A Divisive Charmer

by Ashley Williams, Processing Assistant and Library Assistant

Any of our readers that label themselves French history enthusiasts will, no doubt, have already taken note, but the anniversary of the Coup of Brumaire recently elapsed us this past weekend. This pivotal moment in French history marks the end of the Directory government in France and ushers in the era of Napoleon as he begins his pursuit of Emperor as First Consul. Many recognize this coup as the official end of the French Revolution.

This parliamentary coup was originally masterminded by Abbé Sieyès and Tallyrand. They had simply enlisted Napoleon as muscle to back them up should their negotiations to throw out the current constitution turn sour. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what happened. Napoleon’s grenadiers were sent into the meeting place at Saint-Cloud, and, under duress, the Directory was persuaded to dissolve itself and promise the creation of a new constitution. And though Napoleon was only intended to be used by Sieyès and Tallyrand, he somehow charmed his way into the First Consul seat, channeling all actual constitutional power to himself and leaving the other two as mere figureheads.

There is no doubt that opinions on Napoleon during his reign vary quite drastically. In fact, I would go as far as to label his memory as divisive, even today. Many documents remaining in regards to Napoleon seem to swing pretty heavy-handedly to one side or another whether praising his name or dragging it through the mud. During my time at the MHS, I’ve found that a great majority of our collections regarding Napoleon consist of broadsides from British smear campaigns in response to Napoleon’s boasts to invade England. They serve to demonize Napoleon in the eyes of British citizens and highlight things such as his censorship of the press and atrocities of war during the Egyptian campaign.

MHS Broadsides
A sampling of Anti-Napoleon broadsides from the MHS collection

It’s been rather difficult to find material about him that isn’t politically charged, but I’ve come across one set of volumes in the Guild Library collection that explicitly claims to be an unbiased “general review of his impact on society.” Frank Goodrich’s The Court of Napoleon is a three-volume set published in the U.S. in 1857 spanning from Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine to his time on St. Helena. The volumes’ historical review is interspersed and decorated with beautiful illustrations and original manuscript letters. In fact, the volumes themselves are quite aesthetically pleasing. These are books that you can judge by the cover.

Frank Goodrich - Volume 1
The Court of Napoleon, Vol. 1 by Frank Goodrich

From what I’ve read, Goodrich’s take on Napoleon is intended for neither praise nor malice, but rather observation, and regardless of the French Emperor’s character, I think we’d be foolish not to acknowledge the impacts his life made on societies around the world.



“Coup Of 18–19 Brumaire | French History [1799]. ” 2019. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/event/Coup-of-18-19-Brumaire.

Flower, John, and Eugene Weber. 2019. “France – The First French Republic”. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/place/France/The-First-French-Republic.

“Plain Answers To Plain Questions: In A Dialogue Between John Bull And Bonaparte, Met Half-Seas Over Between Dover And Calais.”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://balthazaar.masshist.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&BBID=148583

“To The Infamous Wretch: If There Be Such An One In England, Who Dares To Talk Of, Or Even Hopes To Find Mercy In The Breast Of The Corsican Bonaparte, The Eternal Sworn Foe Of England …”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://balthazaar.masshist.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&BBID=148952

“Who Is Bonaparte?”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society. http://balthazaar.masshist.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&BBID=148600

This Week @MHS

While the MHS is closed on Monday, 11 November, there is still a lot planned for the week. Here is a look:

On Tuesday, 12 November, at 5:15 PM: Engineering, Politics, & Dams: John R. Freeman & San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Water Supply with Donald C. Jackson, Lafayette College, and comment by Conevery Bolton Valencius, Boston College.San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy Dam sparked one of America’s first great environmental controversies. This paper explores John R. Freeman’s work as a consulting engineer and his essential role in championing the city’s Sierra Nevada water supply. Freeman was among the most influential engineers of the Progressive Era and his technocratic vision underlay hydraulic projects throughout North America. For good or ill, Freeman’s vision has had a long and enduring legacy, not just for San Francisco but for dams and watersheds nationwide. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, November 13, at 12:00 PM: Staged Readings: Parlor Play & Contesting Class in 19th-Century America with Michael D’Alessandro, Duke University. This talk focuses on the curious practice of nineteenth-century parlor theatricals in the United States. In the postbellum years, the country’s evolving middle classes created elaborate sets, donned fancy costumes, and even attempted amateur special effects as a means of entertainment. While they staged these shows in order to create class definition and solidarity, the performances often revealed unforeseen social anxieties and prejudices. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 13 November, at 6:00 PM: Housing as History: the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative & Orchard Gardens with Karilyn Crockett, MIT; Tony Hernandez, Dudley Neighbors, Inc.; and Valerie Shelley, Orchard Gardens Resident Association. By the 1980s the Dudley Square neighborhood of Roxbury was facing significant challenges. Absentee landlords had allowed property to deteriorate, left units vacant, or had used arson to raze buildings and make insurance claims. Facing what many considered insurmountable obstacles, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative was formed to create a comprehensive plan for “development without displacement.” The first non-governmental organization in America to be granted eminent domain authority, they began purchasing vacant land, protecting affordable housing and creating a community land trust. Meanwhile, the nearby housing project Orchard Park became notorious for crime and drugs. The Orchard Park Tenants Association lobbied for years for improvements and by the mid-1990s began to see a path forward partnering with the police and using community organizing to reduce crime and linking the redevelopment to the new federal HOPE VI program which was meant to revitalize the worst housing projects in America. HOPE VI was in part modeled on the redevelopment of Columbia Point and encouraged partnerships with private developers and a mixture of incomes among the residents. Through community action and smart development, Orchard Park was redeveloped as Orchard Gardens and became a safe, stable neighborhood. This is part three of a series of four programs that is made possible by the generosity of Mass Humanities and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. It will be held at the Dewitt Center, 122 Dewitt Drive, Boston. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM.

On Thursday, 14 November, at 6:00 PM: Atlas of Boston History with Nancy Seasholes, Robert Allison, Richard Garver, and Jim Vrabel. Few American cities possess a history as long, rich, and fascinating as Boston’s. The Atlas of Boston History traces the history of Boston from late prehistoric times to the present using thematic maps that are drawn from the latest scholarship and supplemented with historical images, maps, illustrations, and graphs as well as explanatory text. The subjects of the maps and atlas plates were determined by a board of noted scholars. The editor will present the project and then discuss the process of determining the contents of the atlas with three of the consulting scholars.  A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). Please note that registration for this program is now closed.

On Saturday, 16 November, at 4:00 PM: Legacies of 1619: Black Radicalism / Black Power with John Stauffer, Harvard University; Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar, University of Connecticut; Adrienne Lentz-Smith, Duke University; and moderator Valerie Roberson, Roxbury Community College. Facing the hegemonic force of slavery, discrimination, and disenfranchisement, communities of color have resisted and presented radical models of empowerment. Along with countless and often unknown stories of personal courage, large scale resistance, such as Nat Turner’s Rebellion, go back to the very beginnings of the United States. This program will explore the different forms African Americans have taken to assert their agency and autonomy. This program is part three of a series of four programs co-sponsored by the Museum of African American History and the Roxbury Community College. It will be held at Roxbury Community College, Student Commons, 1234 Columbus Avenue. There will be a pre-talk reception at 3:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 4:00 PM.

Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Pop-Up Display
Abigail Adams urged her husband to “Remember the Ladies” and made herself impossible to forget. But Abigail is memorable for more than her famous 1776 admonition. This final Remember Abigail display uses documents and artifacts through the ages to consider the way Abigail viewed her own legacy and to explore how and why we continue to Remember Abigail. Join us for a gallery talk on 22 November at 2:00 PM.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre now open!
On the evening of March 5, 1770, soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing or fatally wounding five civilians. In the aftermath of what soon became known as the Boston  Massacre, questions about the command to “Fire!” became crucial. Who yelled it? When and why? Because the answers would determine the guilt or innocence of the soldiers, defense counsel John Adams insisted that “Facts are stubborn things.” But what are the facts? The evidence, often contradictory, drew upon testimony from dozens of witnesses. Through a selection of artifacts, eyewitness accounts, and trial testimony—the voices of ordinary men and women—Fire! Voice from the Boston Massacre explores how this flashpoint changed American history. The exhibition is on display at the MHS October 31, 2019 through June 30, 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

George Hyland’s Diary, November 1919

By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Today, we return to the diary of George Hyland. If this is your first time encountering our 2019 diary series, catch up by reading the January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October 1919 installments first!

November brings new rhythms to George’s workdays. With the harvest in for the season he turns to preparing fields and farmyards for the winter, beating rugs, cleaning windows, carrying ash, chopping wood, planting blubs, and selling junk to the local junk dealer. He observes Armistice Day — the one year anniversary of the end of the Great War — and Thanksgiving Day. Snow storms batter the coast and twice he goes to Egypt Beach to observe the high waters and waves. As we close in on the final weeks of 1919, we see George settling in for the winter ahead.

Join me in following George day-by-day through November 1919.

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PAGE 350 (cont’d)

Nov. 1. Dug potatoes 5 1/2 hours for Mrs. Hazel Dimond (nee Reddy) – 1.65 and dug up and housed dalia [sic] bulbs 1h. 10m. for Mrs. Mary Wilder — 35. Cloudy W.S.W. and S. tem. 48-57. Eve cloudy, W.N.E. Played on the guitar 1h. 10 min. In eve. 9 P.M. light rain.

2d. (Sun.) rain until about noon; W.N.E. cold storm. Aft. clou. Eve. par. Clou. W.N.E. 11 P.M., nearly clear.

3d. Par. clou. To cloudy rain. 15 min. In aft. W.N.E. cold. Harvested my carrots and parsnips in my garden on the James place — had 2 1/2 bus. of carrots and 1 bu. And 1 peck of parsnips — gave Mr. James 1/2 peck of parsnips and carrots, all he wanted. Eve. clou. cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. 11:50 P.M. par. clou. W.E.

4th. Election Day (State). Went to State Election in the Town Hall, Scituate Cen. Voted Republican ticket entire. Rode there and back with Fred T. Bailey — in his coach (close) automobile — Belva C. Merritt rode to her home with us. Mr. James rode back with us from S. Cen. In aft. Worked 3 1/2 hours for Miss Edith C. Sargent — cleared all the corn stalks, vines and etc. (50) and wheeled them into the swamp — dug up her dalia bulbs also some for Mrs. Eudora Bailey and put them in the cellar. Went into the house after I fin. the work — staid [sic] 1/2 h. Mrs. Bailey gave me some five pears (Bosc). Cloudy; W.E. began to rain about 5:30 P.M. rain all eve. W.E. cold. Played on the guitar 1h. 10min. late in eve. got in some of my wood — old boards, etc.

5th. Rain all day and eve. W.N.E. and N.W. windy. Worked in house to-day — got the rubber of of some elect. light wire — got the copper ready to sell. Got all my junk ready for junk dealer.

PAGE 351

Cold storm. Snow-storm for 1/2 hour about dark. Played on the guitar — 1 1/2 hours in eve. Rain and gale (36m.) all night.

6th. Cold. Very windy in forenoon. Max w. 36m. W.N.N.W. light rain all day and part of eve. Sold all my junk this aft. — to Samuel Benson, junk dealer. Played on the guitar 1 ½ hours in eve. Eve. cloudy, cold. Sold 30 pounds of rags and old cloth _ _ _ _ 30.

60 pds. of iron – 15.

8 pds. of copper — 88.

5 pds. of brass — 25.

7 pds. of zinc — 21.

2 1/2 pds. of lead — 7.

3 pds. of rubber — 8. — $1.94

7th. Clou. Cold misty rain in forenoon. W.N.E. Windy. Late in aft. Worked 1h. 55m. For Mrs. Ethel Torrey — sawed and chopped down the upper half of a cherry tree and sawed off some of the lower limbs — 55. Eve. clou. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. — also repaired some of my clothes. Made a wash tub in forenoon. 11 P.M., begins to clear. 11:42 P.M. circle around the moon for a few minutes.

8th. Worked 4 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey trimmed out the cherry tree wood and piled it up and carried the trash to a dump also dug up and transplanted 4 rose bushes — 1.20. Also split wood 3/4 hour for Mrs. Cora Bailey — 20. Clou in forenoon — clear at noon. Aft. clear to par. clou. W.E. to S.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Tem. to-day – 40-48.

9th. Sun. Clear. W.E. cold wind. Went to Egypt Beach, then walked along the shore — on the sea wall part of the way — to the glades — end of N.S. beach. Road badly damaged by the waves dur. the storm. Sea wall badly damaged in some places — […] damaged all along the shore, large number of people at the beaches — to view the waves and see the effect of the storm for the past 2 or 3 days. Water went under the “Merton” and comfort cottages, but did no damage to them. East wind cold at the sea shore. Ocean very rough. Walked all the way — 7 miles. Many automobiles along the shore rodes. 37 passed by me in 5 min — by my watch. Eve. clear. Calm.

10th. Worked 6 3/4 hours for Mrs. Bailey Ellis and B. Ellis — washing windows (outside) and dusting the rugs and carpets. Fine weather — clear; W.E. Very heavy frost this A.M. Eve. clear. Washed a blanket in eve — 1 hour then played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours. Heavy firing in directions of Boston — 8:30 to 8:45 P.M.

11th. Armistice Day. X Worked 7 hours for Mrs. Christine Ellis (nee Christine Bullard) washing and polishing windows and beating (dusting) rugs and carpets — 2.10. Evelyn Whiting also worked there for Mrs. Ellis. Was there yesterday too. Cloudy, W.S.W. and S.E. Very damp. Eve — cloudy, W.E. Played on the guitar 1 ¼ hours in eve. 12:20 (mid.) raining. | The Great War ended 1 year ago to-day. X

12th. Misty rain in forenoon. Aft. clou. W.S.W. did some work at home — washing and etc. Sold 14 ponds of rags to S. Benson — 14. Paid $1.00 this A.M. to Mrs. Bertha Bates (nee Hobson) as dues for Red Cross membership — for 1920. She gave me a Red Cross — design for 1920 — and a R.C. Button with date — 1920 on it. I joined the Red Cross in 1917. Dues — $1.00 per year. Mrs. B. is agent for this part of the town. Eve. cloudy. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Received a N.Y. “Sunday Times” from Lottie to-day — from Groton, Conn.

13th. Cloudy in forenoon. W.N.E. light rain in aft. Mrs. Ethel Torrey came here late in aft. To get me to make a garden for chrysanthemums. I went there to do it but it began to rain — W.N.E. and I came back. Cold storm all eve. Mrs. Christine Ellis paid me for all work I have done there — 13 1/4 hours in all $4.13. Did some work at home to-day. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in Eve. 11:30. Clear. Cold. W.N.W. windy.

14th. Worked 1 hour for Mrs. Ethel Torrey. Made a garden and transplanted some chrysanthemums in it — 30. Also worked 5 hours for S.T. Speare (his father) cleaned out a large poultry house (dust very plenty) and dug up the ground in a poultry yard — 4.50.

Ice this A.M. W.N.W. cold. clear. Ellery Hyland called here in eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Eve. clear. cold.

15th. Worked 5 hours for Mr. Speare — 1.50. Cold. Clear. W.N.N.W. Called at Mr. James’ early in eve to help Mrs. [space left blank for name] get her trunks ready for express — to carry to the R.R. Sta. She is going back to Seattle, Wash. to-morrow. A.M. Eve. cold. Clear. Lucine E. Bates spent eve. here. Mrs. Ethel Torrey gave me a pint of milk to-day. Washed some of my clothes early in eve.

16th. (Sun.) Clear. Cold. W.N.W.N. and W.S.W. tem. About 26-46.

17th. Worked 5 1/2 hours for Mrs. Christine Ellis — washing windows (2d story) also dusted two blankets — 1.65. Have washed 39 windows — 1st and 2d stories. Par. clou. W.S.W. tem. 42-50. Eve hazy. 11 P.M. Clear. Warm for season. Early in eve went to Mr. Albert D. Spaulding’s (1 mile) and paid my taxes — for 1918 — $15.14. Then went to Mrs. M.G. Seaverns’ store and bought some groceries — then went to W. Bates’ and got a bedstead (iron) that Mrs. Bertha Bates gave me to-day all before I had supper. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours. Ellery B. Hyland called here in eve.

18th. Worked 5 1/2 hours for Mr. James — housing wood and clearing up the place — fine weather — par. cloudy W.S. tem. 46-59. Miss Edith C. Sargent came to the place where I was raking leaves and said Mrs. Eudora Bailey would like to engage me to do the work there this winter — carry out the goal ashes — shovel paths when snow comes. She lives with Mrs. B. opp.. the James place. Played on the guitar 1 ½ hours in eve. Eve. clear. Tem. 46.

19th Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging [sic] up the ground in poultry yards and wheeling the best dirt down around the lawn, also put 8 loads around Mrs. Ethel Torrey’s shrubs and plants — 1.80. Cold and windy (N.W.) clear to par. Clou. eve. Clou. very windy and cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 11 P.M. Snow storm tem. 28. Max. wind about 36m

20th. Worked 5 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — put on storm door, cellar windows and split 2 large logs — and sawed and split some of it. Swept snow from walks and […] and did some chores — 1.50. Cold and windy; W.N.W.; tem. 25-38. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Eve cold. Tem. 27.

21st. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — cleaning boxes where he sets hens (incubator room) and diging up ground in poultry yard and wheeling it to a garden and spreading it on the ground — 1.80. Warmer to-day tem. 27-48; W.W. to S.W. eve. Cloudy. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 11:30 P.M., clou. W.N.W.

22nd. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging up ground in poultry yards and wheeling the dirt on to the gardens — 1.80. Mr. S. has many yards and a large number of hens and chickens. They are all Rhode Island Reds. Clear to par. Clou. W.S.W. to S. tem. about 40-60. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 8:45 P.M., raining. Light rain all eve. Met Mrs. Bessie W. Prouty (nee Clapp) in Mrs. Seaverns’ store early in eve.

PAGE 352

23rd. (Sun.) fair. W.N.W. late in aft. Tem about 30-48. Went to Egypt Beach via […] Road and […] Hill — went to edge of water — dipped my hand in water when a small wave came up. Ret. through Egypt. Just 1 hour coming from beach to my home 3 1/2 miles. Did not hurry. Walked down and back. 3:20 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. Eve. clear to par. Clou. Boiled some turnips, carrots, parsnips, and beets in eve. From my garden at the James place. Also a few carrots from Mrs. Ethel Torrey’s garden.

24th. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging up ground for a place to sow rye — 1.80. Clear. Cold. W.N.E. to N.W. Mr. [space left blank for name] Cluff, agent for S.S. Pierce & Co., large grocery dealers, Boston, called at Mr. Speare’s this forenoon — he wants me to do some landscape gardening for him next spring. Lives in Roxbury, Mass. Eve. clear. Cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

25th. In forenoon dug up ground 2 hours for Mr. Speare — 60. In aft. Worked 4 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey — trimming shrubs and etc. — 1.20. Fair to par. Clou. W.S.W. eve. Cloudy. Began to rain about 7:35 P.M. Light rain all eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Rain all night (light rain).

26th. Rain all day W.N.E. In forenoon worked 2 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey — carrying coal ashes out of the cellar — 66. Got wet. Rain until about 11:30 P.M. Then clou. Colder. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

27th. (Thanksgiving Day.) In forenoon worked 1 1/3 hours for Mr. Speare — smoothing over the ground and sowing rye. Late in aft. | 40. Went to Hingham — on 4:12 P.M. tr. then walked to Hingham Cen. to Henrietta’s. Arr. 5:10 P.M. Carried my guitar — played 1 1/2 hours in eve. Uncle Samuel and Ellen there. They spent the day there. Frank carried them home about 6:30 P.M. in his automobile. I had supper and staid [sic] there all night. Cloudy. Very damp. W.E. Cold. Light snow storm in eve (late).

28th. Staid in Hingham. Worked 6 hours for Henrietta — 1.00 — helping Frank tear down a building. Cloudy to fair. W.E. Cold. In eve played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours.

29th. Staid in Hingham. Worked 6 hours for Henrietta — helping Frank take down building — 1.00. Cloudy; W.S. and S. Began to rain (light) about 2:30 P.M. Had supper there and came home in eve. Walked to Hingham Sta. (1 1/4 miles) and came on 7 P.M. tr. began to rain again when I was about half way to H. Sta. rain all eve. W.S.W. warm. — tem. 52. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 12 (mid) still raining.

30th. (Sun.) Clear. Warm. W.W. to N.W. tem. 50-66. Very windy – gale 36 m. Eve. clear. Cold. W.N.W. Staid at home to-day.

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If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.

*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The catalog record for the George Hyland’s diary may be found here. Hyland’s diary came to us as part of a collection of records related to Hingham, Massachusetts, the catalog record for this larger collection may be found here.

“They talk very loud, very fast, and altogether”: John Adams and Revolutionary Manhattan

by Christopher F. Minty, Assistant Editor, the Adams Papers

On 10 August 1774 John Adams departed Boston for Philadelphia. He was traveling with Robert Treat Paine, Thomas Cushing, and Samuel Adams. Together, they were Massachusetts’s delegation to the First Continental Congress. It was a long, slow ride. But on the way, they took advantage of the opportunities travel presented. They stopped in villages, towns, and cities on the way. For John Adams, New York City was the most interesting place they visited.

Front cover of John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, front cover

The delegation was in Manhattan from 20 August to 26 August, longer than they stayed in any other place. Upon his arrival, Adams noted in his diary, “This City will be a Subject of much Speculation to me.” And it was. Adams committed eighteen pages of his diary to his time in New York, considerably more than any other place. He noted down who he met and how they came across. He also offered commentary on buildings, streets, dining sets, the weather, and New York’s government.

Adams kept a diary not only for his benefit, though. “I have [kept] a few Minutes by Way of Journal,” he told Abigail Adams on 28 August, in one of the few letters he wrote during this period. The diary, Adams went on, “shall be your Entertainment when I come home.” To make his entries enjoyable, John Adams recorded almost everything he saw and everyone he met. In short, his diary represents a who’s who of eighteenth-century New York City. He met or dined with some of the city’s most prominent men, many of whom shared his radical views about the Continental Congress and the increasingly extractive nature of British imperialism.

When Adams arrived in New York City, his first stop was Hull’s Tavern at 10 A.M. on 20 August, a Saturday. Hull’s Tavern was operated by Robert Hull, and it was located at roughly 115 Broadway, not far north of Trinity Church or far from the Oswego Market. But he didn’t stop for long. After Hull’s Tavern they moved to the home of Tobias Stoutenburgh at King Street (present-day Pine Street) and Nassau Street. It wasn’t far from Hull’s; about a five-minute walk. Stoutenburgh, a goldsmith, owned a large lot, complete with a garden and orchard. During Adams’s time in Stoutenburgh’s house, he met Alexander McDougall and Jeremiah Platt, two politically active New Yorkers who, by this stage in the imperial contest with Britain, were leaders of one of the partisan groups in the city.

The meeting between these New Yorkers and Adams, and the Massachusetts delegation, was an important moment. Platt invited the delegates to dine with him on 22 August. He left shortly thereafter. But McDougall, Adams wrote, “stayed longer, and talk’d a good deal.” “He is a very sensible Man,” Adams continued, “and an open one. He has none of the mean Cunning which disgraces so many of my Country men. He offers to wait on us this afternoon to see the City.”

Page from John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, 20 August 1774

McDougall took Adams and the other delegates into public places where they might be useful for partisan purposes: taverns, Fort George, the equestrian statue of George III, various partisans’ houses, and “up the broad Way.” Altogether, Adams went to nearly “every Part of the City.” Along the way McDougall introduced him to his like-minded colleagues and friends. During a quiet moment, McDougall gave him a break-down of political affairs in the city, noting that there were “two great Families” in New York “upon whose Motions all their Politicks turn.” The Livingstons, associated with McDougall, held “Virtue and Abilities as well as fortune.” The DeLanceys, Adams was assured, had “not much of either of the three,” whilst McDougall had a “thorough Knowledge of Politicks.”

It wasn’t long until McDougall took Adams to a private residence, a place where they could really chat. On 22 August, Adams was taken to a home on what is now W 43rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. There, Adams and McDougall spoke at length about politics, developing an alliance that would continue through the Continental Congress. Of those who “profess attachment to the American Cause,” McDougall recommended Adams “avoid every Expression here.” McDougall, Adams went on, “says there is a powerfull Party here, who are intimidated by Fears of a Civil War, and they have been induced to acquiesce by Assurances that there was no Danger, and that a peacefull Cessation of Commerce would effect Relief.” These people were the DeLanceys, individuals whom Adams and the delegation should avoid.

Page from John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, 23 August 1774

New Yorkers’ eagerness to mobilize John Adams to their cause was obvious, too, at least to him. They recognized his potential influence—and they wanted him to know that they were with him. “At their Entertainments,” Adams famously wrote, “there is no Conversation that is agreable. There is no Modesty—No Attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast, and altogether. If they ask you a Question, before you can utter 3 Words of your Answer, they will break out upon you, again—and talk away.” These men could not wait to curry favor with Adams.

This Week @MHS

This week at the MHS we have a seminar, two evening programs, a brown-bag lunch, and a tour. Please note that the library and exhibition galleries will be closed on Thursday, 7 November for a staff retreat. The building will open at 5:00 PM for the evening program.

On Tuesday, 5 November, at 5:15 PM: Native Lands & American Expansion in the Early Republic with Emilie Connolly, New York University; Franklin Sammons, University of California, Berkeley; and comment by Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut. In the Early Republic, Americans pressed against the borders of the new nation to expand their control over Native lands. This panel examines these interactions between Native tribes and the land-hungry white settlers and speculators to discuss issues of agency, financial stability, and legal precedent. Emilie Connolly considers the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree between the Seneca and Founding Father Robert Morris in New York State. Franklin Sammons looks at the illegal “Yazoo Land Sales” in Georgia. This is part of the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, November, at 12:00 PM: Laboring Bodies: Dispossessed Women & Sexuality in Colonial New England with Emily Clark, Johns Hopkins University. This project will examine the intimate lives of enslaved, servant, and poor women using cases in which their supposedly “deviant” bodies entered the historical record – in court cases, almshouse ledgers, and cheap print. Often overlooked in histories of New England, these women made up a crucial part of colonial society. Their bodies and labors (productive and reproductive) were used against their wills. Nonetheless, these sources reveal laboring women’s everyday efforts to control their own bodies and sexualities. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, November, at 6:00 PM: Girl in Black & White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams & the Abolition Movement with Jessie Morgan-Owens. This talk is about the little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams—a slave girl who looked “white” and whose image transformed the abolitionist movement. Mary became the face of American slavery when Sen. Charles Sumner saw in her a monumental political opportunity for the abolitionist cause. Weaving together long-overlooked primary sources, including daguerreotypes found in the MHS collection, this history follows Mary through to her own adulthood, describing a life parallel to the antislavery movement. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

On Thursday, November,  at 6:00 PM: The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America with T.H. Breen, Northwestern University. Over eight years of war, ordinary Americans accomplished something extraordinary. Far from the actions of the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, they took responsibility for the course of the Revolution. In villages, towns, and cities from Georgia to New Hampshire, Americans managed local affairs, negotiated shared sacrifice, and participated in a political system in which each believed they were as good as any other. Presenting hundreds of stories, T. H. Breen captures the powerful sense of equality and responsibility resulting from this process of self-determination. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

On Saturday, 9 November, at 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. This is a 90-minute docent-led walk through of our public rooms. The tour is free and open to the public. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Pop-Up Display
Abigail Adams urged her husband to “Remember the Ladies” and made herself impossible to forget. But Abigail is memorable for more than her famous 1776 admonition. This final Remember Abigail display uses documents and artifacts through the ages to consider the way Abigail viewed her own legacy and to explore how and why we continue to Remember Abigail. Join us for a gallery talk on 22 November at 2:00 PM.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre now open!
On the evening of March 5, 1770, soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing or fatally wounding five civilians. In the aftermath of what soon became known as the Boston  Massacre, questions about the command to “Fire!” became crucial. Who yelled it? When and why? Because the answers would determine the guilt or innocence of the soldiers, defense counsel John Adams insisted that “Facts are stubborn things.” But what are the facts? The evidence, often contradictory, drew upon testimony from dozens of witnesses. Through a selection of artifacts, eyewitness accounts, and trial testimony—the voices of ordinary men and women—Fire! Voice from the Boston Massacre explores how this flashpoint changed American history. The exhibition is on display at the MHS October 31, 2019 through June 30, 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Happy Halloween from the MHS

by Rakashi Chand, Senior Library Assistant

The MHS holds three manuscript diaries kept by Ruth Evelyn Beck in 1919, 1920 and 1921. They describe social activities with family and friends including parties, dances, movies, her job, church activities, the local news, and courtship. Along with the diaries there are loose printed items such as dance cards and letters. While using the collection in the MHS reading room today, a researcher happened upon these fun Halloween items.

Along with an invitation to a Halloween party in 1920 are a dance card and table placard from the party.

Halloween Ball placard
Ruth Beck’s 1920 Halloween party table placard
Clark College Halloween Party dance card
Ruth Beck’s dance card from the 1920 Halloween party

The Halloween party is noted in her diary entry for 22 October 1920.

Diary entry for 22 October 1920
Ruth Beck diary entry for 22 October 1920


“It appeared so strange and wonderful…”

by Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator

Nathanael Low’s almanac, 1818
Detail from Nathanael Low’s almanac, 1818

You will see in the paper an account of a strange animal, denominated a Sea-Serpent, seen last week in the harbour of Cape-Ann. The account is undoubtedly correct in the main, but is so general as to leave us in much doubt and perplexity what to think of this formidable visitor and how to class him.

This excerpt comes from a letter by John Davis of Boston, Mass. to his son-in-law Rev. Ezra Shaw Goodwin. The correspondence of Davis, Goodwin, and other family members was recently acquired by the MHS.

John Davis (1761-1847) was a U.S. District Court judge for 40 years. He was also the president of the short-lived Linnaean Society of New England, an organization established in 1814 to promote the study of natural history. The society hosted lectures, organized tours, and operated a museum, but may be best remembered for its investigation into sightings of an alleged sea serpent in Gloucester Harbor.

According to an article published in the Boston Daily Advertiser on 18 August 1817, a “prodigious snake” had been sighted in the harbor by “hundreds of people” over the course of several days. The animal was described as somewhere between 50 and 100 feet long and as thick as a barrel, with a head the size of a horse’s head (but resembling a dog’s), and was said to move acrobatically through the water at tremendous speed. Attempts to shoot it or capture it had failed.

The Linnaean Society was on the case. Members of the society went to Cape Ann to see if they could catch a glimpse of the mysterious animal. A committee—composed of Davis himself, Jacob Bigelow, and Francis C. Gray—was appointed to interview witnesses and prepare a report for publication and distribution to scientific societies around the world. The Linnaeans were very excited, but accounts varied widely and might be unreliable, as Davis warned in a postscript.

Still, as the animal was seen so imperfectly and in swift motion, great allowance must be made, and it is difficult to say what part is to be received as inference or conjecture.

Over the next few months, Davis kept Goodwin apprised of developments. In his letters, he compared the Gloucester sea serpent to similar sightings in Penobscot Bay, Me. (“it appeared so strange and wonderful that the Academy declined publishing it”) and Plymouth, Mass. Could this be the same creature? Some even claimed an animal had washed ashore as far away as the Orkney Islands “to which our portentous stranger may be supposed to bear a resemblance.” Fortunately, although the Gloucester sea serpent was “sufficiently terrific indeed” and thrashed about in the water “little mindful of Boats,” it showed no signs of “a mischievous or malignant temper.”

On 27 September 1817, Gorham Norwood, a resident of Gloucester, discovered and killed an unfamiliar snake on the beach. The snake was only about three feet long, but had a strange “undulating” spine, so it was brought to the Linnaean Society for examination. Based on its proximity to the harbor sightings (and apparently not much else), this specimen was assumed to be the “progeny of the great serpent.”

Fold out plate of Scoliophis atlanticus
Fold-out plate from the Linnaean Society report, 1817

The Linnaean Society’s report was finished by November 1817, and Davis sent a copy to Goodwin. What was its conclusion? The sea serpent was not only real, but an undiscovered species! The society classified it Scoliophis atlanticus.

Davis admitted, “It was rather bold to come out with a new Genus, in the present advanced state of Natural History, but we thought the characteristics of the creature required it.” Goodwin agreed, but would the scientific community? The Linnaeans had based their case entirely on eyewitness testimonies and the serpent’s alleged offspring. Davis wrote, “We shall see the result in due time – time also the great discoverer will doubtless shed new light on the subject.”

Indeed, the Boston Society of Natural History definitively debunked the Linnaean Society’s findings in its Proceedings of 1863 (vol. 9, p. 245) and 1868 (vol. 12, pp. 184-5). The “progeny” of the serpent, preserved in the Linnaean Society’s collections for decades, was reexamined and found to be a common black snake (Coluber constrictor) with a deformed spine. And the sightings were attributed to mistaken identity, a “humpbacked whale scooping fish” being the most likely explanation. The Scoliophis atlanticus was declared a “myth.”

When cataloging this collection (incidentally, the first time I’ve used the Library of Congress subject heading “sea monsters”), I found that the MHS holds a few pamphlets on the subject of the Gloucester sea serpent, including a copy of the Linnaean Society report, an account by Hon. David Humphreys of the Royal Society of London, and Nathanael Low’s 1818 almanac, with drawings and a summary of the story. For a three-dimensional representation, visit the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Mass., which is home to a statue of the Gloucester sea serpent by sculptor Chris Williams.

This Week @MHS

This week we have a seminar, a brown-bag lunch, and a sneak preview of our upcoming exhibition. Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre opens to the public on Thursday, 31 October. Here is a look at what is planned:

On Tuesday, 29 October, at 5:15 PM: Sesame Street & the Cultural Politics of the Spoken Word in the 1970s with Kathryn Ostrofsky, Freelance Historian, and comment by Victoria Cain, Northeastern University. Sesame Street’s creators, audiences, and social activists all tried to use the popular television program as a tool to shape American society. The resulting discussions reveal that the sound of the spoken word played an important role in media representations of culture and community. People contested the messages conveyed by working-class accents, African American slang, and the Spanish language as they encouraged Sesame Street to embody Great Society liberalism or to engender a pluralistic society. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 30 October, at 12:00 PM: Inhuman Women & Puritanical Legacies in The VVitch 2015 with Amber Hodge, University of Mississippi. The VVitch (2015) visualizes historical oppression as an origin for present-day animalization and concordant disenfranchisement of women who operate outside of proscribed social norms. This talk connects MHS’s archives to The VVitch’s depiction of animality as both feminine and evil to demonstrate the legacy of patriarchal puritanism and possibilities for resistance. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 30 October, 6:00 PM: Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre Sneak Preview ReceptionOn March 5, 1770, British soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing five civilians. The incident quickly became known as the Boston Massacre. Through a selection of first-person accounts, artifacts, and trial notes, this exhibition explores what it meant to be living in an occupied city and how this flash point changed the course of American history. This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members. Please note that registration has closed and this event is SOLD OUT.

Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Pop-Up Display
Abigail Adams urged her husband to “Remember the Ladies” and made herself impossible to forget. But Abigail is memorable for more than her famous 1776 admonition. This final Remember Abigail display uses documents and artifacts through the ages to consider the way Abigail viewed her own legacy and to explore how and why we continue to Remember Abigail. Join us for a gallery talk on 22 November at 2:00 PM.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre opens on Thursday, 31 October
On the evening of March 5, 1770, soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing or fatally wounding five civilians. In the aftermath of what soon became known as the Boston  Massacre, questions about the command to “Fire!” became crucial. Who yelled it? When and why? Because the answers would determine the guilt or innocence of the soldiers, defense counsel John Adams insisted that “Facts are stubborn things.” But what are the facts? The evidence, often contradictory, drew upon testimony from dozens of witnesses. Through a selection of artifacts, eyewitness accounts, and trial testimony—the voices of ordinary men and women—Fire! Voice from the Boston Massacre explores how this flashpoint changed American history. The exhibition is on display at the MHS October 31, 2019 through June 30, 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

October is American Archives Month

by Rakashi Chand, Senior Library Assistant

Every day the very talented and skilled archivists of the MHS work behind the scenes to ensure that the Society’s collections are well preserved, well organized, and easily accessible for researchers today and tomorrow. To celebrate archives month, we asked a few of our archivists a few fun questions so you could get better acquainted.

Why did you decide to be an archivist?

Alexandra Bush, Digital Productions Assistant (AB): I went into the archives field because I’ve always loved history and wanted to find a way to celebrate that without the need for social skills.

Katherine H Griffin, Nora Saltonstall Preservation Librarian (KG): I decided to be an Archivist when I was studying in graduate school in a public history program. I was originally interested in working in a museum, but I quickly found that I had an affinity for working with historical manuscripts.

Brenda Lawson, Vice President for Collections (BL): I became interested in archives while I was working in the Williams College Archives as an undergraduate.  Instead of pursuing graduate work in psychology (my major), I found myself looking at job announcements and graduate programs in archives.  I chose to go directly to Simmons College to pursue my library science degree with a concentration in archives management.  I later added an M.A. in history when the college began offering the dual degree program.

Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reference Librarian (AC): At the age of 12 I got my public history start as a volunteer docent at a house museum in our town; after earning my B.A. in history I decided to pursue graduate degrees in history and library science so that I could hone my research skills and help make sources for historical storytelling accessible to all.

What is your Archive-story?

AB:  It’s not a very interesting archive story, but I’ll always remember the end of my first internship here. I worked for Collections Services processing a collection of 14 cartons, the Thornton W. Burgess papers. The collection took months of work to process and was one of my first large projects. Maybe a month after my internship ended, I got an email from Laura Lowell, one of our processing archivists, letting me know that a researcher had requested to work with the collection. There’s no better feeling than that!

KG: The Librarian who was here when I started–Mr. John D. Cushing–was an exacting critic and somewhat difficult to please.  He made some very useful suggestions about my writing style that I have never forgotten–for instance, how to use the verb “to comprise,” and how to avoid using the intransitive in writing.  I will always be grateful that I had the benefit of his tutelage, early in my career.

AC: When I first moved to Boston in 2007 one of the first archives I visited was the Schlesinger Library which holds the records of the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective, creators of groundbreaking 1970s women’s health text Our Bodies, Ourselves. I got to read correspondence and other documents relating to the early editions of the book–and then several years later I was invited to participate in producing new material for the 40th anniversary edition! Once a researcher who accessed the OBOS archive, I then became a project participant whose contributions would in turn become a part of their historical records for future generations of researchers.

What is a fun fact about you?

AB:  As a young child I met one of the members of Metallica. He was close with my friend’s parents so we visited his house and used his Jacuzzi. I didn’t know who he was back then and still can’t remember which band member it was.

KG:  Hmmm. I love interacting with the public even though I’m often buried in the basement. I also love solving manuscript mysteries:  dating undated items, and deciphering difficult handwriting.

BL:  I can polka backwards.

AC:  I got my first tattoo, an illustration from the children’s book Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome, as a reward for finishing library school.

What is your favorite collection/item?

AB:  It’s hard to pick one favorite item from the collection, but I do love the Sarah Gooll Putnam diaries. SGP, who eventually became a portrait painter, filled her 27 volume diary with sketches in addition to writing and photographs. Over the years–she began the diary at age 9 and stopped at age 61–her art evolves and becomes more sophisticated.

KG: My favorite item/s in the collection are ships’ logs.  I’m continually amazed at the life of the seamen, the hardships, and their endurance.

AC: This summer I was introduced to I am an American: First Lessons in Citizenship by Sarah Cone Bryant (1920), an example of the nationalist narratives produced to educate U.S. schoolchildren during a period of strong anti-immigration sentiment. The text helps me see how ideologies from the early twentieth century continue to influence our political and cultural crosscurrents today.

Dan Hinchen, Reference Librarian: I think my favorite item is the Porcineograph created for William Emerson Baker, owner of Ridge Hill Farm. It’s a striking image with a lot of fun details to take in if you look closely.

Nancy Heywood, Senior Archivist for Digital Initiatives: One of my favorite items in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society is a 4-page manuscript draft of a letter from Roger Sherman to Françios Marbois written in November of 1782 describing many aspects of Connecticut (the history, geography, natural resources, social customs). In the letter, Sherman replied to questions posed by François Marbois, the secretary to the minister from France, Anne-César, Chevalier de La Luzerne.  In 1780 Marbois, acting on behalf of the French government, sent requests to representatives in presumably all of the thirteen colonies. Although the replies about Virginia are the best known (because Thomas Jefferson was the author of those responses and he published a lengthy book conveying all the research he did), Sherman’s responses about Connecticut are clear and informative.

I like Sherman’s letter because it is an example of an unexpected document a researcher finds during the course of research in an archival collection and also because the it is a draft.  I came across the letter when I was part of a team working on the Society’s digital presentation of Jefferson’s complicated manuscript copy of Notes on the State of Virginia (his lengthy work included numerous additions and changes to his manuscript text). Sherman’s draft letter is a wonderful way to make the reality of Marbois’s questionnaire more apparent.  It is evidence that there were many men in many colonies writing, thinking, and revising their answers to questions from a French official.

Now that you have had the chance to get to know a few of our fabulous staff members, visit the MHS to meet the rest of us! We are here to answer your questions, introduce you to the archive, talk about our favorite collections, and guide you in your research.

Happy American Archives Month!

Elijah’s Mantle & its Annotations: A Source for Puritan Constitutionalism

by Adrian Chastain Weimer, Providence College

I can imagine the 18th century historian Thomas Prince turning over the pages of the recently printed Elijah’s Mantle (1722), and wondering if the editors and printers got it right. As a college student Prince had taken an interest in the history of New England and decided he wanted to begin preserving old documents.[1] He now pulled out the original manuscript, a sermon from his grandfather’s generation by the Cambridge pastor Jonathan Mitchell. On comparing the two he must have been surprised at how far the printed version departed from the original. And so Prince decided to fill in the margins with the exact language of the manuscript, now lost. In doing so he preserved the full force of Mitchell’s language about Christ’s kingly government, a way of expressing constitutional resistance to arbitrary rule.

Elijah's Mantle
Thomas Prince’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle

As I opened Prince’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle in the Massachusetts Historical Society reading room I was first disappointed that the edges had been cut off by an over-industrious nineteenth-century re-binder. But then I looked more closely at the neat blockish handwriting scattered on the pages of the text, most of which had avoided the knife. The ownership signatures indicated the book had belonged to Thomas Prince, Thomas Prince Jr., and Mercy Prince. At the suggestion of Peter Drummey, the Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the MHS, I spent some time going through Prince Sr.’s own papers to confirm the writing was indeed his. And then I started to use Prince’s annotations as a source for re-assessing Mitchell’s role in the resistance movement of the early Restoration.

Ownership signatures
Signatures indicate the book belonged to Thomas Prince, Thomas Prince Jr., and Mercy Prince

Jonathan Mitchell died young, but he was one of the most compelling preachers of his day. He had given the sermon extracted for Elijah’s Mantle, called “The Great End and Interest of New-England,” in December of 1662, at a moment when New Englanders were reeling from news of the Act of Uniformity, English legislation that took political rights and freedom of worship away from nonconformists (non-Anglicans) in England. They had also just received a letter from the restored English king Charles II that demanded they redesign their government to benefit wealthy Anglicans. Mitchell was already an intriguing figure for several reasons. First, the magistrate Daniel Gookin, when describing how people mobilized to defy the king in the 1660s, had written, “I remember that eminent Mr. Mitchel, now in heaven . . . speaking of Christ’s Kingly Government upon a civil Acc[oun]t” as one of the most important rationales for constitutional resistance. Second, Mitchell had helped to draft a 1664 letter to the king which explained why the Stuart government’s demands violated their charter liberties, the very reasons men and women had come to New England.

Prince’s annotations on Mitchell’s sermon recovered a stronger version of his words, which the printed edition had tamed down. For example, while the printed version, referring to the feared imposition of Church of England ceremonies, said “to Go backward unto those Things which we knew, have openly Testified…to be not of GOD, and which we departed from, will be such a Wickedness as the Lord’s JEALOUSY will not bear withal,” Prince added from the manuscript: “& Hence for our Civil Government to put forth any act of Consent thereto would be a Thing to be Trembled at.” That this was an important line is confirmed by John Higginson’s quote in his 1663 election sermon: “And for our Civil Government to put forth any act of consent unto either of the former, would be a thing to be trembled at, and Prayed against, that the Lord would keep them from.”[2] In the case of any attempt by England to extend the Act of Uniformity to the colonies, the Massachusetts General Court should hold its ground.

Prince's annotations on Jonathan Mitchell's sermon
Example of Thomas Prince’s annotations on Jonathan Mitchell’s sermon

Mitchell’s 1662 language provides essential context for the 1664-1665 petition campaigns, when colonists in at least a dozen towns pledged support for the Massachusetts government in its decision to resist the demands of the new regime. From studying the extant town petitions, I had realized that the 1664 petition from Cambridge – Mitchell’s hometown –  was probably the first. Colonists had many reasons to oppose any English move toward arbitrary rule, and they were not the only ones to do so. But Mitchell’s understanding of the liberties of self-government as instituted by Christ as well as by the king provided one colonial language for resistance, the stronger version of which has been preserved both by Prince and the MHS.

Read an article in The New England Quarterly written by Adrian Chastain Weimer that uses the Society’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle.

[1] Kenneth Minkema, “Prince, Thomas,” ANB. Prince identifies the writer of 1722 preface as W. Cooper.

[2] John Higginson, The Cause of God and His People in New England (Cambridge [Mass.], 1663], 14.