The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Bay State Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 5,
May, 1884, by Various

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Title: The Bay State Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 5, May, 1884
       A Massachusetts Magazine

Author: Various

Release Date: October 5, 2004 [EBook #13632]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Joshua Hutchinson, Josephine Paolucci, the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team and Cornell University

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A Massachusetts Magazine.
Chester A. Arthur - May 15, 1882

Chester A. Arthur - May 15, 1882

Volume I.
May, 1884.
Number V.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1884, by John N. McClintock and Company, in the office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


By Ben: Perley Poore.

Chester Alan Arthur was born at Fairfield, Vermont, October 5, 1830. His father, the Reverend Doctor William Arthur, was a Baptist clergyman, who emigrated from county Antrim, Ireland, when only eighteen years of age. He had received a thorough classical education, and was graduated from Belfast University, one of the foremost institutions of learning in Ireland. Marrying an American, Miss Malvina Stone, soon after his arrival, he became the father of several children. Chester was the eldest of two sons, having four sisters older and two younger than himself. While fulfilling his clerical duties as the pastor, successively, of a number of Baptist churches in New York State, Dr. Arthur edited for several years The Antiquarian, and wrote a work on Family Names, which is highly prized by genealogists. Of Scotch-Irish descent, he was a man of great force of character, impatient of restraint, at home in a controversy, and frank in the expression of his opinions. He was a pronounced emancipationist, although he never expected to see the overthrow of slavery, which it was his good fortune to witness, as his life was spared until the twenty-seventh of October, 1875, when he died at Newtonville, near Albany. He was a personal friend of Gerrit Smith, and they had participated in the organization of the New York State Anti-Slavery Society, which was dispersed by a mob during its first meeting at Utica, on the twenty-first of October, 1835 (the day on which William Lloyd Garrison was mobbed in Boston, and was lodged in jail for his own protection). A friend of the slave from conscience and from conviction, Dr. Arthur was never backward in expressing his convictions, and his children imbibed his teachings.

When a lad, young Arthur enjoyed at home the tutelage of his father, whose thorough knowledge of the classics enabled him to lay the foundation of his son's future education broad and deep. He entered Union College in 1845, when only fifteen years of age. His collegiate course was full of promise, and every successive year he was declared to be one of those who had taken "maximum honors," although he was compelled to absent himself during two winters, when he taught school to earn the requisite funds for defraying his expenses, without drawing upon his father's means. Yet he kept up with his class, and when he was graduated in 1848, he was one of six out of a class of over one hundred, who were elected members of the Phi Beta Kappa, an honor only conferred on the best scholars.

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Following the natural inclination of his mind, young Arthur began the study of law, supporting himself by teaching and by preparing boys for college. It so happened that two years after he was the preceptor of an academy at North Pownal, Vermont, a student from Williams College, named James A. Garfield, came there and taught penmanship in the same academy for several months.

In 1853, young Arthur went to New York City, by the invitation of the Honorable Erastus D. Culver, whose acquaintance he had made when that gentleman represented the Washington County district, and Dr. Arthur was the pastor of the Baptist Church at Greenwich. Mr. Culver had been noted in Congress as an advanced, anti-slavery man, and he was prompted to take an interest in the son of a clergyman-constituent, who did not fear to express anti-slavery sentiments, at a time when the occupants of pulpits were generally so conservative that they were dumb upon this important question. Before the close of the year, young Arthur displayed such legal ability and business tact, that he was admitted into partnership, and became a member of the firm of Culver, Parker, and Arthur. The firm had numerous clients, and the junior partner soon became a successful practitioner, uniting to a thorough knowledge of the law a vigorous understanding and an untiring industry which gained for him an enviable reputation.

Among other cases on the docket of Culver, Parker, and Arthur, was one known as the Lemon slave-case. A Virginian named Jonathan Lemon undertook to take eight slaves to Texas on steamers, by the way of New York. While in that city a writ of habeas corpus was issued, and the slaves were brought into the court before Judge Elijah Paine; Mr. Culver and John Jay appearing for the slaves, while H.D. Lapaugh and Henry L. Clifton were retained by Lemon. Judge Paine, after hearing long arguments, declared that the fugitive slave law did not apply to slaves who were brought by their masters into a free State, and he ordered their release. The Legislature of Virginia directed the attorney-general of that State to employ counsel to appeal from Judge Paine's decision to the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Mr. Arthur, who was the attorney of record in the case for the people, went to Albany, and after earnest efforts procured the passage of a joint resolution, requesting the governor to employ counsel to defend the interests of the State. Attorney-General Hoffman, E.D. Culver, and Joseph Blunt were appointed by the governor as counsel, and Mr. Arthur as the State's attorney. The Supreme Court sustained Judge Paine's decision. The slave-holder, unwilling to lose his "property," then engaged Charles O'Conor to argue the case before the State Court of Appeals. There the counsel for the State were again successful in defending the decision of Judge Paine, and from that day no slave-holder dared to bring his slaves into the city of New York.

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Mr. Arthur, who had naturally taken a prominent part in this case, was regarded by the colored people of New York as a champion of their interests, and it was not long before they sought his aid. At that time, colored people were not permitted to ride in the street-cars in New York City, with the exception of a few old and shabby cars set aside for their occupation. The Fourth-avenue line permitted them to ride when no other passenger made objection.

One Sunday, in 1855, Lizzie Jennings, a colored woman, returning from having fulfilled her duties as superintendent of a colored Sunday-school, entered a Fourth-avenue car, and the conductor took her fare. Soon after, a drunken white man objected to her presence, and insisted that she be made to leave the car. The conductor pulled the bell, and when the car stopped, told her that she must get out, offering to return her fare. She refused, and the conductor then offered to put her off by force. She made vigorous resistance, exclaiming: "I have paid my fare, and I have a right to ride." Finally, the conductor called in several policemen, and, by their joint efforts, she was removed from the car, her clothing having nearly all been torn from her in the struggle. When the leading colored people of the city heard of this, they sent a committee to the office of Culver, Parker, and Arthur, and requested them to make it a test case.

Mr. Arthur brought suit against the railroad company for Miss Jennings, in the Supreme Court, at Brooklyn. The case came on for trial before Judge Rockwell, who then sat upon the bench there. He had just decided, in a previous case, that a corporation was not liable for the wrongful acts of its agent or servant, and when Mr. Arthur handed him the pleadings, he said that the railroad company was not liable, and was about to order a nonsuit. Mr. Arthur called his attention, however, to a recently revised section of the Revised Statutes, making certain railroad corporations which carried passengers liable for the acts of their conductors and drivers, whether wilful or negligent, under which the action had been brought. The judge was silenced, the case was tried, and the jury rendered a verdict of five hundred dollars damages in favor of the colored woman. The railroad company paid the money without further contest, and issued orders to its conductors to permit colored people to ride in its cars, an example that was followed by all the other street railroads in New York. The colored people, especially "The Colored People's Legal Rights Association," were very grateful to Mr. Arthur, and for years afterward they celebrated the anniversary of the day on which he won the case that asserted their rights in public conveyances.

When a lad, young Arthur had always taken a great interest in politics, and it is related of him that during the Clay-Polk campaign of 1844, while he and some of his companions were raising an ash pole in honor of Harry Clay, they were attacked by some Democratic boys, when young Arthur, who was the leader of the party, ordered a charge, and drove the young Democrats from the field with sore heads and subdued spirits. His first vote was cast in 1852 for Winfield Scott for President, and he identified himself with the Whigs of his ward when he located in New York City. In those days the best citizens served as inspectors of elections at the polls, and for some years Mr. Arthur served in that capacity at a voting-place in a carpenter's shop, which occupied the site of the present Fifth Avenue Hotel. When, in 1856, the Republican party was formed, Mr. Arthur was a prominent member of the Young Men's Vigilance Committee, which advocated the election of Fremont and Dayton. It was during this campaign that he became acquainted with Edwin D. Morgan, and gained his ardent life-long friendship.

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Animated by a military spirit, Mr. Arthur sought recreation by joining the volunteer militia of New York, and he was appointed judge-advocate-general on the staff of Brigadier-General Yates, who commanded the second brigade. The general was a strict disciplinarian, and required his field, line, and staff officers to meet weekly for drill and instruction. Mr. Arthur thus acquired the rudiments of a military education, and became acquainted with many of those who afterwards distinguished themselves as officers in the volunteer army of the Union.

General Arthur was married in 1859 to Ellen Lewis Herndon, of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a daughter of Captain William Lewis Herndon, of the United States Navy, who had gained honorable distinction when in command of the naval expedition sent to explore the river Amazon. His heroic death, in 1857, is recorded in history among those "names which will never be forgotten as long as there is remembrance in the world for fidelity unto death." In command of the steamer Central America, which went down, with a loss of three hundred and sixty lives, he stood at his post on the wheelhouse, and succeeded in having the women and children safely transferred to the boats, remaining himself to perish with his vessel. General Sherman has characterized this grand deed of unselfish devotion as the most heroic incident in our naval history. Mrs. Arthur was a lady of the highest culture, and in the varied relations of life—wife, mother, friend—she illustrated all that gives to womanhood its highest charm, and commands for it the purest homage. She died in 1880, after an illness of but three days, leaving a son and a daughter, with a large number of mourning friends, not only in society, of which she was an ornament, but among the poor and the distressed, whose wants and whose sufferings she had tenderly cared for.

When the Honorable Edward D. Morgan was elected Governor of the State of New York, he appointed Mr. Arthur engineer-in-chief on his staff, and when Fort Sumter was fired upon, the governor telegraphed to him to go to Albany, where he received orders to act as state quartermaster-general in the city of New York. General Arthur at once began to organize regiments,—uniform, arm, and equip them,—and send them to the defence of the capital. His capacity for leadership and organization was soon manifest. There was no lack of men or of money, but it needed organizing powers like his to mould them into disciplined form, to grasp the new issues with a master-hand, and to infuse earnestness and obedience into the citizens, suddenly transformed into soldiers. His accounts were kept in accordance with the army regulations, and their subsequent settlement with the United States, without deduction for unwarranted charges, was an easy task. It was by his exertions, to a great extent, that the Empire State was enabled to send to the front six hundred and ninety thousand men, nearly one fifth of the Grand Army of the Union.

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There were, of course, many adventurers who sought commissions, and some of the regiments were recruited from the rough element of city life, who soon refused to obey their officers. General Arthur made short work of these cases, exercising an authority which no one dared to dispute. Neither would he permit the army contractors to ingratiate themselves with him by presents, returning everything thus sent him. Although a comparatively poor man when he entered upon the duties of quartermaster-general at New York, he was far poorer when he gave up the office. A friend describing his course at this period, says: "So jealous was he of his integrity, that I have known instances where he could have made thousands of dollars legitimately, and yet he refused to do it on the ground that he was a public officer and meant to be, like Caesar's wife, above suspicion."

When the rebel ironclad steamer Merrimac had commenced her work of destruction near Fortress Monroe, General Arthur, as engineer-in-chief, took efficient steps for the defence of New York, and made a thorough inspection of all the forts and defences in the State, describing the armament of each one. His report to the Legislature, submitted to that body in a little more than three weeks after his attention was called to the subject by Governor Morgan, was thus noticed editorially in the New York Herald of January 25, 1862:—

"The report of the engineer-in-chief, General Arthur, which appeared in yesterday's Herald, is one of the most important and valuable documents that have been this year presented to our Legislature. It deserves perusal, not only on account of the careful analysis it contains of the condition of the forts, but because the recommendations, with which it closes, coincide precisely with the wishes of the administration with respect to securing a full and complete defence of the entire Northern coast."

Governor Morgan appointed General Arthur state inspector-general in February, 1862, and ordered him to visit and inspect the New York troops in the army of the Potomac. While there, as an advance on Richmond was daily expected, he volunteered for duty on the staff of his friend, Major-General Hunt, commander of the Reserve Artillery. He had previously, when four fine volunteer regiments had been organized under the auspices of the metropolitan police commissioners of of the city of New York, and consolidated into what was known as the "Metropolitan Brigade," been offered the command of it by the colonels of the regiments, but on making formal application, based on a desire to see active service in the field, Governor Morgan was unwilling that he should accept, stating that he could not be spared from the service of the State, and that while he appreciated General Arthur's desire for war-service, he knew that he would render the country more efficient aid for the Union cause by remaining at his State post of duty.

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When, in June, 1862, the situation had an unfavorable appearance, and there were apprehensions that a general draft would be necessary, Governor Morgan telegraphed General Arthur, then with the Army of the Potomac, to return to New York. The General did so, and was requested, on his arrival, to act as secretary at a confidential meeting of the governors of loyal States, held at the Astor House, on the twenty-eighth of July, 1862. After a full and frank discussion of the condition of affairs in their respective States, the governors united in a request to the President to call for more troops. President Lincoln, on the first of July, issued a proclamation, thanking the governors for their patriotism, and calling for three hundred thousand three-years volunteers, and three hundred thousand nine-months militia-men. Private intimation that such a call was to be issued would have enabled army contractors to have made millions; but the secret was honorably kept by all until after the issue of the proclamation. The quota of New York was 59,705 volunteers, or sixty regiments, and it was desirable that they should be recruited and sent to the front without delay. General Arthur, by special request of Governor Morgan, resumed his duties as quartermaster-general and established a system of recruiting and officering the new levies, which proved wonderfully successful. In his annual report, made to the governor on the twenty-seventh of January, 1863, he said:—

"In summing up the operations of the department during the last levy of troops, I need only state as the result the fact that through the single office and clothing department of this department in the city of New York, from August 1 to December 1, the space of four months, there were completely clothed, uniformed, and equipped, supplied with camp and garrison equipage, and transported from this State to the seat of war, sixty-eight regiments of infantry, two battalions of cavalry, and four battalions and ten batteries of artillery."

In December, 1863, the incoming of the Democratic state administration deprived General Arthur of his office. His successor, Quartermaster-General Talcott, in a report to Governor Seymour, paid the following just tribute to his predecessor:—

"I found, upon entering on the discharge of my duties, a well-organized system of labor and accountability, for which the State is chiefly indebted to my predecessor, General Chester A. Arthur, who, by his practical good sense and unremitting exertion, at a period when everything was in confusion, reduced the operations of the department to a matured plan by which large amounts of money were saved to the government, and great economy of time secured in carrying out the details of the same."

Resuming his professional duties, at first in partnership with Mr. Gardiner and afterward alone, he became counsel to the city department of taxes and assessments, with an annual salary of ten thousand dollars, but he abruptly resigned the position when the Tammany Hall city officials attempted to coerce the Republicans connected with the municipal departments.

When the next presidential election drew near, General Arthur entered enthusiastically into the support of General Grant, and was made chairman of the Grant Central Club, of New York. He also served as chairman of the executive committee of the Republican State Committee of New York. In 1871, he formed the afterwards well-known firm of Arthur, Phelps, Knevals, and Ransom.

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President Grant, without solicitation and unexpectedly, appointed General Arthur collector of the port of New York, on the twentieth of November, 1871. He accepted the position with much hesitation, but it met with the general approval of the business community, many of the merchants having become personally acquainted with his business ability during the war. He instituted many reforms in the management of the custom-house, all calculated to simplify the business and to divest it, to a great extent, of all the details and routine so vexatious to the mercantile classes. The number of his removals during his administration was far less than during the rule of any other collector since 1857, and the expense of collecting the duties was far less than it had been for years. So satisfactory was his management of the custom-house, that, upon the close of his term of service, December, 1875, he was renominated by President Grant. The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Senate without reference to a committee, a compliment very rarely paid, except to ex-senators. He was the first collector of the port of New York, with one or two exceptions, who in fifty years ever held the office for more than the whole term of four years.

Two years later General Arthur was superseded as collector by General Merritt. The Honorable John Sherman, secretary of the treasury, on being questioned as to the cause of the removal of General Arthur as collector of customs at New York, said:—

"I have never said one word impugning General Arthur's honor or integrity as a man and a gentleman, but he was not in harmony with the views of the administration in the management of the custom-house. I would vote for him for Vice-President a million times before I would vote for W.H. English, with whom I served in Congress."

General Arthur, in a letter written by him to Secretary Sherman, on his administration of the New York custom-house, said:—

"The essential elements of a correct civil service I understand to be: First, permanance in office, which, of course, prevents removals, except for cause. Second, promotion from the lower to the higher grades, based upon good conduct and efficiency. Third, prompt and thorough investigation of all complaints and prompt punishment of all misconduct. In this respect I challenge comparison with any department of the Government, either under the present or under any past national administration. I am prepared to demonstrate the truth of this statement on any fair investigation."

Appended to this letter was a table in which General Arthur showed that during the six years he had managed the office the yearly percentage of removals for all causes had been only two and three-quarters per cent. against an annual average of twenty-eight per cent. under his three immediate predecessors, and an annual average of about twenty-four per cent. since 1857, when Collector Schell took office. Out of nine hundred and twenty-three persons who held office when he became collector on December 1, 1871, there were five hundred and thirty-one still in office on May 1, 1877, having been retained during his entire term. Concerning promotions, the statistics of the office show that during his entire term the uniform practice was to advance men from the lower to the higher grades, and almost without exception on the recommendation of heads of departments. All the appointments, excepting two, to the one hundred positions paying two thousand dollars salary a year, and over, were made on this method.

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Senator George K. Edmunds, at a ratification meeting, held in Burlington, Vermont, on the twenty-second of June, 1880, said:—

"I have long known General Arthur. The only serious difficulty I have had with the present administration was when it proposed to remove him from the collectorship of New York. No one questioned his personal honor and integrity. I resisted the attempt to the utmost. Since that time it has turned out that all the reforms suggested had long before been recommended by General Arthur himself, and pigeonholded at Washington."

Meanwhile General Arthur had rendered great services as a member, and subsequently a chairman, of the Republican State Committee, and had united his party from one success to another through all the mazes and intricacies which characterize the politics of New York City. Vice-President Wheeler said of him:—

"It is my good fortune to know well General Arthur, the nominee for Vice-President. In unsullied character and in devotion to the principles of the Republican party no man in the organization surpasses him. No man has contributed more of time and means to advance the just interests of the Republican party."

The National Republican Convention, which assembled at Chicago, in June, 1880, was an exemplification of the popular will. The respective friends of General Grant and of Mr. Blaine, equally confident of success, indulged during a night's session in prolonged demonstrations of applause when the candidates were presented that were unprecedented and that will not probably ever be repeated. Neither side was successful until the thirty-sixth ballot, when the nomination of President was finally bestowed on General Garfield, who had, as a delegate from Ohio, eloquently presented the name of John Sherman as a candidate.

The convention then adjourned for dinner and for consultation. When it reassembled in the evening, the roll of States was called for the nomination for Vice-President. California presented E.B. Washburne; Connecticut, ex-Governor Jewell; Florida, Judge Settle; Tennessee, Horace Maynard. These successive names attracted little attention, but when ex-Lieutenant-Governor Woodford, of New York, rose, and, after a brief reference to the loyal support which New York had given to General Grant, presented the name of General Chester A. Arthur for the second place on the ticket, it was received with applause and enthusiasm. The nomination was seconded by ex-Governor Denison, of Ohio, Emory A. Storrs, of Illinois, and John Cessna, of Pennsylvania. A vote was then taken with the following result: Arthur, 468; Washburne, 19; Maynard, 30; Jewell, 44; Bruce, 8; Davis, 2; and Woodford, 1. The nomination of General Arthur was then made unanimous, and a committee of one from each State, with the presiding officer of the convention, Senator Hoar, as chairman, was appointed to notify General Garfield and General Arthur of their nomination. The convention then adjourned sine die.

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Returning to New York, General Arthur was welcomed by a large and influential gathering of Republicans, who greeted him with hearty cheers. That night he was serenaded by a large procession of Republicans, which assembled in Union Square and marched past his residence in Lexington Avenue, with music and fireworks. A few weeks later, a letter was addressed to him, signed by Hamilton Fish, Noah Davis, and upwards of a hundred other prominent Republicans, inviting him to dine with them at the Union League Club, and stating that, in common with all true Republicans, they rejoiced at the happy issue of the earnest struggle in the Chicago convention. They hailed the general approval of its work as an auspicious omen, and looked forward confidently to the labors of the canvass. They felt an especial and personal gratification in the fact that the ticket selected at Chicago bore his name. His faithfulness in public duties, his firmness and sagacity in political affairs, so well understood by his fellow-citizens in New York, had met with national recognition and won for him this well-deserved honor. Their efforts in his support would be prompted, not only by personal zeal and enthusiasm, but by the warmth and zeal of strong personal friendship and esteem. That they might have an opportunity more fully to express to him their sincere congratulations and hearty good wishes, they invited him to meet them at dinner at the Union League Club.

General Arthur, in acknowledging the receipt of this letter, expressed his sense of the kindness which had prompted both the invitation itself and the flattering assurances of confidence and regard by which it was accompanied. If circumstances had permitted, he should have been pleased to have accepted the proffered hospitality, and for that purpose no more congenial spot could have been selected than the headquarters of the Union League Club, an association so widely famed for its patriotic zeal and energy, and so efficient in the support of the principles and policy of the Republican party. He was constrained, however, from considerations of a private nature known to many, to decline the invitation.

On the fifteenth of July, 1880, General Arthur formally accepted the position assigned to him by the Chicago convention, and expressed at length his own personal views on the election laws, public service appointments, the financial problems of the day, common schools, the tariff, national improvements, and a Republican ascendency, saying, in conclusion, that he did not doubt that success awaited the Republican party, and that its triumph would assure a just, economical, and patriotic administration.

The political campaign of 1880 was earnestly contested by the great political parties. The Republicans were victorious, and their ticket bearing the names of Garfield and Arthur was triumphantly elected. On the fourth of March, 1881, General Arthur took the oath of office in the Senate Chamber as Vice-President of the United States, and half an hour later General Garfield was inaugurated on a platform before the east front of the Capitol, in the presence of the imposing military and civil procession which had escorted him with music and banners. When the ceremony was concluded, the distinguished personages around the new President tendered their congratulations, the assembled multitude cheered, and a salute fired by a light battery stationed near by was echoed by the guns at the navy yard, the arsenal, and the forts around the metropolis.

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Republicans congratulated each other on the indications of a vigorous administration, governed by a conscientious determination to promote harmony. But a few months had elapsed, however, before President Garfield was cruelly assassinated, in the full vigor of his manhood, and the Republican party was at first stricken with apprehensions. These gloomy doubts, however, soon disappeared as the incidents of Mr. Arthur's patriotic and useful life were recalled, and a generous confidence was soon extended to the new President.

President Arthur took the oath of office in New York immediately after the death of General Garfield, and he repeated it in the Capitol on the twenty-second of September, in the Vice-President's room. The members of General Garfield's cabinet, who had been requested by his successor to continue for the present in charge of their respective departments, were present, with General Sherman in full uniform, ex-Presidents Hayes and Grant, and Chief Justice Waite in his judicial robes, escorted by Associate Justices Harlan and Matthews. There were, also, present Senators Anthony, Sherman, Edmunds, Hale, Blair, Dawes, and Jones, of Nevada, and Representatives Amos Townsend, McCook, Errett, Randall, Hiscock, and Thomas. Ex-Vice-President Hamlin, of Maine, and Speaker Sharpe, of New York, were also present.

When President Arthur entered the room, escorted by General Grant and Senator Jones, he advanced to a small table, on which was a Bible, and behind which stood the Chief Justice, who raised the sacred volume, opened it, and presented it to the President, who placed his right hand upon it. Chief Justice Waite then slowly administered the oath, and at its conclusion the President kissed the book, responding, "I will, so help me God." He then read the following address:—


For the fourth time in the history of the Republic its Chief Magistrate has been removed by death. All hearts are filled with grief and horror at the hideous crime which has darkened our land; and the memory of the murdered President, his protracted sufferings, his unyielding fortitude, the example and achievements of his life and the pathos of his death, will forever illumine the pages of our history. For the fourth time the officer elected by the people and ordained by the Constitution to fill a vacancy so created is called to assume the executive chair. The wisdom of our fathers, foreseeing even the most dire possibilities, made sure that the Government should never be imperiled because of the uncertainty of human life. Men may die, but the fabrics of our free institutions remain unshaken. No higher or more assuring proof could exist of the strength and permanence of popular government than the fact that, though the chosen of the people be struck down, his constitutional successor is peacefully installed without shock or strain except the sorrow which mourns the bereavement. All the noble aspirations of my lamented predecessor which found expression in his life, the measures devised and suggested during his brief administration to correct abuses and enforce economy, to advance prosperity and promote the general welfare, to insure domestic security and maintain friendly and honorable relations with the nations of the earth, will be garnered in the hearts of the people, and it will be my earnest endeavor to profit, and to see that the Nation shall profit, by his example and experience. Prosperity blesses our country; our fiscal policy is fixed by law, is well grounded, and generally approved. No threatening issue mars our foreign intercourse, and the wisdom, integrity, and thrift of our people may be trusted to continue undisturbed the present assured career of peace, tranquillity, and welfare. The gloom and anxiety which have enshrouded the country must make repose especially welcome now. No demand for speedy legislation has been heard. No adequate occasion is apparent for an unusual session of Congress. The Constitution defines the functions and powers of the executive as clearly as those of either of the other two departments of the government, and he must answer for the just exercise of the discretion it permits and the performance of the duties it imposes. Summoned to these high duties and responsibilities, and profoundly conscious of their magnitude and gravity, I assume the trust imposed by the Constitution, relying for aid on Divine guidance and the virtue, patriotism, and intelligence of the American people.

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As President Arthur read his message his voice trembled, but his manner was impressive, and the eyes of many present were moistened with tears. The first one to congratulate him when he had concluded was Chief Justice Waite, and the next was Secretary Blaine. After shaking him by the hand, those present left the room, which was closed to all except the members of the Cabinet, who there held their first conference with the President. At this cabinet meeting the following proclamation was prepared and signed by President Arthur, designating the following Monday as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer:—

By the President of the United States of America;


Whereas, in his inscrutable wisdom, it has pleased God to remove from us the illustrious head of the Nation, James A. Garfield, late President of the United States; and whereas it is fitting that the deep grief which fills all hearts should manifest itself with one accord toward the throne of infinite grace, and that we should bow before the Almighty and seek from him that consolation in our affliction and that sanctification of our loss which he is able and willing to vouchsafe:

Now, therefore, in obedience to sacred duty, and in accordance with the desire of the people, I, Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States of America, do hereby appoint Monday next, the twenty-sixth day of September, on which day the remains of our honored and beloved dead will be consigned to their last resting-place on earth; to be observed throughout the United States as a day of humiliation and mourning; and I earnestly recommend all the people to assemble on that day in their respective places of divine worship, there to render alike their tribute of sorrowful submission to the will of Almighty God and of reverence and love for the memory and character of our late Chief Magistrate.

[SEAL.]In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

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Done at the city of Washington, the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord 1881, and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and sixth.


By the President:

JAMES G. BLAINE. Secretary of State.

President Arthur soon showed his appreciation of the responsibilities of his new office. Knowing principles rather than persons, he subordinated individual preferences and prejudices to a well-defined public policy. While he was, as he always had been, a Republican, he had no sympathy for blind devotion to party; he had "no friends to reward, no enemies to punish;"—and he has been governed by those principles of liberty and equality which he inherited. His messages to Congress have been universally commended, and even unfriendly critics have pronounced them careful and well-matured documents. Their tone is more frank and direct than is customary in such papers, and their recommendations, extensive and varied as they have been, show that he has patiently reviewed the field of labor so sadly and so unexpectedly opened before him, and that he was not inclined to shirk the constitutional duty of aiding Congress by his suggestions and advice. An honest man, who believes in his own principles, who follows his own convictions, and who never hesitates to avow his sentiments, he has given his views in accordance with his deliberate ideas of right.

The foreign relations of the United States have been conducted by Secretary Frelinghuysen, under the President's direction, in a friendly spirit and when practicable with a view to mutual commercial advantages. He has taken a conservative view of the management of the public debt, approving all the important suggestions of the secretary of the treasury, and recognizing the proper protection of American industry. He is in favor of the great interests of labor, and opposed to such tinkering with the tariff as will make vain the toil of the industrious farmer, paralyze the arm of the sturdy mechanic, strike down the hand of the hardy laborer, stop the spindle, hush the loom, extinguish the furnace-fires, and degrade all independent toilers to the level of the poor in other lands. The architect of his own fortune, he has a strong and abiding sympathy for those bread-winners who struggle against poverty.

The reform of the civil service has met with President Arthur's earnest support, and his messages show that every department of the government has received his careful administration. Following the example of Washington, he has personally visited several sections of the United States, and has especially made himself acquainted with the great problem of Indian civilization.

President Arthur's administration has been characterized by an elevated tone at home and abroad. All important questions have been carefully discussed at the council table, at which the President has displayed unusual powers of analysis and comprehension. The conflicting claims of applicants for appointments to offices in his gift, have been carefully weighed, and no action has been taken until all parties interested have had a hearing. The President has a remarkable insight into men, promptly estimating character with an accuracy that makes it a difficult matter to deceive him, or to win his favor either for visionary schemes, corrupt attacks upon the treasury, or incompetent place-hunters. He has shown that he has been guided by a wise experience of the past, and a sagacious foresight of the future, exhibiting sacrifices of individual friendship to a sense of public duty.

[pg 277]

Possessing moral firmness and a just self-reliance, President Arthur did not hesitate about vetoing the "Chinese Bill" and the "Bill making appropriations for rivers and harbors" for reasons which he laid before Congress in his veto messages. The wisdom and sagacity which he has displayed in his management of national affairs has been especially acceptable to the business interests of the country. They have tested his administration by business principles, and they feel that, so long as he firmly grasps the helm of the ship of state, she will pursue a course of peace and prosperity.

In dispensing the hospitalities of the White House, President Arthur has exhibited the resources of a naturally generous disposition and a refined taste. His remembrance of persons who call upon him, and whom he may not have seen for years, is remarkable, and his hearty, genial temperament enables him to make his visitors at home. His vigorous vitality of body and mind, his manly figure and expressive face, add to the dignity of his manner. A ready speaker, he at all times rises to the level of an emergency, and he invariably charms those who hear him by his courtesy of expression, which is the outward reflection of a large, kind heart.

President Arthur's numerous friends contemplate the prominent events of his eventful life without regret, and with a sincere belief that they will be sustained by the verdict of impartial history. Utility to the country has been the rule of his political life, and he has arrived at that high standard of official excellence which prevailed in the early days of the Republic, when honesty, firmness, patriotism, and stability of character were the characteristics of public men. Under his lead, the Republican party, disorganized and disheartened after the sad death of General Garfield, has gradually become strengthened and united on the eve of another presidential victory.


By Kate L. Brown.

Adown the aisles of yesterday
What fairy notes are ringing,
And strange, sweet odors, rich and rare,
The western winds are bringing!
The deeds we counted poor and mean,
Now shine with added glory,
And like a romance, reads the page
Of life's poor, meagre story.
But vanished from our wistful sight,
Too late for vain regretting,
The joys, that the remorseful heart
With sacred gold is setting.
Ah! dearest of all earthly hopes
Within the soul abiding,
The lost, lost life of yesterday
The heart is ever hiding.

[pg 278]


By The Hon. Samuel Abbott Green, M.D.

The original grant of the township of Groton was made by the General Court, on May 25, 1655, and gave to the proprietors a tract of land eight miles square; though during the next year this was modified so that its shape varied somewhat from the first plan. It comprised all of what is now Groton and Ayer, nearly all of Pepperell and Shirley, large parts of Dunstable and Littleton, smaller parts of Harvard and Westford, Massachusetts, and a portion of Nashua, New Hampshire. The grant was taken out of the very wilderness, relatively far from any other town, and standing like a sentinel on the frontiers. Lancaster, fourteen miles away, was its nearest neighbor in the southwesterly direction on the one side; and Andover and Haverhill, twenty and twenty-five miles distant, more or less, in the northeasterly direction on the other. No settlement on the north stood between it and the settlements in Canada. Chelmsford and Billerica were each incorporated about the same time, though a few days later.

When the grant was made, it was expressly stipulated that Mr. Jonathan Danforth, of Cambridge, with such others as he might desire, should lay it out with all convenient speed in order to encourage the prompt settlement of a minister; and furthermore that the selectmen of the town should pay a fair amount for his services. During the next year a petition, signed by Deane Winthrop and seven others, was presented to the General Court asking for certain changes in the conditions, and among them the privilege to employ another "artist" in the place of Mr. Danforth, as he was overrun with business. The petition was referred to a committee who reported favorably upon it, and the request was duly granted. Formerly a surveyor was called an artist, and in old records the word is often found with that meaning.

Ensign Peter Noyes, of Sudbury, was then engaged by the grantees and he began the survey; but his death, on September 23, 1657, delayed the speedy accomplishment of the work. It is known that there was some trouble in the early settlement of the place, growing out of the question of lands, but its exact character is not recorded; perhaps it was owing to the delay which now occurred. Ensign Noyes was a noted surveyor, but not so famous as Jonathan Danforth, whose name is often mentioned in the General Court records, in connection with the laying out of lands and towns, and many of whose plans are still preserved among the Archives in the State House. Danforth was the man wanted at first for the undertaking; and after Noyes's death he took charge of it, and his elder brother, Thomas, was associated with him. The plat or plan of the land, however, does not appear to have been completed until April, 1668. The survey was made during the preceding year. At a meeting of the selectmen of the town, held on November 23, 1667, it is recorded that a rate should be levied in order to pay "the Artest and the men that attended him and his diet for himself and his horse, and for two sheets of parchment, for him to make two platts for the towne, and for Transportation of his pay all which amounts to about twenty pounds and to pay severall other town debts that appear to us to be due."

[pg 279]
Groton Plantation as shown on a plan made in 1668 by Jonathan Danforth

A little further on in the records a charge of five shillings is made 'ffor two sheats of Parchment.' These entries seem to show that two plans were made, perhaps one for the town and the other for the Colony; but neither copy is now to be found. An allusion is made to one of them in a petition, presented to the General Court on February 10, 1717, by John Shepley and John Ames. It is there mentioned that "the said Plat thô something defaced is with the Petitioner;" and is further stated "That in the year 1713 Mr Samuel Danforth Surveyor & Son of the aforesaid Jonathan Danforth, at the desire of the said Town of Groton did run the Lines & make an Implatment of the said Township laid out as before & found it agreeable to the former. Wh last Plat the Petitioners do herewith exhibit, And pray that this Honble Court would allow & confirm the same as the Township of Groton."

[pg 280]

While the original plan has been lost or destroyed, it is fortunate that many years ago a copy was made, which is still preserved. In June, 1825, the Honorable James Prescott was in the possession of the original, which Caleb Butler, Esq., at that time transcribed into one of the town record-books, and thereby saved it for historical purposes. Even with this clew a special search has been made for the missing document, but without success. If it is ever found it will be by chance, where it is the least looked for. There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the outlines or the faithfulness of the copy. The relative distances between the streams emptying into the Nashua River, however, are not very exact; and in the engraving for the sake of clearness I have added their names, as well as the name of Forge Pond, formerly called Stony Brook Pond.

Accompanying the copy is a description of the survey, which in connection with the drawing gives a good idea of the general shape of the township. Perhaps in the original these two writings were on the same sheet. In the transcript Mr. Butler has modernized the language and made the punctuation conform to present usage. In the engraved cut I have followed strictly the outlines of the plan, as well as the course of the rivers, but I have omitted some details, such as the distances and directions which are given along the margins. These facts appear in the description, and perhaps were taken from it by the copyist. I have also omitted the acreage of the grant, which is grossly inaccurate.

Whereas the Plantation of Groton, containing by grant the proportion of eight miles Square, was begun to be laid out by Ensign Noyes, and he dying before he had finished his work, it is now finished, whose limits and bounds are as followeth,

It began on the east side of Nashua River a little below Nissitisset hills at the short turning of the River bounded by a pine tree marked with G. and so running two miles in a direct line to buckmeadow which prtains to Boston Farms, Billerica land and Edward Cowells farm until you come to Massapoag Pond, which is full of small islands; from thence it is bounded by the aforesaid Pond until you come to Chelmsford line, after that it is bounded by Chelmsford and Nashoboh lines until you come to the most southerly corner of this Plantation, and from thence it runs West-North-West five miles and a half and sixty four poles, which again reacheth to Nashua River, then the former west-north-west line is continued one mile on the west side of the river, and then it runs one third of a point easterly of north & by east nine miles and a quarter, from thence it runneth four miles due east, which closeth the work to the river again to the first pine below Nissitisset hills, where we began: it is bounded by the Farms and plantations as aforesaid and by the wilderness elsewhere; all which lines are run and very sufficiently bounded by marked trees & pillars of stones: the figure or manner of the lying of it is more fully demonstrated by this plot taken of the same.

April 1668.

[pg 281]

The map of Old Dunstable, between pages 12 and 13 in Fox's History of that town, is very incorrect, so far as it relates to the boundaries of Groton. The Squannacook River is put down as the Nissitissett, and this mistake may have tended to confuse the author's ideas. The southern boundary of Dunstable was by no means a straight line, but was made to conform in part to the northern boundary of Groton, which was somewhat irregular. Groton was incorporated on May 25, 1655, and Dunstable on October 15, 1673, and no part of it came within the limits of this town. The eastern boundary of Groton originally ran northerly through Massapoag Pond and continued into the present limits of Nashua, New Hampshire.

On the southeast of Groton, and adjoining it, was a small township granted, in the spring of 1654, by the General Court to the Nashobah Indians, who had been converted to Christianity under the instruction of the Apostle Eliot and others. They were few in numbers, comprising perhaps ten families, or about fifty persons. During Philip's War this settlement was entirely deserted by the Indians, thus affording a good opportunity for the English to encroach on the reservation, which was not lost. These intruders lived in the neighboring towns, and mostly in Groton. Some of them took possession with no show of right, while others went through the formality of buying the land from the Indians, though such sales did not, as was supposed at the time, bring the territory under the jurisdiction of the towns where the purchasers severally lived. It is evident from the records that these encroachments gave rise to controversy. The following entry, under date of June 20, 1682, is found in the Middlesex County Court records at East Cambridge, and shows at that time to re-establish the boundary lines of Nashobah:—

Capt Thomas Hinchman, Lt. Joseph Wheeler, & Lt. Jno flynt surveyor, or any two of them are nominated & impowred a Comittee to run the ancient bounds of Nashobah Plantation, & remark the lines, as it was returned to the geñall Court by said mr flynt at the charge of the Indians, giving notice to the select men of Grotton of time & place of meeting, wch is referred to mr flint, to appoint, & to make return to next Coun Court at Cambridge in order to a finall settemt

Again, under date of October 3, 1682 ("3. 8. 1682."), it is entered that—

The return of the committee referring to the bounds of Nashobey next to Grotton, was prsented to this Court and is on file.


The "return" is as follows:

We Whose names are underwritten being appointed by ye Honrd County Court June: 20th 1682. To ruñ the Ancient bounds of Nashobey, haue accordingly ruñ the said bounds, and find that the town of Groton by theire Second laying out of theire bounds have taken into theire bounds as we Judge neer halfe Indian Plantation Seuerall of the Select men and other inhabitants of Groton being then with us Did See theire Error therein & Do decline that laying out So far as they haue Inuaded the right of ye Indians.

Also we find yt the Norwest Corner of Nashobey is run into ye first bounds of Groton to ye Quantity of 350 acres according as Groton men did then Show us theire Said line, which they Say was made before Nashobey was laid out, and which bounds they Do Challenge as theire Right. The Indians also haue Declared them Selves willing to forego that Provided they may haue it made up upon theire West Line, And we Judge it may be there added to theire Conveniance.

[pg 282]

2: October: 1682.
Exhibited in Court 3: 8: 82:
& approved T D: R.



A true Coppy of ye originall on file wth ye Records of County Court for Middx.

Exd pr Samll: Phipps Cler

[Massachusetts Archives, cxii, 331.]

Among the Groton men who had bought land of the Nashobah Indians were Peleg Lawrence and Robert Robbins. Their names appear, with a diagram of the land, on a plan of Nashobah, made in the year 1686, and found among the Massachusetts Archives, in the first volume (page 125) of "Ancient Plans Grants &c." Lawrence and Robbins undoubtedly supposed that the purchase of this land brought it within the jurisdiction of Groton. Lawrence died in the year 1692; and some years later the town made an effort to obtain from his heirs their title to this tract, as well as from Robbins his title. It is recorded at a town meeting, held on June 8, 1702, that the town

did uote that they would giue Peleg larraness Eairs three acers of madow whare thay ust to Improue and tenn acers of upland neare that madow upon the Conditions following that the aboue sd Peleg larrances heirs do deliuer up that Indian titelle which thay now haue to the town

At the same meeting the town voted that

thay would giue to robart robins Sener three acers of madow where he uste to Improue: and ten acers of upland near his madow upon the Conditions forlowing that he aboue sd Robart Robbins doth deliuer: up that Indian titels which he now hath: to the town.

It appears from the records that no other business was done at this meeting, except the consideration of matters growing out of the Nashobah land. It was voted to have an artist lay out the meadow at "Nashobah line," as it was called, as well as the land which the town had granted to Walter and Daniel Powers, probably in the same neighborhood; and also that Captain Jonas Prescott be authorized to engage an artist at an expense not exceeding six shillings a day.

Settlers from the adjacent towns were now making gradual encroachments on the abandoned territory, and among them Groton was well represented. All the documents of this period relating to the subject show an increased interest in these lands, which were too valuable to remain idle for a long time. The following petition, undoubtedly, makes a correct representation of the case:—

To his Excellency Joseph Dudley Esqr Captain Genll & Governour in Chief in & over her Majesties Province of the Massachusets Bay &c: togeither with the honourable Council, & Representatives in Great and Genll Court Assembled at Cambridge October 14th. 1702.

The Petition of the Inhabitants of Stow humbly sheweth.

That Whereas the honourable Court did pleas formerly to grant vnto vs the Inhabitants of Stow a certain Tract of Land to make a Village or Township of, environed with Concord, Sudbury, Marlbury, Lancaster, Groton, & Nashoby: And Whereas the said Nashoby being a Tract of Land of four miles square, the which for a long time hath been, and still is deserted and left by the Indians none being now resident there, and those of them who lay claim to it being desireous to sell said land; and some English challenging it to be theirs by virtue of Purchase; and besides the Town of Groton in particular, hath of late extended their Town lyne into it, takeing away a considerable part of it; and Especially of Meadow (as wee are Well informed) Wherefore wee above all or Neighbour Towns, stand in the greatest need of Enlargement; having but a pent up smale Tract of Land and very little Meadow.

[pg 283]

Whence we humbly Pray the great & Genll Court, that if said Nashoby may be sold by the Indians wee may have allowance to buy, or if it be allready, or may be sold to any other Person or Persons, that in the whole of it, it be layed as an Addition to vs the smale Town of Stow, it lying for no other Town but vs for nighness & adjacency, togeither with the great need wee stand of it, & the no want of either or any of the above named Towns. Shall it Pleas the great & Genll Court to grant this or Petition, wee shall be much more able to defray Publick Charges, both Civil, & Ecclesiasticall, to settle or Minister amongst vs in order to or Injoyment of the Gospel in the fullness of it. Whence hopeing & believing that the Petition of the Poor, & needy will be granted. Which shall forever oblidge yor Petitionrs to Pray &c:

In the Towns behalfe

[Massachusetts Archives, cxiii, 330.]

This petition was granted on October 21, 1702, on the part of the House of Representatives, but negatived in the Council, on October 24.

During this period the territory of Nashobah was the subject of considerable dispute among the neighboring towns, and slowly disappearing by their encroachments. Under these circumstances an effort was made to incorporate a township from this tract and to establish its boundaries. The following petition makes a fair statement of the case, though the signatures to it are not autographs:

To His Excelcy: Joseph Dudley Esq: Capt: Generall & Govr: in Chief in and over Her Majties: Province of Massts: Bay in New-England, Together with ye Honble: the Council, & Representatives in Genll: Court Assembled on the 30th of May, In the Tenth Year of Her Majties: Reign Annoq Domi: 1711,—The Humble Petition of us the Subscribers Inhabitants of Concord, Chelmsford, Lancaster & Stow &c within the County of Middx in the Province Aforesd.

Most Humbly Sheweth

That there is a Considerable Tract of Land Lying vacant and unimproved Between the Towns of Chelmsford, Lancaster & Stow & Groton, as sd Groton was Survey'd & Lay'd out by Mr. Noyce, & the Plantation Call'd Concord Village, which is Commonly known by the Name of Nashoba, in the County of Middx: Aforesd. & Sundry Persons having Made Entrys thereupon without Orderly Application to the Government, and as we are Inform'd, & have reason to believe, diverse others are designing so to do.

We Yor Humble Petitioners being desirous to Prevent the Inconveniences that may arise from all Irregular Intrusions into any vacant Lands, and also In a Regular manner to Settle a Township on the Land aforesd, by which the frontier on that Side will be more Clos'd & Strengthened & Lands that are at Present in no wise beneficiall or Profitable to the Publick might be rendred Servicable for the Contributing to the Publlick Charge, Most Humbly Address Ourselves to your Excy: And this Honourable Court.

Praying that your Petitioners may have a Grant of Such Lands Scituate as Aforesd. for the Ends & Purposes aforesd. And that a Committee may be appointed by this Honble: Court to View, Survey and Set out to Yor. Petitioners the sd. Lands, that so Yor. sd. Petitioners may be enabled to Settle thereupon with Such others as shall joyn them In an orderly and regular manner: Also Praying that Such Powers and Priviledges may be given and confered upon the same as are granted to other Towns, And Yor Petitioners shall be Most ready to attend Such Directions, with respect to Such Part of the sd. Tract as has been formerly reservd for the Indians, but for a Long time has been wholly Left, & is now altogether unimprov'd by them, And all other things which this Honble: Court in their Wisdom & justice Shall See meet to appoint for the Regulation of such Plantation or Town.

[pg 284]

And Yor: Humble: Petitioners as in Duty Bound Shall Ever Pray &c.

Gershom Procter
Samll. Procter
John Procter
Joseph Fletcher
John Miles
John Parlin
Robert Robins
John Darby
John Barker
Saml: Stratton
Hezekiah Fletcher
Josiah Whitcomb
John Buttrick
Willm: Powers
Jonathan Hubburd
Wm Keen
John Heald
John Bateman
John Heywood
Thomas Wheeler
Samll: Hartwell, junr:
Samll: Jones
John Miriam

In the House of Representatives
June 6: 1711. Read & Comitted.
7 ... Read, &

Ordered that Joa. Tyng Esqr: Thoms: Howe Esqr: & Mr: John Sternes be a Comittee to view the Land mentioned in the Petition, & Represent the Lines, or Bounds of the severall adjacent Towns bounding on the sd. Lands and to have Speciall Regard to the Land granted to the Indians, & to make report of the quantity, & circumstances thereof.

Sent up for Concurrence.

In Council
June 7. 1711, Read and Concurr'd.

[Massachusetts Archives, cxiii, 602, 603.]

The committee, to whom was referred this subject, made a report during the next autumn; but no action in regard to it appears to have been taken by the General Court until two years later.


By J.B. Sewall.

A Recollection of my boyhood is a large unpainted barnlike building standing at a point where three roads met at about the centre of the town. When all the inhabitants of the town were of one faith religiously, or at least the minority were not strong enough to divide from the majority, and one meeting-house served the purposes of all, this was the meeting-house. To this, the double line of windows all round, broken by the long round-topped window midway on the back side, and the two-storied vestibule on the front, and, more than all, the old pulpit still remaining within, with the sounding-board suspended above it, bore witness. Here assembled every spring, at the March meeting, the voters of the town, to elect their selectmen and other town officers for the ensuing year, to vote what moneys should be raised for the repair of roads, bridges, maintaining the poor, etc., and take any other action their well-being as a community demanded; in the autumn, to cast their votes for state representative, national representative, governor of the State, or President of the United States, one or all together, as the case might be.

Many such town-houses, probably, are standing to-day in the New England States,—I know there are such in Maine,—and they are existing witnesses to what was generally the fact: towns, at the first, when young and small, built the meeting-house for two purposes; first, for use as a house of worship; second, for town meetings; and when in process of time a new church or churches were built for the better accommodation of the people, or because different denominations had come into existence, or because the young people wanted a smarter building with a steeple, white paint, green blinds, and a bell, the old building was sold to the town for purely town purposes.

[pg 285]

When the settlements were made, the first public building erected was generally the meeting-house, and this in the case of the earlier settlements was very soon. In Plymouth, the first building was a house twenty feet square for a storehouse and "for common occupation," then their separate dwellings.

The "common" building was used for religious and other meetings until the meeting-house with its platform on top for cannon, on Burial Hill, was built in 1622. "Boston seems to have had no special building for public worship until, during the year 1632, was erected the small thatched-roof, one-story building which stood on State Street, where Brazer's building now stands."1 This was in the second year, the settlement having been made in the autumn of 1630. In Charlestown, "The Great House," the first building erected that could be called a house, was first used as the official residence of the governor, and the sessions of the Court of Assistants appear to have been held in it until the removal to Boston, but when the church was formed, in 1632, it was used for a meeting-house.

Dorchester had the first meeting-house in the Bay, built in 1631, the next year after settlement, and by the famous order passed "mooneday eighth of October, 1633," it appears that it was the regular meeting-place of the inhabitants of the plantation for general purposes. The Lynn church was formed in 1632, and the meeting-house appears to have been built soon after, and was used for town meetings till 1806. It was the same in towns of later settlement. In Brunswick, Maine, which became a township in 1717, the first public building was the meeting-house, and this also was the town-house for almost one hundred years. Belfast, Maine, incorporated in 1773, held its first two town meetings in a private house, afterwards, for eighteen years, "at the Common on the South end of No. 26" (house lot),2 whether under cover or in open air is not known, after that, in the meeting-house generally, till the town hall was built. In Harpswell, Maine, the old meeting-house, like that described, when abandoned as a house of worship, was sold to the town for one hundred dollars and is still in use as a town-house.

The town-house, therefore, though it cannot strictly be said to have been coëval with the town, was essentially so, the meeting-house being generally the first public building, and used equally for town meetings and public worship.

How early, then, was the town? When the settlement at Plymouth took place, in one sense a town existed at once. It was a collection of families living in neighborhood and united by the bonds of mutual obligation common in similar English communities. But it was a town as yet only in that sense. In fact, it was a state. The words of the compact signed on board the Mayflower were, in part: "We, whose names are underwritten ... do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation, ... and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

[pg 286]

These words were the constitution of more than a town government. They erected a democratic state—a commonwealth. It was a general government separate from and above the town governments which were afterwards instituted. It enacted general laws by an assembly of deputies in which the eight plantations in the colony, which afterwards became towns, were represented. These laws were executed by a governor and an assistant, and were of equal binding force in all the plantations after, as well as before, these plantations became towns.

The Massachusetts Colony came over as a corporation with a royal charter which gave power to the freemen of the company to elect a governor, deputy-governor, and assistants, and "make laws and ordinances, not repugnant to the laws of England, for their own benefit and the government of persons inhabiting their territory." The colonists divided themselves into plantations, part at Naumkeag (Salem), at Mishawum (Charlestown), at Dorchester, Boston, Watertown, Roxbury, Mystic, and Saugus (Lynn), and while the General Court, as the governor, deputy-governor, and assistants were called, made general "laws and ordinances" for the whole, the plantations were at liberty to manage their own particular affairs as they pleased. They called meetings and took action by themselves, as at Watertown, when, in 1632, the people assembled and expressed their discontent with a tax laid by the court, and at Dorchester as previously referred to. To Dorchester, however, belongs the honor of leading the way to that form of town government which has prevailed in New England ever since. It came about in this way. The settlement was begun in June, 1630, and for more than three years the people seem to have managed their affairs under the administration of the Court of Assistants by means of meetings. At such a meeting, held October 8, 1633, it was ordered "for the generall good and well ordering of the affaires of the plantation," that there should be a general meeting of the inhabitants at the meeting-house every Monday morning before the court, which was four times a year, or became so the next year, "to settle & sett downe such orders as may tend to the general good as aforesayd, & every man to be bound thereby without gainsaying or resistance." This very interesting order is given entire in the Memorial History of Boston. 3 There were also appointed twelve selectmen, "who were to hold monthly meetings, & whose orders were binding when confirmed by the Plantation."

Here was our New England town almost exactly as it is to-day. The inhabitants met at stated times and voted what seemed necessary for their own local order and welfare, and committed the execution of their will to twelve selectmen, who were to meet monthly. Our towns now have an annual meeting for the same purpose, and elect generally three selectmen, who meet at stated times,—sometimes as often as once a week. Watertown followed, about the same time, selecting three men "for the ordering of public affairs." Boston appears to have done the same thing in 1634, and Charlestown in the following year, the latter being the first to give the name Selectmen to the persons so chosen, a name which soon was generally adopted and has since remained.

[pg 287]

The reason of this action it is easy to conjecture, but it is fully stated in the order of the inhabitants of Charlestown at the meeting in which the action for the government of the town by selectmen was taken: "In consideration of the great trouble and charge of the inhabitants of Charlestown by reason of the frequent meeting of the townsmen in general, and that, by reason of many men meeting, things were not so easily brought into a joint issue; it is therefore agreed, by the said townsmen, jointly, that these eleven men ... shall entreat of all such business as shall concern the townsmen, the choice of officers excepted; and what they or the greater part of them shall conclude of, the rest of the town willingly to submit unto as their own proper act, and these eleven to continue in this employment for one year next ensuing the date hereof."

Town government, thus instituted, was recognized the next year—1636—by the General Court, and thereafter the towns were corporations lawfully existing and endowed with certain fixed though limited powers.

The plantations of the Plymouth Colony followed the example. In 1637, Duxbury was incorporated, and at the General Court of the colony, in 1639, deputies were in attendance from seven towns.

"Thus," says Judge Parker, 4 "there grew up a system of government embracing two jurisdictions, administered by the same people; the Colonial government, having jurisdiction over the whole colony, administered by the great body of the freemen, through officers elected and appointed by them; and the town governments, having limited local jurisdiction, such as was conceded to them by the Colonial government, administered by the inhabitants, through officers and agents chosen by them."

By this change,—the invention of the colonists themselves without copy or pattern,—the colonies were transformed from pure democracies into a congeries of democratic republics; and each town-house, or whatever building was used for such, became the state-house of a little republic. And this is what it is in every New England town to-day.

Was not, then, the New England town-house a thing of inheritance at all? Yes, so far as it was a building for the common meeting of the inhabitants of the town, and so far as it was a place for free discussion and the ordering of purely local affairs. The colonists came from their English homes already familiar with the town-hall and its uses so far. If one will turn to any gazetteer or encyclopædia which gives a description of Liverpool, England, he will find the town-hall described as one of the noble edifices of that town. The present structure was opened in 1754, but it was the successor of others, the first of which must have dated back somewhere near the time when King John gave the town its charter—1207. Or he may turn to the town of Hythe in the county of Kent. In its corporation records, it is said, is the following entry, bearing date in the year 1399: "Thomas Goodeall came before the jurats in the common hall on the 10th day of October, and covenanted to give for his freedom 20d., and so he was received and sworn to bear fealty to our Lord the King and his successors, and to the commonalty and liberty of the port of Hethe, and to render faithful account of his lots and scots 5 as freeman there are wont." In another entry, in the same year, the building is mentioned again as the "Common House."

[pg 288]

We may go further back than this. History tells us that "the boroughs (towns) of England, during the period of oppression, after the Norman invasion, led the way in the silent growth and elevation of the English people; that, unnoticed and despised by prelate and noble, they had alone preserved the full tradition of Teutonic liberty; that, by their traders and shopkeepers, the rights of self-government, of free speech in free meeting, of equal justice by one's equals, were brought safely across the ages of Norman tyranny."6 The rights of self-government and free speech in free meeting, then, were rights and practices of our Anglo-Saxon ancestry, and we are to go back with them across the English channel to their barbarian German home, and to the people described by Tacitus in his Germania, for the origin, as far as we can trace it, of this part of our inheritance. These people were famed for their spirit of independence and freedom. The mass are described as freemen, voting together in the great assemblies of the tribe, and choosing their own leaders or kings from the class of nobles, who were nobles not as constituting a distinct and privileged caste. "It was their greater estates and the greater consequence which accompanied these that marked their rank." When we first learn of these assemblies, they are out-of-doors, under the broad canopy of heaven alone, but the time came, as the rathhaus of the German town to-day attests, when they built the common hall or town-house; and we, to-day, in this remote and then unknown and unconjectured land of the West, are in this regard their heirs as well as descendants.7

In what, then, is the New England town-house more than, or different from, the English town-house? In this, that it is the state-house of a little democratic republic which came into existence of and by itself of a natural necessity, and not merely governs itself, making all the laws of local need and executing them—levying taxes, maintaining schools, and taking charge of its own poor, of roads, bridges, and all matters pertaining to the health, peace, and safety of all within its bounds, in a word, all things which it can do for itself,—but also in confederation with other little democratic republics has called into being, and clothed with all the power it has for those matters of common need which the town cannot do, the State. The State of Massachusetts, from the day that the people created the General Court the body it still is, by electing deputies from the towns,—representatives we now call them,—to sit instead of the whole body of freemen, with the governor [pg 289] and council, for the performance of all acts of legislation for the common good, is the outgrowth of and exists only by virtue of the towns. The towns created it, compose it, send up to it its heart-and-life blood. This it is which makes the New England town unique, attracting the attention and interest of intelligent foreigners who visit our shores. Judge Parker says: "I very well recollect the curiosity expressed by some of the gentlemen in the suite of Lafayette, on his visit to this country in 1825, respecting these town organizations and their powers and operations." In the same connection he adds that "a careful examination of the history of the New England towns will show that," instead of being modeled after the town of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, or the free cities of the continent of the twelfth century, "they were not founded or modeled on precedent" at all. Mr. E.A. Freeman, however, puts it more truthfully in saying: "The circumstances of New England called the primitive assembly (that is, the Homeric agora, Athenian ekklesia, Roman comitia, Swiss landesgemeinde, English folk-moot) again into being, when in the older England it was well-nigh forgotten. What in Switzerland was a survival was in New England rather a revival."8

Our New England town-house, therefore, is a symbol of institutions, partly original with our fathers, partly a priceless inheritance from Old England the land of our fathers, and nearly in the whole, if not quite, a regermination and new growth of old race instincts and practices on a new soil.

The New England town is not an institution of all the States, but its principle has invaded the majority. To the West and Northwest it has been carried by the New Englander himself, and is being carried by him both directly and indirectly into the South and Southwest, and will show there in no great length of time its prevailing and vitalizing power.

It was Jefferson, himself a Virginian, reared in the midst of another system, aristocratical and central in its character, who said: "These wards, called townships in New England, are the vital principle of their governments, and have proved themselves the wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government and for its preservation."

The New England town-house, therefore, is significant of more than its predecessor in England or Germany. While with them it means freedom in the management of local affairs, beyond them it means a relation to the State and the National government which they did not. It means not merely a broad basis for the general government in the people, that the people are the reason and remote source of governing power, but that they are themselves the governors. Every man who enters a New England town-house and casts his vote knows that that expression of his will is a force which reaches, or may reach, the Legislature of his State, the governor in his chair, the National Congress, and the President in the White House at Washington. He feels an interest therefore, and a responsibility which the voter in no other land in the world feels, and the town-house is an education to him in the art of self-government which no other country affords, and because of it the town is an institution teaching how to maintain government, local, state, and general, and so bases that government in self-interest and beneficial experience, that it is a pledge of security and perpetuity as regards socialism, communism, and as it would seem every other revolutionary influence from within. It is in strong contrast with the commune of France. France is divided for the purposes of local government into departments; departments into arrondissements; and arrondissements into communes, the commune being the administrative unit. The department is governed by a préfet and a conseil-général, the préfet being appointed by the central government and directly under its control, and the conseil-général an elective body. The arrondissement is presided over by a sous-préfet and an elective council. The commune is governed by a maire and a conseil-municipal.

[pg 290]

The conseil-municipal is an elective body, but its duties "consist in assisting and to some extent controlling the maire, and in the management of the communal affairs," but the maire is appointed by the central government and is liable to suspension by the préfet.

The relation of the citizen to the general government in France is therefore totally different from that of the citizen of the United States to his general government, and the town organization is a school of free citizenship which the commune is not, and so far republican institutions in America have a guaranty which in France they have not.


By Henry B. Carrington, U.S.A., Ll.D.

Author of The Battles of the American Revolution.

[(a) The occupation of Charlestown Heights on the night of June 16, 1775, was of strategic value, however transient, equalizing the relations of the parties opposed, and projecting its force and fire into the entire struggle for American Independence. (Pages 290-302.)

(b)The Siege of Boston, which followed, gave to the freshly organized Continental army that discipline, that instruction in military engineering, and that contact with a well-trained enemy which prepared it for immediate operations at New York and in New Jersey. (Pages 37-44.)

(c) The occupation and defence of New York and Brooklyn, so promptly made, was also an immediate strategic necessity, fully warranted by the existing conditions, although alike temporary. (Pages 34-161.)]

An exhaustless theme may be so outlined that fairly stated data will suggest the possibilities beyond.

Waterloo is incidentally related to the crowning laurels of Wellington; but, primarily, to the downfall of Napoleon, while rarely to the assured growth of genuine popular liberty.

No battle during the American Rebellion of 1861-65 was so really decisive as was the first battle of Bull's Run. As that Federal failure enforced the issue which freed four millions of people from slavery, and had its sequence and culmination, through great struggle, in a perpetuated Union, so did the battle of Bunker Hill open wide the breach between Great Britain and the Colonies, and render American Independence inevitable.

The repulse of Howe at Breed's Hill practically ejected him from Boston, enforced his halt before Brooklyn, delayed him at White Plains, explained his hesitation at Bound Brook, near Somerset Court-House, in 1777, as well as his sluggishness after the battle of Brandywine, and equally induced his inaction at Philadelphia, in 1778.

[pg 291]
The Battle of Breeds Hill, on Bunker Hill. Compiled and Drawn by Col. Carrington.
[pg 292]

Just as a similar resistance by Totleben at Sevastapol during the Crimean War prolonged that struggle for twelve months, so did the hastily constructed earthworks on Breed's Hill forewarn the assailants that every ridge might serve as a fortress, and every sand-hill become a cover, for a persistent and earnest foe.

Historical research and military criticism suggest few cases where so much has been realized by the efforts of a few men, in a few hours, during the shelter of one night, and by the light of one day.

The simple narrative has been the subject of much discussion. Its details have been shaped and colored, with supreme regard for the special claims of preferred candidates for distinction, until a plain consideration of the issue then made, from a purely military point of view, as introductory to a detail of the battle itself, cannot be barren of interest to the readers of a Magazine which treats largely of the local history of Massachusetts.

The city of Boston was girdled by rapidly increasing earthworks. These were wholly defensive, to resist assault from the British garrison, and not, at first, as cover for a regular siege approach against the Island Post. They soon became a direct agency to force the garrison to look to the sea alone for supplies or retreat.

Open war against Great Britain began with this environment of Boston. The partially organized militia responded promptly to call.

The vivifying force of the struggle through Concord, Lexington, and West Cambridge (Arlington now), had so quickened the rapidly augmenting body of patriots, that they demanded offensive action and grew impatient for results. Having dropped fear of British troops, as such, they held a strong purpose to achieve that complete deliverance which their earnest resistance foreshadowed.

Lexington and Concord were, therefore, the exponents of that daring which made the occupation and resistance of Breed's Hill possible. The fancied invincibility of British discipline went down before the rifles of farmers; but the quickening sentiment, which gave nerve to the arm, steadiness to the heart, and force to the blow, was one of those historic expressions of human will and faith, which, under deep sense of wrong incurred and rights imperilled, overmasters discipline, and has the method of an inspired madness. The moral force of the energizing passion became overwhelming and supreme. No troops in the world, under similar conditions, could have resisted the movement.

The opposing forces did not alike estimate the issue, or the relations of the parties in interest. The troops sent forth to collect or destroy arms, rightfully in the hands of their countrymen, and not to engage an enemy, were under an involuntary restraint, which stripped them of real fitness to meet armed men, who were already on fire with the conviction that the representatives of national force were employed to destroy national life.

The ostensible theory of the Crown was to reconcile the Colonies. The actual policy, and its physical demonstrations, repelled, and did not conciliate. Military acts, easily done by the force in hand, were needlessly done. Military acts which would be wise upon the basis of anticipated resistance were not done.

[pg 293]

Threats and blows toward those not deemed capable of resistance were freely expended. Operations of war, as against an organized and skilful enemy, were ignored. But the legacies of English law and the inheritance of English liberty had vested in the Colonies. Their eradication and their withdrawal were alike impossible. The time had passed for compromise or limitation of their enjoyment. The filial relation toward England was lost when it became that of a slave toward master, to be asserted by force. This the Americans understood when they environed Boston. This the British did not understand, until after the battle of Bunker Hill. The British worked as against a mob of rebels. The Americans made common cause, "liberty or death," against usurpation and tyranny.


Reference to map, "Boston and vicinity," already used in the January number of this Magazine to illustrate the siege of Boston, will give a clear impression of the local surroundings, at the time of the American occupation of Charlestown Heights. The value of that position was to be tested. The Americans had previously burned the lighthouses of the harbor. The islands of the bay were already miniature fields of conflict; and every effort of the garrison to use boats, and thereby secure the needed supplies of beef, flour, or fuel, only developed a counter system of boat operations, which neutralized the former and gradually limited the garrison to the range of its guns. This close grasp of the land approaches to Boston, so persistently maintained, stimulated the Americans to catch a tighter hold, and force the garrison to escape by sea. The capture of that garrison would have placed unwieldy prisoners in their hands and have made outside operations impossible, as well as any practical disposition of the prisoners themselves, in treatment with Great Britain. Expulsion was the purpose of the rallying people.

General Gage fortified Boston Neck as early as 1774, and the First Continental Congress had promptly assured Massachusetts of its sympathy with her solemn protest against that act. It was also the intention of General Gage to fortify Dorchester Heights. Early in April, a British council of war, in which Clinton, Burgoyne, and Percy took part, unanimously advised the immediate occupation of Dorchester, as both indispensable to the protection of the shipping, and as assurance of access to the country for indispensable supplies.

General Howe already appreciated the mistake of General Gage, in his expedition to Concord, but still cherished such hope of an accommodation of the issue with the Colonies that he postponed action until a peaceable occupation of Dorchester Heights became impossible, and the growing earthworks of the besiegers already commanded Boston Neck.

General Gage had also advised, and wisely, the occupation of Charlestown Heights, as both necessary and feasible, without risk to Boston itself. He went so far as to announce that, in case of overt acts of hostility to such occupation, by the citizens of Charlestown, he would burn the town.

It was clearly sound military policy for the British to occupy both Dorchester and Charlestown Heights, at the first attempt of the Americans to invest the city.

[pg 294]

As early as the middle of May, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, as well as the council, had resolved "to occupy Bunker Hill as soon as artillery and powder could be adequately furnished for the purpose," and a committee was appointed to examine and report respecting the merits of Dorchester Heights, as a strategic restraint upon the garrison of Boston.

On the fifteenth of June, upon reliable information that the British had definitely resolved to seize both Heights, and had designated the eighteenth of June for the occupation of Charlestown, the same Committee of Safety voted "to take immediate possession of Bunker Bill."

Mr. Bancroft states that "the decision was so sudden that no fit preparation could be made," Under the existing conditions, it was indeed a desperate daring, expressive of grand faith and self-devotion, worthy of the cause in peril, and only limited in its immediate and assured triumph by the simple lack of powder.

Prescott, who was eager to lead the enterprise and was entrusted with its execution, and Putman, who gave it his most ardent support, were most urgent that the council should act promptly; while Warren, who long hesitated to concur, did at last concur, and gave his life as the test of his devotion. General Ward realized fully that the hesitation of the British to emerge from Boston and attack the Americans was an index of the security of the American defences, and, therefore, deprecated the contingency of a general engagement, until ample supplies of powder could be secured.

The British garrison, which had been reinforced to a nominal strength of ten thousand men, had become reduced, through inadequate supplies, especially of fresh meat, to eight thousand effectives, but these men were well officered and well disciplined.


Bunker Hill had an easy slope to the isthmus, but was quite steep on either side, having, in fact, control of the isthmus, as well as commanding a full view of Boston and the surrounding country. Morton's Hill, at Moulton's Point, where the British landed, was but thirty-five feet above sea level, while Breed's Pasture (as then known) and Bunker Hill were, respectively, seventy-five and one hundred and ten feet high. The Charles and Mystic Rivers, which flanked Charlestown, were navigable, and were under the control of the British ships-of-war.


To so occupy Charlestown, in advance, as to prevent a successful British landing, required the use of the nearest available position that would make the light artillery of the Americans effective. To occupy Bunker Hill, alone, would leave to the British the cover of Breed's Hill, under which to gain effective fire and a good base for approach, as well as Charlestown for quarters, without prejudice to themselves.

When, therefore, Breed's Hill was fortified as an advanced position, it was done with the assurance that reinforcements would soon occupy the retired summit, and the course adopted was the best to prevent an effective British lodgment. The previous reluctance of the garrison to make any effective demonstration against the thin lines of environment strengthened the belief of the Americans that a well-selected hold upon Charlestown Heights would securely tighten the grasp upon the city itself.

[pg 295]


As a fact, the British contempt for the Americans might have urged them as rashly against Bunker Hill as it did against the redoubt which they gained, at last, only through failure of the ammunition of its defenders; but, in view of the few hours at disposal of the Americans to prepare against a landing so soon to be attempted, it is certain that the defences were well placed, both to cover the town and force an immediate issue before the British could increase their own force.

It is equally certain that the British utterly failed to appreciate the fact that, with the control of the Mystic and Charles Rivers, they could, within twenty-four hours, so isolate Charlestown as to secure the same results as by storming the American position, and without appreciable loss. This was the advice of General Clinton, but he was overruled. They did, ultimately, thereby check reinforcements, but suffered so severely in the battle itself that fully two thirds of the Americans retired safely to the main land.

The delay of the British to advance as soon as the landing was effected was bad tactics. One half of the force could have followed the Mystic and turned the American left wing, long before Colonel Stark's command came upon the field. The British dined as leisurely as if they had only to move any time and seize the threatening position, and thereby lost their chief opportunity.

One single sign of the recognition of any possible risk-to themselves was the opening of fire from Boston Neck and such other positions as faced the American lines, as if to warn them not to attempt the city, or endanger their own lives by sending reinforcements to Charlestown.


It is not the purpose of this article to elaborate the details of preparation, which have been so fully discussed by many writers, but to illustrate the value of the action in the light of the relations and conduct of the opposing forces.

Colonel William Prescott, of Pepperell, Massachusetts, Colonel James Frye, of Andover, and Colonel Ebenezer Bridge, of Billerica, whose regiments formed most of the original detail, were members of the council of war which had been organized on the twentieth of April, when General Ward assumed command of the army. Colonel Thomas Knowlton, of Putnam's regiment, was to lead a detachment from the Connecticut troops. Colonel Richard Gridley, chief engineer, with a company of artillery, was also assigned to the moving columns.

To ensure a force of one thousand men, the field order covered nearly fourteen hundred, and Mr. Frothingham shows clearly that the actual force as organized, with artificers and drivers of carts, was not less than twelve hundred men.

Cambridge Common was the place of rendezvous, where, at early twilight of June 16, the Reverend Samuel Langdon, president of Harvard College, invoked the blessing of Almighty God upon the solemn undertaking.

This silent body of earnest men crossed Charlestown Neck, and halted for a clear definition of the impending duty. Major Brooks, of Colonel Dodge's regiment, joined here, as well as a company of artillery. Captain Nutting, with a detachment of Connecticut men, was promptly sent, by the quickest route, to patrol Charlestown, at the summit of Bunker Hill. Captain Maxwell's company, of Prescott's regiment, was next detailed to patrol the shore in silence and keenly note any activity on board the British men-of-war.

[pg 296]

The six vessels lying in the stream were the Somerset, sixty-eight, Captain Edward Le Cross; Cerberus, thirty-six, Captain Chads; Glasgow, thirty-four, Captain William Maltby; Lively, twenty, Captain Thomas Bishop; Falcon, twenty, Captain Linzee, and the Symmetry, transport, with eighteen guns.

While one thousand men worked upon the redoubt which had been located under counsel of Gridley, Prescott, Knowlton, and other officers, the dull thud of the pickaxe and the grating of shovels were the only sounds that disturbed the pervading silence, except as the sentries' "All's well!" from Copp's Hill and from the warships, relieved anxiety and stimulated work. Prescott and Putnam alike, and more than once, visited the beach, to be assured that the seeming security was real; and at daybreak the redoubt, nearly eight rods square and six feet high, was nearly complete.

Scarcely had objects become distinct, when the battery on Copp's Hill and the guns of the Lively opened fire, and startled the garrison of Boston from sleep, to a certainty that the Colonists had taken the offensive.

General Putnam reached headquarters at a very early hour, and secured the detail of a portion of Colonel Stark's regiment, to reinforce the first detail which had already occupied the Hill.

At nine o'clock, a council of war was held at Breed's Hill. Major John Brooks was sent to ask for more men and more rations. Richard Devens, of the Committee of Safety, then in session, was influential in persuading General Ward to furnish prompt reinforcements. By eleven o'clock, the whole of Stark's and Reed's New Hampshire regiments were on their march, and in time to meet the first shock of battle. Portions of other regiments hastened to the aid of those already waiting for the fight to begin.

The details of men were not exactly defined, in all cases, when the urgent call for reinforcements reached headquarters. Little's regiment of Essex men; Brewer's, of Worcester and Middlesex, with their Lieutenant-Colonel Buckminster; Nixon's, led by Nixon himself; Moore's, from Worcester; Whitcomb's, of Lancaster, and others, promptly accepted the opportunity to take part in the offensive, and challenge the British garrison to a contest-at-arms, and well they bore their part in the struggle.


The completion of the redoubt only made more distinct the necessity for additional defences. A line of breastworks, a few rods in length, was carried to the left, and then to the rear, in order to connect with a stone fence which was accepted as a part of the line, since the fence ran perpendicularly to the Mystic; and the intention was to throw some protection across the entire peninsula to the river. A small pond and some spongy ground were left open, as non-essential, considering the value of every moment; and every exertion was made for the protection [pg 297] of the immediate front. The stone fence, like those still common in New England, was two or three feet high, with set posts and two rails; in all, about five feet high, the top rail giving a rest for a rifle. A zigzag "stake and rider fence" was put in front, the meadow division-fences being stripped for the purpose. The fresh-mown hay filled the interval between the fences. This line was nearly two hundred yards in rear of the face of the redoubt, and near the foot of Bunker Hill. Captain Knowlton, with two pieces of artillery and Connecticut troops, was assigned, by Colonel Prescott, to the right of this position, adjoining the open gap already mentioned. Between the fence and the river, more conspicuous at low tide, was a long gap, which was promptly filled by Stark as soon as he reached the ground, thus, as far as possible, to anticipate the very flanking movement which the British afterward attempted.

Putnam was everywhere active, and, after the fences were as well secured as time would allow, he ordered the tools taken to Bunker Hill for the establishment of a second line on higher ground, in case the first could not be maintained. His importunity with General Ward had secured the detail of the whole of Reed's, as well as the balance of Stark's, regiment, so that the entire left was protected by New Hampshire troops. With all their energy they were able to gather from the shore only stone enough for partial cover, while they lay down, or kneeled, to fire.

The whole force thus spread out to meet the British army was less than sixteen hundred men. Six pieces of artillery were in use at different times, but with little effect. The cannon cartridges were at last distributed for the rifles, and five of the guns were left on the field when retreat became inevitable.

Reference to the map will indicate the position thus outlined. It was evident that the landing could not be prevented. Successive barges landed the well-equipped troops, and they took their positions, and their dinner, under the blaze of the hot sun, as if nothing but ordinary duty was awaiting their leisure.


It was nearly three o'clock in the afternoon when the British army formed for the advance. General Howe was expected to break and envelop the American left wing, take the redoubt in the rear, and cut off retreat to Bunker Hill and the mainland. The light infantry moved closely along the Mystic. The grenadiers advanced upon the stone fence, while the British left demonstrated toward the unprotected gap which was between the fence and the short breastwork next the redoubt. General Pigot with the extreme left wing moved directly upon the redoubt. The British artillery had been supplied with twelve-pound shot for six-pounder guns, and, thus disabled, were ordered to use only grape. The guns were, therefore, advanced to the edge of an old brick-kiln, as the spongy ground and heavy grass did not permit ready handling of guns at the foot of the hill slope, or even just at its left. This secured a more effective range of fire upon the skeleton defences of the American centre, and an eligible position for a direct fire upon the exposed portion of the American front, and both breastwork and redoubt.

[pg 298]

The advance of the British army was like a solemn pageant in its steady headway, and like a parade for inspection in its completeness. This army, bearing knapsacks and full campaign equipment, moved forward as if, by the force of its closely knit columns, it must sweep every barrier away. But, right in the way was a calm, intense love of liberty. It was represented by men of the same blood and of equal daring.

A strong contrast marked the opposing Englishmen that summer afternoon. The plain men handled plain firelocks. Oxhorns held their powder, and their pockets held their bullets. Coatless, under the broiling sun, unincumbered, unadorned by plume or service medal, pale and wan after their night of toil and their day of hunger, thirst, and waiting, this live obstruction calmly faced the advancing splendor.

A few hasty shots, quickly restrained, drew an innocent fire from the British front rank. The pale, stern men behind the slight defence, obedient to a strong will, answer not to the quick volley, and nothing to the audible commands of the advancing columns,—waiting, still.

No painter can make the scene more clear than the recital of sober deposition, and the record left by survivors of either side. History has no contradictions to confuse the realities of that momentous tragedy.

The British left wing is near the redoubt. It has only to mount a fresh earthbank, hardly six feet high, and its clods and sands can almost be counted,—it is so near, so easy—sure.

Short, crisp, and earnest, low-toned, but felt as an electric pulse, are the words of Prescott. Warren, by his side, repeats. The words fly through the impatient lines. The eager fingers give back from the waiting trigger. "Steady, men." "Wait until you see the white of the eye." "Not a shot sooner." "Aim at the handsome coats." "Aim at the waistbands." "Pick off the commanders." "Wait for the word, every man,—steady."

Those plain men, so patient, can already count the buttons, can read the emblems on the breastplate, can recognize the officers and men whom they had seen parade on Boston Common. Features grow more distinct. The silence is awful. The men seem dead—waiting for one word. On the British right the light infantry gain equal advance just as the left wing almost touched the redoubt. Moving over more level ground, they quickly made the greater distance, and passed the line of those who marched directly up the hill. The grenadiers moved firmly upon the centre, with equal confidence, and space lessens to that which the spirit of the impending word defines. That word waits behind the centre and left wing, as it lingers at breastwork and redoubt. Sharp, clear, and deadly in tone and essence, it rings forth,—Fire!


From redoubt to river, along the whole sweep of devouring flame, the forms of men wither as in a furnace heat. The whole front goes down. For an instant the chirp of the cricket and grasshopper in the fresh-mown hay might almost be heard; then the groans of the wounded, then the shouts of impatient yeomen who spring forth to pursue, until recalled to silence and duty. Staggering, but reviving, grand in the glory of their manhood, heroic in restored self-possession, with steady step in the face of fire, and over the bodies of the dead, the British remnant renew battle. Again, a deadly volley, and the shattered columns, in spite of entreaty or command, speed back to the place of landing, and the first shock of arms is over.

[pg 299]

A lifetime, when it is past, is but as a moment. A moment, sometimes, is as a lifetime. Onset and repulse. Three hundred lifetimes ended in twenty minutes.

Putnam hastened to Bunker Hill to gather scattering parties in the rear and urge coming reinforcements across the isthmus, where the fire from British frigates swept with fearful energy, but nothing could bring them in time. The men who had toiled all night, and had just proved their valor, were again to be tested.

The British reformed promptly, in the perfection of their discipline. Their artillery was pushed forward nearer the angle made by the breastwork next the redoubt, and the whole line advanced, deployed as before, across the entire American front. The ships-of-war increased their fire across the isthmus. Charlestown had been fired, and more than four hundred houses kindled into one vast wave of smoke and flame, until a sudden breeze swept its quivering volume away and exposed to view of the watchful Americans the returning tide of battle. No scattering shots in advance this time. It is only when a space of hardly five rods is left, and a swift plunge could almost forerun the rifle flash, that the word of execution impels the bullet, and the entire front rank, from redoubt to river, is swept away. Again, and again, the attempt is made to rally and inspire the paralyzed troops; but the living tide flows back, even to the river.

Another twenty minutes,—hardly twenty-five,—and the death angel has gathered his sheaves of human hopes, as when the Royal George went down beneath the waters with its priceless value of human lives.

At the first repulse the thirty-eighth regiment took shelter by a stone fence, along the road which passes about the base of Breed's Hill; but at the second repulse, supported by the fifth, it reorganized, just under the advanced crest of Breed's Hill for a third advance.

It was an hour of grave issues. Burgoyne, who watched the progress from Copp's Hill, says: "A moment of the day was critical."

Stedman says: "A continuous blaze of musketry, incessant and destructive."

Gordon says: "The British officers pronounced it downright butchery to lead the men afresh against those lines."

Ramsay says: "Of one company not more than five, and of another not more than fourteen, escaped."

Lossing says: "Whole platoons were lain upon the earth, like grass by the mower's scythe."

Marshall says: "The British line, wholly broken, fell back with precipitation to the landing-place."

Frothingham quotes this statement of a British officer: "Most of our grenadiers and light infantry, the moment they presented themselves, lost three fourths, and many nine tenths, of their men. Some had only eight and nine men to a company left, some only three, four, and five."

Botta says: "A shower of bullets. The field was covered with the slain."

Bancroft says: "A continuous sheet of fire."

Stark says: "The dead lay as thick as sheep in a fold."

[pg 300]

It was, indeed, a strange episode in British history, in view of the British assertion of assured supremacy, whenever an issue challenged that supremacy.

Clinton and Burgoyne, watching from the redoubt on Copp's Hill, realized at once the gravity of the situation, and Clinton promptly offered his aid to rescue the army.

Four hundred additional marines and the forty-seventh regiment were promptly landed. This fresh force, under Clinton, was ordered to flank the redoubt and scale its face to the extreme left. General Howe, with the grenadiers and light infantry, supported by the artillery, undertook the storming of the breastworks, bending back from the mouth of the redoubt, and so commanding the centre entrance.

General Pigot was ordered to rally the remnants of the fifth, thirty-eighth, forty-third, and fifty-second regiments, to connect the two wings, and attack the redoubt in front.

A mere demonstration was ordered upon the American left, while the artillery was to advance a few rods and then swing to its left, so as to sweep the breastwork for Howe's advance.


The dress parade movement of the first advance was not repeated. A contest between equals was at hand. Victory or ruin was the alternative for those who so proudly issued from the Boston barracks at sunrise for the suppression of pretentious rebellion. Knapsacks were thrown aside. British veterans stripped for fight. Not a single regiment of those engaged had passed such a fearful ordeal in its whole history as a single hour had witnessed. The power of discipline, the energy of experienced commanders, and the pressure of honored antecedents, combined to make the movement as trying as it was momentous.

The Americans were no less under a solemn responsibility. At the previous attack, some loaded while others fired, so that the expenditure of powder was great, almost exhaustive. The few remaining cannon cartridges were economically distributed. There was no longer a possibility of reinforcements. The fire from the shipping swept the isthmus. There were less than fifty bayonets to the entire command.

During the afternoon Ward sent his own regiment, as well as Patterson's and Gardner's, but few men reached the actual front in time to share in the last resistance. Gardner did, indeed, reach Bunker Hill to aid Putnam in establishing a second line on that summit, but fell in the discharge of the duty. Febiger, previously conspicuous at Quebec, and afterward at Stony Point, gathered a portion of Gerrishe's regiment, and reached the redoubt in time to share in the final struggle; but the other regiments, without their fault, were too late.

At this time, Putnam seemed to appreciate the full gravity of the crisis, and made the most of every available resource to concentrate a reserve for a second defence, but in vain.

Prescott, within the redoubt, at once recognized the method of the British advance. The wheel of the British artillery to the left after it passed the line of the redoubt, secured to it an enfilading fire, which insured the reduction of the redoubt and cut off retreat. There was no panic at that hour of supreme peril. The order to reserve fire until the enemy was within twenty yards was obediently regarded, and it was not until a pressure upon three faces of the redoubt forced the last issue, that the defenders poured forth one more destructive volley. A single cannon cartridge was distributed for the final effort, and then, with clubbed guns and the nerve of desperation, the slow retreat began, contesting, man to man and inch by inch. Warren fell, shot through the head, in the mouth of the fort.

[pg 301]

The battle was not quite over, even then. Jackson rallied Gardner's men on Bunker Hill, and with three companies of Ward's regiment and Febiger's party, so covered the retreat as to save half of the garrison. The New Hampshire troops of Stark and Reed, with Colt's and Chester's companies, still held the fence line clear to the river, and covered the escape of Prescott's command until the last cartridge had been expended, and then their deliberate, well-ordered retreat bore testimony alike to their virtue and valor.


Putnam made one final effort at Bunker Hill, but in vain, and the army retired to Prospect Hill, which Putnam had already fortified in advance.

The British did not pursue, Clinton urged upon General Howe an immediate attack upon Cambridge; but Howe declined the movement. The gallant Prescott offered to retake Bunker Hill by storming if he could have three fresh regiments; but it was not deemed best to waste further resources at the time.

Such, as briefly as it can be clearly outlined, was the battle of Bunker Hill.

Nearly one third of each army was left on the field.

The British loss was nineteen officers killed and seventy wounded, itself a striking evidence of the prompt response to Prescott's orders before the action began. Of rank and file, two hundred and seven were killed and seven hundred and fifty-eight were wounded. Total, ten hundred and fifty-four.

The American loss was one hundred and forty-five killed and missing, and three hundred and four wounded. Total, four hundred and forty-nine.

Such is the record of a battle which, in less than two hours, destroyed a town, laid fifteen hundred men upon the field, equalized the relations of veterans and militia, aroused three millions of people to a definite struggle for National Independence, and fairly opened the war for its accomplishment.


NOTE 1. The hasty organization of the command is marked by one feature not often regarded, and that is the readiness with which men of various regiments enlisted in the enterprise. Washington, in his official report of the casualties, thus specifies the loss:—

Colonel of Regiment. Killed. Wounded. Missing.
Frye 10 38 4
Little 7 23 -
Brewer 12 22 -
Gridley - 4 -
Stark 15 45 -
Woodbridge - 5 -
Scammon - 2 -
Bridge 17 25 -
Whitcomb 5 8 2
Ward 1 6 -
Gerrishe 3 5 -
Reed 3 29 1
Prescott 43 46 -
Doolittle 6 9 -
Gardner - 7 -
Patterson - 1 1
Nixon 3 - -
[pg 302]

NOTE 2. The record, brief as it is, shows that hot controversies as to the question of precedence in command are beneath the merits of the struggle, because all worked just where the swift transitions of the crisis best commanded presence and influence.

NOTE 3. As both the Morton and Moulton families had property near the British landing-place, it is immaterial whether hill or point bear the name of one or the other. Hence the author of this sketch, in a memorial examination of this battle, elsewhere, deemed it but just to recognize both, without attempt to harmonize differences upon an immaterial matter.

NOTE 4. The occupation of Lechmere Point, Cobble Hill, Ploughed Hill, and Prospect Hill, as shown upon the map of Boston and vicinity, rendered the British occupation of Bunker Hill a barren victory, silenced the activity of a thousand men, vindicated the wisdom of the American occupation, however transient, rescued Boston, and projected the spirit of the battle of Bunker Hill into all the issues which culminated at Yorktown, October 19, 1781.


By Russell Sturgis, Jr.

In the sketch of the Boston Association, which appeared in the April number of this Magazine, mention was made of the work of Mr. L.P. Rowland, corresponding member of Massachusetts of the international committee, in establishing kindred associations throughout the State, This article is to give a brief history of the spread and work of these associations, and I am largely indebted to Mr. Sayford, late state secretary, for the data. It was natural that as soon as it was known that an organization had been formed in Boston to do distinctive work for young men, that in other places where the need was realized the desire for a like work should spring up; but, in the absence of organized effort to promote this, very little was done, and in 1856, five years after the parent association was formed, there were only six in all, that is, in Boston, Charlestown, Worcester, Lowell, Springfield, and Haverhill.

In December, 1866, the Boston Association called a convention, when twelve hundred delegates met and sat for two days at the Tremont Temple. General Christian work was discussed, but the distinctive work for young men was earnestly advocated.

When Mr. Rowland undertook the work, as an officer of the international committee, it spread rapidly, and in 1868 there were one hundred and two, and in 1869, one hundred and nine, associations in Massachusetts. This number was, later, somewhat further increased.

Up to 1867 there had been no conference of the state associations, but at the international convention, at Montreal, in that year, it was strongly urged upon the corresponding members of the various States and provinces that they should call state conventions, and thus the first Massachusetts convention of Young Men's Christian Associations was held [pg 303] at Springfield, October 10 and 11. The Honorable Whiting Griswold, of Greenfield, was president, and among the prominent men present were Henry F. Durant and ex-Vice-President Wilson. In 1868, the convention met at Worcester; in 1869, at Lowell. At this time there were fifty associations reporting reading-rooms, and thirty were holding open-air meetings, which means, that, since there are many persons who never enter a building to hear the gospel, it should be taken to them. Since these services are almost peculiarly a characteristic of association work, let me describe them. One or two men, clergymen or laymen, are appointed to take charge of the meeting, while from six to ten men go with them to lead the singing. Having reached the common or public square where men and women are lounging about, the group start a familiar hymn and sing, perhaps, two or three, by which time many have drawn near and most are listening; then mounting a bench or packing-box, the leader says he proposes to pray to the God of whom they have been singing, and asks them to join with him; then with uncovered head he speaks to God and asks him to bless the words that shall be spoken. Another hymn, and then some Bible scene or striking incident is read and commented upon, and when interest is fairly roused the gospel is preached in its simplicity and a direct appeal made to the people. There is a wonderful fascination in this service—a naturalness in all the surroundings, so like the circumstances of our Lord's discourses, that makes God's nearness felt, and inspires great faith for results. Great have been these results—how great we shall know by-and-by. Many a soul has thus been born by the sea, in the grove, on the village green, at the place where streets meet in the busy city. How can we reach the masses? is the earnest question of the church. Go to them! To the association is due the fact that thousands of laymen are to-day proclaiming the gospel in all parts of the world, successful through their simple study of the Word and the encouragement and training which they have received in this school.

The fourth convention was held in Chelsea, in 1870, on which occasion the Honorable Cephas Brainard, chairman of the international executive committee, said: "To promote the permanency of associations, our labor must be chiefly for young men; increasing as rapidly as possible edifices of our own; and cultivating frequent fraternal intercourse with the eight hundred associations in the land." Up to 1881 no agents had been appointed by the state convention to superintend its work. Mr. Rowland was taking time, given him for rest, to visit associations and towns needing them.

At the international convention, in 1868, at Detroit, two Massachusetts men met, who were to be largely instrumental in carrying on the work in the State so dear to them; and in 1871, in far-off Illinois, these two men—K.A. Burnell, and he who has almost without a break served on the Massachusetts committee to this day—met again, prayed for Massachusetts, consulted together, and the result was that at the convention of 1871, at Northampton, a state executive committee was appointed.

At this time calls from many parts of the State were coming to the association workers from pastors of churches for lay help and they felt that these calls must be met. Mr. Burnell was engaged to conduct the work, and with the help of the committee individually, meetings of two and three days were held in from forty to sixty towns each year for three years. This work was continued by paid secretaries, still largely aided by the committee, till 1879.

[pg 304]

During this time but little was done to strengthen existing associations, and nothing in establishing new ones, therefore, while the influence of the convention of associations was greatly felt throughout the State, the associations themselves suffered. Very many were doing nothing, and many had ceased to exist.

We should not dare to say that the associations did wrong in thus giving themselves to the evangelistic work, while the calls for it were greater than the committee could meet. This work engrossed them till the calls began to slacken, and then they awoke to the fact that they were neglecting their true work, a special instrumentality in which they believed and for which they existed—that is, "A work for young men by young men through physical, social, mental, and spiritual appliances."

This led to a series of resolutions at the Lowell convention, in 1879, directing the committee to confine their efforts to the strengthening and organizing of associations, and to appoint a secretary to give his whole time to the work.

Mr. Sayford was called from New York, appointed general secretary, and began to work in January, 1880.

At this time there were thirty-five associations in the State, only four of which had general secretaries, paid men who gave all their time to the work.

In October, the number of secretaries had more than doubled, nine being at work. The total membership at this time was, in round numbers, six thousand, with property amounting to about two hundred and ten thousand dollars.

The thirty-three associations which reported at this time at the Lynn convention represented somewhat more than five hundred active working men, and they conducted one hundred and ten religious meetings a week.

In 1881, the only addition of note was the beginning of the railway work in the State, when a general secretary was employed, and rooms opened at Springfield by the Boston and Albany Railroad Company. This important work, carried on most vigorously at various railway centres in other States, had for some time been pressed upon the state committee, but they had been unable to obtain any footing till now. At the convention of this year, at Spencer, the advantage of association work in colleges was brought out in an able paper by our present state secretary, then a representative of Williams College.

At this convention the committee on executive committee's report said: "It is evident from the reports of executive committee and state secretary, that, while the process of the last two years has decreased the number of the associations in the State, it has greatly increased their efficiency. Some associations were found to have been long since privately buried, though the name was allowed to remain upon the door. These have been removed. Others had been left to die uncared for in the field. These have been decently buried. Some were found so sick as to be past hope, and their last days were made as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. Others were found to be more or less seriously ill, and have been skilfully treated. The result is that at least twenty-four associations are well, and could do much more work if they chose; while ten, in robust condition, and under the management and inspiration of skilled general secretaries, are doing grand work for young men in their several localities."

[pg 305]

The reduction here spoken of is from one hundred and nine associations in 1869 to thirty-four in 1881; yet the work was being better done by the smaller number, and it is thus accounted for: Few dreamed to what this work would grow, therefore their aim was extremely vague, and the methods were inadequate. Seeing the need,—deeply interested in the salvation of young men,—the idea of the association took everywhere. They sprang up all over the State. Organization followed organization in rapid succession, and then they waited to be told what to do, or flung themselves into the first seeming opening with no thought whether it was the work for which they were formed; and we remember of hearing of one Young Men's Christian Association whose whole energies were concentrated upon a mission Sunday-school in a deserted district,—a good work, but not a proper Young Men's Christian Association's work, when it represented all that was being done.

Two things, however, were accomplished, even in those early days, for which we must always be very grateful, and in themselves are a sufficient raison d'etre. Young men were trained to work, and the reflex influence upon their minds was very great, and the real unity of the church of Christ was manifested as never before. The Young Men's Christian Association in town and village formed the natural rallying-point for all united work. A third great blessing should be mentioned. Not only has the unity of Christ's church been manifested, but also its distinctive standing upon the great Bible doctrines of the cross, which vitally separate it from all other religious bodies.

Gradually the greatness of this work for young men has been appreciated, as the strong opposing forces have been met. The association is intended to influence those who are in the energy and full flush of young manhood, when the desires are strong, most responsive, and least guarded. The social instinct then is very strong. It is natural, and must be met in some form. Sinful allurements of every kind invite the young man, hurtful companionship welcomes him, the ordinary appliances of the church have no attraction for him. The association must see to it that his social craving is met by that which is interesting enough to attract him, and yet is safe. To counteract baleful attractions, others which call forth strong sympathy, and appliances which cost, in every sense of the word, must be furnished.

This means pleasant rooms, books, papers, good companionship, classes, lectures, concerts, the hall, and the gymnasium; but more important than all, a trained man who shall give his whole time and heart to the work, and be amply remunerated.

Since these things are more or less necessary to successful effort for young men, it will readily be seen why so many associations have ceased to exist.

The committee have come to the conclusion that every town in the State where rooms can be kept open in charge of a general secretary should have a Young Men's Christian Association, and where these cannot be furnished we are not anxious to establish it.

At the convention of 1882, in Charlestown, it became apparent that, to meet the calls for evangelistic work and push the distinctive association work, two men were required. Two, therefore, were appointed: one to give his time largely to evangelistic work, the other wholly to that of the association. In the following year, 1883, the evangelistic secretary decided to do the same work independently of the committee, and the whole energy of the state secretary has been devoted to the organization of association work.

[pg 306]

We may safely say that, although numerically small, never before has this work been so efficiently organized as now, and never has there been so much done as now for young men. At the convention of 1881, a constitution was adopted which binds the different state associations in organic union. These hold an annual convention of three days, at which time one half of the executive committee is chosen, thus making it a perpetual body. This committee represents every section of the State, and meets monthly for consultation; while the individual members are means of communication between headquarters in Boston and other respective sections. There is a further subdivision into three districts, each of which holds a quarterly conference of one day, under the management of the district committee.

The associations now number 35.

Membership, about 11,300.

Employing general secretaries, 19.

Having buildings, 7.

Value of buildings, say, $490,000.

Value of building funds and lots, $50,000.

Having rooms, 23.

Having gymnasiums, 8.

Annual expenses, about $65,000.

This is only a beginning. This work for young men is far too important to remain within such limits. Every town in the Commonwealth of seven thousand inhabitants should have a fully equipped association. Some smaller towns already have.

My excuse for this sketch is: first, the importance of the subject; second, the ignorance concerning it of a large portion of the Christian community; third, that the blessings of the work and its support may be shared by far greater numbers; and, lastly, that the courtesy of the editors of The Bay State Monthly afforded altogether too good an opportunity for making this work known, to be lost.


By Robert Luce.

The United States government has now in press two volumes of the census of 1880, entitled The Social Statistics of Cities. These statistics have been in process of preparation for some four years, under direction of Colonel George E. Waring, jr., the eminent sanitary engineer, of Newport, Rhode Island. They will fill two large quarto volumes of something over six hundred pages each; and as each page will average over one thousand words, it will be seen that the work will, at least, be massive and imposing, like most government publications. Unlike many of these, however, it will not be dull, unintelligible, or valueless. The fact that one half of it is devoted to the history of the cities of our land is well-nigh sufficient proof that these epithets cannot be applied to it, and the question is settled beyond a doubt when it is learned that the greater part of the labor has been performed by people who are well known in the literary world, and who brought to their task experience and ability,—rare qualifications to be found combined in government employees. Colonel Waring himself, though a clear thinker and good writer, furnished comparatively little manuscript to the volumes, but he has revised them thoroughly, and has stamped them with his individuality.

[pg 307]

It was Colonel Waring's original design to embrace in his work the statistics of the twenty largest cities of the country, and these happened to be the cities that in 1880 had more than one hundred thousand inhabitants. Then it was decided to allow the smaller cities to be represented if they chose, and early in the work steps were taken to induce them to furnish the necessary material. Over two hundred of the largest were given all the opportunities for representation that could be asked for, and, as a consequence, nearly every community in the land containing more than ten thousand inhabitants has a more or less full account. Each one of these is prefaced by a small outline plan, on which is marked the direction in which the surrounding cities lie, and the distance to each. Accompanying this plan are tables of the population at different decades, and of the sex, color, and nativity of the present population. Then comes an historical sketch, and then an account of the present condition of the community. This last describes the location and topography fully; gives the principal features of the country immediately tributary; details the facilities for communication given by railroads and by water; gives statistics about the climate; describes the public buildings and public works, including water and gas works; gives figures about the streets, horse railroads, and markets; touches upon the places and methods of amusement, and the parks and pleasure-grounds; the sewers, the cemeteries, sanitary organization (boards of health), and the system, or lack of system, of municipal cleansing,—all receive especially full treatment, as would naturally be expected when a sanitary engineer of Colonel Waring's stamp had charge of the work; the police department gets its share of the space; and in some cases the schools, fire department, and commerce are represented. The material from which these accounts were compiled was, in the main, obtained by sending schedules of questions to the various town and city officials; in the case of some of the largest cities the material was secured by special agents, but in general, the desire of the cities to be represented was considered sufficient guaranty that the schedule would be filled out fully and accurately, and this generally proved to be the case.

The historical sketches of the smaller cities and towns were compiled from information obtained in the same way, and from gazetteers, encyclopaedias, town and city histories, and all other sources available at the headquarters of the bureau. To the preparation of the sketches of the twenty largest cities, especial attention was devoted, and the results have been correspondingly valuable. Perhaps the most important, both from the historical and literary point of view, will be the sketch of the history of New Orleans, written by George W. Cable, who is better known as a novelist, but who has no mean abilities as an historian. His familiarity with the Creole element in New Orleans past and present, together with a very happy style of writing, have made for him more than a national reputation, from which this sketch will not detract. Originally his work was intended to occupy some ninety pages of the report, but later, unfortunately, it had to be condensed into fifty. Luckily it will not be found necessary to omit a number of interesting maps that accompany it.

[pg 308]

Next in value, perhaps from the purely historical point of view the most valuable, or at least the most complete, of all, comes the sketch of the early history of St. Louis, by Professor Waterhouse. The author became greatly interested in his task, and spent a vast amount of time in collecting materials for it. From the care bestowed on the work, it may be taken for granted that this will be as full and accurate an account of the settlement and early history of the "Philadelphia of the West" as can possibly be compiled. It is expected that it will occupy fifty or sixty pages of the report, and even then it will only bring the history down to 1823, when the first city government was organized.

The largest of the Eastern cities furnish little chance for original work in an historical line, but yet the sketch of New York by Martha J. Lamb, of Philadelphia by Susan Cooledge, and of Boston by Colonel Waring, will be acceptable additions to the very scanty stock of American historical literature.

The words "very scanty" are used most advisedly, for in very truth the American historian is a rara avis. Of American compilers-of-facts, to be sure, there have been and are very many, but an aggregation of details is not a history, nor can a man who makes a book out of local gossip and the biographies of local heroes and heroines be called an historian. The truth of this fact has been most forcibly impressed on the writer in the course of preparing for the Census Bureau historical sketches of many of the leading cities of the country, and he has become thoroughly convinced that of all the vulnerable portions of American literature that which pertains to the history of American towns and cities is the most vulnerable.

In the first place, American town and city histories are few. In the second place, the books that pretend to be such are many, and as a rule historically worthless. In the third place, both the real and the sham are intensely dull.

Real histories are few, evidently because there is not demand enough to encourage historians to enter the field, and not because material is lacking. With the exception of the Atlantic seaboard, our country has been developed in an age pre-eminent for records and statistics; and there is scarcely a town or city in the land that has not its records and its public documents, its newspaper files and its Fourth-of-July orations,—all replete with information waiting for the historian. Nearly every State has its Historical Society, and Pioneer Associations are as plenty in our glorious West as was the fever and ague with which their members were baptized. If the golden opportunities of autobiography are lost, the American historian of the future will have to be satisfied, as must be satisfied the New England historian of to-day, with the meagre, lifeless information given by records, and the hyperbolical, untrustworthy knowledge to be obtained from local tradition and gossip.

[pg 309]

We need go no farther to find the first reason why American histories are so meagre and dull. They are not pictures from life. The fact is, that the historian might as well try to write a valuable and interesting history from the materials which our older cities possess, as a painter might try to paint the battle of Crecy from the details given by Froissart. To be sure we have all seen such pictures, but who has more than admired them?

The absence of contemporaneous literature has been the greatest misfortune of all history. Every student knows how great and deplorable are the breaks constantly met with in tracing the thread of past events. Shall we, then, let the students of posterity remain in the dark on such questions as these: why Providence became the second city of New England; why she left Newport so badly in the race for prosperity; why Buffalo and Cincinnati went up, while Black Rock and North Bend went down; why Chicago became the largest manufacturing city on the continent; why New England kept the town-meeting, and the West preferred the township and the county; and why a thousand and one other important things happened. To be sure we have had Bancroft, and Sparks, and Hildreth, but these and their brethren have told us as little about the history of the people as Lingard, Hume, Hallam, and all the rest of them told England. Within a very few years historians have begun to see this defect, and such men as Green, Lodge, and MacMaster have undertaken to give us histories of the people, the first and last taking the lead on their respective sides of the Atlantic. MacMaster's work is excellent as far as it goes. His first volume is deep and scholarly, and does credit to American literature. It is clear that the task of its preparation was immense, and more time must have been spent in merely collecting authorities than has been bestowed altogether on more pretentious histories. Where Mr. MacMaster found all these authorities is a puzzle, for even such libraries as those in Boston and Cambridge have not all the materials for such an undertaking. Yet even he leaves many points untouched, or cursorily disposed of. Among the subjects referred to, of which we would like to learn more, may be mentioned: the township system of the West, the development of American municipal institutions, and, above all, the origin and rise of the various centres of population and business which we call cities.

The history of a nation should be compiled in the same way that the French people of the ancien régime compiled their lists of grievances to be presented to the king. In the early States-generals the deputies of all the orders received from the electors mandates of instructions containing an enumeration of the public grievances of which they were to demand redress. From the multitude of these cahiers (or codices), the three estates, that is, the clergy, the nobility, and the third estate (the people), compiled each a single cahier to serve as the exponent of its grievances and its demands. When this complex process had been completed and the three residual cahiers had been given to the king, the States-general, the only representative body of France, was dissolved.

[pg 310]

Thus it should be with our national history. Already the clergy have presented their cahiers in the shape of church histories and theological essays innumerable. The nobles, that is, the statesmen and politicians, have formulated their lists of grievances in such works as Thirty Year's View, The Great Conflict, Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, etc. But where is the cahier of the third estate? The States-general has met and the tiers état is not ready. What excuse have they? Quick comes the answer: "Our electors have sent in but few cahiers, and these are defective. We cannot tell our king, the nation, what the people were and what they are, what they have and what they want, until they tell us. Our cahier must wait the pleasure of the people." Meanwhile, the regent, irreverently called Uncle Sam, who rules the land while his master is away in Utopia, reads the cahiers of the nobles, laughs in his sleeve at that of the clergy, and forgets all about that of the third estate. Or if he thinks of it at all, it is only to try to fill its place with twenty-four-volume Census Reports and massive tomes from the other departments.

The cahiers of the third estate are, in truth, few and defective, yet there are some communities that have done their work well. For example, there is The Memorial History of Boston which does credit even to the Hub of American historical literature. It was the work of cultivated men, and although the cooks were many, the broth is excellent. That the people were a-hungering for just such broth is shown by the fact that the net profits from it in the first twelve months after publication, as it is said, were over fifty thousand dollars.

Boston is almost the only city in the land that has been the subject of a full, accurate, and interesting history. The History of New York, by Martha J. Lamb, is not so full as might have been wished, but is otherwise unexceptionable. New York is fortunate in having the most graphic and humorous history of its early days that any city in the world ever had, but nobody except Diedrich Knickerbocker himself ever claimed a great amount of accuracy and truthfulness for his unrivaled work.

It was to be expected that our older cities,—those whose seeds were planted by Puritans, Dutch traders, Catholic fugitives, Quakers, Cavalier spendthrifts and rogues, Huguenot exiles, and in general the motley crowd that sought the land of milk and honey in the seventeenth and early part of the eighteenth centuries,—it was to be expected that these cities would have historians ad nauseam. The very nature of the early colonization of America, the elements of romance and adventure so conspicuous in the history of early days on the Atlantic coast, gave warrant to such expectations, and the event has justified them. But where the romance and adventure end, the historian lays down his pen. It is left to the census enumerator to complete the work, and the brazen age of statistics follows the golden age of history.

As the cities in the heart of the continent have very little of the picturesque in their history, the same line of reasoning would lead us to expect that the historian would carefully avoid them, or else write only of their earliest days, when Dame Fortune was yet coquetting on the boards with Mr. Yankee Adventurer. Again we are not mistaken, for we find that what few critics are present when the curtain is rung up, leave the house when the first act ends with the death of the aforesaid adventurer. How the fickle dame flirts with all the neighboring young men, and at last, at the end of the second act, has her attention led by Captain Location to the hero of the piece as a suitable mate for her wayward daughter, Miss Prosperity,—all this is usually written up from hearsay. For the third act, wherein the twin brothers Steamboat Navigation and Railroad Communication help the hero to press his suit, the imagination often suffices. The grand finale, however, brings back some of the old set of critics, together with a host of new ones, who describe in glowing language the setting of the act, the costumes, the music, etc., and tell minutely how young Miss Prosperity blushingly yet boldly promises to be forever true to the gallant hero, now known under his rightful name of Mr. Metropolis. Ac-cording to the critic, this grand drama always ends happily for all concerned; the acting is always perfect,—the best ever seen on the stage; the scenery has seldom been equaled, never excelled. And this is the way the public hears about every "greatest drama ever produced on any stage."

[pg 311]

Do you think the critic too harshly criticized? Look for yourself. Take Cleveland, if you want a good city with which to begin your explorations among the histories of Western cities. Here is one of the loveliest places in all the basin of the Great Lakes—rich, prosperous, beautiful. It was the one city which alt the travelers through the West in the second quarter of this century united in declaring to be attractive. For instance, J.S. Buckingham, who visited America forty-three years ago, complimented Cleveland as follows, in a book called The Eastern and Western States of America: "The buildings of Cleveland are all remarkably clean and neat, many of them in excellent architectural style, and, like the dwellings we saw at Cincinnati and other towns of Ohio, all evincing more taste, love of flowers, and attention to order and adornment than in most of the States of the Union." Mrs. Pulzky, who accompanied Kossuth in his journey through America, in 1852, wrote in her diary: "Cleveland is a neat, clean, and agreeable city, on Lake Erie. Americans call it the 'Forest City,' though the original forests have disappeared. Cleveland has a most lovely aspect; with the exception of the business streets, every house is surrounded by a garden. It was for the first time that I found love of nature in an American population. On the journey, until here, I had always missed pleasure-grounds and trees around the cottages."

The growth of Cleveland was steady and healthy. Although foreigners came to it in large numbers, it has been and is a representative American city. The spirit of public improvement early made itself felt here, as has been intimated by the above quotations; wide avenues, beautiful dwellings, pleasure-grounds, both public and private,—all the attractions that a lavish expenditure of money can secure were bestowed upon it. The oil discoveries of a quarter of a century ago made many of its citizens wealthy, and their city was so pleasant to live in, that, unlike most Western people who have gained sudden wealth, they stayed at home to spend their money.

[pg 312]

From the history of the rise of such a community, much might be learned. Yet in the large libraries of the East we find only one book on the subject, and Poole's mammoth Index—that "Open, sesame," of the literary man—refers us to not a single magazine article of any sort on Cleveland. The book referred to is entitled Early History of Cleveland, with Biographical Notices of the Pioneers and Survivors; its author was Colonel Charles Whittlesey. As is the case in almost all such histories, the biographical notices form a very considerable portion of the book, and, as usual, its value is diminished in an exactly equivalent degree; for the biographies of Western pioneers are fully as tedious and valueless as the catalogue of ships in the second book of Homer. And, oh! the garrulity of the biographers, the minuteness of detail, the petty incidents, the host of dates! With these we are inflicted because some adventurous Yankee happened, by sheer luck, to build the first shanty on what became the site of a great city, or chanced there to be a pioneer victim of the "shakes" or the jaundice!

Whittlesey's book contains four hundred and eighty-seven pages. Of these he uses up seventy-six before he gets a civilized man in what became Cuyahoga County, and fifty more before he gets any actual settlers to the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. The history of the next thirteen or fourteen years, down to the War of 1812, fills the mass of the book, details being here given that really have historical value. The last forty pages are devoted to the history of the two or three following decades. Nothing is told us about the actual development of a great city,—the haps and mishaps, the successes and failures, in short, the growth, of the community.

This same Colonel Whittlesey, in a volume entitled Fugitive Essays, published a sketch of the history of Cleveland covering the same ground more concisely, and also giving a few extra details about the history between 1812 and 1840.

These constituted the sum total of works solely devoted to Cleveland which were accessible to a writer in the East. The Ohio Historical Collections, by Henry Howe, a series of sketches of the counties, cities, and towns of the State, added a little to the meagre stock of information. For further knowledge, the public must be thankful that the argus-eyed tourist has not left the place unnoticed, and that the mathematically-inclined gazetteer has told us from time to time the number of Cleveland's churches, banks, and city councilmen, and other equally important facts!

Take another lake city—Buffalo. The growth of this city has been rapid. Its sudden rise to the dignity of a metropolis was largely due to that most interesting of the many important internal improvements of the first half of the century,—the Erie Canal. With the development of Buffalo was identified the rise of lake navigation and the grain elevator. Its population has been increased by the addition of a large foreign element, which has had its due influence on manners, morals, and public life. It appears from the report of the board of health for 1879, that, in 1878, of the children born in Buffalo, nineteen hundred and seventy-five were of German descent; of all other descents, two thousand and fifty-six,—a difference of only eighty-one. The city has indeed been thoroughly Germanized, if we may coin the word.

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Here are things of which we would know more. Yet what do we find about them? Save in meagre or verbose pamphlets, nothing. To be sure, there was a book written which claimed to be about Buffalo, but a microscopic examination would fail to find in it anything worth knowing about the history of this community. The author of that book, William Ketchum, had the audacity to name it, as we read on the title-page, "An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo, with some account of its early inhabitants, both savage and civilized." It was published in Buffalo in 1864, in two octavo volumes, containing respectively four hundred and thirty-two and four hundred and forty-three pages. To comprehend the utter absurdity of the thing, we shall have to glance at history a bit.

It will be remembered that during and for some time after the Revolutionary War the country about the Niagara River remained in the possession of the British. The Seneca Indians, who sided against the Colonies in that war, and who were driven from their homes by the expedition of General Sullivan in 1779, gathered around Fort Niagara and became such a nuisance that the English had to set up anew in housekeeping these faithful allies and disagreeable neighbors. One of the villages they started was at Buffalo Creek. Our historian, Ketchum, has twenty-five chapters in the first volume of his Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo. He gets the Senecas settled at Buffalo Creek in the twenty-fourth!

During the rest of the century the inhabitants of this Indian village on the ground where Buffalo was to stand, consisted of redskins and semi-redskins, a few Indian traders who doled out the firewater, and a settler or two. The present city of Buffalo, according to the encyclopaedia (and for once that mass of condensed wisdom is correct about the date of settlement of a Western city), was founded in 1801, by the Holland Land Company, which opened a land office here in January of that year. The notice of this event may be found in the region of page 146, in vol. ii, of Ketchum's book,—the uniform lack of concise statement, the huge amount of irrevelant matter, and the absence of lucid summaries and intelligent comment, making more exact reference impossible.

The rest of this "comprehensive history" is occupied with the course of events down to December 30, 1813, when the British burnt the town, leaving but two houses standing—a dwelling-house and a blacksmith's shop. Here, having brought his Phoenix to ashes, our comprehensive historian brings his narrative to an abrupt end. This is at page 304. Then follows the "appendix," an invariable feature of city histories, which makes of every one of them a huge anti-climax. In this instance, one hundred and thirty-nine pages of appendix contain, according to the author, "for the purpose of preservation, a mass of papers not absolutely necessary to the elucidation of the history contained in the body of the work. Most of them consist of original papers and letters never before published, and which are now, for the first time, placed in an accessible and permanent form." To compare small things with great, these documents are made just about as "accessible" as are the State papers to which Carlyle devotes so much paper and bile in his book on Oliver Cromwell.

In short, this book contains much valuable information, which is very hard to extract, and when extracted is not germane to the history of the city of Buffalo.

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Some information about Buffalo's history was found in a pamphlet on the Manufacturing Interests of the City of Buffalo, published in 1866. In it were historical sketches, covering about twenty-five pages,—verbose, with little meat, written in the flowery style so dear to the heart of the American editor or "Honorable" when extolling the virtues of his constituency. Turner's History of the Holland Purchase, published in 1849, and containing six hundred and sixty-six pages, would have been more useful, had it not been composed for the greater part of the biographies of insignificant pioneers, and had not the rest related in the main to the early history of the section. A book promising much on the outside was Hotchkin's History of Western New York. An examination of the title-page, however, dampened our expectations, for there was added the rest of the title, namely, "And of the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the Presbyterian Church." The book proved indeed a delusion and a snare, for of its six hundred pages more than nine tenths pertained to church affairs,—were part and parcel of the cahiers of the clergy. As for the magazine articles on Buffalo, they are few and, from the historical point of view, insignificant.

Of far more interest than the histories of either Cleveland or Buffalo, though perhaps no more important, is that of their nearest common neighbor of equal rank,—Pittsburgh. In very many respects this is one of the most interesting cities in the Union, which is mostly due to the fact that it has such a remarkable location, and that its topography is picturesquely unique. Here we have the strange combination of the blackest, smuttiest, dirtiest hole in the United States,—at night, as Parton said: "All hell with the lid taken off,"—with surroundings half rural, half urban, which for loveliness can scarcely be rivaled by any other city in the land. Sir Henry Holland, who was of the Prince of Wales's suite, when he visited Pittsburgh, remarked to one of the committee of reception that he had, in 1845, spent a week in an equestrian exploration of the suburbs of Pittsburgh; that he had traveled through all the degrees of the earth's longitude, and had not elsewhere found any scenery so diversified, picturesque, and beautiful as that around Pittsburgh. He likened it to a vast panorama, from which, as he rode along, the curtain was dropping behind and rising before him, revealing new beauties continually. "If the business portion of Pittsburgh is a city, half enchanted, of fire and smoke, inhabited by demons playing with fire, the surrounding portion is also under enchantment, of a different kind, and smiles a land of beauty, brightness, and quiet. The one section might be a picture by Tintoretto, and the other by Claude Lorraine."

On the twenty-fourth of November, 1753, no human habitation stood on the peninsula between the Alleghany and Monongahela Rivers. On that day Washington recorded in his journal: "I think it extremely well situated for a fort, as it has absolute command of both rivers." In the following spring the English began the erection of a stockade here, which, on the twenty-fourth of April, was surrendered to the French under Captain Contrecoeur Who at once proceeded to the erection of Fort Du Quesne.

[pg 315]

Round this name centres a wealth of incident, romance, and history, but no one has risen to do it justice. Braddock's ill-starred expedition was followed by the abandonment of the fort by the French, in November, 1758, and its subsequent rebuilding as Fort Pitt. The fate of the little hamlet which sprang up around it was for a long time most dubious, but its position as a frontier post on the line of the ever westward-retreating Indians, and on the edge of the vast unknown wilderness, just beginning to allure adventurous pioneers, kept it from falling into the oblivion with which it was threatened by the dismantling of the fort and the troublous Revolutionary times. Yet as late as 1784 so experienced a man as Arthur Lee, the Virginian, who had been a commissioner at the court of Versailles with Franklin and Deane, and who visited this hamlet in December of this year, said of it: "Pittsburgh is inhabited almost entirely by Scots and Irish, who live in paltry log-houses, and are as dirty as in the north of Ireland, or even in Scotland. There is a great deal of small trade carried on, the goods being brought at the vast expense of forty-five shillings per cwt. from Philadelphia and Baltimore. They take in the shops money, flour, and skins. There are in the town four attorneys, two doctors, and not a priest of any persuasion, nor church, nor chapel; so that they are likely to be damned without the benefit of clergy. The place, I believe, will never be considerable."

This "small trade" which Lee speaks of was to develop in a very few years to gigantic proportions, and was to make Pittsburgh for the while the commercial metropolis of the West. She maintained this position until the westward march of civilization had left her far in the rear; and then the garrison which the vast army of pioneers left here found in the coal and iron under their very feet a Fortunatus's purse. Thus, far different was the fate of Pittsburgh from that of Marietta, Portsmouth, Lexington, and the like, which sank into comparative obscurity as soon as they had ceased to be outposts of Uncle Sam's army of emigrants.

Here, then, do we lack materials for history? What historian could ask for a more romantic starting-point than Old Fort Du Quesne? a more interesting topic for a chapter than Fort Pitt? a more picturesque subject than the batteurs and voyageurs of the Ohio? What more fruitful themes can there be than the rise of the iron, the glass, the oil industry, the steamboat commerce of our interior, the subjection of the Monongahela, the combination of a city which reminds the traveler of Hades, with suburbs which suggest metaphors about Paradise? And can he not find food for inquiry and thought in the great riots of 1877?

Yet the only historian of Pittsburgh is Neville B Craig, whose short and not over-attractive history ends with the middle of this century, if we remember rightly. His subject is neither thoroughly nor ably treated, and it is not presented to the public in an agreeable form. The book is one of the past generation, and we publish better histories than did our fathers. In 1876, Samuel H. Thurston presented the public with a small volume, entitled Pittsburgh and Alleghany in the Centennial. It contained a little history and a great deal of bombast; and, moreover, the greater part of it was filled with statistical details pertaining to the Centennial year alone. Yet from this book had to be taken most of the historical sketch which will be found in the Census Report. Egle's History of Pennsylvania tells us something about Pittsburgh, and magazine articles are plenty, though historically of little value.

[pg 316]

St. Louis is more plentifully supplied with histories than any other Western city, and these histories are as much worse as they are more numerous. One of these deserves notice, from the fact that its title-page so ridiculously and exasperatingly misrepresents its contents. This page reads as follows: "Edwards's Great West and her Commercial Metropolis, embracing a complete History of St. Louis, from the landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the present time; with portraits and biographies of some of the old settlers, and many of the most prominent business men. By Richard Edwards and M. Hopewell, M.D. Splendidly illustrated. 1860. $5." This seemed to promise well, but when we turned the page and read the introduction, our expectations were, to say the least, somewhat shaken, and our sense of the eternal fitness of things somewhat shocked, when we found the citizens of St. Louis called "a powerful Mæcenas." Shade of Virgil! What a profanation!

Any book that is preceded by a dedication, a preface, an introduction, and a full-page portrait of the author (with a big A), must, in the very nature of things, be a monstrosity. But, leaving these anomalies out of account, in the present instance, the composition of the book is sufficient proof that the epithet is not undeserved. "And this is so, for,"—as Herodotus would say,—in a book called Edwards's Great West, the "Great West" is summarily and mercilessly disposed of in just five pages. Then follow eighty-two pages of biographies and portraits, ingeniously defended by the author as follows: "Biographies of those who have become identified with the progress of the great city, who have guarded and directed its business currents year by year, swelling with the elements of prosperity, and who have left the impress of their genius and judgment upon the legislative enactments of the State, must be sought after with avidity, and must be fraught with useful instruction." There is no question that these biographies are fraught with useful instruction—all biographies are; but to assert that they must be sought after with avidity is a little too much to be swallowed. Such assertions show either deplorable ignorance or unwarrantable misrepresentation of human nature, and in this case we are convinced it must be the latter. Edwards knew perfectly well—for he seems to have been sane—that nobody but the subjects of these biographies would seek them "with avidity," and he made these plausible, bombastic assertions to excuse himself for having sprung such a trap on an unsuspecting public. That he tries to palliate the offence is, sufficient proof of his guilt.

Mark what he says about the "splendidly illustrated" portion of his book. "It will be a source of satisfaction to the reader," says he, "that the engravings of individuals who adorn this work are not drawn by the flighty imagination from airy nothingness, but represent the lineaments of men," etc. "Airy nothingness" is refreshing!

Part II, also, is almost wholly devoted to biographies, one batch being introduced with this sage remark: "Biography is the most important feature of history; for the record of the lives of individuals appears to be invested with more vitality and interest than the dry details of general historical narrative." Q.E.D.—of course. With Part III we reach the history of St. Louis, contained in one hundred and eighty pages, and worth more or less as a history. Then come one hundred and seventy pages more of biographies, an appendix of fifteen pages, and about thirty pages of views of manufacturing establishments. And this book is called The Great West. No further comment seems necessary.

[pg 317]

Of all the many rich and racy things the writer has run across in his explorations in the literature of American cities, the richest and raciest is a book called St. Louis: The Future Great City of the World, by L.U. Reavis. The very title-page gives an inkling of the nature of the contents by its motto, savoring somewhat of cant: "Henceforth St. Louis must be viewed in the light of the future—her mightiness in the empire of the world—her sway in the rule of states and nations." This book, strangely enough, was "published by order of the St Louis County Court," in 1870, on the petition of forty-five of the leading citizens and firms of the city, who were represented before the court by a committee headed by Captain James B. Eads, the renowned engineer, and containing one captain, five honorables, and two esquires. The first edition consisted of one hundred and six pages, which were as vainglorious and boastful, as crowded with laudatory adjectives, glowing periods, and bombastic prophecies, as ever one hundred and six published pages were.

However, it evidently suited the St. Louis palate, for a second edition bears date of the same year, and in 1871 a third appeared in a considerably enlarged form. This last one is the most interesting, for it contains a preface and a finis which for pure, undiluted presumption have never been excelled. The former is entitled "Explanatory," and is worth quoting entire: "A presentation of Causes in Nature and Civilization which, in their reciprocal action tend to fix the position of the FUTURE GREAT CITY OF THE WORLD in the central plain of North America, showing that the centre of the world's commerce and civilization will, in less than one hundred years, be organized and represented in the Mississippi Valley, and by St. Louis, occupying as she does the most favored position on the continent and the Great River; also a complete representation of the great railway system of St. Louis, showing that in less than ten years she will be the greatest railway centre in the world." Even the most arrogant citizen of St. Louis would hardly have the boldness to maintain that ten years after this prophecy was made, in 1881, St. Louis was "the greatest railway centre in the world," or even that she was one of the greatest. As to the one-hundred years prophecy nothing can as yet be affirmed, for it has eighty-seven years more to run, but if the last thirteen can be taken as a criterion, St. Louis has a big contract on her hands.

The last page is the most curious in the book, and in its way is certainly unique. It is called "A Closing Word," and, being printed in italics, has an air of emphasis and force peculiarly appropriate. The author begins: "Thus have I written a new record—a new prophecy of a city central to a continent of resources;" and so he goes on for half a page of ridiculous bombast until he finishes the climax of epithets by calling this "the Apocalyptic City—

'The New Jerusalem, the ancient seer
Of Patmos saw.'

"All hail! mistress of nations and beautiful queen of civilization! I view thee in the light of thy destiny. Thou art transfigured before me from thy present state to one infinitely more grand, and which overshadows and dwarfs all civic forms in history.

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"The influence of thy empire will pervade the world with invisible and electric force. Yet, vivifying and benignant capital,—emporium of trade and industry, seat of learning and best-applied labor, pivotal point in history, supreme and superb city of all lands,—I behold thy majesty from afar, and salute thee reverently as the consummation of all that the best human energies can accomplish for the elevation and happiness of our race.

"All hail! Future Great City of the World, and 'Glory to God in the Highest and on Earth Peace, Goodwill toward Men.'"

This reminds one equally of Walt Whitman and Artemas Ward. Yet it is not burlesque. It appears to have been written in good faith, and for this reason the incongruity of such a grandiloquent rhapsody on such a prosaic subject is all the more noticeable. As an example of "fine writing" it has seldom been surpassed, and for sheer nonsense it is unequaled in American literature.

These books on St. Louis call to mind a history of Milwaukee of a somewhat similar nature—similar in its magnificent pretensions to the last-described work, and in its biographical characteristics to Edwards's Great West. The book referred to was published in Chicago, in 1881, by the Western Historical Company, A.T. Andreas, proprietor. Holy Herodotus! To think of history becoming a thing of "companies"—on a par with life insurance, railroads, gas-works, and cotton factories! And an "historical company" with a proprietor, too!

But let us look into this monumental tome. (Do not think that adjective hyperbolical, for surely monumental is not too strong a word to describe a book which would just about balance in weight an unabridged dictionary.) Some idea of the immensity of the undertaking can be obtained when, as the preface says, "it is known that nearly one year's time was consumed and an average force of twenty-five men employed in the labor of obtaining information and preparing the manuscript for the printer's hands. The result of this vast effort is the presentation of a History which stands unparalleled in the experience of publishers." The book is a quarto and contains sixteen hundred and sixty-three pages. The letter-press is unexceptionable; each page is surrounded by a neat border; the paper is good; the binding is excellent.

And yet the actual history of this city dates back little more than half a century—not a lifetime. Here is history with a vengeance! The riddle, however, is solved the instant we glance over the pages, for we find the mass of the book made up of biographies,—biographies in front, biographies to the right, biographies to the left, everywhere biographies,—to the grand sum total of nearly four thousand. A book much like this would have been made had the Crown published the Giant Petition trundled into Parliament on a wheelbarrow in the times of George the Third, when Lord George Gordon was the hero of the day. About as valuable, about as readable, about as bulky, about as good for kindling fires!

[pg 319]

But let the perpetrator plead his cause in his own words—and it must be conceded he does it well. "The plan of the History of the city of Milwaukee, which is herewith presented to the public," he says in his preface, "possesses the merit of originality. It is based upon the fact that in all older regions, a serious deficiency exists even in the most exhaustive histories which it is possible now to compile through the absence of personal and detailed records of pioneer men and deeds. The primary design of this work is to preserve for future historians as complete an encyclopædia of early events in Milwaukee, and the actors therein, as patient labor and unstinted financial expenditure can procure."

We thank the Western Historical Company, or Mr. Andreas, for this benevolent and philanthropic spirit, but really he must not expect us to believe that pecuniary profit is only a secondary design of this work. But supposing for a moment that the primary design was as philanthropic and unselfish as Mr. Andreas would have us think, let us consider its worth; for, if we grant this premise, we must admit the truth of the conclusion reached, and then must give unstinted praise to the fruits of such a conclusion, a volume like the one before us. But the premise is specious and false. The deficiency that exists through the absence of personal and detailed records of pioneer men and deeds is not serious: on the contrary, in most cases, we should be devoutly thankful that it exists. Of the generations after that of the pioneers we would know much; of that of the pioneers themselves, something. But who is there, or will there be, that cares a picayune whether the third cobbler in Milwaukee (this history would call him the third manufacturer of shoes) was born in April or June, 1806, or whether he came from Tipperary or Heidelberg, or whether his wife died of the pneumonia or the whooping-cough? To be sure we would be glad to know whether the early settlers of Milwaukee were mainly young or mainly old when they came here, whether they were mainly German or Irish, and what where the prevalent diseases in different localities at an early period, but to ask an intelligent being to wade through nearly four thousand "personal histories" in order ascertain these facts is, to say the least, somewhat of an imposition on his good nature.

Later on in his preface the author contradicts himself in this regard, for he shows us how far from philanthropic were the publisher's motives and how little he thought of posterity in inserting these biographies, by writing the following well-turned and suggestive sentences: "It may be asked, Why have the biographical sketches of comparatively obscure men been inserted? The reasons are obvious to business men and should be to all. None but citizens are represented. Whatever Milwaukee is her citizens have made her. Shall the publisher exercise a power higher than the law, and erect a caste distinction or estimate each man's work from some fictitious standard of his own? Assuredly not. If, in the preparation of this work, a citizen has shown commendable pride, and aided its publisher by his patronage, he is entitled to mention in its pages. Such men and women have received a sketch, but the fact of pecuniary assistance has not biased the character of the book."

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This is a very specious attempt to throw a glamour of respectability over a very unpleasant and repugnant fact, namely: that a mass of "biographical sketches of comparatively obscure men" has been given to the public under the guise of a history of a city, with the sole object of making money. It is indeed consoling to know that "none but citizens have been represented," but why this statement should be coupled with the platitude that follows it would be hard to say. And then the utter ridiculousness of the nonsense about the publisher exercising a power higher than the law and erecting a caste distinction! "What fools these mortals be!"

But whatever may be said of the historical value of such books as the above, there can be little doubt that they are remunerative business enterprises, for the country has of late years been flooded with them. Perhaps we ought to be thankful for any history at all of these new Western cities, even though the wheat therein be so scarce and the chaff so plenty. The prevalence of this same affliction—the biographical history—in literary New England seems more anomalous than it does in the West, but it is even more widespread. A fair type of the Eastern species is the Quarter-Centennial History of Lawrence, Massachusetts, compiled by H.A. Wadsworth, in 1878. It contained seventy-five very poor wood-engravings, called portraits by courtesy, which, with the accompanying biographies, were inserted to represent the leading (?) men of the city at an entrance fee of five or ten dollars apiece.

Next in number below the biographical histories, but far above them in value, come what may be called the chronological histories, that is, those which make little or no attempt to group the important facts of a city's history in homogeneous chapters, but which, diary-like, give all facts, important as well as insignificant, in the order of their occurrence. Fortunately most local historians of this sect have made more or less attempt at bringing like to like, although they have generally preserved the purely chronological order within their groups, whether these be of subjects or periods. Among the histories of the larger cities, Scharf's Chronicles of Baltimore comes to mind as typical of this class. This work, published in 1874, is an octavo of seven hundred and fifty-six pages. The author tells the truth when he says in his preface: "The only plan in the work that has been followed has been to chronicle events through the years in their order; beginning with the earliest in which any knowledge on the subject is embraced, and running on down to the present." The book is printed "solid," with not a single chapter-heading from one end to the other, so it is not strange that it contains such an immense amount of material.

The great fault of this book, as of all books of this class, is the lack of the proper classification, the scholarly reflection and comment, the thoughtful contrast and comparison, the exercise of intelligent judgment in forming conclusions,—all which are necessary to make history palatable, not to say valuable. Nowhere is this lack shown more forcibly than in this book in the treatment of the subject of riots and mob violence. It may not be generally known, especially among the younger portion of the community, that no American and but few European cities have such an unenviable and disgraceful record on this head as Baltimore. The accounts of its riots remind one too forcibly of the worst days of the French Revolution, and all of them read more like the incidents so plentiful in the sensational stories of the day, than like the cold, dispassionate record of history. And this, mind you, is the record of a city famed far more for monuments, pleasure-grounds, and beautiful women, than for lawlessness and sans-culottism, a city proud of its families and its culture, a city one of the oldest and richest in the land. However unpleasant it may be to look at the black side of such a city's history, yet the study must be profitable if by it we Americans, proud of our tolerance and our humanity, jealous of aught past or present that may blot our escutcheon, wondering at and scornfully pitying nations that could have had Lord George Gordon riots and blood-thirsty land-leagues, a reign of terror and a commune,—if we may learn not to be quite so arrogant in our righteousness, quite so boastful in our Pharisaism; if we may learn how much reason we of the New World have to bear in mind, when we read about the past and present of the Old World, the divine command: "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

[pg 321]

Yet Scharf gives merely the bare details of these, the most vivid scenes in Baltimore's history, and goes little into causes or results, leaving us almost wholly in the dark as to how a civilized city in the most enlightened country on earth could have grafted on its history such anomalous things as these riots. This feature of Baltimore's history seems to us to be the feature most peculiar to itself, and, therefore, like that feature of a human face peculiar to the person we are studying, the most interesting; but our historian gives it no distinctive treatment, puts no emphasis on it, forces the reader to compare, contrast, account for, explain, and draw conclusions for himself. That he should slide over this side of Baltimore's history would be natural enough, but of this he cannot be accused. His treatment of this subject is characteristic of the whole book.

As a good example of an even more disappointing type of chronological histories we may take the History of Lynn, including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscott, and Nahant, by Alonzo Lewis and James R. Newhall, an octavo of six hundred and twenty pages, published in 1865. The book seems to have been condensed from a series of very poor diaries, and the mass of detail under the year-headings is ridiculous in its minuteness and laughable in its absurdity. Every year has its paragraphic entries, more or less full. The narrative of one year may here be quoted to show the nature of the whole, and, for that matter, the nature of fifty similar town histories.

1758. "Thomas Mansfield, Esquire, was thrown from his horse on Friday, January 6, and died the next Sunday.
"A company of soldiers, from Lynn, marched for Canada, on the twenty-third of May. Edmund Ingalls and Samuel Mudge were killed.
"In a thunder-shower, on the fourth of August, an ox belonging to Mr. Henry Silsbee was killed by lightning.
"A sloop from Lynn, commanded by Captain Ralph Lindsay, was cast away on the fifteenth of August, near Portsmouth."

In this pretended "History," the whole of the eighteenth century receives but sixty-two pages, and that part of the nineteenth which had elapsed at the time of publication receives only one hundred and seventeen. In the latter an average entry is the following, under date of 1856:—

[pg 322]
"Patrick Buckley, the 'Lynn Buck,' ran five miles in twenty-eight minutes and thirty-eight seconds, at the Trotting Park, for a belt valued at fifty dollars. And on the fourth of December, William Hendley ran the same distance in twenty-eight minutes and thirty seconds."

The "Lynn Buck," seems to have been an important personage in those days, for we read under date of 1858:—

"The 'Lynn Buck,' so called, walked a plank at Lowell, in February, a hundred and five consecutive hours and forty-four minutes, and with but twenty-nine minutes' rest. A strict watch was kept on him."

We are very glad to know about the "strict watch," but really it was too bad of the authors not to let us know if those forty-four minutes, also, were not consecutive. They might, too, have told us to advantage something about the modus operandi of "walking a plank." It has been the general impression that the man who walks a plank performs the operation in an unpleasant hurry—unpleasant for him; and that he will take all the rest he can get—before he begins; and that he has an eternal rest, or unrest, after he has finished. But perhaps this has been a wrong impression. If the authors are alive, it is due to the public that they should rise and explain.

Enough of pleasantry. Let us examine the book with serious mind, if we can. Everybody knows that shoes have been the making of Lynn, that they are and have been for years the backbone of its prosperity, the life of its business. To say that Lynn is the greatest shoe-manufacturing city in the country, and, for that matter, in the world, may be an exaggeration, but it is a very common one. In a history of Lynn we might expect this fact to be at least recognized. Let us see how that is in the present case.

The shoe business was not unknown in Lynn before 1750, but in that year it first got a firm footing here. So we are not surprised to find the fact mentioned, but we are somewhat disappointed to find only half a page given to it. Beyond this, mention of the shoe trade in the last century is very slight, as, no doubt, was the trade itself. Since 1800, however, the trade has been rapidly increasing, and has gradually assumed enormous proportions. Yet in this precious volume we find the subject mentioned just once in the chronological annals, three lines being devoted to it under the head of 1810: "It appeared, by careful estimation, that there were made in Lynn, this year, one million pairs of shoes, valued at eight hundred thousand dollars. The females (!) earned some fifty thousand dollars by binding." To be sure, the burning of two shoe factories received, respectively, two and three lines; the formation of an ineffective board of trade by shoemakers, ten lines; and of an equally fruitless union by journeymen shoemakers, ten lines. A page and a quarter (mirabile dictu) is devoted to a shoemakers' strike with no definite result. In a biography, the connection of its subject with the shoe business is mentioned in a quoted letter. A quick job by a shoemaker receives six lines, and one by another, four; and the death of a third is mentioned.

[pg 323]

In an appendix the state of the shoe business in 1864 is discussed at length in a third of a half-page! All we learn from it is that by the State returns in the year ending June 1, 1833, there were made 9,275,593 pairs of shoes valued at $4,165,529. In the year ending September 1, 1864, about ten million pairs of shoes were made, valued at fourteen million dollars (probably paper, not gold, value), and the number of shoe manufacturers was 174; of men and women employed, 17,173. As the total population of Lynn at that time was little if anything over twenty-three thousand, it will be seen that even these figures are untrustworthy, or else the shoe business played even a greater part in Lynn affairs than is generally supposed.

And this is all the mention to be found in a History of Lynn concerning the backbone of the city—that great industry to which it almost wholly owed its population of 38,274 in 1880. Can any one maintain that this sort of a book is a history?

And so we might go on, finding history after history of the towns and cities scattered through New England and the Middle States, most of them on a par with those last mentioned, in all styles of print and binding, some decrepit and musty with age, others fresh and enticing, with gaudy covers and scores of illustrations; some like Sewall's History of Woburn with no table of contents or index, and so practically useless; a few like Staples's Annals of Providence, scholarly and creditable; yet none of them ideal histories. But occasionally we meet an oasis in this vast waste, and though it may not be a paradise, yet we are too grateful for the water that nourishes the palms and the grass, that refreshes our parched mouths and wearied bodies, to think that in other climes we might call it brackish and unclean.

Such is the effect that the History of Pittsfield, Massachusetts has on us. Here is a book that might well be taken as a standard by town historians. The very history of the History will show its merits.

At a town meeting held in the Town Hall, in Pittsfield, August 25, 1866, so the preface says, Mr. Thomas Allen rose, and stated that on the centennial of the First Congregational Church and parish, namely, April 18, 1864, he had been requested by a vote of the parish to prepare an historical memoir of that parish and church, embodying substantially, but extending, the remarks he made at that meeting. He stated that, in looking over the records of the town and parish, he found them intimately connected, so that a history of the one would also be a history of the other; and he had found the history of the town highly interesting, and honorable to its inhabitants. True, there were no classic fields in Pittsfield, consecrated by patriotic blood spilled in battle in defence of the country, as in Lexington and Concord, simply because no foreign foe in arms ever invaded its soil; but it was not the less true that Pittsfield had always promptly performed her part, and furnished her quota of men and means, in every war waged in defence of the country and the Union; and that in the intellectual contests through which the just principles of republican government, and civil and religious freedom, have been established in this country, the men of Pittsfield, on their own ground and elsewhere, have ever borne a part creditable alike to their wisdom, their sagacity, and their patriotism. Pittsfield, therefore, had a history which deserved to be written. The first settlers had all passed away; and their immediate descendants, witnesses of their earlier struggles, were whitening with the frosts of age, and were also rapidly disappearing. If the records of their history were to be gathered together, and preserved in a durable form, it was time that the duty be undertaken. He was satisfied that an honorable record would appear, and worthy of the place to which God had given so much that is beautiful in nature.

[pg 324]

These remarks were so sensible, their spirit was so noble, their form so forcible, that at once a committee of five was appointed to compile, write, and supervise the publication of a history of the town, and an appropriation was made to defray the expense. This committee chose Mr. J.E.A. Smith to aid them, and, according to the title-page, he compiled and wrote the book under their general direction. It was published in two octavo volumes: the first contained five hundred and eighteen pages, and appeared in 1868, bringing the history from 1734 down to 1800; the second, containing seven hundred and twenty-five pages, was not published until eight years later. The second volume brought the history down to date, and with the first formed an unbroken, readable narrative, written in perhaps as good a style as town history could warrant us in expecting. Not the least deserving of praise are the indexes, the lack of which found in most books of the sort does more to lower their value than any other defect. The man who writes a history without indexing it thereby shows his utter lack of the most essential requisite in an historian—a knowledge of the art of codification. He also calls down upon his head the curses of every student who tries to use his book.

An abundance of illustrations is not rare enough in town histories to merit applause, but they are so seldom worth looking at that the presence of such admirable ones as we find here attracts more than passing notice. If American art were to be judged by the generality of such illustrations, we would do well to say as little as possible about the slurs and sneers of foreign critics. In such case silence would be the better plan.

The preface to the second volume contained the following suggestive sentences:—

"The original plan of the work was to make the earlier portions more full than the later: indeed, to give but a brief skeleton of recent affairs: it being exceedingly difficult to make contemporary history satisfactory to those who have taken part in it. We have, in a few instances, departed from this course, for reasons which will suggest themselves to the reader."

In these sentences may be found the germ of almost the only idea in the making of this truly admirable book which deserves severe criticism, and most certainly the severest condemnation should be given to this and all similar ideas. The notion that history should be written in a way that will be satisfactory to those engaged in it is radically wrong, unless perchance by a satisfactory way is meant a way that in point of truth, accuracy, and fulness, will suit those who have a more or less personal share in the events to be recorded. But here it is evident that the word has not this meaning, or at least has a great deal more than this meaning. In this connection it seems to be a euphemism for pleasant. Certainly no one will dispute that an historian of contemporary events would find very difficult even the attempt to make his work pleasant to his contemporaries. It is the endeavor to do this which has vitiated all the histories so far written of the late Civil War. The same principle made Thiers's French Revolution an almost worthless book as a history. To come down to lesser things, the same principle underlying and pervading all American local histories has done more toward making them worthless than any other single defect. In the name of truth and justice we ask, "Why should the writing of history be made satisfactory, pleasant, to those who aid in the making of it?" We want the truth about the near, as well as the far, past. Let us do unto our descendants as we would that our ancestors had done by us, and tell them the truth about ourselves.

[pg 325]

Perhaps we ought to be more lenient in the case of this history of Pittsfield, in consideration of the fact that this was a public work, and, therefore, more caution had to be exercised than we would otherwise have expected. Of course no employee would like to displease even a single member of the corporation that employed him. Possibly the same argument might be raised in defence of any historian, in that the public is virtually his employer. Here, however, reasoning by analogy fails, for the public is a very large body, and will seldom take up the cudgel in defence of any single individual. This is a question, however, which should be settled on the ground of right, not of expediency. But even if the right be left out of account, the expedient in this case is not necessarily opposed to truth and accuracy. This is well shown by the phenomenal success of The Memorial History of Boston, mentioned above. It may be well just here to say a little more about this admirable work, for it is even more typical of what an ideal city history should be, than that of Pittsfield is of the ideal town history.

From the title-page we learn that The Memorial History of Boston, including Suffolk County, Massachusetts, 1630-1880, was edited by Justin Winsor, and issued under the business superintendence of the projector, Clarence F. Jewett, in 1880. The nature of the book is learned from the preface, which says: "The history is cast on a novel plan: not so much in being a work of co-operation, but because, so far as could be, the several themes, as sections of one homogeneous whole, have been treated by those who have some particular association and, it may be, long acquaintance with the subject. In the diversity of authors there will, of course, be variety of opinions, and it has not been thought ill-judged, considering the different points of view assumed by the various writers, that the same events should be interpreted sometimes in varying and, perhaps, opposite ways. The chapters may thus make good the poet's description:

'Distinct as the billows, yet one as the sea,'—

and may not be the worse for each offering a reflection, according to its turn to the light, without marring the unity of the general expanse."

Among those who contributed one or more chapters to this work were Justin Winsor (the editor), Charles Francis Adams, Jr., R.C. Winthrop, T.W. Higginson, Edward Everett Hale, H.E. Scudder, F.W. Palfrey, Phillips Brooks, Andrew P. Peabody, Henry Cabot Lodge, Josiah P. Quincy, and Edward Atkinson. Such names as these are more than enough to insure the truth, accuracy, and historical value of the book. Each one of them discussed one or more topics, and then their work with that of the less famous contributors was arranged chronologically, making a logically consecutive series of essays complete in themselves. The whole was published in four elegantly printed volumes, containing, in all, twenty-five hundred and seventy-seven pages.

[pg 326]

This is the kind of a history which is of value, not only for immediate use, but also for future reference; and this is the kind that gladdens the heart and cheers the labors of the student and the writer. It is the lack of such histories which makes incomplete and unsatisfactory such works as the one in the hands of the government which called forth this article. For it must not be supposed that the historical part of The Social Statistics of Cities of 1880 will be either complete in every part or wholly satisfactory. Yet perhaps it will be complete enough to answer its end, which is to afford an opportunity for seeing why the cities and towns described have reached their present condition. It is on the accounts of their present condition that the value of the work must chiefly rest.

To the historians in succeeding generations these accounts will be invaluable, for they will give information about the cities as they were in the year 1880, which is not likely to be embodied in any other permanent form. It has been shown how large a proportion of the local histories of America have been found wanting in these things. It is not to be expected that the immediate future will see any decided reformation. Then it is clear of how great value to the "future historian of recent events," to quote one of Daniel Webster's phrases, will be such work as this that has been undertaken by the National government. It will be of so great value because, as we can say with little exaggeration, the history of the cities is the history of the nation. The city to-day plays a most important part in national affairs. It is, indeed, and for aught we can see must continue to be, the Hamlet of the play. Few people realize this. Few people know that over one fifth of the population of the land is gathered in the large towns and cities. At the beginning of the century the ratio of the urban population to the rural was only as one to fifteen. No reason is apparent why the increase in the ratio should not be equally steady and rapid for many generations. That this same change has taken place in all civilized portions of the world is, in truth, most significant. In England the progress of the cities has been in the same direction, and, as nearly as can be judged, in the same ratio as that of wealth, learning, and happiness.

Call to mind what Macaulay said, nearly half a century ago, in chapter iii of his History of England: "Great as has been the change in the rural life of England since the Revolution (1688), the change which has come to pass in the cities is still more amazing. At present, a sixth part of the kingdom is crowded into provincial towns of more than thirty thousand inhabitants. In the reign of Charles II, no provincial town in the kingdom contained thirty thousand inhabitants, and only four provincial towns contained so many as ten thousand inhabitants." Since this was written, the change, if not so marvelous, has been equally important.

As to our own country, the change can in no way be shown more clearly than by the following table, which will be published in the Census Report:—

[pg 327]

Table Showing The Growth Of United States Cities From 1800 To 1880.

1800 1820 1830 1840
Population of the United States 5,308,483 9,633,822 12,866,020 17,069,453
Cities Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population
10,000 to 49,999 161,134 .03 214,270 .021 316,360 .025 461,671 .027
50,000 to 99,999 24,945 .0047 43,997 .0046 83,960 .0065 150,682 .0088
100,000 to 499,999 60,989 .011 186,293 .019 278,067 .021 504,016 .029
Over 500,000 104,113 .019 194,683 .02 289,980 .0225 447,078 .025
Grand total 351,181 .068 639,243 .069 968,367 .075 1,563,487 .091

1850 1860 1870 1880
Population of the United States 23,191,876 31,433,321 38,558,783 50,155,783
Cities Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population Aggregate Population Per cent. to Total Population
10,000 to 49,999 990,080 .043 1,654,183 .052 2,526,432 .066 3,479,658 .069
50,000 to 99,999 314,182 .013 446,575 .014 676,990 .017 947,918 .019
100,000 to 499,999 933,039 .04 1,483,472 .047 2,302,961 .059 3,087,592 .06
Over 500,000 763,724 .033 1,750,020 .055 2,311,410 .06 3,123,317 .062
Grand total 3,001,025 .13 5,334,250 .17 7,817,793 .20 10,638,485 .21

The city is not only the growing centre of a growing nation—it is also the centre of all intellectual growth. The city is the home of the bar, the hospital, the press, the church, and the state. The city is the outcome of civilization, for it is the product of commerce and manufactures, and these mean civilization.

Then if any history be of value, if the record of the past be of any use in guiding the present and helping toward the future, surely the history of the city is the most important of all history.

[pg 328]


A Short History Of Our Own Times. By Justin McCarthy, M.P. One volume, pp. 448. Harper and Brothers: New York. 1884.

The brilliant History of Our Own Times, in two volumes, by the same author, and published four years ago, has now been presented to the public in a reduced size. While it was necessary to leave out many of the striking and rhetorical passages in the process of condensation, which formed so pleasing a portion in the larger work, the strictly historical matter remains unchanged. His history, beginning with the accession of Queen Victoria, in 1837, and extending to the general election, in 1880, the date of the appointment of the Honorable W.E. Gladstone to the premiership of England, covers a period of intense interest, and with which every intelligent person should be familiar. Mr. McCarthy's work is destined to be, for some time to come, the standard account of English affairs for the last fifty years.

One of the most valuable reference works of recent publication is The Epitome of Ancient, Mediæval, and Modern History. By Carl Ploetz. Translated from the German, with extensive additions, by William H. Tillinghast, of the Harvard University library. One volume. pp. 618. Houghton, Mifflin, and Company: Boston. 1884.

The author of the original work, Professor Doctor Carl Ploetz, is well known in Germany as a veteran teacher and writer of educational books which have a high reputation, excellence, and authority. With regard to the present work, it should be observed that it has passed through seven editions in Germany. As a book of reference, either for the student or the general reader, its tested usefulness is a sufficient guaranty for its wide adoption in the present enlarged form. The scope of The Epitome may be summarized as follows: Universal history is first treated by dividing it into three periods. First, ancient history, from the earliest historical information to the year 375 A.D. Second, mediæval, from that date to the discovery of America, in 1492. Third, modern history, from the last date to the year 1883.

We have received from the author, the Honorable Samuel Abbott Green, M.D., a pamphlet entitled "Notes on a Copy of Dr. William Douglass's Almanack for 1743, touching on the subject of medicine in Massachusetts before his time." It is specially interesting to the members of the medical fraternity, as well as to antiquaries.

Correction.—The article upon Lovewell's fight at Pigwacket, printed in the February number of the Bay State (page 83), contained a trifling error, but one which deserves correction. It is stated that the township of land with which the General Court, in 1774, rewarded the services of the troops under Lovewell, was subsequently divided, forming the towns of Lovell and New Sweden. The mistake was upon the name of the latter town. It should have been written Sweden. New Sweden is the recent Swedish colony of Aroostook County.


[pg 329]
Boar's Head House

Boar's Head House

From the eastern end of Long Island, toward the west and south, extends a dreary monotony of sandbeach along the whole Atlantic coast, to the extreme southern cape of Florida, thence along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico to the Rio Grande, broken only by occasional inlets. The picturesque coast scenery is mostly north and east of Cape Cod. Following along the seaboard from Cape Ann, one comes, a few miles north of the mouth of the Merrimack River, in view of a bold promontory extending into the waters of the Atlantic, and aptly named, in years agone, Boar's Head.

The traveler in search of a delightful seaside resort for the summer need go no further. For here, amidst the most charming of marine scenery, that veteran landlord and genial host, Stebbins H. Dumas, has erected, for the benefit of the public, a hotel, spacious, well appointed, and ably conducted; inviting and especially homelike; every room commanding a view of the ocean.

[pg 330]

Boar's Head is a promontory; its level summit of about a dozen acres, sixty feet above the highest tide, clothed in the greenest verdure. It is in the form of a triangle, the cliffs on two sides of which are lashed by the waves of the restless ocean; while toward the main, the land falls away gently to the level of the marshes. The hotel is situate on the crest of this incline. From the veranda, which commands the landward view, the prospect is wide and pleasing. To the north trends Hampton Beach in a long sweep to Little Boar's Head and the shores of Rye and Newcastle; inland are broad stretches of salt marsh, its surface interwoven with the silver ribbon of the creek and stream; beyond are glimpses of restful rustic scenes, improved by near approach; spires pointing heavenward from all the peaceful villages, and, further away, Agamenticus and the granite hills of New England; to the south, the beach runs on toward Salisbury and Newburyport. But the great view from Boar's Head is from the ocean apex of the promontory. Here, beneath the grateful shade of an awning, with the waves breaking rythmically at the foot of the cliff far beneath, one can sit and ponder on the immensity of the ocean and dream of the lands beyond the horizon. From here the whole seaboard, from Thatcher's Island to York and Wells, is in view; the Isles of Shoals loom up on the horizon, while the offing is dotted with coasters and yachts of every rig and construction. Calm, indeed, must it be when no wind is felt on Boar's Head; and during those exceptional days of the summer, when the land-breeze prevails, the broad verandas around three sides of the hotel afford the most grateful shade. The broad acres between the house and the bluff is a lawn for the use of the guests, where croquet and tennis may be highly enjoyed in the invigorating ocean air.

During the evening, when the atmosphere is clear, there are visible from the Head thirteen lighthouses. When the shades of night and the dew have driven the guests to seek shelter within doors, the great parlor affords to the young people ample room for the cotillion or German, while the reception-room, office, and reading-room lure the seniors to whist or magazines. Of a Sunday, the dining-room answers for a chapel; and in years past, the voice of many an eloquent preacher has echoed through the room, and reached, through the open windows, hardy but devout fishermen on the outside.

These same fishermen bring great codfish from the outlying shoals, delicious clams from the flats, canvas-back duck, and teal, and yellow-leg plovers from the marshes, to tempt the delicate appetite of the valetudinarian.

Boar's Head is on the seacoast of the old town of Hampton, in the State of New Hampshire. Taking a team from Mr. Dumas' well-stocked stable, one will find the most delightful drives, extending in all directions through the ancient borough. The roads follow curves, like the drives in Central Park, and two centuries and a half of wear have rendered them as solid and firm as if macadamized. Three short miles from the hotel is the station of Hampton, on the Eastern Railroad, by which many trains pass daily.

[pg 331]

For the historical student the region affords much of interest. Here, in the village of Hampton, in the year 1638, in the month of October, settled the Reverend Stephen Batchelder [Bachiler] and his followers, intent to serve God in their own way and establish homes in the wilderness. The river and adjoining country was then known as Winnicunnett. The settlers, for the most part, came from Norfolk, England, and so desirable did they find their adopted home that many descendants of the original grantees occupy to-day the land opened and cleared by their ancestors. In this town, in 1657, settled Ebenezer Webster, the direct progenitor of the Great Expounder, and here the family remained for several generations.

Within the limits of the old township, which was bounded on the south by the present Massachusetts line, on the north by Portsmouth and Exeter, and extended ten miles inland, were included the territory of some half dozen of the adjoining townships of to-day. Here lived Meshach Weare, who guided the New Hampshire ship of state through the troublous times of the Revolution. Over yonder, near the site of the first log meeting-house, is pointed out the gambrel-roofed house of General Jonathan Moulton, the great land-owner. He it was, in the good old colony days, who drove a very large and fat ox from his township of Moultonborough, and delivered it to the jovial Governor Wentworth as a present to his excellency, and said there was nothing to pay. When the governor insisted on making some return, General Moulton informed him that there was an ungranted gore of land adjoining his earlier grant which he would accept. In this manner he came into possession of the town of New Hampton—a very ample return for the ox; at least, so asserts tradition.

Colonel Christopher Toppan, in those early days, was largely engaged in ship-building. For many years the people of Hampton were employed in domestic and foreign commerce, and it was not until the advent of the railroad that Hampton surrendered its dreams of commercial aggrandizement.

[pg 332]

One road leads up the coast to Rye and Portsmouth; another, through a most charming country, to Exeter; another, to Salisbury and Newburyport, and many others inland in every direction.

Boar's Head is the best base from which to operate to rediscover the whole adjoining territory.

The first house on the Head was built, in 1808, by Daniel Lamprey, whose son, Jeremiah Lamprey, began to entertain guests about 1820. The first public house in the vicinity, a part of the present Boar's Head House, was built, in 1826, by David Nudd and associates. From them it came, in 1865, into the possession of Stebbins Hitchcock Dumas, who, nineteen years before, had commenced hotel life at the Phenix, in Concord. Under Mr. Dumas' management the house has grown steadily in size as well as in popularity, until to-day it ranks as one of the great seaside caravansaries of the Atlantic coast.

When a fisherman in his wanderings through the forest discovers a pond or stream well stocked with sparkling trout, he keeps his information to himself, and frequently revisits his treasure. So is it apt to be with the tourist and pleasure-seeker. Here, season after season, have appeared the same men and the same families—noticeably those who appreciate a table supplied with every delicacy of the season, served up in the most tempting manner.

Has the guest a desire to compete with the fishermen, he is furnished every convenience, and by a basket of fish "expressed" to some distant friend can demonstrate his piscatorial powers. On the favoring beach, hard by the hotel, are bathhouses where one can prepare to sport in the refreshing billows. The halls and rooms of the hotel were built before those days when those who resort to the seabeach were expected to be accommodated within the area of their Saratoga trunks. Spacious, comfortably furnished, each opening on a view of the ocean, the rooms of the hotel are very attractive and pleasing.

The hotel is opened for the reception of the public early in June, and remains open into October, before the last guest departs.

The gentle poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, thus writes of Hampton Beach:—

"I sit alone: in foam and spray
    Wave after wave
Breaks on the rocks.—which, stern and gray,
Shoulder the broken tide away,—
Or murmurs hoarse and strong through mossy cleft and cave.
"What heed I of the dusty land
    And noisy town?
I see the mighty deep expand
From its white line of glimmering sand
To where the blue of heaven on bluer waves shuts down.
"In listless quietude of mind
    I yield to all
The change of cloud and wave and wind;
And passive, on the flood reclined,
I wander with the waves, and with them rise and fall.

"So then, beach, bluff, and wave, farewell!
    I bear with me
No token stone nor glittering shell;
But long and oft shall memory tell
Of this brief thoughtful hour of musing by the sea."

Footnote 1: (return)

Memorial History of Boston, vol. i, p. 119.

Footnote 2: (return)

Williamson's History of Belfast.

Footnote 3: (return)

Vol. i, p. 427.

Footnote 4: (return)

Origin, Organization, etc., of the Towns of New England.

Footnote 5: (return)

The "lot" was the obligation to perform the public services which might fall to the inhabitants by due rotation. "Scot" means tax.

Footnote 6: (return)

Green's Short History of the English People, chap. ii, sec. 6.

Footnote 7: (return)

The present rathhaus of the quaint old city of Nuremberg, built in 1619, is a notable building, much visited by travelers. Around the wall of the hall within runs the legend: "Eins manns red ist eine halbe red, man soll die teyl verhören bed,"—"One man's talk is a half talk; one should hear both sides."

Footnote 8: (return)

Introduction to American Institutional History, Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of The Bay State Monthly, Volume 1, Issue
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