There had been all manner of exciting rumors afloat during the early part of the day and for some days previous, which foreshadowed the events which took place.
It was stated that the Know Nothings from New York, having got into a fight on the Sunday previous, and being driven inside the gates of the
Catharine ferry, were determined to have revenge, and would visit the city in large numbers, having reinforced their ranks for the occasion. It was also said the Irish in the neighborhood of the Catharine ferry were prepared to fight and bloody consequences were anticipated.
The Mayor, who displayed the utmost energy and decision throughout the whole of the trying scene, took precautionary measures to meet any difficulties that might arise. The police force and the military were also ready, the militia being under arms at the armory in case their services should be required. The ostensible cause of the crowds that collected was the usual religious proceedings which have been for some weeks past conducted at the corner of Smith and Atlantic streets by officers of the Primitive Methodist church in Bridge street.
About two o'clock in the afternoon crowds began to collect on the corners in the
neighborhood, and continued to increase until the whole streets were completely blocked up for the distance of block on either side. By the exertions of the Mayor, aided by the police, a pathway was kept open along the sidewalks, so that persons could though at times with difficulty, make their way through the crowd. As the concourse began to assemble, the stoops were crowded with spectators, and the awnings and roots of houses were also swarming with boys. There was a considerable sprinkling of women in the crowd, being urged, no doubt by the proverbial curiosity of the sex to witness the proceedings.
The following notice was posted on the wall of the shanty on Smith street, adjoining the lots where the preacher had been accustomed to hold forth:" All persons are forbid trespassing on these grounds, under penalty of the law." This notice was in manuscript and was signed by no name.
The preacher and some assistants stationed themselves, however, in the usual place and
announced that in consequence of the notice they would, after prayer and singing, remove to another part of the lots, and accordingly they did so. After singing a hymn, a prayer was delivered by one of the party, in which he invoked the divine blessing on the crowd, and hoped they might be the better for the proceedings that were about to take place; that the spirit of the Lord might be poured out upon our country, and all that is great, glorious and liberal in our institutions, and concluded by repeating the Lord's prayer.
He then proceeded to the opposite side of the lots, and delivered a sermon, taking his text from Luke 15th Chapter and 2nd verse. "And this man receiveth sinners." He said it was one of the accusations brought against Christ, that he received all classes, even sinners. Scribes and Pharisees and publicans, people of all grades like those there assembled he made welcome; for he never rejected the man who sorrowed over his sins, or mourned for his transgressions. the sermon was one of the same Christian tone throughout, but the discourse was not audible at ten yards distance, the crowd having assembled for other purposes than to hear the gospel preached.
Probably three-fourths of the crowd assembled from motives of curiosity to form their own
judgment of the nature of the proceedings. During the delivery of the discourse one individual who seemed to be on better terms with the bartender than the washer-woman or tailor, stood on the side walk on Smith street, opposite the preacher and begin to spatter some kind of incoherent language, which no one could understand, but which was evidently in the nature of a protest against the proceedings. The Chief of Police who was in the centre of the lot accompanied by Major Ball, called the fellow to order, but he persisted is keeping up the noise when one of the police seized him from behind, and when next seen he was proceeding on a quick march to the City Hall.
Other arrests of disorderly characters,, were made during the delivery of the sermon the police being actively engaged in preventing disturbance. Aldermen Wilson, Malligan, Green and Booth were on the ground and probably others whom we did not perceive, besides the Captains of all the police districts, Postmaster Van Voorhees and many other prominent citizens, all ready to aid in preserving the peace.
The sermon was concluded at about seven o'clock, and shortly before that time the deputation of New Yorkers who were over last Sunday, appeared to the number of about one hundred and fifty, marching arm in arm, three abreast. Having arrived at the corner of Smith and Atlantic streets, they marched up Atlantic to Boerum street, and countermarched down the opposite side of the street, amid cheers and hootings, and mingled noises, more in accordance with the proceedings of Pandemonium than the quiet of the Christian Sabbath.
They then proceeded down Smith street, where they were met by the Mayor, who informed them that the authorities of Brooklyn were able to preserve the peace without foreign aid, and if they should attempt to commit any breach of the peace, they should be summarily dealt with. He also ordered them to cease their marching, which they did. The preacher and his friends, as soon as the sermon was over, took their leave and proceeded quietly home.
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