June 29, 1814
On this date, in New York City, occurred a “Celebration of the restoration of the Bourbons–the return of peace to Europe–and the downfall of Bonaparte.” Governeur Morris (earlier a member of the Constitutional Convention) gave the oration, which the Evening Postclaimed contained “a lesson of profound political wisdom, dressed in a garb of splendid eloquence.” Morris’ oration concludes with this celebratory paragraph: “The royal house now reigns. The Bourbons are restored. Rejoice France! Spain! Portugal! You are governed by your legitimate kings. Europe! rejoice. The Bourbons are restored. The family of nations is completed Peace, the dove descending from heaven, spreads over you her downy pinions. Nations of Europe, ye are her brethern once more. Embrace. Rejoice. And thou, too, my much wronged country! My dear, abused, self-murdered country, bleeding as thou art, rejoice. The Bourbons are restored. Thy friends now reign. The long agony is over. The Bourbons are restored.”–Evening Post, July 1, 1814
But, an opposing paper, the National Advocate claimed that, “The 29th of June will be long memorable in the annals of this city. On that day a party of gentlemen assembled to celebrate, what they called, ‘the emancipation of Europe from the yoke of military despotism.‘” The editor then proceeded to list what was NOT celebrated:
“Not to celebrate the partition of Poland, and its reunion and annexation to the bloated colossus of Russia; not to celebrate the partition of France and the shutting of the Scheldt; nor to celebrate the anticipated conquest of Norway, by way of indemnity for Finland, robbed by Russia from Sweden; not to celebrate the final extinguishment of the Republics of Venice and Genoa; not to celebrate the destruction of the ancient Dutch constitution and the new family compact between the houses of Brunswick and Orange, by which Holland becomes an English province; not to celebrate the acquisition by Britain of all the ships, colonies, and commerce of the world, and the blasting of the hopes of the patriots of Spanish America. Nor was it to celebrate the downfall of the Inquisition; nor to celebrate the emancipation of the Catholics of Ireland and the Jews of the European continent; nor to celebrate the reform of the British parliament, and the establishment of one Republic in the world; nor for the restoration of the balance of power by land or sea; nor to celebrate the restitution of the Danish fleet, feloniously taken at Copenhagen; nor to celebrate the victories of our Pike, and Harrison, and Jackson, and Perry, and Hull, and Jones, and Decatur; nor to celebrate the return of the blessings of peace to our won country. No! These were not the motives for that festival. ‘THE BOURBONS ARE RESTORED.’ The new French dynasty is discarded, and the old royal family recalled to the throne. For these events they resolved to REJOICE.”
Apparently some two thousand New Yorkers agreed, for, as the Commercial Advertiser reported on June 30, 1814, they collected in front of the Hall where the celebratory dinner was given: “They appeared much enraged, used much severe and insulting language, and broke a number of the windows. Some of the stones thrown into the Hall struck one or two of the gentlemen at the Table.
The abuse of the orator, Governeur Morris” continued for several days in the National Advocate, concluding, on July 13, with this reference to Mr. Morris: “From such men, in whose bosoms every manly and generous feeling has long since been stifled by cold blooded sophistry, and a blind and stupid admiration of every thing royal and loyal, nothing can be looked for but the most abasing sentiments, cloathed in a puerile diction, indicating the decline of taste as well as intellect.”
About the Author
Mary Bowden is a researcher working at the Texas Collections Deposit Library at the University of Texas. A little-known but invaluable treasure of U.S. history and the history of American journalism is archived in the collection of bound United States’ Newspapers at the University of Texas at Austin. The collection began more than a century ago and has been stored in recent years in the Texas Collections Deposit Library on the campus of the University of Texas. The sizeable archive is currently in the early stages of being digitized before being moved to a more climate-controlled environment at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus of the University, on the north side of Austin.