In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution for his support against the British, sat in seclusion in France. He had been at odds with the French establishment since Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1824, the American Congress passed a resolution inviting then-President Monroe to invite Lafayette to tour the States. Lafayette first arrived in New York, but traveled throughout the country to great fanfare. In Boston, he was greeted on the Common in “an occasion of special splendor, with a military review followed by a dinner for 1200 people under a marquee erected for the event.”
A few years ago Peter Stevens spent some time with The Dorcester Beacon’s papers printed in and around the turn of 1926 to 1927, now 84 years gone. He published his finds in the Dorchester Reporter, among them a set of the New Year’s wishes published on New Year’s Day, 1927. The editors’ communal resolutions for the city for the new year included:
“That some of our advertisers have recovered from their writer’s cramp and can send us a check.
“That the Dorchester Board of Trade in 1927 will accomplish something that will benefit the community.
“That the Boston Elevated Railroad will someday be able to adjust its car service to the satisfaction of everyone, particularly at the Andrew Square Station, where things are getting worse.”That the police department will speedily cope with the so-called crime wave, which may exist in some places, but not in Dorchester.
“That motorists using Dorchester Avenue (which has been known as Death Avenue) will remember that little children will cross a street at anytime. The same thing holds true on all other Dorchester streets.
“That business conditions locally will improve, thus filling up the hundreds of vacant stores in the district.
“That our newly elected public officials will this year accomplish something worthwhile on Beacon Hill. Even a graphaphone can say ‘Yes’ and ‘No.’”
The original God and Country Parade took place on the Columbus Day following the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912, or the “Bread and Roses” strike (excellent summary here). The original strike at the end of the year was followed by months of unrest, with a mass demonstration walk-out at the end of September.
In a demonstration by members of the IWW, with the slogan “No God, No Master,” disgruntled workers had trampled an American flag. In response, Lawrence’s Mayor Scanlan began the God and Country campaign, with the parade as its centerpiece. Town leaders called for residents to wear flags in their button holes.
Bruce Watson asserts in his book Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, that the strike went largely unmentioned for two generations, and says that newspaper accounts of the 1962 anniversary missed several of its most pro-striker details, telling the story as one about outside Communist agitators.
A candidate for Senate, one Edward Kennedy appeared in the 1962 Parade to campaign.
The Boston Globe announced this week that it will launch separate paid and free editions on the web. I thought that in recent history, the paper’s parent company tried this strategy, and it didn’t work, but I guess that’s in the past.
Way back when, Boston was a print paper town.
Al Murphy, who grew up in Savin Hill, Dorchester, many years ago worked as a lawyer for the Boston Post. He recalls the newspapers of his hometown in Not So Long Ago: Oral Histories of Older Bostonians, collected by Lawrence Elle in 1980.
Nobody reads newspapers like people in Boston. I don’t care, you go to Hartford, Connecticut, you go to any city where they got a newspaper–if you asked “Where can I get a paper?” they’d say go to a hotel or go to the railroad station. But in Boston, tehy were everywhere: in front of Filene’s, in the streets in Dorchester, all over, the kids were yelling “Globe, Post, American!” Then there was the Christrian Science Monitor, right here in Boston, probably one of the greatest newspapers in the world. All of these newspapers were in Boston. People in Boston read newspapers. That’s why I think this is the most educated city in the country. You could meet somebody on Dover street and they’d mention something and say, “I read it in the paper today.” You can’t say that about any other town. You go anyplace, they don’t read newspapers. That’s why Boston had those, how many did I say, those five papers in 1928. They had the Journal-American, they had the Globe, the Traveller, the Monitor and the leading paper was the Boston Post. And they all made money.
Now the Post was the “official” newspaper. Every birth, death an’ marriage at that time had to be recorded in a newspaper. You couldn’t get married unless it was listed. I guess that’s been done away with, but it was a pleasure to work as a lawyer for the Post because it had the covered. We broke the Ponzi case and we had Eddie Dunn, probably the best newspaperman in the City of Boston. That’s why the Post was so highly regarded. It was the fourth leading morning newspaper in the country. It was the breakfast paper. You’d get up in the morning and the first thing you did was “reach for the Boston Post.“
After more than a hundred years, the Post folded in 1956.
We’ve got all the reading you need to make it through primary day. Advice to vote by.
Eat well. I see absolutely no reason a history blog can’t dig into its own archives. And so, for primary day, you can eat cake, again, election day cake.
Vote wisely. The Smithsonian has a fantastic history of ballot technology (paper to touch screen) with some tremendous images in its online exhibition: Vote.
Think deeply. PhD Octopus has quite a historiography on a small town election — when Frederick Douglass ran for membership in the transcendentalist debate society strangely called the “Town and Country Club.”
Reflect piously. Wall Builders has the text of an election sermon preached by the Reverend Foster before his Excellency John Hancock, Esq. Governour, His Honor Sam Adams Lieutenant Governor, et cetera on election day, 1790. A site with an agenda, but what an interesting document.
Follow through thoroughly. And Digital Commonwealth has some fascinating old election legislation, including a choice 1961 document on what to do if your ballot box is full.
As part of a massive program of urban renewal in Boston in the 1960s, one plot of houses in the South End was demolished and replaced with a parking lot. 100 families were displaced. The parking lot became a prime location for a protest against the large-scale displacement of primarily minority tenants by commercial developments. Weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, between 100 and 400 hundred occupied the lot. They lived there in temporary shelters for three days, playing music and grilling burgers, until they were finally disbanded by renewed police pressures.
However, their initiative bore belated fruit, won with a lot more effort. The organization, CAUSE which had led the effort, received renewed attention and funding to pursue equitable housing policy. The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) showed signs of new interest in affordable housing and lead-organizer Mel King was elected to the Massachusetts House in 1972. The Task Force eventually became the Tent City Corporation, which finally completed this memorable, mixed-income housing development on the site on top of a parking lot. Notably, the project continues as a mixed-income development today.
Found sandwiched between an obituary of a retired Watertown shipmaster and politician and a petition for a new railway in Dedham: a report on a man arrested for stealing squash from a Newton establishment.
Michael Calnan, spotted at “Frank Brigg’s place” making off with “the squash he wanted” encountered a policeman walking away. He abandoned his sack in a culvert. Recovered, it was discovered Calnan was a repeat offender. The sack contained ‘a number of squashes.’ Also copper railroad joints.
The Lowell Offering was published between 1840 and 1845 by women working in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts. Organized by the Reverend Abel Charles Thomas, The Offering was arguably, according to Thomas, the “first magazine or journal written exclusively by women in all the world,” collecting reportage, humor, and fiction. Charles Dickens famously visited the Lowell Mills in 1842 and included this very positive account of the home and intellectual life of mill workers in his American Notes. He says of The Offering that its content “compare[s] advantageously with a great many English Annuals.”
The October 1940 edition begins with the ‘History of a Hemlock Broom: written by itself’ (“I grew daily more thin and bare and was at length thought fit for nothing but to sweep the back-room and door-steps. By and by, I was taken to brush out the heated oven, and this I could not long survive.”)
A recent blog post I can’t seem to recover argued how all young women in historical fiction are well ahead of their time in attitudes and behavior–unrealistically and perhaps unhelpfully so. Instructive reading on that point is, “Women’s Proper Sphere.”
And then, for further interesting reading, there’s ‘A Letter About Old Maids.’
MR. EDITOR: — I am one of that unlucky, derided, and almost despised set of females, called spinsters, single sisters, lay-nuns, &c : but who are more usually known by the appellation of Old Maids.
This woman, whose name is Betsey, goes on to write:
I have always had, and still retain, a great respect for the marriage state, and for thsoe of my friends who, from right motives, have entered into it. I believe, what I presume will not here be doubted, that it is an institution ordained by the All-wise Disposer of human affairs, for the promotion of the happiness of mankind in general: but I think it was a part of that wise design, that there should be Old Maids.
Besides being useful and necessary as a comfort to parents, Betsey beats out other terrain for Old Maids. Her cohort provides support to married sisters and become the pillars of social and moral causes.
But all this reasoning in favor of them goes directly against old bachelors, for I do not see that they are either useful or necessary, at least not more useful for remaining single, (present company always excepted–) and had they been needed, more males would have been allowed to arrive at the age of bachelorhood.
Girls leading the Memorial Day procession in Chicopee, Massachusetts, May 31, 1920.
On this memorial day, the town unveiled a monument “In Memorium of the World War.” Note the “the,” with no expectations of a second World War in 1920.
Massachusetts has hosted some fine parades in its day. A huge collection of beautiful photos in the Digital Commonwealth project.
Neil Gaiman just brought the story of the arrest of Igor Stravinsky in Boston for tampering with national anthem to BoingBoing.
The details: Modernist composer Igor Stravinsky actually arranged the Star Spangled Banner four different ways, but fell afoul of Massachusetts Law in 1940, when the work was performed by the Boston Symphony. An account from The Washington Post:
[A]fter the first performance, which left the audience “stunned into bewildered silence,” Boston cops showed up at a later concert to make sure he didn’t repeat the offense.
Stravinsky published a score of the anthem in 1941, waiving his performance fees.
You can listen to a sample to his version here. It also turns out there’s a whole genre of newspaper articles examining reinterpretations of national anthems published around a translation of ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ into Spanish in 2006. Besides The Washington Post‘s edition, The New York Times version, penned by Rebecca Skloot, and there’s my personal favorite, ‘Oy Vey, can you see…‘ from The Boston Globe.