Loyalist Day

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Loyalist Day
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LOYALIST DAY. The Founders of the City Honored by Their Descendants. Loyalty Eulogised, and Annexation Sat Upon. Proposed Museum of Mementoes, and a History by Hannay and Lawrence. Stirring Addresses by Sir John Allen, Messrs. Weldon and Skinner, M. P., Dr. Silas Alward, Recorder Jack, James Hannay, Ald. Peters and Judge Palmer. Saturday was Loyalist day, a day forever memorable in the history of St. John. Some members of the newly-formed loyalist society arranged to have the Artillery band play on the square for a couple of hours in the evening, and the society held a meeting in the Natural History society's rooms. There was no other celebration. The evening was delightful, the music inspiriting, and the crowd on the square a vast one. At the indoors meeting the room was crowded to such an extent that some were forced to stand. Before the addresses began a large number of persons paid their membership fee and enrolled their names on the society's list. Among them were several ladies. SIR JOHN C. ALLEN was called to the chair, and briefly addressed the audience. He esteemed it a high honor that in his absence he had been chosen one of the vice-presidents of the Loyalist society. Had such a society been formed fifty years ago, much valuable history relating to the old loyalists, that is now lost forever, might have been preserved. The labors of the historian of the society would be of great and permanent value, and his honor hoped that as the society increased in numbers and funds were acquired the facts collected through its agency might be compiled and published in the form of a history of the New Brunswick loyalists - the men and women who landed on these shores 106 years ago. The constitution of the newly organized society provided for an anniversary celebration. The time had been too short to admit of an elaborate programme on this first occasion, but it had been deemed proper to hold a meeting, have addresses delivered, and make better known the objects of the society. In concluding his remarks, the chief justice called upon C. W. WELDON, M. P., to address the meeting. Ur. Weldon regretted that he had been unable to attend the first meeting of the society. The idea of forming such a society was to be commended. He hoped it would be maintained, and that upon its list of membership would be enrolled the name of every descendant of the Loyalists. Hitherto all matters relating to the revolution had been told from only one point of view. When the United States had been formed as an independent nation they had carefully gathered all possible information concerning the founders of the republic and embodied it in history. That history was naturally and perhaps necessarily one-sided. A minute history of the lives of their leaders was given, and they were highly eulogized, while very little attention, and that not impartial was given to the loyalists who opposed them. Until very recently there has been little told that is of historic value concerning those who sacrificed so much to their fidelity to the crown and the mother country. This society would be able to show, he believed, that those men in their loyalty were as pure in their fidelity to the principles of religion and freedom as those whom they opposed. Mr. Weldon referred to Chief Justice Jones’ History of New York, as one that placed fairly before the public the position and character of the loyalists. Chief Justice Jones was himself the descendant of a loyalist. That history, Mr. Weldon said, should make them proud of their ancestors and the stand they took; for in addition to what they suffered at the hands of their fellow colonists they were in many instances treated with contumely by the British soldiers. And yet, despite it all, they remained steadfast in their allegiance. Many of them did not approve of the acts of those then in power in England, and we, at this distance of time, may confess without our loyalty being impugned that their grievances were just. The loyalists did not believe, however, that rebellion was justified. They desired freedom with loyalty, and the outcome of that desire is found in the upbuilding of this country. He believed that a true history would add lustrue to the fame of those who came to this inhospitable shore, and, upborne by the same spirit that prompted them to give up all for loyalty, laid here the foundations of a city. Mr. Weldon referred to the many mementos of the loyalists that should be preserved, spoke of the pride stirred by memory at sight of the royal arms that rest in Trinity church, and then discoursed upon the harmony of sentiment which, he said, now animates the two nations whose object and destiny - to carry on the work of civilization on this continent - is the same. He hailed the loyalist society as a place where not only Englishmen or Irishman or Scotchmen could unite, but where persons of all these nationalities, whose forefathers had come here as loyalists, could meet together to perpetuate the memory of those who sacrificed so much but who have made of this barren shore a smiling garden. C. N. SKINNER, M. P., said he was surprised to find Mr. Weldon and himself called upon, as he had understood that the orators of the evening were to be Drs. Alward and Stockton, two gentlemen who were now in some degree the heroes of the day. (Loud applause.) As a descendant of the Loyalists he was gratified to see this movement taking shape. He felt that they could not afford to lose so rich a heritage as the memory of their forefathers. In Ontario the memory of the U. E. Loyalists was dearly treasured. If there was any one thing to be proud of it was to be descendants of so fine a race of men as were the founders of this city. The society will be a notion to the world that the memory of those men will not be allowed to die. We could hardly appreciate the greatness of those men. Loyalty was then more of a personal thing than now, when as the result of wider education we are loyal rather to law and to institutions than to the crown, revering the person of the monarch chiefly as being emblematic of these. We cling more to ideas and institutions. The speaker believed that in their loyalty those men did more for the promotion of true liberty than did the revolutionists. They came here and the results of colonial development show a growth of liberty without recourse to arms. They wrought out freedom under the British flag by peaceful and proper means, a freedom that will be permanent because it has been a growth, and we have an intellectual grasp of it that holds it forever. He hoped the idea of veneration would make them appreciate the past and looking along the line of progress see that the things the loyalists fought for are the principles that should govern this country, and that along the lines of loyalty Canada will continue to be the gem of the British crown. SILAS ALWARD, EX-M. P, P. was given an ovation as he advanced to the front. He had, he said, resolved to enroll himself as a member of this society for two reasons. First, because 106 years ago his grandfather landed on this jutting promontory that is now a flourishing city; and second, because he wished to accentuate his firm and sincere adhesion to British institutions, which he hoped to see perpetuated in this country. Alluding to the great change brought about by the union of the cities Dr. Alward said that at such a time, and on this particular day, our minds naturally revert to the time when the three thousand landed here. The outlook was a cheerless one; but they were men of faith and men of hope. They had faith in themselves, faith in British institutions, and they had hope. In eloquent words the speaker described the splendid city of today and the achievements of the loyalists and their descendants. We have, he said, a great future if our duty is but done. We have a splendid heritage. Along the lines of latitude within which our country lies have risen the grandest civilization and development through all the ages. Man, in contact with nature in her ruder and harsher aspects, achieves his best development. Such men were those who redeemed Belgium and Holland from the ocean, and fought back with equal courage and success the splendid armies of the king of Spain. Such men laid the foundations of this city, and the same indomitable spirit has overcome the effects of financial crises and of the great fire and has built up the city of today. The same spirit will make it one of the finest cities in the Dominion in the years to come. Dr. Alward read extracts from an article on Canada by Charles Dudley Warner, in which the future of the country was forecast in brilliant prospect. Speaking of Canada’s future status Mr. Warner mentioned three of the possibilities, and concluded with the words "annexation—never." And so say I, declared Dr. Alward with emphatic vigor. Annexation never! I believe so long as the spirit of the loyalists exists the watch word will be “annexation never." It is a source of pride with an Englishman if his ances¬tors came over with the Norman. The time will come—nay, has come—when it is our boast that our ancestors came with the loyalists. RECORDER JACK, after alluding to pride of ancestry and the venerable eastern custom of meeting at stated periods to recite the deeds of the departed, said it was fitting that they should have such a society as this and that they should recite the deeds of those from whom they traced their lineage. It was but too common to speak of the loyalists with contempt, as a body of persons who were loyal because they believed that would be the winning side in the conflict. He believed it could be shown that the great majority - there were some self-seekers in every party - but the great majority were actuated by higher motives than those attributed to them. And they were actuated by principles of sound common sense, believing that the principles of government they fought for were with some modifications the best for the country. The speaker quoted Sir Henry Maine to illustrate the danger of a purely democratic government. He believed that as we give to the world our Canadian experience the world will recognize the value of the principles of the loyalists, which have proved capable of adapting themselves so well and so successfully to changing circumstances. Passing to their duty to the loyalists the speaker said it was more than sentimental. He strongly advocated the establishment of a museum for the reception of loyalist records and mementoes and a collection of the industrial resources of the land to which the loyalists came. It had been proposed that a fund be raised for this purpose. He made a strong and eloquent plea for such action by the society. Our ancestors, he said, made great and genuine sacrifices; can not we make small sacrifices? JAMES HANNAY read the following paper: Although the emigration of the loyalists was one of the most remarkable movements of the eighteenth century, involving as it did an unheard of amount of hardship, vast loss of property and illustrating to the fullest extent the devotion of our fathers to the British flag. It is a singular and regrettable circumstance that it has not yet had an adequate historian. While the so called “patriots” of the American revolution have been the subjects of unstinted laudation by their countrymen, the loyalists and their achievements have suffered from something like neglect, and even those in whose veins their blood flows have too frequently been ready to surrender their memory to the criticisms of their enemies. It is well known to students of history that much of what passes for truth, in regard to the lives and services of the promoters of the revolution, is absurdly false; unstinted laudation is seldom a correct description of the truth, as it is; and as the truth should prevail always, no true descendants of the loyalists should desire more than a fair and candid statement of the character and achievements of his fathers. But while we ask for no more than this we should be content with nothing less. The loyalist side of the story of the American revolution has never been fairly told. Lorenzo Sabine, whose work is a valuable mine of information on this subject, although in general impartial, must be regarded as a hostile witness. He was the son of a whig, a firm believer in the doctrine that the loyalists were wholly wrong, and therefore it was impossible that he should sympathize with them fully, although he condemned some of the outrages committed upon them. In most of the American histories the loyalists are painted in the darkest colors and the name tory is made to stand for ruffain and murderer. The dreadful outrages of which these men were the victims are concealed and the deeds of a few men who were driven to desperation and spurred to revenge by the wrongs they had suffered are represented as the acts of the whole body of loyalists. Few of the loyalists were men of letters and such as were appear to have had but little opportunity, amid the excitement of the period, of placing their views on this great question before the public in a permanent form. The only work of any length on the history of the war, which I can now recall as produced by a loyalist, was written by Judge Jones of New York a few years ago. But the circumstances under which it was published, in an expensive form and with but a limited edition, preclude the possibility of it ever attaining a large circulation and probably not one man in a hundred of the descendants of the loyalists of this city has ever seen or even heard of it. The late Dr. Ryerson, of Toronto, undertook the vindication of the character of the loyalists by the publication of a work upon them, but he unfortunately began it on too large a canvas, and before he could complete it he was too near the end of his remarkable career to do the subject full justice. It is therefore clear that a history of the loyalists, especially with reference to their settlement of this province and Nova Scotia, is a work that ought to be undertaken, and that without any unnecessary delay. I have long cherished the design of writing such a work, and in view of the interest that is now being taken in this society, there seems to be a better prospect of the success of such a work than ever before. One of the principal objects of this society is the collection of material bearing on the history of the loyalists, so that their descendants may be able to name and identify the ancestors from whom they have sprang. This is possible now because we are not so very far removed from the loyalists, but that some of their children are still living amongst us, although very aged, but it would not be possible a few years hence when none remain but those of the fourth and fifth generation from them. A careful search made new among old family papers which have been consigned to the lumber room, would doubtless disclose many interesting and valuable documents bearing on the history of the loyalists. The rule which requires a member of this society to submit a written statement tracing his descent from some loyalist ancestor was intended very largely to provide us with such historical material as must become of inestimable value as the years roll on. We shall feel greatly obliged to any estimable value as the years roll en. We shall feel greatly obliged to any member who, in addition to the statement of his descent, will furnish the society with a sketch, however slight, of the life and achievements of the loyalist from whom he is descended. I propose, as historian of this society, to copy all such documents into the record books, and it is intended at the end of each year to publish a volume of our transactions which shall include the genealogies of members, and such sketches of the lives of loyalists as can be obtained. In this way we shall be enabled to collect a great body of historical material of the utmost value, and I feel confident that some one among us will be found who will undertake the sacred duty of placing before the world such a history of the loyalists as will be read by their descendants with pride and pleasure, for it will be a story of the brave deeds of men who sacrificed their all for the sake of duty, as they understood it, and who refused to compromise with treason, even in treason’s hour of triumph. ALDERMAN T. W. PETERS referred gracefully to the filling of a great void in the society by the enrollment of a number of the ladies present as members. This naturally led the engaging alderman to enforce upon the value of sentiment, which he pointed out bed been behind ell great movements, in all ages. The sentiment of loyalty should be intensified. It was most unfortunate that anything tending toward annexation should be permitted to exist. We are of a citizenship that can afford to stand alone. We are confident that our neighbors will succeed, but no less confident of our own success. He believed our people would be no parties to the dismemberment of the empire. Concerning Mr. Jack’s proposal of a monument, Ald. Peters point¬ed out that if the 26 aldermen of the new city would contribute each his hundred dollars for the first year there would be a handsome nucleus for private contribution to grow around. He sincerely hoped all would earnestly for the society which would be a powerful element in the city now the fourth, but soon he believed to be the second in prominence among the cities of the Dominion. JUDGE PALMER, in response to loud calls, came forward and vigorously denounced the American historians who had defamed the loyalists. He was immensely pleased with the idea of a history of the loyalists being published, and would gladly contribute for such a purpose. In the course of his remarks Judge Palmer said that the only difference between Lyon McKenzie and George Washington was that the latter succeeded. And who, demanded his honor, now justifies Lyon McKenzie? They should strive to rescue the memory of their ancestors from the obloquy heaped upon them. The speaker referred in the most eulogistic terms to the ability of Joseph Lawrence as a historian, and hoped he could be induced to write the history of the loyalists. In conclusion, his honor dwelt upon the glory of that great empire whose constition has existed for a thousand years. THE CHAIRMAN in a few concluding remarks, coupled the names of James Hannay and Joseph . Lawrence as those of the men whose combined knowledge and ability, together with the many old documents held by Mr. Lawrence, and the information got through the agency of this society, would lead to the production of a most valuable history of the loyalists, their deeds and principles, their struggles and sufferings, their manners and customs. The meeting then adjourned. The band adjourned from the square , about the same time and the crowd soon followed. Silence gradually fell, broken only by the rippling of the fountain, and the mournful creaking of the tired Old Burial Ground fence, as it swayed gently back and forth in the wind blowing over the graves of the Loyalists. NOTES. Speaking of relics, why should not the Old Burial Ground fence be placed in Mr. Jack’s museum? It is a very old fence. There is a tradition that the loyalists hewed the timber. The new society has already among its members the lieutenant governor of the province, the chief justice, the equity judge, two members of parliament, two editors, the city recorder and other officials and many leading men in the professions, in mercantile life, and the various branches of industry.