The First Jubilee Meeting
From the New York Times, 4/11/1865
The Mansion of Jeff. Davis – Temper of the People – Government of the City – The Late Rebel Newspapers – The “Whig” and its New Editors – Jubilee Meeting.
From Our Own Correspondent.
RICHMOND, Friday, April 7, 1865.
The mansion of JEFF. DAVIS is, of course, a great centre of attraction. It is situated at the corner of Marshall and Governor streets, in a very sightly location, about three squares north of the capitol, and is a substantial, unostentatious mansion of a somewhat antiquated style, but presenting an air of solidity and decided comfort. It is not roomy enough for much display, but an inspection of its interior reveals quite as much elegance as could be expected from the limited resources of the Confederacy.
The rooms on the main floor are about eight in number and Brussels and velvet carpets, lace and damask curtains, rosewood, set in blue and gold, marble-top chairs and lounges in rep and richer covering, abound with the same degree of good taste and profusion that prevail in the mansions of many of your well-to-do New-Yorkers. The bedrooms are luxuriously furnished; while the china and glassware, and the culinary arrangements generally, attest the fact of good living on the part of the occupants. The house was left, in fact, by DAVIS, but most of the family effects were removed. Mrs. JEFF. had packed her trunks and gone to the country a few days before, and did not have time to return before the city was evacuated. She has probably joined her refugee husband before this.
JEFF. DAVIS’ carriage, built for him three years ago in New-Orleans, at an expense of three thousand dollars, is among our captures. It was taken to the Danville depot, but there was no room for it, and then it was run up against one of the walls to burn; but by some good fortune it was rescued, though in a slightly damaged condition. It is in good running order, however, and with a few repairs it will again be quite a stylish vehicle. The pair of bay horses that he used to drive were run out of the city, together will all the other live stock.
In regard to the temper of the people of the city, no intelligent opinion can yet be formed. They are very docile, and the property owners who suffered by the fire are very gloomy. The poorer classes express their gratification openly at the Union occupancy of the city, and the negroes, of course, are overjoyed. The fire, caused as it was, will have an influence toward causing many of the citizens to renew their loyalty. They will do so for two reasons: First, because the ruin brought upon them was by the hands which should have protected them, and second, because being reduced to poverty they will find pecuniary profit in no other way than by becoming loyal citizens again.
The city is being governed at present by the Provost-Marshal system. They very best executive capacity in the country should be required for the military governorship of Richmond. The citizens should be shown that they are to be allowed the utmost latitude of personal freedom and privileges of commerce consistent with military occupation, and the development of loyalty thus fostered, must be respected by those who are still devotes of the rebellion at heart if not in action.
The functions of the civil authorities have been suspended by military order, and military rule will alone govern the city corporation. Assistance from the Mayor and the legislative branch of the city government, so far as they can cooperate, will undoubtedly be cheerfully given. The police regulations will of course be military, but the sanitary condition of the city may be left to the city authorities.
All the prominent private citizens, with very few exceptions, remain in the city. Among the merchants this is particularly the case. They apparently had little desire to get away before the evacuation, and still less since their great losses by the fire. Among the heaviest sufferers by the fire is HORACE L. KENT, of the firm of KENT, PAYNE & CO., the largest dry-goods house in Richmond, and well known in New York. I hear Mr. KENT classed as a Union man by those who pride themselves upon their loyalty to the rebellion.
The flouring-mills of Richmond have long been among the best known and most extensive on the continent. The two largest, which will be recognized at once by every flour dealer in the chief cities in the Union, were Gallagher's [sic: Gallego], owned by Messrs. WARWICK & BARKSDALE, and HAXALL & CRENSHAW’S. The former, the larger of the two, and eleven stories in height, were burned. HAXALL & CRENSHAW’S stands uninjured, and how it happened to be saved seems very strange. It contains no flour or grain, but its machinery is ready for operation .
The Richmond papers are, with one exception non est. It is to be presumed that the people of the North are anxious to know what kind of men their editors were and who they were. I have some facts in regard to them that are worth knowing. The Sentinel, whose establishment was not destroyed, was owned and edited by RICHARD M. SMITH, and the supposition that JEFF. DAVIS or BENJAMIN actually wrote leaders for it is a mistake. The proprietor is here but says he will not take the oath.
The Dispatch was completely burned up, and it proprietors have left the city. Its chief editor was HUGHER PLEASANT, who is still here. The Enquirer was also burned up. It was edited by its owners, TYLER ALLIGER, who are gone. The Examiner presses and machinery were destroyed and the type removed. It was owned by JOHN M. DAVIS and H. E. POLLARD. DANIELS died about ten days ago. Its editors were JOHN MITCHELL and E. A. POLLARD. MITCHELL decamped, but both the POLLARDS are still here stopping at the Spottswood House. I have heard that E. A. POLLARD, well-known for his Southern history of the war, is said to be seeking a passport to leave the country.
He will thus do his country the only service of which he is capable. The Whig is still issued, now as a loyal paper, by one of its former proprietors. But the others, and its chief editor, McDONALD, are gone. Mr. GRAHAM, one of the assistant editors, remains, and the papers has already improved in appearance, tone, and vivacity. The new editor that the Whig announces will shortly assume control of its columns is understood to be ROBERT RIDGEWAY, Esq., of Bedford County, one of the strongest Union men in the State. The Whig building was the last in Richmond to float the Union flag. This is the present condition of those sheets and their pugnacious editors. The manufacturers of last ditch opinions are defunct institutions.
I shall never forget a scene I witnessed, yesterday, at the Historical African Church, on Broad street, where, it will be remembered, the Richmond rebels, just after the close of the Peace Conference, held a great meeting, and sought to fire anew the great Southern heart. I don’t wonder the attempt failed. It was simply a bit of spite to use this church edifice for such a purpose, and to utter such sentiments in the temple made sacred by the suppressed prayers for freedom of the thousands of black worshippers who assembled there, was simple sacrilege.
It is an evidence of the lack of faith in their cause that the rebels should choose the most unostentatious edifice in Richmond for their purpose. This church is built in the form of a cross, and will seat perhaps fifteen hundred persons. It is perfectly plain in its furnishings, and is about the last place one would think of selecting for getting up any particular enthusiasm on any other subject than religion. Had the rebels thought their cause worthy of it, there were a dozen churches in Richmond, far more appropriate for their purpose, where secession was regularly preached by that peculiar instinct which the colored man uses with such success.
Word was circulated yesterday, that in the afternoon there would be a “Jubilee Meeting” at the church. By the time services had commenced the building was crammed with a black mass of humanity, and among them were many of our colored soldiers. When we entered, the audience was singing WATTS’ hymn, beginning
“Jesus my all to Heaven is gone.”
and after each line repeating three times the following, with great emphasis:
I’m going to join in this army;
I’m going to join in this army of my Lord."
When they came to the verse commencing, "This is the way I long have sought"
the emphasis was so significant that the smiles of the spectators could hardly be repressed.
After an appropriate prayer by a member of the Christian Commission, the Rev. Dr. BARROWS, of Andover Theological Seminary, preached a very eloquent and appropriate sermon. Care was taken that nothing should be said to arouse the passions or resentments of the slaves; and the exercises closed amid the greatest good feeling. It was, indeed, another marked evidence of the great revolution, as we contrast it with the meeting held in the same church two months ago.
“The mills of God grind slowly,
But they grind exceedingly fine.”
L. L. CROUNSE.