George H. (George Henry) Boker.

Third annual report of the Board of Directors of the Union League of Philadelphia, December 11th, 1865 online

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DECEMBER 11th, 1865.


1]02 and 1104 Sansom Street.

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

State of Indiana through the Indiana State Library




Since the last Annual Meeting of the Members of the
Union League, of Philadelphia, most of the great pur-
poses for which this Association was organized have
been accomplished. The Rebellion is no more. It died
hard, it died justly, it died, as all good men desired that
it should, by the edge of the sword. It is now, and it
will ever continue to be, a profound satisfaction to this
nation that peace was secured by no terms or compro-
mises with the traitors; by no yielding of a single prin-
ciple of policy or of conscience involved in the contest ;
by no injudicious permission to the conquered to revive
the old abuses of their social system ; and thus, in the
midst of a mis-called peace, to plant in the land the
seeds of another gigantic war. We have not more reason

to thank Providence for our triumph than for the manner
in which it was achieved. The treason fell with arms
in its myriad hands, red with the best blood of our kin-
dred; it perished with our victorious bayonets at its
throat; and the circumstances of its fall drew after them
consequences of inestimable value, both to the victors,
and, in the not distant future, to the short-sighted van-
quished. It neither asked nor expected other terms
than those which are meted by the conqueror to the
conquered. It had been prepared so to deal with us, if
chance had placed the victory within its grasp. This
state of affairs continued for some time after Lee's sur-
render, and would have continued until the present day,
had not the rebels taken heart from the treasonable sym-
pathy expressed by their allies in the North, and with
this encouragement, endeavored by all the arts of political
opposition to secure to themselves, through the doctrine
of State Soverignty, and the right of equal representa-
tion in the councils of the Nation, a power which they
had forfeited by their vain appeal to arms. The first
fruit which the rebels and their Northern friends hoped
for from these manoeuvres, was a reorganization of their
odious social system, and a practical restoration of the
institution of slavery. Though the slaves had been freed
by our armies from the dominion of their masters, these
same masters now proposed to plunge the freedmen into
a more degrading slavery to the law. Nothing but the
vigilance and the wise determination of the Government

prevented the Southern States from lapsing into a worse
barbarism than that from which they had just emerged.
The experiment of discovering how far the indulgence
of the Government would permit the conquered traitors
to go, was tried in the State of Mississippi, and, thanks
to the firmness of the President, with a signal want of
success. The elections which followed in the Northern
States, sweeping every State into the arms of the patri-
otic party, making certain the passage of the Constitu-
tional Amendment, with or without the concurrence of
the South, strengthening the spirit and the arm of the
Administration, and reasserting the principles on which
the late war had been conducted, once more and forever,
reduced the former traitors to a condition but little less
hopeless than that which immediately followed the sur-
renders of Lee and of Johnston. The power of the
Nation is now, we may almost say, permanently fixed
in the hands of the Union party. Hereafter, no man
will dare to go before the Northern people for political
preferment who bases his claims to favor upon his oppo-
sition to the war ; his sympathy with our former enemies ;
his forgiving disposition towards the fugitive chiefs of
the rebellion or their imprisoned President ; his desire
to repudiate a debt which should be our burden of glory,
and to substitute for it the infamous outlay incurred by
the irresponsible conspirators at Richmond ; his senti-
mental affection for that horrible incubus of the past,
which all civilized nations have execrated, and which we


now, thank God, execrate also, under the name of
slavery ; his defamation of our murdered President, and
his detraction of our skillful soldiers ; his defence of the
revolting scenes in the prison pens of Belle Isle, of Salis-
bury, and of Andersonville, or upon any issue settled by
our bayonets between the Potomac and the Rio Grande.
That this position of the national mind is just, merciful,
and according to Divine Providence, is our humble be-
lief; and it should be our duty as Christians and patriots
to endeavor to maintain it. Let us watch with jealous
scrutiny the subtle encroachments of our political oppo-
nents, so that no retrograde measures may imperil a
future over which we have won supreme influence at
great cost.

To the freedmen, so suddenly liberated by the move-
ments of our armies and the policy of our Government,
we owe a duty from which we must not turn in the days
of our prosperity ; but rather make that prosperity a
means of adjusting their uncertain position in the land
of their early bondage, and of securing to them every
blessing that right judgment may decide to belong to a
state of absolute liberty. We must not forget the fidelity
shown to the nation by this oppressed race in the dark-
est hours of our history, nor the desperate nature of the
services rendered to us when they first arrayed them-
selves in arms, to meet the early contempt of their white
comrades and the cold-blooded massacres of our common
enemies. A double share of fortitude was necessary to

encounter these two great difficulties, and our black
soldiers bore both with unfailing manhood. Mere cold
justice, if not a more commendable gratitude, should
make us the watchful guardians of the present condition
and the future prospects of the race which God has con-
fided to our keeping. The perplexities of our guardian-
ship may be vast and disheartening; but we should
bear them with the same courage and hopefulness that
led this derided people into fields where no quarter was
given to their wounded, and where the ready halter
awaited their captured files. The wish of the nation,
clearly expressed to our Government, has always been
sufficient to shape its policy ; and doubtless the voice
that arose in the recent elections in the North will reach
the wakeful ears of our representatives at the Capital.
We trust that it may ; and it should be our effort to
swell the force and volume of the popular demand. Cer-
tainly the Union League which, from its organization
until the present day, has been the unwavering herald
and civic soldier of the grand principles which animated
the late war, should not, because the open contest is
over, resign itself to a fatal torpor, and permit the fruits
of all our exertions to slip from our grasp, while machi-
nations more dangerous than military strategy are being
stealthily advanced, and as adroitly withdrawn, before
they can meet with popular rebuke. The high uses of
this association of loyal men will not pass away until
the last embers of the Rebellion are trampled out, and

no spark remains with which to rekindle it ; until the
very passions which arrayed the two sections of our
country in hostility have become matters of history, and
the whole people, from ocean to ocean and from Canada
to Mexico, have become one homogeneous mass of con-
tented and sympathetic men. National unity means
something more to the political philosopher than two
arrays of jealous and discontented States, controlled on
the one hand, or soothed on the other, by a central gov-
ernment, however powerful or however tolerant. To
bring about a harmonious state of national affairs should
be the leading aim of the League ; but we are convinced
that this end cannot be gained by proffering mercy to
the baffled traitors almost before they ask it, or by so
condoling with their abject condition as almost to exalt
the causes of their sufferings into as many virtues. We
must not forget the declaration of our President, that
hereafter treason shall be made to appear as a capital
crime in the eyes of our citizens, by the punishment
which is about to overtake it at the hands of the outraged
law. We should support and sustain our Chief in his
wise decision, and invigorate the ideas of popular justice
when they may seem to be subsiding into a leniency ap-
proaching to meanness. Having accomplished this, we
shall have performed our whole duty, and shall have
placed our country in a position of strength that will
alike defy internal revolution and foreign hostility.
If the exertions of the Union League during the

present year have not been so great and various as in the
preceding periods which are covered by former reports,
it has only been because the rapidly advancing triumph
of our cause, towards which all events tended, rendered
such exertions unnecessary. Like the industrious hus-
bandman, we have been able to lay aside our implements
of labor, and wait for the ripening harvest in our fields.
But one call has been made upon us this year, which
was in the recent successful State election; and in that
we were not idle, as the Chairman of the " State Cen-
tral Committee" has most generously testified in his
public addresses.

Compared with previous years, the issues of the Board
of Publication have been light, though not unimportant
in their character. Fifty-six thousand three hundred
and eighty copies of various documents have been printed
and circulated throughout the country ; and judging
from the interest excited by at least one of the publica-
tions, their dissemination has been productive of excel-
lent results to our cause. The Board of Publication has
also, as heretofore, aided in the distribution of the docu-
ments of individuals and those of many loyal publication
societies. The League itself issued some reports of the
proceedings of general meetings during the current year,
which the Board of Publication also assisted in circulating.

Since the elate of the last Annual Report, the Com-
mittee on Enlistments sent into the field three full regi-
ments, the Two Hundred and Thirteenth, Two Hundred


and Fourteenth, and Two Hundred and Fifteenth Penn-
sylvania Volunteers. Thus nine effective regiments, two
battalions, and a troop of cavalry were recruited by this
Committee during the war, and placed at the service of
the Government, as our military contribution to the
national cause. The entire force amounted to over ten
thousand men. Wherever these regiments had the op-
portunity, they did honor to the name under which they
were enlisted. The sudden termination of the war put
an end to the labors of your Committee, and left them
little to do besides closing their accounts, and welcoming
back our returning soldiers. Nothing has contributed
more to the fame of our institution than the exertions of
the Committee on Enlistments; and the intelligent gentle-
men composing that body are entitled to our hearty
thanks and cordial congratulations. A summary of the
operations of the Committee will be found appended to
this report.

The Library Committee is engaged in collecting and
arranging books, charts, and engravings with all the speed
which their funds will warrant. It is to be regretted that
donations both in books and money do not flow into this
Committee with the rapidity and in the quantities which
was anticipated. It is the intention of the Board of Di-
rectors to make the Library of the League an ornament
of interest to the Institution, and if possible a collection
worthy of our city. We would, therefore, call the at-
tention of our members to the objects of the Library


Committee, and solicit a more liberal response to its pro-
positions for assistance.

The Committee on Fine Arts and Trophies has already
added greatly to the beauty of our building by tastefully
grouping and arranging the trophies of the late war which
have been presented to the League, or placed in its cus-
tody for safe keeping. The Committee has also decorated
the walls of our house with many fine pictures, bronzes,
and other works of art, which add greatly to the attrac-
tiveness of our rooms. The Committee recommends that
as many meritorious pictures of a patriotic and national
character shall be collected within the League House as
our members may be able to procure. Purchases of arti-
cles of so great value from the treasury of the League, are
not considered practicable at present ; but our members
by individual subscriptions or otherwise, may, without
great exertion or expense, secure to the League the pos-
session of many works, the subjects of which entitle them
to a place of honor among our patriotic memorials. Our
thanks are due to General Hector Tyndale for the pre-
sentation of an excellent copy in bronze of Kiss' Amazon,
and to Mrs. Joseph R. Fry for the donation of a por-
trait of General Fremont. Our thanks are also due to
Mr. James L. Claghorn, Mr. Joseph Harrison, Jr., Mr.
John Kice, Mr. Joseph T. Bailey, and Mr. Wm. H. Mer-
rick, for the loan of many pictures of high merit from
their various collections, and to the gentlemen who
placed upon our walls the gallery of medallions in


bronze, representing our most distinguished statesmen
and soldiers.

The thanks of the League are due to the Committee
on Membership, for the care and fidelity with which they
have discharged the responsible and not always pleasant
duties entrusted to them. We doubt whether, consider-
ing the immense number of names submitted to this
Committee, all of which required rigid scrutiny and un-
prejudiced decision, any similar body has discharged its
functions with so much success and so little injustice to
applicants as your Committee on Membership.

On the first of December, 1865, the League numbered
seventeen hundred and sixty members on its roll. Of
these six hundred and eighty-one were elected during
the current year. We have to regret the loss of twenty-
one members by death, thirteen by resignation, and nine-
teen have been dropped from the roll for non-payment of
their annual dues. We trust that the members of the
League will not relax in their efforts to recruit our ranks
from among their loyal friends, and if possible to increase
our numbers until they equal the capacity of our exten-
sive establishment.

Since the last Annual Meeting of the League, the
agreement between the subscribers to the Building-Fund
and our Corporation, has been faithfully complied with,
and the League now possesses title to this property,
subject to the stipulated mortgage of one hundred and
twenty thousand dollars. A sinking fund has been created

for the gradual extinguishment of the liability under the
mortgage, and two thousand dollars will each year be
appropriated from the treasury of the League for this
important purpose. Our members are now able to judge
whether the erection and occupation of this building have
been judicious steps. The increased conveniences of our
establishment cannot be doubted, nor the general good
taste which its details exhibit. Our thanks should be
returned to the public-spirited subscribers to the Build-
ing-Fund, who in addition to the sum of one hundred and
twenty thousand dollars, expended upon the property
over thirty-two thousand dollars which they raised by
voluntary contribution. More than twenty-four thousand
dollars were also appropriated by the Directors from the
treasury of the League, in order to adapt the house to
our occupation, and to furnish it with many conveniences
that were not included in the contract between us and
the subscribers to the Building-Fund. So that the total
sum of money that has been expended upon this property
now amounts to one hundred and seventy-six thousand
three hundred and eighty-seven dollars and twenty-seven
cents. Considering the sudden and enormous rise in the
prices of labor and materials while the building was in
progress, the amount paid for our noble property should
not be considered excessive. Mention should here be
made of the fidelity with which the contractor, Mr. John
Crump, adhered to the strictest letter of his promises to
the Building Committee. Although he was suffering loss


on every side, he carried out with unswerving fidelity the
minutest details of the original plans, and if he has been
obliged to bear loss as a builder, he has certainly added
greatly to his reputation as a scrupulously honest man.
In view of these facts, the Directors have instructed the
House Committee to present to Mr. Crump, in the name
of the League, a piece of silver plate, as a memorial of
our appreciation of that gentleman's praiseworthy services
to our Institution.

The reports of the Treasurer of the League and of the
Auditors for the present year, are herewith submitted
for examination. The income from all sources to De-
cember 1, 1865, which includes the balance that was on
hand at the end of the previous year, amounts to one
hundred and thirty-four thousand nine hundred and
forty -three dollars and ninety-four cents. The disburse-
ments, covering the same period, were ninety-one thou-
sand nine hundred and seventy-eight dollars and thirty-
nine cents ; leaving a surplus in the treasury of four
thousand three hundred and sixty-five dollars and fifty-
five cents, in cash, and of thirty-eight thousand six hun-
dred dollars in United States Treasury notes. This
surplus is subject to the payment of a temporary loan
of thirty-five thousand dollars, incurred to enable the
Treasurer to carry this investment in Government Secu-
rities into the coming year, and thus save us the neces-
sity and inconvenience of re-investment in the same
funds. The smallness of the present cash surplus, as


compared with the surpluses of previous years, is to be
accounted for by the large extraordinary expenses which
the League incurred in occupying and furnishing the new
house. The outlay for furniture amounted to forty-one
thousand four hundred and thirty dollars and seventy
cents, and other expenses incident to removing added
somewhat to the above sum. As much economy as
could be practised in furnishing properly so large and
elegant a building was employed by the House Com-
mittee. The Directors trust that no unnecessary luxury
or display can anywhere be detected upon our premises,
although all the articles purchased for the use of the
League are the best and most substantial that the market
could afford, nor in any instance have we gone beyond
our own city to obtain the materials which our house
contains. The income of another year will place the
League on its former prosperous financial footing.

We have to regret the resignation and departure from
the country of our late esteemed Treasurer, Mr. James
L. Claghorn. Connected as he was with this institution
from its organization, by the valuable services which he
has rendered to it in widening its sphere of influence,
suggesting for it new and important works of usefulness,
by invigorating it with pecuniary aid, and by managing
most skillfully its vast disbursements, he has entitled
■"himself to our purest admiration and warmest friendship.
We parted with him as we part with a brother ; and as
a brother we shall welcome him on his return.


During the past year our house has been a centre of
attraction to strangers as well as to citizens. Various
civic and religious bodies have visited the League House
on the invitation of the Directors, and have expressed
their satisfaction with the hospitality which we have
extended to them. No member of the League will soon
forget the animated scene which marked the reception
of Lieutenant-General Grant within this hall, nor the
strong emotions which were manifested by many indi-
viduals in the array that passed in peaceful review before
him. This reception was considered a high privilege by
our eminent guest, although he came among us on our
own invitation; and since that day he has more than
once expressed his pleasurable recollections of the occa-

We trust that each member of the Union League still
carries in his memory a vivid image of the solemn meet-
ing of our Association on the seventeenth day of April
last, and has not permitted the spirit which was then
evoked to know change or decay. This is no time to
multiply words in referring to the sad event which de-
prived the country of our wise, our merciful, our great-
hearted President ; but neither now, nor at any future
time, nor amidst any distracting circumstances should
we forget to keep alive the memory of a man whose loss
Avas lamented by his very enemies, and whose fate sent
a pang of horror into every corner of the earth to which
tidings may travel. We must not forget the mournful,


nightly ward we kept as his august body passed through

our silent ranks, to rest, as was proper, a little while in ■

the temple of our national liberty. We must not forget

the last brief look which each man cast upon that de-

faced dwelling of Abraham Lincoln's christian soul as

we turned from his presence forever. In those days, —
from the very depths and terrors and despairs of those
dark scenes, — a cry went up, not for vengeance, but for
justice. Has that cry been answered ? The wretched
tools of the murder, the almost unconscious instruments
of the great nameless crime, have indeed perished by
the merciful bullet and the gallows, or suffer by the dis-
criminating verdict of their judges. But there is no
loyal heart in the land that is not oppressed with a
sense of something left undone, of something yet to be
done before the national conscience can repose or the
public eye can look without shrinking upon the grave of
Abraham Lincoln. Weighed down by that feeling,
haunted by that phantom of unexpiated justice, we
await the future without distrust but not without soli-

The pleasant assemblage of the League on the Anni-
versary of our national liberty was an event to be re-
membered for the sympathy with its object evinced by
our citizens in thronging to our public exercises. The
distinguished orator of the occasion merits our thanks
for his brilliant effort ; and the reader of the Declaration


of Independence added fresh beauties to the revered
document by his tasteful and moving elocution.

The history of the Union League during the last year
has been one of unbroken prosperity. The burdens
which our Association bore so cheerfully through the
doubts and anxieties of the previous years, were light-
ened by the decline of the Rebellion, the wider spread
of patriotic ideas among our people, and our increased
confidence in the power and the wisdom of our Gov-
ernment. Social intercourse amongst our members
has therefore been more genial and unrestricted as our
duties became less numerous and urgent, and as the
tread of our enemy's columns passed away from the bor-
ders of our State, and faded into silence behind the
earthworks of Richmond and of Petersburg. Let us
not therefore suppose that our public annals are closed,
and that the Union League may degenerate into a mere
social club, with no higher aims in view than the enjoy-
ment of our hard-won ease. As has been before stated,
many issues of the great Rebellion remain yet to be
eradicated or healed ; many political abuses among our-
selves invite a sweeping reformation. Though our duties
may be lightened, they are not ended. It would be a
shame to our proud record, and a justification of the
slanders of our opponents, to admit that the patriotic
men of the League have, in these latter days, sunk into
a congregation of insipid idlers and nerveless pleasure-
seekers. Wherever there remains work to do, let us


do it with that will, activity and perseverance which
have heretofore distinguished us, and won us the confi-
dence and the praise of our fellow-citizens.

By order of the Board of Directors.




Philadelphia, December 1, 1865.
To the Union League of Philadelphia.

Gentlemen: — The undersigned Auditors appointed by the Board
of Directors of the League, beg leave to report, that they have exam-
ined the accounts of the Treasurers to this date, compared them with


Online LibraryGeorge H. (George Henry) BokerThird annual report of the Board of Directors of the Union League of Philadelphia, December 11th, 1865 → online text (page 1 of 2)