Annual Meeting

    November, 1956

    THE Annual Meeting of the Society was, for the first time, held at its House, No. 87 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, on Tuesday evening, 20 November 1956. As the President, Hon. Robert Walcott, had died on 11 November, the Senior Vice-President, Mr. Samuel Eliot Morison, took the chair.

    Cocktails were served in the dining room at a quarter before seven o’clock; dinner was set in the front rooms on the second floor. The Reverend Henry Wilder Foote said grace.

    At the conclusion of dinner, Mr. Morison spoke briefly of the late President Walcott’s contributions to the Society and to the community. He then read the Mayflower Compact, in accordance with custom, and called the Annual Meeting to order.

    With the consent of those present, the reading of the minutes of the last Stated Meeting was omitted.

    Messrs. Edward Pierce Hamilton, of Milton, Frederick Johnson, of Andover, Benjamin Woods Labaree, of Cambridge, and Edwin Williams Small, of Salem, were elected Resident Members, and Messrs. Wesley Frank Craven, of Princeton, New Jersey, and Alfred A. Knopf, of New York City, were elected Corresponding Members of the Society.

    The Annual Report of the Council was read by Mr. Walter Muir Whitehill.

    Report of the Council

    A YEAR ago next Thursday the Society held its annual meeting at the Algonquin Club, which has been the scene of many pleasant dinners, but the other three meetings took place here in the Society’s own house, in which tonight, for the first time, we have dined together. On the cold and blowy afternoon of 22 December 1955 the Editor read a paper on “Roque Island” by Dr. John Peabody Monks, who, although working valiantly against time and the inexorable progress of cancer to complete two books that were close to his heart, was too ill to present his findings in person. His book College Men at War, a study of the military experience of a selected group of normal Harvard Undergraduates, carried on by the Grant Study at Harvard University, will be published early next year as a memoir of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the full details of his loving investigation of the history of Roque Island, Maine, will eventually appear in our Transactions. On 23 February 1956, Stephen T. Riley read a paper entitled “John Adams and Robert Treat Paine, a Revolutionary rivalry,” and on 25 April, Benjamin W. Labaree—elected a Resident Member tonight—spoke on “Newburyport Colonial Merchants.” At the invitation of William Greenough Wendell, the Society migrated to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 29 June, lunching liberally at the Jacob Wendell House and visiting the Warner House.

    The second Conference on Early American History, deriving from Professor Lawrence H. Gipson’s activity, was held at 87 Mount Vernon Street on Saturday, 31 March, with Vice-President Morison and Professor Wilbur R. Jacobs of the University of California at Santa Barbara as the speakers. The reconstruction of Francis Parkman’s study was completed in time for the Conference. In 50 Chestnut Street the study was on the third floor; in this much larger house, it was necessary to go to the fourth floor in order to have a ceiling of the proper height. By the construction of two false walls within a larger room, a creditable approximation of Parkman’s little room was obtained. Woodwork, with the exception of window frames, gas fixtures, hearth and stove were all moved bodily from Chestnut Street, so that Parkman’s study furniture might be shown in a reasonable duplication of its original surroundings. These efforts received their highest commendation when Vice-President Morison, who had paid many visits to the third floor of 50 Chestnut Street, observed that the reconstructed study smelled just like the original! The books in the study naturally do not represent Parkman’s working tools, for these were carried to the Harvard College Library by Justin Winsor soon after their owner’s death. The shelves have been partially filled with books from the Parkman house, to which have been added from time to time other copies of books that Francis Parkman is known to have loved. For this purpose, Mrs. Carl S. Stillman of Wellesley gave a set of the Abbotsford edition of Scott, and the Editor produced from his barn a number of volumes of Fenimore Cooper with the Darley illustrations. The chief acquisition for the study has been Parkman’s copy of the two volumes of Jacques Lenfant, Histoire du concile de Constance (Amsterdam, 1727), given by Lawrence W. Jenkins, who bought them in the Harvard College Library duplicate room a number of years ago.

    In addition to the meeting of the Conference on Early American History, the Society’s house has been used for meetings of the Council and of the Publications Committee of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Editors of the New England Quarterly, and for a reception by the Harvard history department.

    During the year Mrs. Llewellyn Howland has made a second gift of twenty thousand dollars toward the endowment of the house, in addition to providing the crystal chandeliers that light the rooms where we are meeting tonight. Additional furnishings continue to come from generous friends. Mrs. Carl S. Stillman has made the dining room more habitable by the gift of a silver tea service and tray, a white Sèvres tea set with the Napoleonic monogram in gold, Minton compotes and tea cups and handsome table linen, as well as giving a seventeenth-century chair and a pair of Chinese porcelain vases. Mrs. Lovell Thompson has provided curtains for the library, in which she carries out the duties of Book Review Editor of the New England Quarterly, while Mr. Frederick J. Bradlee has given a large gold mirror that is installed in one of the third-floor rooms. The rare broadside of Harvard theses of the year 1773, hanging in the second-floor hallway, is the gift of Lyman H. Butterfield. Mr. and Mrs. Henry M. Channing, Mrs. Francis B. Lothrop and Miss Mary Otis have lent fine pieces of furniture during the year. Mr. Channing has begun to convert one of the third-floor rooms into a memorial to William Ellery Channing. Although still in process of arrangement, the room is already the handsomer for various certain pieces of family furniture. Mrs. Channing has placed in the library a secretary belonging to the first George Richards Minot, which exactly duplicates in its door frames and handles the large built-in bookcase that occupies one wall of the room.

    The Society, by a subsidy of $3,500, has continued its support of the New England Quarterly, of which it is copublisher.

    The following members have been elected during the past year:


    • William Hall Best
    • William Bradford Osgood
    • Myron Piper Gilmore
    • Perry Townsend Rathbone
    • Walter MacIntosh Merrill
    • Charles Akers
    • Paul Herman Buck


    • Lawrence William Towner


    • Lester Jesse Cappon
    • Gilbert Stuart McClintock


    • Mark Antony DeWolfe Howe

    The Society has lost by death the following members:

    John Peabody Monks, Resident, 1954, died 3 March 1956. A physician in the Harvard Department of Hygiene, a sailor who loved the Maine coast, and who served as a captain in the Navy Medical Corps during World War II, one of the most lighthearted and cheerful of companions, he was stricken with incurable disease soon after his election to the Society. The heroic manner in which he continued to work against seemingly insuperable obstacles enriched the lives of those who were privileged to see him during his last months.

    Robert Walcott, Resident, 1929, died 11 November 1956. Judge of the East Cambridge District Court for forty-eight years, a lover of learning and of the New England countryside and its birds, he presided with gravity and charm over innumerable organizations, including this Society, of which he was President from 1951 until his death only a few days ago.

    Earl Morse Wilbur, Corresponding, 1930, died 8 January 1956. The historian of American Unitarianism, who, although resident in California, studied the religious history of New England and appeared among us through his books.

    Stanley Thomas Williams, Corresponding, 1927, died 2 February 1956. A nearer neighbor from the Yale faculty, whose scholarly life was centered upon Washington Irving and the influence of Spain upon American letters.

    Foster Stearns, Corresponding, 1951, died 4 June 1956. Librarian and foreign-service officer in his early years, he later in life represented his town and state both in Concord, New Hampshire, and in Washington, without detriment to his natural inclination for the company of collectors, scholars and clubbable persons in general.

    The Treasurer submitted his Annual Report as follows:

    Report of the Treasurer

    In accordance with the requirements of the By-laws, the Treasurer submits his Annual Report for the year ending 14 November 1956.

    Statement of Assets and Funds, 14 November 1956








    Amount due on security transactions338


    Investments at Book Value:

    Bonds (Market Value $143,108.25)


    Stocks (Market Value $346,889.25)


    Savings Bank Deposit


    Savings and Loan Association Deposits



    Total Assets





    Unexpended Income


    Total Funds


    Income Cash Receipts and Disbursements

    Income Cash Overdraft, 14 November 1955







    Annual Assessments


    Sales of Publications



    Total Receipts of Income




    New England Quarterly


    Volume 38



    Expenses of 87 Mount Vernon Street Property:

    Renovations, maintenance

    and furnishings


    Real estate tax






    Telephone and telegraph









    Editor’s Salary


    Annual Dinner


    Secretarial Expenses


    Notices and Expenses of Meetings




    Postage, Office Supplies and Miscellaneous




    Interest on Sarah Louisa Edes Fund added to Principal


    Interest on Albert Matthews Fund added to Principal


    Total Disbursements of Income

    $ 21,745.15

    Income Cash Overdraft, 14 November 1956


    Mr. Arthur S. Pier reported that the Auditing Committee had employed Messrs. Stewart, Watts and Bollong, Public Accountants and Auditors, to make an audit of the accounts and to examine the securities, and presented the report of that firm to the meeting.

    The several reports were accepted and referred to the Committee on Publication.

    On behalf of the committee appointed to nominate officers for the ensuing year the following list was presented; and a ballot having been taken, these gentlemen were unanimously elected:


    • Richard Mott Gummere


    • Samuel Eliot Morison
    • Thomas Boylston Adams

    Recording Secretary

    • Robert Earle Moody

    Corresponding Secretary

    • David Britton Little


    • Carleton Rubira Richmond

    Member of the Council for Three Years

    • Frederick Scouller Allis, Jr.

    At the conclusion of the business meeting, Mr. [now Sir] Ronald Syme, Camden Professor of Ancient History at Oxford University, addressed the Society. Professor Syme spoke of the influence of “westerners” in the Roman Empire and their effect upon the Empire’s development. Seneca, Trajan, and Agricola were among the new leaders who “squeezed out” the “old Romans.” By contrast, he remarked that not enough of the right colonials went back to England in the eighteenth century, and suggested that if enough of the right caliber had returned to the center of empire, history might well have been different.