. My constant attendance in Congress,
for almost two years, must render it a great relief to my mind to retire,
and my friends here inform me they think that unless I lay aside
business that requires so close attention, 1 shall end my days in this
city ; hut the distressed state of our country has a sensible effect upon a
mind like mine, and. whatever state I am in, I shall continue to exert
myself in the common cause as long as my health will admit, or till our
country is restored to peace.''''

Such, sir, was the " upright Judge," whom his fellow-citizens so
often delighted to honor, whose wise counsels, while a member of Con-
gress, gave frequent direction to the action of your state legislature,
and of whom it has been truly said, " his name will be handed down
to posterity with the celebrated names of his cotemporary patriots,
crowned with immortal honors."

Danvers, Mr. President, has never been deficient in representative
men, through whom a potential influence in forming the character and
shaping the destiny of the nation could be exerted. Among these, high
on the record of the departed, is inscribed the name of one to whom
affecting tributes have just been paid by his Excellency and the gen-
tleman from Middlesex, (Hon. Mr. Palfrey,) and whom it was my
happiness to number among my personal friends. Sir, the Hon.
Daniel P. King, the noble successor of the noble Saltonstall, was emi-
nently deserving the confidence reposed in him. Faithfully did



158

he watch over the interests of his constituents, and honorably did
he represent their principles in the state and national legislatures.
Everywhere he left the impress of " an honest, independent freeman,"
asking only in all his public acts, " is the measure right ?" not, " will it
be popular?" His early and lamented death cast a deep shadow upon
thousands of hearts, and while memory is true to its office, his public
life and private virtues will be held in affectionate recollection.

Honorable is it, sir, to this town, that humanity, temperance, educa-
tion, and religion which crowns them all, have never failed to find here
able champions, faithful expounders and generous benefactors. On
all these prominent features of state and national character, Danvers,
through her representative men, has left her mark. Her century of
history is a history of progress in virtue, intelligence and social refine-
ment. Her patriotism is as true now, as when the drum beat to arms
on the morning of the 19th April, 1775. Her past is the pledge of
her future ; and while the spirit of her departed patriots is cherished,
every good cause, every interest vital to the prosperity and perpetuity
of our Union, will receive generous and efficient support.

Of the events of this occasion, Mr. President, none will be longer
remembered, or will shed richer blessings on the future generations of
this town, than that which has this moment surprised and delighted us,
and which has been so happily referred to by Judge White. The
munificent donation you have announced from your former townsman,
for the promotion of " knowledge and morality" among you, is an
eulogy upon " the unrivalled New England institution of the common
school," and upon his discriminating judgment, to which nothing
need be added. It is indeed a " noble benefaction" — the noble deed
of one, who, amidst the deserved commercial successes and honors of
a foreign land, still remembers that he is an American, and who,
turning with fond recollection to the scenes of childhood's home,
strengthens, with manly hand and generous heart, the ties that have
ever bound him to " fatherland," To say that this act is alike honora-
ble to him and to his native town, is only to repeat a self-evident truth,
which this audience have already shown they appreciate. Sir, I would
not have failed to witness the breaking of that seal, or to hear those
enthusiastic cheers, for all the other rich enjoyments of the day, and
that is saying a great deal. It is a magnificent finale to these appro-
priate festivities ; and to the end of time, the name of George Pea-
body will be enrolled with those " merchant princes" of America
who are showing to the world, that they understand the true uses of
wealth.

Pardon me, Mr. President, if, before I sit down, I utter a word or
two in a somewhat different vein. My friend, the mayor of Salem,
has very properly denominated this a family meeting, in which mat-
ters purely domestic may with propriety be talked over. It is true, I
cannot claim, strictly, to be a member of the family ; but that is more
my misfortune than my fault. Beverly and Danvers, however, are
"loving" daughters of " old mother Salem," and 1 think I might, by a
liberal interpretation of the genealogical tables, prove myself a " dis-
tant relative." At all events, I shall plead the privilege of an old
neighbor and friend, and " say my say."



159

I am not ignorant, sir, of the fact, that grave charges have been
preferi'ed against the good name of this ancient town. I am tolerably
familiar with the traditions of old "Salem village," the "Devil's
Dishfull," and " Blind Hole." I recollect that a certain " Lawrence
Conant" once played off his jokes on us sober and confiding antiqua-
rians, and that a gentleman, whose name 1 need not mention, has
amused himself, and disturbed the cachinnary nerves of this whole com-
munity, by sinking railroads ! Now, sir, I am not going to reproach
you for these things. Not at all. The spirits of 1692, like those of
1852, had their way of doing things, and men of the present, like men
of the past, enjoy fun after their own fashion ; and who shall say the
former deserved the fate of " goodwife Nurse," until their " manifesta-
tions" are satisfactorily explained, or that the latter should be sternly
frowned upon until the maxim, "■ laugh and grow fat," is repudiated ?
But on family vagaries one hundred and sixty years ago, 1 shall not
dwell. The more recent occurrences to which I have referred, I am
disposed to look upon as the poetry of your local history, — embellish-
ments springing, perhaps, from an " excess of activity," as a professor
of theology once explained certain youthful propensities, and which a
broad charity can readily excuse.

Besides, sir, a volume of good things may be said of your town,
that will not require smoking, like the sermons of which you have
spoken, to ensure their preservation for the use of a future historian.
Of the representatives of agriculture in this Commonwealth, who
stands a Saul among them but your orator ? Of ploughs, what maker
has produced a better than the " Eagle" of your townsman ? Of de-
fenders of the much-abused swine against Hebrew and Mahommedan
aspersions, who has been more eloquent and effective than one of
your fellow-citizens ? What fields exhale a fragrance that may well
excite the envy of Weathersfield, or draw tears from sensitive eyes,
like your own ? Who but a Danvers antiquarian, could have recov-
ered the original manuscript of Giles Corey's veritable " Dream," to
which we have just listened with so much benefit to our digestion .''
What other town could have presented so strong attractions to " the
greatest schoolmaster in New England," or can hope ever to eclipse
the brilliant pageant of this (fay ? Here, your Fowlers are in amity
with the feathered tribes, your Kings are all first rate republicans,
your Pooles are sparkling and refreshing as when two hundred years
ago John Endicott slaked his thirst from the bubbling fountains
of this vicinity, and your Popes are more desirous of supplying
" the trade" with prime shoes, manufactured from good Danvers
leather, than ambitious to wear the triple crown, or to rule the public
conscience.

Now, if there are any within the sound of my voice, who are still
inclined to dwell in a querulous spirit on the past, I will remind them
that this is not the spirit of the hour, and my advice is, that they con-
sign both the spirit and its exciting cause to the Waters of oblivion.
As for myself, with these facts and this day's scenes before me, I am
ready to join my friend from Salem in a proper resentment of any
charge against you that an " outsider," knowing less of your history.



160

shall hereafter bring. And with this avowal, I close by submitting the
following sentiment :

Tht Town of Danvers — The scion of a noble stock. In patriotic love of
country, unsurpassed. In works of humanity and social improvement, always
right. In enterprise, honorable and indefatigable.

At the conclusion of Mr. Stone's speech, the President proposed,

The Members of the Legal Profession in Danvers, both natives and residents —
They are known as ornaments of the Bar, the Bench, and our highest Legis-
lative Halls.

To this, WM. D. NORTHEND, Esq., of Salem, responded as
follows : —

Mr. President : — I would that some individual were present more
worthy than myself to respond to the sentiment which has just now
been read. I can hardly respond to it without feeling that I may be
chargeable with vanity in attempting to speak of the virtues of those
illustrious men whose example it has ever been my highest ambition
humbly and with unpretending steps to follow. It is sufficient for me
to mention the names of Holten, of Putnam, and of Ward, and to
refer to the transcendent genius and eloquence of him who stands pre-
eminently at the head of his profession, and who is so justly entitled
to the cognomen of " the Erskine of the American bar." No words
of eulogy, which I can utter, will add to the feelings of pride with
which the memory of their noble names is cherished in the heart of
every citizen of this time-honored town.

And, sir, it is to me a matter of no ordinary felicitation, that I can
trace my professional birth to this revered spot ; that here, among the
generous and noble-spirited men of Danvers, I commenced my humble
efforts on the stage of life. As my thoughts revert to that period, I
cherish with deep-felt gratitude the recollection of many generous
friends, whose influence and kindness assisted and encouraged me in
the earlier struggles of my profession. Town of my adoption ! citizens
among whom I have delighted to dwell ! The memory of you is en-
graven on my heart in lines never to be febliterated.

Spot sacred and rich in proud reminiscences of the past — peopled
with descendants from the noblest stock of the Revolution, from fathers
baptized in the martyr blood of that heroic struggle — Danvers, ancient,
noble, patriotic town, worthy to be commemorated ! 1 reverence the
majesty of thy past history. As my memory recalls the records of
that history, I think I see before me, as on the morn pTeceding the
" Concord fight," the young men of the village leave their homes, and,
with their muskets upon their shoulders, gather together on yonder
square. I think I see the venerable form of Parson Holt as he meets
them there, and I hear his voice as he urges those youthful patriots, in
the name of that religion of which he was a worthy minister and a
noble example, to fear not death itself in defence of their country. I
see them, after receiving his benedictions, as they march with hurried
steps to meet the invading foe. As one after another of those heroic



161

young men, the flower and pride of Danvers, fall, pierced with many
a grievous wound, methinks I hear from their dying lips the j)atriotic
words, " It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country." And as
the news of their fall reaches this village, and as their friends and the
citizens, all common mourners, gather around their bier, I think I see
depicted in their countenances, struggling with the tears and sorrow
for the noble dead, a feeling of honorable pride that the blood of Dan-
vers was the first sprinkled on the altar of American Independence.

Through the whole of that long war I see recorded proof of the
patriotism and bravery of the men of Danvers. With a population of
scarcely nineteen hundred, the town gave to the service of the country
five companies, comprising over two hundred men. No town of her
size and ability did more. And, sir, in June, 1776, in anticipation of
the Declaration of Independence, the town voted —

" That if the Honorable Congress, for the safety of the United Col-
onies, declare them independent of Great Britain, we, the inhabitants
of this town, do solemnly engage whh our lives and fortunes to sup-
port them in the measure."

Sir, the citizens of Danvers were not only among the first to rush to
the field of battle and the last to leave it, but, at the close of the war,
they were among the foremost in planting deep the tree of Peace, and
subsequently in acknowledging the obligations of that great American
Magna Charta, the fruit of the Revolution, which was destined to pro-
tect the before separate and independent sovereignties on this continent.

And, sir, since the Revolution, there has been no town in the Com-
monwealth more distinguished for the high moral tone of its popula-
tion, and no place of its means which has done more for the education
of its youth.

But I am admonished by the lateness of the hour that I must not
intrude too much upon the time allotted for this occasion ; and I will
close by expressing a most fervent wish that the great principles and
sources of prosperity which have made the town what it has been and
now is, may be continued, and that the future history of Danvers may
be more glorious even than its past.

To a sentiment in remembrance of former residents of Danvers,
Rev. CHARLES C. SEWALL, of Medfield, responded :—

Mr. President, and Ladies and. Gentlemen : — You have been gath-
ering up, to-day, the memories of olden times, and reading the history
of Danvers in years gone by. In the memorable portion of that his-
tory, which embraces the witchcraft delusion, the name of my an-
cestor is associated, in many minds, with none but painful recollections.
It may seem little becoming me, therefore, to respond to the sentiment
just offered by the chair. There is, however, good reason for the be-
lief that the error of Judge Sewall, in cooperating to condemn the
witches, was atoned for, as far as possible, by a public, solemn confes-
sion, and by an unremitted sense of repentance and prayer for forgive-
ness ; and also, that the wrong he had helped to do your fathers was
by them forgiven, — if not forgotten.
21 u



162

In the admirable lectures on Witchcraft, by my friend the present
mayor of Salem, it is related that Judge Sewall, " on the day of the
general fast, rose in the place where he was accustomed to worship,
and in the presence of the great assembly, handed up a written con-
fession, acknowledging the error into which he had been led, and pray-
ing for the forgiveness of God and his people." " He also observed,
annually, in private, a day of humiliation and prayer, during the re-
mainder of his life, to keep fresh in his inind a sense of repentance
and sorrow for the part he bore in the trials'" of the witches. And
from his own Diary, we learn that his son, Joseph Sewall, afterwards the
pastor of the Old South Church in Boston, was the earliest candidate
for the pastoral office in the Second Congregational Church in this
town.

Besides, sir, I am a native of Essex county — born within sight of
-your hills, — and have been familiar from my boyhood with the names
.and the persons of many citizens of this place. Among the pleasant
(recollections of m}- early life, is that of an annual visit of my father's
;family at the hospitable mansion of the venerable Dr. Wadsworth, fol-
' lowed by a regular call upon the excellent Judge Holten. The images
of those men are distinctly before me now, and the impression I re-
ceived of their character and worth will never be efTaced. Then, too,
the coming of the Danvers farmers to my father's house, on market-
days, was an incident strongly fixed in the mind of the boy, and served
to make me acquainted with men, who commanded my fullest esteem
and respect in after years.

I have passed among you, since, no small part of the best and hap-
piest years of my life. And if, during that period, there were no
disposition and endeavor, on my part, corresponding v/ith the kind
regard manifested towards me — there were, I believe, no marked indi-
cations of any hereditary propensity to wound or afflict any, not even
the descendants of the witches. Besides, sir, I have it from good
authority, that when, in the settlement of its owner's estate, the well-
known Collins mansion was at my father's disposal, it had been nearly
decided by him to make that our family residence. So that Danvers
would then have been my native place, and I should have been able
to claim a birthright here to-day. Withal, and aside from these per-
sonal allusions, which, I trust, may be pardoned on an occasion like
the present, there is no one, probably, not a native of the place, to
whom the name and the fame of Danvers can be of greater interest
than to me. Here, as I have said, have been spent many of the best
and happiest years of my life. Here was the birthplace of most of
my children. And there is, sir, a significance in the sentiment you
have offered, which touches my heart very nearly, and prompts me
I most strongly to respond to it.

Mr. President, and Ladies and Gentlemen : I thank you for the
remembrance of your former townsmen, and assure you that, as one
■of them, lam most happy to be with you to-day; — to be at home,
once more, on this familiar spot, surrounded with so many familiar and
endeared friends.

Among the recollections of the occasion have been brought to mind
many of the distinguished names and characters, which have graced



163

the history of Danvers in her earlier and later years. There are oth-
ers, also, some of them less known to fame, of whom I have personal
recollections, and should be glad, were there time, to speak. There
are Wadsworth and Cowles, — ministers, whose labors, characters and
influence are still fresh in the memories, and indelibly fixed in the
hearts of many among you. There are, in private life, the Kings, the
Oakeses, the Proctors, the Pooles, the Putnams, the Shillabers, the
Shoves, the Southwicks, the Suttons, and others, — men, in whose
characters were traits of great worth, and the fruits of v/hose energy
and enterprise, industry and thrift, integrity and benevolence, are
thickly spread around you in the high reputation and the general pros-
perity of the tov/n. But it would ill become me to occupy so large a
portion of the few remaining moments of this occasinn. I cannot for-
bear, however, to speak, though but a word, of one whose name and
image are freshly before us all to-day, and whose early removal from
the world has given birth to a deep and universal feeling of sorrow
and regret. I mean the Hon. Daniel P. King.

There were several marked features, both in the public and private
character of Mr. King, which render it a grateful duty to commemorate
him as you have done, and as others have elsewhere done. They also
make it an imperative duty to commend his example frequently to the
young and aspiring minds in the community, for their regard and imi-
tation. His high sense of honor, leading him always to preserve self-
respect, and to guard against the slightest cause for just reproach from
others ; his quiet industry and patient labor, — both with the hands and
the head ; his firmness of purpose and ready obedience to every call of
duty ; his incorruptible integrity ; his generous, and often concealed,
benevolence ; his love for the place of his birth, his interest in the
schools and the churches, his endeavors in every way to promote
knowledge and virtue in the community ; his love of country, his
labors and influence in the councils of the state and the nation ; his
watchful attention to every measure, which might help to secure the
glory of the land, and to further the best interests of humanity ; — all
these are well known here. And it cannot be too often repeated to
the young, that it was by such a course of life, he raised himself to an
eminence which commanded universal esteem and confidence, made
him an honor to his native town, and a benefactor to his country.

One most striking circumstance in the history of Mr. King has been
brought to our notice to-day, by his distinguished colleague in Con-
gress, who was particularly associated with him in the measure, during
the discussion of which it occurred. The Hon. Mr. Palfrey has told
us that, Mr. King remained, for many hours, calmly attentive and faith-
ful at his post in one of the most trying scenes of his public usefulness,
whilst his heart was, at the same time, throbbing with the pangs of
the most painful intelligence v/hich could be borne to an affectionate
parent. So deeply did he cherish the sense of duty to his country and
humanity, that he could entirely suppress the emotions of an aching
breast, and stifle the utterance of bereaved and wounded affection.
Admirable instance of moral firmness, of conscientious adherence to
duty, of (Miristian faith and fortitude. Worthy is it to be inscribed, in
letters of gold, on the walls of \he representative's hall ! Worthy is it



164

to be held up for admiration before every public man, and every youtli
in our land ! By them who have seen and known Mr. King in his
religious life and character, it will easily be understood from what
source such calmness and firmness proceeded. Would to Heaven
they might be more commonly displayed where like manifestations are
needed every day !

I have alluded to Mr. King's interest in the schools and the churches
of his native place. I believe, sir, it is only by a similar interest in
these institutions, that you can preserve the present, or secure the future
prosperity and reputation of this town. In the fitting words with which
the President welcomed the guests at this feslive board, he brought
to our imagination the vast increase and importance of Danvers after
the lapse of another century ; and significantly asked what shall be the
character of her citizens at that day. Sir, I believe it is not too much
to affirm that the answer to that question depends, mainly, upon the
watchful attention of her citizens now to the intellectual and religious
education of the young. I believe it is by her schools, her Sabbath
schools and her churches to-day, and for the century to come, infinite-
ly more than by her material growth and prosperity, that the character
of the Danvers of 1952 will be determined. Let these institutions be
sacredly guarded, and their benefits be diffused to the utmost. Let no
narrow views of present policy, or economy, prevent the proper en-
largement and improvement of the one, and the steadfast and honora-
ble maintenance of the other. Let every intellect receive the culture
and development of a thorough education. Let every heart imbibe
the hallowing influences of religion. Let the tokens of a patient in-
dustry and a growing thrift, quicken the pulses of them who are about
to enter upon the world's labors and strifes. Let the increasing de-
mands of the age, the deep wants of the soul, and the loud calls of
humanity and of providence, give to them who are already treading
the busy walks of manhood, steadiness of purpose, a chastened eager-
ness in v/orldly pursuits, and make them live for higher ends than
wealth or fame. Let the memory of the past, and the kindling visions
of a future brighter day, be alike an impulse to faithfulness in every
trust, and an incentive to progress in every noble achievement.

I had intended, Mr. President, to say a few words in reference to the
generous donation, the announcement of which has so delighted and
electrified us all, — urging faithfulness to the trust, and the best possible
exertions to give effect to the noble purpose of the donor. But I am
anticipated by others, and if it were not so, time would not permit. All
honor to that noble merchant prince, whose wealth is thus employed
for the highest benefit of his race ! All honor and gratitude to the man
whose heart beats warmly with the recollection of his early home, and
with purposes of lasting benefit to his early friends !

Mr. President, allow me, with the heartiest response to your own
expression of regard for your former townsmen, to offer the following
sentiment :

The Schools and the Churches of Danvers — The safeguards of her present,


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