Colonial Society of Massachusetts Annual Publications Report 2010
Delivered by John Tyler
2010 was surely the year of Josiah Quincy! After the printing in late 2009 of the final two volumes of Vice-President Dan Coquillette’s five-volume series The Major Political and Legal Writings of Josiah Quincy Jr., the good times began to roll. Most notable was the special session of the Supreme Judicial Court where Dan presented a copy of his work to the justices. CSM guests were privileged (after going through the obligatory metal detectors and security checks) to have an inside look at the recently-restored John Adams Court House. Following welcoming remarks by President Don Friary and a reflection on Quincy by Dan himself, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall concluded with a moving address. I quote just a few lines from her coda:
Constitutional democracy is living democracy. It presumes an ever-changing world. Justice has no pinnacle. Its work is never done. “Justice, justice you shall pursue,” commands Deuteronomy. We do not know what tomorrow’s work of justice will demand. We do know that Josiah Quincy and his peers . . . ., seeded in Massachusetts perhaps the best system ever devised to make possible a just society where all people are free and equal. Trials by jury, not mob violence. Judges and lawyers restrained by rules of law and rules of professional ethics. A legal system that provides for both stability and change, that permits for self-correction when new facts and circumstances arise. A legal system that is a model for free societies everywhere.
After our day in court, we then went to the Massachusetts Historical Society to celebrate even more. The MHS is, of course, the owner of the Quincy Family Papers, and our Fellow Member Peter Drummey, the Librarian there, had arranged a magnificent exhibition of not only the journals and notebooks that Dan had so painstakingly transcribed, but also a variety of related paintings, newspapers, maps and engravings. That night Dan pointed out to the attendees that his Quincy project was not mere antiquarianism or hagiography, but rested on the cutting edge of history writing as it is practiced in the early 21st century, since it was diachronic, prosopographical microhistory. What might that mean? The choice between synchronic and diachronic, Dan defines as the choice between events viewed in isolation versus those rich in context. Microhistory versus macrohistory, Dan describes as “focused and accurate versus sweeping and wrong.” Prosopography translates as collective biography.
Amidst all the richly deserved hullabaloo about Josiah Quincy, we don’t want to overlook that the Colonial Society also published another book this year. In the spring we produced An Outsider’s Inside View: Henry Hulton and the American Revolution, the work of Fellow Member Neil York of Brigham Young University, Dan’s co-editor in the Quincy series. Neil had been waiting patiently for several years for the Hulton project to rise to the top of the queue among the CSM’s various publication endeavors. For those of you who have not yet had a chance to dip into its pages, I recommend it most highly. There you will learn that Loyalists were absolutely convinced that had not fighting broken out on the 19th of April 1775, Patriot terrorists would have detonated a bomb beneath an assembly room in Boston where all of the official civil and military establishment of Massachusetts was planning to assemble on St. George’s Day (April 23rd) at a ball hosted Brigadier General Lord Percy, commander of the 5th Regiment of Foot and the eldest son of the Duke of Northumberland. (Then as now, apparently, Boston society was quick to turn out if a titled Englishman was sure to be at the party!) But plans for the soiree were “overtaken by circumstance” since a bunch of “embattled farmers” had given official Boston other things to think about earlier in the week.
The core of the Henry Hulton volume is his manuscript history of the American Revolution owned by the Princeton University Library. It describes events in Boston since his arrival as one of His Majesty’s Board of Customs Commissioners in 1767 through his departure in March 1776 when he left for Halifax along with the rest of Howe’s army and many fellow Loyalists. Not only does Hulton’s history provide one of the best descriptions of life in Boston during the siege of 1775-1776, but it is also enriched with a number of asides concerning the characters of leading patriots. For example, consider his attitude toward Benjamin Franklin: “This arch-traitor! This most atrocious of men. . . A man in the confidence and service of the Government, deceiving Administration, working himself into the favor of Men of Science by his Philosophy and deluding well disposed people at home, whilst he was fomenting the flames of rebellion in America.” That’s just a taste of Henry Hulton.
Around the first of the year I hope to receive a completed manuscript from co-editors Gigi Barnhill and Martha McNamara, who have been working most assiduously on the proceedings of the “Fields of Vision” Conference, which we cosponsored with the American Antiquarian Society in 2007. Since the conference marked the inauguration of the Antiquarian Society’s Center for Historic American Visual Culture, which “facilitates the use and understanding of popular images by scholars and their students in many disciplines — American studies, history, art history, and literature,” the essays in the volume are rich in variety. They examine map cartouches, codfish bones, funeral rituals, ivory miniatures, and a famous automaton of a “talking woman” who stupefied and puzzled early nineteenth century New Englanders. I’m sure we all look forward to reacquainting ourselves with this material which we first heard that November day in Worcester.
Reviewers often comment on the way Colonial Society books are printed and bound, almost as if it were a crime to produce quite so handsome a book in the era of e-books and print-on-demand. Writing in the spring 2010 issue of the New England Quarterly in a review of The Correspondence of John Cotton Jr., Jenny Pulsipher wrote, “The Colonial Society of Massachusetts seems to have spared no expense in printing this volume. The print is large, the paper thick, and the margins generous.” Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our books need to be durable, but I would also like to think that the elegance of their design lives up to the tradition of some of our earlier volumes printed by D. B. Updike, Fred Anthoesen, or the Stinehour Press. [Let the secretary note that here the speaker made a digression.] When researching the previous sentence, I turned to Toby Hall, whose love of fine printing is well known to many of you. Here’s what he wrote back:
John Wilson of the University Press, one of several excellent presses in
Cambridge, did the first 30 volumes. Then D. B. Updike printed Volumes
31-34. About the time he died, Walter Whitehill became Editor, and the business went
to Fred Anthoensen. I guess the Meriden Gravure Company came in at that
time for the illustrations, but the name doesn't appear on the verso of the
title page until later. The Print Conference volume was the first to be
printed offset because of the large number of illustrations. That's when
the Stinehour Press came in for typographic composition and design, with
Meriden doing the printing. I haven't checked all the subsequent volumes, but I think
for a while Meriden and Stinehour (and for a while Meriden-Stinehour)
produced the conference volumes and Anthoensen printed the documentary
volumes in letterpress with plates by Meriden. Thereafter, Walter Whitehill and Fritz
generally alternated between Anthoensen and Stinehour, wishing to help keep both presses going.
Please forgive the digression, but I thought that brief summary of the Society’s printing history was too
interesting not to read into the record, lest it be lost forever.
But to return to what I was going to say: we’re not just in the business of producing beautiful books, they need to be useful as well. CSM volumes have been essential tools for early American historians for over a century. If you doubt this, try to find a library copy in good condition of Vol. 9, the Checklist of New England Newspapers, or Vols. 29 and 30, the Suffolk County Court Records. I’m confident that with time a number of our recent volumes will be equally well thumbed. By providing new annotations for Josiah Quincy Jr.’s Reports of Cases Argued before the Superior Court, Dan Coquillette has opened up for those without legal training the meaning of an absolutely crucial source for the study of Boston’s legal culture in the decade before the Revolution. The papers of Francis Bernard are even more frequently quoted than Quincy’s Reports, and now scholars will no longer have to be buzzed into the sanctum sanctorum of Houghton Library to look at the Bernard Papers, but can read them at home in their studies, thanks to Colin Nicolson’s well-crafted volume. Our thousand-page volume of The Eighteenth Century Records of the Boston Overseers of the Poor is a milestone (I almost said a doorstop!) of social history. These are publications we can all be proud of, worthy to stand beside those of any learned society in America, and yet they are the work of the little Colonial Society, who by focusing its attention and limited funds on a very specific purpose manages steadily, year after year, to produce books of unsurpassed excellence thanks to the enthusiasm and uncompensated efforts of its editor-members like Dan, Neil, Colin, Gigi and Martha. I’m pleased to say that this coming January during the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, which this year meets in Boston, the Colonial Society will be sharing a booth with the New England Historic Genealogical Society in the Book Exhibit Hall so that we can display our wares before many of those people who might find them most useful.
In preparing my remarks for tonight, I began to wonder about previous annual dinners and what was said and done on those occasions. The first annual dinner, as opposed to the first annual meeting, was held on November 21, 1893 at half past five o’clock. That particular date was chosen in order to commemorate the signing of the Mayflower Compact two hundred and seventy-three years earlier. (Footnote: November 11 in the Julian Calendar would correspond to November 21 in the Gregorian Calendar.) So if you have ever wondered why it is that we meet on the third Thursday in November, there’s the explanation. (The reading at annual dinners of the Compact itself apparently did not begin until World War II and appears only to have been done at first when Samuel Eliot Morison there to read it.)
The first annual dinner was held at the Algonquin Club, 217 Commonwealth Ave. The assembled members heard an address by the President, Benjamin Apthorp Gould, reports from the Council, Treasurer, Auditing and Nominating Committees. None other than Bishop William Lawrence asked the blessing, and then, as now, there were no invited guests. By the next year, more speeches had crept in, along with extended toasts from the members. In 1898, the first invited guest appeared. The Council had been “moved by that family affection we all feel toward our elder sister, the Massachusetts Historical Society,” to invite Charles Francis Adams, the President of that organization to dine with the Society. By 1899, the event had moved to the University Club, the Presidents of the MHS, Massachusetts Chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati, and the American Antiquarian Society were all in attendance, and since the American Historical Society was, then as now, soon to meet in Boston, the Colonial Society voted to send an official delegation of three to the conference. Distinguished guests soon became a feature of the annual dinners, and often they were invited to address the Society once the tables were cleared. In 1939, we even heard Robert Frost read several of his poems.
Over the years, the Society dined most frequently at the Algonquin Club (51 times), where fittingly enough we dined two years ago after a half-century absence. The University Club was a distant second choice with only 12 dinners during the first fifty years of our existence. Once the Society had acquired a home of its own, the annual dinner was held here at 87 Mount Vernon Street for 20 years, before the event became too popular and needed to be moved to the Tavern Club. Our stay with the Taverners was a brief four years, before we settled at the Club of Odd Volumes. In the year 2000, the antediluvian attitudes of that organization toward women members caused us to go wandering in the wilderness, three years at the University Club, six at the Athenaeum, and once (as I mentioned before) at the Algonquin Club. I’m sure you are all eagerly awaiting our first ever meal at the Club, so I’ll stop the statistics and only show you a few menus from years past to whet your appetites!
Colonial Society Menus: 1903, 1926, & 1933
Colonial Society Menus: 1941, 1949 (cover only), 1956, & 1981
President’s report delivered by Donald R. Friary at the 118th Annual Meeting of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Thursday evening, November 18, 2010.
Thank you, John, for an enlightening and delightful report. We certainly have had major publications this year. Henry Hulton and the American Revolution: An Outsider’s Inside View is a handsomely designed and printed volume with a most attractive dust jacket. The writings of the royal Customs Commissioner and his sister, Ann Hulton, permit us to enter the Loyalist world during the siege of Boston. The final two volumes of Portrait of a Patriot: The Major Political and Legal Papers of Josiah Quincy Junior give us Quincy's notes of cases brought before Massachusetts Superior Court of Judicature from 1761 to 1772, a challenging period for all living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These cases illuminate our history and are of real use to the bench and bar in the 21st century for the precedents set in the 18th.
Josiah Quincy has received considerable attention and admiration in recent months. On June 8 Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts saluted our Quincy publication and its principal editor, Daniel Coquillette, in a memorable program at the John Adams Court House. The Chief Justice spoke with eloquence and conviction about the relevance of Quincy's reports in our own day. 150 invited guests--Colonial Society members, judges and lawyers, members of the Quincy family--gathered at the court house and repaired afterwards for refreshments and conversation to 87 Mount Vernon Street. For those who missed this wonderful occasion our webmaster Jim Baker has posted a report with excerpts at www.colonialsociety.org
On October 20 another salute to Josiah Quincy occurred at the Massachusetts Historical Society with the opening of an exhibition, Josiah Quincy: Lost Hero of the Revolution. Peter Drummey has selected from the extraordinary Quincy family holdings at the historical society manuscripts, printed books, paintings, and other artifacts that bring Josiah Quincy Junior and his milieu to life. The exhibition remains on view at the historical society until January 22, open Monday through Saturday from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I hope that you will stop to see it.
Our recent publications have presented divers views of the American Revolution, suggesting a symposium of our editors on the experiences and the thinking of Francis Bernard, Thomas Hutchinson, Henry Hulton, and Josiah Quincy. It would certainly give many of us new perspectives on the broad context of the Revolution. John Tyler has planned our Stated Meetings this year to focus also on the American Revolution with our new member Ben Carp of Tufts University on his recently issued book on the Boston Tea Party in December; Serena Zabin of Carleton College in February on the Boston Massacre; and in April "Cod and the Atlantic Origins of the American Revolution" with Christopher Magra of the University of Tennessee. This past year’s Stated Meetings expanded our horizons beyond the 60-mile radius of Resident Membership to the Connecticut Valley of western Massachusetts, in part to observe the 25th anniversary of the Great River exhibition. We heard Bill Hosley’s reflections on the Great River, Elisabeth Chilton’s search for the contact-period Pocumtuck Fort, and Richard Brown’s investigation of an 1806 Northampton murder case.
In May Vice-President Bob Allison organized a stimulating Graduate Students’ Forum with papers by nine young scholars from around the country on early American topics. There was lively discussion, which the graduate students found very useful. The day concluded with thoughtful remarks by Professor Michael Zuckerman of the University of Pennsylvania on his own career and the careers that the graduate student presenters were just beginning. This year the forum will be on June 17 and will feature Mary Beth Norton of Cornell University. We encourage you to make this forum known to your own graduate students and to other fledgling scholars so they can benefit from the dynamics of this occasion that brings graduate students together with peers and with experienced scholars, all of whom can comment on their work and suggest new paths to pursue.
Bob Allison is also working with a committee to bring the primary sources in our 2007 publication, The Eighteenth-Century Records of the Boston Overseers of the Poor, edited by Eric Nellis and Anne Decker Cecere, to the high school classroom. Colonial Society members Dean Eastman and Kevin McGrath are spearheading this effort that we anticipate will result in a teacher workshop next spring. This has great potential for engaging students and their teachers in early Massachusetts history at a local level that will have real meaning for them.
Celeste Walker as chair of our Membership Committee presented several nominations earlier this evening. Nominations are initiated by individual members, seconded, and then reviewed by the Membership Committee and by the Council. I encourage you to think of distinguished scholars in early Massachusetts history whom we should add to the membership rolls that began in 1892. I urge you especially to propose Non-Resident Members, scholars across the country and even around the world who have made significant contributions to our understanding of early Massachusetts.
We were very pleased in February to elect to honorary membership in the Colonial Society Pauline Maier and Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Although our first female member, Alice Bache Gould, elected in 1947, was an Honorary Member, we have not in recent years counted women among the fifteen Honorary Members for which our by-laws provide. The Membership Committee and the Council concluded that it was time to begin to correct this gender imbalance and transferred a long-serving, distinguished, and very active member to honorary status and elected a public figure with a keen sense of history to this Society as an Honorary Member.
87 Mount Vernon Street was given to the Colonial Society in 1954 as a place to meet--to bring those with interest and experience in the study of early Massachusetts history--for scholarly programs and stimulating conversation. Our house continues to serve that purpose in events like the reception on June 8 following the Supreme Judicial Court program. On October 12 Past President Fred Ballou, Pauline Maier, Chair of the Committee on Publications, and Curator Toby Hall welcomed the governing board of the John Carter Brown Library for a reception that increased their awareness of the Colonial Society and of our publications.
On Friday, January 7 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. the Colonial Society will take the opportunity during the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, this year held in Boston, to invite all Colonial Society members to come, and to bring their graduate students, to this house for refreshments and conversation. We will also invite all alumni of our Graduate Students’ Forum. We foresee a commingling of interests and ideas in early American history. I encourage you to mark January 7 on your calendar and to join us. The American Historical Association meeting also provides an opportunity to promote and sell our publications. At the suggestion of departing Councilor Brenton Simons, President of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, we are sharing a bookstall at the AHA annual meeting with the NEHGS. For both the Friday evening reception here and for the bookstall at the Hynes Convention Center from Thursday, January 6 to Sunday, January 9, we will need volunteers from our membership. I encourage you to come forward before I go after you. If you are able to assist with either of these events, please let me know.
The Colonial Society relies on the volunteer commitment of so many of our members to maintain and operate this organization. Editors prepare extraordinary publications. Officers, Councilors, committee chairs and members commit thousands of hours to the standing committees stipulated in the bylaws--Nominating, Publications, Finance, Auditing--and to ad hoc committees--Membership, Development, Marketing, Website, Graduate Students’ Forum. Shortly, we will reactivate the House Committee with Cheryl Robertson as chair and Richard Nylander, Barbara Ward, and Donald Wing as members. A new, or perhaps resumed, committee will begin to create a new membership directory that will be both on line and in printed form. I thank all of you who serve on our committees for the expertise and the time that you give to the Colonial Society. These committee assignments and other volunteer opportunities, as well as our Stated and Annual Meetings, give us an opportunity to be involved in the Society and with our colleagues in the study of colonial American history and culture. Membership dues and the Annual Fund, to which so many have responded very generously both last year and this year, provide critical support to the Society. The in-kind contributions of volunteer participation are also essential to our success in fulfilling our mission.
Recently, at one of our committee meetings, an interesting conversation arose about the Annual Dinner. One relatively new member of the Society noted that he had been asked by a couple of people why the Society does not charge for the Annual Dinner and commit funds entirely to publications. He was not certain how to reply and raised the question in an informal setting as we waited for the committee to gather. My reply was that the Annual Dinner draws a nicely diverse group of members to a collegial and congenial event. Another member at the table noted that the cost borne by the Society is not a disproportionate share of the budget. Finally, a veteran member, who was elected in 1963, broke his silence to say, "I wouldn't change a thing." We have no plans to change. This is such a delightful occasion to which we look forward every year, an opportunity to see old friends, a time to meet new people working in the field, a chance to discuss recent books, teaching experiences, obscure libraries, primary sources, exemplary programs. The Colonial Society was formed in 1892 to bring together those actively involved in the study of early Massachusetts history. Our meetings and receptions and dinners provide a setting for stimulating interaction with a very interesting assembly. Enjoy the evening!
Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth : 1620
IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.
Mr. John Carver,
Mr. William Bradford,
Mr Edward Winslow,
Mr. William Brewster.
Mr. Samuel Fuller,
Mr. Christopher Martin,
Mr. William Mullins,
Mr. William White,
Mr. Richard Warren,
Mr. Steven Hopkins,
Mr. John Allerton,
The Latin Grace
Gratias Tibi agimus, Deus omnipotens
pro his ac universis donis Tuis,
quae de Tua largitate accepimus,
qui es Dominus Deus in saecula saeculorum.