January 23, 2015

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part III)

Moses Gulesian cabinet card
The time capsule exhibit will be up for just one more week, so now is the time to visit the Old State House to check it out! If you can't make it into Boston to see these artifacts, I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the displayed items through our blog posts. In this post, I'll showcase the displayed items that pertain to the 1901 restoration of the Old State House, which includes paraphenalia from city officials and skilled tradesmen who worked on the restoration.

In two of the earliest entries on our blog, guest author Donald J. Tellalian shared some of his research on Moses Gulesian, who was the manufacturer of the lion and unicorn statues that were placed on the Old State House in 1901. Back in July, we did not have an image of Gulesian to include with the blog entries, so imagine our happy surprise when we opened up the time capsule and found this well-preserved cabinet card depicting Gulesian. It was a treat to include a photograph of the man who was so important to the restoration of the lion and unicorn in the exhibit.

We also choose to display a photograph that depicts the key individuals connected to the Old State House's restoration project. The group photograph was taken on Waltham Street in Boston on February 18, 1901. When we assembled the new time capsule in November 2014, we made sure to continue this tradition by including photographs of current restoration work teams from Commodore Builders and Skylight Studios, and the Old State Restoration Project team. Also on display are the business card for John A.W. Silver, the Deputy Superintendent of Public Buildings for the City of Boston, and the business card for Samuel D. Rogers, head of S.D. Rogers and Company Carpenters and Builders. There were other personal items related to these two men in the time capsule, so we believe that it is likely that they were instrumental in assembling the contents of the time capsule.

Group photograph of 1900-1901 restoration team
S.D. Rogers and John Silver business cards











Lastly, the display includes a piece of the wooden lion statue that was removed from the Old State House in 1900. The wooden lion and unicorn statues were placed atop the Old State House in 1882, and within less than 20 years they needed to be replaced by the copper ones made by Gulesian and his team.  We do not know where the wooden statues ended up, so we feel lucky that a piece of the unicorn was included in the time capsule.

Piece of wooden lion statue, removed from the Old State House in 1901
Check back next week to learn about the last group of items on display!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

January 21, 2015

242 years ago this month: a speech by Governor Thomas Hutchinson (Part II)

Last week we began an examination of a speech that Governor Thomas Hutchinson made here in the Old State House in January 1773.  In today's post, we'll learn more about the response to his speech.

Despite Governor Hutchinson’s fears regarding independent colonial governments, his speech acknowledged that governments make mistakes; no one governing entity is perfect. As a result, he felt that to question policies that came out of one’s government was healthy as long as it was done through channels that were considered constitutional. Hutchinson felt that the rioting and questioning of the superiority of the mother country’s government was unconstitutional. He argued before the legislative branch that he would be willing to hear their arguments, whether he shared their sentiments or not, and was willing to be convinced by them, in a peaceful manner, to understand their cause:
“I have no desire, gentlemen, by anything I have said, to preclude you from seeking relief, in a constitutional way, of any cases in which you have heretofore, or may hereafter suppose that you are aggrieved; and, although I should not concur with you in sentiment, I will, notwithstanding, do nothing to lessen the weight which your representations may deserve.”
In making this speech, Governor Hutchinson hoped to adopt a middle ground between Parliament and the colonists: acknowledging to Parliament that they still had control over the colonies while also acknowledging the right of the colonists to question policies when they felt their government was in error.

Engraving by Paul Revere
Unfortunately for Governor Hutchinson, his speech was too little too late. Though the House of Representatives agreed that political peace should be restored, they felt that they could hardly blame the current upheaval on the people. To them, the people had done nothing unconstitutional. They had only responded to Parliament “assuming and exercising a power inconsistent with the freedom of the constitution,” and therefore it was Parliament who was acting outside of the powers given to them by the constitution. The people of Massachusetts were only protecting their constitutional rights as British subjects, equal to those subjects in the mother country of Great Britain.

Hutchinson’s speech was also poorly received by Parliament. Parliament had adopted a belief that if they ignored the upheaval in the colonies it would eventually blow over, and therefore, had also ignored all of Hutchinson’s letters asking for instructions on how to address the growing disorder. By not responding to Hutchinson’s letters, they had left him to assume the proper course of action as the royal governor and representative of their political body. As a result, when Parliament heard of Governor Hutchinson’s speech, they condemned him for bringing the problem to the forefront of the minds of the colonists when they had hoped it would die away. Governor Hutchinson’s speech was received in the opposite spirit in which it was intended, only resulting in his being alienated from both the colonial government and the government of the mother country.

By Roberta DeCenzo, Education Associate

January 16, 2015

242 years ago this month: a speech by Governor Thomas Hutchinson (Part I)

Thomas Hutchinson
Many debates and arguments were made within the rooms of the Old State House prior to the American Revolution when it was used as the seat of colonial government, housing both the House of Representatives and the office of the Royal Governor. Although the debates were held by patriots and loyalists, one pivotal speech made by the last civilian royal governor stands out amongst the political upheaval leading up to the outbreak of the war.

On January 6, 1773, the House of Representatives returned to the seat of government for the new year. Governor Thomas Hutchinson opened the new session with a speech acknowledging his awareness of the political disorder caused by new policies coming from the British Parliament without consent from the colonies. He hoped the violence and upheaval within the colony would subside on its own, but it had become clear the problem needed to be addressed to be resolved. Hutchinson felt that by moving from the mother country to the colonies, they never escaped the laws and policies applied to the entire empire. By accepting the protection of the mother country, the colonists agreed to adhere to the laws and governance issued from Parliament regardless of representation and distance.

Hutchinson also feared by offering the mother country an ultimatum to allow colonists representation or to self-govern would estrange the mother country from its colonies, creating a new and separate government from the British Empire:

“I know of no line that can be drawn between the supreme authority of Parliament and the total independence of the colonies: it is impossible there should be two independent Legislatures in one and the same state; for, although there may be but one head, the King, yet the two Legislative bodies will make two governments as distinct as the kingdoms of England and Scotland…”

If the colonies operated as separate and independent governments, they would lose the protection of a strong and stable country and could easily be over taken by Spain or France. The colonists would then lose their rights as Englishmen altogether, and would have to adapt to the stricter rules and regulations of the new superior government. Even within one empire, Hutchinson felt that subjects of different provinces could not access the same rights and policies as the subjects in other provinces. In the democratic nature of election of representatives, the colonists agreed to give up some rights to the person elected; whether they voted for that individual or not. The people gave up their rights to the one man who they elected to act as the group voice for them. Not every man elected had the same ideas and motives, so each colony would have different laws and ideas of rights. Therefore, what one colony may have the right or privilege to do may not be the same as other colonies within the empire, and in extension, what the subjects in the mother country had the rights and privileges to do, did not have to be the same rights and privileges that were extended to the colonies.

Check back next week to hear the continuation of this story and the response within the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the British Empire to Hutchinson’s appeal for the return of political peace.

By Roberta DeCenzo, Education Associate

January 8, 2015

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part II)

Did you have a chance to visit the Old State House over the holidays and the exhibit of items from our 1901 time capsule?  It will be up through the end of January, but if you can't make it in, then please follow along on our blog to learn more about the displayed items!

Thomas Hart cabinet card
As I wrote in a previous post, the contents could be organized into four categories.  This post will focus on the items that are related to local and federal government.  There were many items that fell into this category, but we chose to exhibit some of the best preserved and most visually interesting pieces. 

W. Murray Crane cabinet card


The time capsule included a significant number of cabinet cards, which was a style of portraiture that was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Cabinet cards were usually 4" x 6" and were a thin photograph mounted on a cardboard backing. We chose to display the cabinet cards depicting W. Murray Crane, who served as the Governor of Massachusetts from 1900-1903, and the card depicting Thomas Hart, the Mayor of Boston from 1889-1890, and then again from 1900-1902. Both of these men were in office at the time that the capsule contents were assembled in 1901.

McKinley/Roosevelt campaign button
There were also a few campaign buttons included in the time capsule. The first was a button for the William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt 1900 Presidential campaign, against William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson. McKinley was running for a second term, but this was the first time that he and Roosevelt were on the ticket together; they were victorious, though McKinley was assassinated in September 1901 and Roosevelt was sworn in as President. This campaign button is small, but the colors are so vivid that you can even make out McKinley's and Roosevelt's rosy cheeks.

Samuel L. Powers campaign button
The other two campaign buttons were for Samuel L. Powers for Congress and John D. Long for Vice-President, both from 1900 elections.  Powers was a U.S. Representative for the 11th and 12th districts of Massachusetts from March 1901 through March 1905. He was a resident of nearby Newton, Massachusetts.  Long's campaign button dates to the 1900
John D. Long campaign button
Republican National Convention, when he ran for Vice-President but lost to Theodore Roosevelt. He had previously served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1880-1883, and was also the Secretary of the Navy from 1897-1902. These men were both accomplished Bay Staters, and we are excited to have their campaign buttons as part of our collection!

I'll be posting about the other items on display in the coming weeks, please be sure to check back or sign up to follow our blog by email!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

December 18, 2014

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part I)

While Boston's "New" State House recently unearthed a time capsule from 1795, we at the Old State
House just began displaying some of the items that were included in the 1901 time capsule that was found in our lion statue earlier this fall.  Due to the sensitive nature of these materials, the temporary exhibit will only run through the end of January. 

The contents of the time capsule fall into four categories: Boston newspapers, Grand Army of the Republic paraphernalia, government photographs and ephemera, and artifacts associated with the Old State House restoration in 1901.  In addition to the copper capsule and the red book, I selected 17 other items from these categories to display.  In the coming weeks, I'll use our blog to provide some additional information and photographs of these items for history fans who can't make it to the Old State House to see this display in person. The first category that I'll feature is Boston newspapers.

A few years ago our library staff found a reference in the February 24, 1901 edition of the Boston Daily Globe that listed the items deposited in the time capsule to be placed in the head of the lion atop the Old State House.  Given that much of the information we knew about the contents of the time capsule prior to opening it came from this newspaper article, it was only fitting that we found a number of items pertaining to Boston newspapers in the capsule.

The items that we selected to display are the February 19, 1901 edition of the Boston Transcript, donated by Edw. G. Richardson, City Hall Representative; the Boston Herald "Herald Boy" electrotype; an envelope labeled "A Message to Posterity from the Daily Newspapers at City Hall"; and "The Outlook for the Twentieth Century," a letter written by George Litchfield, Business Manager of the Boston Traveler. I've written about the Litchfield letter and the message to posterity envelope in a previous post, but I've included some larger pictures of them below, and have also provided some additional information about the other two items on display.

When opened, this sealed envelope was discovered to be empty - perhaps a joke from journalists in 1901!

George Litchfield outlines his thoughts for the future, touching on technology, communication, and travel.

The February 19, 1901 Boston Transcript was one of five newspapers included in the time capsule, but this was the only one that was labeled and folded; given the space constraints of our display case, this made it the perfect size to include.  One of my concerns about newspapers in the time capsule was that they would be in poor condition.  Have you ever tried to save an important newspaper article, only to find out that after a few weeks it has yellowed and become brittle?  We were lucky that the time capsule was airtight and watertight, meaning that the capsule contents didn't have interaction with oxygen or moisture and thus they remained in surprisingly good condition.  Note that this newspaper is only slightly yellowed, but beyond that it is in good condition and does not look like it is 113 years old.  At this point, we don't know very much about the newspaper donor, Edw. [Edward] G. Richardson, who is listed as "City Hall Representative."  The 1900 and 1901 Boston city directories have only one entry for Edward G. Richardson, and list him as a reporter with a business address of 324 Washington Street, which was the headquarters of the Boston Transcript.  It seems likely that Richardson was one of the reporters detailed to City Hall in 1901.


Also on display is an electrotype of the Boston Herald's "Herald Boy."  There were a few items related to the Boston Herald in the time capsule, including business cards, a newspaper from February 21, 1901, and a die cut for printing of the Herald building at 255 Washington, but this electrotype was the most visually stunning.  The headline on the newspaper that the Herald Boy is holding reads, "The Boston Herald Circulation Nov. 9, 1892, 533,140."  Electrotyping was used in printing beginning in the 1830s and its usage continued until the late 1900s.  Some newspapers in the early 1900s had entire electrotyping departments.

Be sure to check back in the coming weeks to learn about the time capsule items on display!

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager