New York Chamber of Commerce.

Annual dinner of the Chamber of commerce of New York ... May 1, 1873 online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryNew York Chamber of CommerceAnnual dinner of the Chamber of commerce of New York ... May 1, 1873 → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



Jramoq of

of ;








No. 47 Cedar Street, N. Y.

imw of the (Stmmkt of (S/ommtm,

/ir DELMONICO'S, MAY 1st, 1873.

of Commerce of the State of New- York was celebrated on the
evening of Thursday, the first day of May, one thousand eight
hundred and seventy-three.

The occasion called together about two hundred gentlemen,
embracing a large number of the most eminent merchants and
citizens, distinguished in the leading professions which give char-
acter to this commercial metropolis.

At half-past seven o'clock the company entered the dining hall
of Delmonico's. Members and their guests were seated under the
arrangements of the Committee, and the perfect order maintained
added greatly to the pleasure of the entertainment. The following
gentlemen composed the Committee : Messrs.



Grace was pronounced by the Rev. ALFRED P. PUTNAM.

At nine o'clock the Hon. WILLIAM E. DODGE, President of the
Chamber, asked the attention of the company, and made the follow-
ing remarks :


GENTLEMEN : We are met on this anniversary evening in this
social way, in much larger numbers than can usually attend on our
regular monthly meetings. Many of our friends who are unable,
amid the pressure of business, to meet with us, and yet feel a deep
interest in the Chamber, are enabled at these annual dinners to
renew their acquaintance with the members, and take part in the

discussions that may come before us. There are important interests
connected with the prosperity of our commerce which should com-
mand the careful consideration of the Chamber, but which can
hardly be attempted during our hurried meetings at mid-day. The
question of rapid transit, of wharfs and piers, better facilities for
shipping and receiving freight by our rail-roads, the enlargement
and cheapening of canal transportation, the use of steam for pro-
pelling the boats, the great question now agitating the country
how to facilitate and cheapen the carriage of produce from the
West to the seaboard, and particularly to bring it to our city, the
encouragement necessary to secure American steamships, and the
great questions of finance and the currency, all these demand the
most careful consideration, and we can but hope that by these
evening gatherings a new interest will be awakened that will
secure a large attendance at our regular meetings. But I did not
intend myself to occupy any time, and will at once proceed to
present the first regular toast of the evening.

Mr. DODGE then gave the first toast : " Commerce, the great dis-
seminator of Christian civilization," and called upon the Rev. Dr.
ADAMS, who was received with great applause, and responded as
follows :


I am much obliged to you for this kind greeting. I do not know
who was the author of the sentiment just announced. I am sure I
had no hand in its composition. Probably it has been assigned to
me by some one who remembers my professional habit of speaking
from a text. [Laughter.] I can only say, that it seems to me a
most excellent text, admirably conceived and expressed, suggestive
of many more thoughts and words than I should presume to utter
on this occasion. " Commerce the great disseminator of Christian
civilization ;" and the converse is equally true, that Christian civil-
zation is the great promoter of Commerce. [Applause.] For the
sake of convenience, in common conversation, w r e make distinctions
between what is secular and what is religious, just as we divide the
ocean into seas, bays and gulfs ; but in fact the ocean is one, and all
the affairs of this world, under the presidency of one Eternal Mind,
are, or are to be unified by that Christian religion which supplies all
the elements, forces and promises of an ultimate and universal civil-
ization. The very idea which lies imbedded in the etymology of
this word COMMERCE in distinction from its narrower synonyms

of Trade and Traffic, is intercourse international intercourse. How
intimately related are these two ideas of intercourse and civiliza-
tion ! The time was when the world was not yet ready for
Christianity, and Christianity was not yet ready for the world.
When there was no Christian civilization distinctly so called to
be disseminated, there was no commerce by which it could have
been disseminated. We read of ancient commerce Tyrian, Egyp-
tian, Phenician, Grecian but we smile at the limited range of
what passed under that ambitious name. The Argonautic Expedi-
tion, of which we hear in ancient song, skirting the ^Egean
and the Levant, reached its furthermost limit on the eastern shores
of the Euxine. The times were those of isolation, national estrange-
ment and antipathies. In the Latin language, the same word
hostis signifies a stranger and an enemy, implying that a foreigner
was necessarily a foe. Virgil describes the terror of ./Eneas, when
cast by shipwreck on the shores of Carthage, because expecting
death, simply because he was of a strange and foreign nation.

When the Great Author of our religion appeared in the world,
and that long, preparatory history which had anticipated His ad-
vent was drawing to its close, corresponding changes appeared in
the world itself. Roman Imperialism, by its prefectures and con-
sulates, military roads and commercial intercourse a system such
as the world had never seen before extending from the sands of
Lybia to the western shores of Spain, Gaul and Britain gave
facilities for the propagation of the new and universal faith. And
later still, when Christianity itself was reformed, quickened and
purified, simultaneously letters and the arts revived, commerce
spread her wings, the Pillars of Hercules were passed, Ultima
Thule one of the Hebrides was left behind, the Western ocean
was crossed, a new world was discovered, all the continents and
islands became known and accessible ; and as later methods of in-
tercommunication have been multiplied upon and beneath the sea,
we have, by rapid strides, been reaching this central idea of Chris-
tian civilization, in distinction from all which was local, municipal
and national that there are to be no more monopolies and seclu-
sion and repulsion ; that what is of value to one country is of equal
value to all countries ; that all tribes and kindreds are united by a
common interest, and the last induction of international law will be
found in that brief and compact rule, which so many have ignorantly
supposed to apply only to the intercourse of individuals, " What-
soever ye would that men should do to you, do ye also the same
unto them!" [Applause.]

Without enlarging upon the liberalizing effects of commerce upon
those addicted to its pursuits, who know so well as a company like
this, that commerce is the grand ally of humanity, binding together
by the interchange of commodities distant nations with the strong
ligatures of mutual dependence and community of interests. What
grand lessons of humanity are taught us along our docks and in our
custom houses ! An incredulous smile on the face of a friend at the
opposite table, [great laughter,] compels me to explain that, by this
reference to custom houses, I must be understood to mean that vast
variety of commodities, gathered by commerce, which pass through
them, and not that system of man-traps of which we have heard so
much of late, in our own country [great applause] singular
agencies of Christian civilization, to be sure, by which cunning de-
predators fatten on whatever drifts within the reach of their tenta-
cula. [Renewed applause.] And here let me say, that some of us
outsiders, not engaged in commercial pursuits ourselves, yet some-
thing more than " lookers on in Venice," patrons of public morals,
and firm believers in that Book which has given us the best defini-
tion of the true end and object of civil government that we may
lead quiet -and peaceable lives in all honesty holding that Gov-
ernment was intended to protect, not to oppress, to help, not to
hinder, have been wondering how long it would be before the
honest merchants and citizens of this metropolis would spring to
their feet in indignant protest against this monstrous doctrine
recently set forth by official admissions, that the relations of Gov-
ernment to commercial affairs are not to be administered by OBVIOUS
EQUITY, but by literal technicalities, designed to arrest rascalities,
and never to embarrass honest men. [Great applause.] We have
been longing for an opportunity to join our voices with yours in a
testimony louder than the sound of many waters, which shall be
heard above all the clamor of partisan politicians, in rebuke of that
mean and miserable method of administering JUSTICE, described
long ago in the memorable words of Isaiah, not yet obsolete, " That
makes a man an offender for a word, and lays a snare for him that
reproveth in the gate, and turns aside the just for a thing of nought."
[Prolonged applause.]

To return from this digression. I repeat, what high and good
lessons are those which are taught us by all the agencies of com-
merce ! What a panorama of the world is on exhibition in the ad-
vertisements of a commercial newspaper ! Sugar from Cuba ; cotton
from New-Orleans and India ; tallow, hemp and iron from Russia ;
teas from China ; silks from France; wool and hides from Brazil ;

spices and coffee from Java; fruits from Sicily ail growths, nil
productions, from all parts of the globe, in constant motion and in-
terchange. Do they not preach to us at the corners of the streets,
and at the entering in at the gates, of the oneness of the world and
the brotherhood of man ? To a clear and healthful eye there is
every thing in these commercial pursuits to foster liberal sympa-
thies, and enlarge the sphere of kindly sentiments. We are not
surprised that this thought should have arrested the genial notice of
ADDISOX, who, though he has been sleeping now more than a hun-
dred and fifty years in Westminster Abbey, expressed himself in
one of the earliest numbers of the Spectator upon this subject, in
words which could not be improved : " There is no place in the
town," says he, " which I so much love to frequent as the Royal
Exchange. I confess I look upon High Change to be a great coun-
cil, in which all considerable nations have their representatives.
Factors in the trading world are what embassadors are in the
political world ; they negotiate affairs, conduct treaties, and main-
tain a good correspondence between those wealthy societies of men
that are divided from one another by seas and oceans, or lie on the
different extremities of a continent. As I am a great lover of
mankind, my heart naturally overflows with pleasure at the sight
of a prosperous and happy multitude, insomuch that I cannot for-
bear expressing my joy with tears that have stolen down my
cheeks. Nature seems to have taken a particular care to dissemi-
nate her blessings among the different regions of the world with an
eye to this mutual intercourse and traffic among mankind, that the
natives of the several parts of the globe might have a kind of de-
pendence upon one another, and be united together by their com-
mon interest." [Applause.]

One thought more, and I am done. Commerce leads to wealth ;
and it is this surplus of property above necessity which contains
within itself the chief agencies of civilization, and all which deco-
rates human society. Philanthropy as a disposition is common
to all ; as a practical agency in large and public acts, it is the
divine privilege and coronation of wealth. The beautiful creations
of art, the ample halls of learning, the implements of science, the
progress of invention and discovery, the miracles of charity, the
temples of religion, spring up at its bidding as flowers and verdure
in the path of the sun. I know not the man, at this period of time,
who occupies a position more exalted, above the valor of the soldier,
or the arts of the politician, with opportunities more auspicious in
their bearing on the well-being of society, than a merchant, intel-


ligent in mind, honest in principle, cultivated in tastes, simple in
manners, generous in sympathies, liberal in conception, bountiful in
gifts the accredited friend of letters, science, art, charity and reli-
gion, standing on the summit of commercial success, the honored
almoner of a benignant Providence. [Applause.]

The President then announced the next toast: "International
Commerce it promotes peace, discourages war, destroys national
prejudices, and brings within the reach of all the products of every
climate." Responded to by Hon. WILLIAM M. EVARTS, as follows :


MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN : I confess to a considerable
embarrassment in attempting to address an assembly of merchants,
[laughter,] for I am quite unaccustomed to it; and, as my friend, Dr.
ADAMS, has said, his profession inclines him to speak to the text,
mine inclines me to be governed by precedents. [Laughter.] Now,
as much greater as is NewYork than Venice in its splendid prime,
so much greater is this assembly of New- York merchants than that
assembly of the merchants of Venice that was addressed as " Most
potent, grave, and reverend Seignors." [Applause.] What can I
find, then, appropriate that shall not disparage but even enhance
your dignity ? I am very glad, Mr. President, that in these annual
dinners of yours, and in your greater and more intimate connection
with the actual affairs of this City, of this State, and of this nation,
you propose for yourselves as merchants to be held to an effective
organization and to an active interference with the abuses of the
times. Commerce and the merchants who formerly represented com-
merce had much to do had every thing to do with the promotion
of the present National Government. Commerce and those who
represent commerce have every thing to do, every thing to feel,
every thing to suffer, in the abuse of the government to which we
are now subjected, and it is for commerce, and it is for those who
represent commerce, to do their share in redressing the evils of the
times, and in restoring us to the beneficent government which is our
heritage, and which, please God, we will insist upon having. [Ap-
plause.] One tithe of the energy and the public spirit by which a
few merchants in disguise threw the tea overboard into Boston
harbor, will enable us to throw overboard from the Ship of State a
great many incumbrances that are unsatisfactory and disagreeable.
We in our country seem to have assumed that good government,

secured by the merits of our ancestors, was as permanent a pos-
session for our race as all the good gifts of climate and a grateful
soil ; but we shall find that all that freedom can do for men and all
that the institutions of freedom can do for men, is to enable them,
possessing the spirit and the courage of freemen, to defend them-
selves against aggressions at home and abroad.

Now, Mr. President, your toast attracts attention to several great
beneficent influences of foreign commerce. In calculating, as you
have suggested, the products of every clime to enrich a country,
you have observed how the busy ships of the frequent commerce,
like roving bees, bring back the selected riches of the world, and
can contrast this peaceful munificence of commerce with the policy
of the Roman States with which war stood for trade by subjuga-
tion and annexation, through the plunder of provinces to sustain
her failing revenues ; and every one must feel that this is a vast
progress in civilization and true wealth. But you allude to com-
merce also as the means of peace, as the preventive of war, and if
you will watch these same ships of commerce and observe that at
each outward and each returning voyage a golden thread of interest
is spun, until a bright mantle of peace is woven over the nation, and
contrast this means of international intercourse with the ancient
family of kings, the entente cordiale of cabinets, and you will find
these intermediate pulses of the people unite nations more firmly
than all the devices of statesmen. Commerce has not only been the
direct means to much of the" advancing civilization of the world, but
it has often, in its exposuresto violence and injury, been the occasion
of the assertion and of the vindication of great principles, which
have furnished vastly superabounding benefits over the terse inflic-
tions of injury. It was American commerce that furnished in our
late civil war the occasion for a consideration between two kindred
and friendly nations of that most difficult relation of estrangement
and grievance, and applied to its treatment nothing but peaceful
means, marking, we must think, as the great event in international
intercourse of modern times, the ability of two proud and powerful
nations to bend their heads alike before the majesty of justice, and
accept peaceful arbitration as the settlement of their contrary
views. We may be sure that hereafter international offences,
however severe, will be met by no means easily by the resentments
of war ; for whatever nation shall insist upon that resort, will find
itself fighting not only against its antagonists, but against this
great precedent and the interests of all civilization that it shall not
be broken. [Applause.]


Mr. President, let me give you, "The Merchants of New- York,
the memory of their predecessors, the duty of the present day,
the glory of the future. May these merchants insist that the un-
broken honor of their profession shall be continued by their noble
lineage." [Applause.]


MR. PRESIDENT : We are honored this evening by the presence of
two distinguished natives of Japan. The one is Mr. TOMITA, Jap-
anese Consul at this port, and the other, Mr. WAKAYAMA, of the
Treasury Department of that government. They are both gentle-
men of ability and culture, and fully imbued with that spirit of pro-
gress which has prompted their enlightened ruler to abandon the
prescriptive policy of his predecessors, and of other eastern rulers,
and, by a single bound, to bring his Empire into harmony with the
progressive policy of the governments of Europe and America.

Every friend of human progress rejoices at this change, and ex-
tends a cordial welcome to the Japanese Empire, as a new ally and
co-worker in that cause. From no one should this welcome be more
earnest and heartfelt than from the Chamber of Commerce of New-
York ; for the merchants of this city must share largely in the bene-
fits to be derived from the enlarged commercial intercourse that
will surely follow the progressive movements of Japan, Her re-
presentatives that are with us this evening are gentlemen of great
intelligence and worth, and fully comprehend the importance of the
liberal and progressive movements of their government.

Mr. President, without further preface, I propose the following
toast, to which I hope Mr. WAKAYAMA will respond :

"Japan and the United States: May their commercial inter-
course be large and mutually profitable, and their friendship per-

Mr. WAKAYAMA was received with great interest by the Chamber,
and made an animated response to this toast in his native language,
of which the following is a translation :


ME, CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN : I cannot fully express, even in
my native language, the gratification I feel at being with you to-
night. I am anxious to see the day when the people of my country
shall have, in every city, institutions similar in character to this of
which you are members. And I may add, that I almost fear you


have become so accustomed to the many privileges you enjoy, that
you do not appreciate them so highly as you ought. The kingdom
of Japan, in point of territory, must be considered, as you are
aware, quite small when compared with America; but she has a
population of more than 30,000,000 souls, and a history which runs
back, by tradition, over 2,500 years, with authentic records for
more than 1,100 ; while our neighbors, just across the Chinese Sea,
in China, from whom we obtain our written language, and whose
civilization we adopted about a thousand years ago, have a popula-
tion of nearly 400,000,000, and a history covering about 4,000 years.
Your people and ours have probably heretofore differed quite as
much in methods of thought as in physical appearance ; but as we
come to know more of you, we have learned to admire many of
your customs, and have found advantage as well as pleasure in im-
itating you in many things, and adopting some of your systems,
making them our own, as an examination of our new circulating
medium will illustrate. We think, however, that wie are able to
discover occasional defects of a serious character in various matters,
and hope that we may learn to discriminate between the good and
the bad before ingrafting them, but fear, because of our intense en-
thusiasm that we may not always be successful. I came from my
far distant home, which I love, to this country, leaving kindred and
friends behind, simply because I had been taught to believe that
we in Japan were down in the valley, as compared with you in
America, who have been, especially of recent date, (although in
years a mere child among nations,) rapidly ascending the mountain
of a glorious future that lies before us. I beg that you do not un-
derstand that I think you have reached the summit of this moun-
tain, or that you have even made any near approach to it, but only
that you are leading the van of nations on their upward march. You
now have reason, I think, to be on your guard, lest even Japan
should, in some respects, at least, get in the most advanced position.
As a son of Japan, I am proud of the progress that she has made
the past ten years, and if all those who have been sent out to seek
knowledge relative to the habits and customs, and more especially
the scientific attainments of the world, do their whole duty, the
future of Japan will as far transcend her past as the sun outshines
the morning star which announces his coming.

THE PRESIDENT : Gentlemen, I will now give you the next regular
toast, and call upon Mr. A. A. Low to respond : " Chambers of
Commerce the best conservators of true commercial principles, and


the most efficient organs through which merchants may exert their
proper influence upon commercial legislation."


MR. PRESIDENT: In rising to respond to the toast which you have
just pronounced, let me express my regret that I have not been in
the habit of speaking from a text, and my fear that the distinguished
gentlemen from abroad, with whose presence we are honored this
evening, may not understand with what indulgence the members
of this Chamber are accustomed to receive my ill-digested utterances.
I am not sure, indeed, that I am fully possessed of the spirit of
the toast to which I am asked to speak ; but, if so, it is nobody's
fault but my own, for it was sent to me three days ago. In leaving
Brooklyn, some hours since, I had certain thoughts upon the theme
committed to my care ; but it has been my good fortune to sit between
two interesting and very talkative gentlemen, in the charms of
whose conversation I fear these thoughts have been lost. My ears
have rarely been so open, as this evening, and for my present pur-
pose it were better had they been closed.

Mr. President : It will hardly be worth my while to occupy the ten
minutes you have so generously allotted me, in proving the import-
ance of combined action, in illustrating what influence may be
exerted by this and other Chambers of Commerce, similarly consti-
tuted, upon the legislation of our State and country, and in divers
other ways. I might, with as much propriety, seek to demonstrate,
in the presence of the distinguished military gentleman who sits by
my side, (General HANCOCK,) that the military strength of a nation
does not consist in* the number of its citizens, but, rather, in the
discipline of a well organized and effective army. It is by uniting
many wires that the heavy cable is constructed, by means of which
we bridge over the turbulent waters, and pass, with convenience

1 3 4

Online LibraryNew York Chamber of CommerceAnnual dinner of the Chamber of commerce of New York ... May 1, 1873 → online text (page 1 of 4)