200 Alabama Bicentennial

Celebrating Alabama’s 200th birthday2017 2018 2019

Posted May 30, 2019

Six months before the Alabama Territory was admitted to the Union as the 22nd state, President James Monroe made an unexpected visit to Huntsville. Locals organized a banquet to honor the nation's fifth Commander-in-Chief. The Alabama Republican, a Huntsville-based newspaper, reported on the president's arrival and resulting festivities. In anticipation of this weekend's exciting historical reenactment, we decided to include the local newspaper's coverage of this event for your enjoyment:

                                                                   Arrival of the President

On Tuesday last the President of the United States with Mr. Governeur his private secretary and Lieut. Monroe of the Army, very unexpectedly arrived in Huntsville, and put up at the Inn. No intimation of his intention to visit our town had been received by any individual in it: but the citizens solicitous to shew [sic.] their respect to the Chief Magistrate of the Union, appointed a committee to wait upon his Excellency and invite him to a public dinner on which occasion C. C. Clay Esqr. addressed him nearly in the following words:

Sir,

    In behalf of the citizens of Huntsville, we have the honor to wait upon your excellency, and to communicate the joy with which we hail the arrival of the chief magistrate of the nation in our remote and humble village. Be assured, sir, we duly appreciate the motives which have prompted you to a repetition of the labours, we have already seen you perform in the north, by your visit to the southern portion of the United States. We are sensible of the great advantage of adding practical observation to that extensive information, which we have before seen so happily illustrated.

    Permit us to congratulate you on the general tranquility and prosperity which have prevailed, and on the valuable acquisition of territory which has been made, in our vicinity, under your enlightened administration. We assure you, that we contemplate with feelings of national pride the happy result of a policy founded in principle, and which has for its sole subject the exaltation of our country. If sir, your time and convenience will permit, we should be happy to give you some feeble testimony of our respect and affection, and to have the honor of your Excellency’s company, at a public dinner, on to-morrow.

To which the President answered in substance, that, he had undertaken the task of visiting different portions of the U. States, more particularly with a view of examining the situation of the fortifications and of selecting suitable sites to be put in a state of defence against foreign aggression, in the event of a future war, which he was happy to say, there was no immediate prospect of that he conceived it the duty of the chief magistrate of the Union to acquaint himself with a knowledge of the interior country over which he presided, and as far as was practicable to ascertain the state of society, and of improvement in agriculture, manufactures & c and also to enquire into the conditions of the Indian tribes which are dispersed through the western portion of the Union. In pursuance of these views he had made his former tour & now intended to continue as far west as his other official engagements would permit. He stated it was necessary for him to return to Washington by the 15th of July, when it was probably the Spanish treaty ceeding [sic.] the Floridas to the U.S. would be received at which time his presence at the seat of Government would be indispensable. He congratulated the committee, on the acquisition of the Floridas which he deemed so essential to the future security of this territory...and concluded by accepting the invitation to dinner.

On Wednesday at 4 o’clock, the President and suit together with more than one hundred of the most respectable Citizens of Madison County sat down to a sumptuous entertainment prepared by Capt. Irby Jones, at which Col. LeRoy Pope acted as President assisted by C. C. Clay and Henry Minor Esqrs as Vice-Presidents. After the cloth was removed the following sentiments were drank accompanied by the discharge of cannon, and appropriate songs.

                                                                              Toasts

  1. Our Country--She has proved that man is not incapable of self government; may her example have its influence throughout the world.
  2. The Constitution of the U. States. A legitimate form of government, instituted by express compact, and supported by the affections of the people.
  3. The memory of Washington.
  4. The heroes and sages of the Revolution--Many “have gone to the abodes of more than mortal freedom” the survivors will be sustained, in their declining years, by a grateful country.
  5. The memories of those who fell in the late war.--They preserved the independence their sires had won.
  6. Our distinguished Guest.--We rejoice that he lives to dispense the blessings which flow from the atchievements [sic.] in which he participated. His country will never forget the man whose life has been so successfully devoted to her service.
  7. The 8th of January 1815--As disgraceful to our enemy, as glorious to our country.
  8. Major Gen. Andrew Jackson--He knows is duty to his country, and performs it with energy and fidelity.
  9. General John Coffee--As long as we remember the 8th of January, we cannot forget the 23rd of Dec’r.
  10. Our Navy--Hercules in the cradle strangled the serpent.
  11. The Army of the United States. A specimen of our resources, when called forth by a necessary defence of our rights.
  12. The militia of the U. States--Freemen, who defend their homes and fire sides, will be invincible when their energies are directed by military science and discipline.
  13. The late treaty with Spain--It finishes the work begun by the acquisition of Louisiana.
  14. Agriculture, Commerce & Manufactures--The sources of national and individual prosperity.
  15. Education--A wise and liberal policy has laid the foundation on which it may flourish in our future state
  16. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison--Their names are identified with the virtue and talents of their country
  17. Franklin, Rittenhouse & Fulton. The science and arts of the civilized world will perpetuate their fame--man has not degenerated in the western Hemisphere.
  18. The memory of Lawrence--Let his last words be our motto in the hour of danger.
  19. The people of the territories west of the Mississippi--When their numbers entitle them, may they be admitted into the Union, with no other restrictions, than those prescribed by the Constitution
  20. The friends of freedom in South America--Struggling as we have done, may they become as we are
  21. Our fair Countrywomen--They feel the glow of patriotism, in common with those who defend them.                                                                                                                                                         By the President of the U S.                                                                                                                                 The Territory of Alabama--May her speedy admission into the Union advance her   happiness, and augment the national strength and prosperity.                                                         By the President of the day.                                                                                                                               John Adams of Braintree.--The firm and active patriot, during the struggle for our   Independence.                                                                                                                                                       By C C. Clay Esqr                                                                                                                                                       Public Sentiment--The best shield of merit.

     The company rose from the table about sun set, highly delighted with the entertainment they had received and the opportunity they had enjoyed of demonstrating their great regard and affection for Mr. Monroe, who now appeared to them more like a plain citizen than the Chief Magistrate of a great nation. The unostentatious [sic.] manners of this truly great man are eminently calculated to endear him to every body, and more particularly to those who had associated ideas of reverential fear, with human exaltation.

     The President left this on the ensuing day 3d inst. for Nashville, and was escorted by a number of respectable citizens several miles on his way: the whole company being on horseback he conversed freely with those who were nearest him, and after exchanging the most cordial expressions of respect and good will separated from them, with but a faint prospect of ever meeting many of them again.

 

***Image Source: Wikimedia Commons***

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