Portland Maine Promotes Union (and an Olive Branch of Sorts)
From The New-York Times January 28, 1861:
UNION MEETING AT PORTLAND, ME.
PORTLAND, Me., Saturday, Jan. 26.
An immense Union mass meeting was held at the City Hall here this evening. ETHER SHEPLEY, ExChief Justice, presided. The meeting was addressed by some of our ablest speakers of all parties.
Resolutions were passed nearly unanimously “That the destruction of the Union was the greatest calamity that could befall the nation; that we are indebted to it for our prosperity; that it is the duty of each State to avoid all just causes of complaint respecting the affairs of other States not coming with in the jurisdiction of the United States; that we desire to perform faithfully all the obligations imposed upon us by the Constitution and laws of the country, and expect others to do the same; that no State has a right to secede; that forcible opposition of constitutional law is criminal, and must meet our disapprobation and resistance; that it is the duty of the Government to cause the forts and other public property to be protected, the revenue laws enforced, and this State should be ready to aid the Government; that it is our duty and purpose to cultivate a friendly spirit towards all our countrymen; that we will tender every suitable measure of conciliation to meet the present difficulties, and give the most attentive consideration to every favorable proposition from any section of our country, and that it is expedient to repeal the Personal Liberty bills.”
Two Vignettes from the “Nation’s Capital”
From the New-York Times January 28, 1861:
WASHINGTON, Sunday, Jan. 27.
CASSIUS M. CLAY had a rousing audience to hear him last night. He made a bold, earnest, Anti-Slavery Extension speech, which was vociferously cheered. Fifteen years ago such a speech here, would have endangered his life. The world moves. …
The Boston Committee of Union men have met a very cool reception. Mr. WINTHROP called on Senator MASON, and, referring to his former visit to Massachusetts, remarked in the blandest tones, “I hope, Mr. MASON, we shall see you again at Bunker Hill.” To which the Senator stiffly jerked out the response — “Not unless I come as an Ambassador, Sir.” WINTHROP wilted.
2) The Portland meeting seems like a pretty straight-forward pro-Union meeting, but they do favor repealing Maine’s Personal Liberty laws as a concrete gesture of conciliation. Given the fact that several states had already seceded, was this perhaps an effort from keeping the upper South from also following South Carolina out of the Union? Virginia will be tough if Senator Mason has anything to say about it. As Seven Score and Ten reported Rhode Island has officially repealed its Personal Liberty law.
3) I thought the article on Portland was kind of coincidental given that one of the big news stories this week is Louisiana’s secession. Ether Shepley had a son who would play a role in Louisiana’s Civil War history.
4) According to Wikipedia the painting is from 1853. The flag on the fort looks like a 13-star flag, which was supposedly used during the Battle of Cowpens. If anyone has an explanation I’d like to hear it.