The Great Union Meeting
The Fillmore and Donelson [Wikipedia] demonstration at Cincinnati, on Wednesday last, was fully equal to the anticipation of its most sanguine friends. We never had the pleasure of witnessing such a tremendous demonstration before, Cincinnati, Covington and Newport were perfectly thronged with moving masses. All the hotels and public houses were filled to overflowing, and thousands were provided for at private residences.
On Tuesday night, a large crowd met at the market house in Covington, and listened to speeches from Messrs. Hancock and Rankin, after which the meeting adjourned with cheers for Fillmore and the Union.
On Wednesday morning at 10 o'clock, a very large concourse of people convened in front of the Garrison in Newport, where the services were commenced by Col. T. L. Jones reading a letter from Hon. Andrew J. Donelson. After which the meeting was addresses by Major Downey and Mr. Hancock.
The procession formed about 3 ½ o'clock, P.M. in Cincinnati, and after marching through several of the principal streets, they proceeded to the Walnut street Ferry, where the Kentucky delegation left the procession. The procession marched to the Spencer House and was dismissed.
The Clermont Upon the River
This took place about 6 o'clock in the evening, shortly after the dismissal of the procession. A rope was suspended from shore to shore, and from this, directly over the center of the river, hung an immense national flag, with UNION on it. The rope was hardly perceptible, and the proud flag, whose lower end almost touched the water, seemed to sustain itself in the air. Three floating batteries were stationed in the river, the whole surface of which was alive with sailing and row-boats, gaily decorated with flags.
Shortly after 6 o'clock, the steamers Champion and Hartford City pushed out into the stream, the former from the Kentucky and the latter from the Ohio. Both were tastefully decorated with flags. On board the Champion were the Continental Band, a number of distinguished Kentuckians, among whom we noticed Maj. Bartlett, President of the National Council, and fifteen young ladies, all dressed in white, with blue sashes, each representing a Southern State.
On the Hartford City were Menter's Band, some two hundred persons, from various Northern States, including the Editor of the Reveille, and sixteen young ladies, dressed the same as the others, representing the Northern States.
As the boats pushed out from the shores the bands struck up the national air of “Hail Columbia.” The river side was at the time covered with dense masses of people, cheering and waving their handkerchiefs, and presenting an animated and magnificent scene. Both boats turned their bows upstream, and slowly proceeded some distance apart. As they reached the Union flag, they floated slowly toward each other, and soon were side by side. Cheers went up from those on board which was followed by a swell of voices from the two shores really indescribable. To those on the boats the scene was one of extraordinary interest. The banks of the river on the Kentucky shore were lined with people. On the Ohio side, the wharf seemed a sea of heads, while the steamers at the landing and the houses fronting the river were black with people. And such shouts as followed this union of the North and South we have seldom heard. At this interesting moment the batteries also poured forth their salutes, while the bands set forth “Yankee Doodle” to mingle in the din.
[This was followed by speeches by Col. Jones of the Kentucky side and E. P. Norton, Esq. Both were pro-union]
At the close of these addresses, both of which called forth frequent cheers, the bands struck up the “Star Spangled Banner.” As the strains of music reached the shore it was greeted with every demonstration of enthusiasm.
The Sisters of the South then crossed to the Hartford City, and formed a circle with the State of the North around a guard of four, dressed in continental dress, and bearing a National flag. The Union was completed. This ceremony, witnessed from the shore, called forth renewed and prolonged demonstrations of enthusiasm. The Sisters of the South next invited those of the North to their boat, where the circle was reformed. Each lady bore in her hand, a small flag, having the name of the state represented upon it. After this last Uniod, those of the South exchanged flags with those of the North, making a very pretty incident. The boats, lashed together, then proceeded up the river, amid shouts from the masses on the shores, and salutes from the batteries. They proceeded as far as the mouth of Deer Creek, and then descended to the Covington ferry landing, where, after a pleasant interchange, through Col. Finnel, on the part of Kentucky, and E. O. Norton, Esq., on the part of Ohio, the boats were separated and returned to their landings.
In the evening immense bonfires were lighted on the three shores. On the Cincinnati side several large bonfires illuminated the levee with the most brilliant light. Rockets were fired into the air from the wharves and from the floating batteries.
The streets leading to the wharf were soon crowded with people making their way thither. An immense crowd was soon there - far too large for computation. We never witnessed such enthusiasm as there was exhibited. Every man seemed determined to express his seal for Fillmore and the Union, and he did it to his utmost.
Excerpted from The Vevay Reveille, September 3, 1856