Danvers (Mass.).

Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 online

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but beyond your claim, though not superior to it, that fame belongs to
Massachusetts and to the country! The value of a deed of heroism
or patriotism, or of a progressive step in learning or civilization, is
local and peculiar at the same time that it is universal and indivisible.
When, therefore, you unfold the character of Foster, or narrate the
services of Putnam, you speak to us even who are citizens of other
counties. But you are not, I take it, confined to the present limits of
your town. As Danvers was once Salem, so Salem, for all time, must
contribute to the just renown of Danvers. You have an equal interest
in Endicott, whose unostentatious worth was appreciated by the whole
colony. In the Higginsons, of three generations, whose piety, patriot-
ism, and learning, identified their names with the history of Massachu-
setts. In William Hathorne, who seemed fitted for every position,
either in the council, field, or church. In the Brownes, who were
liberal men, and contributed to the college at Cambridge.

But, gentlemen of Danvers, your claim to the public spirit and
courage of the one hundred men who marched to the line of danger
on the 19th of April, 1775, is first, but not exclusive. So the value
you attach to the fact that Putnam was a native of Danvers, arises
from the consideration that a republic is jealous of any exclusive
appropriation of his bold patriotism and generous recklessness of

In modern times, also, the County of Essex has produced many
distinguished men. This occasion, I think, will permit an allusion to
two, whose acquaintance I enjoyed. I speak of Mr. King, of Danvers,
and Mr. Saltonstall, of Salem. Mr. King was better known to you
than to me ; but I knew him enough to appreciate the integrity of his
character, and his conscientious discharge of the duties of private and
public life.

I knew Mr. Saltonstall in the last months — I cannot say years — of
his existence. But, sir, I knew him enough to admire and respect
the bland simplicity and elegant purity of his life and conversation ;
and all who knew him appreciated the kind qualities of his heart, to
which were added a high order of talents and reputable learning. In


the closing moments of his life, I doubt not he was sustained and
soothed by an unfaltering trust, and approached his grave

" Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams."

The men and the generations of whom we have heard to-day
have passed away. Their deeds live and act — but they rest from their

For you, however, there is a future as well as a past. From 1754
to 1850, your population has increased from less than eighteen hundred
to more than eight thousand souls. Production and trade have in-
creased in a greater ratio even.

But let us contemplate, sir, if we can, the condition of this town an
hundred years hence, when its inhabitants shall meet to review the
deeds of Putnam, Foster, and their associates ! They will dwell in a
city of thirty, forty, or even fifty thousand people. Salem will contain
at least an hundred thousand souls. Great changes will they recount.
Great deeds will they narrate. The list of eminent men will be
lengthened — nobly lengthened.

And, O, our country, what shall then be thy condition and fate ?
No harm shall come to thee. Thy flag shall then, as now, wave over
the most distant seas, and thy power be respected by the rudest people.
Thy territory shall not be limited, but extended ; the Union, taking
root more and more firmly in the hearts of the people, shall promise
immortality ; while noble cities upon our oceans, lakes, and majestic
rivers, shall rival in population, business and wealth, the most pros-
perous of ancient or modern times.

In faith let us believe that all then will be well ; that the stars and
stripes of our national ensign will wave over a free, happy and united
people ; that liberty to all men will be given and enjoyed ; that our
commerce will be protected on every sea ; and, finally, that one hun-
dred years hence witnesses may be present to testify that America and
Americans have not degenerated.

Governor Boutwell concluded with the following sentiment :

The Onward Prosperity of Danvers — May the next Centennial Celebration
be enjoyed by a people as richly blessed as the present, and as justly proud
of their ancestors.

The second regular toast was in honor of Gov. John Endicott, and
his descendants. It was eloquently responded to by WM. C. ENDI-
COTT, Esq., of Salem, as follows :

Mr. President : — I regret that the sentiment you have proposed
should not be answered by some one more worthy than myself. For
he who would represent the presence of the great and influential of
their time, should have something more than their name to entitle him
to respond to their praises.

Old John Endicott is not represented here by any, who have a fame
of their own that can claim fellowship with his ; and I rise merely to
acknowledge the honor you have done his memory by the sentiment
you have proposed.
16 p


This, sir, is peculiarly a Danvers festival. All the associations of
the past and the present, all the history and the incidents of two hun-
dred years, are gathered here to-day ; and here, too, are collected,
from all parts of our wide-spread land, those who claim a parentage
within your fair borders, and those who feel a deep interest in the
place and in the people. In the latter class I must rank myself. But,
sir, though I cannot reckon it among the accidents of my life to have
been born upon your soil, still there is many a lie that places it next in
my affections to the spot of my birth ; it was here that much of my
boyhood was passed. I know every farm-house upon your hill-sides,
and every road upon your surface ; and amid the sea of faces around
me, there are many whose genial lineaments were impressed upon my
memory by a thousand little kindnesses, when memory was most im-
pressible. For two centuries my fathers tilled your soil, and beneath
it their bones are buried. I claim therefore, sir, if not of you, that I
am with you to-day in interest and feeling.

John Endicott was the first landholder of Danvers. Under a colo-
nial grant in 1632, he took possession of a portion of your soil.

You stated, sir, in your opening address, that the growth of Danvers,
during two hundred years, had not been rapid. But, sir, if that stern
old Puritan could stand here to-day, and look back through the years
that are past, tracing each wave of progress as it has swept over the
land, from the time when he rocked Danvers in a cradle, to to-day the
fulfilment of its manhood, more, vastly more than his hoping heart
ever dared to dream of, would such a vision realize. He would recall
it, as he knew it, waving with the original forest, with here and there
the sparse and scattered clearing, where the sturdy settler was subdu-
ing the wilderness, and making the earth tributary to his wants ; — and
he would see it, to-day, the home of a numerous, prosperous, and
happy people, pouring their active and intelligent industry through all
the channels of the useful arts, and celebrating here, with so much
thankfulness and joy, the hour of their nativity. The churches that
dot your surface would remind him that the great cause of religious
liberty, — the great interest of a devout religion, for the better establish-
ment and the lasting maintenance of which he crossed the sea, is as
dear to the hearts of the people now as then. And the schoolhouses
at every corner, and the bright and joyous throng of public school
children gathered here, would tell him, that the system first suggested
by himself in 1641, to educate the children of the state from the treas-
ury of the state, is now the established principle of the land. It is
hardly necessary to comment upon the results of that system ; every
one within the sound of my voice has probably been the recipient of its
bounty, and feels to-day its influence upon himself.

And such, Mr. President, as he would see Danvers to-day, he would
see all the little republics that have sprung from the Puritan stock.
The change has been a mighty one for the work of but two centuries,
and the brain grows giddy as we strive to estimate the changes of the
ne.xt. That it has been so mighty, we owe it to the Puritans with all
their faults, and to those wise principles of government, morals, re-
ligion and law, which they brought here. The start was a good one,
the foundation was a strong one, — and if the race be feeble, and the


superstructure weak, ours is the fault. Almost with a divine prescience,
they laid the foundations of the state to withstand the shock of ajres, as
if they knew what a mighty structure was to be reared upon them in
the coming time, which would gather within its walls the fugitives from
all lands.

Their principles, I trust, are with us still. They recognized no am-
bition as worthy, but that which ministered to the general welfare ; they
aimed at the useful alone ; they discarded forms, and rites, and cere-
monies ; they regarded religion not as mystery, but as a reality ; they
thought all men equal, and recognized no superior but their God.
They left no memorials of their greatness carved in marble, or painted
on canvas •, they reared no temples and no palaces, nor did they seek
to revive here the glories of Old England. How unlike in this the
other colonists of America !

The Spaniards, with their armies, pierced into the forests of the
New World, and wherever their steps have been, they have left turret
and battlement, column and spire, — the stern castle, and the stately
cathedral with its swelling organ, its statues and its pictures ; and the
splendors of old Spain were mirrored in the new. And the weak civ-
ilization, that struggles for existence in Spanish America, tells the story
of their folly.

But, sir, the Puritan left his memorials graven upon a more enduring
substance than marble or canvas ; he left them stamped upon the char-
acter of his posterity. In the love of liberty regulated by law, — in
the indomitable energy, thrift, and enterprise, — in the religious senti-
ment and the moral purpose, — in the wide-spread, comprehensive sys-
tem of education, — in everything that has contributed to the moral
elevation and material prosperity of the people of New England, we
read the works of the Puritan. What a charter, sir, is this, for the
liberties and the true glory of a nation !

There was a stern utility in all the aims of the Puritan, which de-
prives life, with us, of many of its graces and refinements ; and while
we retain their glorious characteristics, let us remember that it is our
mission to engraft upon them and to cultivate the Tove of letters, of
science., and of art, and make the land we have inherited as famous
for its culture as it is for its progress ; and while we strew our path
with the monuments of our success in the useful and material arts, —
while we level the mountain, and bridge the sea, and make the iron
and the steel throb with intelligence, let us strive also to leave behind
us monuments of intellectual triumphs, which shall outlast the struc-
tures of human hands.

But I am reminded, sir, by my recollection of the history of Danvers,
that many of your citizens have labored well and faithfully in the
vineyards of letters and science. There is a long list of divines, be-
ginning in the early days of your history, and coming down to the
present time, who have found leisure, amid the duties of their calling,
to cultivate a taste for letters, and to enrich the literature of the land.
You, Mr. President, well represent them here. There was Eppes,
known as '• the greatest schoolmaster in New England," famous for
his classical learning and his genial culture. In later times there was
Read, distinguished for the encouragement he gave to science, manu-


factures, and the arts, and to whom, perhaps, the world would have
been indebted for the steamboat, if his means had been equal to his
ingenuity. Bowditch, too, passed his youth among you, and the burn-
ing genius of the boy first gazed with awe and wonder upon the moon
rising over your own hills. There is one among you now, — I see him
here, — whose humorous and brilliant pen brings laughter and delight
to many a fireside, and of whom I will only say that he writes too lit-
tle. There teas another, whom many of you doubtless remember, —
he was a college companion of my own, — the young, the graceful, and
accomplished scholar, cut off in the first bloom of his manhood ; he
lived too short a life for the world to know him, but the memory of his
virtues and his talents is dearly cherished by all his friends.

Pardon me, Mr. President, for trespassing so long upon your atten-
tion ; the hour is replete with thought and feeling. In conclusion, I
would express the hope that your future may be, like your past, hon-
orable, prosperous, and happy.

A sentiment alluding to the former unity and present concord be-
tween Salem and Danvers,was responded to by Hon. CHARLES W.
UPHAM, Mayor of Salem, who spoke as follows :

3Ir. President : — The unity of spirit and the identity of interest
spoken of in the sentiment just announced, between Danvers and
Salem, secure our sympathy in this occasion. But not these alone.
There is a stronger and closer tie binding us together, as the gentlemen
of the glee club have just told us. We hold to you a parental relation.
You are bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh. I bear testimony to,
although I have not the power adequately to express, the feelings of
the people of Salem in the brilliant pageant of this your Centennial
Celebration. They are identical with the deep, the tender, the fervent
sensibility with which a fond and proud parent rejoices in the welfare,
honor, and happiness of a cherished and meritorious child.

Sir, there is much, we think, in the condition and the history of
Salem of which our people may justly be proud, — a virtuous ancestry,
— a commercial genius, of which all seas and shores have witnessed
the triumphs, — memorable events, and great names, shedding lustre on
our annals, — unsurpassed intelligence and wealth, — the manly enter-
prise of our sons, and the far-famed beauty of our daughters ; — but
above all things else, old Salem boasts of the towns which have risen
around her. No Roman Cornelia ever pointed to her ofl^spring with a
more glowing admiration than we do to the towns that call us mother.

It is generally conceded that Massachusetts presents as high a social
development as any part of our country. Allow me to say, from my
own recent experience and very extended opportunities of observation,
that no man can have an adequate conception of the culture to which
our Commonwealth has attained, without a minute personal exploration
of its institutions of education, and of the- action of the general
mechanism of society over its entire surface. Of this favored State,
there is no portion more prosperous or better organized than the old
County of Essex. And here, within the precincts of the original
territory of Salem, there is a variety and an accumulation of the


elements of true civilization and sure progress, eminently remarkable
and most gratifying.

Where on the face of the earth does a purer patriotism burn, —
where are braver hearts to encounter danger, or meet death, in the
cause of the country, — where a benevolence more prompt to rush to
the relief of distress, than in Marblehead ?

In Manchester and Beverly there is an admirable union of the virtues
and the traits peculiar to an agricultural and a sea-faring population.
T'opsfield and Wenham are among the best specimens of farming
towns. Danvers presents a cluster of villages with cultivated and
lovely fields spread out between them ; on no spot does the soil return
a richer reward to the labor that tills it, and in no farming district does
the wealth of the people reach a higher average than in Danvers.

Mr. President, there is an elevated point of view just over your
border, in Bevei'ly, known as Browne's Hill. The vestiges are still to
be traced of a lordly mansion, reared in the olden time, by a colonial
grandee, upon its very summit. The beautiful prospect it affords, and
the interesting reflections it suggests, have made it a favorite resort.
On the approach of a bright summer sun-set, a scene is spread around
it which cannot fail to fill the eye with delight, and the heart with
patriotic gratitude. It is nearly all comprehended, as it stretches away,
in every direction, to the horizon, in the original limits of Salem, —
Manchester, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, Swampscot and Lynn in
front, with the ocean that washes their shores ; Middleton, Topsfield,
Wenham and Hamilton, with their broad fields, behind ; and Danvers,
one wide-spread garden, beneath.

In gazing upon this glorious panorama, I always feel, if the most
exquisite of poets, in his contemplation of an ancient pastoral life,
could not repress the exclamation, Oh, most fortunate of men ! how
infinitely more are the free and happy people of this favored region
called to give thanks to God, for the unequalled blessedness that has
fallen to their lot !

Yes, sir, nowhere does the sun shine upon a happier, more cultiva-
ted, and more virtuous community, than is included in the landscape
encircling that lofty eminence. To those towns Salem gave birth.
We defy any city or country to point to brighter jewels.

The sentiment to which I am responding, speaks of Salem and
Danvers as one, although divided. This is true beyond the ordinary
import of the expression. These two towns have not only always been
singularly united in sentiment, interest and customs, but one might
almost dare to deny that they had ever been divided at all. To be
sure, there is a municipal separation between them, but it is by a line
so invisible and ideal that it is no easy thing to find it. A large portion
of your population is in one continuous settlement, with no natural
boundary or noticeable demarcation from us. I have lived for nearly
thirty years in Salem, and been somewhat interested in her affairs, but
I confess that I do not know, this day, where Salem ends, and where
Danvers begins. It is indeed an imaginary, and some of us hope it
will be found a vanishing line that separates us.

Mr. President, it is a privilege accorded to parents to find fault with
their children, while they will not allow others to do it. If any body


else, an outsider, should bring a charge against you, we Salem people
would be quick to resent it, but as among ourselves, in this family
meeting, there is one complaint we have to make. Your distinguished
orator has had something to say to-day about Salem Witchcraft.
Everybody knows that all the rest of the world is equally responsible
with us for that delusion ; but by a sort of universal conspiracy, the sin
is laid wholly at our door. We cannot visit a nook or corner of the
globe but the story of the Salem Witchcraft stares us in the face. To
this we have learned to submit ; but for you Danvers people to talk
about Salem Witchcraft is a little too much. Why, sir, you were the
head and front, source and theatre of the whole affair. It rose and
raged and kept its head quarters within your limits. It is your witch-
craft. And we complain, that by getting incorporated as another town
by another name, by assuming an alias, you have escaped and left the
whole thing upon our hands.

But while you thus adroitly avoid the reproach upon our name, we
mean to settle the account by claiming a share of the honors that have
gathered around yours. You may talk, if you choose, about Salem
Witchcraft ; we will boast of Putnam, of the immortal proto-martyrs of
the I9th of April, 1775, whose ashes rest beneath yonder monument,
and of all that is excellent in your history and condition. They are
ours as well as yours. Allow me, in return for the sentiment that has
called me out, to assure you, and the community you represent, that
Salem rejoices in your prosperity, and is proud of your character, and
to offer the following :

Danvers and Salem — No municipal boundaries or legislative arrangements
can sever the tie that binds them together.

The President then proposed the following sentiment :

The Memory of Gen. Israel Putnam — As by his strong hand and stout heart
he conferred credit and renown on his country, so the virtues and intelligence
of those who bear his name confer honor on their native town.

ALLEN PUTNAM, Esq., of Roxbury, spoke in reply to this as
follows :

Mr. President : — Though you name me as from Roxbury, I was
born in Danvers, and few present have better claims than I to call
themselves Danvers men ; because my ancestors, for at least two hun-
dred and eleven years, have dwelt upon the spot where I was born and

Those bearing the name of Putnam are numerous. The orator of
the day has called them prolific, — and they have been so. Not a tithe
of those worthy of remembrance can be named in the short time that
properly belongs to me. I had hoped that others of the same name
would have been called upon to speak here, — especially one whose age
and infirmities forbid his presence with us, — but whose nice discrimi-
nation, legal knowledge, and polished pen adorn our judicial reports,
and by whom the ermine was long worn, and laid aside unsoiled.*
Another, too, I had hoped to bring with me from my present home,

* Hon. Samuel Putnam.


who could speak to you in strains of earnest eloquence, with strong
good sense and playful ease. Had he come, the clergyman of Rox-
bury* would have presented, in his own person, about as good a speci-
men of itself as the ftimily can now furnish.

In their absence you see fit to call upon me. Nearly fifty years ago
I began life four miles north from here, — away up in " The Bush."
Secluded there, 1 knew little in my boyhood of this court end of the
town. Once, however, — and it was soon after I began to strut and
swell in my first jacket and trowsers, — they brought me down to spend
a day at Capt. Sylvester Proctor's. While there, a kind shop-boy led
me out for my amusement, and conducted me down to the brook which
runs hard by, and there, tying a twine to a stick, and crooking a pin
for a fish hook, and turning over rocks to find a worm, he soon equipped
me for my first exploits at fishing. And if I put things together aright,
and reason correctly, that boy is now receiving a recompense for his
kindness to me, as well as for his many other good deeds, in his ample
means and ampler disposition to befriend his fellow-countrymen, and
adorn the American name, in the metropolis of Great Britain. That
boy was our distinguished townsman, George Peabody.

Let me return to " the bush ;" and running back into the past through
my father Daniel, who sits beside me, and on whose head the snows of
almost four score winters, spent in your midst, have fallen, and whom
you know ; and through my grandfather Israel, a man of energy blended
with kindness, and " without guile ;" through them I reach David, my
great-grandfather; Lieutenant David, an officer in the king's troops,
and, as described to me by Col. Timothy Pickering and others, who
had seen and known him, " the rider of the best horse in the Province,"
and foremost among the resolute and energetic men of his day, — much
like his younger brother, whose deeds gave lustre to the name. The
sisters are handed down to us in the family tradition as remarkable for
energy and fearlessness, riding colts, often without saddle or bridle, —
and one of them, on one occasion, not dismounting until the colt had
carried her into the house and up one flight of stairs. The youngest of
that family was Israel, the " Old Put." of the Revolution. These res-
olute and energetic brothers and sisters were true, — but no more than
true, — to ihc'iT parentage.

Time has thrown deep shadows upon the decade from 1690 to 1700,
and it may be that the objects now to be seen there are more of imag-
ination than of true vision ; yet, often while musing upon some few
facts which tradition hands down, and the church records partially sup-
port, there has appeared, beneath the delusion of a former age and the
dust of time, one luminous spot which the intervening generations have
failed to mark. There were some deeds unmentioned in the recorded
annals of town or church, which will bear bringing out from obscurity
to the full light of day.

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Online LibraryDanvers (Mass.)Centennial celebration at Danvers, Mass., June 16, 1852 → online text (page 11 of 22)