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The Arrival of Gen. La Fayette in Pennsylvania in 1824

Transcribed by Nancy Piper


Arrival of Gen. La Fayette in Pennsylvania.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) October 13 1824

From the Franklin Gazette, Sept. 22

On Monday morning, Gen. La Fayette crossed the Delaware at Trenton, and arrived at Morrisville on the Pennsylvania side. He was conducted over the river by the Governor of New Jersey and the Trenton committee of arrangement. At Morrisville he was received by the Governor of Pennsylvania, his staff, the Philadelphia, committee of arrangement, and numerous troops and citizens of Bucks and the city. The Governor then addressed Gen. La Fayette in an appropriate and impressive speech, to which the General made a brief and happy reply. Copies of both have been furnished to the committee off arrangement for publication. It was impossible, says an observer of the interesting scene, to witness the meeting of the Governor and Gen. La Fayette without the deepest emotion. The eloquent and feeling address of the Governor; the affectionate reply of the General; the profound silence, the deep attention, the eager gaze of the beholders; the splendor of the military army, surrounding the field of reception; the spontaneous pouring out of the gratitude of the whole people, under a brilliant sky, which appeared to beam the smiles of Omnipotence upon the scene, produced altogether an effect of almost awful moral grandiose, which baffles description, and would put to the blush the utmost efforts of European pageantry." The General and his suite having breakfasted, in company with the Governor, his aids, the city committee, the Hon. Mr. Ingham, and several other respectable gentlemen, at the hospitable mansion of Mr. Waddell of Morrisville, he reviewed the military assembled there; and being placed with Joseph S. Lewis, Esq., in the splendid barouche, drawn by six dark cream-colored horses, with two outriders on horses of the same color, the General proceeded for Bristol. The Governor, and his son, George Washington La Fayette followed in a handsome barouche drawn by four black horses. The First Troop under Lieut. Simmons acted as the immediate escort of the General. Other troops from the county and from Bucks, and a numerous cavalcade of citizens, attended him to Bristol, where he arrived at one o'clock and dined. The whole surrounding country poured its inhabitants into Bristol to witness the arrival there of "the nation's guest." Dinner being over, the General resumed his journey, accompanied as before, and reached Frankford at a quarter before seven o'clock on Monday evening. All along the road, multitudes of people announced their joy at his approach by loud and long-continued acclamations. Frankford presented a scene of joy and gaiety seldom witnessed in a place of its population and extent. A general illumination, an elegant arch, music, the shouts of the busy and admiring crowd assembled there, united to celebrate the arrival of the friend of Washington and mankind. Several ladies and gentlemen were introduced to him. The General lodged at the Arsenal on Monday night, and breakfasted there the next morning.

Reception of La Fayette in Philadelphia.

Early yesterday morning, the city of Philadelphia and the Southern and Northern Liberties presented a scene of bustle, intense anxiety, and universal preparation for the reception of "the nation's guest," that beggers all description. All the stores, offices and shops were closes; all business was suspended; and the whole city seemed to be in motion towards Kensington by 7 o'clock. By 8 o'clock it was extremely difficult to proceed on horseback to the field of review, which was on the Frankfort road, about a mile and a half from Kensington. Every street and every road on the route were literally thronged with the military and multitudes of both sexes and all ages and conditions. We nevertheless succeeded in reaching the ground by 9 o'clock. The field of review was judiciously selected. It is situated on the south side of the road leading from the city to Frankford, and gradually rises fro nearly one quarter of a mile, affording to the spectators a most commanding view of the whole line of troops. By ten o'clock, the different corps of volunteers of the first division of Pennsylvania militia, infantry, artillery and cavalry, and the volunteers from Bucks, Lancaster, Dauphin, Lebanon, Berks, Northampton, Lehigh, Montgomery and New Jersey, the whole amounting to five or six thousand, under Maj. General Cadwalleder, were formed in an oblong square. No troops ever exhibited a more soldier-like and elegant appearance.

At a quarter past 10 o'clock, the General, accompanied by the Governor of Pennsylvania, entered the field in the elegant barouche and six which had been provided by the committee to convey him from Morrisville to the city. His arrival was announced by the acclamations of at least fifty thousand people assembled to witness it, and by a grand salute of one hundred guns from the artillery under the command of Col. Prevost. The barouche drawn by four black horses, containing the son of Gen. La Fayette, and several other barouches also entered the field. In a few moments the General descended from his carriage, and was introduced to Major General Brown, the field officers and others. Attended by the Governor and General Calwallader on his right, and by Major Gamble on his left, General La Fayette then passed along the whole line of troops on foot, with his hat off, and bowing at almost every step. The bands of music attached to the different corps of volunteers, played a variety of appropriate tunes and marches during the review. A fine corps of mounted officers under Colonel Darlington, from Chester, dismounted, and were also reviewed. We understand that the General expressed himself highly delighted with the admirable appearance and conduct of the troops.

The review was, without any exception, the most splendid military exhibition we have ever seen. After the General had walked around the immense line of the square, embracing an area of 40 acres, he took his position in the centre of the field, and the whole of the troops wheeled into column, and performed the marching salute. The regularity of the movements of a body of five or six thousand men, all in splendid uniform, marching and countermarching in various directions, yet all with the utmost precision, and accompanied by their respective bands of music, was most imposing and pleasing. And our fellow citizens are much indebted to the commanding general, his officers and men, for affording our distinguished visitor so favorable a view of our military character.

At about 12 o'clock, they took up the line of march to the city. The military and civic procession was formed between 12 and 1 o'clock, the advance of the latter resting on Kensington bridge. About 1 o'clock the procession commenced its march. - Major General Cadwaller and his staff, Major Gamble of the marine Corps, and the mounted officers of the militia of the first division and the neighboring counties, among whom were two or three heroes of the revolution, formed the advance of the procession. Brigadier General Patterson and his staff succeeded at the head of the first division of Pennsylvania volunteers, including a squadron of cavalry under command of captain J.R.C. Smith, colonel Watmough's battalion of infantry, and the artillery under colonel Prevost. After these followed three open carriages with some of the committee of arrangement. Then came the Welcome Guest Of The Nation, accompanied by the venerable Judge Peters, a patriot of the revolution, in the splendid barouche and six, succeeded by the Governor, his aids, and the adjutant general of Pennsylvania, in a barouche and four, the son and Secretary of General La Fayette in another barouche, and General Brown and the Governor of New Jersey in their carriages. In the rear of these were a troop of cavalry and some infantry. Then commenced the civic part of the procession, at the head of which was Chief Marshal Swift, attended by two or three of his aids, and other aids being stationed in different positions in the line. The surviving soldiers of the revolution, seated in three successive large open carriages, with appropriate mottos and devices, followed the chief marshal. Then came the Printers, a part of whom were actually engaged in striking off, with a Franklin press, impressions of an "Ode To General La Fayette, written by James N. Barker, Esq.

The young men of the city and county, the cordwainers, the weavers and other manufacturers, two beneficial societies, the shipwrights and ropemakers, the young lads and other numerous bodies of citizens, the butchers mounted on gray horses, and in their appropriate uniform, blue pantaloons and white frocks, the wagoners, caters and draymen, the agriculturists, and the members of various other occupations, completed the civic part of the procession. They were followed by the second brigade of volunteers under General Castor, the Montgomery and other volunteers from neighboring counties, some of the cavalry, and "mounted citizens," with the "star-spangled banner," "the Cadmus," and "the spirit of '76," which closed the entire procession. In every square along which the procession moved, from Kensington inclusive, to the State House, scaffoldings were erected, with benches and seats on them, and they were filled with spectators, chiefly females, to welcome La Fayette to our city. The windows of the houses were thrown open; they were crowded and decorated with elegant and well dressed ladies, who joined in the huzzas and applauses as the General passed along. The venerable hero rode with his hat in hand, and was constantly bowing in acknowledgement of these gratifying testimonials of gratitude and esteem.

In the Northern Liberties, the procession passed under several beautiful arches raised on honor of the General. One in particular, erected in Fourth near Green streets, under the direction of the corporation of that district, struck us as peculiarly fine. Three or four other arches were almost equally handsome. All had on them mottos and devices appropriate to the occasion, and in allusion to the memorable event they were designed to celebrate. On the top of the arch at the corner of Fourth & Race streets, sat a living Eagle, who, although in bondage, seemed proud of the exalted station which he occupied.

When General La Fayette crossed Vine street into the city, the John Adams, under captain Dallas, moored at the wharf at the end of that street, fired a salute of twenty-one guns.

As the General passed the dwelling of Mrs. Robert Morris in Chestnut street, he rose on his feet in the barouche, and respectfully bowed to her in the most graceful manner.

At 5 o'clock, he arrived at the State House; his arrival there was announced by another salute from the John Adams, which had dropped down to Chestnut street wharf. Previous to this the military were drawn up into two lines facing inwards. As the veteran passed between these lines, he descended from his barouche, and was conducted under the civic arch into the Hall of the Declaration of Independence, the shouts of the immense multitude collected about this spot, the waving of hats by the crowd that filled the side space in front of the State House, and of handkerchiefs from the thronging balconies, galleries and windows, resplendent with beauty, gave an animation to the scene which cannot be easily described. A fine band of music played the appropriate air, "See the conquering Hero Comes," as he alighted and passed along the covered way, and through the main door of entrance into the vestibule. He several times stopped to bow in various directions to the friends who surrounded him on every side. After the General had been conducted by the committee into a room adjoining the Hall of Independence, the procession moved on. The proper arrangement having been made, the General was ushered into the Hall of Independence. At the upper end of the Hall, near the statue of Washington, sat the Mayor, with our guest and the Governor of the State. On the left of the sofa were the chairs occupied by the Governor's suite. The members of the Select and Common Councils were arranged in the front row of chairs on either side of the hall, extending in semi-circular lines, and behind them, on corresponding lines, were the Recorder and Aldermen, the members of the Cincinnati, Officers of the Army and Navy, and distinguished citizens and guests. Among the latter were distinguished General B?Ow?, with his suite, Commodore Steward, Commodore Barron, Commodore Nicholson, Major Gamble and Captain Biddle. After the address of the Mayor, which was followed by a cordial embrace, and the reply of the General, which was delivered with much feeling, and in a most unaffected manner, the company were individually presented; the suite of the Governor, the Cincinnati and the presidents of councils, by the Mayor; the councils by their respective presidents; the aldermen by the Recorder; and the citizens and guests by Joseph S. Lewis, Esq., of the committee of councils. On passing the Bank of the United States, where the surviving officers of the revolution and the Marine Corps were assembled, the barouche of the General stopped, while he stood up and made a short but affectionate address to the former.

The General was conducted under a suitable escort from the Hall of Independence to the Mansion House, where he resides while he remains in the city.

The other venerable surviving soldiers of the revolution, in cars, with appropriate emblems and mottos, were loudly cheered as they passed. This was delightful. They were highly animated, and frequently uncovered their hoary heads to answer the huzzas of the people.

At the grand arch in the Northern Liberties, a choir of well dressed youths of both sexes, arranged on either side of the road, chaunted a hymn of praise and welcome to the friend of our country.

The part the ladies took in the welcome is very creditable; they were all vivacity and beauty, and their charms lost nothing by negligent attire. All that dress could add to nature was liberally bestowed.

At night, the whole city, the Northern Liberties, and Southwark were brilliantly illuminated. We have never seen anything of the kind at all comparable to this. Transparencies of every description; lamps and candles put into every variety of forms; all the devices and designs which ingenuity could invent, or art or industry carry into effect, to give splendor to the illumination, were everywhere to be seen. The civic arch was beautifully illuminated with variegated lamps. The Museum, the State House, all the public office, the Bank of the United States, the other Banks, all Chesnut street, were almost literally in a blaze of magnificent lights. So attractive was that srett that from half past 7 to 10 o'clock, it was extremely difficult to pass up and down.

Not only the pavement on either side, but the middle of the street, was crowded to excesss. Washington Square and several other streets, were lighted up with a splendor littler inferior to Chesnut. The John Adams was also beautifully illuminated.

We have given but a mere outline of the reception of "the Nation's Guest" yesterday. Not an accident occurred to mar the universal pleasure derived from the animating and splendid scene, which was witnessed or participated in by at least one hundred thousand people.

The following is the address of the Mayor to the General.

"General: The citizens of Philadelphia welcome to their homes the patriot who has long been dear to their hearts.

Grateful at all times for the enjoyment of a free government, they are, on this occasion, peculiarly anxious but unable to express a deep felt sentiment of pure affection towards those venerated men whose martial and civil virtues, under Providence, have conferred upon themselves and their descendants this mighty blessing.

Forty-eight years ago, in this city, and in this hallowed hall, which may emphatically be called the Birth-place of Independence, a convention of men, such as the world has rarely seen, pre-eminent for talents and patriotism, solemnly declared their determination to assume for themselves the right of self-government, and that they and their posterity should thenceforth assert their just rank among the nations of the earth. A small but cherished band of those who breasted the storm and sustained the principles thus promulgated to the world still remain. In the front rank of these worthies, history will find, and we now delight to honor, General La Fayette, whose whole life has been devoted to the cause of freedom, and to the support of the unalienable rights of men.

General: Many of your copatriots have passed away, but the remembrance of their virtues and their services shall never pass from the minds of this people; their's is an imperishable fame, the property of ages yet to come. But we turn from the fond recollection of the illustrious dead to hail with heartfelt joy the illustrious living, and again bid welcome, most kindly and affectionately welcome, to the guest of the nation, the patriot La Fayette."

To this address the General replied:

"My entrance through this fair and great city amidst the most solemn and affecting recollections, and under all the circumstances of a welcome which no expression could adequately acknowledge, has excited emotions in my heart, in which are mingled the feeling of nearly fifty years.

Here, sir, within these sacred walls, by a council of wise and devoted patriots, and in a style worthy of the deed itself, was boldly declared the independence of these vast United States, which, while it anticipated the independence, and I hope the republican independence, of the whole American hemisphere, has begun, for the civilized world, the era of a new and of the only true social order founded on the unalienable rights of man, the practicability and advantages of which are every day admirably demonstrated by the happiness and prosperity of your populous city.

Here, sir, was planned the formation of our virtuous, brave, revolutionary army, and the providential inspiration received, that gave the command of it to our beloved matchless Washington. But these and many other remembrances are mingled with a deep regret for the numerous contemporaries, for the great and good men, whose loss we have remained to mourn. It is to their services, sir, to your regard for their memory, to your knowledge of the friendships I have enjoyed, that I refer the greater part of the honors here and elsewhere received, mush superior to my individual merit.

It is also under the auspices of their venerated names, as well as under the impulse of my own sentiments, that I beg you, Mr. Mayor, you gentlemen of both councils, and all the citizens of Philadelphia, to accept the tribute of my affectionate respect and profound gratitude."

Address of Governor Shulze

Gen. La Fayette:

The citizens of Pennsylvania behold with the most intense feeling, and exalted regard, the illustrious friend and companion of Washington.

With sentiments of the highest veneration and gratitude, we receive the early and great benefactor of the United States, the Philanthropist and Patriot of both hemispheres.

The sincere and universal joy which your arrival has diffused over the nation, is no where more deeply or enthusiastically felt, than in Pennsylvania; whose fields and streams are rendered memorable by your achievements; whose citizens were the followers of your standard, and the witnesses of your sacrifices, and toils, in the defense of American Liberty. The eventful scenes of your useful life are engraven on our hearts. A nation has rejoiced at your successes, and sympathized with your sorrows.

With ardent pleasure we have ever observed your strenuous exertions as the friend of man; whilst your great services, rendered in the cause of humanity, have commanded our admiration, the purity of your motives has insured the love and affection of Americans.

With the best feelings of the heart we now approach you, with the assurance that if anything could add to our happiness on this interesting occasion, it would be the hope of enjoying the distinguished honor of your permanent residence among us, and that a long and splendid life of usefulness may be closed in the State whose soil has been moistened with your blood, generously shed in the cause of Virtue, Liberty and Independence.

Answer of General La Fayette.

On the happy moment, long and eagerly wished for, when I once more tread the soil of Pennsylvania, I find in her affectionate welcome, so kindly expressed by her first magistrate, a dear recollection of past favors and a new source of delightful gratifications. The very name of this State, and her capital, recall to the mind those philanthropic and liberal sentiments, which have marked every step of their progress.

Pennsylvania has been the theatre of most important events: a partaker in the arduous toils and meritorious sacrifices, which have insured the success of our glorious and fruitful Revolution. I particularly thank you, sir for your gratifying mention of my personal obligations to the Pennsylvania line; nor will I ever forget, that on Pennsylvania ground, not far from this spot, I enjoyed for the first time, the delight to find myself under American tents, and in the family of our beloved Commander in Chief. Now, Sir, Pennsylvania is in full possession, and reaps all the prosperities, and happy consequences of that great national union, of those special institutions which by offering in a self governed people, the most perfect example of social order that ever existed, have reduced to absurdity, and ridicule, the anti-popular arguments of pretended statesmen in other countries. In whatever manner I may be disposed of, by the duties and feeling in which you have been pleased to sympathize, I shall ever rank this day among the most fortunate in my life; and while I beg your Excellency personally to accept my cordial acknowledgments, I have the honor to offer to him, as Governor of the State, a tribute of my profound gratitude, and respectful devotion, to the Citizens of Pennsylvania.

La Fayette


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