Remembering–and Forgetting–John Winthrop and the Puritan Founders

IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY NEW ENGLAND, virtually everyone recognized the name of John Winthrop. Even the landmark Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, sought to memorialize the founding father of the Commonwealth, although his remains and those of others of his generation resided on the other side of the Charles River in Boston. In the 1843 plans for the cemetery’s Bigelow Chapel, Mount Auburn trustees included four commemorative historical sculptures. Over the next decade and a half, the trustees installed statues of John Winthrop to represent the colonial era, James Otis for the Revolution, John Adams for the new nation, and the recently deceased Joseph Story for the early nineteenth century. Richard Saltonstall Greenough, recognized as one of the foremost sculptors of his time, created the statue of Winthrop.1 The choice of Winthrop testified to the place that the early governor of the Bay Colony occupied in New England historical memory. And his eminence remained unchallenged in 1876 when Greenough modeled a new sculpture of Winthrop for one of the Commonwealth’s two representative figures that would appear in the newly conceived Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

In 1879, the city of Boston arranged for Greenough to prepare a bronze replica of the Washington, D.C., statue, which it unveiled in Scollay Square in September 1880. Installation of the new Winthrop figure took place as part of a series of celebrations the Commonwealth held to mark its 250th birthday. One would have been hard pressed to attend any of the events without hearing the name of John Winthrop. The Boston Daily Evening Transcript ran a series of articles entitled, “Living Links with the Past.” One of the pieces focused on Robert Charles Winthrop, statesman, orator, and descendant of the first governor. In it, the paper extolled John Winthrop as “the best representative of the movement out of which Massachusetts and Connecticut came,” and as the man who “became the greatest of America’s Founders…. Not even William Penn was in any way his equal.” Similar praise for the Bay Colony’s founding father rang throughout the 1880 celebrations.[2] The people of Boston and of Massachusetts proudly heralded their puritan past and enthusiastically honored John Winthrop. The statue on Scollay Square became a city landmark, and locals referred to the site as “Winthrop Square.”[3]

Yet, one hundred years later the statue of John Winthrop had become Boston’s best kept secret. Scouring the official publications and news reports of the city’s “Jubilee 350” in 1980 revealed no trace of the colony’s first governor and Boston’s foremost early citizen. Apparently, it had become politic to forget John Winthrop. This essay explores the ways Massachusetts has celebrated the major anniversaries of its establishment and how, over time, the public has reinterpreted, neglected, and then erased Winthrop and the other puritan founding fathers from its historical memory.

The first symptoms of Winthrop amnesia emerged as early as 1905. Visitors to “Winthrop Square” found a scene strikingly different from the one twenty-five years earlier. John Winthrop had disappeared! The “Big Dig” of its day had transformed Scollay Square and a local newspaper reported on April 17, 1904, that “for months the statue has been cumbered about with much paraphernalia of the East Boston tunnel diggers, and during the past several weeks has been almost hidden beneath a host of towering derricks, hoisting engines and piles of heavy timber, while the face of the first Governor of the colony has peered through the smoke and dust of the subway operations.” The tunnel commissioners had been pushing to remove the statue, but public indifference over its fate and the indecision of city leaders delayed removal. Moved from place to place in Scollay Square as construction progressed, the monument, according to the Globe, seemed “doomed to a sort of Wandering Jew existence.”[4]

Winthrop’s wandering days appeared over when on April 16, 1903, the directors of Old South Meeting House agreed to place the statue on “the little grass plot at the southwest corner of the … Meetinghouse, at the corner of Washington and Milk streets.” This proposal seemed ideal since it would then stand near the site of Winthrop’s final Boston residence. But the offer may only have been a ploy by the directors to pressure the city into changing its plans for widening Washington Street. The relocation never happened and the grassy plot on which Winthrop would have stood became a sidewalk. Winthrop renewed his pilgrimage, eventually wandering to a new home in front of the First and Second Church of Boston on Marlborough Street. Regrettably, the statue’s story did not end happily at its new location. In 1968, a fire destroyed the church structure, toppling the statue and breaking off the head. Perhaps the city’s last remaining admirer of Winthrop absconded with the severed piece, only to be apprehended by the timely intervention of city police. In 1972, the restored figure found its place in front of the redesigned church–an appropriate location, but far from the Freedom Trail and far from the routes traveled by visitors to the city. Today, where John Winthrop once stood in Scollay Square a piece of abstract modern sculpture seeks public attention.[5]

The Greenough sculpture of Winthrop at Mount Auburn Cemetery met a similar fate. In 1898, cemetery trustees moved their Winthrop statue to the administration building when they remodeled the chapel to add a crematory. After an unusually long residence, this piece was also relocated when the trustees offered all four chapel pieces to Harvard University in 1935. Winthrop then took up residence in the university’s old dining commons and spent the next “60 years in relative obscurity looking down upon meals, registrations, and examinations.”[6]

In sharp contrast to Winthrop’s peregrinations, Massachusetts made preparations in 1915 to place a statue of Anne Hutchinson in front of the State House. To keep her company, the Commonwealth added another of Mary Dyer in 1959–the two remain fixed in place and are the only seventeenth-century Massachusetts colonists so honored. How dissenters replaced the first governor in places of public honor, and why John Winthrop fell so far from public grace, symbolizes broader changes in collective historical memory of the puritan founders.

The first recorded anniversary celebration of the puritan errand into the wilderness occurred in 1730. Reverend Thomas Prince preached a centennial sermon at the annual colony elections, asserting that it was “extremely proper that upon the close of the first century of our settlement in this chief part of the land to look back to the beginning of this remarkable transaction.” He reminded his listeners that the “fathers of these plantations” had departed England, which was “a land of Egypt … [where] their lives were made exceeding bitter with religious bondage.” God brought them to New England, where “shining figures” such as Winthrop created a land with “greater civil and religious privileges than almost any others.” But Prince’s sermon constituted the whole of Massachusetts’s centennial commemoration and no evidence survives of any celebration of the sesquicentennial, which occurred during the American Revolution.[7]

While patriot leaders did not have time to acknowledge the colony’s first settlement, they did understand the importance of the puritan founders. John Adams, who adopted “Winthrop” as a pen name for some of his attacks on British policy, identified “the Towns, Militia, Schools and Churches as the four causes of the growth and defense of New England” and credited the founding generation of “Norton, Cotton, Wilson, Winthrop, Winslow [and] Saltonstall” for establishing these institutions.[8]

The next civic commemoration of the events of 1630–and the first significant observance–took place on the two hundreth anniversary. In 1830, the city of Boston organized a celebration that began at eight o’clock in the morning of September 17, with the mayor, city aldermen, and Common Council meeting in the Old State House. Mayor Harrison Gray Otis delivered a lengthy address, after which the city’s leaders walked the few short blocks to the State House and joined a procession that moved down Beacon Street to the northwestern entrance of Boston Common. They paraded between lines of several thousand school children and their teachers, and then they marched to Old South Meeting House on Boylston Street, escorted by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. The young Robert C. Winthrop, a member of the Company, served as “grand guide of the right,” aligning his battalion in proper form in front of the State House. That evening, one hundred gentlemen, including members of the Massachusetts Historical Society, enjoyed a dinner at the Exchange House at which Winthrop’s father, Lt. Gov. Thomas L. Winthrop, presided. Members of the Commonwealth’s political elite–Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, and John Gorham Palfrey, among others–spoke in praise of the puritan founder.[9]

Fifty years later in 1880, the celebrations grew even more elaborate. Again, a parade became the centerpiece, this time under a “propitious sky, the pleasant atmosphere, the neatness in aspect and the holiday garb of the city.”[10] Flags and bunting adorned city buildings everywhere, and reports circulated that rental fees for bay windows that overlooked the route that wound from Tremont to Boylston streets approached $50.

The parade’s composition provides a fascinating glimpse of how 1880 Boston viewed its past and of what Winthrop’s city had become. Military units comprised the parade’s “First Division.” The Second Division, escorted by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, featured the governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Vermont, and Rhode Island; members of the legislature; the president of Harvard University; Boston’s mayor and ex-mayors; judges; members of the Society of the Cincinnati, and even the Association of Veterans of the War of 1812. Riding comfortably in carriages could be found members of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. The Third Division consisted of Civil War veterans, school regiments, and the Fire Department.[11]

The first sections represented the city’s old guard, the Brahmin descendants of the English puritan founders. What followed reflected the city’s present and its future. In the Fourth Division marched the Caledonian Club and the Odd Fellows. The Fifth Division reflected the diversity of late-nineteenth-century Boston, with marchers from the Knights of Pythias, the Journeymen Tailors Association, the Italian Mutual Relief Society, the Charitable Irish Society, the French Canadian Society of St. Jean Baptiste, and the Portuguese Benevolent Society of Massachusetts. The Sixth Division included the United Irish Societies of Boston, followed closely by the Suffolk County Catholic Total Abstinence Society and the Massachusetts General Hospital ambulance.[12]

The final division, and the largest, contained marchers representing 146 trades. Richard Schwarz, a toy dealer, sponsored a float upon which “was seated on his throne of good cheer, a real Santa Claus, distributing gifts from a Christmas-tree to a group of joyous children.” “Aunt Abby” promoted her candy; Chase and Sanborn exhibited a load of teas; and S. S. Pierce & Company’s float displayed foreign and domestic groceries and wines. The “entire force of male clerks” employed by Jordan Marsh (a local department store)–six hundred in number–marched in the parade. John Roessle, at a safe distance from the Abstinence Society, drove a wagon carrying an immense beer cask with a banner proclaiming “‘Two hundred and fifty years ago, there was no lager beer; but now the people know better, and love the German bier.'”[13]

According to the official report, over fourteen thousand men and 325 vehicles took part in the four and a half mile parade, which took three and a half hours to pass the reviewing stand. Such stamina is hardly known today. At the conclusion of the parade, officials unveiled the Winthrop statue and announced the imminent publication of Justin Winsor’s comprehensive Memorial History of Boston. And for those whose taste for pageantry had not been sated, an evening procession featured marchers from German societies, more soldiers, and various floats, lit by torches, calcium lights, and locomotive head-lights, presenting historical tableau of events such as “The Landing of the Norsemen on the Continent,” “The Landing of the Pilgrims,” “Chickataubet Presenting Corn to Governor Winthrop,” and “Sam Adams Demanding the Removal of British Troops.” The last tableau depicted the city of Boston surrounded by figures representing peace, prosperity, justice, education, charity, and industry. That same evening, between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 P.M., Jordan Marsh & Co. sponsored a concert on the Common.[14]

In both 1830 and 1880, community’s leaders–descendants of the founders–dominated the celebration, expressing their pride in the Commonwealth and the city and attributing credit for the region’s success to their ancestors, and none more than John Winthrop. One of the speakers at the 1830 celebration, John Gorham Palfrey, later wrote that “among the millions of living men descended from those whom he ruled, there is not one who does not … owe much of what is best within him, and in the circumstances about him, to the benevolent and courageous wisdom of John Winthrop.” Did this make Winthrop an American “Founding Father?” In Palfrey’s mind, “the movement of John Adams and his compeers for Independence eighty-four years ago, and … the later products of self-government in America, are, to Winthrop’s administration, what the fruit is to the blossom.”[15]

Although invited, John Greenleaf Whittier declined to attend the 1880 celebrations. Yet this antislavery pacifist poet, who had castigated the intolerance of puritans in their treatment of Quakers and witches, wrote a public letter to one of the event organizers in which he found “no one who, in all respects, occupies a nobler place in the early colonial history of Massachusetts than John Winthrop.” Whittier exonerated Winthrop from the “religious bigotry and intolerance” of those who “hung and tortured their victims, and the terrible delusion of witchcraft that darkened the sun at noonday over Essex.” He added that “If he [Winthrop] had not quite reached the point where he could, to use the words of Sir Thomas More, ‘hear heresies talked and yet let the heretics alone,’ he was, in charity and forbearance, far in advance of his generation.”[16]

Whittier’s letter hinted at a change in public memory of the past. His combination of praise for Winthrop with a reminder of the bigotry and intolerance of Winthrop’s contemporaries typified a growing awareness of the dark side of the early colonists. Twelve years after the two hundred fiftieth anniversary celebrations, Charles Francis Adams, Jr., with as distinguished an ancestry as his friend and fellow member of the Massachusetts Historical Society Robert C. Winthrop, detailed the sins of his fathers in a study of Three Episodes of Massachusetts History. “It is impossible to ignore the fact, and worse than useless to deny it,” wrote Adams, “that the New England Puritans were a persecuting race.”[17]

Over the years between the two hundred fiftieth and three hundreth anniversaries of Massachusetts’s settlement this tide of criticism grew. Authors not only heaped blame on the puritan fathers for their intolerance of dissent–persecution of Baptists, Quakers, and others, and the execution of witches–they also held puritans responsible for everything distasteful in Victorian culture. Perhaps the most striking characterization was that of H. L. Mencken, who described puritans as a people “haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.” Pithily expressing the growing discontent with the puritans, Mencken wrote on another occasion that “Puritans not only tried their damnedest to shut out every vestige of sound information, of clean reasoning, of ordinary self-respect and integrity; they absolutely succeeded in shutting these things out.”[18]

Faced with a growing embarrassment about the puritanism of the New England founders, guardians of the region’s reputation tried to direct attention to more admirable aspects of their ancestors’ contributions. The colony’s influence on the new nation’s political institutions always had been recognized. George Bancroft, perhaps the nineteenth century’s most widely read historian of the United States, had praised Winthrop’s “gentleness of temper and a never failing desire for unity and harmony” and claimed that “his lenient benevolence tempered the bigotry of his companions.” Bancroft had concluded that Winthrop’s “character marks the transition of the reformation into virtual republicanism.”[19] Such claims now became the primary reason for praising the early colonists. Speakers and writers saw a spirit of liberty as the true genius of New England and its town meetings as the seedbed of American democracy. Public schools, which originated in the land of puritans, received accolades as the foundation of America’s culture. But as this sea change of interpretation took shape, the more tolerant Pilgrims of Plymouth and their iconographic rock seemed more deserving of remembrance. New Englanders, and most Americans, began seeing Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer as apostles of liberty worth commemorating.[20]

Given the ambivalence of many over the nature of the puritan heritage, the tercentenary celebrations of 1930 assume particular importance in understanding how we have remembered the colony’s forebearers. A number of things stand out as we review the events: the magnitude of the observances at a time when America was plunging into the Great Depression; the social division between those colonial descendents who previously had spearheaded the commemorations and the political leaders of the 1930s; and the limited impact of historical scholarship on public awareness of the story of the settlers.

Charles Bolton, the secretary of the Boston Athen m, made the first efforts to insure that the three hundreth anniversary would not go unmarked. At the Boston City Club in December 1926, Bolton assembled an impressive collection of prominent Bostonians and “sons of the founders,” including Frederick Winthrop, George Moore Foote, Samuel Eliot Morison, Mrs. John Lowell, Edward Holmes, Edward Filene, and William Greenlaw. They formed the Massachusetts Bay Celebration Committee that in August 1927 became incorporated as Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary, Inc. Charter members of this group included William C. Endicott, Frederick Winthrop, and Allan Forbes. As the group mobilized for the celebration, over ninety other “co-operating organizations” joined the effort, including the Bostonian Society, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the Governor Thomas Dudley Family Association. Notably absent from the list was the Massachusetts Historical Society, despite the fact that prominent corporation members such as Frederick Winthrop and Allan Forbes, also belonged to the MHS and William C. Endicott served as the Society’s president.[21]

In a key contribution, the corporation successfully lobbied the Commonwealth in 1928 to establish the Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary Commission. Former Attorney General Herbert Parker, who had briefly served as president of the corporation, chaired the state commission.[22] The corporation, largely composed of descendants of the puritans, had intended “to center the celebration around the historical and spiritual aspects of the anniversary.”[23] While the corporation continued to exist, funding from the Commonwealth gave the commission the larger role in the events of 1930. While not neglecting history, the commission, with a political membership, presided over a broad range of activities. In its final report, the state commission claimed that it had spawned 2,083 events in 253 communities, attracting 11,041,625 people.[24] The events it proudly took credit for included 1,150 school exercises, 165 religious services, 103 pageants, 58 parades, 82 music events, 300 congresses and conventions, 101 historical meetings, and 29 monument dedications.[25] One of the musical events, which took place as a special concert on June 1 at Symphony Hall, featured Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite, and Herbert’s American Fantasy, all performed by ninety-five members of the Boston Symphony, conducted by the young Arthur Fiedler.[26] The rich range of commission-sponsored activities also included a campaign with the “objective [of] killing all mosquitoes in Massachusetts, or at least all that are in Cape Cod territory, before the 1930 Tercentenary summer season.”[27]

The original tercentenary corporation had planned to build a seventeenth century colonial village in the middle of the state.[28] While funding never materialized for this ambitious project, organizers of the local celebrations in Essex County, where many of the descendants of the first families lived, initiated a similar plan and created Salem Pioneer Village. Erected under the auspices of that city’s Board of Park Commissioners, the village sought to display “the types of shelter built by the first settlers and in use at the time of the coming of Winthrop. These structures [were] placed in a natural setting surrounded by examples of the activities essential to the pioneer settlement.”[29] George Francis Dow, a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, served as antiquarian-architect of the project, and later presented the results of his research in Everyday Life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1935). The interpretation of the village ignored such controversial matters as the religious zeal of the founders and their intolerance of those who challenged their orthodoxy. Instead, visitors learned about the living conditions and foodways of the colonists, their costume, occupations, and other aspects of daily life in the 1630s on America’s frontier. Labeling the site “Pioneer Village” rather than “Puritan Village” likewise glossed over those aspects of puritan life that tourists might find unpalatable.[30]

Pioneer Village did not, however, ignore the identity of the founders. Indeed, Salem became the site of an imaginative pageant celebrating Winthrop and his fellow immigrants. While not adopting the corporation plan for a colonial village, the Tercentenary Commission had arranged for the construction of a replica of the Arbella, the vessel that carried Winthrop to the New World. The ship was used in the Salem commemoration and afterwards. On June 12, descendants of founding fathers John Winthrop, John Endecott, the Rev. George Philips, and others dressed as their ancestors and met the Arbella as it sailed into Salem harbor. They paraded to Pioneer Village and participated in a scripted thirty-episode pageant. Frederick Winthrop played the part of Governor Winthrop, while his son Nathaniel accompanied him in colonial garb.[31] In keeping with the interpretive thrust of the village, the first hour or more featured vignettes of everyday life–hunters returning, men busying themselves in salt-making, fishermen unloading their catch, five men and a boy thatching a roof, a pig escaping and chased down the village street. Not until episode twenty-nine was the Arbella sighted. The pageant climaxed with the arrival of Winthrop and his fellow passengers.[32]

Following the Salem events, the replica of the Arbella appeared on exhibition in the Charles River Basin at Boston where tourists drawn to the city’s other tercentenary events could view it.[33] Ironically, no member of any of the founding families led the Boston celebrations; instead responsibility lay in the hands of Mayor James M. Curley. This guaranteed that the descendants of the founders and the institutions they supported would have no control over the Boston events. According to Thomas O’Connor, one of the foremost historians of the city, the “Brahmin aristocracy would never cooperate with a political leader who openly mocked their institutions and trifled with their proud historical heritage.”[34] Curley had rankled the first families with his assertions that “The day of the Puritan has passed; the Anglo-Saxon is a joke; a new and better America is here,” and that “the New England of the Puritans” was “as dead as Julius Caesar.”[35]

Curley initiated planning for Boston’s celebration in 1924, during his second term in office. But a new state law that prevented him from succeeding himself interrupted planning until his reelection in 1929. Curley claimed that during his electoral hiatus organization of the tercentenary had stopped, forcing him to rush preparations. This may have been Curley’s way of criticizing Malcolm Nichols, the Harvard-educated Brahmin who had held the mayor’s office in the interim. Whatever the state of the celebration’s plans upon Curley’s return to office, the city launched an impressive program. It sponsored thirty radio broadcasts, generally fifteen minutes in length and delivered for the most part by politicians and newspaper reporters. Topics included traditional ones such as “John Winthrop, Founder and Governor,” “The Salem Colony,” and “Sir Henry Vane in New England.” Some broadcasts reflected the interest in colonial everyday life: “The First Winter in Boston,” “Death Stalks the Pilgrim Fathers,” “Colonial Customs and Manners of Life,” and “Home Life of the Puritans.” Others pointed toward the seventeenth-century roots of modern America: “Spirit of ’76 in Colonial Days,” “The Fight for Democracy in New England,” “Spirit of Independence in Colonial Boston,” and “How New England Confederation Paved Way for the Nation.”

Still other broadcasts emphasized the contributions of later immigrants to the making of modern Massachusetts. These included, “Scandinavian Contributions to New England,” “The Polish Settlers of New England,” “The Jewish Pioneers in New England,” “German Contributions to New England,” and “Italian Pioneers in New England.” Given white racial attitudes of the era, the city’s failure to include the role of African Americans in the history of Boston comes as no surprise, but one is taken aback that Mayor Curley’s planning committee neglected to schedule a talk on the Irish! Reflecting the political priorities of the celebration, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald delivered the March 29 talk on “The Meaning of the Tercentenary” while none of the area’s influential historians delivered any of the broadcasts.[36]

Festivities peaked in mid September. On September 15, an illuminated parade in the spirit “of a Mardi gras, but on a most stupendous scale and vastly more thrilling” coursed through city streets. The lead float bore “sixteen girls chosen from among numerous contestants for beauty honors to represent the nations of their extraction … in an allegorical representation of Boston welcoming within her portals the nations of the world.” The other floats featured everyday scenes from colonial New England life and contributions of various nations to the Commonwealth and the United States. “The brilliant spectacle,” as recorded in the celebration’s official history, “seemed at its best when viewed from Beacon Street, at Charles. Aglow with mellow light and color, the fairy train of floats ascended the incline to pass the State House.”[37]

The following day, city officials dedicated a memorial to the Founders on the Beacon Street side of Boston Common. Katharine Winthrop, the sixteen-year-old daughter of Frederick Winthrop, unveiled the bronze bas relief monument by John F. Paramino that showed the city’s first English resident, William Blackstone, extending a hand of friendship to John Winthrop. Below them the monument depicted the spring that brought the new settlers to the Boston peninsula.[38] Contemporary portraits of John Winthrop guided the artist, but no such visual evidence existed for Blackstone. Thus, in an act of political astuteness, the artist used Mayor Curley as the model. On the reverse side of the monument, facing Beacon Street, Paramino inscribed a selection from John Winthrop’s lay sermon on “Christian Charity” and a quotation from William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation.[39]

Following the dedication, Curley led the official party from the memorial to a large stand, referred to as the Tercentenary Tribune, for a program of music and speeches. A chorus sang two Italian folk songs. Edwin Markham, the labor activist poet and author of “The Man with the Hoe,” read a poem he composed for the occasion. He praised Winthrop as “tender of years … yet firm as a rock.” But Markham bestowed greater accolades on Thomas Hooker, puritan founder of Hartford, Connecticut, whom he portrayed as the “father of our democratic dreams” and on Henry Vane, the colony governor who had supported Anne Hutchinson: “Not king, nor prince, nor peer Could daunt his hero soul.”

Charles Francis Adams, secretary of the Navy and featured speaker of the day, described the first decades of the Bay Colony as suffering under “strong but ruthless Puritan control.” Adams took pride in the fact that “time brought inevitable changes. Other ideals developed in part out of our admirable Puritan institutions, the public free school, the town meeting, and representative government.” For Adams, the tercentenary offered the opportunity to celebrate the ways in which “the coming of other peoples from Europe enlarged our horizon and mellowed our ancient stock. The assimilation of old and new world ideals is the mission of America.” The monument they had just dedicated, he maintained, “may well proclaim to those who come after us the purpose of America to grow strong and great through the mingling of races and through the toleration of each for all which is the best fruit of these three centuries.” Clearly, to some Bostonians, the puritan legacy represented something to overcome.[40]

Throughout the many events of the three hundreth anniversary, the public saw little or nothing of the world of John Winthrop. Most speakers and writers glossed over, repudiated, or lampooned what they saw as the darker side of early Massachusetts. Cartoons proved an especially effective way of criticizing the founders. Printed in the city’s many newspapers, such illustrations rendered the puritans as fools or symbols of ignorant, bygone days. Few individuals cared to identify themselves with puritans or puritanism.

The Reverend Charles Edwards Park of the First Church of Boston represented a rare exception to the deluge of negative images that flooded the public arena about puritans. Yet, one finds little to admire in what Park found so appealing in his vision of the puritans. At a gathering in bucolic Lancaster, Massachusetts, Park told his audience that the puritans “were not the only bigots. It was an age of bigots.” Park did not consider such bigotry all bad. “They proposed,” he told his audience, “to have strict discipline, law and order,” qualities that Park believed would serve modern society rather well. “Fifteen years ago,” he reminded his listeners, “Mr. Eugene V. Debs began to preach pacifism and hinder the operations of the draft. The Federal Government said to him–you have the right to your opinions but no right to imperil the public safety by expressing them at this untimely moment. You must either keep still or go to the Atlanta penitentiary. In other words, we treated Mr. Debs precisely as the Puritans treated Anne Hutchinson and for precisely the same reason.”[41]

Most of those who publicly addressed the legacy of the puritan fathers presented a selective portrait of the colonists as early architects of American democracy. A John Hancock Life Insurance Company booklet on John Winthrop: First Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1929) published for the tercentenary, extolled Winthrop’s “humanity and kindness” but ignored his ideas and the colonists’ treatment of dissent, preferring to highlight such facts as “The New England town meeting originated in Massachusetts. The American public school system can trace its origins to the Massachusetts Bay Colony…. Here, also, the first American university was founded.”[42] Ex-president Calvin Coolidge, addressing a radio audience on May 8, acknowledged the flaws of the founders, but argued that “theirs was not a destructive narrowness, but a constructive narrowness …, [and that] it was the spirit and courage of these people that hewed the forest, built great transportation lines, [and] erected great cities.”[43] In an address on the floor of the United States Senate, Senator David Walsh made a similar point–”The Puritans prepared the way for democracy by local self-government in towns, by their sense of public duty, and by establishing public education in the hope that the people would be intelligent when they came to power.”[44]

There were, of course, some efforts to use the tercentenary to educate the public and advance historical scholarship of the colonial era. The Massachusetts Historical Society published The Founding of Massachusetts: A Selection from the Sources of the History of the Settlement, 1628–1631 (1930). Far from a best-seller, until recently plenty of copies remained available for purchase at the Society’s Boylston Street headquarters. Samuel Eliot Morison, an historical consultant to the tercentenary corporation, used the occasion almost single-handedly to launch a revisionist approach to early Massachusetts history. Builders of the Bay Colony (1930), published in the tercentenary year was followed in 1935 by The Founding of Harvard and a year later by The Puritan Pronaos: the Intellectual Life of Colonial New England.[45] The end of the decade would see the first volume of Perry Miller’s magisterial The New England Mind (1939). But these works suffered from the increasing relegation of academic writings to the backwaters of popular reading interests.

Well-grounded history did occasionally intrude on the public presentations at the heart of the tercentenary. For instance, the commission placed twenty historic markers around Boston, one noting the site of Governor Winthrop’s first home on State Street.[46] But this proved an exception, and it is not surprising to find that the official report of the Tercentenary Commission doubted that “all the talk on the subject from pulpits, speakers platforms, the radio, or from editorial typewriters established the identity of the Pilgrims and the Puritans.”[47] In the midst of the parades and parties, no one knew better than Samuel Eliot Morison that “There is no doubt that the Puritan is unpopular nowadays.” Writing in 1931, he lamented that “The recent tercentennial of Massachusetts, the Puritans’ pet colony, left the American public completely cold. Even in the old Bay State the celebration had a mildly apologetic tone, taking the line of praising the Puritans for religious liberty which they never respected, and for a democracy which came in spite of them.”[48]

Driven in large part by changing city demographics, the popular approach to the tercentenary celebrated not the founders, but what society had become. The tercentenary Boston parade clearly followed this design. After the procession of dignitaries, spectators viewed military groups including the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, and ten thousand veterans of the Civil War, Spanish American War, Boxer Rebellion, the Philippine insurrection, and First World War; then came police and fire units, drum and bugle corps, fife and drum corps, and various bands. Historical floats depicted the first public school and other aspects of colonial life–but most represented the Revolution rather than the era of the puritans. The parade was more a celebration of Boston at three hundred years old than of three hundred years of Boston history. Syrians performed a sword dance, Lithuanians “did some clever tumbling,” a Chinese contingent appeared “with its highly colored and jeweled costumes and fantastically lovely floats,” with German societies, Hibernian organizations, and other ethnic groups following. Marchers appeared from Filenes, Jordan Marsh, and various other large Boston businesses, as well as from smaller concerns such as Chelmsford Ginger Ale, MacIntosh’s Taffy, and Prior and Townsend Fish. School groups participated, as did fraternal orders such as the Knights of Columbus, the Loyal Order of Moose, and the Colored Elks. The parade roster did not include any of the city’s historical groups: the Colonial Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, or the New England Historic Genealogical Society.[49]

Visitors to the massive “Exposition of Governmental Activities” at the Commonwealth Armory in Boston, held from September 29 to October 11, encountered a portrait of John Winthrop at the entrance. This, however, represented the last bit of colonial history they ever saw. The Expo featured exhibits centered on the various agencies of the Commonwealth, from the state police, to hospitals, prisons, mental health administration, agricultural extension, and public works, but not the state library or archives.[50]

In a peculiar twist, some of those who delivered public remarks during the tercentenary mentioned the colonists but only to acknowledge the flaws of the founders in order to congratulate themselves for the level of social “progress” achieved since the founding. Caspar Griswold Bacon, president of the Massachusetts Senate, happily declared that the “narrow, prejudiced Puritan, austere and rigid in his outlook, has been swallowed up in the freer atmosphere of enlightenment and progress…. New England has freed herself from the dogma of the early creeds and turned her intellect to broader and nobler works.”[51] While John Winthrop remained a pictorial icon of the founding generation, his actual achievements and character found no place in public commemorations. Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson proved better candidates for “apostles of religious freedom,” and Thomas Hooker a more suitable architect of New England democracy.

The cultural trends that shaped the events of 1930 became even more visible fifty years later. Uninterested in the extraordinary scholarship of Morison, Miller, Edmund S. Morgan, and others, the public, as Morison had concluded in 1931, still regarded “the fathers of New England as a set of somber kill-joys whose greatest pleasure was preventing simple folk from enjoying themselves, and whose principle object in life was to repress beauty and inhibit human nature.”[52] The task of celebrating their accomplishments perhaps proved so daunting that no statewide commemoration of the three hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Commonwealth’s founding took place.

Boston, however, did organize a summer-long party and gave it the very un-puritan label of “Jubilee 350.” The Boston Globe’s coverage of the announcement of the plans never mentioned the puritan founders:

The city of Boston yesterday unveiled an elaborate summer-long schedule of exhibits, plays, festivals and special events that will celebrate the 350th anniversary of its founding, culminating in Boston’s birthday September 20. The major events will include a revisit to Boston of up to a dozen of the Tall Ships at the end of May and a conference of mayors, civic leaders, planners and other from at least 25 major world cities in late September. Exhibits will note the contributions of Bostonians in the fields of literature, business, art, education, religion, science, publishing, politics and others. There will also be performances and exhibits of contemporary works in these fields.[53]

The Globe compared the event to the celebrations of the bicentennial of the American Revolution, and Mayor Kevin White expressed the hope that it would be “the most successful celebration this city has ever seen.” Reflecting the intent to focus on the Boston of today, rather than of yesterday, White identified “Jubilee 350” as “a celebration of the city and a celebration of the people who make up the city.”[54] Mayor White and Katharine Kane, whom he appointed to head up the Jubilee, aimed to recognize and promote Boston’s ethnic and racial diversity. They identified twenty-five different ethnic groups as deserving of invitations to perform on the city’s “Stage 350,” a platform erected for public performances. These included the groups that had participated in the tercentenary events, plus African Americans, Cape Verdeans, West Indians, groups from the Balkans, Scots, and those whom they styled “Yankees.” In the Boston of 1980, old New England families had become just another ethnic group.

The city organizers designated May as “Tradition Month,” with a focus on Boston’s heritage, but the events hardly directed attention to the colonial past.[55] The Jubilee kicked off on May 1 with the opening of a downtown reception center. The following week saw the first performance of “Dearo Family,” a musical on Honey Fitz Fitzgerald; a great Balloon Race; a festival along the harbor front featuring games and juggling; and the first of many jazz performances. Other May events included more jazz, a play about the problems of the handicapped, a Broadway music revue, a performance of Norwegian songs, Turkish folk dancing, a celebration at the Arlington Street Church of the two hundreth birthday of the Unitarian cleric William Ellery Channing, the opening of an international rugby tournament, and the arrival of the first ships of “Operation Sail 80.” On May 26, a nightly light and laser show about historical Boston events began in Copley Plaza.

June saw the beginning of city “Law Week,” the “Jubilee 350 Stakes at Suffolk Downs,” and an oral history slide show. In July, the Common did become the location of events aimed at students of the colonial era. Historical interpreters from Strawbery Banke, Sturbridge Village, Historic Deerfield, and Plimoth Plantation demonstrated crafts. Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts took the lead in a recreation of Dedham’s seventeenth-century, Jonathan Fairbanks House on the Common.[56] The Museum of Fine Arts would later make a major contribution to our understanding of seventeenth-century Massachusetts material culture with its wonderful exhibition, New England Begins. Although preliminary discussions began as early as 1975, the show did not open until two years after “Jubilee 350.”

August 1980 became “International Month” in Boston, with exhibitions, song, dance, and festivals celebrating the Commonwealth’s multi-ethnic heritage. Historians might have hoped for more from “Boston Month,” the designation given to September. But shows such as “Looking to 2000,” an “Orient Express Fashion Show,” the dedication of a statue of Mayor Curley, and a public picnic on the Common, complete with a huge birthday cake, did little to satisfy any appetites for the seventeenth century.

A collection of essays in the official “Jubilee 350” program reflected themes that should now be familiar. Oscar Handlin mentioned Winthrop and the founders in order to establish how their “original parochialism” and distrust of strangers had given way to a willingness to “receive, indeed to welcome, alien newcomers.”[57] Robert J. Taylor, editor of the Adams Papers project, celebrated the intellectual life of Massachusetts “from the time of Jonathan Edwards to the time of John Kenneth Galbraith”–relegating Winthrop, Williams, Cotton, and their peers to pre-history.[58] Another section of the program highlighted Boston’s “Heroes and Heroines.” The list of thirteen honored citizens included the boxer John L. Sullivan[59] and Anne Hutchinson, “a woman for all seasons: theologian, midwife, herbalist, teacher–and a housewife” who “became an advanced religious thinker and one of America’s first profiles in courage.” Winthrop, however, did not make the list of honored few.[60]

One other contemporary of Winthrop did appear in the published pantheon–William Blackstone [Blaxton]. Blackstone had migrated to the region before the puritans and settled on what was then known as the Shawmut peninsula, perhaps as early as 1623. Scholars have found him to be a shadowy figure. He graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge University in 1618, and may have been a clergyman of the Church of England. While hospitable to the new colonists who founded Boston, he declined to join their church. Preferring solitude, he eventually left Boston and relocated in the area of Rhode Island.[61]

The 1930 monument erected on the Common gave Blackstone equal standing with Winthrop. In 1980, Mayor White claimed that “Boston’s birthright was achieved in a spirit of hospitality when the first white settler, William Blaxton, extended an afflicted community on the opposite side of the Charles River to share [his] more favorable location.” The “Jubilee 350” Official Guide portrayed him as “a spunky eccentric,” and the “hermit of Beacon Hill.” “Too hospitable for his own good, Blackstone took pity on John Winthrop and his Puritan followers, who were languishing in nearby Charlestown…. For his welcome, Blackstone was hounded by the newcomers and fled…. Blackstone’s independent intellect may not have suited Puritan Boston, but his bookish ways became a symbol of the later state of mind.” Perhaps because so little can be discovered about Blackstone, those who are discomfited by Winthrop’s views found in him a malleable and useful figure and a more appealing founder of the city.[62]

Once again, a disjunction existed between the party planners and the professional historians. The state appointed the director of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Louis L. Tucker, to serve on the Commonwealth Commission to Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Massachusetts Constitution. But it failed to create any similar commission to celebrate the Commonwealth’s settlement, and Boston issued no invitations to the MHS or other societies to participate officially in “Jubilee 350.”[63] The Society did hold a small exhibition on John Winthrop and the Winthrop family, and members of the family received invitations to a special dinner at the Tavern Club, a private Brahmin eating establishment, in conjunction with the exhibit. While Oscar Handlin contributed a short piece for the “Jubilee 350” Official Guide, none of the distinguished colonial historians of the region–Bernard Bailyn, Edmund S. Morgan, or David D. Hall–received any official invitations to present their views on the nature and meaning of seventeenth-century Massachusetts or Boston.

It is true that the image of John Winthrop appeared on the official “Jubilee 350” medal struck by the Paris Mint–wearing the stereotypical puritan hat most often seen at the time on the state’s turnpike signs, and with the skyline of modern Boston in the background. The other side of the medal bore an image of the statue of Samuel Adams at Faneuil Hall, along with various historical landmarks. Desiring a marketable image, the Official Guide to Jubilee 350 featured Paul Revere on the cover.

National political leaders followed in lockstep the general desire to expunge the puritan founders from collective historical memory. Rarely in recent times has a politician who wished to remain in office identified himself with the puritans. The single exception to this rule has been a willingness by some to quote passages from John Winthrop’s lay sermon on “Christian Charity.”[64] Conservatives have appealed to Winthrop’s vision of America as a shining “city upon a hill,” called to inspire the world to emulate us. So often did President Ronald Reagan draw upon this image that Justice Sandra Day O’Connor read a portion of Winthrop’s “Christian Charity” at the former president’s funeral service.[65] Liberals who invoke Winthrop are likely to quote the Massachusetts leader’s call for community.[66] But all used the words in contexts that would have confused Winthrop himself. None of these references are ever presented in a way that suggests that the puritan past is worth remembering.

This trend of intentionally forgetting or downplaying seventeenth-century founders has not been limited to New Englanders or to puritans. Modern Americans have preferred to celebrate the Revolution as the beginning of our society, and the leaders of that era as our “Founding Fathers.” For most, America begins at the Williamsburg of Jefferson and Washington, or at battle-tested Lexington and Concord. Academic historians have tended to follow popular prejudices. In an analysis of monographs published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture from 1992 to 2002, Joyce Chaplin found that only two of the thirty-eight studies focus exclusively on the seventeenth century. Between 1973 and 1982, only 20.3 percent of articles published in the William and Mary Quarterly dealt exclusively with the seventeenth century, and that proportion dropped to 14.3 percent for the past ten years. As Chaplin points out, “several new introductions to the field present colonial America according to a developmental model that leads towards the American Revolution, the founding of the United States, and the eventual filling-in of the nation’s current geographical boundaries,” rather than illuminating the unique (and Atlantic) nature of the early settlements. Given this rush to get to the “real” story, it is not surprising that “many of the Founding Fathers have enjoyed yet another revival, with spell-binding and important new studies of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and John Quincy Adams garnering attention and prizes.”[67]

At the conclusion of the 1930 Boston Tercentenary celebration, the Office of the Mayor sent a letter to the program coordinator, Herbert Parker, confirming that the $100 honorarium which he was due for a Fourth of July public address, as previously agreed, had been placed in a special account. Mayor Curley matched that with his own $100 contribution. Called the “Curley-Parker Fund,” these funds “will remain invested for one hundred years, at which time both principal and interest may be expended for a fitting observance of the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.” It will be interesting to see what is made of John Winthrop and the puritans when that occasion is observed.[68]

FRANCIS J. BREMER, professor of history at Millersville University and the MHS’s editor of the Winthrop Papers, is the author of many books and scholarly articles on colonial New England. His latest book is John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father (2003) and he is currently completing a collection of Winthrop religious writings, which the Society will place on its website, and crafting an essay collection on the founding generation of New England.


Much of the research for this article was conducted at the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Bostonian Society, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Archives, and the Boston Public Library. I would like to thank the staffs of those institutions for their assistance. I presented versions of the article at the Massachusetts Historical Society and at the Old South Meeting House. I would like to thank those institutions for offering the chance to test my views and those who attended the talks for their valuable comments.
1. Kathleen Fox, “The Statues of Bigelow Chapel,” Sweet Auburn: The Newsletter of the Friends of Mount Auburn, Spring 1996. I would like to thank Bree Detamore of Mount Auburn Cemetery for providing me with a copy of this article.
2. Boston Daily Evening Transcript, June 22, 1880, 1.
3. Anthony Mitchell Sammarco, Then & Now: Downtown Boston (Charleston, S.C., 2002), 57.
4. The quotations are from an anonymous Boston newspaper clipping in the Bostonian Society’s Scrapbook Collection.
5. I would like to thank Mr. Leo Collins, archivist and music director emeritus of the First and Second Church of Boston, for information about the statue’s location and the1968 fire, which he communicated to me by e-mail.
6. Fox, “Bigelow Chapel.”
7. Thomas Prince, “The People of New England,” reprinted in A. W. Plumstead, ed., The Wall and the Garden: Selected Massachusetts Election Sermons 1670–1775 (Minneapolis, Minn., 1968), 184–220.
8. See Francis J. Bremer, “Would John Adams Have Called John Winthrop a ‘Founding Father’?” Common-place, vol. 4, no. 3 (April 2004),
9. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1 ser. 1 (1830):434–435.
10. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1 ser. 18 (1880):241.
11. Boston Daily Advertiser, Sept. 18, 1880. The newspaper account is clear about the participation of the members of the Massachusetts Historical Society. However, a report to the Society at its October 1880 meeting claimed that “Our Society did not avail itself of the offered privilege of appearing together in a body, but was well represented by its members, as individuals appears in their assigned places as special guests in recognition of their other relations to the national government, the State, or the city.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1 ser. 18 (1880):242.
12. Boston Daily Advertiser, September 18, 1880.
13. Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Boston (Boston, 1880), 119–148.
14. Boston Daily Advertiser, Sept. 17, 1880. A month later, Robert C. Winthrop spoke at the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the First Church of Boston. Celebration, 148.
15. John Gorham Palfrey, History of New England During the Stuart Dynasty (Boston, 1860), 2:267.
16. Letter of John Greenleaf Whittier to Robert Rantoul, Jan. 26, 1880, published in the Boston Evening Transcript, June 19, 1880.
17. Charles Francis Adams, Three Episodes in Massachusetts History (Boston, 1892), 465–466.
18. Mencken quoted in Francis J. Bremer, introduction to Samuel Eliot Morison, Those Misunderstood Puritans (North Brookfield, Mass., 1992), 3.
19. George Bancroft, History of the United States of America: From the Discovery of the Continent (1852; New York, 1882), 1:221, 234.
20. For this broader story, see: Jan C. Dawson, The Unusable Past: America’s Puritan Tradition, 1830 to 1930 (Chico, Calif., 1984); Jan C. Dawson, “Puritanism in American Thought and Society: 1865–1910,” New England Quarterly 53 (1980):508–526; and John Seelye, Memory’s Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1998).
21. Official Chronicle and Tribute Book (Boston, 1930), 8–10.
22. Official Chronicle, 8.
23. Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary Bulletin, no. 6, February 1928.
24. Celebrating a 300th Anniversary: A Report of the Massachusetts Bay Tercentenary of 1930 (Boston, 1931), 17.
25. Celebrating, 23.
26. Herbert Parker Papers, Massachusetts Archives, folder 2. These were the musicians that Fiedler organized into the Boston Pops in that same year. Thomas H. O’Connor, Eminent Bostonians (Cambridge, Mass., 2002), 106.
27. Tercentenary News of 1930, no. 20 (September 1928).
28. News of 1930 Tercentenary Bulletin, no. 14 (September 1928).
29. A Reference Guide to Salem, 1630, rev. ed. (Salem, 1935), 5.
30. The emphasis on folkways and everyday life is evident in the 52 page Reference Guide available to visitors, which even included sewing patterns for those who wished to make their own replica pioneer clothing.
31. Dorothy B. Wexler, Reared in a Greenhouse: The Stories–and Story–of Dorothy Winthrop Bradford (New York, 1998), 238.
32. Souvenir of the Pageant at the Pioneer Village (Salem, 1930).
33. The replica of the Arbella returned to Salem after the Tercentenary. It was eventually beached outside the Pioneer Village, where this author saw it many years ago. When it became a haunt for youths indulging in various questionable activities, the city destroyed it.
34. Thomas H. O’Connor, The Boston Irish: A Political History (Boston, 1995), 188.
35. Curley quoted in O’Connor, Boston Irish, 188.
36. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston (Boston, 1930), 32–38.
37. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston, 131–139.
38. Katharine was an outstanding tennis player who would win national championships in indoor women’s doubles in 1938, 1942, and 1944, and capture the national single’s championship in 1944. Lawrence Shaw Mayo, The Winthrop Family in America (Boston, 1948), 434.
39. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston, 140–142.
40. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston, 143–170.
41. Charles Edwards Park, Commemoration of the Tercentenary in Lancaster, Massachusetts, June 8, 1930 (Lancaster, Mass., 1930), 5, 11, 12.
42. John Winthrop: First Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1929), 2, 13.
43. Coolidge’s address is in Celebrating, 18.
44. “The Massachusetts Bay Colony and the General Court,” 71st Congress, 2nd session, Senate Document No. 135, presented by Mr. Walsh of Massachusetts, 22.
45. In the years leading up to the tercentenary, Kenneth B. Murdock had published a sympathetic biography of the elder Mather, Increase Mather, the Foremost American Puritan (Cambridge, Mass., 1925).
46. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston, 300–303.
47. Celebrating, 125.
48. Morison, Misunderstood Puritans, 9.
49. Tercentenary of the Founding of Boston, 220–240. As something of an insulting afterthought, Mayor Curley had addressed a letter to “President, MHS” on August 11, inviting the Society to participate in the parade. Tercentenary File, Massachusetts Historical Society.
50. Photos of the Tercentenary Exposition, Massachusetts Archives.
51. The General Court of Massachusetts, 1630–1930: Tercentenary Exercises (Boston, 1930), 14.
52. Morison, Misunderstood Puritans, 9.
53. Boston Globe, Jan. 28, 1980.
54. Boston Globe, Jan. 28, 1980.
55. All information on the programs, unless otherwise noted, is drawn from Jubilee 350: Boston’s Official Guide and Chronicle (Boston, 1980). The cover featured a picture of Paul Revere and Old North Church.
56. New England Begins: The Seventeenth Century (Boston, 1982), xii, l.
57. Oscar Handlin, “Introduction: Celebration and Rededication,” Official Guide, 37.
58. Robert Taylor, “Athens and After,” Official Guide, 58.
59. The “Heroes and Heroines” section of the Official Guide featured essays on John Singer Sargent, John L. Sullivan, William Blackstone, Daniel McCray, Edward Filene, Henry Lee Higginson, Anne Hutchinson, David Walker, James T. Fields, John Boyle O’Reilly, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone, and George Apley (the last a fictional creation of novelist John P. Marquand).
60. The essay on Anne Hutchinson was authored by novelist Mercy Heldish.
61. For what is known about Blackstone see Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620–1633, Volume I (Boston, 1995), 177–181.
62. Official Guide, 66.
63. Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 91 (1979): 254, and 92 (1980):178; Louis Leonard Tucker to Francis Bremer, April 5, 2003. I would like to thank Dr. Tucker for his recollections.
64. Prior to leaving for the nation’s capitol to take the oath of office, President-elect John F. Kennedy addressed the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Jan. 9, 1961. He invoked Winthrop to say that just as had been true of that early Massachusetts leader, the eyes of all people would be upon him and all those who governed America.
65. Reagan often used the “City on a Hill” image to close his speeches. See, for instance, his speech to the First Conservative Political Action Conference on Jan. 25, 1974; his official announcement of his candidacy for presidency on Nov. 13, 1979; his acceptance speech at the Republican nominating convention in 1984; and his radio farewell address to the nation. In a somewhat peculiar rejoinder to Reagan’s appropriation of the “city on a hill” image, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo mixed Winthrop with Dickens and told the 1984 Democratic national convention that rather than “a city on a hill,” America had become a “Tale of Two Cities.”
66. Michael Dukakis drew on Winthrop in evoking the former governor’s call to care for one another and make one another’s conditions our own. In the 2004 presidential campaign, Vermont’s Gov. Howard Dean drew on Winthrop’s “Christian Charity” in speeches. Sen. John F. Kerry, who is a direct descendant of John Winthrop on his mother’s side, has not referred to his ancestor or used Winthrop’s words.
67. Joyce Chaplin, “Expansion and Exceptionalism in Early American History,” Journal of American History 89 (2003):4, 6.
68. Office of the Mayor to Herbert Parker, Nov. 4, 1930, in Herbert Parker Papers, Massachusetts Archives, folder 7.







Are you passionate about history?

Share that passion with the world. Join us: Contribute to History Cooperative