Report of Remarks to the Pioneer Fire Company of Springfield, Illinois, 5 July 18581
The “Pioneers” entertained their guests, the “Union Fire Company” of Jacksonville, at the St. Nicholas Hotel, where a most bountiful dinner was served for them at 2½ o’clock on Monday. We understand that they had a “good time,” occupying over two hours in testing the quality of the viands set before them, as well as investigating the contents of a large number of silver necked bottles, which ornamented the tables. The intervals were acceptably filled by stirring music by the Young America and Merritt’s Cornet Bands. A number of invited guests were present, and wit and sentiment passed gaily round the board. We subjoin a few of the toasts drank:
By his honor, Mayor Priest— Welcome Union Fire Company of Jacksonville, to the brotherhood of firemen of Springfield.
By Hon. A. Lincoln— “The Pioneer Fire Company.” May they extinguish all the bad flames, but keep the flame of patriotism ever burning brightly in the hearts of the ladies.
By Geo. Watson— “Our Firemen.” The gallant soldiers that never surrender, and abandon the field only when the fire is conquered.
By Col. McClernand— “The Fire Department of our City.” If they are as efficient in extinguishing fires in future, as they have here, there will be none in purgatory.
By Doctor Bell— “The Flag of our Country.” Palsied be the arm, and recreant the government that would shrink from its protection, while floating over free American bottoms.2
By Capt.[Captain] Mitchell— “The Freedom of the Ocean.” Let Her who dares to invade it, seek another dress-ing place.3
By Capt. Reading— “Pioneers of Springfield and members of ‘the Union,’ one and inseparable, now and for ever.”
By T. W. Kidd— “The Union Fire Company of Jacksonville.” Their manly appearance and gentlemanly conduct demonstrates the old old maxim, “in union there is strength.”
1On July 7, 1858, the Daily Illinois State Journal published this report of a toast made by Abraham Lincoln on July 5. No manuscript version of this toast in Lincoln’s hand has been located.
On Saturday, July 3, 1858, Lincoln and several hundred Springfield residents, including the Pioneer Fire Company of Springfield, had traveled by train to Jacksonville to participate in that city’s Fourth of July celebrations. The residents of Springfield had attempted to plan their own festivities for the day, but arrangements failed to coalesce. Instead, the citizens of Springfield organized a parade and speeches to be held on Monday, July 5, with the Union Fire Company of Jacksonville among the groups invited to march in the parade. Following the parade and festivities, the Pioneer Fire Company hosted this dinner for the Union Fire Company in response to the hospitality they had received in Jacksonville two days earlier.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 3 July 1858, 2:1, 3:1; 6 July 1858, 2:1-4; 21 July 1858, 2:4; The Lincoln Log: A Daily Chronology of the Life of Abraham Lincoln, 3 July 1858, https://thelincolnlog.org/Results.aspx?type=CalendarDay&day=1858-07-03.
2“Bottoms” in this context are ships or vessels.
James A. H. Murray, ed., A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1888), 1:1016.
3In military usage, to “dress” troops is to form them in proper alignment.
James A. H. Murray, ed., A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1897), 3:660.
4Following this event, the Union and Pioneer fire companies both held meetings on July 12, 1858, at which each company passed resolutions of gratitude and appreciation for the other company and for the individuals and institutions that supported the visit of the Pioneer Fire Company to Jacksonville on July 3, and this visit by the Union Fire Company to Springfield on July 5, 1858.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 21 July 1858, 2:4.
Printed Document, 1 page(s), Daily Illinois State Journal, (Springfield, IL), 7 July 1858, 3:1