February 26, 2015

Oliver Holden and The Winter's Sun

"The Winter's Sun" MS0190, 1/44
Each month, I have the opportunity to select an item from our archival collection to display in Representatives' Hall at the Old State House.  This month, I've chosen to embrace the time of year by selecting a musical score by Oliver Holden titled "The Winter's Sun." This score dates to 1830 and the music and lyrics are handwritten.  Written in December, "The Winter’s Sun" comments on the lack of daylight and the feebleness of the sun's rays, but it ends with a hope of spring, repeating the line “yet know we when it sinks away it rises, it rises on a land of spring.”

Oliver Holden (1765-1844) was born in Shirley, Massachusetts. As a young man, he served as a marine during the Revolutionary War, and afterward settled in Charlestown and helped to rebuild it from damage sustained during the war.  A carpenter and real estate dealer by trade, Holden also served as a town officer and a representative to the Massachusetts State Legislature between 1818 and 1833

Oliver Holden, 1899.0034.001
Though he wore many hats, Holden is best remembered as a Boston clergyman and a prolific composer who specialized in hymns.  Most of his work dates to the late 18th century, but he continued to publish sporadically into the 19th century.  From 1792 to 1807, he taught singing, composed over 245 works, and compiled more than a dozen anthologies.  During George Washington's visit to Boston in 1789, Holden led the chorus in "Ode to Columbia's Favorite Son," which was sung in front of the Old State House. Holden also provided the music for Washington's memorial service in 1800.  A portrait of Holden by Ethan Allen Greenwood (pictured at the left) and his pipe organ and accompanying wooden stool are part of our museum collection. Our archival collection includes manuscript scores and tune-books composed by Holden that date to 1798, 1830, and 1844.  Though the bulk of Holden's music in our collection is of a sacred nature, there are some romantic songs, such as "He's stole my Heart from me" and "What tho' 'tis true I've talk'd of Love."  Of all of these pieces, my favorite is "The Winter's Sun" because I believe it reflects that Bostonians past and present rely on the thought of spring to help get through the cold and dark days of winter.

Boston is blanketed in a layer of snow right now, but we should remember that in just a few short weeks we'll turn the clocks forward to enjoy more sunlight each day - eventually saying goodbye to the winter's sun and welcoming the spring's sun.

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

January 28, 2015

Time Capsule Items on Display! (Part IV)

The last day to view the exhibit of items from our 1901 time capsule is this Sunday, January 31 and this post marks our last examination of the displayed artifacts! If you'd like to read about all of the other items on display, please be sure to check out the previous posts.

S.D. Rogers, courtesy of Heidi Grundhauser
A few items in the time capsule were related to the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). The G.A.R. was a fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. When this time capsule was assembled in 1901 the Civil War was still in recent memory, having ended only 36 years prior. Many of the men who were involved in the restoration of the Old State House may have been veterans themselves, or at least had family members who served. One of these men was Samuel D. Rogers, who included the Roster for Boston Post No. 200, of which he was a member, in the time capsule. Heidi Grundhauser, a descendant of Rogers who first notified us of the possibility of the time capsule in the lion's head, has done research into his Civil War service and she was kind enough to provide us with a picture of him in his Civil War uniform.

The time capsule also included photographs and autographs of many G.A.R. officials, and we choose to display the business card and lapel pin belonging to Edward P. Preble, who served as the Assistant-Adjutant General of the Department of Massachusetts G.A.R. I have not had a chance to do much research into Preble yet, but I have found a letter that was likely written by him during his Civil War service.

Edward Preble G.A.R. lapel pin and business card (front)
(back)
One of the most striking items in the time capsule was the Grand Army Badge, made of captured cannon metal and dating to 1886. This is an official badge of the G.A.R., and includes the seal which shows a handshake between two former adversaries. The badge was wrapped in its original packaging, which listed instructions for use.

G.A.R. Badge packaging
G.A.R. Badge
I hope you have enjoyed learning more about this selection of items from the time capsule. Once the exhibit closes, the items will be moved to our archives where they will be preserved for future generations.

By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager

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