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Oration, poem, speeches, chronicles, &c., at the dedication of the Malden town hall on Thursday evening, October 29th, 1857 online

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Speeclies, Clii»omcles, &c., ^

Jftoioni}f%'^alkn Coluit Jail |

On Thursday ETening, October 29th, 1857




185 7.



Speeches, Chronicles, «fec..


§t)iMm of i\t Ualben Mm lall,

On Thursday Erening, October 29th, 1857.





A desire having been expressed by many persons,
that the proceedings at the dedication of the new Town
Hall should be published, the undersigned has ventured
to issue a moderate pamphlet edition of the same, sup-
posed to be sufficient for the citizens of Maiden only.
The price is a little higher than would ordinarily
attach to a pamphlet of this size, when the edition
was a large one. The Oration and Poem are each
worthy of record, and our citizens may well feel proud
that they have those dwelling among them who are able
and willing thus to respond, without compensation, to a
hasty call for their literary services — rendered, too, in
a manner highly creditable to themselves, and to the
town. C. C. P M.

Maiden, Nov. 25, 185.7.


The building is a noble one, constructed in what may very properly

■ be called an American style of architecture, differing somewhat from

■i any of the foreign styles. The building is 86 feet long, by 55 feet wide,

J and constructed of face bricks, with free-stone trimmings, and a cast

iron front to the principal story.

The cellar is surrounded by thick granite walls, and divided by brick
partitions into apartments for fuel, &c. for the occupants of the several
parts of the building. The entrances to the cellar are by bulk heads
from the outside, and convenient stairways from the principal story.

The principal story is 12 feet high, and divided into two large and
spacious stores in front, with a ten feet passage way leading to three
large and convenient rooms for the town offices in the rear, and also
two circular stairways leading to the main hall above.
, In one of the rear rooms is constructed a fire-proof brick vault, for

the purpose of keeping the town records, &c.

In the second story is the well ventilated main hall, 52 by 67 feet,
and 24 feet in height, with two anti-rooms, one each side of the main
entrance, over which is a gallery projecting into the main hail about 19
feet, and properly secured with brackets, &c. .

In the space over the main hall, is finished another smaller hall 24
by 77 feet, and 10 feet in height, with convenient stairway leading from
the second story.

The building is lighted with gas throughout, and warmed by two of
Hanson & Hall's " challenge furnaces," placed in the principal story of
the building.

All parts of the building are constructed of the best materials, and in
the most thorough and substantial manner. The finish is plain, and
well adapted to the purpose. The mason work was performed by
Messrs Whittlesey & Ayer, of Chelsea ; the carpenter work by Messrs
Clark and Newhall of Maiden. The painting by Mr. T. C. Whitte-
more, also of tliis town. The gas fittings by Mr. Joseph H. Wait, of
Maiden. The design was furnished by Mr. John Stevens, of Boston. —
The whole cost of the building and land is $25,000. In the main hall
sittings are furnished for 750 persons, and they may be easily increased
to 1000 when occasion demands it.

The Building Committee, chosen by the town, consisted of the fol-
lowing gentlemen : Gilbert Haven, esq. (chairman), George Vannevar,
Gershom L. Fall, Elisha S. Convers, Caleb Wait, Hubbard Russell,
and Dnnirl V. Wi-e.




Thursday Evening, October 22th, 1857.
GILBERT HAVEN, Esq., presided as as President of the occasion.

Potpourri, (II Trovatore)— on the Piano Forte, by Prof. H.G. CAREY.

Chorus — " Joy ! Joy ! Freedom to-day ! "

By the united Choirs of the Town, under the direction of


Prayer — b}' the Chaplain, Rev. F. G. PRATT.

Dedicatory Hymn — written for the occasion by Rev. J. G. ADAMS.

Tune, North Bend, hj B. A. Burdilt.

For homes of Freedom in our land,

For rights to Freemen dear,
Great God we praise Thee, as we stand

This day assembled here.

For what our fathers here have known

Of Thy paternal care.
For seeds of strength which they have sown,

Whose fruits their children share ;

For all we praise Thee ! as we come

This house to dedicate
As Freedom's temple, Freedom's home,

In our good town and state.

Lord, make It such to us and ours,

A sacred altar, shrine,
Where Freemen consecrate their powers

To Truth and Right divine !

Let strife of sect, and party hate,

Be banished from these walls ;
And MEN come here to serve the state

As holy duty calls.

And haste the day when through all lands

This manly work is done,
Which, in Truth's power, and Freedom's bands,

Shall make the nations one !

Oration — by Rev. E. O. HAVEN, D. D.

Chorus — " Hale to thee, Liberty ! "

Poem — by JOHN L. SULLIVAN, M. D.


Short Speeches by Messrs Wm. H. Richardson, Jr., C. C. Coffin,

G. L. Fall, G. P. Cox, Wm. J. Eames, and C. C. P. Moody.

DoxoLOGY — " From all that dwell below the skies."


Fellow Citizens and Friends op the Town op Malden.

A work of great value to our town is just completed. This
convenient and creditable structure, the product of jour own
money, and of your own voluntary enterprise is erected, and we
now meet where hereafter your public power is to be exerted,
and your united voice shall be uttered, not only upon matters
of local interest, but upon the government of the Common-
wealth and of the Nation. We meet to-night to congratulate
each other ; and you have requested me to give utterance to
such reflections as shall comport with the occasion and make
it productive of good. We meet not as citizens to vote, not as
partisans to persuade, but as a body of the people to rejoice, to
exult in the possession of an edifice which by its very name is
significant of a fact that distinguishes us as a people, and exalts
us high among the nations of the earth. We meet as the peo-
ple of a Town.

Little political communities but one remove from the family,
like organized towns, must have been the first formed centres
of government, and in them we see the germ of nations and of
empires. And as the character of all subsequent growth de-
pends upon the seed, so the character of the nation and of the
empire to be formed depends upon its first centres of political

You may take a mass of elementary unorganized matter and
subject it to the action of the great powers of nature ; let the
sun shine upon it, let water moisten it, and the air float about
it, and ere long you will perceive nature's chemistry begin to
operate. Particle will claim kindred with particle — antagonis-
tic elements will separate, and soon several centres of life will
be formed, and there will shoot up, from the seeds always mis-


teriously furnished, organisms of beau+y and power, feeble at
first, but to extend through various mutations till they ripen
into exquisite vegetable growth or complicated animal bodies.
But the whole character of the future development always de-
pends upon the primary germ. Similar is the power of the
town. A large part of history is the history of towns. Towns,
which when large are termed cities, have stamped the character
of the world. Particularly in modern history, that of Europe
and America, have cities and towns been the foci of intelligence,
wealth, authority, enterprise, civilization, Ireedom, and art. I
propose therefore as a subject for our reflections, the Function
AND Value of the Town, in distinction from the State and all
other governmental organizations, large and small.

I have spoken of the beginnings of life, and of the fore-shad-
owings of all massive and advanced structures of nature in the
germs from which they spring. There are imperfect growths,
offensive, poisonous plants ; hideous, ravenous, and destructive
animals, suited only to a low order of development, and destin-
ed always in due season to pass away for higher grades. So
there have been and are national governments, like the Russian
and the Chinese, which are unfitted for the ripest civilization,
and which must disappear ; and in these cases the great govern-
ments are but the natural outgrowth of the first seeds. But as
our General Government is peculiar, and we may claim, in the-
ory at least, the best, so are the elements. The New England
town, now generally the American town, has no exact duplicate
in any other land, and is an original outgrowth of American
circumstance and of American mind.

In England, a town was originally a collection of houses on
contiguous territory, having some common centre of interest,
as a market. It was not a political organization, nor had the
inhabitants any specific municipal duties. A town-hall, like
this, would be with them an anomaly. In Europe, generally,
towns are unknown. There are settlements. There are tracts
of country marked out and named, but in the American sense,
towns do not exist. The free cities, so called, of Europe, were
the offspring of necessity. They were in fact collections of self-
emancipated slaves, who assumed the power of government,

sometimes as despotisms, sometimes as republics ; and tliey be-
came the bulwarks and propagators of new political life, often
expanding into empires,and the first effectually and permanently
to resist and undermine that Feudal tyranny which once held all
Europe in chains.

But here the word town has a peculiar meaning. As we have
in America introduced many new terms into the English lan-
guage, so we have given to many old words an entirely new sig-
nificance, growing out of our new developments of life. One of
these changed terms is Town. When the first emigrants from
Europe landed on these shores, and grouped themselves into
settlements which they -called towns, it was necessary at once
that they should do for themselves what had been done for them
in the old country by the supreme power of the State. They
must make laws for order and protection. Criminals must be
punished. Internal improvements must be projected and exe-
cuted. The responsibilities of self government were thrown up-
on them. At home, order had been secured by some authority,
royal or parliamentary, or both, so that having no choice in the
matter, they were compelled to accept and obey. But in this
new land, royalty was represented by a feeble deputy governor,
and Parliement by a Colonial Legislature which was often anx-
ious to assume as little authority as possible, since all authority
thus exercised was particularly liable to interference from the
foreign government. The inhabitants of the several towns
were compelled tlierefore to govern themselves, or to live in an-
archy. Their primary organizations were much like the 'safety
committees' of our pioneer settlements, and other spontaneous
regulators of other years. They however sought legalization or
acknowledgment from tlie more open and concentrated author-
ity of the State or Province. Thus, gradually, with various
modifications, grew up the town, which has become an insepar-
able component part of all our free states, carried into all our
aiewly formed territories, and which exerts a more powerful and
salutary influence tlian any other one of our political insti-

With a marked significance, may this tjontineut be denomi-
nated a new world. It was new, not merely in its animals, and

plants, its mineral treasures, and in its exhaustless resources,
but especially as furnishing an arena where men, delivered from
the slavery of iron customs, and established usages, might clothe
themselves with a government growing out of their present ne-
cessities and desires. Theories here might blossom and ripen
into action. Our fathers were full grown civilized men, invested
at once with all the freedom of the savage. A general bank-
rupt law with reference to the past had been enacted, and here
in the forest they could organize society, not according to the
copies of antiquity, but according to the living mould of their
own souls. There is scarcely a foolis]^ custom among any peo-
ple that was not once useful and wise, but the necessity for it
having passed away, it is now an empty form or a tyrannical
habit. But old usages had no charm to those who in these for-
ests soon discarded not only their European clothes for garments
indigenous to the soil, and more fitted to their demands, but al-
so clothed themselves in social and civil institutions devised to
meet their present exigences. Among the best of these was the
American town.

. Behold a primitive pioneer town-meeting, such as might have
been seen not far from this very spot in the ancient and worthy
town of Maiden, more than two hundred years ago. These hills
were then clad with the primitive forest. The Deer, and the
Wolf, and the Bear, claimed residences by pre-emption, within
the limits of the township. Occasionally a lone Indian, or a
small band of these aboriginal natives called at the settler's cab-
in. A single road, laid out, I suppose, on an Indian trail, con-
nected this new settlement by a large circuitous route, " over the
neck " with Boston, which, itself was a village of less than a thous-
and souls, and a full day's journey distant, except as reached by a
boat or two, owned by the richest inhabitants. The houses
were illy constructed of logs, and thatched with the product of
our extended ocean meadows, which first attracted the settlers
this way. Near the centre of the town were two conspicuous
buildings of the same family, though one is larger than the oth.
er, and one is adorned with humble belfry ; these are the meet-
ing-house, and the school-house. I need not add that the meet-
ing-house is never warmed by a fire, though opened and well-


filled, even in the coldest Sabbaths of the year, nor were the
prayers very short, or the sermons much clipped ; though how
our Puritan fathers, and mothers, could have endured the Bo-
rean blasts of winter is a mystery to their colder-blooded sons
and daughters. Their theology and eloquence must have been
of a hot nature, and we can but imagine that they had an extra-
ordinary quantity of home-spun garments and bear-skin over-
coats, and other native furs, while the hot bricks and primitive
foot-stoves were quite abundant. While we sit here in this ele-
gant edifice, how easy it is for us to imagine — far more comfort-
able perhaps to imagine it than it would be to endure it — that
we sit in that building erected just one hundred and ninety-nine
years ago, near this spot, in which the early town-meetings were
held. It is the first frame meeting-house built in Maiden, the
contract for building which was made the 11 th of September,
1658. It was a " good strong. Artificial Meeting-house, of thir-
ty-three foot Square," for which the enormous sum was paid of
" one hundred and fifty pounds, in corne, cord-wood, and provi-
sions, sound and merchantable at price-current, and fatt cattle."
Here Maiden's town-meetings were held, but whether or not
when it was completed the inhabitants held a joyous dedication,
tradition does not inform us. Yet we can but fancy that though
the first meeting in it was in mid winter, early in 1669, yet the
Rev. Marmaduke Matthews preached from his pul})it, under-
neath the huge-sounding board, a fervent and long discourse ;
and the old hardy, pioneer Puritans, who had seen the massive
cathedrals of their native land, rejoiced with tears, that in this
wilderness home, they had a meeting-house of their own, in
which with their children to worship God. In this rustic meet-
ing-house the people are gathered to hold a town-meeting. But
though the building is rustic — though that' thirty-three foot
square house has no pretensions to architectural splendor, yet
the idea shadowed forth to the eye of philosophy in thai assem-
blage, called a town-meeting, is destined to clothe this whole
world in political beauty. It is one of the master thoughts,
which combined, shall go forth to battle with tyranny, with
darkness, and with wrong, till the whole earth shall be re-


Beliold the assemblage. The venerable pastoi' is with them.
There are no severe conflicts of politics, divorced from morals^
that make it indecorous for a religious teacher to discharge
openly the duties of an intelligent citizen. Grave deacons are
there, and receive proper respect Captains, corporals, ser-
geants and other military officers are in the company, for these
Puritans were compelled to fight, and right nobly did they do
it. Nay, even now, a stock of muskets is piled by the pulpit,
and a few stand on guard lost they may be suddenly- surprized.

The Select men sit in their places, and the chosen one,pre*
sides ; and these hardy settlers on the edge of a new continent,
only one grotip of a dozen, or more, similar towns already or-
ganized, not having yet began to dream that their settlements
would ever extend beyond these hills that skirt our Northern
and Western horizon, outnumbered many times by the savages
around them, and with nought to depend upon for protection
but their fire arms, their superiority, their integrity, and their
trust in Almighty God, proceed openly to discuss matters of
grave interest to the newly organized township of Maiden. I
know not what questions occupied the attention of the town-
meetings held in that noble thirty-three feet square meeting*
house. No quaint record of their proceedings remains. It waa
not then an age of Newspapers. Reporters were wholly un-
known. The Boston News Letter, the first Newspaper publish-
ed in Boston, and the first in America, was not yet established.
News passed only from Up to Up, and on the Sabbath, at noon
time, as they stood about the door in Summer, or gathered in
the public house in Whiter, all the latest intelligence was duly
retailed, and the wise men among them interspersed sagacious
unwritten editorial comments. This communicated to the Sab*
bath almost as much interest as the sermon. What then may
have been discussed in those early meetings we know not ; but
of this we are sure, that whatever was the question, whether to
lay out the road tiiis side of the mountain, or the other ; wheth-
er to pay the arrearages of the minister's salary in money, or in
corn, and pumpkins ; whether to employ a school-master four
months, or three ; whether to erect a pillory opposite the meet-
ing-house door J whether to punish theft by whipping, or by


placing in the stocks ; how to resist the growing luxuries of the
age-^whatever the questions may have been, the simple fact that
they discussed questions of general interest in open town-meet-
ing, and decided them by a majority of votes, is what claims our
admiration ; and I doubt not, that in addition to this they dis-
cussed them with a high moral purpose, and witli a manly de-
termination, while they should secure as far as possible their
own convenience to make Maiden a decided power with the
other towns around, to plant freedom, intelligence, and Christ-
ianity, in these Western wilds.

Fellow citizens, that town-meeting and similar assemblages in
the sister towns were the first pulsations of an energy destined
to make this wliole continent vital. There were the germs of
glory, 'i'here the politics of the nineteenth century had their
birth. There was a little cellule of life, like tho^e in matter, of
which I have spoken ; and whether tliis continent is to become
a vast mass of ossification, a kind of coral mountain, in which
life is exhibited only at the extremiiicb, nil individuality being
destroyed, or whether it is to be a confederacy of independent
souls is to depend upon the continued vitality of thet-e same lit-
tle independent centres of political life. I plead then for the
continuance of our vital institution, the town ; nor let it be
imagined that it is simply because of the appropriateness of the
theme to the present occasion that I urge, perhaps extravagant-
ly, its claims. It is vital. It is primal in its value, as it is
primal in its origin. It existed before the StatCp and before any
union or body of States, and it is the mother of them both. But
for it neither the State nor the United States could endure as
genuine republics, nor could they secure that end, for which
they are designed, individual liberty.

And would you see clearly why it is that many other nations,
amazed at the prosperity of these United States, at their won_
derful combination of liberty and strength, and striving to imi-
itate them, have faile . ? Why France, in spite of her spasmodic
efforts to clothe herself in freedom, has failed ? Why Mexico
and the South American States, though like us in a new world?
and driving their foes from them, have failed ? It was because
that in neither instance they had the town. And, Fellow Cit-


izens, you may receive it as a political axiom, which reason af-
firms, and history verifies, that there can be no free country
without this element. Reforms, like all true strength and ma-
jesty, proceed from the small to the great. A ship, to be safe,
must be built from the keel upwards, of solid material. If the
joints, aud planks be imperfect, it will be imperfect. It may be
beautiful otherwise for a season, but it cannot buffet the storm.
God'rf grand works are glorious because he lavishes his skill
on the LITTLE, more if possible, than on the great. The Missis-
sippi finds its sources in the mountain springs ; the ocean could
have no tides, no majesty, no power, but for the shape and pol-
ish of every single drop.

There is a charm about this universal law in its application
to States. The science of government is preeminently attrac-
tive to an American mind, as it has received a new develop-
ment from American history. It has come to be understood
that the great object to be sought in government is the preser-
vation of individual freedom, and the securing to every man his
individual natural rights. The rights of conscience, the rights
of opinion, and of expressing opinion, the rights of choice of oc-
cupation, all limited, not for the good of a few but simply by
the principle not to infringe upon others' rights and safety —
this is the American idea. While an elasticity of administra-
tion is allowed, nothing being so fixed as to be incapable of
change, beneath all, as a foundation, rests this claim of individ-
ual rights and regard to them in others. But this is compara-
tively a new idea. It was known formerly, but it was only a
theory, not a fact.

This, I repeat, is the American idea. It is in fact the Occi-
dental idea in opposition to the Oriental, the idea of the West-
ern continent in opposition to the Eastern.

The idea of individual rights is not recognized or even enter-
tained in Asia. Men are treated like chaff, or if as grain, spok-
en of in the mass and estimated in the mass. In all the an-
cient great universal empires, man as man was never thought
of So is it to-day in Russia ; so is it in France. So is it mea-
surably in all Europe. In England, a marked contrast with the
East is exhibited, but in our own country alone is the value of


man as man thoroughly appreciated and felt. There are por-
tions of this country where this idea is not understood, but they
have not the town, and are free only from a connection with the
rest. Would you see the origin of this grand thought, that is
yet working Eastward, or proceeding onward till it reaches
again its birth-place, to revolutionize the world ? It was in the
cabin of the May Flower, anchored off Cape Cod, two hundred
and thirty-seven years ago, that an act was consummated,
which from the character and subsequent influence of those per-
forming it proved a mountain spring, whence gushed out the
pure streams of liberty, destined yet to water the earth. Forty
one men, all there were in the Pilgrim band, including those
whose common appellation was Goodman as well as those call-
ed Mister, the servants as well as the gentlemen, signed their
own names, for they could all write, to the following paper.

" In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are under-
written, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign King James,
by the grace of God, &c., having undertaken, for the Glory of

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Online LibraryMass MaldenOration, poem, speeches, chronicles, &c., at the dedication of the Malden town hall on Thursday evening, October 29th, 1857 → online text (page 1 of 5)