The Richmond Enquirer, January 25, 1861, p. 2, c. 1
The Meeting in Richmond on Wednesday Night
In pursuance of a call addressed to the workingmen of Richmond, some 1500 of our citizens assembled at the African Church, at 71/2 P.M., on Wednesday last. The meeting was promptly organized, Mr. Thos. H. Wynne, Chairman, and a committee of fifteen was promptly appointed to prepare resolutions, and immediately retired for that purpose. Calls were then made for different speakers, who declined addressing the meeting, most of them avowing that they had come as workingmen, only to assist in the business of the meeting.
A motion was then made for the appointment of a committee of three, to invite Mr. John Minor Botts to address the meeting. The motion met with vehement opposition, but finally a vote being taken, the chairman was of opinion that the "ayes" had a majority. Division being called for, great difficulty was found in obtaining a count in so crowded an assemblage; but from the best count that could be taken, the chair decided that the motion was adopted, and accordingly appointed a committee of three to wait on Mr. Botts. Several short and earnest speeches were made, the last of which was interrupted by the entrance of the committee of fifteen, who read an admirable report, strongly Southern in its sentiments. Some disorder was occasioned by objections made to the resolutions -- which were laid on the table, we believe, with a view to their being taken up when order should be restored. Another set of resolutions were offered, and were also tabled. At this point in the proceedings, Mr. Botts entered the hall, took his place on the stand, and attempted to speak. Whereupon, a member rose and proposed, that whereas a committee of three had been appointed to bring Mr. Botts in, another committee of the same number be appointed to carry him out, and at once. This proposal was hailed with enthusiastic applause. Mr. Botts attempted to speak, but was silenced by cries of "no!" "no!" Mr. Botts assumed a dignified attitude, which gave rise to new shouts with much merriment,. Mr. Botts lost his temper, gesticulated violently, and denounced the meeting as a "mob." -- This raised the excitement to a climax.
It is scarcely necessary for us to say that Mr. Botts was wrong to lose his temper. He sought to have expected nothing better than the treatment he received. Until his appearance, the meeting went on very comfortably, with occasional disorder, indeed, but not more than is generally witnessed in crowded public meetings. And we are humbly of opinion that the working men of Richmond could not have vindicated their dignity and patriotism, under the circumstances, in any better manner than by refusing to permit Mr. Botts to deliver another of his incendiary addresses. For our own part, we should regret very much to see a Richmond audience, in a crisis like the present, quietly listen to a speech either from Wm. R. Seward or John M. Botts.
Mr. Botts was obliged to take his seat, from whence he suggested, in an audible whisper, that the meeting be adjourned and a meeting of "friends of the Union" be called. Such a motion was made, a vote taken in the midst of much disorder, and the chairman pronounced the meeting adjourned and relinquished the chair. On motion, Mr. Wynne was again called to the chair, on assuming which he restored order, and informed the meeting that this being now, as he understood it, a meeting of the friends of the Union as it now exists, he was unwilling to preside over or participate in the action of such a meeting, and would hold the chair only until another Chairman could be appointed.
A motion was then made and carried for the immediate adjournment of the "Union meeting," and Mr. Wynne again vacated the chair. Mr. Botts, meanwhile, had put on his overcoat and retired from the hall.
After some delay the meeting was again organized, and many citizens having left, it was thought best not to proceed with the business first proposed, but to adjourn over, a committee being appointed to secure the Hall for another meeting. Good order was restored, and several speeches were made on the present state of political affairs.
One of the gentlemen appointed on the last named committee desired the withdrawal of his name, briefly announcing will put reasons to the following effect: that he was opposed to any attempt to draw a line of distinction, political or social, between the working men and any other description of citizens; that we ought to recognize no distinction of "classes," in political action; that as fellow-citizens we are equals, and ought to act together; that the working men are perfectly competent, individually, to maintain their dignity and equality; that he know of none of our citizens who possessed either the power or the desire to deprive working men of this equality; that in this country there is no necessity, such as exists under aristocratic governments, for separate political organization or action on the part of working men. Finally, that such separate action would breed useless jealousies and contention in the community.
The meeting adjourned, in good order, at about 11 o'clock, P.M.