From the Richmond Dispatch, 10/12/1863, p. 1, c. 5
Mass Meeting at the City Hall. –One of the largest and most enthusiastic meetings which has assembled in this city for a long time, was held at the City Hall on Saturday night last. At a quarter to 8 o’clock Mr. Benjamin Bragg, who had presided at the two previous gatherings of the mechanics of Richmond, took the stand, and explained that, in consequence of a rumor which prevailed that Mr. Geo. W. Randolph, the Senator from the city of Richmond, had openly expressed his determination not to vote for the bill now pending before the Legislature for the reduction and general regulation of prices, unless instructed so to do by his constituents, this meeting had been convened in order to obtain a free expression of the sentiment of the people generally, and for the purpose of adopting resolutions of instruction for their Senator and members of the House of Delegates. The meeting was for the citizens of Richmond, and could no longer he regarded as confined to the mechanics and working men. The chairman concluded his remarks by calling for any report which the Committee of Seven might have to make when.
Mr. Adolphus Gary, the Secretary of the meeting and chairman of the committee, presented the following resolutions, which were read verbatim and adopted unanimously:
1. 1st. Resolved, That in the opinion of this meeting the true aim of all legislation is to benefit and protect the weak, and that when the representative finds himself in a position in which he cannot, consistent with his own sense of right, so legislate, he should not dishonor the cause of self-government by attempting any longer to exercise the right of a representative.
2. Resolved, That the citizens of this city have heard with surprise that their Senator stood in need of instructions in regard to a subject of vital importance to this good old Commonwealth, to wit: the suppression of extortion — a subject which interests every man and woman in this community that have to labor for their daily bread.
3. Resolved, That our Senator and Delegates in the Virginia Legislature are hereby instructed to vote for the bill reported by the special committee of the House of Delegates, or a bill of similar import.
4. Resolved, That we do not consider our Senator or Delegates, with all the good or evil that may betide them, in comparison with the good or evil which may befall a great country, in a crisis like this, and in the midst of great transactions that now concern our country’s fate, believing that the outside influence of the extortioner and a foolish desire to make the laboring classes mendicants are operating upon some of our representatives, we say to them that if they are capable of being the victims of artifices so shallow — of tricks so stale, so threadbare, so often practiced, so much worn out — they ought to keep their hands off, and be true men to themselves at least, and resign.
5. Resolved, That as the Legislature of this State have passed a joint resolution to adjourn on the 12th of the present month, we call the attention of the Governor to the fact that no subject of importance for which he called them together has been acted on, and we believe it to be his duty to again call them together in case they adjourn at the time stated in said resolution without affording relief to the grievances of the people.
6. Resolved, That awakened to a sense of the abject posture to which labor and we who labor have been reduced, and to the privileges which as citizens and people the institutions of our country rest in us, we will not sleep again until our grasp has family clenched the rights and immunities which are ours as Americans and men; until our just demands have been met by the concessions of all opposing elements.
7. Resolved, That as freemen we abhor and detest the idea that the rich must take care of the poor, because we know that without labor and production the man with his money could not exist, from the fact that he consumes all and produces nothing; and that such a dependence would tend to degrade rather than elevate the human race.
8. Resolved, That it is the duty of the Government to take care of the unfortunate, and not the rich.
Mr. Gary, subsequent to the reading of the above resolutions, and before their passage, read the report of the special committee of the Legislature to regulate the prices of the necessaries of life, explaining some portions which had been subject to misconstruction.
Upon the reading of the 5th resolution, calling the attention of the Governor to the fact that the Legislature was upon the eve of adjournment without disposing of the most important subjects for which they were called together.
Mr. John H. Askew objected to its passage upon the ground that, as the Legislature had already rescinded their determination to adjourn on the 12th inst., there was now no necessity for adopting any such resolution. He referred to the great efforts which have been made on the part of the brokers and speculators to induce an early adjournment of that body, before time was had to legislate upon the currency and prices of provisions, and thought the recent financial feat practiced upon the money shavers of Richmond by one Livingston had diminished a great deal of lobbying which otherwise would have been practiced, as many of them had been so extensively fleeced by that individual as to leave them but little cash on hand to experiment with in that manner. Mr. A.’s allusion to Livingston brought forth from some one in the crowd vehement and repeated demands to know “what Livingston had to do with the objects of this meeting,” and for some time there seemed to be a fair prospect of an unpleasant scene; but, by the interposition of Mr. Adolphus Gary, who came to Mr. A.’s. relief, and uttered some home thrusts at any one who could so far forget himself as to create a disturbance in a public meeting, quiet and good order was soon restored, and everything again went on harmoniously.
Mr. Theophilus Reamas then made some well timed remarks, as did also Mr. E. B. Robinson, Mr. English, of Henrico, Mr. Dyerly, of Roanoke, and Mr. Burwell, of Bedford, the three latter members of the Legislature of Virginia. But the most popular speech made on the occasion seemed to be that of a gentleman from Kentucky, named McDaniel, who voluntarily asked permission of the meeting, as a mechanic and a refugee from Kentucky, and as one who had been in the service ever since the war began, to occupy about ten minutes of their time. Some portions of this gentleman’s remarks were well worthy the reputation of our greatest statesmen. He deprecated the very prevalent disposition to undervalue our currency, and thought that the best thing which could have been done in the start would have been to have made Confederate money a legal tender, and impose a penalty of confinement in the penitentiary on any one who refused to recognize a Confederate or State note as of equal value with gold and silver. The practice of allowing substitutes had been of incalculable injury to our cause, and, in the speaker’s opinion, was unjust to the great mass of the people. The extortioners were handled without gloves, and the large number of well dressed and well fed Maryland refugees skulking about this city, who had come over to Dixie from patriotic motives, but were unwilling to shoulder a musket in defence of the South, were also dealt with they deserved. Mr. McDaniel advocated the propriety of compelling all foreigners to go in the service or forcing them to leave the Confederacy; in these days of scarcity and distress it was as much as we could do to take care of those who were aiding us in whipping the invader from our soil, without such drones and incubuses as those described above, who were not only unwilling to help, but desired the continuance and success of the war only so long as they could make money out of R, being permitted to remain and eat out our very existence. He termed those who had substitutes, and the large majority of Maryland and other refugees who are hanging about Richmond, as parlor patriots, while the soldiers in the field were kitchen patriots, and were not afraid to go among the pots and kettles. We can only give a feint outline of this gentleman’s remarks, they should have been heard to be appreciated. After enchaining the attention of the meeting for about thirty minutes, he left the stand amid the enthusiastic applause of the large crowd assembled.
Mr. Gary offered the following resolutions, which were adopted:
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to present our Senator and Delegates in the Legislature with a copy of the resolutions adopted at this meeting.
Resolved, That the thanks of this meeting are heartily tendered to Judge Lyons for the courtesy shown by him in vacating the Hustings Court room so as to allow the citizens to hold their meeting.
The meeting then adjourned to meet again at the call of the Committee of Seven.