Guide to the Collection
This collection consists of the papers of John Davis Long (1838-1915), 28th governor of Massachusetts, Congressman, and Secretary of the Navy, and contains material on Massachusetts politics and government, the temperance issue, the United States Navy, and the Spanish-American War.
Born in Buckfield, Maine, on October 27, 1838, John Davis Long was the son of Zadoc Long (1800-1873), a farmer and trader of prominence, and Julia Temple Davis Long, a descendant of Dolor Davis (1593-1673), who emigrated to Massachusetts from Kent, England, in 1634. After preparing at Hebron Academy in Maine, Long went on to Harvard, where, often homesick and uncomfortable, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated second in his class in 1857.
From 1857 to 1859, Long tried teaching and, for a time, served as principal of Westford Academy in Massachusetts, before shifting his focus to a legal career. From 1860 to 1861, he studied law at Harvard Law School and in the Boston offices of Sidney Bartlett (1799-1889) and Peleg W. Chandler (1816-1889). Following his admission to the bar in 1861, he returned to Maine to begin practice. Two years later, however, a more self-assured and ambitious John Davis Long made his way back to Boston.
Though maintaining an office in Boston, Long moved his residence to the South Shore community of Hingham, Mass., in 1869. In 1870, he married Mary Woodward Glover (1845-1882) and began to drift into politics. Associating mainly with civil service reform elements, Long supported Democratic and Liberal Republican candidates for office and himself ran as an independent for the state legislature before settling into the dominant regular Republican Party. Elected four times to the Massachusetts House of Representatives between 1874 and 1878, he became Speaker in 1876. He was considered a moderate figure who embraced the causes of temperance, prison reform, and women's suffrage. During this period, the Longs had two daughters: Margaret (1873-1957) and Helen (1875-1901).
In both 1877 and 1878, Long was a candidate for governor. He failed to capture the party nomination but accepted a consolation bid to run for lieutenant governor in 1878. After a single term in the lesser office, he was nominated for governor by the Republicans and defeated the colorful Democrat, Benjamin Franklin Butler (1818-1893), by 13,000 votes in a vituperative contest. He was re-elected by 52,000 votes in 1880 and won a third term in 1881.
In his journal, Long wrote that he "filled it [the governorship] well and honestly and not without grace and brilliancy." On the whole, his administration was thought to have been efficient but largely uneventful. He practiced retrenchment in the area of state finance and did his best to preserve Republican Party unity for his three years in office. He occasionally showed an awareness of corporate abuses and labor unrest but, in the manner of the times, took no strong, potentially divisive stands on these issues.
Mary Woodward Glover Long died in 1882. That same year, Long was elected to Congress from the Second District of Massachusetts and remained a member of the House until 1889. He served ably, but without real distinction, as a member of the Appropriations, Commerce, and Shipping Committees. During his stay in Congress, he became a close friend of future president William McKinley (1843-1901) of Ohio. Long married Agnes Peirce (1860-1934) in 1886, and the following year, their son Peirce Long (1887-1941) was born.
Seeking more national stature, Long ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate in 1883 and 1887, but, in the 1880s and 1890s, found himself increasingly in the shadow of a younger, more forceful Massachusetts figure, Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924), who, after distinguishing himself as a Representative, maneuvered his way into the Senate in 1892.
After eight years out of the political limelight, President McKinley appointed Long Secretary of the Navy in 1897. Long's plan was to direct departmental affairs in a general fashion, leaving details in the hands of the entrenched bureau chiefs, and to restrain his overzealous Assistant Secretary, Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), whom he regarded as something of a "bull in a china shop." Despite occasional differences of opinion, the conservative, small-navy Secretary got on well with the impetuous, large-navy assistant and was sorry to see him go off to war in 1898.
After the Navy's successful performance in the Spanish-American War, Long was considered a leading candidate to become McKinley's vice-presidential running mate in 1900. However, at the GOP convention, Long confronted the ambitions of Lodge and Roosevelt. In the end, Lodge helped obtain the nomination for his New York friend over Bay State favorite son Long.
With McKinley's assassination in 1901 and Roosevelt's succession to the presidency, Long decided to leave the cabinet, because his powers had been derived from McKinley and he was uncomfortable under his former subordinate. After resigning in 1902, Long, an accomplished writer, fashioned a series of historical, partly autobiographical articles which were later published as The New American Navy.
The sociable, cultivated Long spent his last years primarily in Hingham. He served as president of the Harvard Board of Overseers from 1902 to 1914 and as vice president of the Massachusetts Historical Society from 1914 to 1915. He also wrote poetry, an avocation since boyhood, and lent his name to the causes of world peace and the abolition of capital punishment. He died on August 28, 1915.
The papers of John Davis Long span the years 1820-1943 and consist of 76 boxes of loose manuscripts and 148 bound volumes of letterbooks, journals, and scrapbooks. The bulk of the collection is made up of Long's professional correspondence while serving as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, lieutenant governor and governor of Massachusetts, U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts, and Secretary of the Navy under William McKinley during the Spanish-American War. Subjects covered in the correspondence include: political patronage, elections and appointments, taxation and commerce, temperance, prison reform, and naval operations and preparedness. Supplementing this correspondence are several scrapbooks detailing Long's public career.
The collection also contains Long's private journals, written from 1848 to 1915, as well as some of his personal correspondence and creative works. A lifelong writer, Long penned many poems, articles, stories, and plays.
The last series in the collection is dedicated to the papers of other family members and includes the journals and correspondence of Long's father, Zadoc Long; scrapbooks belonging to his daughters Margaret and Helen; the writings of his son Peirce; and photographs and genealogical material.
Gift of the Long family.
Detailed Description of the Collection
I. Correspondence, 1840-1929
This series consists of incoming correspondence. Outside of a smattering of family and legal correspondence, 1863-1874, and a single family letter from 1929, the bulk of material found in these boxes relates to Long's public career, 1874-1902.
Among the more notable correspondents represented in the collection are: Charles Francis Adams II (1835-1915), George S. Boutwell (1818-1905), Gamaliel Bradford (1863-1932), William E. Chandler (1835-1917), John Hay (1838-1905), Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823-1911), George Frisbie Hoar (1826-1904), Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924), Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), Moorfield Storey (1845-1929), and naval luminaries George E. Belknap (1832-1903), French Ensor Chadwick (1844-1919), George Dewey (1837-1917), Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914), Bowman H. McCalla (1844-1910), William T. Sampson (1840-1902), and Winfield S. Schley (1839-1909).
A. Undated correspondence
B. Legislative correspondence, 1863-1878
C. Lieutenant gubernatorial correspondence, 1879
D. Gubernatorial correspondence, 1880-1882
This subseries contains gubernatorial correspondence, including important material on political patronage and occasionally on such subjects as state elections, railroads, taxation, and the temperance and prison reform issues.
E. Congressional correspondence, 1882-1896
This subseries contains congressional correspondence, including letters discussing federal patronage, pensions, and other constituency matters, as well as, to some extent, the issues of civil service reform, interstate commerce, and a tax on whiskey.
F. Naval correspondence, 1897-1905
This subseries largely concerns Long's tenure as Secretary of the Navy. In addition to standard bureaucratic matters, this correspondence deals with preparedness, naval operations during the Spanish-American War, Cuba, the Philippines, and the Sampson-Schley controversy, in which the wartime conduct of Rear-Admiral Winfield Scott Schley was called into question.
G. Miscellaneous correspondence, 1840-1929
II. Bound volumes, 1848-1922
A. Political and legal letterbooks, 1879-1897
This subseries consists of bound letterbooks, mostly dating from Long's years as lieutenant governor and governor. Volumes 2-5 contain Long's incoming personal and official correspondence as lieutenant governor. The more important letters deal with party politics, patronage, and temperance. Volumes 7-14 likewise contain a mixture of Long's personal and public correspondence while governor. Subjects covered range from official appointments and railroad reform to Long's poetry. Volume 15 contains a substantial collection of his letters to his second wife, Agnes Peirce Long.
B. Naval letterbooks, 1897-1902
This subseries contains letterbooks dating from Long's tenure as Secretary of the Navy. These volumes have been divided into three groups according to their original Navy Department designations: "Personal" (P) letterbooks, "Personal Official" (PO) letterbooks, and "Other Offices" (OO) letterbooks. The original numbers of the volumes are noted in parentheses.
Personal (P) letterbooks, 1897-1902
These letterbooks contain copies of letters concerning family and friends, personal invitations, home mortgages, etc.
Personal Official (PO) letterbooks, 1897-1902
These letterbooks contain Long's Navy correspondence.
Other Offices (OO) letterbooks, 1897-1902
These letterbooks contain copies of communications with other departments of the federal government, as well as with Massachusetts and Boston city officials.
C. Private journals, 1848-1915
This subseries consists of Long's numerous private journals. Volumes 64-77 are handwritten and contain his frequent jottings, including examples of his poetry. Volumes 78-84 are typewritten copies of his journal, with a number of letters to his wife Agnes and to his children, Helen, Margaret, and Peirce Long. Volume 85 contains both handwritten and typed pages. Volumes 86-88, written by hand, are sporadic reflections upon his last years, 1906-1915. The original numbers of the volumes are noted in parentheses.
D. Miscellaneous volumes, 1860-1863
E. Scrapbooks, 1856-1922
Most of the scrapbooks in this subseries concern Long's public career.
III. Family papers, 1820-1943
A. Zadoc Long, 1820-1873
This subseries contains the journals and letterbooks of Long's father, Zadoc Long, which chronicle life in Buckfield, Maine, and detail the views of a rural American on the issues of the day. Also included in this subseries is one account book of Zadoc Long's trading firm, Loring & Long, dating from 1853 to 1871, which also contains some of his poetic offerings. The original numbers of the volumes are noted in parentheses.
B. John Davis Long, 1856-1892
This subseries consists of John Davis Long's notebooks, including a short story, handwritten volumes of his poetry, an account of the activities of the Scituate Sardines beach club, 1857-1885, Long's translation of Sophocles' Edipus, and a draft of his 1882 gubernatorial inaugural address.
Note: The volume was formerly an 1857 account book of Zadoc Long and contains notations on some of his transactions.
C. Helen Long, 1895-1901
D. Margaret Long, 1915-1923
This subseries consists of a scrapbook of obituaries and other biographical material on John Davis Long. The scrapbook belonged to his daughter, Margaret Long, a physician and author.
E. Peirce Long, 1927-1943
This subseries contains some papers of John Davis Long's son, Peirce, a New England lawyer who, like his father, harbored literary ambitions. Also included in this subseries is a draft of From the Journal of Zadoc Long, edited by Peirce Long.
F. Long family, 1880-1943
G. Miscellany, 1889-1905
Persis Seaver (Long) Bartlett (1828-1893) was John D. Long's sister. Included is information on the Bartlett family, the death of Persis's son Percy, and her travels in the U.S. and abroad.
John Davis Long papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.
Materials Removed from the Collection
Photographs from this collection have been removed to the John Davis Long photographs, 1899-1918. Photo. Coll. 500.55.