The Colonial Society of Massachusetts

    Exercises at the Presentation

    of the

    Thomas Hutchinson Memorial Doorway

    to the

    First Church in Boston

    5 November, 1917

    at three o’clock

    Order of Exercises

    Organ Voluntaries

    Prelude in C minor — Bach

    Allegro from Organ Concerto — Handel

    Chorale in A minor — Cesar Franck


    Allegro maestoso from the Fifth Symphony — Beethoven


    Rev. Charles Edwards Park, D.D.


    The music composed for this occasion by John Patton Marshall

    (These words were set to music and sung by the students of Harvard College, 4. April, 1771, on the occasion of Hutchinson’s first visit to the College after his appointment to the Governorship of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay.)

    We have heard with our Ears, O Lord, and our Fathers have told us of thy Might! Thy Wonders which thou didst of Old; how thou didst drive out the Heathen from among them!

    For they got not their Land by their own Sword; but it was thy right hand, thine Arm, & the Light of thy Countenance!

    O Praise the Lord forever & ever. — How blessed are all they that fear the Lord & walk in his Ways, for thou shalt eat the Labor of thine Hands. — O well is thee, & happy shalt thou be.

    Lo! thus shall the Man be blessed that fears the Lord. For thus saith the Lord, from henceforth, behold all Nations shall call thee blessed; for thy Rulers shall be of thine own kindred; your Nobles shall be of yourselves & thy GOVERNOR shall proceed from the midst of thee.

    Awake! Awake! Put on thy Strength, O Zion, — break forth into Joy with Hallelujah! for the Lord hath redeemed his people.

    Blessings, & Glory, Salvation and Wisdom, Thanksgiving and Honor and Power & Might, be unto the Lord God Almighty, who sitteth on the Throne, and unto the Lamb forever & ever. Amen.

    Praise the Lord


    James Kendall Hosmer, LL.D.


    Sir Cecil Arthur Spring-Rice, LL.D.

    Hon. Arthur Prentice Rugg, LL.D.

    Samuel Eliot Morison, Ph.D

    Presentation by The Colonial Society of Massachusetts

    Fred Norris Robinson, Ph.D.

    Acceptance for the First Church in Boston

    Elbridge Gerry Cutler, M.D.

    Ode, written for the Occasion

    Tune: The National Air of England and America

    Turn back our History’s page,

    There, in a by-gone age,

    Read we a name.

    Good Thomas Hutchinson,

    Boston’s asperséd son,

    Long ere his race was run

    Dead to all fame.

    “True to his King,” you say,

    “False to his country.” Nay,

    Call him not so!

    Sure that in George’s hand

    Lay safety for his land,

    Forced by his oath to stand,

    What could he do?

    His faith that Liberty

    Under the King might be,

    We may deplore.

    But let us not forget

    The noble task be set,

    Redeeming Province debt,

    Honour and more.

    Judge, both humane and just,

    Never betrayed he trust.

    Thanks be to him

    That the full tale is told

    Of the Bay Col’ny bold,

    Culled from the legends old,

    And records dim.

    Fair Berkshire’s “rocks and rills,

    Her woods and templed hills,”

    Gave he the State.

    Serving on Province bound,

    His view alone was sound,

    No single inch of ground

    Would he abate.

    Exiled — he welcomed death,

    Saying, with latest breath,

    On his lone bier,

    “Thy name, New England, see

    Wrote on the heart of me!

    Ever I yearn for thee.”

    Grant him one tear!



    Rev. Charles Edwards Park, D. D.


    After the performance of the organ voluntaries and introit, Dr. Park read the following sentences:

    Let us now praise famous men,

    And our fathers that begat us.

    The Lord manifested in them great glory,

    Even His mighty power from the beginning.

    Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms,

    And were men renowned for their power,

    Giving counsel by their understanding,

    Leaders of the people by their counsels,

    And by their understanding men of learning for the people;

    Their bodies were buried in peace,

    And their name liveth to all generations.

    Peoples will declare their wisdom,

    And the congregation telleth out their praise.

    Dr. Park then offered the following prayer:

    Almighty God, in whose far-reaching service are enlisted the good and the great of all times, bless unto us the purpose of this hour. Awaken within these hearts of ours a true recognition of virtue, a sweet generosity of judgment. Enable us to discern sincerity and righteousness of heart wherever manifested; and accept our gratitude for all those who in their several capacities and degrees have acknowledged Thyself their sovereign Ruler, and have sought with all their power to serve Thy holy purposes of justice and honor and uprightness of living. Amen.

    After the singing of the anthem, Dr. Park said:

    A few years ago there appeared in the American Statesmen Series a biography of Samuel Adams, who has been called “the American Cato,” and “the Father of the American Revolution.” The author of this biography confesses that in the course of his researches, preliminary to writing the life of Samuel Adams, his attention was repeatedly drawn to the great opponent of Adams, Governor Thomas Hutchinson.

    He found himself increasingly filled with interest in this man, an interest more than historical, as it were, almost personal. Accordingly, after the completion of the work then in hand, he indulged this new interest, and acquainted himself thoroughly with the labors and the character of the Royal Governor, Thomas Hutchinson.

    It speaks well for the ameliorating influences of time and perspective, that the same man should become the cordial and sympathetic biographer of two such bitter antagonists as Samuel Adams and Thomas Hutchinson. It is our privilege to listen to-day to an address by that broad-minded author. I take great pleasure in presenting to you Dr. James Kendall Hosmer, who, as Professor Goldwin Smith has said, “of all American historians has done most to render justice to Great Britain and to remove the historic; causes of ill-feeling between her and her off-spring the United States.”


    The occasion for which we are assembled is unusual, perhaps unique. Some five generations since the eminent citizen of Massachusetts, of New England, indeed perhaps of America, was Thomas Hutchinson. Born in Boston, he had an excellent heredity derived from ancestors able and high purposed, an environment of the best. As a Master of Arts, he entered as a foster-brother into the great Harvard household. Through the possession of an ample fortune, he was absolved from the necessity of providing for material wants. He gave himself in his early manhood to the public service. He filled the most conspicuous positions with success and with honor. He incurred unpopularity through causes not discreditable to him. At last he made a great mistake, for which he brought upon himself the hatred of his country. He was stripped of his property, and died an exile in England of a broken heart. For more than a century his name was scarcely mentioned in New England excepting with obloquy. Of late years a kinder feeling has come to prevail. Today we are met to pay to this man, so long traduced, a tribute of respect. If a personal reference may be permitted, I am the descendant of men who fought the cause of Hutchinson in the Massachusetts Assembly, at Concord Bridge, and at Bunker Hill. I am the admiring biographer of his bitterest enemy, Samuel Adams. Like myself the majority of the audience whom I address are descended from ancestors who held Hutchinson in contempt. To-day, however, we are assembled to dedicate in this First Church in Boston, with which he and his ancestors were long connected, the Westminster Abbey of Boston,859 which bears upon its walls tablets in honor of many ancient worthies, a memorial of our high veneration for him.

    For over forty years Hutchinson was a conspicuous servant of the public.860 Public service may be rendered in three fields, the legislative, the judicial, and the executive. In all of them he was active, and I purpose to touch briefly upon an incident in each one of these fields to illustrate the way in which he worked.

    A democracy never appears to more ill advantage than in the management of finance, and of this no better illustration can be given than the conduct of Massachusetts in the first half of the eighteenth century. The Province was in a Slough of Despond through an irredeemable paper currency. There were wise and thrifty men who felt the evil, but the majority of the people were completely infatuated. Business was gravely embarrassed, and the moral fibre of the community underwent a sad deterioration. For a long time no chance appeared for bettering the condition, but in 1749 an opportunity presented itself which was fortunately seized. Grateful to New England for the service which she had rendered in the capture of Louisburg in 1745, the British government resolved to reimburse the Province of Massachusetts for her heavy expenditure. The indemnity was to be paid in hard cash, a million dollars, in those days a vast sum, and it was the proposition of Hutchinson, then Speaker of the Assembly, that this should be appropriated to the taking up of the irredeemable scrip, for which the indemnity nearly sufficed. He was almost alone in perceiving that the scheme was feasible. Even the wise and thrifty feared a shock from the sudden change. The suggestion at first excited only ridicule, which soon developed into angry antagonism. However, almost by a miracle, through his wisdom, eloquence, and tact, the bill was passed. A picturesque scene in 1749 presented itself in King Street in Boston. A procession of trucks carted from the ship to the Old State House two hundred and seventeen chests of Spanish milled dollars, followed by a similar train bearing casks of coined copper. The details were systematically arranged, and Massachusetts stood at once upon a hard money basis, the effects of which were salutary in the highest degree. The shock experienced was of the pleasantest. The buoyancy and energy with which Massachusetts soon after entered upon the pre-Revolutionary struggle was to a large extent due to its happy financial condition. This was the work of Hutchinson solely, and during our whole colonial period perhaps no instance could be cited of better legislative work. Said John Adams in 1809, long after the event, If I were the Witch of Endor, I would call to life Hutchinson, and put into his hands the finances of the United States, for I have never known a man who could manage such work better.

    Now, as to his work in the judicial field, Hutchinson, having been Judge of Probate and of the Court of Common Pleas, became at length Chief Justice of the Superior Court, and in the first months of his incumbency, in 1761, it came upon him to try the famous case of the Writs of Assistance. Laws imposing heavy restraints upon trade had long been in existence on the statute book, but had remained a dead letter. The British government had resolved to put them in force, and in aid of their execution authorizations were given empowering customs officers to search homes and warehouses where smuggled goods might be concealed, and these authorizations were the celebrated Writs. The case was one of the most remarkable in legal annals, signalized by the wonderful speech of James Otis, in which, by declaring that there should be no taxation without representation, he gave the slogan to the American Revolution. We are to deal now with the conduct of the Judge. In his private views Hutchinson was a free trader, and felt deeply the inexpediency of the revival of the ancient laws and the measures for their enforcement, but what had his private views to do with the case? He was there as a judge, sworn by his oath to maintain the law established by the constituted authority. The speech of James Otis, as John Adams declared, was a flame of fire. He denounced the Writs of Assistance as a violation of a right secured to English subjects by the common law that a man’s house was his castle, sacred from intrusion or espionage. Going off upon a side issue, or at least into considerations not directly pertinent to the case in hand, he denied in general the right of the government to tax a people not represented as a violation of a clause in Magna Charta. The Bar and the audience were swept from their feet by the ardor of his appeal. Not so the Bench. Hutchinson sat cool and passionless. His private feelings did not influence him. His vision was not confused by the eloquence of the advocate. He kept his associates firm. He tactfully postponed a decision until the heat of the conflict had abated. In a calmer time he rendered his verdict, a verdict thoroughly just. We will not occupy ourselves with the ins and outs of a perplexing case. It is enough to say that Mr. Horace Gray, Justice of the United States Supreme Court, in our own time, having carefully studied the case, deprecates the condemnation of Hutchinson, and Governor Emory Washburn, in his Judicial History of Massachusetts, utters an encomium upon the work of the Chief Justice. Although not bred to the law, he declares that Hutchinson’s legal accomplishments were excellent, that his judicial temper was marked, and that he especially excelled in his capacity for clear presentment. Here we have Hutchinson as a judge, and it may be claimed that his work in general, though less conspicuous, was of a piece with this.

    As an executive we shall see Hutchinson to good advantage at the time of the Boston Massacre. No event of American history is better known than this. We have only to do here with the conduct of the chief magistrate. At the first alarm Hutchinson, having been Governor but a few months, was in the street, proclaiming his character and office, counselling moderation. Though clubs were raised in the riot to dash out his brains, he made his way to the east balcony of the Old State House, where he faced on that March night in 1770 a terrible scene. Before him, in King Street, were six hundred disciplined soldiers, armed and at attention, with the front rank kneeling in the crimsoned snow ready for street firing. In the streets to the right and left and behind him was the whole town of Boston, to a large extent armed and aflame with wrath. The torch was at hand to light the beacon on the Hill to summon the surrounding towns, and the couriers were in the saddle to bring in the more distant country. What averted a disastrous conflict was the work of Hutchinson. He declared that, as Governor, he was there to maintain law and order — “I will live and die by the law.” Awed by his authority the troops retired to their barracks, the townsmen to their homes. The guilty soldiers were arrested by the constables, and a trial soon followed, which did credit to Anglo-Saxon men. Hutchinson put backbone into the judges; the jury was duly empanelled and sworn; the evidence collected and sifted. The conduct of the town, too, was in the main very fine; it waited in patience. John Adams and Josiah Quincy, conspicuous Liberty Men, stood forth as counsel for the accused, and left no stone unturned to see that full justice was done their clients. Said John Adams in his old age, “It was perhaps the most creditable thing I ever did.” It is hard to imagine a better illustration of the conduct proper for the executive magistrate in a time of tumult than this. The Governor showed no sign of vacillation, but was throughout cool, passionless, and inflexible. I say nothing here of the events of the following day, when, with Sam Adams in the foreground, the Boston town meeting drove the British regiments to the Castle. That, too, was a story of heroism, but it is not in place to tell it here. We have simply to do with the conduct of Hutchinson on the night of the Massacre, and it may be claimed that his work in general, as an executive, was of a piece with this.

    In his private relations, as a husband and father, Hutchinson was blameless. As a man among men he was courteous, tolerant, sympathetic, a good mixer. He found time in the midst of his employments to write a History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay, perhaps the most substantial contribution to good literature of our colonial era. His limitations as an historian were great. He had no power of picturesque description, no deep philosophy, no acute discrimination in painting character. Hawthorne, and the late Charles Francis Adams, found his style dull almost to the point of being intolerable. John Fiske, however, found the work in a high degree admirable, and Charles Deane praised his judicial temper, his faculty for selecting and using in the best way excellent sources, and his good method. While not entirely without acrimony, when he treats of events in which he, himself, was a protagonist, he is surprisingly good tempered and fair. The work won for him pleasant recognition from Robertson and Gibbon, and at the present moment is held in the highest esteem. He was by no means without faults. He was an over-formal man. He loved vestments and ceremonies to the point of being pompous. In these gowns and processions we concede somewhat to the foible of the old Governor. His deference to men superior in rank went to the length of obsequiousness. He has been accused of conceit. He certainly had great self-confidence, but that is a necessary quality to all men who accomplish much. He has been accused of avarice, but the charge cannot be sustained. He has been accused of place hunting, but the place sought him, not he the place. Certainly he had no hope of emolument, for the pay was at best a mere pittance, and often withheld. He had no hope of fame, for his activity brought upon his head execration more often than blessing. He was in public place because he desired to render service. His career was remarkably free from trickery and subterfuge. The charge that he was ever false cannot be maintained. I am disposed to think that his gravest defect was a lack of humor. In all that he did, and in all that he wrote there is no trace of humor. Great characters of history, Luther, Cromwell, Abraham Lincoln, have found in their humor an invaluable asset, an oil of gladness to comfort them in distress, an emollient smoothing the way in the tactful adjustment of difficult problems. Of this, in the make-up of Hutchinson, we find nothing.

    But Hutchinson made a grave mistake, to the consideration of which I must now proceed. He set himself openly, resolutely against the striving of his country for independence. It must be declared that Hutchinson, in his views, was not an American. As Americans, we believe that in any Anglo-Saxon community, or in any community which admits Anglo-Saxon organization and leadership, government should be of, by, and for the people. Abraham Lincoln’s plain people we feel we can trust. Some men are fools all the time, all men are fools sometimes, but all men are not fools all the time. There we have a margin on which a proper polity may be reared. Emerson, in his essay on politics, says that an autocracy may be a trim ship, which for a time sails well, but may strike a rock, and then goes to the bottom; whereas a democracy is a raft; you are always anxious about the fastenings, you are in constant agitation on a turbulent sea, your feet are always wet, but the raft will not sink, and in time you will arrive. To this it may be added that in keeping the fastenings secure, and mitigating the discomforts of the situation, the human being undergoes a discipline and education which he could obtain in no other way, and which calls out the most manful qualities. These were not the ideas of Thomas Hutchinson. He was a man of the eighteenth century. The ancient triple-pillared polity of England, King, Lords, and Commons, was good enough for him. So felt his contemporaries Chatham and Burke; so felt, a century before, John Hampden and Pym. In Hutchinson’s eyes Lincoln’s plain people were quite too near the proletariat. He looked askance upon the town meeting, and believed that it should be restricted to the management of purely local concerns. Matthew Arnold’s doctrine of the “remnant,” that in any human organization the select few, the remnant, must somehow come into leadership for a happy consummation, would have been accepted by him. These are not American ideas. His mistake was that he failed to see that a time had come for the severance of the tie between the Colonies and the mother country. How grave was this mistake? Hutchinson in his day had good company, plenty of it. In the early pre-Revolutionary struggle no one thought of independence. James Otis and Joseph Warren died without a desire for it, and Franklin, on the threshold of the Declaration, made his homely comparison of the British Empire to a fine China bowl, which it would be a pity to ruin by breaking out a piece. It was not until a late moment that the champions of independence, with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine in the foreground, rude, relentless, unthinking of consequences, brought the country to their side. At the present day in England wise men, well disposed to us, lament that the split occurred. Goldwin Smith mourned over the Anglo-Saxon schism, and sought means to bridge it over. Lecky, the authoritative historian of England in the eighteenth century, declares that the contention of the men who strove to sustain the political solidarity of the English speaking world was to the full as honorable as that of those who fought to revitalize the obsolescent clauses of Magna Charta. Tennyson sang, in 1886, —

    Shall we not, through good and ill,

    Cleave to one another still?

    Britain fought her sons of yore;

    Britain failed, and never more,

    Careless of our growing kin,

    Shall we sin our fathers’ sin. —

    Men who in a narrower day

    (Unprophetic rulers they)

    Drove from out the mother’s nest

    That young eagle of the West,

    To forage for herself alone.

    Britons, hold your own!

    This is not the American view. We glory in our independence. We believe, it may be truthfully said, that the achieving of our independence was a blessing to the world. Probably it was the salvation of England. Henry Thomas Buckle declared that the harsh experience through which England passed in losing the thirteen colonies saved her own freedom. Only through that rude shock could the land be awakened to the danger in which she lay. As for America, it is enough to say here that through independence she was saved from provincialism. And what precisely is provincialism? The deadening atmosphere of a dependent state, in which initiative becomes atrophied, self-reliance undergoes paralysis, the horizon narrows, and aggressiveness has no chance, a quality which, however rude may be its incidents, is yet one of the most virile and useful qualities of a man or a nation. Hutchinson made his mistake, and it was a grave one. It will be interesting to consider for a moment the idea which he entertained of a proper polity for the British Empire. In his private letters and his public documents he expressed often this idea, that the authority of the supreme legislature should be recognized, but having been recognized it should retire into the background, not to be asserted except where the general interests and safety of the Empire were in question, the dependency meanwhile being left to take care of itself. As to taxation, and all functions of its government, in short, his idea is that which was presently adopted by England in the nineteenth century, the result of which has been the coming into existence of the vast empire of Britain, one of the most magnificent, one of the most beneficent of human achievements. It cannot be said that Hutchinson was the first to enunciate this scheme. It was in the air of his time, but he was among the first to give it clear statement, and I know not what better title than this a man could have to fame as a statesman.

    It may well be asked why Hutchinson, affluent as he was, quiet and scholarly in his tastes, beset in his public career by abuse and misunderstanding, both in England and America, should have preferred to keep his public place. I can explain it in no other way than this: he hoped against hope that he might be able to mitigate the harshness of the methods at Westminster, as, on the other hand, he hoped against hope that he might be able to moderate the resentment of the colonists, and induce in them a temper of patience until better counsels should prevail abroad. On both sides he failed sadly, and between the upper and nether millstones, he was crushed. Before sailing for England he rendered his last important service. He had been active in the boundary settlements of Massachusetts from the first. He had a main hand in settling the boundary on the side of New Hampshire, then on the side of Rhode Island, and then Connecticut. A more difficult matter was the settling of the boundary to the west. New York, disposed to be grasping, had demanded that her eastern line should be the Connecticut River, or at least the crest of the Hoosac Range. Early in 1774, after many years of dispute, the western boundary, mainly through Hutchinson’s exertions, was fixed twelve miles east of the Hudson River, and Berkshire County was saved to Massachusetts.

    The old Governor, on his arrival in England, was received with all respect by King, Court, and Country. He was offered a baronetcy, but declined the honor because he was without means to sustain the dignity. His faithfulness and ability were recognized, and scholars did him honor. Oxford conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of the Civil Law. But he was ill at ease in his exile. Stripped as he had been of his property, he was dependent upon a pension from the Crown. His end drew near under melancholy circumstances. In 1780 it was becoming plain that the thirteen colonies were lost, in his view a calamity both to England and America. In his home some of his children were sinking into their graves through tuberculosis induced by an unfavorable climate. Others sat at his table, men of broken fortunes. At the moment of his death London was at the mercy of the Gordon Riots, and his coffin was borne to the tomb amid the ashes of conflagrations which threatened destruction to the social fabric. Every institution, almost every private friend whom he held dear, seemed to be involved in awful catastrophe, an end sad, indeed. At the present hour England and America are standing together in the stress of terrible war, which menaces the freedom dear to both, as they have not done since their separation. The Black Watch carries through the streets of Boston the Union Jack amid a tumult of applause, the divisions of Pershing under the Stars and Stripes march through the streets of London amid jubilation and tears of joy. The son does not go back to the household, the United States will never be a part of the British Empire, but the child stands by the mother.

    Since love unites wide space divides in vain,

    And hands now clasp across the flowing main.

    Tennyson’s “young eagle of the West,” foraging for himself alone, feels in his heart, too often wild and rude, a gentler pulse, and turns toward the old nest with the softer instinct of the homing pigeon.

    It is an auspicious moment in which to bring once more to memory this good son of Boston, who, while loyal to Old England, yet said with almost his last breath, “when I am dead New England will be found wrote upon my heart.”

    On the conclusion of Dr. Hosmer’s address, Dr. Park said:

    The Committee on Arrangements861 for this occasion had hoped to secure the personal attendance to-day of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador. Pressure of public business has, however, disappointed our hopes; and the Ambassador is unable to be with us.

    Instead, he sends this letter, which is of such significance that to omit reading it in full would be a distinct loss to the dignity and meaning of this occasion. I will ask the Chairman of the Committee on Arrangements, to whom it is addressed, to read Sir Cecil’s letter.


    British Embassy, Washington.

    October 26th, 1917.

    My dear Mr. Edes,

    On the receipt of your very kind letter of September 10th I wrote to Sir Herbert Warren, President of Magdalen College, Oxford, informing him of the impending dedication of the Memorial Doorway in the First Church in Boston to commemorate Thomas Hutchinson, the last but one of the Royal Governors of the Province of Massachusetts Bay; and I enquired of him whether the University of Oxford, which conferred her highest honours upon Governor Hutchinson after his return to England, would be disposed to send a message of greeting to the Colonial Society of Massachusetts on this memorable occasion.

    The matter was referred by the President of Magdalen to the Hebdomadal Council of the University; and I have now received by telegraph the following message from the University, which I have pleasure in transmitting to you:

    The Vice-Chancellor and the Hebdomadal Council of the University of Oxford, have heard with interest and pleasure that the Colonial Society of Massachusetts proposes shortly to dedicate, in the First Church in Boston, a Memorial to Thomas Hutchinson, the last (Civil) Royal Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, a distinguished Graduate of Harvard and a D.C.L. Honoris Causa of Oxford, and that the Society has invited His Excellency, Sir Cecil Spring Rice, himself an Oxford man, to attend the ceremony, not only as Ambassador of the Mother Country to her Eldest Daughter, but also as an Alumnus, and as a representative of the University of Oxford.

    The Council will be greatly obliged if His Excellency will express, in such manner as he thinks best on the occasion, their sense of the compliment paid to their University by this special invitation, and their gratitude for the opportunity thus afforded to Oxford of being represented, and being present in spirit at a moment when the Mother and Daughter Countries are drawn together so closely in the common and sacred cause of liberty for the world, and when in particular, the University of Harvard, with which Oxford has so many ties, is taking the lead in ranging herself along with the British Universities on behalf of this cause, and her students are even now preparing to stand shoulder to shoulder with theirs as brothers, not only in Arts but in Arms.

    Herbert E. D. Blakiston,


    The original text of this message is being sent to me, together with a letter from Sir Herbert Warren; but in case it should not arrive in time, I write to inform you of its contents as received by telegraph.

    I have been hoping that I might be able to avail myself of the invitation of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and attend the ceremony on November 5th, but I now find to my great disappointment that I cannot do so, as I am obliged to be in Canada on that date. Would you kindly convey to the Society, together with the above message from the University of Oxford, an expression of my keen regret? I am particularly appreciative of their courtesy in inviting me not only as British Ambassador to the United States, but also as an honorary alumnus of Harvard, and as representing the University of Oxford.

    My regret at not being able to accept your most kind invitation is much increased by my sense of the historic interest attaching to this celebration at the present moment. The name of Hutchinson represents so much in our common history, and a peculiarly pathetic interest attaches to the character and career of Thomas Hutchinson who, it is plain, represented in his own person and in a characteristic way, the feelings and fate of so many of our race at that critical period. I am sure that your Society, occupied as it is with the wider view of things, will do full justice to all aspects of the great question, of which Thomas Hutchinson’s career represented one side. It is, of course, not my province to interpose, at such a moment as the present, my personal views, especially to men of the high distinction and wide knowledge of the members of your Society. I should have gone to the celebration, not to express opinions, but to learn; and I venture to request that you will be good enough to provide me, for the use of my Government, with as full a report as may be convenient of the proceedings and speeches.

    Yours very truly,

    (for the Ambassador)

    Colville Barclay.862

    Dr. Park then said:

    In the course of his varied career, Thomas Hutchinson was Chief Justice of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay. It is therefore eminently appropriate that this dedication, designed as it is to do honor to his memory, should be graced by the presence of his present successor in that high office. It is necessary only because it is one of the proprieties of the moment, to present to you one who, as head of the judiciary of Massachusetts, has already secured himself in the affectionate respect of all right-minded persons, — Arthur Prentice Rugg, Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth.


    The Judiciary, and, I feel sure, the Bar of the Commonwealth, are deeply appreciative of the distinction here conferred upon the former Chief Justice, Thomas Hutchinson.

    The Court over which he presided for eight years is the same tribunal as that recognized by the constitution of 1780, under the name then new, but now become familiar as the Supreme Judicial Court. His judicial memory has been obscured by violent antipathy against his political views. He espoused the unpopular side in the discussions preceding the Revolution. When the final choice had to be made, he adhered to the cause of the Mother Country and left his native soil. The smoke of the Revolution has darkened the reputation of all on this side of the Atlantic who did not join in kindling its fires. Hutchinson has been no exception.

    It has been difficult to make a just estimate of the value of his judicial service. This arises from two causes: first, the habit of writing judicial opinions had not become common in his day, and second, the few opinions which were written were not printed, and have not been preserved among the printed records of the Court. Governor Emory Washburn, himself an eminent advocate, an earnest patriot, and a learned professor of the law, writing in 1840 and much nearer than we to the troublous times of the War of Independence, probably did not overestimate his merits. His discriminating judgment of Hutchinson as Chief Justice has been so admirably summarized by Mr. Hosmer that I will not take the time to read the amplified views that Washburn expressed.863

    The most significant occasion in the judicial life of Chief Justice Hutchinson was the hearing upon the petition for Writs of Assistance. His decision in favor of their validity was the beginning of his decline in popularity. Yet the correctness of that decision has been supported in a learned article by Chief Justice Gray.864 The essential and underlying principle at issue in that cause was whether a legislative act which invaded fundamental rights of the individual should be enforced by the courts. Hutchinson held that they ought to be thus enforced, no matter how much they might outrage the right and freedom of the individual. The argument of Otis against granting the Writs was based upon the proposition that there are rights of the individual so sacred that they cannot be touched by legislation, and are inviolate even against an act of Parliament, and that when legislation impinges upon such rights, it is the duty of the courts to refuse to enforce such an act of the legislature. That decision, and the discussions to which it gave rise, were important factors in the establishment of the constitutional principle in Massachusetts, in all the States of the Union, and in the United States, that there are certain fundamental rights of the individual which are placed beyond the reach of legislative attack by being imbedded in the constitution, and are to be protected by the Courts against every assault upon them from whatever source.

    These dedicatory exercises are happily timed. It is deeply significant that this memorial, to the last representative but one of the King of Great Britain in Massachusetts just before the conflict that separated the colonies and established this nation, should be erected when these two great governments are united as allies. Both nations are dedicated in a large sense to the cause of Republican institutions. The freedom of the world now is imperilled; civilization has been outraged; despotic greed for dominion of the world has put free governments to their defence. We are again engaged in a great war, testing whether nations consecrated to freedom can survive, and whether “government of the people, by the people and for the people” shall perish from the earth. In that gigantic struggle the differences of revolutionary days have no place. Great Britain and the United States, with our other gallant allies, are together fighting that freedom may live, and that deliberate and calculating barbarism shall not triumph. It is fitting that we pause a moment in the midst of warlike preparations to brush the dust of years from this historic, judicial, and executive figure, and call public attention to the purity of his motive, to his sense of justice between man and man, and his devotion to the public weal as he saw it.

    This is patriotic service. It is rehabilitating the memory of a historian, a statesman, and a jurist of the long ago. It is symbolic of the alliance of mighty states in a titanic battle for the preservation of the most precious achievement in the progress of mankind.

    Mr. Park then said:

    Thomas Hutchinson, historian of the Colony and Province of the Massachusetts Bay, is a “member in good and honorable standing of the great brotherhood” of the students and writers of history. No review of his life can be complete that does not take account of that side of his many-sided interests. It is eminently fitting that we should listen to one who is qualified to judge of his work in this respect; and although, like most of us here present, this next speaker is descended from a family865 which at the time held Thomas Hutchinson in open hostility, he is himself too good an historian, too fair and impartial a scholar, to assess the outstanding personalities of the past at anything less than their true and abiding value.

    I present to you Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison, who will speak to us on Thomas Hutchinson as an historian.

    After the delivery of Dr. Morison’s address, President Robinson made the following —


    After all that has been said with regard to Thomas Hutchinson, it is not necessary for me to enter upon any long recital of the reasons that have led the Colonial Society to set up a monument to his memory. Democracies are often said to be ungrateful. Yet Massachusetts has not usually been neglectful of its own history, or forgotten its faithful servants, and Hutchinson would doubtless have long since been fitly commemorated if he had not ended his career by opposing American Independence. Because of his final choice to go with the Crown rather than the Province, his long life of service came to be disregarded, and he was remembered only to be condemned. But with the lapse of time, as has been shown this afternoon, a fairer judgment of him has been formed, and formed, too, by historians who have been themselves in complete sympathy with the cause of Independence. Men who disapprove, or even deplore, Hutchinson’s political course, are now able to see in his character something heroic. It is due to him, and due also to ourselves, in our concern for the truth of History, that this corrected judgment should be publicly recorded. It is suitable, too, that the record should be made by an historical society, and by one which, in its very name and membership, emphasizes the continuity of the history of Massachusetts as Colony, Province, and Commonwealth.

    The monument which we are here to dedicate was designed by an architect866 who is a member of the Society. The inscriptions were written also by a member,867 and sixty-nine others contributed the funds to make possible the construction. It is interesting to know that nearly all of this number, like the orator of the day, are descendants of men who were Hutchinson’s opponents at the end of his career.

    Thomas Hutchinson Memorial Doorway (detail) First Church in Boston

    Engraved for The Colonial Society of Massachusetts

    The memorial has been appropriately placed in this First Church in Boston where Hutchinson himself was a worshiper, and to which four earlier generations of his family belonged.

    In the name, then, of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and on its behalf, I ask the Standing Committee of the Parish to accept the gift of the Hutchinson Memorial Doorway.

    Thereupon Dr. Elbridge Gerry Cutler made the following —


    The Standing Committee, on behalf of the First Church in Boston, gladly accepts the custody of this beautiful Doorway erected in memory of a former parishioner of this Church, and guarantees to maintain, to the best of its ability, its perpetual preservation and care.

    The exercises were brought to a close by the singing of an ode and by a benediction pronounced by Dr. Park. There follow the inscriptions on the doorway, and a list of subscribers to the memorial.868


    Statesman Jurist Historian

    Born in Boston 9 September 1711

    Graduated at Harvard College 1727

    Envoy to England

    Speaker of the House

    Executive Councillor

    Delegate to the Albany Congress

    Lieutenant Governor

    Chief Justice

    Royal Governor of the Massachusetts Bay


    Doctor of the Civil Law Oxford

    Died in London 3 June 1780

    This Memorial is erected by

    The Colonial Society of Massachusetts

    in grateful recognition


    a long and distinguished career

    of public service

    always guided


    a conscientious desire

    to be loyal


    to the Province and to the Crown

    List of Subscribers to the Memorial to Governor Hutchinson

    • Francis Randall Appleton
    • William Vail Kellen
    • Thomas Willing Balch
    • Nathaniel Thayer Kidder
    • Simeon Eben Baldwin
    • Lincoln Newton Kinnicutt
    • James Phinney Baxter
    • Marcus Perrin Knowlton
    • Walter Cabot Baylies
    • George Vasmer Leverett
    • Melville Madison Bigelow
    • Arthur Lord
    • Edward Vanderhoof Bird
    • Arthur Theodore Lyman
    • George Nixon Black
    • Charles Frank Mason
    • Augustus George Bullock
    • Charles John McIntire
    • Louis Cabot
    • Edward Percival Merritt
    • Edward Channing
    • Thomas Minns
    • Joseph Hodges Choate
    • James Madison Morton
    • Charles Warren Clifford
    • Harold Murdock
    • Winthrop Murray Crane
    • Charles Lemuel Nichols
    • Henry Winchester Cunningham
    • Charles Edwards Park
    • Francis Henshaw Dewey
    • Stephen Willard Phillips
    • Wllberforce Eames
    • George Arthur Plimpton
    • Henry Herbert Edes
    • Charles Sedgwick Rackemann
    • William Endicott
    • Edward Kennard Rand
    • John Whittemore Farwell
    • Fred Norris Robinson
    • Henry Wilder Foote
    • Elihu Root
    • Worthington Chauncey Ford
    • Arthur Prentice Rugg
    • Robert Hallowell Gardiner
    • Richard Middlecott Saltonstall
    • Frederick Lewis Gay
    • John Eliot Thayer
    • George Lincoln Goodale
    • George Fox Tucker
    • Robert Grant
    • Julius Herbert Tuttle
    • Charles Montraville Green
    • William Cushing Wait
    • Chester Noyes Greenough
    • Horace Everett Ware
    • Frank Warren Hackett
    • Winslow Warren
    • Edward Hale
    • Charles Grenfill Washburn
    • Francis Russell Hart
    • Barrett Wendell
    • Samuel Henshaw
    • George Wigglesworth
    • Henry Lee Higginson
    • Moses Williams
    • Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe
      John Woodbury
    • Alfred Johnson