This Week @ MHS
Attention Researchers: The library of the MHS will be closing at 4:00pm on Wednesday, 29 May, and at 3:00pm on Thursday, 30 May. Please excuse any inconvenience.
As summer unofficially begins this week, exhibitions officially close here at the Society. Thank you to all who visited 1154 Boylston to learn about abolitionism, slavery, and Emancipation over the past couple of months. Stay tuned for more information about upcoming exhibitions.
Now, with the beautiful week on tap outside, why not consider taking a walk to the MHS for a public program this week? On Wednesday, 28 May 2013, pack yourself a lunch and come by for a brown bag lunch talk. Beginning at noon, Heather Cooper of the University of Iowa presents "Confiscated Voices: representing the slave experience during the American Civil War." In this talk, Ms. Cooper will explore the ways in which contraband men and women - runaway slaves who fled to the Union during the Civil War - enacted their own representation of their changing status and slave experience and through everyday performance in the contraband camps, challenging competing representations of race, gender, and slavery in the process. This view is contrasted with the pervasive references to "contraband" in the press, on stage, and in political cartoons which suggested that "contraband" became the primary representation of slavery and slaves during the Civil War. Brown Bag lunch talks are free and open to the public.
Then, on Wednesday evening beginning at 6:00pm, the MHS will host a special musical performance by the Boston Saxophone Quartet. "Sounds of the Civil War" will feature familiar tunes from the 1860s that were sung around the parlor piano, as well as songs written specifically for the newest instrument in the era: the saxophone. Included will be musical performances and historical commentary on the selected pieces. Members of the Boston Saxophone Quartet have performed with the Boston Pops, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and leading Broadway theaters throughout New England. Conductor and instrumentalist Peter Cokkinias, Professor at neighboring Berklee College of Music, has served for over 30 seasons as Music Director/Conductor of the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra; has conducted the Boston Ballet and Boston Pops; and has performed with the Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Ballet, and Cincinnati, Hartford, Pittsburgh, and Boston Symphony Orchestras. Registration is required with a fee for this event. Free for MHS Fund Giving Circle members. Please contact the education department for more information at email@example.com.
Finally, on Saturday, 1 June, stop by the MHS for a free tour. The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led tour that explores the public rooms of the Society's home on Boylston St. and touches on the history and collections of the MHS. The tour is free and open to the public and begins at 10:00am. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups but parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending the tour. For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley, at 617-646-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
| Published: Tuesday, 28 May, 2013, 8:31 AM
Lodge, Kennedy, and the 1952 Massachusetts Senate Election
By Emilie Haertsch, Publications
Massachusetts will hold a special election on June 25 to fill the United States senate seat left vacant by John Kerry, whom President Obama appointed to Secretary of State in February. The recent primary determined that the contest will be between Republican former Navy SEAL Gabriel Gomez and Democratic Congressman Ed Markey. Having just survived an extremely contentious senate race in the fall, in which Senator Elizabeth Warren emerged the victor, many Massachusetts residents now suffer from election fatigue. But this is not the first time that the state has faced hard-fought battles for these senate seats. Over 50 years ago, John F. Kennedy, then a Democratic congressman, contested incumbent Republican Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. for his senate seat. What many believed would be an easy win for the popular Lodge turned into a tight race, and eventually an upset.
Lodge was a moderate and he was concerned about the conservative movement he saw developing in his party. The Republican frontrunner for the 1952 presidential election was Sen. Robert Taft, a conservative and isolationist who opposed NATO. Concerned about the possibility of Taft winning election, Lodge and a number of other Republicans convinced Dwight D. Eisenhower, a popular war hero, to run against him in the Republican primary. At a heated Republican National Convention, complete with accusations of “stolen delegates” on both sides, Eisenhower won the nomination and went on to a national campaign against Democratic governor Adlai Stevenson. Lodge became the manager for the “Eisenhower-for-President” campaign, a major impediment to his own reelection campaign at home in Massachusetts.
With Lodge often away and focused on Eisenhower’s election, Kennedy took advantage of the opportunity for an intensive ground campaign in Massachusetts. He used his candidacy announcement on April 7, 1952 to attack Lodge, saying, “Other states have vigorous leaders in the United States Senate to defend the interests of their citizens - men who have definite goals based on constructive principles and who move towards these goals unswerving. Massachusetts has need of such leadership.” Kennedy also accused Lodge of being too often absent from Massachusetts while working for Eisenhower.
In response, Lodge criticized Kennedy’s roll call record in Congress, with the slogan: “Would you hire a man who came to work one third of the time? Reelect Lodge! Lodge is on the job!” Lodge also called Kennedy a “rubber stamp…for the White House” in an October 17, 1952 speech on WBZ-TV. Lodge emphasized his moderate beliefs, saying he has “struggled hard and publicly against reactionary elements in both parties.” He even employed jingles as a way of drumming up support, including one to the tune of “Doin’ What Comes Naturally” from Annie Get Your Gun:
He fills the bill on Capitol Hill
In Washington down yonder
He serves with skill and dignity
Doin’ what comes naturally!
Doin’ what comes naturally!
Despite Lodge’s efforts, Kennedy ran a stronger campaign at home by making many appearances across Massachusetts. He also mobilized the large Irish immigrant population in the state, and his strong ties in Boston also caused Lodge to lose ground there. On Election Day in November 1952, Lodge lost by a narrow margin.
In his concession speech, Lodge thanked the people of Massachusetts for electing him three times to the senate seat, and congratulated Kennedy and wished him well. Privately, however, the loss was a great blow. In an angry letter on Dec. 7, 1952, Quincy resident Willie James summed up his feelings about Lodge and what might have led to his loss: “There are thousands like myself in Massachusetts, always voted for you and your family but now good and sick of your actions…You have work to do in your own backyard.”
With Lodge’s great loss, however, came a great victory. Eisenhower was elected president. Lodge received many consolation letters on his senate defeat, and one theme was strong throughout. Philip Schlossberg wrote on November 5, 1952, “We feel that in [getting Eisenhower elected] you neglected your own chances for reelection with the U.S. Senate.” Many also believed that Lodge would earn an appointment from Eisenhower for his part in the presidential campaign. John Mason Brown wrote in a Western Union telegram, “You have fought your share in the general’s victory and the services you have rendered the country. Here’s to more of those services when you will be the best secretary of state or defense American has had.” This notion was correct, and when Eisenhower entered office he named Lodge U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Kennedy’s senate election led to a great family political dynasty in the state of Massachusetts, one which still continues today, while it contributed to the decline of the Lodge family’s influence in Massachusetts politics. How the current upcoming special election for the Massachusetts senate seat will change the course of state history is yet to be determined. To learn more about the 1952 Massachusetts senate race, view the guide for the Henry Cabot Lodge Papers in the Society’s collections.
| Published: Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 1:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
As we approach the long Memorial Day weekend, there is a lull in the activity here at the MHS. There are no public programs scheduled this week. However, this is your last chance to view our three current exhibitions concerning slavery, abolition, and Emancipation in Massachusetts. The exhibits will be available every day this week, Monday-Friday, 10:00am-4:00pm, and are free to the public. The final day of the exhibits is Friday, 24 May. After that, we will make way for our next installment: "The Object of History: 18th-century treasures from the Massachusetts Historical Society." Stay tuned for more information or visit our online calendar of events.
And please take note that the Society will be closed this Saturday, 25 May, and Monday, 27 May, in observance of the Memorial Day holiday. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, 28 May. Enjoy the long weekend!
| Published: Monday, 20 May, 2013, 8:00 AM
Last Chance to Visit Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land
By Jim Connolly, Publications
Boston enjoys a reputation for its role in the founding of the United States. That reputation is well deserved, but the American Revolution was hardly the last time Boston figured significantly in a radical and righteous cause.
In the decades leading up to the Civil War, Boston became a center of the national antislavery movement. In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, a key figure in the movement, began the publication of The Liberator, the country’s leading abolitionist newspaper. On the first page of the first issue (1 January 1831), Garrison fired a bold volley against not only proslavery attitudes, but apathy and arguments for a cautious and gradual approach to abolition. “Urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch.—AND I WILL BE HEARD.”
William Lloyd Garrison and several other prominent Boston abolitionists are the subjects of the Society’s current exhibition, Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land": Boston Abolitionists, 1831–1865. Manuscripts, portraits, broadsides, and artifacts from the MHS collections illustrate the role of Massachusetts in the national struggle over slavery. Among the most fantastic objects on display are John Brown’s Colt revolver, first editions of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, and the imposing table on which Garrison set the type for The Liberator, which has not been displayed at the Society in many years.
The exhibition closes Friday, 24 May 2013, so come down to 1154 Boylston Street as soon as you can. It’s free and open to the public from 10 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Saturday.
And for those who can’t make it to Boston, you can explore the exhibition’s companion web feature, Boston Abolitionists, 1831–1865.
| Published: Friday, 17 May, 2013, 10:00 AM
Massachusetts History Day: Young Historians at Work
By Anna J. Cook, Reader Services
On Saturday, April 6 -- one of the first truly spring-like days of the year -- I left my apartment before dawn to make my coffee-clutching way, along with several Massachusetts Historical Society colleagues, to Stoneham High School. What were we doing at a high school so early on a Saturday morning? We were there to serve as volunteer judges for the state round of the annual Massachusetts History Day competition. We were there to celebrate young historians at work crafting history.
This was my second year volunteering as a judge for Massachusetts History Day (MHD). Beginning in 2012, the MHS has co-sponsored MHD alongside the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies. MHD is the state affiliate of National History Day, an annual competition that encourages middle and high school students to undertake extensive primary-source based research on a topic related to the annual theme and build a historical argument in one of five categories: research paper, exhibition, performance, documentary, and website. Beginning in the fall (or even over summer vacation), young people embark upon their research, either individually or in groups, narrow their topic, craft a thesis, and eventually design a final project. Some face an initial in-school round before moving on to the district level competition, in early March, where the top two entries in each category move on to state. State winners will travel to the national competition in June.
On the day of the district and state competitions, students come before a panel of volunteer judges to present and discuss their hard work, after which each group of judges is faced with the difficult task of selecting the two best projects to advance to the next round -- as well as awarding honorable mentions and special prizes.
As a judge, my favorite part of each round is the chance, on the competition day, to meet with each student or student group to talk with them about their research. It is often in these conversations that the young person’s excitement about their topic and their depth of knowledge come to the fore. There is nothing that warms my historian’s heart quite so much as the opportunity to see a teenager’s eyes light up as she talks about the direction she’d like to take her work in the future, or when he describes the discovery of a key primary source.
This year we had projects ranging across time and space, all touching upon the annual theme of “turning points”: students tackled topics ranging from the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 to the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring, from the fall of apartheid in South Africa to the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
One of my favorite things about working as a reference librarian at the MHS is the opportunity to work with scholars at all stages of their research, from initial question to final footnote. Every year, young people visit our library to work on MHD topics; as a reference librarian I get to help them refine their research questions and locate primary source materials. As a History Day judge, I get to see the fruits of their hard work on competition day.
The 1st and 2nd place project winners from the Massachusetts History Day state competition will be traveling to the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, June 9-13 to participate in the national contest along with winners from across the country. We are proud to have our young scholars and their fine work represent Massachusetts and wish them the best of luck (and lots of fun!) while they are there.
| Published: Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 12:00 AM