The Banquet - Restoration--Virginia.

December 7, 1869


The Dispatch beleives the banquet given by the Chamber of Commerce was one of the best events to take place in RIchmond. A celebration on the dawn of admittance into the Union. The guest all heavenly involved in commerce and trade.


The banquet given by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce was one of the most genial and brilliant festive occasions that ever occurred in this city. It gathered significance and consequence from the circumstances that attached to it. The guests of the evening were mainly representatives of northern cities--gentlemen of great intelligence, experience, and practical sense, and of course more or less liberal and comprehensive in their views and sentiments. They were selected from local bodies composed of prominent business men, and at their own expense journeyed from home to this place to deliberate upon matters of national concern, chiefly relating to commerce and trade, in which they had only such interest as that which was general to the country. They assembled here at a time altogether peculiar--just after a disastrous civil war, while Virginia is deprived of political equality with the States and while the harmony and reciprocal relations of the sections of the Union are slowly being reestablished under many incidents which tend to impede them. The assembling, therefore, of such gentlemen in the city of Richmond, the centre of the forces of resistance to the Government in the late war, as guests of the people of Richmond, was a matter of uncommon interest, and one which could not fail to have its influence upon the course of events. As the temper and expressions on the occasion were of the most liberal and conciliatory character, that influence must be highly salutary and beneficial. In both the circumstances and the character of the banquet we must consider it one of the most notable and happy public dinners that have taken place in this country. Virginia was consequentially the most prominent figure in the mind's eye, as she was evidently the most warmly, cherished by all present if we take the language of the occasion as indicating the affections that dwelt in the hearts of the speakers. But the feelings uttered and policy espoused generally were of the broadest and most comprehensave character--embracing the whole Union, deploring sectional jealousies, and execrating all narrow views und personal ambitions which were hostile to the immediate aud complete political restoration of the Union and the establisraent of entire harmony throughout the land. Mr. Chittenden, of New York, uttered briefly the prevailing sentiment when he said that there was not a man, woman, or child, in the North, or not a man who deserved the name of man, and was not a monster, who did not desire the immediate restoration of Virginia to the Union. Tho speeches were remarkable for good taste, fine humor, excellent wit, and, above all, the noble impulses of patriotism. The gem of the evening was the polished speech of Mr. Hopes in response to the toast to Boston. His language was felicitous and his ideas classic. The national and kindly sentiments of the evening were imbued with a bright flame by his glowing spirit. One of the most appropriate points in his speech was the introduction of the good old fable of the wind and the man, wherein the furious blast only makes the man draw tighter about him the cloak which the bright sun that followed made him throw away. This he compared to the uncivil and dogmatical assaults of bigotry upon tho habits, sentiments, and prejudices, if you will, of men, and thus made them all the more to cling to impulses which they may nevertheless readily be persuaded to surrender or modify, under the bright sunshine of kindness, hospitality, and affection. His happy application of the fable was received with perfectly unrestrained and uproarious applause. The night will never be forgotten by those who participated in it. The Richmond hosts acquitted themselves most creditably ; but, of that it would better become the guests than ourselves to speak. Few things have contributed more than will this public festival to the restoration of good feeling between the sections. Without meaning to intimate that a single incident occurred to disturb the smooth flow of the stream of geniality and intersectional affection, we venture to refer to a sort of playful raillery of Virginia by Mr. Taylor, of St. Paul, which perhaps demands a word in reply. That gentleman spoke in the kindest spirit, we are aware, but even a jest, which suggests a departure from principle, leaves an impression, however faint. Mr. Taylor, in explaining his vote against the central line in the Board of Trade, alluded to the rigid States rights doctrines of Virginia before the war, and contrasted her adherence to them then with her readiness to receive appropriations from the Federal Treasury at this time. The highest compliment paid by any member of the Board to the central waterline was paid by Mr. Taylor in explaining his vote against it. He thought it proper. But he need not have taunted Virginia, whose position is clear, concientious, and invincible. As long as she adhered to her construction of the constitution, which was left by its framers open to two constructions, she never received one cent by her vote from the Federal treasury. She thus proved her loyally to her principle when it was against her interests. But the war has settled the question. The sword has been thrown into the scale and established that construction which makes it alike the right and the duty of the Federal Government to make all improvements within the national territory demanded by the general welfare.'' Virginia has yielded to the decision. And shall she be called in question now for obeying the law thus established by sharing with other States in the disbursements from the National Treasury which grow out of it? Is she to be impugned simply because it is her interest to conform to the settled construction? Does not her rigid adhereuce to her principle, whoi it was against her interest, when millions were voted to other States, and not a cent to her who gave to the United States, without compensation, the vast northwestern terri-tory--vindicate her from suspicion now? According to the old proverb, it is a bad rule that does not work both ways. If Virginia were now to set, up her views against the power and the duty of the Federal Government to construct great national works, she would justly incur censure as absurdly obstinate, madly refractory, insanely hostile to her own interest--in short, as faithless to the law and her own welfare. As she proved her loyalty to what she believed the true constitutional construction by denying herself everything and opposing all appropriations to internal improvement by the Federal Government, she will now equally display her loyalty and wisdom by sustaining all appropriations to works of proper dignity, as well those within her own border as elsewhere. "We know the kind feeling of Mr. Taylor, and know he meant no imputations. But it is well to let this matter be all the time understood. Virginia is now fairly under the new dispensation, honorably acquiescing in the decision of force, and will oppose no refractory resistance to the new order, even though she is benefited physically by it! With this brief comment upon the playful raillery of the member from St. Paul, in view of all the scenes and sentiments of the past week, and with the political and physical prospects before us, in the most exuberant spirits we heartily exclaim : "Now, by St. Paul, the work goes bravely on!"
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Jermaine Reynolds




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