THE Annual Meeting was held at the Exchange Club, corner of Milk and Batterymarch Streets, Boston, on Thursday, 21 November, 1895, at half-past five o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Dr. Benjamin Apthorp Gould, in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Annual Report of the Council was presented and read by Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis.
The Stated Meetings of the Society, since the Annual Meeting in November last, have all been held at the Hall of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. For the courtesy which has thus liberally been extended to us, our grateful acknowledgments are due. The attendance at our meetings was fair, and the proceedings were made interesting by the presentation of a number of papers which were devoted to the exposition of a great variety of historical topics. All these papers were referred to the Committee of Publication, and all are now in type.
The death of Leverett Saltonstall was announced at the April meeting of the Society. As was natural in the case of so conspicuous a man, who counted amongst us so many admirers and friends, this announcement called forth a number of spontaneous expressions of the esteem in which he was held. The selection of Judge Lowell to prepare a Memoir of Mr. Salstonstall seemed in every way fitting and appropriate, and his acceptance of this friendly office was the cause of genuine satisfaction to the Society.
Two deaths occurred among our members, in the interim between the April Meeting and the present assembling of the Society. There are few of us who did not watch the career of the son of our War Governor when he was called into public life, with full conviction that his freedom from the restraint of partisan shackles would enable him to strike telling blows in behalf of the whole people. The vigor with which he entered upon the performance of his duties in Congress, and the manly attitude which he assumed, showed that we had counted aright; but, alas! the feeble body in which the spirit of John Forrester Andrew was lodged, was inadequate to support the strain which it was called upon to bear. His usefulness as a public officer was very soon impaired through his physical disability to perform the work which was imposed upon him. His friends hoped, however, that rest would restore his strength, and that he might still have many years of activity before him; but his sudden demise cut short a career from which they had every reason to expect so much. To his friend Edmund March Wheelwright, the loving task has been assigned of preparing a sketch of his life.
The fact that the greater part of the active life of James Walker Austin was spent in Honolulu, where he held high official position, probably cut him off from the close touch with his contemporaries in this Society which he would have had if he had devoted himself to the practice of his profession in this Commonwealth. After his return to this country, Judge Austin confined himself to office work; and it was only those who were admitted to the privilege of his friendship who could appreciate the worth of his character, the charm of his conversation, and the extent of his cultivation. A memorial account of his career may be expected at an early day.
We have reason to congratulate ourselves that we had secured the autographs of each of these gentlemen, that we have photographs of Mr. Andrew and of Judge Austin, and that a friend has undertaken to provide a likeness of Mr. Saltonstall for our Album. While we have cause to rejoice that we have these mementoes of our deceased friends, it is unfortunately the case that there are some of our members who have failed to comply with the request sent them for their photographs. Day by day, through the activity of those having the matter in charge, the number of the delinquents has been steadily reduced; and it is to be hoped that we may soon have the opportunity of determining upon whom shall fall the unenviable distinction of being the last to respond to so reasonable a request.
It was stated at the beginning of this Report that all the papers which had been presented at our meetings were in type. It would be a natural question to ask, where then is the first volume of our Publications? No doubt was entertained by those having the matter in charge that it would have been in possession of the members of the Society before this time, but a tantalizing delay in the preparation of the Index has defeated their plans. The volume was closed with the paper read at the December meeting. The last numbered page was the four hundred and fifty-first. It is impossible to say how much space the Index will occupy; but it cannot be doubted that the Introductory Note, the Transactions, and the Index will make a book of about the five hundred pages prescribed by the Council.
At the several meetings, reports of which have been included in the First volume and in the first number of the Third, papers have been presented or communications of importance made by fourteen different members of the Society. Two researches, which we have thought worthy of a place in our Transactions, have been presented to us by gentlemen who are not members. In addition to this, there have been sundry communications on minor topics made by members which are not included in the above enumeration. This analysis of our work discloses a fair percentage of active workers in our membership; but the fact still remains that there are many who can, if they will, help us to make a statement concerning the distribution of our work, when we shall analyze the papers contained in our next volume of Transactions, which will be even more satisfactory.
An examination of the papers included in these Publications will disclose the fact that they cover a wide range in time, and treat of a great diversity of topics. It would, perhaps, be too much to say that a person of constructive imagination, well grounded in the art of critical analysis, could erect a fairly good skeleton of the history of the Colony and Province of the Massachusetts Bay from the details furnished by these papers and the hints given as to what is missing. Nevertheless, a glance at what could be done in this direction will reveal the possibilities herein suggested. There the student would find indicated the great importance attached to the possession of the Charter, and the conversion of the organization of a Trading Company into the Government of a Colony. The struggles for the retention of the Charter during the quo warranto proceedings and its final annulment by scire facias, though not given in detail, are alluded to. Many particulars are given concerning the government by Council administered in the days between Colony and Province, and the financial struggles under the Provincial administration are quite fully narrated. The growth and formation of municipal government in the Colony are discussed in the abstract in one paper and specially illustrated elsewhere by an elaboration of the facts connected with the establishment of a single town. The social life of the people is touched upon in the biography of a magistrate and a soldier, while the perils of those who came in contact with the Indians are vividly sketched in an account of a frontier family. The religious controversies of both Colony and Province are treated with great vigor and clearness. He who would seek a definition, by competent authority, of Antinomianism may turn to the pages of our first volume; and there he will also find disclosed the value of the Quakers as propagandists of religious liberty. The curious contribution to the literature connected with the Slavery discussion, which is to be found in the same volume, will be fully appreciated by those who have time to give it careful consideration.
The exercise by the Colonial government of powers which were deemed an infringement of the Royal prerogative in the establishment of a mint, and the doubts which existed whether a similar infringement had not been made in the creation of the Corporation of Harvard College are set forth in detail. The vicissitudes of the College, during the period of the intermediate government between Colony and Province, are fully recorded; and the intervention of the Government in the affairs of the College, thereby reviving the Charter which was supposed to have fallen with that of the Colony, is pointed out. New information concerning the founder of the first scholarship at Harvard College is given, and enough of the pedigree of Lady Mowlson is furnished to show that her family name was Radcliffe. The evolution of the psalmody of the Colonies of Plymouth and the Bay is discussed, and the different sources from which the two systems derived their inspiration are indicated. The history of the records of the General Court and of the Court of Assistants is given, and the various punishments for crimes inflicted by the Courts are mentioned. Information is furnished as to several individuals of prominence in Colonial or Provincial times, and in our memorial notices we have two sketches of contemporaneous biography which may serve as models. Facts of importance in determining the topography of Boston at different periods are set forth, among which will be noted with especial interest the claim that the site of Governor Winthrop’s first Boston house is to be found within the limits of the present Exchange Building on State Street. The discussion of the Election Sermons cannot fail to attract attention. Within the vast mass of literary material which these sermons furnish, addressed as they were to men who were about to assume the management of the affairs of Colony, Province, or State, one might have expected to find allusions to current events which would aid materially in building up the history of the Commonwealth. If patient analysis of these dreary volumes has failed to reveal anything of moment in this connection, we are none the less indebted to the painstaking and industrious examination of their contents which enables us to say that he who is making a topical research will have but little occasion to consult their pages. Far more fruitful is the record of the Bibliography of the Publications of the New England States. Here we have placed before us an account of the contents of each volume, thus enabling us to tell where we shall turn to find the several charters, grants, and rare papers which have been published in these records.
Not only do the papers in our Publications throw occasional glimpses of light upon obscure points of historical interest, but through the contribution of new material we may claim that we have added to the resources of the historian. The commission of La Tour, a document which was deposited in our Archives, is of great interest. The publication of the records of the Bristol Convention of 1774 furnished occasion for an admirable exposition of the motives which led to this method of procedure in the evolution of the Provincial Congress, and the discussion which followed can be read with profit by the student of those times.
The identification by Mr. Goodell of the handwriting of the sketch of the organization for the Cincinnati as that of Samuel Shaw is a matter of considerable importance, and the careful comparison with the original draft by Knox is of great value. The interest which attaches to that crude financial experiment, the Land Bank of 1740, gives great importance to the copy of the supplementary agreement with the Company, executed by Joseph Weld, and submitted for the consideration of this Society by his descendant, William G. Weld. Those who wish to read the story of this great financial failure, and who care to examine in detail this peculiar document, must turn to the pages of our Publications, for there alone are they to be found.
Volume Two of our Publications, it will be remembered, is devoted to the Commissions and Instructions of the Royal Governors. The first number of Volume Three closes with the Transactions at the April meeting of the current year.
The foregoing brief review of the contents of the papers read before this Society, which are now in type, will, we think, justify the claim set forth at its beginning. The historian, familiar with the period, will note the gaps which exist, and perhaps feel that too much is missing to warrant what was said; but he who deals with movements and motives, who cares not for special events, nor for men, except so far as they are typical and illustrative, will find in this material enough to form a fair estimate of the character of the founders of this Commonwealth, of the motives which governed them, and of the nature of their actions during the most critical periods of our history.
The First volume of our Publications contains an admirable portrait of Judge Samuel Sewall, the gift of our fellow-member, Abner C. Goodell, Jr. It is intended to supplant the totally inadequate picture which accompanied the first number of our first volume. The several illustrations which will be found in the volume are by photographic processes, with the exception of the excellent likeness of Frederick Lothrop Ames. This is from a steel plate which was loaned to the Society.
For various reasons it was deemed desirable that the proceedings at our meetings should be placed in type, and, if possible, submitted to the members for suggestions in the way of revision and correction, in advance of their issue in the shape of a volume. In pursuance of this plan three numbers were distributed. As the fourth and concluding number of the series could only anticipate the volume by a very short period, it was deemed unadvisable to incur the expense of distributing that number. Several errors of minor importance have been noted and corrected in the plates. A mistake in the date, in the headings of the pages recording the proceedings of one of our meetings, is of sufficient importance to make it desirable that the numbers which contain this error should be recalled. The illustrations contained in all three of the numbers are of value, and can be used in the bound volumes which we propose to issue. For these reasons, the Council voted to furnish each member of the Society with a bound copy of the First volume of the Publications, and to recall the numbers previously issued. The details connected with this proceeding have not yet been arranged. Since the Society has no place of abode, it is evident that the intervention of some agent for the purpose must be secured.
It had been expected by the Council that the distribution of this volume would at once give the Society a standing among our neighbors proportionate to the value of the book. For the present at least, it does not seem possible to attain this result. To secure any proper recognition of the volume it is essential that it should find its way to the shelves of the great Libraries of the country. It would be an easy matter for us to arrange exchanges with a great number of Societies, and thus in part accomplish what we desire in this respect; but we deem it unadvisable to do this, because of our having no place to receive and store them. We have therefore concluded to limit our edition, and to reduce our distribution-list practically to members, and to a few periodicals from which we hope for careful reviews of the book.
Long before the time will arrive for the Council to submit its next Annual Report, we shall be in position to speak authoritatively of the opinion of competent and unprejudiced judges as to our first volume. Should it prove to be as favorable as we hope, we can then urge with greater force the necessity of making provision for the two great wants of the Society, which were dwelt upon in the Report of last year; namely, a Publication Fund, and a place of abode. Meantime, we leave the Treasurer’s Report and the facts which we have herein recited to speak for themselves, believing that they will do so quite as effectively as any appeal which the Council might make.
In compliance with the requirements of Chapter VIII. Article 1, of the By-Laws, the Treasurer submits his Annual Report, made up to 15 November, 1895.
In the two previous Annual Reports of the Treasurer mention was made of the action of the Council in appropriating some part of the free cash in the Treasury to be added to our Permanent Funds. It is a matter of regret that the ever-increasing demands upon our resources for the cost of printing our Transactions and Collections has made it impossible for the Council to make a similar appropriation this year. The Council, however, has ordered that all Admission Fees, as well as all Commutations of the Annual Assessment as they are received, shall be transferred to the General Fund. In consequence of this action and of the apportionment between the two Funds of the interest received during the past twelve months, the Invested Funds of the Society show an actual increase for the year of $516.42.
Included in the item of interest is a bonus received for the discharge of a mortgage upon premises which were damaged by fire, and subsequently improved at an expense which necessitated an increase of the mortgage to an amount which it was imprudent to lend upon the estate. Exclusive of this bonus the average rate of interest on our investments received last year was 5.33%
At the close of our financial year it was found that about two hundred dollars would be needed to pay all audited demands against the Society, and to enable the Treasurer to present his Annual Account with a small balance on the right side of it. This fact was quietly made known to a few of our members, who, within a few hours, generously provided for the needs of the Treasury. Some of the letters which accompanied these contributions were not less welcome than the inclosures, since they expressed not only the pleasure which it afforded the writers to contribute to the Funds of the Society, but their cordial interest in its present and future success.
The Funds of the Society are invested as follows: —
in a 6% mortgage, payable principal and interest in gold coin, on improved Real Estate in Cambridge;
in a 5% Parti-Mortgage Receipt (No. 149) of the Conveyancers Title Insurance Company, due 16 April, 1899, and payable principal and interest in gold coin, on improved Real Estate in Boston.
51.95 deposited in the Charlestown Five Cents Savings Bank.
The following is an abstract of the Accounts, and a Trial Balance of the books on 15 November, 1895: —
Henry H. Edes,
Boston, 15 November, 1895.
The Committee appointed to examine the accounts of the Treasurer reported through its Chairman, Mr. Nathaniel Cushing Nash, as follows: —
The undersigned, a Committee appointed to examine the accounts of the Treasurer of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts for the year ending 15 November, 1895, have attended to that duty, and report that they find them correctly kept and properly vouched; and that proper evidence of the investments and of the balance of cash on hand has been shown to us.
Nathaniel C. Nash,
Gardiner Martin Lane,
Boston, 15 November, 1895.
The several Reports were accepted, and referred to the Committee of Publication.
The Hon. William E. Russell, Chairman of the Committee to nominate candidates for Officers for the ensuing year, presented the following list; and, a ballot being taken, these gentlemen were unanimously elected: —
- BENJAMIN APTHORP GOULD.
- JOHN LOWELL.
- WILLIAM WATSON GOODWIN.
- HENRY WINCHESTER CUNNINGHAM.
- ANDREW McFARLAND DAVIS.
- HENRY HERBERT EDES.
- HENRY ERNEST WOODS.
MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL FOR THREE YEARS.
- EDWARD WHEELWRIGHT.
Mr. Henry H. Edes paid the following tribute to the memory of Judge Austin: —
My friendship with Judge Austin was of long standing. He graduated from Harvard College in 1819, in the class with our associates Mr. Brimmer and Mr. Choate. After graduating from the Harvard Law School, he went to the Hawaiian Islands and began the practice of his profession. He rose rapidly in the public esteem, and was soon chosen to places of trust and honor. In rapid succession he was made District Attorney, Member of Parliament, Speaker of the House, and a Justice of the Supreme Court. He was also placed on two important Commissions, — one for revising the Civil Code, the other for revising the Criminal Code of the Kingdom. Later he was appointed guardian of Prince Lunalillo, who subsequently ascended the throne of the Kamehamehas.
Judge Austin returned to Boston in 1872, after a residence abroad of more than twenty years, and devoted himself to the care of trust estates. He was highly esteemed for his many noble qualities. His rugged honesty of opinion and positive ideas were sometimes veiled by his gentle manner; but they never lacked vigorous expression upon all proper occasions, and he always had the courage of his convictions. Frankness, purity of mind and of heart, loyalty to every duty and to friends, and sincerity were marked traits of his character. His sympathies were as tender and quick as a woman’s. Censoriousness had no place in his fine nature; and when he could not approve the actions of others, he cultivated that silence which is golden. He was as generous in his judgments of others as in his gifts to many worthy objects; and in all the relations of life he furnished an example deserving emulation.
Mr. Archibald M. Howe spoke of our late associate, Mr. Andrew, as follows: —
John Forrester Andrew was the son of one of the great men of Massachusetts who held high station, John Albion Andrew.
When Governor Andrew died, his son, then nearly seventeen years of age, must have known something of the daily life of his father and of the loftiness of his ideals.
It is always a disadvantage to be the son of a great man; but young Andrew, though not his father’s equal, partook of his spirit. In boyhood and manhood he showed many instances of the same kind of sympathy with and knowledge of men, and the same decision of character. Although literary pursuits did not attract him, he was easily the companion of his scholarly contemporaries, while his good sense and sound judgment grew stronger with each year of his life. He was graduated from Harvard in 1872, and, after travel abroad, pursued the study of law at the Harvard Law School, taking the law degree in 1875. He did not long pursue the active practice of his profession, being more attracted by political action. He was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives from Boston, serving in the years 1881, 1882, and 1883.
In 1884 Mr. Andrew became State Senator, and the same year was elected a delegate to the National Republican Convention; but refusing to support its candidate for President, James G. Blaine, he severed his connection with the Republican party. In the autumn of that year he was again elected to the State Senate, but this time by the votes of the Independents and Democrats. Although his action in leaving one party and joining another was variously criticised, it is clear that his action was wisely taken, and upon grounds which involved the exercise of sound judgment, even though he believed it would end his political career. In 1888, and again in 1890, he was elected to Congress by the Democrats, and during his two terms of service earnestly devoted himself to the cause of sound money and the reform of the civil service and the tariff. In office he was frequently independent in voting and in other legislative acts. His knowledge of men, and his power of persuasion in private conversation, did more than much speech-making could have accomplished to induce his fellow-members to act wisely on current questions. In the midst of the controversy over the free coinage of silver, he more than once left his seat in the House, hastened to New York or elsewhere, and by his clear statement of the situation in Congress secured the attention of leading men, who forthwith exercised their influence to convert their representatives to the cause of sound money, or to compel them to take prompt action.
The cause of Civil Service Reform Mr. Andrew supported urgently as Chairman of the Civil Service Reform Committee on the part of the House, and in many other ways throughout his public career; while as Park Commissioner of Boston, his good taste and judgment were exercised in ways that have already secured for our citizens incalculable benefits.
For nearly twenty years of his life Mr. Andrew gave more time to political and philanthropical causes than is usual for a man who had so much inducement to devote himself to his own pursuits, or to the promotion of his political fortune. Of the men who have been in public office only for a few years, and who have not been pre-eminent by reason of their powers as orators or writers, few have done so much for good causes by their common-sense and knowledge of men as John Forrester Andrew. When he did speak, he said what he believed to be true; and never did he utter words for effect or for ordinary political expediency.
After the adjournment of the meeting, dinner was served. Dr. Gould occupied the chair, and the Rev. Dr. Joseph H. Allen invoked the Divine blessing.
After dinner, speeches were made by Dr. Gould, Mr. Adams, the Hon. Roger Wolcott, the Hon. George Frederick Williams, and Mr. Francis C. Lowell.
An incident alluded to by Mr. Adams called forth from the Hon. Darwin E. Ware an interesting reminiscence of the Dorchester Celebration of 1855.
During the dinner the health of President Gould was proposed by Mr. Charles Sedgwick Rackemann, and was drunk standing by the gentlemen present.
Vice-President William Watson Goodwin occupied the chair during a part of the evening.