From the Richmond Commercial Bulletin, 7/6/1865, p. 3, c. 1
THE FOURTH AT THE CAPITOL. – At an early hour there was quite a gathering around the west front of the Capitol, consisting in a great degree of negroes, with a considerable admixture of blue jackets. – Here and there the Confederate gray was visible, while a few citizens, with a very small number of ladies, made up the concourse.
At the appointed hour the band opened the ceremonies with the “Star Spangles Banner,” a prayer was offered up by the Rev. Dr. J. N. Sane, and followed by the “Red, White and Blue,” for the band.
Miss Dr. Walker then proceeded to read the Declaration. Her voice was utterly inaudible to nine-tenths of the mass, but her reading appeared to be remarkably voluble. As the people had assembled, however, many of them, to see her, this was a matter of little moment. Dressed in her usual jaunty hermaphroditic style – in blue “oh, no, we never mention ‘ems” and a short skirted coat of the same color, adorned as to her shoulders with the gold leaf of a Federal major, a standing collar, and hair tucked up in a net – she was the observed of all observers.
The band filled up an interval with “Hail Columbia,” when Mr. Pierce, of California, proceeded to deliver, not the promised poem, but a speech. He addressed some sensible advice to the “colored population,” telling them he feared they did not understand that “freedom” meant simply the right to labor for themselves, but not to loaf or expect subsistence without labor; he advised them to go to work; that they would do well to get food and clothes at present, but that times would improve.
“Yankee Doodle” by the band followed, after which the Rev. Mr. Stickney, N. Y. Mounted Rifles, gave utterance to some remarks.
After more music by the band, the Rev. Wm. A. Barnes, 5th N. Y. Heavy Artillery, also addressed the crowd.
Mr. B. pronounced the benediction, the band struck up and the concourse dispersed.
The last two addresses were, we regret to say, unmanly and insulting tirades, poor in delivery, execrable in taste, and calculated rather to tear open the wounds of the past, which every true lover of peace wishes to bury, than to restore that spirit of harmony and concord which is now so desirable, and we imagine that if such is to be the character of Fourth of July addresses, the orators will in future have the rostrum and the field to themselves.
In other parts of the city the day was spent in various manners and ways. Social parties were predominant, and on a number of occasions a little too much fighting whiskey was taken aboard, and some disturbances arose on account of it. We heard of but very few fights, however, all ending in no serious results.
Several excursionists sought respite from the business of the day by a pleasant trip into the country. Those in the country were making trips to town. – On our way down, with a parcel of handsome ladies, we saw that the bridge this side of Mr. Stearns’ house was washed away, and a dangerous cut made to the right for the passage of vehicles. This new road is very narrow, and a splendid place to topple over carriages in a dark night, and should be widened without delay.
Pic-nics, in Confederate style, are getting to be fashionable, and a party of three, six or a dozen, make all the arrangements for filling their little baskets with cheese and economical delicacies, and lastly, and expectantly, make a crowded requisition upon the quartermaster department for “avalanches.” It would by more ostentatiously consistent if they would obtain some newly painted carriages, instead of trusting to the improbabilities of obtaining the Government “avalanches.”