Dedham (Mass.).

Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 online

. (page 9 of 13)
Online LibraryDedham (Mass.)Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 → online text (page 9 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

to the civilized world and to the Republic proof of the fact
that all Americans are kin, and that this is indeed and in
truth one people and one country;" and Mayor Courtenay
of that city can say in his despatch, "What a great thing
it is to be a part of this magnificent Union of States,
surrounded by those who sympathize with us in our
distress ! "

Two hundred and fifty thousand men form the Grand
Army of the Republic. " Fraternity, Charity, Loyalty,"


are the watchwords emblazoned on their banners. Their
duty to-day is to see that the Union, preserved on the field
of battle, shall be maintained for all time ; and they mean
to do this, not by force of arms, but by fraternity which
embraces all their countrymen, by a charity which sends
their commander-in-chief to Charleston to see that our
old enemies shall not suffer, and by a loyalty that is

In behalf of my comrades I desire, in closing, to thank
the Committee for giving them a place of honor in the
festivities of this day, and to express the hope that all the
celebrations of the future which this town shall see may
be like this of to-day, with its procession and pomp and
parade, under a bright sun and under the flag of the united
nation in a victory of peace.

The President : I will now read two toasts, to
which I will ask my friend Winslow Warren, Esq.,
to respond. First, —

The . Committee of Arrangements ! We recognize with thanks
their zeal and efficiency in the performance of their duties on
this occasion.

Second, —

The Pilgrim Fathers !

" Ay, call it holy ground,

The soil where first they trod !
They have left unstained what there they found, —
Freedom to worship God."



Mr. President, my Neighbors and Friends, — We
are now coming down to the official toasts, when a man has
to do double duty ; but my speech, I can assure you, will be
very brief. On behalf of the Committee of Arrangements
I desire to say, that if our efforts to make this day a
success have been in any measure rewarded, that reward
has come from your enjoyment of the occasion and from
the many evidences of satisfaction throughout the town.
But our speech has been made. Ours was the hand
that struck the rock from which has gushed forth the
wisdom, the wit, and the eloquence you have heard to-
day. No, not our hand, but the hands of all those ladies
and gentlemen who have labored day and night to make
this celebration a worthy one ; and I take the liberty now
on your behalf of tendering the thanks of the people of
Dedham to all the sub-committees and all those who have
worked so faithfully for you.

But I cannot stand here as an adopted son of this town
of Dedham without recalling that it has been my rare
good fortune within the short space of sixteen years to
celebrate tzvo two hundred and fiftieth anniversaries of
towns near and dear to me, — one, of my native town of
Plymouth ; and now again, of my adopted town of Ded-
ham. And the connection between those two events is
not so distant as many of you may think ; for I find on
reading the records of the old Pilgrim Colony that in
1627, when the first division of land was made by lot
among the settlers, after providing for the metes and
bounds of the various lots, the Court added as follows :
" That whatsoever the surveyors judge sufficient shall
stand without contradiction or opposition, and every man


shall rest coniettted v^'iih. his lot." This, I believe, is the
first and only Pilgrim pun on record.

Now, turning to your records, I find that after your
Pilgrim Fathers made their perilous voyage up the
stormy Charles from Watertown, and landed on these
shores, mindful of the Pilgrim injunction of Plymouth
they "rested contented with their lot;" and more than
that, they named their town " Contentment," and there it
remains on your town-seal to-day, — a bond of union be-
tween the oldest town of Plymouth County and the oldest
town (save one) of Norfolk County. And I cannot forget
as I look round this hall that here are the descendants of
those men. When I see a Fairbanks, a Fisher, and an Ellis,
a Guild and a Baker, the old names of your settlers come
up before me, and I recognize the names of honorable
families honorably borne down the years since that early
settlement. And so it is, my friends, with the peculiar
characteristics of this town of Dedham. No town in New
England has to-day the characteristics of those early times
more plainly marked than yours. What else was it that
carried to the front in the Revolutionary War nearly every
able-bodied man in Dedham? What else that inspired
the patriotic fervor and devotion of a Carroll, a Lathrop,
and of many others who now remain among us? What
else put that man, whose name is upon every one's lips
to-day, your distinguished townsman Fisher Ames, easily
at the forefront of post-Revolutionary orators, and carried
his eminent son, Seth Ames, to the supreme judgeship of
Massachusetts, — the most lovable of judges, whose smile
was truly a benediction, and whose words of wisdom made
their impress on the judicial reports of Massachusetts ?
What else gave to you the learning of a Dwight, the elo-
quence of an Everett, the culture and refinement of him
whom we knew and never will forget, — our friend and
once our neighbor, Edmund Quincy? What else gave to


US the sturdy, incorruptible character of that foremost of
our citizens, — whose place, alas ! is vacant here to-day, —
Judge Waldo Colburn, whom all of us respected, and whose
name will forever remain in the annals of Dedham?

I might go on, but I am reminded that the time is
drawing near when these exercises should close, and I will
conclude by quoting to you a reply that the Committee
of Arrangements received from one of our distinguished
guests, who, unable to be here, wrote us that he regretted
his " inability to attend the Five Hundred and Twentieth
Anniversary of the Incorporation of Dedham." We too
regret his inability, and we regret the possibility that some
of us also may not be able to attend ; but wc can all join
in the hope that when the Five Hundred and Twentieth
Anniversary of the Incorporation of Dedham shall arrive,
it may find this town no less prosperous and contented
than the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary leaves it.

The President : Ladies and Gentlemen, the
next toast is, —

Our Naturalized FeUow-Citizeiis ! Loyal to every duty of
peace or war. Happy, proud America knows no distinction
between her children by birth and her children by adoption.

I had invited Rev. Robert J. Johnson, my
friend and a friend of Dedham, to respond, but he
is unavoidably absent. He however sent his reply,
which is as follows : —


Mr. President, and Fellow-Citizens, — The invi-
tation to speak to the sentiment which has just been
offered, reached me only yesterday. My words there-


fore must of course be of a hastily-considered character,
and far from doing justice to the broad field of patriotic
survey and reflection which it opens out.

The naturahzed citizens of Dedham join as heartily as
their native-born neighbors in celebrating this anniversary
of its settlement as a town. They feel an equal pride in its
history, and an equal pride in its future.

You have well said that America " knows no distinction
between her children by birth and her children by adop-
tion ; " and indeed it is the distinctive glory of our land
that she welcomes to the support and the shelter of her
flag all the honest manhood of the world, no matter under
what skies it was born. Our orators may descant upon the
glories of America through all the centuries to come with-
out finding any nobler thing to say of her than has been
already said in two famous and familiar lines, —

" For her free latch-string never was drawn in
Against the poorest child of Adam's kin."

The great and far-seeing men who founded the Republic
which thus opens its arms to all the children of men, had
the prescience to perceive that its destiny and mission
was to be the home of a more comprehensive nationality
than any that the world had yet seen, in which all civilized
races should merge to form the mightiest people of all
time. We look back to their work, and say that they
builded better than they knew; yet after all, they but fol-
lowed the instinct of their situation. For we must remem-
ber that Hamilton, Gallatin, Gates, Steuben, Montgomery,
Witherspoon, and many other of the Revolutionary states-
men and soldiers, and several of the signers of the Dec-
laration of Independence, were themselves emigrants to
this country, foreigners by birth and Americans by adop-
tion. What, therefore, could be more natural than that
they should have laid the foundations of our government


broad enough to sustain a national life whose blood should
be enriched by continual drafts from the original sources
of its being? The wisdom of the fathers has been grandly
justified by a century of marvellous growth and progress.
The benign spirit which framed a political and social order
to which all the sons of Adam were freely bidden to come
in, has resulted in building a nation of three millions up
to a nation of sixty millions of people. The census of
1880 shows that since the year 1820 over ten millions of
people have come into this country from foreign lands,
and of this number three millions came here from the land
of Emmet, O'Connell, and Parnell. They have brought
here stout hearts and willing hands ; and, more than this,
they have brought with them a valuable element in our
citizenship, and a tower of strength to the institutions
which they have made their own.

The sentiment you have proposed, Mr. President, recog-
nizes the naturalized citizen as loyal to every duty of
peace or war. History justifies this recognition. In every
crisis which the country has been called to face, the citizen
of foreign birth has been found faithful and devoted. On
every battlefield of the Revolution, from Bunker Hill to
Yorktown ; in the war that carried our flag to the capital
of Mexico and gave us the Californias ; and still more con-
spicuously in the war for the preservation of the Union, —
the adopted American proved himself a brave soldier and
a true citizen.

Readers of Revolutionary history know how large and
honorable a share Irishmen had in the sacrifices and vic-
tories of that birth-struggle of the Republic. It has been
said of the gallant Richard Montgomery, who joined the
army of Washington in the gloomy winter of 1775, that
" a detailed history of his military career would form an
epitome of our early Revolutionary struggle." The name
of John Stark, the hero of the battle of Bennington, is


closely associated with the same epoch. Major Andrew
McCleary was not the only Irishman who fought on Bunker
Hill, though his giant form is one of the most striking
figures in that famous battle. The name of Carroll, of
Carrollton, lives forever as one of the signers of the great
Declaration, of Irish blood and lineage ; and we may recall
that the first printer and publisher of that immortal docu-
ment was John Dunlap, a native of Ireland and a brave
officer under Washington. In the same line of Revolu-
tionary memoi^ies we are proud to recount the names of
Edward Hand, Washington's favorite adjutant-general; of
Henry Knox, Washington's chief-of-artillery and afterwards
a member of his cabinet; of Stephen Moylan, another
of Washington's favorite generals ; of Ephraim Blaine, one
of Washington's quartermasters, and from whom James
G. Blaine is descended ; of George Ewing, who shared the
terrible winter of 1777 with Washington at Valley Forge,
and whose son was the distinguished Senator Thomas
Ewing, of Ohio ; of Daniel Morgan, whose skill and valor
won the battle of the Cowpens, and later helped to defeat
Burgoyne; of John Sullivan, another of Washington's
trusty generals, afterwards Governor of New Hampshire,
and whose brother, James Sullivan, was one of the early
Governors of Massachusetts ; of James Graham, who com-
manded in fifteen battles against the King's troops before
he was twenty-three years of age; and of John Gibson,
who fought in all our battles with England, from Trenton
to Yorktown.

In the naval combats of the war for Independence Irish
bravery was not less conspicuous. It was Jerry O'Brien
who fought and won our first battle on the seas with the
British John Rogers. The first commodore of the Amer-
ican navy commissioned by Washington was John Barry,
the son of a Wexford farmer, who in answer to Lord
Howe's offer of a bribe of twenty thousand guineas said :


" I am a poor man, but the King of England has not money-
enough to buy me." David Porter was another Irish
naval officer of distinction in the same struggle, father
of another David Porter, who was one of the foremost
heroes of 1812, and grandfather of the Admiral David
D. Porter of our own day. And when we come down
to the second war with Britain, the names of Andrew
Jackson and Alexander Macomb in our army, and of
Decatur, Porter, Blakcley, Rodgers, McDonough, Perry,
and Stewart in our navy, all bear historic testimony to
the signal services which men of Irish birth or parent-
age rendered to the early cause of American liberty.
This does not exhaust the list by any means; I have
merely enumerated a few of the more shining names.
George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted son of
General Washington, says: "Of the operatives in war —
the soldiers I mean — up to the coming of the French,
Ireland furnished in the ratio of one hundred for one of
any foreign nation whatever." Well, indeed, may the Irish-
born citizen of America feel that his patriotism has its
roots deep down in the deeds of his forefathers, and
proudly claim that the American flag is his, not merely
by the right of his own sworn allegiance, but by all the
sacred associations that cluster around more than a cen-
tury of partnership in the sacrifices and successes that
have made America the first nation of the earth. The
Irishman who could do aught else but love America
would, in the light of this history, be an unaccountable

We all know how, at the call of Lincoln in a later crisis,
the ranks of the great armies that poured Southward to
defend the flag were swollen by thousands upon thousands
of these men who had learned to love America with a love
as deep as any that was borne towards her by her native
sons. The generals of the great war included many a gal-


lant man of Irish birth or blood, — Sheridan, Shields, Cor-
coran, Meagher, and a hundred others whose names I do
not need to rehearse, because the history of that struggle
is still fresh in the general recollection. The roll-calls of
the regiments that followed Grant through the Wilderness,
marched with Sherman to the sea, rode with Sheridan
down the valley of the Shenandoah, or stood with Meade
and Hancock at Gettysburg, bear eloquent testimony to
the profound and fervent patriotism of the foreign-born
citizen-soldier. We have the authority of Holy Writ for
saying that greater love hath no man for another than that
he lay down his life for him. Nor can there be any greater
love of country than that which offers itself a willing sac-
rifice on the altar of her necessity. The good old town of
Dedham knows how well her adopted citizens kept faith
with the flag in the nation's hour of need. The monument
on which she preserves the record of her contribution to
the long list of heroes who perished that the Republic
might live, includes the names of many gallant sons of
Erin, who, loving their adopted land with all the ardor
with which they loved their own, went forth from the
workshops, the factories, and the farms of this peaceful
town and returned no more.

Speaking now, as I may be permitted to do, more
especially of our citizens of Irish birth and descent, who
form about one third of the present population of Dedham,
I can say for them without boasting that they not only love
their chosen country, but are deeply attached to the State
and to this historic town. Their homes are here and all
their treasures ; and " where the treasure is, there will the
heart be also,"

It is, perhaps, not sufficiently borne in mind that the
Irish-American has special and peculiar incentives to the
love of his adopted country. We appreciate our blessings
largely by contrast; the boon of liberty is more valued


by those who have lived and sufifcred where Hberty was
not; the blessings of free government are estimated more
nearly at their true value by those who have endured
the curse of tyranny and oppression. The citizen of Irish
birth comes here with just such an appreciation of liberty
and free government; he knows, by bitter experience,
what it is to be denied the inalienable rights of " life, lib-
erty, and the pursuit of happiness." Finding here what
was denied to him in the land of his birth, he naturally
and rapidly acquires a sincere and ardent attachment to
the institutions of his adopted land, which in depth and
intensity far exceeds that of his more favored fellow-citi-
zens, who never felt the weight of despotic rule.

It is well that we should not forget that patriotism is
the child of religion. Love of God involves love of man
and love of country. Cardinal Manning says : " It is a part
of our Catholic theology that a man is bound by the gift
of piety to love his country. . . . Our countrymen are our
kindred. Their welfare, their peace, their defence, their
prosperity, ought to be an object of our most hearty, res-
olute, self-denying, and self-sacrificing devotion. We are
like men on board ship, — all that are together have one
common interest; they are all alike in peril or in safety."
This conception of the moral obligations of the individual
citizen to the whole community of which he is a part, which
I quote from the great Catholic prelate of England, is the
conception which Irishmen carry with them into all lands,
wherever their lot may be cast. In this spirit I am glad
to join these commemorative exercises.

Two centuries and a half is a long period in the annals
of American civilization. It carries us back to the very
beginnings of our Continental story. Age gives character
to communities as well as to individuals. Our town is one
of the oldest places of settled habitation in New England,
and the town-meeting — which Adams, I think, calls "the


miniature republic" — has given to it a continuous career of
orderly self-government. It has partaken of the growth
of the State as a whole, and shared in the changes which
that growth has brought about. Nevertheless, it has pre-
served much that was well worth keeping from former
generations, — a reputation for honesty, integrity, and or-
der as a community, — and it has successfully blended the
old with the new; so that we may to-day not only look
back to the past with satisfaction, but forward to its fu-
ture with hope. The naturalized citizen will be, as he
has already been, an important and a valuable factor in
that future. I venture the prophecy that he will never
be found wanting in the performance of his whole duty
to the township or to the grand old Commonwealth of
Massachusetts. He realizes fully that whatever makes
for the welfare and prosperity of either, makes also for his
welfare and prosperity.

In behalf, then, of your naturalized fellow-citizens, claim-
ing with you an equal pride in its honorable past, and
an equal share with you in the honorable and happy future
which, if it please God, is yet in store for it, I join you,
with all my heart, in wishing all good wishes for the
prosperity of the town of Dedham.

The President : There is one more toast, and
only one, —

The Town of Dedham ! Stable in character, prudent and
conservative in conduct, she points with pride to two hundred
and fifty years of steady and unbroken progress ; to every obli-
gation promptly met ; to her ample treasury and her freedom
from debt; to her liberal appropriations for public education;
and to her happy, contented, and prosperous inhabitants.


I have the honor of introducing to you, to re-
spond to this toast, A. B. Wentworth, Esq., of
Dedham, one of our board of Selectmen.


Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, — I should
prefer at this late hour to follow the example of Father
Johnson, and submit my speech to the reporters; but as
the representative of the present town government, a few
words will be pardoned with which to conclude the highly
satisfactory exercises of this occasion.

Although Dedham has been shorn of the ample terri-
torial proportions of 1636, when she extended from Cam-
bridge to the Providence Plantation, she has preserved
unsullied the essential elements of the grant to the original
proprietors. To the adjoining city on the north, and to
the towns on the east, south, and west, she has given of
her territory, and contributed to make new municipalities,
some of which to-day excel her in wealth and population ;
but she has, none the less, maintained in all its fulness her
character as a well-ordered and progressive community.

Her duty to the Colony, the Commonwealth, and the
Republic has been faithfully performed throughout her
history. The men of Dedham were with Captain Church
at Mt. Hope, with Sir William Pepperrell at Louisburg,
among the " embattled farmers " at Lexington and Con-
cord, with Washington at Valley Forge and Yorktown, with
McClellan at Antietam, and with Grant at Appomattox.
She contributed the illustrious name of Horace Mann to
the cause of education, the eminent services of Haven,
Metcalf, Colburn, and Wilkinson to the judiciary, and to
the councils of the Republic Dexter and Dowse and Fisher
Ames. Through all the changes of two and a half cen-


turies her simple town government, with its Selectmen and
' other town officers, has been maintained. Town-meetings
have been regularly held, where town business is trans-
acted, appropriations made, town officers elected, and men
and measures discussed. Indeed, the town government
alone remains in its original form.

The Province, Confederation, and Colony are gone ; the
church, which was the counterpart of the old town, has
been divided ; but the town government remains, a monu-
ment to the good sense and free spirit of its founders.
Their brightest anticipations are excelled in the comfor-
table houses of her thrifty farmers, the extent and variety
of her industrial pursuits, the beauty of her suburban
residences, her imposing public buildings, and the material
prosperity of all her citizens.

In receiving the congratulations and good wishes of her
children and grandchildren on this occasion, Dedham,
without boasting, can say that the purposes of her original
settlers in organizing popular government have been
faithfully pursued. If she has been conservative and
prudent, she has not been obstructive or prudish. Her
obligations have been faithfully kept; her appropriations
for schools, highways, and the poor have been ample;
her devotions to deserving charity have been liberal;
and no debt with its weight of accumulating interest has
been allowed to burden her citizens. Her growth has
been natural and healthy; and, pursuing the simplicity
of the fathers, she presents to-day the rich fruition of
the conceptions and hopes of the good and brave men
who first penetrated the forests and established here a

It cannot be expected, in the course of nature, that
many of us will be present at the third centennial, in 1936;
but I can express no better wish for those who may be
than that a more abundant measure of prosperity may


attend their increasing numbers, — and for the town, that
her affairs may in the mean time be administered with a
hke fidehty and sense of pubhc responsibihty.

The exercises at the tent closed at 5.30 o'clock,
the lateness of the hour forbidding other speeches
which had been expected. The Schubert Club,
under the direction of Mr. Arthur W. Thayer,
furnished appropriate music for the afternoon,
which added much to the enjoyment of the occa-

At two o'clock, p. M., a concert was given by the

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13

Online LibraryDedham (Mass.)Proceedings at the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the incorporation of the town of Dedham, Massachusetts, September 21, 1886 → online text (page 9 of 13)