A Stated Meeting of the Society was held at No. 25 Beacon Street, Boston, on Thursday, 24 January, 1901, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, George Lyman Kittredge, in the chair.
The Records of the last Stated Meeting were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported that a letter had been received from General Charles G. Loring accepting Resident Membership.
Mr. Charles A. Snow offered the following vote, which was unanimously adopted:
Voted, That the Amendment of the By-Laws proposed by the Council at this Meeting is hereby adopted, so that Article 1 of Chapter III. will read as follows:
Art. 1. — There shall be Stated Meetings of the Society on the Twenty-first day of November and on the fourth Thursdays of December, January, February, March and April, at such time and place as the Council shall appoint; provided, however, that the Council shall have authority to postpone any, except the November, Stated Meeting, or to dispense with it altogether, whenever, for any cause, they may deem it desirable or expedient. Special Meetings shall be called by either of the Secretaries at the request of the President; or, in case of his death, absence, or inability, of one of the Vice-Presidents, or of the Council.
The Stated Meeting in November shall be the Annual Meeting of the Corporation.
The President announced the death of Professor Moses Coit Tyler, a Corresponding Member, and paid a tribute to his memory as a scholar and as the author of a history of our Colonial literature.
The Honorable Charles W. Clifford spoke as follows:
What can be said of Roger Wolcott which has not been already better said? We seem like laggards bringing our tributes of love, honor and respect to lay upon his bier already loaded with the immortelles of a universal grief. Yet we of this Society, which he cherished and whose Roll his name illumined, may, in some sense, have a peculiar right to mourn his death, for in his life and character were the fruitage, after two hundred and fifty years of growth, of the virtues of the Colonial stock. It was just two hundred and fifty years from the landing of the Pilgrims to the date of his graduation from Harvard University, and it was only a few years more than that from the foundation of this noble City to the date of his inauguration as Governor of the Commonwealth. What was the fundamental virtue which marked the beginning of this era and, as I say, found its richest fruit in his life and character? Steadfastness to duty, — that dominant force which enabled its possessors, with grim determination, to do the right, as it was given them to see the right, regardless of personal ease and comfort and the flowery path which leads to inactivity! It was that force which enabled the Pilgrims to breast the dashing waves upon our stern New England coast for the freedom to worship God, and it was that same force which a hundred and fifty years later threw overboard the Tea in Boston Harbor.
So it was with Wolcott. An aristocrat in all the virtues that aristocracy can develop, he was a thorough democrat in his recognition of that altruistic principle which, since it was enunciated in Palestine two thousand years ago, has been the foundation-stone of all true democracy. A Colonial aristocrat in lineage, wealth and love of ease and refined things, and all the sweeter environment which art and beauty and poetry lend to a life of leisure, that old Colonial principle of steadfastness to duty was the dominant force in his character, softened and mellowed by the democratic altruism of this later and, I believe, better age. I know something of the motive which induced him to give up that life of ease which opened so alluringly before him to tread what, to him, was the hard path of public endeavor, and that it was not the glittering triumphs of the hour but that stern old sense of duty which impelled him. It was that which spoke in his veto, when he did what seemed to him to be right instead of courting popularity by an easy acquiescence. It was that which, in these later years, kept him at his post with untiring energy and unceasing watchfulness and rigid devotion to his public duties. It was the spirit of Phillips and of Sumner, but it lacked the sneer of the one and the egotism of the other.
It is not uncommon for us to hear a person, who bears a noble presence, who possesses the winning traits of personal courtesy, who exercises the charm of human sympathy and who exemplifies in his acts and thoughts the motto of his class, — Noblesse Oblige, — spoken of as “a gentleman of the old school;” but Wolcott’s life proves that such is the highest type of gentleman in our modern school, and that this age, which recognizes and applauds the fact, is not degenerate.
No beggar ever felt him condescend,
No prince presume; for still himself he bore
At manhood’s simple level and where’er
He met a stranger, there he left a friend.
A Unitarian in his religious belief, Wolcott was buried from Trinity Church in Boston, with the entire Commonwealth mourning at his bier. This can add nothing to his reward of duty well performed, but it does mean much to this goodly city of his home here his presence was a daily inspiration and benediction to the old Commonwealth which he served so well, and to all of us who shared his confidence and were helped and strengthened by his friendship; it means much more for the future welfare of humanity that the life and character of Roger Wolcott was the fruit which, after two hundred and fifty years, the old Colonial tree was bearing at the close of the nineteenth century.
President Carter of Williams College paid the following tribute to Governor Wolcott:
Mr. President, — It is only as a citizen of Massachusetts, loving such interests of the Commonwealth as know no narrow limits, the interests of good government, of education and the higher manhood, that it is proper for me to say words in honor of the late Roger Wolcott. My acquaintance with him, beginning in the autumn of 1892 when he was a candidate for the office of Lieutenant-Governor, was not of long standing. It was my pleasure to introduce him to my fellow-townsmen at a public meeting. I did not know his family history, but, struck by the Historic significance of his name, I ventured, rightly as it turned out, to connect him with distinguished governors of Connecticut. His very presence bore the stamp of distinguished ancestry, and yet nothing could have surpassed the simplicity and plainness and courtesy of the address of this high-born gentleman. The impression left upon me by the observations of that evening was that here was a man destined to a lofty career. Afterward, I saw him from time to time in various relations, and always the same fine combination of dignity and gentleness or, if I may so say, majesty and sweetness marked his appearance. When he became Governor, I think it was impossible for a sensitive person to leave him after an interview without feeling that his supreme aim was to serve the Commonwealth, that the chivalrous motto Noblesse Oblige had become as it were an instinctive feeling with him, and that, whatever it cost him, he would be true to the larger, deeper interests of Massachusetts. The fine prayer in his speech at the reception of the Bradford Manuscript was the expression of his true life:
May God, in his mercy, grant that the moral impulse which founded this Nation may never cease to control its destiny; that no act of any future generation may put in peril the fundamental principles upon which it is based, — of equal rights in a free state, equal privileges in a free church, and equal opportunities in a free school.
It was, I am sure, in response to the noblest patriotism that he made his appointments. It was in response to the highest devotion, not merely to the rights of the citizens of Boston, but to the encouragement of education in the remoter, poorer towns that he vetoed the bill laying a mill-tax on all property for the benefit of common schools, — an insidious, socialistic measure not yet, I fear, annihilated.
It was in response to this same loyalty to the ideal commonwealth that Governor Wolcott vetoed more than one bill having for its object the lowering or abolition of tests of fitness for the holding of office. By so doing, in one case, he came directly into conflict with the absurd claim of politicians who advocated, and apparently persuaded the Legislature of Massachusetts to accept, the view that a few months of service in the army ought to annul the requirement of any other test for fitness in an applicant for office. It is not to be believed that such acts cost their author nothing. He was finely sensitive to the most human motives. He had faith in popular government and legislative enactments. He did not like to send to the Legislature a message calling attention to the abandonment involved in such a bill of the life principle of democracy, — that the best equipped should serve the state; but, with Phillips Brooks, believing that “the public officer embodies the Nation’s character, expresses its spirit and sanctity,” and recognizing that his own training and his position left no other path for him to tread than that of fidelity to this principle, he walked steadily in that path.
I think there was always a feeling on the part of some even who honored Wolcott, that he was not in the closest touch, that he could not get into familiar relations with the common people; that a sort of frosty dignity would now and then crop out through the beautiful and uninterrupted stretches of his outward courtesy. I am not certain that this was not true; but if it was true, it did not hinder his rapid and steady advancement; and when once in the gubernatorial chair, it helped rather than impaired his lofty discharge of duty. His superb personal presence, his manly bearing when, on horseback, he represented Massachusetts in some national procession, led many to say, “He looks the king of men he really is.” Of genuine sympathy for all men, of tenderness for the unfortunate, of readiness to put all his gifts and powers at the service of his fellow-citizens, he had no lack. Massachusetts has had a proud line of illustrious Governors. Some have been distinguished for eloquence, some for scholarship, some for executive power, one or two have, perhaps, had more or less a combination of all these qualities; but can we recall one whose personal presence, breadth of view, loyalty to duty, and genuine sympathy made him more worthy than he to be the foremost citizen of the Commonwealth? I like to think of him as a Galahad who —
Ever moved among us in white armor,
God make thee good as thou art beautiful!
I like to think that he co-operated with God in the fulfilment of that prayer, and that in all his sharp debates with the advocates of lower creeds, in all the turbulence and acclaim of crowds, in all the loneliness of the Governor’s chair, he remembered the consecration. Though leaving us so young, might he not say, and do we not deeply honor him that he might truly say, — translating the Holy Grail into his ideal of service —
In the strength of this I rode,
Shattering all evil customs everywhere,
And past thro’ Pagan realms, and made them mine,
And clash’d with Pagan hordes, and bore them down,
And broke thro’ all, and in the strength of this
And hence I go and one will crown me king
Far in the spiritual city.
The Reverend Henry A. Parker related some incidents of Governor Wolcott’s boyhood; Mr. Francis H. Lincoln spoke of him as his schoolmate; Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis referred to the high plane which characterized his public and private career; and Mr. William Cushing Wait recalled the manly stand which he took in the matter of some unjust exemptions which were proposed in connection with the Metropolitan Park assessments.
On behalf of Mr. Denison R. Slade, who was unable to be present, Mr. Edes communicated the following document from his family papers:
Provision of the Massachusetts Bay
By His Excellency the Governour.
Whereas Messrṣ Richard Clarke and Joseph Lee have represented to me that they are Proprietors of certain Iron Works in the Town of Attleboro’, & have Occasion in carrying on the said Mystery of making Iron to employ Twenty men as Artificers & Labourers in the said Business; and that the taking the said men off from the said Work may be a great & irreparable Damage to their Interest, and have therefore prayed that I would excuse said Artificers & Labourers from military Duty.
I do hereby accordingly exempt from all military Duty whatsoever such persons as shall be employed by the said Clarke & Lee in the said Iron Works to the number of Twenty, during such Time as they shall be so employed.
Of which all Military Officers whom it may concern are required to take Notice & to conform themselves accordingly.
Given under my hand & Seal at Boston the 13tḥ day of April, 1745. In the Eighteenth Year of his Majesty’s Reign.
Mr. Edes then said:
Neither the Council Records nor the Massachusetts Archives contain any reference to Shirley’s action, nor have I been able to find any petition from Richard Clarke and Joseph Lee upon which it might have been based. These gentlemen were classmates at Harvard College, in the Class of 1729, and their subsequent careers are well known.60
The following letter from Mr. Joshua Eddy Crane, who has made a study of the Iron industry in southern Massachusetts, will be read with interest:
Taunton, Mass., April 24, 1902.
Mr. Henry H. Edes,
My Dear Sir, — Your communication of March 22nd, relating to early iron works, Attleborough, was received at Taunton during my absence, occasioned by a trip into the South, and I have been prevented from sending you an earlier reply.
I have been much interested in your letter and heartily wish that I could give you the full information required.
It seems to me that there is no doubt that the old Attleborough forge, or works, to which your letter refers, must be the bloomery with which Thomas Baylies of Taunton was associated before his settlement here in 1757. The old Attleborough works were situated within the limits of East Attleborough, at Mechanicsville, or Mechanics, and have long since disappeared, but the site is still pointed out. As early as 1742, Robert Saunderson of Boston, master of the forge, sold the property to Robert Lightfoot, a merchant of Boston,61 who was probably, in years afterward, one of several proprietors interested in the works, and in 1759 the property came into the hands of Thomas Cobb of Taunton.62
Thomas Baylies appears to have been at Attleborough as early as 1742;63 it does not appear when Saunderson settled there,64 but it is evident that such an undertaking must have been maintained by several proprietors,65 and your newly discovered document adds an interesting chapter to the industrial history of the place.
I do not find any helpful mention of the works except in Daggett’s History of Attleborough [edition of 1894, p. 338],66 a work of value issued after the death of the author, who was a writer of much research and for a time the President of the Old Colony Historical Society.
I should have no hesitation in welcoming the statement that merchants of Boston were interested in this enterprise as they were in others in the Old Colony. In examining some of the books of the ancient iron works in Taunton, which were written as accounts in 1742–5, now in possession of the Old Colony Historical Society, I find several names of gentlemen of Boston who were interested in the business, but I do not find the names of Richard Clarke or Joseph Lee. I do find the names of Jonas Clarke and Peter Oliver. It is very strong evidence, it seems to me, that the proprietors of the works mentioned in your letter, were the gentlemen who were graduates of Harvard, in association with others.
I am not aware of any other site of a forge in Attleborough, and I think that an examination of the records of the transfer of land as early as the beginning of the next century, that is, about 1800, will enable you to identify the spot. I cannot give you the name of any one residing in Attleborough who may have an acquaintance with this matter. Mr. Seaver, the Secretary of the Old Colony Historical Society, concurs with me in this expression of view.
In the sale of the property in 17 42 there were —
about 15 acres of land including the Forge Pond, together with a forge containing three fires, and a cole house, Pigg house, two dwellings and granary, a stable on said premises standing, and all the utensils belonging to and proper for such a forge in good going order, the whole being under ye occupation of Thomas Baylies.67
This property was sold to Lightfoot, a merchant of Boston, for two thousand pounds, current money of the Province, but Saunderson retained a part interest in the works for ten years, selling one-half of the forge, etc., in 1752, to John Merrit of Providence.68
The bloomery stood on Ten Mile river.
Thomas Cobb was a son-in-law of James Leonard, Jr. of Taunton, who was an active iron-master, and was an overseer in Attleborough under Lightfoot and his associates, Lightfoot removing to Newport, in later years, and residing there some time before he disposed of his interest in the works.
If I can be of any further assistance to you, please communicate with me.
Yours very truly.
Joshua E. Crane.
Mr. George Parker Winship, a Corresponding Member, read some interesting letters, written in Boston in 1779 and 1780, by the local correspondent of an old Rhode Island firm,69 describing contemporary business, social, educational, and denominational happenings. One communication, from the Reverend Samuel Stillman of the First Baptist Church, telling of his struggles with the rulers of the dominant church, throws some curious light upon the motives and methods of the party which controlled Massachusetts during the later Revolutionary period.
Mr. Albert Matthews read the following paper on —
While it may not be possible to trace the precise steps by which the term Brother Jonathan came to be applied to Americans collectively, yet as the origin of the expression has never been seriously treated and as some wholly new facts can be presented, it may be of interest to consider the subject afresh, and an examination of the generally accepted story in regard to it will be instructive as a study in the evolution of a popular legend. In the Norwich Evening Courier of Thursday, 12 November, 1846, No. 797, p. 2/4, there appeared this passage:
“The following account of the Origin of the term, ‘Brother Jonathan,’ as applied to the United States will, no doubt, gratify the curiosity of a multitude of minds, no less than it has done our own. It is the first and only account we have ever seen of the origin of a term which has come into universal use. It comes to us through a friend in this city, from one of the most intelligent gentlemen and sterling Whigs in Connecticut — a gentleman now upward of 80 years of age — himself an active participator in the scenes of the Revolution. — Ed. Courier.
“‘Brother Jonathan’ — Origin of the Term as applied to the United States.
“When General Washington, after being appointed commander of the Army of the Revolutionary war, came to Massachusetts to organize it, and make preparation for the defense of the Country, he found a great destitution of ammunition and other means, necessary to meet the powerful foe he had to contend with, and great difficulty to obtain them. If attacked in such condition, the cause at once might be hopeless. On one occasion at that anxious period, a consultation of the officers and others was had, when it seemed no way could be devised to make such preparation as was necessary. His Excellency, Jonathan Trumbull, the elder, was then Governor of the State of Connecticut, on whose judgement and aid the General placed the greatest reliance, and remarked, We must consult ‘Brother Jonathan’ on the subject. The General did so, and the Governor was successful in supplying many of the wants of the Army. When difficulties after arose, and the army was spread over the Country, it became a by-word, ‘we must consult Brother Jonathan.’ The term Yankee is still applied to a portion, but, ‘Brother Jonathan’ has now become a designation of the whole Country, as John Bull has, for England.”70
The commentators rapidly improved upon this story. Within five years Horace Bushnell had added some attractive features, writing in 1851:
“Neither let us forget, in this connection, what appears to be sufficiently authenticated, that our Trumbull is no other than the world-renowned Brother Jonathan, accepted as the soubriquet of the United States of America. Our Connecticut Jonathan was to Washington what the scripture Jonathan was to David, a true friend, a counselor and stay of confidence — Washington’s brother. When he wanted honest counsel and wise, he would say, ‘let us consult brother Jonathan;’ and then afterwards, partly from habit and partly in playfulness of phrase, he would say the same when referring any matter to the Congress, — ‘let us consult Brother Jonathan.’ And so it fell out rightly, that as Washington was called the Father of his Country, so he named the fine boy, the nation, after his brother Jonathan — a good, solid, scripture name, which, as our sons and daughters of the coming time may speak it, anywhere between the two oceans, let them remember honest old Connecticut and the faithful and true brother she gave to Washington.”71
A little later, G. H. Hollister, alluding to Trumbull, remarked:
“Industrious, quiet, unselfish, trust-worthy — with a head never giddy, however steep the precipice upon which he stood, and a heart that kept all secrets confided to it as the deep wave holds the plummet that is dropped into its bosom — no wonder that Trumbull should have been selected by the first man of the world as his counselor and companion, and no wonder that he called him ‘brother.’”72
In 1858 Ashbel Woodward said:
“We wish to note a single incident connected with the Revolutionary position of the first Gov. Trumbull. We refer to the origin of the once New-England, but now national, soubriquet of ‘Brother Jonathan.’ It is understood to have come into use in this wise: Washington, whose resources were generally made equal to any emergency, was, at some critical periods, greatly perplexed for want of troops, and that which was almost as necessary to insure success, the munitions of war in general. It was then, when his own great heart was almost ready to falter, that be unhesitatingly decided to fall back upon Gov. Trumbull, who was always reliable; or, as he expressed it, ‘to consult Brother Jonathan.’”73
In 1872, Schele De Vere declared that —
“in this difficulty [Washington] found great support in the energetic and wise governor, and thus contracted the habit of saying, in every emergency, ‘We must consult Brother Jonathan.’”74
In 1872 Stephen W. Kellogg, on the occasion of the presentation of a statue of Governor Trumbull to be placed in the Capitol at Washington, made a speech in the House of Representatives, in which he said:
“Trumbull bore the honored title and distinction of ‘the rebel Governor’ in England. Washington gave him the good old homely name of ‘Brother Jonathan,’ by which he and his country have been and will be known the world over. Washington relied upon him, as on an elder brother, for counsel and aid all through the war. When he first assumed command of an army without ammunition and without supplies, and his council of war could devise no means to procure them, he ‘consulted Brother Jonathan,’ and the supplies came.”75
In 1887 Elias B. Sanford observed:
“The relations of Governor Trumbull and Washington were those of close and intimate friendship. Washington leaned upon him as his right arm. ‘Let us consult Brother Jonathan,’ he would say, when any difficult matter was under consideration. The remark became so common, that, in a spirit of pleasant appreciation of the Connecticut governor, he would playfully say, when referring any matter to Congress, ‘Let us consult Brother Jonathan;’ and it was in this way, the nation itself, in familiar phrase, was named ‘Brother Jonathan.’”76
Close to the house at Lebanon, Connecticut, where Governor Trumbull lived during the Revolution, is a smaller building, known as the “War Office,” in which he transacted his business. In 1891 this building was restored, and on 15 June a celebration was held at which a flag was raised over the building. “A few minutes later another flag bearing, in large letters, the words, ‘BROTHER JONATHAN,’ was displayed from” the house once occupied by Governor Trumbull.77
In 1895 Mr. J. Henry Lea wrote:
“There is probably no family among our early colonial and revolutionary stock which has contributed so many distinguished men to their country’s service in so many widely varied walks of life as the Trumbulls — preëminent among statesmen, warriors, divines, poets, painters and historians, the fame of the family must still rest, as its most enduring monument, on the patriot Governor of Connecticut whose nickname of ‘Brother Jonathan,’ affectionately given him by Washington, will ever stand as the prototype of American manhood and patriotism.”78
But the climax was reached by I. W. Stuart in the following passage:
“So frequently did the Commander-in-chief appeal to the latter [Trumbull] for his deliberation and judgment, that — not only when any conjuncture of difficulty or peril arose, but even often when matters not involving peril, but simply facts and circumstances hard of solution, were under his consideration — he was in the habit of remarking — ‘We must consult Brothel Jonathan’ — a phrase which his intimate relations of friendship with the Governor of Connecticut fully warranted, as well as the fact — probably well known to Washington — that ‘Brothel Jonathan’ was the title of familiar but respectful endearment by which Trumbull was often designated in his own neighborhood and home, among a large circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances generally.79
“From the marquee and council-rooms of the Commander-in-chief, the phrase ‘we must consult Brother Jonathan’ passed out to the soldiery. And gradually spreading from mouth to mouth, as occasions of doubt and perplexity, and finally even of slight embarrassments, arose — soon became a popular and universal phrase in the whole American army — in use to unravel the threads of almost every entanglement — solve every scruple — unriddle every enigma — settle every confusion — smooth every anxiety — and untie even — as a kind of pis-aller, as a catch-phrase of wand-like power — every little Gordian knot of social converse.
“From the camp the expression passed to adjacent neighborhoods — from adjacent neighborhoods to States — and both in this way, and through the medium of returning soldiery, became propagated through the country at large — until finally, syncopated in part, it was universally appropriated, through its two emphatic words ‘Brother Jonathan,’ as a sobriquet, current to the present day — and which will continue current, probably, through ages yet to come — for that mightiest of all Republics that ever flung its standard to the breezes of heaven — The United States Of America.
“So it happens, that a Governor of Connecticut — and this the one we commemorate — by force of an exalted virtue, signally developed in himself, has enstamped his own name upon half the Continent of the New World!80 In his name a colossal nation has been baptized. The Kingdoms of the world — Principalities and Powers — now consult Brother Jonathan!”81
If it is asked on what authority Mr. Stuart based this minute, detailed, and circumstantial account of the origin and spread of the term Brother Jonathan, there will be surprise to learn that the only evidence he could cite in support of his amazing assertions was the story given at the beginning of this paper.82 It has apparently occurred to no one until now to submit that story to examination. A story not alluded to in the correspondence either of Washington or of Trumbull; a story unknown to the contemporaries of either; a story unheard of until forty-seven years after the death of Washington, sixty-one years after the death of Trumbull, and seventy-one years after Washington took command of the American forces; a story the author of which has never been discovered, but which comes to us from an unknown octogenarian, who, as he was upwards of eighty years of age in 1846, was therefore upwards of nine years of age in 1775, and whose services as “an active participator in the scenes of the Revolution” could scarcely have been of an arduous nature;83 a story unsupported by one iota of corroborating evidence, — to such a story obviously no credence can be given. It is, in short, a newspaper story pure and simple, and as such should have been received with caution from the beginning. When will biographers and historians, in dealing with a question of etymology, instead of accepting without examination the first account that comes to hand, inquire into the history of a word or phrase, and apply the same rules of evidence to alleged etymological facts that they apply to alleged historical facts? Moreover, it will not escape notice that, in these accounts of Trumbull, Washington figures in quite a subordinate character; but surely, the services rendered by Trumbull84 were of sufficient consequence not to need bolstering up by details drawn from what, with the evidence at present in our possession, must be pronounced a purely imaginary story. It is incumbent on those who accept this, either to offer proof in its support, or, failing that, to withdraw it.85
One of the many theories in regard to the derivation of the word Yankee was advanced by the Reverend William Gordon, who in 1788 declared that the word was a favorite cant expression with a certain Jonathan Hastings of Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1713.86 It is not my purpose to discuss this theory, and I mention it at all only because it was reproduced by a writer in an English review in 1814, and drew from the editor the following question:
“May not the characteristic name of Jonathan applied to the people of the United States owe its origin to the same person?”87
The origin of the term was also attributed, by another English writer, in 1861, to Jonathan Carver, the noted traveller.88 On this principle, the expression could be traced back to the first person who rejoiced in the christian name of Jonathan. And indeed we seem almost to have reached that point in the passage which is now to be considered. In 1643 there was printed at London a pamphlet called The Reformado.89 This purports to be a harangue delivered by a Churchwarden of St. Clement’s Church, Eastcheap. The speaker, beginning with the weathercock on the steeple, considers in turn every separate thing pertaining to the ornaments or furniture of the church, and declares how each ought to be dealt with: some must be wholly done away with, while others need only be transformed. The passage which concerns us is as follows:
“Queene ELIZABETHS Monument was put up (at my charge) when the Regall Government had fairer credit among us than now: and her Epitaph was one of my Brother Jonathan’s best Poems, before hee abjured the University, or had a thought of New-England. I have had no small strugling within me about the toleration or abolition of this Statue; and at last, have resolv’d it shall continue, but with a Curtaine to vaile it, that wee may regard, or dis-regard it at our pleasure: For, methinks in Forty foure yeares reigne, she might (if she pleased) have bated the Beast of Rome to better purpose, and wrought a more through Reformation” (p. 9).
In regard to this passage, three views seem possible. First, as it will not do to take the pamphlet too seriously, it may be held that the monument existed only in the imagination of the speaker. Secondly, perhaps there actually was in the church a statue of Elizabeth. Thirdly, it may have been one of those “monuments” of Queen Elizabeth which at that time were often seen in London churches. Writing in 1656, Fuller said:
“Queen Elizabeth, the mirrour of her Sex and Age, . . . exchanged her Earthly, for a Heavenly Crowne; . . . Her Corps were solemnly interred under a fair Tomb in Westminster; the lively Draught whereof, is pictured in most London, & many Countrey Churches, every Parish being proud of the shadow of her Tomb; and no wonder, when each Loyal Subject erected a mournfull Monument for her in his heart.”90
An examination of Stow’s Survey of London91 makes it reasonably certain that the third view is the correct one. In the 1618 edition of that work (p. 406), it is stated that St. Clement’s “is a small Church, void of monuments, other then of, Francis Barnam, Alderman, who deceased, 1575, and of Benedict Barnam his sonne, Alderman also, 1598.” In the edition of 1633 (p. 832), we read:
Queene Elizabeths Monument.
In the figure of a Booke.
They that trust in the Lord, shall bee as Mount Sion, which cannot be removed, but remaineth for ever.
On the one side.
Spaines rod, Romes ruine,
Heavens jem, Earth’s joy,
Worlds wonder, Natures chiefe.
On the other side.
The Faiths Defendor.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, &c.
Of the one hundred and twenty-two churches described by Stow, no fewer than thirty-five contained, in 1633, “monuments” to Queen Elizabeth.92 The inscriptions on these monuments were sometimes in prose, sometimes in verse, and sometimes both in prose and verse. The lines given above appear, in whole or in part, in twelve churches besides St. Clement’s. To speak of these doggerel lines as among “my Brother Jonathan’s best Poems” is in keeping with the satirical nature of the pamphlet.93 It is possible that the author of this “poem” was known in 1643, and that he was some one whose christian name was Jonathan. But another passage in the pamphlet seems to aid us here:
“We have but one Manuscript, (I meane the Register) and that must be Corrected; for the names of all those that were crost at their Baptisme, ring’d at their Marriage, or pray’d over at their Buriall shall be cancell’d. No Names henceforth shall be ingrossed here, unlesse they were first Registred in holy Writ” (p. 8).
Is it unreasonable to conclude that the speaker attributed the authorship of the lines to some hypothetical Puritan, to whom the scripture name of Jonathan might appropriately be given? At all events, it is a far cry from “my Brother Jonathan” of the 1643 pamphlet to our modern term Brother Jonathan.
Leaving these unprofitable guesses, and turning to the facts in the case, we find that the problem is in reality a difficult one. It is only within recent years that the term has been recognized by lexicographers; and, so far as I am aware, the only example of the expression which has ever been cited is one given below under date of 1822.94 Consequently, nothing is known as to the history of the term. It was asserted by some unknown person, at some uncertain time, but between 1815 and 1822, that “Brother Jonathan” exclaimed that a song supposed to have been composed in 1755 “was nation fine.”95 Could this statement be substantiated, it would be interesting; but there is no reason for believing that the alleged song was composed in 1755, and as little for thinking that the term Brother Jonathan was in existence at so early a period. It is not until well into the Revolutionary war that we find any trace of the term under discussion, and then it appears in a slightly different form. It is of course needless to say that all through the war, songs and ballads were constantly appearing in the newspapers, both loyal and patriotic. From one of these, which is found in a New York paper of October, 1778, the following is quoted:
Yankee Doodle’s Expedition to Rhode-Island.
Written at Philadelphia.
I. From Lewis, Monsieur Gerard96 came
To Congress in this town Sir,
They bow’d to him, and he to them,
And then they all sat down Sir,
Chorus. Yankee Doodle, &c.
II. Begar said Monsieur one grand Coup
You shall bientot behold Sir,
This was believ’d as Gospel true,
And Jonathan felt bold Sir.97
The sound of British drum Sir,
How oft it made him quake and sweat
In spite of Yankee Rum Sir.
IV. He took his wallet on his back,
His Rifle on his shoulder,
And veow’d Rhode-Island to attack
Before he was much older.
IX. As Jonathan so much desir’d,
To shine in martial story,
D’Estaing with politesse retir’d
To leave him all the glory.98
In July, 1779, the British made an attack upon Fairfield, Connecticut, and the affair was thus described in a loyal paper:
“Huntington Bay, 11 o’clock, July 10, 1779. About 5 P.M. landed about a mile and an half west of the fort at Fairfield, one division consisting of Jagers, . . . the advanced corps drew up a little short of the town where they proposed remaining, but the enemy bringing a 6 pounder on their left to enfilade them, they were obliged to move forwards and drive the enemy from the lower heights in front of the town which they occupied with this field-piece, this they effected with little loss and difficulty; Jonathan very prudently removing himself to the upper heights at a very decent distance where he amused himself with firing long shot till about 8 o’clock, . . . Fairfield, till 6 in the evening remained as before, when an order came for the advanced troops to retire a little nearer the town; Jonathan imagining the dread of him had inspired this motion felt very bold, and advancing nearer, got in behind some houses in front of the town, and flattering himself he was then in security, threw his shot something thicker about him, the troops faced about, drove Jonathan from his fancied fortress and then set fire to these few alone which had emboldened and afforded cover to their enemies; . . . Gen. Tryon Then sent a flag to them by the clergyman of the place, offering, if they would return to their allegiance, the town should be spared, and those who would come in should remain unmolested; this generous offer Jonathan did not think fit to comply with, but cannonaded his own town all night, the consequence of which was, in the morning the troops set it on tire, and they re-imbarked.”99
In the same paper there also occurs this account:
“Jonathan has got another drubbing.
“Last week the rebel general Clinton, with a detachment from Mr. O’Sullivan, was attacked on their march near Wyoming, by a party under the command of Joseph and his Brethren, the particulars of which we hope to give in our next.”100
In May, 1780, we find the following:
“Last Monday afternoon Col. Delancey with a party of his Loyal Refugees, made an incursion of about 30 miles into the enemy’s country. The foot took post at Byron Bridge, while the horse passed Sherwood’s Bridge, and proceeded to Horseneck, where a party of rebels were stationed — they immediately attacked them, killed 8, took prisoners a Lieutenant, a Commissary, a Mr. Knap a Presbyterian Parson, and 36 rank and file, also took and destroyed a piece of cannon, which the Jonathans in vain endeavoured to defend; the Loyalists were so quick upon them, that they could not discharge it more than twice before it was taken possession of.”101
“The 21st [April], produced a flag from the rebels, asking terms; their demands were unreasonable, of course rejected, and the firing again commenced about 11 at night. The day following the reinforcement landed from New-York; and we are happy in hearing that the detachment with Col. Webster, is so well posted on the Hobcaw side, that the rebels cannot escape. — Well knowing there is no created thing can equal Jonathan for a slippery trick, — we were afraid his escape might be effected that way; especially as there were a great number of boats in town kept in readiness for that purpose.”102
In June, 1780, an affair occurred in New Jersey about which there were conflicting reports. The following passage reflects both sides:
“From the Boston Gazette, dated June 26. Extract of a letter from Fairfield, dated June 16. ‘A gentleman this moment has come off Long-Island, and brings account that the enemy, in their late manoeuvre into the Jersies, have met with a repulse, and their loss sustained is 150 men killed, 3 or 400 wounded . . .’
“☞ Every endeavour has been used to exaggerate the loss of the King’s Troops, to represent it as considerable, and conceal that of the rebels in this Jersey affair. We are assured from an authority which never misled us, that our militia gentry in particular, on the excursion, were uncommonly chastised, and that in one of the skirmishes those of Essex county alone were corrected to the amount of 114 killed, wounded, and missing. The Newark adventurers too were copiusly phlebotomized, many of the republican families in East Jersey have lost their daddies and brother Jonathans, whilst others are smarting and groaning under the wounds received from the animated fire which drove them to their recesses and defiles.”103
Not long after the battle of Camden, which resulted so disastrously for the Americans, there appeared in a New York paper a poem from which the following is extracted:
Set to Music by Signora Carolina.
O wherefore, brother Jonathan,
So doleful are your features?
Say, are you rather poorly, man,
Or have you lost your creatures?
Ah, wou’d to Heaven that were all!
But worse I have to mention,
For Gates, our gallant general
Has made a new convention.
Then Jonathan prick up your ears;
Why don’t you smile and caper?
Why, we’ll enlist the Regulars,
And pay them with our paper.104
A thousand slaughter’d friends we’ve lost,
A thousand more are taken;
Horatio’s steed, which gallop’d post,
Has sav’d his rider’s bacon.105
Now mourn with sackcloth cover’d o’er,
Our Israel forsaken!
So many slain — while such a Boar
As Gates shou’d save his bacon.106
On 19 December, 1782, the American vessel the South Carolina was captured off the Delaware by the British ships Quebec, Diomede, and Astrea, and taken into New York; and in a few days there appeared in a paper some verses purporting to come “From dejected JONATHAN, a Prisoner taken in the South Carolina, to his Brother Ned at Philadelphia,” of which the following is a stanza:
I die to relate what has been our fate,
How sadly our Navies are shrunk;
The pride of our State begins to abate,
For the branches are lopp’d from the trunk.107
Reviewing the extracts which have thus far been given, it is clear that the word Jonathan was used by the Loyalists108 and applied by them in mild derision to those who espoused the American cause. We find an individual American called a Jonathan, we find a number of Americans called Jonathans, we find Americans collectively called Jonathan, and we also find the term Brother Jonathan. Why the particular name Jonathan should have been selected, is one of those questions easy to ask but difficult, if not impossible, to answer.109 The fact that that was the christian name of Governor Trumbull may have had something to do with the adoption of Jonathan rather than of another name;110 but there is nothing in the evidence to support the notion that such was the case. Nor is there anything to show that the word was applied particularly to the men of Connecticut, or even to those of New England.
It will be observed that as yet the term has not been employed by the men who espoused the American cause. Hardly, however, had the Revolutionary war ended, than we find the use of the word Jonathan becoming somewhat widespread as applied to a country bumpkin, varied by an occasional instance of the term Brother Jonathan. In 1787 there was acted at New York a comedy called The Contrast, written by Royall Tyler of Boston. It is interesting to note that in this play, under the name of Jonathan, the stage Yankee made his first appearance in literature.111 In a collection of patriotic songs, published in 1800, there was one which must have been written in 1798, when war with France was thought imminent. Two stanzas are as follows:
[Perhaps not out of season.]
I WONDER what the racket means,
A cutting of fresh capers;
The Parson says the French are mad,
He reads it in the papers.
Heigho, ho! Billy Bow,
I b’lieve the War’s a coming,
’N’ if it does, I’ll get a gun,
Soon’s I hear them drumming.
An’ I heard ’em say, a training day,
That’s Washington’s a going;
An’ Capen Toby swears they’ll fall
Like grass when he’s a mowing.112
Clearly the hero of this song was merely a country bumpkin, and no doubt it was in this sense that Thomas G. Fessenden used the word when he made Jonathan Jolthead the hero of his poem called The Country Lovers, written in 1804. It begins as follows:
A MERRY tale I will rehearse,
As ever you did hear, sir,
How Jonathan set out, so fierce,
To see his dearest dear, sir.113
Two or three years later, Jonathan appears again in the title of a play written by Lazarus Beach, this time in the person of an old countryman from Connecticut.114
In a song which from its title, — The Embargo, A New Song, must have been written about this time, we again find allusion to Jonathan as a country bumpkin. The eighth stanza and chorus are as follows:
Then Jonathan and I went down,
To look around the wharf Sir,
And there we see a hundred men,
Shoving a big boat off Sir.
Yankee Doodle Keep it up,
Yankee Doodle Dandy,
We’ll soak our hides in home made Rum,
If we can’t get French Brandy.115
In our next extract we get what, so far as I am aware, is the earliest description of the characteristic features of Brother Jonathan which are now so familiar to us. In 1812 James K. Paulding wrote:
“At the time this story opens, Bull’s family had got to be so numerous that his farm was hardly large enough to portion them all with; so he sent his youngest son, Jonathan, or as he was familiarly called Brother Jonathan, to settle some new lands which he had on the other side of the mill-pond. . . . In a little time Jonathan grew up to be very large of his age; and became a tall, stout, double-jointed, broad-footed cub of a fellow, awkward in his gait, and simple in his appearance; but shewing a lively, shrewd look, and having the promise of great strength when he should get his full growth. He was rather an odd looking chap, in truth, and had many queer ways; but every body that had seen John Bull, saw a great likeness between them, and swore he was John’s own boy, and a true chip of the old block. Like the old Squire, he was apt to be blustering and saucy, but in the main was a peaceable sort of careless fellow, that would quarrel with nobody if you only let him alone. He used to dress in homespun trowsers with a huge bagging seat, which seemed to have nothing in it. This made people to say he had no bottom; but whoever said so lied, as they found to their cost, whenever they put Jonathan in a passion. He alway wore a short Linsey-woolsey coat, that did not above half cover his breech, and the sleeves of which were so short that his hand and wrist came out beyond them, looking like a shoulder of mutton. All which was in consequence of his growing so fast that he outgrew his clothes.”116
In 1820 Sidney Smith remarked:
“David Porter, and Stephen Decatur, are very brave men; but they will prove an unspeakable misfortune to their country, if they inflame Jonathan into a love of naval glory, and inspire him with any other love of war than that which is founded upon a determination not to submit to serious insult and injury.
“We can inform Jonathan what are the inevitable consequences of being too fond of glory; — Taxes upon every article which enters into the mouth, or covers the back, or is placed under the foot — taxes upon every thing which it is pleasant to see, hear, feel, smell, or taste — taxes upon warmth, light, and locomotion — taxes on every thing on earth, and the waters under the earth.”117
In 1822 Byron wrote this stanza:
Here crashed a sturdy oath of stout John Bull,
Who damned away his eyes as heretofore:
There Paddy brogued “By Jasus!” — “What’s your wull?”
The temperate Scott exclaimed: the French ghost swore
As the first coachman will; and ’midst the war,
The voice of Jonathan was heard to express,
“Our President is going to war, I guess.”118
In 1825 Sir Walter Scott wrote to his son, Then in Ireland, as follows:
“We are very desirious to have your Court news. The Viceroy119 is a person so particularly well bred, that I think it must be comfortable to be near him sometimes. I hope the Marchioness gives satisfaction. I think she will bear her style bravely. But I do not suppose brother Jonathan would like so much so large a fortune passing out his continent to gild a Marchioness’s coronet in Britain; I should rather think it would gall his republican pride.”120
In 1832 William Dunlap, alluding to a work already quoted, said:
“Mr. Tyler, in his Contrast, and some later writers for the stage, seem to have thought that a Yankee character, a Jonathan, stamped the piece as American, forgetting that a clown is not the type of the nation he belongs to.”121
In 1848 Lowell remarked:
“Yet, after all, thin, speculative Jonathan is more like the Englishman of two centuries ago than John Bull himself is. He has lost somewhat in solidity, has become fluent and adaptable, but more of the original groundwork of character remains. . . . John Bull has suffered the idea of the Invisible to be very much fattened out of him. Jonathan is conscious still that be lives in the world of the Unseen as well as of the Seen. To move John you must make your fulcrum of solid beef and pudding; an abstract idea will do for Jonathan.”122
“When we returned to the Mattawamkeag, the Houlton stage had already put up there; and a Province man was betraying his greenness to the Yankees by his questions. Why Province money won’t pass here at par, when States’ money is good at Fredericton, — though this, perhaps, was sensible enough. From what I saw then, it appears that the Province man was now the only real Jonathan, or raw country bumpkin, left so far behind by his enterprising neighbors that he didn’t know enough to put a question to them. No people can long continue provincial in character who have the propensity for politics and whittling, and rapid traveling, which the Yankees have, and who are leaving the mother country behind in the variety of their notions and inventions.”123
In 1849 Martin F. Tupper thus addressed us Americans:
There’s nothing foreign in your face
Nor strange upon your tongue;
You come not of another race
From baser lineage sprung:
No, brother! though away you ran,
As truant boys will do,
Still true it is, young Jonathan,
My fathers fathered you!124
In 1855 some unknown person said:
“But we sons of Columbia, descendants of the Pilgrims, the true votaries of Liberty, will invoke no saint but St. Jonathan, and our children and our children’s children to the latest generation, shall revere his name, resolving that henceforth and for ever St. Jonathan shall be the patron-saint of the universal Yankee nation — and the Fourth of July, St. Jonathan’s Day.”125
In 1865 Colonel James F. Rusling wrote:
“Brother Jonathan is dead. Born in another age, and of the day of small things, he has passed away. His name, even, bids fair to become a myth among the people. He expired with the sound of the first gun fired from South Carolina against Fort Sumter, and, in his stead, there stands the game-cock, W. T. Sherman. The old time beaver, the high collar and big cravat, the long-tailed coat, abbreviated breeches, cowhide boots, and ‘cute individual’ from ‘way deown East,’ — all these have passed into history, and to-day the true Representative American is the Union Soldier. Yankee Doodle is decidedly looking up.”126
In 1875 Sam Ward, referring to Lord Houghton, remarked:
“Had the British Government sent him here as plenipotentiary, with a salary of £24,000 per annum, to win the hearts of Jonathan Brothers, he could not do more than he has done, and is daily doing, to achieve that national purpose.”127
It is thus seen that the expression under discussion, so far from having become a “by-word” among Washington’s officers, soldiers, and fellow-countrymen, was one of extreme rarity until after 1800; and, in view of the facts, the heroics of Mr. Stuart are some what misplaced. But meagre as is the evidence adduced in this paper, it seems to indicate that the original term was simply Jonathan; that it arose during the Revolutionary war, when it was employed, as a mildly derisive epithet, by the Loyalists, and applied by them to those who espoused the American cause; that it was for some time avoided by the Americans themselves; that when, late in the eighteenth century, the Americans took it up, they used it to designate a country bumpkin; and that gradually it came into popular vogue, on both sides of the Atlantic, as an appellation of the American people. Hence, like so many other words and phrases, Brother Jonathan takes its place among the designations which have finally been accepted by the very people to whom they were originally applied in ridicule.
As already stated, however, the early history of the phrase is obscure, and any additional light that other investigators can throw on it will be welcome.
NOTE ON JONATHAN’S COFFEE HOUSE.
A point raised by Richard Frothingham requires explanation. Henry Laurens, then President of Congress, wrote Washington a letter, 20 November, 1778, in which he said:
“Virtue and patriotism were the motto of our banners, when we entered this contest. Where is virtue, where is patriotism now; when almost every man has turned his thoughts and attention to gain and pleasures, practising every artifice of change alley, or Jonathans; when men of abilities disgracefully neglect the important duties for which they were sent to Congress, tempted by the pitiful fees of practicing attorneys” (Sparks’s Correspondence of the American Revolution, ii. 236).128
Exactly when, and by whom,129 coffee-houses were introduced into England, is not known; but certainly it was before 1660. W. Rumsey mentions “the new cophy-houses” in his Organon Salutis, published in 1657 (E. F. Robinson, Early History of Coffee Houses in England, 1893, p. 61); in the Mercurius Politicus of 23–30 September, 1658, that “Excellent and by all Physitians approved, China Drink, called by the Chineans, Teha, by other nations Tay alias Tee,” is advertised to be “sold at the Sultaness-head, a Cophee-house in Sweetings Rents by the Royal Exchange, London” (Ibid. p. 126 note); and Pepys records in his Diary that he went “to the Coffee-House” on 9 January, 1659–60. John Aubrey, writing in 1680, said that “Jonathan Paynter, o. [? opposite] to St. Michael’s Church, was the first apprentice to the trade” (Lives of Eminent Men, 1813, ii. 244). This Jonathan Paynter may or may not have been the person who gave the name to Jonathan’s Coffee-House, in Exchange Ailey;130 but be that as it may, Jonathan’s Coffee-House was for a century famous as the particular resort of the stock-jobbers. Among the “most factious” coffee-houses mentioned by Thomas Dangerfield in 1679 was “Jonathan’s Coffee-house, near the Old Exchange” (Particular Narrative of the late Popish Design To Charge those of the Presbyterian Party with a Pretended Conspiracy against His Majesties Person, and Government, p. 16). On April ninth, 1690, Dean Rowland Davies made an appointment to meet some friends the following day, and on the tenth —
“Very early all my companions came to my lodging, whence I went with them to Jonathan’s coffee-house” (Journal, Camden Society, 1857, pp. 100, 101).
In February, 1699–1700, Ned Ward wrote:
“At last I went to Jonathan’s Coffee-house by the Change, to enquire into the meaning of this strange Disorder: Where I saw a parcel of Men at one Table Consulting together, with as much Malice, Horror, Anger and Dispair in their Looks, as if a new Pestilence had Sprung up in their Families, and their Wives had run away with their Journey-Men to avoid the Infection. And at another Table, a parcel of Merry Hawk’d Look’d Blades, Laughing and Painting at the rest, as if with abundance of Satisfaction, they Triumph’d over the others Affliction. At last upon a little Enquiry into the matter, I found the Honest Brother-hood of the Stock-lobbers, were in a lamentable Confusion, and had divided themselves into two parts, Fools and Knaves” (The London Spy, For the Month of February, 1700, Vol. ii. Part iv. p. 15).
In 1714 John Macky wrote:
“The Royal-Exchange is the Resort of all the trading Part of this City, Foreign and Domestick, from half an Hour after One, till near Three in the Afternoon; but the better Sort generally meet in Exchange-Alley a little before, at three celebrated Coffeehouses, called Garraway’s, Robin’s, and Jonathan’s. In the first, the People of Quality who have Business in the City, and the most considerable and wealthy Citizens frequent. In the second, the Foreign Banquiers, and often even Foreign Ministers. And in the third, the Buyers and Sellers of Stock” (Journey Through England, 1724, i. 168, 169).
Jonathan’s was alluded to by Tom Brown in A Comical View of the Transactions That will happen in the Cities of London or Westminster, 1705, pp. 110, 115; by Addison and Steele, in the Tatler, 5–7 July, 1709, No. 38, and in the Spectator, 1 March, 1710–11, 28 October, 1712, 18 June, 1714, Nos. 1, 521, 556; by Mrs. Centlivre, in her Bold Stroke for a Wife, 1718, Acts iii. And iv.; by Defoe, in his Tour through England, 1722, ii. 174; by Smollett, in his Reproof, 1747; in the magazines and newspapers, and elsewhere. And, of course, it was Jonathan’s Coffee-House to which Laurens referred in his letter to Washington. Laurens, born in Charleston, South Carolina, was in a counting-house there in his youth; later he was in London, then returned to South Carolina; in 1771 here tired from business and went to Europe, where he was shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution; and in 1774 he returned to Charleston. (The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, iv., and Appletons’ Cyclopædia of American Biography.) Both as a man of business and as a traveller, he must have been perfectly familiar with Jonathans Coffee-House.
To suppose, as apparently Richard Frothingham supposed, that there could have been any connection between Jonathan’s Coffee-House in London and the word Jonathan as applied to a country bumpkin in America in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, is manifestly unwarrantable. In 1872 Frothingham quoted part of Laurens’s letter, and remarked in a note:
“Jonathan’s was the name of a coffee-house in London, the great resort of speculators. It is referred to in the British periodicals. In the ‘Gentleman’s Magazine’ for May, 1767, is the line: ‘And all the tongues at Jonathan’s lie quiet.’ The British called the Americans Jonathan and Jonathans” (Rise of the Republic of the United States, p. 572).
Frothingham then went on to quote, but without specific references, three early extracts given in this paper, and said: “I have not met thus early the term ‘Brother Jonathan.’” Exactly what notion Frothingham entertained is not clear; but his placing the allusions to Jonathan’s Coffee-House and the examples of Jonathan in juxtaposition, seems to indicate that he thought there was some connection between the two. The conclusion of Frothingham’s note is curious:
“Water-marks on paper used in 1780 by Washington has [sic] a figure that may represent Jonathan as a Yankee in an enclosure, holding a staff with the figure of a hat on the end, over the British lion, moving out of the enclosure. It had on it ‘Pro Patria.’”
Some of these quotations and references are from my own notes, while others have been obtained from Robinson’s book, from Wheatley and Cunningham’s London Past and Present, and similar sources.
Mr. Andrew McFarland Davis stated that he had listened with pleasure to the curious and interesting story of the growth of the original anecdote upon which was based the theory that the national sobriquet Brother Jonathan was, after all, an eponym, relating back to Governor Trumbull and having its form founded upon the cordial relations which existed between him and General Washington. With this story, the speaker acknowledged that he was not familiar, but passing by some of the later forms into which successive narrators had magnified it, he was disposed to think that there was much more chance for the original anecdote to be true than might be inferred from the satirical sentences in the paper, as he recalled them, in which Mr. Matthews had served up the magniloquence of these writers in their accounts of the services of Connecticut in the Revolutionary War and in their references to the cordial relations existing between General Washington and Governor Trumbull. Continuing, Mr. Davis said:
It must be remembered that the State of Connecticut was so situated that it was able to render services to the patriotic side in the Revolutionary War, entirely disproportionate to its size or its population. The Government was converted from a Royal Colony to an independent State without a change in its organic form, without a ripple of disturbance, and with but slight alterations requisite even in the blanks used by the officials whose tenure of office remained undisturbed under the new order of things. The Colony had always been practically independent of Great Britain, and at the time of the outbreak there was probably not a single official of that power within the borders of the State, except perhaps a customs officer at New London. Connecticut and Rhode Island had escaped the upheaval which had necessarily accompanied the transformation into States of the Provinces which were under the rule of an appointed Royal Governor. No part of the energy of the patriots was wasted in combating Royal officials or Tory citizens. Connecticut, then, had a Governor who not only sympathized with the movement to overthrow parliamentary supremacy, but who was fully prepared, if worst came to worst, to submit the decision to the arbitrament of arms. The militia of the Colony had been thoroughly organized. The Governor continued, as long as possible, to work for peace, but prepared for war. When, therefore, there was a call for troops to aid in the capture of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, Connecticut was ready to assist in that movement. Her contributory action at this time ought not to be forgotten in estimating the moral influence of the downfall of these fortresses and the capture of guns and ammunition at a time when they were so much needed at Boston.
The State was then prosperous and was so situated, geographically, as to be relieved from the suffering and misery consequent upon the movement of large bodies of troops within its borders. Except for the depredations committed by an occasional raid, operating by way of the Sound, it was exempt from contact, except upon the western border, with actual warfare. The industry of the people was mainly devoted to agricultural pursuits and the farms were well equipped with horses, cattle, and stores for the maintenance of man and beast. This agricultural wealth was of the utmost value to Washington. As the war progressed, the regions occupied by the hostile forces were stripped of their supplies and the Americans became dependent upon the territory which was exempt from disturbance for food for the men under arms and for horses with which to transport supplies and ammunition. At the outset, Connecticut was in particularly good condition to respond to calls upon her for contribution of this kind, and, as events progressed, her exemption from invasion left her relatively in better condition than her neighbors. The supplies in Eastern Massachusetts had been consumed during the Siege of Boston. After the battle of Long Island, the banks of the Hudson were swept clean of supplies by the raiders of both sides, the British on their part often reaching eastward as far as Greenwich, Connecticut, but seldom beyond that point. The American troops operating in that vicinity, being cut off from the sea, were absolutely dependent for their food upon the supplies which they could procure from the interior. Connecticut was one of the reservoirs from which they drew. During the attempt to dislodge the British from Newport, all southeastern Massachusetts and all of Rhode Island were denuded of supplies. This region had not recovered from the exhaustion consequent thereupon when Rochambeau arrived. The French were compelled to turn to Connecticut for food, and the Americans themselves, not only the army, but even the citizens of some of the towns of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, were also dependent for the means of existence upon what they could procure from the same source.
The fact that Connecticut was not the scene of any great military operations during this war has a distinct tendency to make us undervalue her contributions to the cause of Independence, but we may be sure that this was not done by Washington. He fully appreciated the situation, and the fact that he had early established friendly relations with the Governor who held office at this important point is shown by the presence of one of Trumbull’s sons on his personal staff. Moreover, if I am not mistaken, the first two instances of the use of the sobriquet cited by Mr. Matthews were both from Connecticut sources.
Mr. Matthews replied that the second was, and that the third appeared to relate to Wyoming, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Davis rejoined:
True, but that region was then claimed to be a part of Connecticut. It had been organized as a Connecticut County, was settled by Connecticut emigrants, and although claimed of course by Pennsylvania, this claim had not then been fully established.
Mr. Matthews said:
Mr. President, — May I be permitted to make a disclaimer? The “satirical sentences” in my paper were in every instance directed, not against individuals, but against the method pursued by the commentators. Mr. Stuart has given us a precise account of the origin and spread of the term Brother Jonathan; he has made statement after statement, unsupported by a particle of proof; and he and other commentators have made material additions to the original story. Yet nowhere do we meet with that story until 1846. This method is unscientific, the results reached by it are unprofitable, and it lays itself open to criticism; but nothing was farther from my intention than to utter a word which could be interpreted as a reflection upon Connecticut, or upon Trumbull, or upon the cordial relations which existed between Trumbull and Washington.131
Dr. Franklin Carter also participated in the discussion of the paper.
Mr. Henry H. Edes called attention to the fact that this day marked an epoch in the history of Harvard University, since President Eliot had to-day exceeded, in the length of his service in the executive chair, the exceptionally long administration of President Holyoke, which covered a period of thirty-one years, eight months, and four days.
President Kittredge mentioned the curious book-plate of President Holyoke, specimens of which are preserved in Gore Hall. It is without device, — a plain slip of paper bearing the words —
Mr. Edes stated that he had in his possession a handsome chair, in a fine state of preservation, which once belonged to President Holyoke.