[Transcriber's notes: Footnotes are at the end of the chapter. The author's spelling of names has been retained. A few commas have been deleted or moved for clarity.]
REMINISCENCES OF SIXTY YEARS IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUME I
[Frontispiece: v1.jpg] From a photograph by Purdy, of Boston. Copyright, 1896. [signature] Geo: S. Boutwell
Reminiscences of Sixty Years in Public Affairs by George S. Boutwell Governor of Massachusetts, 1851-1852 Representative in Congress, 1863-1869 Secretary of the Treasury, 1869-1873 Senator from Massachusetts, 1873-1877 etc., etc.
New York McClure, Phillips & Co. Mcmii
Copyright, 1902, by McClure, Phillips & Co.
Published May, 1902. N.
INTRODUCTION PRELIMINARY NOTE BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
I Incidents of my Early Life II Life as a Store-boy and Clerk III Changes and Progress IV Schools and School-keeping V Groton in 1835 VI Groton in 1835—Continued VII Beginnings in Business VIII First Experience in Politics IX The Election of 1840 X Massachusetts Men in the Forties XI The Election of 1842, and the Dorr Rebellion XII The Legislature of 1847 XIII Legislative Session of 1848—Funeral of John Quincy Adams XIV The Legislature of 1849 XV Massachusetts Politics and Massachusetts Politicians, 1850-51 and 1852 XVI Acton Monument XVII Sudbury Monument XVIII Louis Kossuth XIX The Coalition and the State Constitutional Convention of 1853 XX The Year 1854 XXI Organization of the Republican Party in Massachusetts in 1855, and the Events Preceding the War XXII As Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education XXIII Phi Beta Kappa Address at Cambridge XXIV The Peace Convention of 1861 XXV The Opening of the War XXVI The Military Commission of 1862 and General Fremont XXVII Organization of the Internal Revenue System in the United States
At the request of my daughter and my son and by the advice of my friends, the Honorable J. C. Bancroft Davis and the Honorable William A. Richardson, I am venturing upon the task of giving a sketch of my experiences in life during three fourths of a century. The wisdom of such an undertaking is not outside the realm of debate. A large part of my manhood has been spent in the politics of my native state, and in the politics of the country. For many years I have had the fortune to be associated with those in whose hands the chief powers were lodged. I have been a witness of, and in some cases an actor in, events that have changed the character of the institutions and affected the fortunes of the country. Those events and their consequences must in time disturb, if they do not change, the institutions of other countries.
In the course of this long period I have had opportunities to know some of the principal actors in those important events. In a few cases I am in possession of knowledge not now in the possession of any other person living. These considerations may in some degree justify my undertaking.
On the other hand I have not kept a record of events, and I have had occasion often, especially in the practice of my profession, to notice the imperfections of the human memory. Much that I shall write must depend upon the fidelity of that faculty, although in some cases my recollections may be verified or corrected by the public records.
The recollections of actors, when those recollections are reported in good faith, constitute quite as safe a basis for an historical judgment as do the diaries in which are noted present impressions. Usually the writer of a diary has only an imperfect knowledge of the subject to which the entries relate. If he is himself an actor in passing events he makes and leaves a record colored and perhaps tainted by the personal and political passions of the times. The teachings of experience and that more moderate view of events, which we sometimes call philosophy and sometimes the wisdom of age, may warrant the student and the historian in giving credence to mere recollections.
The writer of a diary takes little note of the importance of the events to which the entries relate. Persons and events become important or cease to be important by the progress of time, but the life of an individual is an adequate period usually for the formation of a judgment. I cannot assume that it will be my fortune to make a wise selection in all cases. Important events may be omitted, insignificant circumstances may be recorded.
I assume that my family and friends will take an interest in matters that are purely personal: therefore I shall record many incidents and events that do not concern the public.
In the presence of some misgivings as to the propriety of my course, I have decided to print the article on my Life as a Lawyer, as it appears in the "Memoirs of the Judiciary and the Bar of New England" (for January, 1901), published by the Century Memorial Publishing Company, Boston, Mass.
Many of the facts were furnished by me. The article was written by W. Stanley Child, Esq., but it was not seen by me, nor was its existence known to me until it appeared in the published work. The paper in manuscript and in proof was read and passed by the editors, Messrs. Conrad Keno and Leonard A. Jones, Esquires. The words of commendation are not mine, and it is manifest that any change made by me would place the responsibility upon me for what might remain. Hence I reprint the paper with only two or three changes where I have observed errors in statements of facts._
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH [*]
George Sewall Boutwell, LL. D., Boston and Groton, the first commissioner of internal revenue, secretary of the treasury under President Grant, and for many years one of the leading international lawyers, is the son of Sewall and Rebecca (Marshall) Boutwell, and was born in Brookline, Mass., in what is now the old part of the Country Club house, January 28, 1818. He comes from old and respected Massachusetts stock, being a lineal descendant of James Boutwell, who was admitted a freeman in Lynn in 1638, and of John Marshall, who came to Boston in the shop Hopewell in 1634. The family has always represented the sterling qualities of typical New Englanders. Tradition asserts that one of his paternal ancestors received a grant of land for services in King Philip's War. His maternal grandfather, Jacob Marshall, was the inventor of the cotton press, an invention originally made, however, for pressing hops. His father, Sewall Boutwell, removed with his family in 1820 from Brookline to Lunenburg, Mass., where he held several town offices; he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1843 and 1844 and of the Constitutional Convention of 1853.
Mr. Boutwell attended in his early years a public school in Lunenburg, where he became a clerk in a general store at the age of thirteen, thus gaining a practical as well as a theoretical knowledge of affairs. Later he supplemented this experience by teaching school at Shirley. He also studied the classics, and in various ways improved every opportunity for advancement which limited circumstances afforded. In 1835 he went to Groton, Mass., as clerk in a store. But to be a lawyer was his dream before he had ever seen a lawyer. Endowed with unusual intellectual ability, which has been one of his chief characteristics from boyhood, he felt himself instinctively drawn to the legal profession, and as early as possible entered his name as a student at law.
In 1839 he was chosen a member of the Groton School Committee, and in 1840 he was an active Democrat, advocating the re-election of Martin Van Buren to the Presidency. In the meantime he delivered a number of important lectures and political speeches, his first lecture being given before the Groton Lyceum when he was nineteen, and he was now rapidly gaining a reputation in public affairs, in which he early took a deep interest. In January, 1842, he became a member of the lower House of the Massachusetts Legislature from Groton, and for ten years thereafter his law studies were neglected. He served during the sessions of 1842, 1843, 1844, 1847, 1848, 1849 and 1850, and was also at different times a railroad commissioner, a bank commissioner, and a member of various other commissions of the commonwealth.
As a member of the House he made many important arguments that were legal in name if not in fact. One related to the Act of the Legislature of 1843, by which the salaries of the judges were reduced, and another upon a bill for the amendment of the charter of Harvard College. On the latter question, which was in controversy for three years, his opponents were Judge Benjamin R. Curtis and Hon. Samuel Hoar.
Mr. Boutwell originated the movement for a change in the college government, which was effected by a compromise in 1851. Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw, a member of the corporation, wrote an answer to his argument. This led to Mr. Boutwell's appointment in 1851 as a member of the Harvard College Board of Overseers, which position he filled until 1860. In January, 1851, he became Governor of Massachusetts by a fusion of the Democratic and Free-soil members of the Legislature, and in 1852 was re-elected by the same body. He served in that capacity until January, 1853, a period of two years, and discharged the duties of the office with ability, dignity, and honor. As a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention of 1853, Mr. Boutwell had further and better opportunities to make the acquaintance and to observe the ways of the leading lawyers of the State.
At the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1853, Governor Boutwell entered the law office of Joel Giles, who was engaged in practice under the patent laws, and who as a mechanic and lawyer was a well-equipped practitioner in Boston. As a counselor in patent cases Mr. Giles had few equals. It was then Mr. Boutwell's purpose to pursue the study and engage in the practice of the patent laws as a specialty, but in October, 1855, without any solicitation and indeed without the slightest knowledge on his part, he was chosen secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, of which he had been a member from 1853. With much uncertainty as to the wisdom of his action in accepting the place, he entered upon his duties and faithfully and efficiently discharged them until January 1, 1861, although he had tendered his resignation in 1859. His annual reports have always been regarded as models of preparation, and that of 1861—the twenty-fourth —contains a notable commentary on the school laws of the commonwealth. He continued as a member of the board until 1863.
After several years Mr. Boutwell severed his relations with Mr. Giles, and upon his admission to the Suffolk bar in January, 1862, on motion of the late Judge Josiah Gardner Abbott, he began active practice in Boston. His first jury case was before the late Judge Charles Allen, of Worcester, yet at that time he had never seen a jury trial from the opening to the close. Mr. Boutwell had scarcely entered upon his professional career when he was called to assume a most important place in national affairs, and one that was destined to keep him in close relations with the Federal Government at Washington for many years afterward.
Among the historical events, originating in the Civil War, was the passage of the act "to provide internal revenue to support the government and to pay interest on the public debt," approved July 1, 1862. Mr. Boutwell organized the Office of Internal Revenue and was the first internal revenue commissioner, receiving his appointment while at Cairo in the service of the War Department. He arrived in Washington July 16, and entered upon his duties the following day. Within a few days the Secretary of the Treasury assigned him a single clerk, then a second, and afterward a third, and the clerical force was increased from time to time until at his resignation of the office of commissioner on March 3, 1863, it numbered 140 persons. To him is due its organization upon a basis which has more than fulfilled the most cherished hopes and expectations of those who conceived the idea and which has furnished from the first a valuable source of revenue for the government with little hardship or unnecessary friction among the people at large. The stamp tax took effect nominally on the 1st of October, 1862, less than two and one-half months after Mr. Boutwell entered upon his duties as commissioner, yet before he resigned, five months later, he had the office so well established, and its work so thoroughly organized throughout the United States, that its usefulness was assured and it has continued to the present time practically the same lines that he laid down. In July, 1863, three months after he retired from the office, he published a volume of 500 pages, entitled "A Manual of the Direct and Excise Tax System of the United States," which included the act itself, the forms and regulations established by him, his decisions and rulings, extracts from the correspondence of the office, and much other valuable information bearing on the subject. This work has ever been accepted as authority, and still forms the basis of the government of the internal revenue system.
Before Mr. Boutwell was admitted to the bar he was retained by the county commissioners of Middlesex County to appear before a legislative committee of the years 1854 and 1855 against the division of that county and the erection of a new county to be called the county of Webster with Fitchburg for the shire. Emory Washburn appeared for Worcester County and Rufus Choate for Fitchburg and the new county. The application failed in 1855 and again in 1856. Mr. Boutwell's arguments on this petition, made March 25, 1855, and April 23, 1856, were remarkable for power and eloquence, and largely influenced the final result.
From 1862 to 1869 he was retained in many causes, the most important of which was the controversy over the contract between the commonwealth and Gen. Herman Haupt for the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel. The hearing before a legislative committee occupied about twenty days and ended in the annulment of the contract. For several years Mr. Boutwell was associated in Boston with J. Q. A. Griffin. Afterward he was in partnership with Henry F. French until 1869, when he became Secretary of the Treasury in the Cabinet of President Grant. He filled this position with great ability for four years, originating and promulgating, among other measures, the plan of refunding the public debt. During that period he made but one argument, when he appeared in the Supreme Court on the appeal by his client of a patent case, of which he had had charge from the beginning. From 1863 to 1869 he had been a member of the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Congresses, serving on the committees on the judiciary and on reconstruction, and being chairman for a time of the latter body. While representing his district in Congress Mr. Boutwell gained considerable experience in the proceedings against President Andrew Johnson, who was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and he was selected as one of the managers on the part of the House. In a remarkably brilliant speech before the House on December 5 and 6, 1867, he maintained the doctrine that the president and all other civil officers could be impeached for acts that were not indictable, although the contrary was held by many eminent lawyers, including President Dwight, of Columbia College, who wrote a treatise in support of his theory. But the House preferred articles that did not allege an indictable offence and the Senate sustained them by a vote of thirty-five to eighteen, one less than the number necessary for conviction. On April 22 and 23, 1868, Mr. Boutwell, on behalf of the managers, addressed the Senate, delivering one of the strongest and ablest arguments on record, and thus completing, as a lawyer, the most exhaustive labor he ever attempted. He was a member of the Committee of Fifteen which reported the Fourteenth Amendment, and while serving on the committee on the judiciary he reported and carried through the House the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
In 1873 Mr. Boutwell was chosen United States Senator from Massachusetts to fill the unexpired term of Hon. Henry Wilson, who had been elected Vice-President. He continued in the Senate until 1877, when he was appointed by President Hayes, through Gen. Charles Devens, then Attorney-General, commissioner to revise the statutes of the United States. That great work was completed and the volume was published in the autumn of 1878. Some idea of the labor involved in this undertaking may be gained from the index, which contains over 25,000 references. In 1878 Mr. Boutwell returned to Boston and resumed the practice of law. In 1880 William M. Evarts, then Secretary of State, and President Hayes, asked him to accept the position of counsel and agent for the United States before a Board of International Arbitrators created by a treaty ratified in June, 1880, between the United States and France, for the settlement of claims against each government by citizens of the other government. The claims of French citizens, 726 in number, arose from the operations of the Union armies in the South, principally in and around New Orleans, during the Civil War, and the consideration of them occupied four years. The counsel and the commissioners were called to the discussion of treaties, of international law, of citizenship, of the Legislation of France, of the rights of war, and of the conduct of military officers and military tribunals. The claims amounted to $35,000,000, including interest; the recoveries amount to about $625,000; the defence cost the Government about $500,000; the record is contained in ninety printed volumes of about one thousand pages each and the pleas and arguments of counsel for the two governments fill eight large volumes. Mr. Boutwell's own arguments cover more than 1,100 pages. Many of these cases rank as causes celebre, notably those of Archbishop Joseph Napoleon Perche, No. 3; Henri Dubos, No. 26; Joseph Bauillotte, No. 130; Bleze Motte, No. 131; Theodore Valade, No. 214; Pierre S. Wiltz, No. 313; Remy Jardel, No. 333; Etienne Derbee, No. 339; Arthur Vallon, No. 394; David Kuhnagel, No. 438; Dr. Denis Meng, No. 567; Azoline Gautherin, No. 590; Oscar Chopin, No. 592; S. Aruns Sorrel, No. 594, in which he probably made the best argument of his career; Jules Le More, No. 595; Athenais C. Le More, No. 598; Mary Ann Texier, No. 569; and Charles Heidsieck, No. 691. That of Theodore Valade, No. 214, was a full account of the battle of Donaldsonville, and those of Archbishop Perche, David Kuhnagel, and many other involved intricate and interesting questions of citizenship as well as damages for the destruction of property. On May 10, 1884, Mr. Boutwell made an exhaustive and final report on all these claims to the Secretary of State, Hon. Frederick T. Frelinghuysen.
Mr. Boutwell was one of the counsel for the government of Hayti in the celebrated case of Antonio Pelletier against that republic in 1885, and made a most interesting oral argument. This case was a romance of the sea as well as of international importance, involving a claim of $2,500,000 and questions of piracy and slave trading. In 1893-94 Mr. Boutwell was retained as counsel on the part of Chili to defend their government before an international commission created under a treaty with the United States signed August 7, 1892. About forty cases were presented, involving $26,300,000, and the final report was submitted April 30, 1894. Among the more important were those of Gilbert B. Borden, No. 9, and Frederick H. Lovett et al., No. 43, against the Republic of Chili. These as well as nearly all the others were argued by him with a brilliancy and eloquence that has marked his entire career at the bar. Of the five courts martial that were held in Washington between 1880 and 1892 for the trial of officers of the army and navy Mr. Boutwell was retained for the defence in four cases, in three of which the accused were convicted and in the other honorably acquitted. In 1886 he was retained by the Mormon Church to appear before the judiciary committee of the House of Representatives against the Edmunds bill, which was modified in particulars pointed out in the discussion. The same year he appeared before the House committee on foreign affairs for the government of Hawaii in opposition to the project for abrogating the treaty of 1875.
Mr. Boutwell's pleas and arguments have with few exceptions been published in book or pamphlet form, or both, and form of themselves a most valuable and interesting addition to legal literature. They bear evidence of a profound knowledge of the law, of vast research and of great literary ability. Among others may be mentioned those upon a petition to the Massachusetts Legislature for the removal of Joseph M. Day as judge of probate and insolvency for Barnstable County in March, 1881; in the matter of the Pacific National Bank of Boston before the banking and currency committee of the United State House of Representatives, March 22, 1884; and for the claimant in the case of the Berdan Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company of New York vs. the United States. He is the author of "Educational Topics and Institutions," 1859; "Speeches Relating to the Rebellion and the Overthrow of Slavery," collected and published in 1867; "Why I am a Republican," a history of the Republican Party to 1884, republished in 1888; "The Lawyer, Statesman and Soldier," 1887; and the "Constitution of the United States," embracing the substance of the leading decisions of the Supreme Court in which the several articles, sections and clauses have been examined, explained and interpreted, 1896. In 1888 he wrote a pamphlet on "Protection as a Public Policy," for the American Protective Tariff League; on April 2, 1889, he read a paper on "The Progress of American Independence," before the New York Historical Society; and in February, 1896, he published a pamphlet on "The Venezuelan Question and the Monroe Doctrine."
Mr. Boutwell has probably argued more cases involving international law than any other living man, and in this department ranks among the ablest and strongest that this country has ever produced. For more than forty years he was a prominent figure before the bar of the United States Courts at Washington, where he achieved eminence as an advocate of the highest ability. He was uniformly successful, and won a reputation which was not confined to this country. He is an authority on international and constitutional law. His published writings stamp him as a profound student of public questions and a man of rare literary culture and genius. He was a strong Abolitionist, and as lawyer, statesman and citizen he has faithfully and efficiently performed his duties and won the confidence of both friends and opponents. In politics he has been a leader of the Republican Party since its organization. He was a delegate to the Chicago Conventions of 1860 and 1880, and was chosen a delegate to the Baltimore Convention of 1864, but declined. He was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1857 and of the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College in June, 1861, at which time he delivered the Phi Beta Kappa oration. In 1851 Harvard conferred upon him the honorary degree of LL. D., and in 1861 he was a member of the Peace Congress at Washington.
Mr. Boutwell was married July 8, 1841, to Sarah Adelia, daughter of Nathan Thayer of Hollis, N. H.. Their children are Georgianna A., born May 18, 1843, and Francis M., born February 26, 1847. Mr. Boutwell resides in Groton, Mass.
The eighth day of July, 1891, Mr. Boutwell's family and friends celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his marriage with Sarah Adelia Thayer, daughter of Nathan and Hannah Jewett Thayer, of Hollis, N. H.; and on the eighth day of July, 1901, the family observed the sixtieth anniversary, but without ceremony, as Mrs. Boutwell was much impaired in health.
[* Copyright, 1900, by the Mason Publishing and Printing Co.]
REMINISCENCES OF SIXTY YEARS IN PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUME I
I INCIDENTS OF MY EARLY LIFE
My birthplace was at Brookline, Mass., near Boston, upon a farm in my father's charge, and then owned by a Dr. Spooner of Boston. The place has had many owners and it has been used for various purposes. In 1851 and 1852 it was owned by a Dr. Trowbridge, who had a fancy for fine horses. Upon my election to the office of Governor, and when he had learned that I was born upon his place, he insisted that I should use a large black stallion in the review of the troops at the annual parade. The animal was of fine figure but not so subdued as to be manageable. In one of those years General Wool came to Boston, upon an invitation to review the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company on Boston Common. I assigned the Trowbridge horse to General Wool. The General rode him for a minute or two, when he left the saddle and the reviewing officers went through the ceremony on foot. Since those days the Spooner place has been converted into a trotting course known as Clyde Park, and the house is now used as a clubhouse by an association known as the Country Club.
When I was about twenty-five years of age I was present at a temperance meeting at Lowell, held in an unfinished factory building called the Prescott Mills. After some speaking, in which I had taken a part, the Rev. Dr. Pierce, then a white-headed gentleman of seventy years, whom I had seen as an overseer of Harvard College, came to me, introduced himself, and after a little conversation he asked me where I was born. When I answered Brookline, on the Dr. Spooner place, he said: "Oh, yes, I remember when your father lived there, and I recall a circumstance to which I think I owe my good health. Dr. Spooner," said he, "resided in Boston in the winter and at Brookline in the summer. When he was at Brookline he had a child to be christened, and he preferred to have the city minister perform the ceremony. After the service we were invited to dine at Dr. Spooner's, and that minister ate so unmercifully of everything upon the table, that I then and there resolved that I would eat but one kind of meat at a meal, and I think my good health is due in a measure to that resolution." I made no resolution, but the circumstance produced an impression upon me, and in the main I have observed his rule. In seventy-seven years, within my recollection, I have lain in bed but seven days.
In April, 1820, when I was hardly more than two years of age, my father moved to Lunenburg, Worcester County, and settled upon a farm, a mile south-west of the village, which he had bought of Phinehas Carter, then an old man, who had been opulent as a farmer for the time and place, but whose estates had been wasted by a moderate sort of intemperance, by idleness, and family expenses. The house was large, well built for the times, finished with clear, unpainted white pine, with dado work in the front rooms below and in the chambers above. It was situated on the southern brow of a hill, and commanded a view of the Wachusett mountain, and the hills to the west, south and east over an expanse of twenty miles in every direction, except the northern half of the circle. At a distance of eighty or one hundred rods from the house lay the Whalom pond, a body of clear, deep spring water, of more than a hundred acres. The farm contained one hundred and thirteen acres of land, somewhat rocky, but in quality better than the average New England farms. At the time of the purchase one-half of the acres were woodland with heavy timber.
My father relied upon that timber to meet the debt of one thousand dollars which rested upon the place. In those days wood and timber were abundant and money was scarce. If the building of railroads could have been foreseen and the timber saved for twenty-five years it would have risen to twice the value of the farm at the time of the purchase. My father's anxiety to be relieved of the debt was so great that he made sales of wood and timber as he had the opportunity, but the proceeds, after much hard labor had been added, were very insignificant. As a result, the most valuable part of the timber was sold for ship-building, or to the coopers, or converted into boards and shingles, and a remnant of the debt remained for twenty years.
The farm yielded ample supplies of meat, milk, butter, cheese, grain, fruit, and vegetables, but groceries and clothing were difficult to procure after such supplies were had as could be obtained by barter. Once or twice, or possibly three times a year, my father drove an ox- team or a team of one pair of oxen and one horse to Boston with cider, apples, a hog or two, and poultry. The returns enabled him to pay his taxes, the interest on the debt, and perhaps something over.
Until the introduction of the cotton and woolen manufactures, and indeed, until the building of railways, the farmers of Massachusetts had only limited means of comfort. Their houses were destitute of furniture, except of the plainest sort. Of upholstered furniture they had none. Except a few school books for the children and the family Bible there was no reading matter, unless in favored neighborhoods, a weekly paper carried the news to two or three families that were joint subscribers. The mails were infrequent, and the postage on letters, based on the pieces of paper instead of weight, varied from six and one fourth cents for all distances within thirty miles to twenty-five cents for distances of four hundred miles or more. Intermediate rates were ten, twelve and a half, and eighteen and three fourths cents. These rates existed when mechanics could command only one dollar a day, and when ordinary laborers could earn only fifty cents or seventy-five cents—except in the haying season, when good mowers could command one dollar. Servant girls and nurses received from one dollar to one dollar and fifty cents per week. At the same time every variety of clothing was much more expensive than it now is, unless shoes and hats are exceptions.
My father was the best farmer in the neighborhood. He had been employed in the nursery and vegetable gardening at Newton, and for five years he had had charge of the farm of Madam Coffin at Newton Corner, widow of the Hon. Peleg Coffin, who had been a member of Congress from Nantucket. In a few years we had a supply of cherries, peaches, and choice apples. As my father understood budding and grafting tress, his improved fruits were distributed to others. I acquired the art of budding when I could not have been more than ten years of age, and before I left home at the age of thirteen, I had practised the art in the village and on the trees of the neighbors.
Previous to 1830 the era of invention had not opened, and the articles by whose aid domestic comfort has been promoted were unknown. The only means of cooking were the open fire and the brick oven. Meat for roasting was suspended by a cord from a hook in the ceiling in front of the open fire and over a dripping pan. The children found amusement and became useful in twisting the cord and then allowing the weight of the meat to untwist it. Even fire in the summer was obtained and kept with difficulty. There were no friction matches and not infrequently a child was sent on a flying visit to a neighbor's house to borrow fire. Indeed, the habit of borrowing and lending extended to nearly every movable thing that any one possessed. Tools, food, especially fresh meat, the labor of men, oxen and horses were borrowed and lent. Farming tools were few in number and rude in construction. Many of them were made upon the farms, either by the farmers themselves, or by the help of poorly instructed mechanics. The modern plough was unknown. Hay and manure forks, scythes, hoes, were so rough, uncouth and heavy that they would now be rejected by the commonest laborer. As early as 1830 by father bought a cast-iron plough; it was the wonder of the neighborhood and the occasion of many prophecies that were to be falsified by events.
My father was a practical man and a gentleman by nature. With him civility was innate. He was a close observer and something of a philosopher. I recall his statement made in my childhood that matter was indestructible. He was of even temper, and of an imperturbable spirit. His paternal ancestor on this side of the Atlantic was made a freeman at Lynn in 1638. Of his arrival in the country there is no record. From that date there had been no marriage except into English families. My father was purely English. My mother, whose family name was Marshall, and who was a descendant of John Marshall who came in the Hopewell, Captain Babb, in 1635, was English also through all her ancestors from John Marshall.
My father enjoyed the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens and he held many of the offices of the town and for many years. In 1843 and 1844 he was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and in 1853 he was a member of the Constitutional Convention. I was also a member of the same bodies, and the association with my father under such peculiar circumstances is one of the pleasant recollections of my life.* My mother belonged to a family of unusual intellectual endowment, and of great rigidity of opinion. Her father, Jacob Marshall, was a student by tendency and habit, a stone mason and farmer by occupation, and the inventor of the press used for pressing hops and cotton in square bales. He lived to be more than eighty years of age, was twice married, and had a large family of children whom he educated and trained as well as children could be trained and educated at the close of the last century in a country town in northern Massachusetts.
For the last fifty years of his life he devoted himself to the study of the bible and such works of history as he could command. His knowledge of the bible was so great that he was an oracle in the town, although he departed from the popular faith and became a Universalist. He lived comfortably and without hard work, and in the later years of his life he became the owner of two farms in the northerly part of Lunenburg. As I recollect him and his farms he could not have been a good farmer. His crop was hops, and that crop always commanded money, at a time when it was unusual to realize money for farm produce.
As my father's house was a mile from the District School, and as there was a school within twenty or thirty rods of my grandfather's house, I was sent to my grandfather's for my first winter's schooling. I think it must have been the winter of 1823-4. The teacher was Ithamar Butters, called Dr. Butters from the circumstance that he had studied medicine for a time with Dr. Aaron Bard, a physician in the village. Of Dr. Butters as a teacher I remember little. He became a disbeliever in the Bible—an agnostic of those days. I recollect a remark of his made many years after: That he would prefer the worst hell to annihilation, which he believed would be his fate.
I learned to read by standing in front of my mother as she read the Bible. Of course all the letters were inverted, and the faculty of reading an inverted page, has remained.
I went to the District School summer and winter, until I was ten years of age, and to the winter school until I passed my seventeenth birthday, when my school life ended. My father and mother were scrupulous about my attendance, and I cannot recall that I was ever allowed to be absent during the school term either for work or pleasure.
When I reached the age of ten years I was kept on the farm during the summer months, until I left home in December, 1830. In those days farmers' boys did not enjoy the luxury of shoes in the summer, nor indeed in the autumn season. More than once I picked chestnuts bare- footed and often I have tended the oxen in the mowing field frosty mornings and warmed my feet by standing on a stone.
Once only during my home life did I go to Boston with my father. He carried poultry in a one-horse wagon. I accompanied him. The year may have been 1828, or '9 or '30. On our way he stopped at one of the Waltham cotton factories to see a niece of my father who was there at work. We lodged that night at the house of Madam Coffin. She was then already old in my sight. She seemed pleased with my father's visit, and the impression left upon my mind is that we were entertained with marked consideration. My father had managed her farm for about five years from 1809 to 1814, when he volunteered for service in the army, and for ninety days he was on the island then known as Fort Warren.
The next morning we reached Boston and stationed our wagon at the northwest corner of Quincy Market, where we sold our poultry. During the day my father had occasion to go to the store of Joseph Mead, at the corner of Lyman Place, and I was left in charge of the wagon. I had the fortune to sell some of the poultry. My father thought that the proceeds in money did not equal the decrease in stock, and so it proved—for the next Sunday morning when I dressed for meeting I found a two dollar bill in my trousers' pocket.
That night we spent with Captain Hyde, at Newton Corner. During the first year of my father's married life he had carried on a farm on the opposite side of the highway, and it was from Captain Hyde that he obtained his knowledge of budding and grafting, and some knowledge of the art of gardening. They always continued friends; Captain Hyde came to my father's, in after years, and supplied our farm with the best varieties of cherry, peach and apple trees.
The day following we went to Brighton where my father purchased the remnant of a drove of cattle that had been driven from the State of Maine—twenty-four in number. Of these nine were oxen and the rest were young animals between two and four years of age, and all were bought for the sum of two hundred and fifty dollars. My father was then the overseer of the almshouse, and the purchase was primarily for that establishment, but some of the animals were sold to the neighbors. The result of the purchase was to me a short experience as a drover.
As I recollect the experiences of my life on my father's farm, there were many amusements and relaxations mingled with the hardships. In the winter the house was cold, with only open fires for warming rooms. We had, however, an abundance of wood, and in the evenings a supply of cider, apples and nuts for ourselves and for the neighbors. There were always one or two poor families in the neighborhood who enjoyed the moderate comforts of our house. I recall one man, who after a visit would stop at the pile of wood, near the house, and carry a backload to his home. My father often saw the stealing, but the culprit never knew from any word or act that he had been discovered or suspected.
The ponds and brooks in the vicinity gave us a chance for fishing, and there was some shooting, especially of pigeons in the autumn. The oak forests had not then fallen, and the pigeons were abundant in September and until there were heavy night frosts, when they would leave for milder regions. For several years my father baited pigeons, and caught them in a net. To do this we were in the bough-house by daylight. A wicked advantage was taken by soaking the grain in anise-seed cordial, which made the birds noisy and active, thus attracting other pigeons to the stand. The device of taking pigeons in a net and wringing their necks is a brutal business, as is all slaughtering of animals.
From 1820 to 1830 religious controversies were violent and universal. No one of the towns in Massachusetts was free from them. Under the colonial system each town was a religious corporation as well as a political one. There was one church and one meetinghouse in each town, and the parochial expenses were paid from the municipal revenues. In 1780 when the constitution was adopted, some progress had been made, but by the Third Article of the Bill of Rights, every citizen was required to be a member of some religious society. As a result, new societies were formed, and in many instances there were so organized and managed as to avoid expenses. About the same time attacks were made upon the Third Article of the Bill of Rights, and after an excited controversy covering many years, the constitution was changed in that respect, by an amendment in the nature of a substitute, which was adopted by the people at an election held in the month of November, 1833. By that amendment each citizen was authorized to file a certificate of non-membership with the clerk of the society of which he was a member and thereafter he was free from any contract or obligation of such society thereafter made.
The little town of Lunenburg participated actively in the contest. My father advocated the amendment. At the ancient meetinghouse the ancient doctrines of future punishment were preached and the literal inspiration of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation was not questioned. Those who denied the one or doubted the other were denounced as infidels. Religious topics were the leading subjects of conversation, and the fruitful source of personal and neighborhood controversies. My father rejected the doctrine of physical punishment in another state of existence, and he came to regard the Bible as a record of events, and the expression of human thought and feeling, rather than as a message of the Divine will.
Perhaps as early as 1820 the Methodists had organized a church and secured a place of meeting in the north part of the town on a by-road. The building was not as good in quality or style as is a modern barn. My father separated himself from the old society and joined the Methodist society. In that organization each one paid what he chose. I recollect attending meetings in the old barn, but the distance was great and the inconveniences were numerous. The converts could endure the inconveniences, but as my father was not a convert nor a believer his interest was slight. Afterwards, however, the Methodists built a meetinghouse in the village, and for several years we had seats and attended the services. Once in two or three years the denomination held camp meetings in the autumn and the work of conversions would go on rapidly. The scenes were such as are now reported of the negro race in the states of the South. Young girls would shout, crying out that they had found Jesus, fall down, and lie senseless, or at least speechless, for many minutes. After brief periods of excitement many of the converts returned to their old ways of life, neither better nor worse.
During these years the Universalists held meetings at Shirley Village, quite eight miles away. My father attended occasionally, and not infrequently I went with him. I had therefore the opportunity to hear the great preachers of the denomination—Russell Streeter, Sebastian Streeter, brothers; Thomas Whittemore, the editor of the Trumpet, the organ of the sect, Hosea Ballou, Walter Balfour, and others whose names I do not recall. Balfour was a Scotchman, preaching with an accent, and rolling his scalp, from his eyes to the nape of his neck. The sermons had two peculiarities. First the text was examined carefully and so construed as to show that the author, whether Jesus, Peter, or Paul, taught the doctrine of universal salvation. Then came a process of reasoning designed to show that God could not punish his creatures in a lake of fire and brimstone. First, he was all-powerful; next, he was all-wise; then he was infinitely just, and finally his mercy was without limit. Could a being endowed with these attributes consign his children to unending misery? From the first I saw the defect in the process of reasoning. The premises were not faulty, but given a being with infinite faculties, could another being, with finite faculties only, forecast the result of the exercise or operation of the infinite?
The little town was made notorious by the career of the physician, Dr. Aaron Bard. He was born in Jaffrey, N. H., about the year 1770. He obtained his medical education in part at least, at Troy, N. Y., from which place he fled to avoid arrest upon the charge of robbing graves. His parents were rigid believers in the old faith, and in that faith they had trained the son. Against that faith the son rebelled, dropped the second "a" in his baptismal name, and rejected the Scriptures as not containing divine truth. As the mass of the people believed implicitly in the divine origin and plenary inspiration of the Bible, a disbeliever was denounced as an infidel and punished by social outlawry.
Bard was not a quiet doubter. He attacked the Bible, ridiculed much of the Old Testament, accepted controversies with the clergy, although he attended their families without charge. His reputation as a physician was considerable, and although his enemies, who were many, made repeated efforts to secure a competitor, the wary declined their invitations, and the credulous were soon driven away by poverty, or the fear of it. Bard was a bachelor, lived economically, never presented a bill, and when he died, about the year 1850, his books were free of charges. Before the repeal of the Third Article in the Bill of Rights, Bard organized a society which by some art of logic was so far recognized as a religious body as to exempt its members from taxation in the old parish. It flourished until the Third Article was annulled, when it disappeared. Bard purchased a Hebrew bible, lexicon and grammar, and proceed to translate parts of the Old Testament, especially the early chapters in Genesis, and in such manner as to throw doubt upon the received version. His Sundays were devoted to talks in his office, where were gathered a few hearers, some because they agreed with him, and others because they were interested in hearing what he had to offer.
He was of small size, hardy, ingenious, and free from meanness. He was economical and his ways of business forbade any extravagance. When he needed hay or grain for his horses or wood for his fire he called upon some of the farmers whose physician he was, and obtained a supply. Beyond this he made no demand for payment, though when it was offered he accepted it. Until he was about sixty years of age, he rode on horseback, and always without an overcoat. From my thirteenth to my seventeenth year I was boy and clerk in a store at a distance of less than five rods from Bard's office. I saw him constantly. His denunciations of Christianity were so violent and unreasonable that many persons would revolt at the thought of accepting his theories. He had followers, however, and the trial of Abner Kneeland for blasphemy promoted the spread of infidel opinions. I do not now recollect that I heard Bard express any opinion as to a future state of existence. In that particular he was probably an agnostic. When in later years I saw a plaster cast of the head of Voltaire at the Cambridge Museum of Comparative Anatomy, I was impressed with the resemblance between Bard's head and that cast.
His success as a physician was due probably to his ingenuity and keen powers of observation rather than to his learning. All his faculties were active, and he appreciated the importance of the laws of progress. When homeopathy had taken some hold upon public opinion, he said: "There is nothing in it, but then it has done a great deal of good. It has taught us not to give so much medicine. We killed a great many people with medicine, but it is several years now since I killed a man." This remark was made in 1842 or 1843.
In my boyhood the Rev. David Damon was the minister. He was a graduate of Harvard College, a man of learning, of good standing in the profession, and a satisfactory preacher. His temper was mild, and it was not easy for Bard to engage in bitter contests with him. Mr. Damon left Lunenburg about 1827, and settled in West Cambridge, where he died suddenly in the pulpit. Among the constant attendants upon Mr. Damon's Sunday services at Lunenburg was a blacksmith named Kimball, who was afflicted with deafness. From his trade perhaps he had come to be called Puffer Kimball. From a front seat in the meetinghouse he had ventured upon the pulpit stairs, and finally he had reached the position of standing on an upper stair, resting his arms upon the desk, and with his hand to his ear listening to the services from beginning to end. In the east part of the town was a farmer named James Gilchrist, a Scotch Irishman, weighing not less than two hundred and fifty pounds, and the father of four grown sons who where his equals in weight, and all of them of great strength. Gilchrist abandoned the Sunday meetings and when Mr. Damon asked him for his reason he said he wouldn't have his religion strained through old Puffer Kimball.
This same Gilchrist had had a controversy ending in a slander suit with Mr. Damon's predecessor, the Rev. Timothy Flint. Mr. Flint was a man of recognized ability, a good preacher, but erratic in his ways. For some purpose not well understood, he built a furnace in the cellar of his house. His friends maintained that he was engaged in scientific experiments, and such was his purpose, no doubt, but his enemies and the more ignorant of the community assumed that his plan was to coin money. One day, in a store kept by Mr. Cunningham (the grandfather or great-grandfather of Gen. James Cunningham,) Gilchrist exhibited a coin and said: "Here is a dollar that Tim Flint made." Flint returned the challenge with a suit, which I think was adjusted without a trial, but the controversy contributed to the dissolution of the settlement. Flint left the town to which he returned once in my boyhood and preached a sermon in the new meetinghouse, that had been substituted for the old one used in the days of Zabdiel Adams, of Timothy Flint, and David Damon.
After leaving Lunenburg Flint went with his family to the valley of the Mississippi, and led the life of a wanderer, floating down the river with his family and making his way back as best he might. In these expeditions children were born and children died. He wrote two romances founded on Western primitive life, and a history of the Mississippi Valley. Time may give to his works a value that they did not appear to possess when they were published. Flint was recognized in the town as a man of ability, but he failed to secure the affections or even the confidence of the people. He was a man of ready faculty, being able to write his sermons Saturday evening, with his children around him.
Parson Adams, a cousin of John Adams and the predecessor of Flint, had lived among his people as a chieftain. He was not only the spiritual teacher, he was supreme in most other matters. Unlike the Adams family generally, he had a rough wit and a sententious practical wisdom about common things not unlike the kindred conspicuous qualities in Dr. Franklin. If the traditions that existed in my boyhood were trustworthy, he said and did things that would have ruined an ordinary minister. Adams gave an earnest support to the Revolution, and one of his sermons delivered at the opening of the war contained a view of the coming greatness of the country that was truly prophetic.
Samuel Dexter studied law at Lunenburg. He was there married by the Rev. Zabdiel Adams to a Miss Gordon, a daughter of an English lady.
The successor of Mr. Damon was the Rev. Joseph Hubbard, and during his ministry the old society that represented the town of former days came to an end. The first error was the scheme for erecting a new meeting- house. The larger part of the village is on the southern side of a hill, and the first meetinghouse was midway on the slope and facing south. The site was a triangular piece of land, of more than one hundred rods in extent, on which were shade trees planted in other days. If the whole town had been at command not another equally good site could have been selected. A spirit, called the spirit of progress, had seized the leaders and it was resolved to build a new meetinghouse on the top of the hill. The house was built, but in the meantime the society lost members. Following the dedication of the new house, there came complaints against Hubbard as a preacher. He made enemies, and his enemies promoted disturbances. Efforts were made to dissolve the connection. Hubbard having been settled for life, these efforts were ineffectual. Finally his salary was withheld and the house was closed against him. Sunday after Sunday, morning and afternoon, Hubbard would walk from the parsonage to the meetinghouse, try the doors and then return home. As long as the doors were open, I attended the services—the congregation diminishing until the pews were given up to the boys and those who attended from curiosity. One morning the seats of the singers were vacant, and Hubbard read the hymn commencing: "Let those refuse to sing, who never knew their God." That was the last, or near the last of his Sunday services.
As the controversy went on, the members of the parish withdrew, until the only one remaining who possessed any property was an uncle of mine, Timothy Marshall. He lived in the easterly part of the town, and he was a Universalist in opinion. He owned a small farm and a sawmill on the Mulpus Brook. His chief delights were reading, discussing political and religious questions, and gathering information in the department of the natural sciences. He associated a good deal with Dr. Bard, but he never accepted Bard's views of the Bible. He had continued with the old society from indisposition to disturb himself rather than from sympathy with its teachings, or regard for its interests. At the conclusion of the active controversy between Hubbard and the society, the unpaid salary amounted to several hundred dollars. Hubbard threatened suit, and he may have commenced one. In that juncture my uncle went over the town and gathered the signatures of those nominal members who had no property, who had not paid taxes, and whose eyes had not seen the inside of a meetinghouse. A parish meeting was called, composed by my uncle and his new adherents. At the end authority was given for the conveyance to Mr. Hubbard of the site of the old meetinghouse in full satisfaction of his claim. This spot was in the center of the village and in the view of the houses of the principal residents. Not their curiosity merely, but their fears were excited when they learned that their bitter enemy was to become the owner of the common in the center of the village. To be sure the bounds were indefinite, but there was a spot belonging to the parish, and it included all that was not highway.
My uncle had an understanding with Hubbard that the land was to be conveyed to Hubbard and the society released from all its liabilities under the contract. Then the land was to be conveyed to my uncle for the sum of six hundred dollars. This was done, and my uncle became the owner of the common. He was not a friend of the citizens of the village, and various uncomfortable surmises were set afloat. But my uncle had but little malice in his nature, and moreover he was too inert to indulge in the luxury of avenging any wrong either real or imaginary. The common was left to the use of stray cattle, the children of the neighborhood and of the school. After a time the school district decided to rebuild the school-house. The old site was small, indeed, only sufficient for the building. The citizens divided, but the advocates of the old site prevailed, and a brick building was erected. Still the contest went on, and after a year or two the majority of the district voted to erect a new house, and the upper part of the common was selected for the site where a second house, of wood, was built. Whether any title to the land was obtained from my uncle, I know not. The new house was used for a time, when it was sold, moved, and converted into a dwelling.
When my uncle died at the age of about eighty-five years, the common was unoccupied, and it had the appearance that property takes on when the owner is intemperate or absent, or when the heirs cannot agree to a division. The settlement of my uncle's estate was put into the hands of Mr. Ephraim Graham, whose brother had married my uncle's eldest daughter. My uncle's children were scattered, and apparently they inherited their father's indifference to property. Graham was unable to finish any business, and after ten or more years he died, leaving the estate unsettled. Finally, the ladies of the village took possession of the common, removed the rubbish, leveled the ground, and made the spot an agreeable feature of the town.
Of the teachers of the village school there are several that I remember with gratitude, and I cannot but think that some of them were very good teachers. My first teacher was Martha Putnam, afterwards Mrs. Nathaniel F. Cunningham. Of her as a teacher I can recall nothing. Her father, Major Daniel Putnam, was the principal trader in the village. For the time and place his accumulations were very large. Nancy Stearns, afterwards Mrs. Benjamin Snow, was the teacher of the summer school for many years. But beyond comparison Cyrus Kilburn was the best teacher of the town, and a person who would have ranked high among teachers at any period in the history of the State. He was not a learned man in a large sense, but his habit was to investigate the subjects within his scope, with great thoroughness. Grammar was his favorite study, and he devised a system of analysis in parsing quite in advance of the time. He had the faculty of putting questions and of changing them to meet the capacities of the pupils. He compelled thinking. I attended the winter school about ten terms, and of these not less than six terms were taught by Mr. Kilburn.
In later years we had Colburn's Sequel as the arithmetic. From this I passed to algebra and geometry, and during the last two terms I studied Latin Grammar. My school-going days ended in February, 1835, a month after my seventeenth birthday.
[* During the session of the Legislature of 1843 or 1844, I walked with my father on the ice from Boston to Fort Warren, a distance of about three miles. The authorities were then engaged in cutting a channel for the departure of a Cunard steamer.]
II LIFE AS A STORE-BOY AND CLERK
In the month of December, 1830, when I was about one month less than thirteen years of age, Mr. Simeon Heywood, the postmaster at Lunenburg and the owner of a small store, proposed to my father that I should go into his service to remain four years. An arrangement was made by which I was to receive my board and clothes, and the privilege of attending school during the winter months. I commenced my service the 26th of December, 1830, and I remained until December 1, 1834.
My life with Mr. Heywood was a peculiar one. The business of the store was largely in the sale of goods for hats made of palm leaf. The business was comparatively new at the time. For many previous years the women had been employed in braiding straw and making hats and bonnets for market. Gradually, work in palm leaf had taken the place of work in straw. The neighbor of Heywood, Major Daniel Putnam, was doing a large business in hats. The preparation of the palm leaves was not an easy business. The leaves were stripped on the folds by the hand, then bleached with sulphur in large boxes. The leaves were then split so as to produce straws from one twentieth to one eighth of an inch in width. The first process of stripping the leaves on the folds was paid for at the rate of ten cents per one hundred leaves. I devoted my leisure to the work, and thus earned a small sum of money. Heywood was a shoemaker by trade, and an end of the store was used as a shop. There one man and sometimes two men were employed. From much seeing I was able to make a pair of shoes for myself—rather for the amusement of the thing than from any advantage. While at Heywood's store, probably about 1834, I had a disagreeable experience, the recollection of which has often returned. A blacksmith, named Choate, died, and with another boy, whose name I do not recall, I was summoned to watch the body during a night. We occupied an adjoining room, and once an hour we were required to bathe the face of the corpse in spirits of camphor. To this day I have never been able to understand why two half-grown boys were put to such service.
Heywood was more of an inventor than a trader, and becoming interested in the manufacture of nail kegs he made an invention in connection with Dr. Bard for sawing staves concave on one side and convex on the other. In the year 1834 they obtained a patent for the invention. As a consequence the business of the store was neglected. The invention did not yield a large return in money, as it was soon superseded by other devices. The saw, a hoop-saw, was set up in a mill two miles away, and from time to time I tended the saw, and thus I began a training in mechanics which has been useful to me in my profession as a patent lawyer. Heywood also invented a wheel for bringing staves to a bevel and taper, for the construction of barrels systematically. Mr. Heywood remained in town eight or ten years, when he moved to Claremont, N. H., where he died at the age of eighty years or more. He was thoroughly upright, but he had too many schemes for a successful business man. During my term with Mr. Heywood, I had charge of the post-office, keeping the accounts, which were then cumbrous, and I made the returns once in three months.
During a part of the time a stagecoach ran from Lowell, through Tyngsboro, Pepperell, Townsend Harbor, Lunenburg and Fitchburg, and thence westward through Petersham and Belchertown to Springfield. The distance was about one hundred miles, and I was compelled to be ready to open the mail three mornings each week, at about two o'clock. The driver would sound his horn when he was eighty or one hundred rods away, and it was my duty to be ready to take the mail when the coach arrived at the door.
It was when so summoned that it was my fortune to see the shower of falling stars in November, 1833. From the time I arose until after daylight there was no part of the heavens that was not illuminated—not with one meteor merely—but with many hundreds. Many of them left a long train, extending through twenty, thirty, or even forty degrees. I called at Bard's window and told him that the stars were falling, but he refused to get up, thinking it a joke. The butcher of the town, Abijah Whitney, came out to commence preparations for his morning rounds, but conceiving that the day of judgment had come, he returned into the house and gave up business for the day. In the year 1901, I know of one other person only, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore, who witnessed that exhibition, and it has not been repeated.
During my term with Mr. Heywood, and for many previous years, and for a short period afterwards, the business of printing standard books, Bibles, spelling-books and dictionaries had been carried on at Lunenburg by Col. Edmund Cushing. The books were bound, and then sent by teams to Boston. The printing was on hand-presses, and upon stereotype plates. Deacon William Harrington carried on a small business as a bookbinder, and Messrs. William Greenough & Sons erected a building on the farm now owned by Mr. Brown on the Lancaster road, and introduced the business of stereotyping—business then new, I think. These various industries gave employment of a large number of workmen, mostly young men. The establishment of Colonel Cushing was near the store of Heywood, and it was at the bindery that I first saw Alvah Crocker, afterwards known in the politics of the State, and as the projector of the Fitchburg railroad. He was a maker of paper at Fitchburg, and he came with a one-horse wagon to Cushing's place and carried away the paper shavings produced in the bindery. Crocker was a lean and awkward man, remarkable for his voice, which could be heard over the larger part of the village. When in after years we were associated in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and boarded at the same hotel, the Hanover House, I was compelled to hear the same voice in constant advocacy of the Fitchburg railroad project.
Colonel Cushing was one of the foremost men in town, but his aristocratic ways made him unpopular, and therefore he failed to secure official recognition. He was the father of Luther S. Cushing, for many years clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, then reporter of the decisions of the Supreme Court, afterwards a judge upon the bench of the Court of Common Pleas, and then the author of Cushing's Manual. Another of his sons, Edmund Cushing, Jr., was a member of the Supreme Court of the State of New Hampshire. Of his two other sons, one was a clergyman, and one a civil engineer. The sons were all my seniors, and my acquaintance with them was limited, but when I became a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, in January, 1842, Luther S. Cushing, then the clerk, came to me, and after some words of congratulation, gave me this advice: "Never champion any private scheme, unless the parties are your constituents." Good advice, which I followed in all my legislative experience.
During the four winters of my term with Mr. Heywood, I attended the school, studying the usual branches with something of algebra, geometry, and Latin grammar. It was during these years that the teacher, Mr. Kilburn, created such an interest in his plans that he obtained a contribution of twenty-four dollars with which he purchased a twelve-inch celestial and a twelve-inch terrestrial globe. Several pleasant evenings were devoted to a study of the heavens with the aid of the celestial globe. I attended usually, and thus I gained a partial knowledge of the constellations, and an acquaintance with some of the stars by name and location. The post-office gave me access to several publications of the day, and in one or two instances I obtained a few subscribers to journals, and thus secured a free copy for myself. The Penny Magazine I obtained in that way for two years. In the cholera seasons of 1832-3 and 1834, the people were so alarmed that they hesitated to take letters and papers from the post-office. For a time gum-camphor was thought to be a preventive against the contagion.
Between 1830 and 1834 the ambition of the town was stimulated by the building of a new road from Fitchburg to Shirley. It was claimed that a shorter and more nearly level route to Boston from Fitchburg and the country above was thus secured. For a time the travel was considerable, but the teamsters preferred the old roads, the old taverns, and the old acquaintances. The construction of the Fitchburg railroad in 1844 ended the business from the country to Boston over the old highways.
In the month of November, 1834, I had a call from Mr. Joseph Hazen, of Shirley, who asked me to accept the post of teacher in the school at Pound Hill, half-way between Shirley Village and Shirley Centre. The pay was sixteen dollars per month in addition to board. After making an arrangement with Mr. Heywood, by which I was to pay him eight dollars for the twenty-six days in December, I accepted the invitation, and after an examination conducted by the Rev. Seth Chandler and the Rev. Hope Brown, I entered the school the first Monday of the month of December.
In the preceding June I had received my freedom suit of clothes—blue coat, bright buttons, black trousers, and buff vest. They were made by Daniel Cross, of Fitchburg, and, when in 1884, I visited that town, and found him still engaged in the business, I ordered a dress suit from his hand.
III CHANGES AND PROGRESS
As I pass in this record from my childhood and early youth to the responsibilities of life, I am led to some reflections upon the changes in opinions and the changes in the condition of the people in the more than half-century from 1835 to 1899. At the first period there was not a clergyman of any of the Protestant denominations who questioned the plenary and verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, including the Old and New Testaments. The suggestion could not have safely been made in any New England pulpit that there were errors of translation, and yet the Christian world, outside the Catholic Church, now accepts a revision that changes the meaning of some passages and excludes others as interpolations. The account given in the first chapter of Genesis of the creation of the world and of man was accepted according to the meaning of the language used. At the present moment there is not a well-educated clergyman of any denomination who would not either treat the account as a legend, or else explain the days as periods of indefinite duration.
The claim of the verbal and plenary inspiration of the Old Testament is denied by many and doubted by others, and the volume is seen and treated by them as a compilation of works or books in which are recorded the thoughts and doings of men and tribes and nations that existed at different periods and flourished or suffered as is the fortune of mankind.
The early chapters of Genesis were then a faithful history; they are now a legend. The Book of Job was then an inspiration; it is now a poem. The reported interviews between Abraham and Jehovah were then thought to have been real; now they are treated as the visions of an excited brain. The ten commandments were then believed to have been delivered to Moses by the Supreme Being; now they are regarded as the work of a wise law-giver. Kings and Chronicles are now authentic histories written by honest men; then those records of events were attributed to the Supreme Ruler of the world.
The domain of prayer has been limited. Prayers for rain, for health, for mild winters and fruitful summers, were then made in all the churches. Now, with many exceptions no doubt, health is sought in obedience to the laws of our being, and the seasons find their quality in the operation of laws whose sources are in material organizations that cannot yield to human impulses.
The sources of knowledge have been multiplied almost indefinitely. In 1835 the daily newspaper was not often seen in country towns, and the circulation of the weekly paper was limited to a very small portion of the families. The postage was an important item. Relatively, the cost of papers was enormous. The mails were infrequent, and the people generally had not the means of paying the combined expenses. Many, perhaps most, of the papers, were sent upon credit, and it was not unusual to find subscribers several years in arrears. Many of the papers contained this notice: "No paper discontinued until all arrearages are paid," as though sending a paper to a subscriber in debt, would compel him to make payment. New books were rare. The farmers and laborers had no slight difficulty in meeting the demands for schoolbooks, and these and the Bible were the total stock in a majority of houses.
The means of domestic comfort were limited to a degree not now easily comprehended. The brick oven and the open fire were the only means of cooking, and the open fire was the only means of warming the houses. Soon after 1835, and even before that year possibly, cylinder stoves were introduced into shops and stores. Stoves of other varieties soon followed. Upholstered furniture and carpets were not found in the houses of well-to-do farmers even.
The construction of railways and the invention of the telegraphic system of communication have revolutionized business and changed the habits of the people, but only the beginnings of their power are yet seen. They have made it possible for great free governments to exist permanently. Except for differences of languages all Europe might become one state, if indeed, first, the individual states could over- throw all dynastic institutions in families, and all forms of hierarchy in the churches. These changes to be followed by the abolition of all forms of mortmain, by the free sale of land, by the distribution of the estates of deceased persons by operation of law, by compulsory education with moral training, and the exclusion of all dogmatic teaching touching the origin or destiny of man. This freedom and the aggregation of small states in vast governments, by the consent of all parties, would be security for the peace of the world. With general peace would come the abolition of great armies, freedom from public debts, and numerous freeholders. These are the conditions of domestic and social comfort, the chief and worthiest objects of the State organization.
In 1830 the movement against the use of intoxicating liquors began—or rather it was about that year that the movement was strong enough to lead a small number of country merchants to abandon the trade. When I went into Mr. Heywood's store, he had one hogshead of New England rum. That was sold, and there the business ended. As a general rule, the farmers used rum daily during the summer season, and drank freely of cider during the winter. On my father's farm, rum toddy was drunk three times a day during the haying season, which lasted from the 4th of July to the 1st of August, or a little later. There was no general use of liquors at any other season.
At old election*—the last Wednesday in May—at Thanksgiving, the 4th of July, and when my grandfather visited us—which seems now not to have been more than three or four times a year—a pitcher of West India rum toddy was made, seasoned with nutmeg and toasted crackers.
The poverty of farmers with respect of tools, made it almost impossible for farmers to prosper, except by cattle-raising and the cultivation of small grains. Farming is now an art, and the slavery of farm labor has in a degree disappeared. Formerly the business of farming was limited by the home product of manure, but the manufacture of phosphates has enabled the farmer to enlarge his operations in every direction that promises a return.
The railway system had driven the eastern farmer from the cultivation of wheat and corn, as it is not possible for him to compete with the new and fertile lands of the West. In these sixty years the wheat fields have moved from the East to the West. From 1820 to 1840 the valleys of the Mohawk and the Genesee furnished the finer flour for the cities of New York and New England. Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia supplied Baltimore and Philadelphia. Then Ohio became the chief source of supply. More recently the wheat region is the upper valley of the Mississippi, and the State of California. The time is not far distant when a return movement will begin. Domestic markets in the vicinity of the great wheat fields will create a demand for other products. With the exhaustion of the soil will come the necessity for the use of artificial manures. Thus will be established a permanent condition of comparative equality between the East and the West.
Already the process has commenced in the culture of Indian corn. For a time the farmers of New England were unable to raise corn, even for farm use, in competition with the West. The fodder of the corn has now become valuable to farmers who produce milk for market, and already they are finding it profitable to raise corn, even when the price at the door does not exceed fifty cents per bushel. Coincident with these changes the States of the East have increased in population, and the proportion who live in cities is increasing at a greater ratio even. The railway system and the system of protection to American industry have been the chief instruments in the augmentation of population generally, and of the gains to cities. These changes have inured to the benefit of the Eastern farmers.
[* Old election in Massachusetts was the last Wednesday in May, when, under the Constitution of 1780, the governor was inaugurated.]
IV SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL-KEEPING
Of my pupils at Pound Hill an unusually large proportion were advanced in years.* Several of the boys were my seniors, and in size they had quite an advantage over me, although my weight was then about 165 pounds. That class gave me very little trouble. The unruly boys were those between ten and fifteen years of age. With a few exceptions the leading people of the town were well-to-do farmers, and nearly every week brought an invitation to a party at the house of some one of them. An attendance of more than fifty persons was not an uncommon occurrence. The term of the school was limited by the money, and either from the extra cost of firewood, or some other unusual expense, the school was brought to a close two or three days sooner than was expected. My father was to come for me on a day named, but when my school was over, and I was free, I concluded to walk home, a distance of about six miles, and return for my clothes when convenient.
Just at that time there had been a heavy, warm rain, and a melting of snow, which had raised the streams. When I reached the bridge at the brook on the west side of Flat Hill, the water was over the road to the depth of twelve inches or more. I concluded to wade across, which I did. My mother was frightened, but I escaped without any serious ill effect. My school-keeping days were over. My old teacher, Mr. Cyrus Kilburn, had charge of the village school and I took my seat among the pupils. I remained in the school about two weeks, and then my school- days were over. Altogether I had the training of six or seven summer terms in schools kept by women, supplemented two or three times by a private school of a few weeks by the same teacher, and ten or eleven winter terms. In reading, spelling and grammar I had had a good training. To those branches Mr. Kilburn devoted himself, and I recall his teaching of grammar with great satisfaction. He had no knowledge of object-teaching as applied to grammar, but he was skillful in analysis, and his training was methodical and exact. In fine, he was so much devoted to the work of teaching, that the discipline of the school was neglected. Of this there had been complaints for years. At that time I had a good command of arithmetic, I knew something of algebra, and geometry seemed easy from the start. In composition, so- called, I had had no experience. Once only during my school life was an attempt made by a teacher to introduce the exercise of writing, and that attempt I avoided. In Latin I had not gone beyond the study of the grammar, and the training that I had received was from persons poorly qualified to give instruction.
Once or twice the teacher had been a college undergraduate, and Kilburn's knowledge of the language was measured by his acquisitions at the Groton Academy. Of knowledge wholly useless to me I had learned to read the Hebrew alphabet from Dr. Bard's elementary Hebrew book. The reading-books, especially Scott's Lessons, contained extracts from good writers and speakers, with selections from the best of English poets, and these extracts and selections, I had read and had heard read so often that I could repeat many of them at full length. Worcester's Geography, and Whelpley's Compend of History were among the books used in the schools.
[* The Pound Hill schoolhouse has been sold to the owner of the Captain Parker place and converted into a shop and tool-house. A photograph has been taken of the venerable relic.]
V GROTON IN 1835
In the month of February, 1835, I read an advertisement in the Lowell Journal, asking for a clerk in a store, application to be made at the office. I at once wrote to Joseph S. Hubbard,* a former schoolmate, asking him to call at the office and get the name of the advertiser. This he did, and gave me the name of Benj. P. Dix of Groton. I wrote to Mr. Dix, and upon the receipt of an answer, I went with my father to see him. The result was an agreement to work for him for three years. Terms, board and one hundred dollars for the first year, one hundred and twelve dollars for the second year, one hundred and twenty-five dollars for the third year. I commenced my clerkship with Mr. Dix the fifth day of March, and in the month of September my contract was ended by his failure. His business was small, his manners were abrupt, his capital had been limited, and his family expenses, not extravagant, had exceeded his income, and bankruptcy in the end was inevitable. His sales were chiefly of boots, shoes, leather, and medicines, of which he kept the only stock in the village.
Mr. Dix was a man of exact ways of life. The sales made were entered each day at the close of business, the cash was carefully counted, and the cash-book was balanced. But these careful and businesslike ways did not save him, and in September he made an assignment of his property to his father Benj. Dix, and to Caleb Butler, for the benefit of his creditors according to the preferences specified in the assignment. Mr. Butler was not a creditor, but Mr. Dix, senior, was much the largest creditor. In fact he had furnished his son with the chief part of the means of doing business. He was a tanner by trade, and he had gradually enlarged his business by employing workmen to make boots and shoes. A portion of his product of leather and all his product of boots and shoes had been turned into the son's store.
The deficiency of means on the part of the son was represented at each settlement by an addition to the debt due to the father. The debts amounted to about five thousand dollars. Following the assignment Mr. Dix left home, and he did not return until the spring or summer of 1836. Imprisonment for debt in a modified form then existed. He and his family were proud, and he may have wished to avoid seeing his neighbors and acquaintances while his misfortune was fresh upon him. His wife was a granddaughter of General Ward, who had been the rival of General Washington for the command of the army at the opening of the War of the Revolution. Mrs. Dix was proud, very properly, of her paternity, and of her grandfather's association with General Washington, and neither from her, nor from either of two brothers whom I subsequently met, did I ever hear a word of criticism upon the wisdom of the selection of General Washington. Mrs. Dix had inherited many letters written by General Washington to her grandfather, and they were all written in a tone of sincere friendship.
Mrs. Dix's eldest brother, Mr. Nahum Ward, was one of the early settlers, if not one of the founders of Marietta, Ohio. Mr. Dix went to Marietta, where he was given some employment by Mr. Ward. Neither Mr. Butler nor Mr. Dix senior, had any knowledge of business, and I was employed by them at a small advance in my pay, to sell the stock of goods, and close the business of the store. After such sales as could be made, the remainder of the stock was sold at auction the 23d day of November. During the preceding night there was a fall of snow, and the company came to the village in sleighs. The winter was severe, and the snow continued to cover the ground until the 18th of April, when the stage coaches for the north went on runners for the last time. The summer of 1836 was so cold, that the corn crop was a failure. During the year following corn brought from New Jersey sold for $2.50 per bushel.
In 1835 the town of Groton was a place of much importance relatively. It was the residence of several men of more than local fame. Timothy Fuller, the father of Margaret, was living there. He was a lawyer of considerable distinction, and he had held important public positions. He had been a representative and senator in the Massachusetts Legislature, speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, and a member of Congress from the Cambridge district from 1817 to 1825. He died in October, 1835.
Mr. Fuller was a man of careful and regular habits, indeed he belonged to a family noted for their devotion to the profession of law, and for their odd manners and styles of dress.
Mr. Fuller's eldest son, Eugene, was afterwards a student in the law office of George F. Farley. He was a good debater as a young man, but as a student rather irregular. He went to New Orleans to reside, became an editor of, or writer on, the Picayune, and on a return voyage from Boston he was lost overboard.
Margaret Fuller continued to reside in Groton with her mother and the other members of the family for several years—until about 1841, I think. In the meantime I met her frequently, although she was several years my senior. She was a teacher in the Sunday school, and at the Sunday-evening teachers' meetings she was accustomed to set forth her opinions with great frankness, and in a style which assumed that they were not open to debate. While she lived at Groton she contributed to the Dial.
In personal appearance Margaret Fuller was less attractive than one might imagine from the portraits and engravings now seen. Her ability was recognized, but the celebrity she attained finally was not anticipated, probably, by any of her town acquaintances. Her writings may justify the opinion that as a writer and thinker she is in the front rank of American women.
Samuel Dana, who had been a judge for many years, president of the Massachusetts Senate for three terms, and a member of Congress for one term, was also a resident of Groton. He had been an active politician on the Democratic or Jeffersonian side in politics, and for many years in early life he had been the competitor of Timothy Bigelow, who had been a resident of Groton and a leader in the Federal Party of the State. The town supported Bigelow and returned him to the House, where he became speaker for many sessions. Dana as a candidate for the Massachusetts Senate was elected by the county of Middlesex then Democratic, and for three terms he was president of the Senate. Judge Dana was interested in a small social library that was kept in a chamber over the store. It contained Josephus, Plutarch's Lives, Rollins' Ancient History, and some other standard works whose titles I do not now recall.
Judge Dana was also interested in the organization of a reading room club in a building connected with the store. As clerk in charge of the store I was custodian of the reading room and library. I found time to read Plutarch and Josephus, and I was skeptic enough to question in my own mind the passage in Josephus in regard to Jesus. Judge Dana died in the month of November, 1835, at the age of sixty. His hair was white and long, and his appearance was so venerable that it is now difficult for me to realize that he was not seventy-five years of age at least. His abilities were considerable, and his descendants, in more than one instance, have shown distinguished qualities.
Two other well-known lawyers, one of them a lawyer of eminence in the profession, were also residents of the town; Benj. M. Farley and George F. Farley, brothers. They were natives of the small town of Brookline, N. H. The elder, Benj. M., had practised in Hollis, N. H., where by economy and good care of his earnings he had acquired a competency. At Groton he made no effort to obtain business, and acted for the most part as an associate or aid to his brother, who was in the enjoyment of a large practice and income, for those days and parts.
With George F. Farley, whose age ran with the century, I was well acquainted from 1835 until his death in 1855. He was one of the small number of men that I have known who underestimated their powers. In one respect, perhaps, this was not true of Farley. He never appeared wanting in courage for any legal struggle with the leaders of the bar in New England. In the twenty years that I knew him he had for his antagonists Webster, Choate, Davis, Curtis, Franklin, Dexter, and others of eminence, and he never failed to sustain himself upon terms of equality. This was remarkable in presence of the fact that he was likely to be retained on the hard side of most cases. This was due, perhaps, to his reputation for shrewdness, and for a quality in practice which has been called the inventive faculty. When parties were not allowed to testify, there was a wide field for the imagination, and for the exercise of the inventive faculties on the part of an advocate. He had defended, successfully, the Ursuline Convent rioters, and he had been employed in many desperate cases on the civil side and on the criminal side of the courts.
In his later years he read very little either in law, history, or general literature. His law library was meager, although he had usually one or two students in his office. He preferred to discuss his cases with the loungers about the post-office and stores, getting thereby the benefit of the opinions of common men.
His manner in speaking was inartistic, and although he was a graduate of Harvard, he indulged himself in the use of country phrases and rustic pronunciation. His logic was unanswerable, and his faculty of cross-examination of witnesses was worthy of emulation.
He enjoyed a few books, the classics in the originals, but he seldom indulged in a quotation. Byron as a poet, and Locke as a logician he commended to me—the latter, Locke on the Human Understanding, with great earnestness. Under his advice I read it carefully, and for mental training he did not overvalue it. Farley commenced the practice of his profession at New Ipswich, N. H., and that town elected him once or twice to the Legislature of the State. Wishing for a wider field, he came to Groton. It was a day of small fees, and a good deal of the litigation grew out of the intemperate habits of the farmers.
In New Hampshire fees were even more moderate than in Massachusetts. If Farley had estimated his talents at their full value and had taken an office in Boston or New York, he could have gratified his love for money without disturbing his relations to his neighbors. In minor ways he was acquisitive and consequently there came to be a public sentiment which excluded him from public employments. His political course was not more erratic than that of many others, but his change of position was ascribed to policy and not to principle. In 1840 he was a Whig, in 1850 he was a Free-soiler, and in 1855 he was a Republican. In the autumn of the year 1855 he was elected a member of the State Convention of the Republican Party.