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The procession soon arrived at General Brooks's house, escorted by the Medford Light Infantry; and, after the introduction of a few friends, dinner was announced.
The dinner was a private one, in the Governor's house, and about twenty only were present. There was a witty discussion at table about the origin of the word hurrah. General Lafayette said, “I know not whence it came; but, in Massachusetts, I have learned where it has got to.” Of all the persons at that table, the writer of this alone survives.
The closing sickness of the patriot was neither long nor full of pain. He bore it with calm acquiescence; and spoke of it with gratitude, as affording him an opportunity for reviewing his career, and for striking the balance in life's great ledger. He said to his cousin : “My case is beyond physicians. I have received my orders: I am ready to march.” The lamp of religion was within him trimmed and burning, and he believed that his life was hid with Christ in God. Never has there died among us a man so widely known, so highly honored, so truly beloved, or so deeply lamented.
His printed compositions were few. The first public oration delivered by him was printed with this title, “ An Oration delivered to the Society of the Cincinnati, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: July 4, 1787. By John Brooks, Esq.” This is just such an oration as a sensible and patriotic officer, fresh from the fields of conquest, would deliver to his fellow-officers on the Fourth of July,
When President Monroe visited Boston in 1817, he said he had “read the inaugural speech of Governor Brooks with entire approbation; ” and then added, “I am willing to take the principles of that speech as the basis of my admini. stration."
After the death of the Governor, which occurred March 1, 1825, the Massachusetts Medical Society, of which he was then President, took notice of the event in the most appropriate manner. The next day, March 2, the Councillors of that Society passed the following:
“ Resolved, That the Councillors regard with deep sensibility the loss by death of the late President of the Society, the Hon. John Brooks, and that they feel assured they shall express the sentiments of the Society, as they do their own, in stating that the Society has derived honor from having had at their head a man
beloved in private life, justly respected in his profession, and distinguished in his state and country for the faithful and honorable performance of high military and civil duties.
* Resolved, That the Councillors ask permission to attend the obsequies of their late President, both for themselves and the other members of the Society.
“ Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to wait on the family, and express to them the sentiments of the Councillors on the bereavement."
The granite pyramid which stands in the old buryingground has the following inscription :
“Sacred to the memory of John Brooks, who was born in Medford, in the month of May, 1752, and educated at the town-school. He took up arms for his country on the 19th of April, 1775. He commanded the regiment which first entered the enemies' lines at Saratoga, and served with honor to the end of the war. He was appointed Marshal of the District of Massachusetts by President Washington; and, after filling several important civil and military offices, he was, in the year 1816, chosen Governor of the Commonwealth, and discharged the duties of that station for seven successive years to general acceptance. He was a kind and skilful physician; a brave and prudent officer; a wise, firm, and impartial magistrate; a true patriot, a good citizen, and a faithful friend. In his manners, he was a gentleman ; in morals, pure; and in profession and practice, a consistent Christian. He departed this life in peace, on the 1st of March, 1825, aged seventy-three. This monument to his honored memory was erected by several of his fellowcitizens and friends, in the year 1838.”
POLITICAL HISTORY. MEDFORD takes a rich share in the political honors of the country. At an early date, it expressed its determination to preserve inviolate the rights and privileges secured to the colony by the charter of 1629. When the four colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven united, May 19, 1643, under the name of “ The United Colonies of New England,” their politics and patriotism
seem to expand together. This fraternal bond was especially strengthened in our ancestors' hearts, when, by the charter of Oct. 7, 1691, Plymouth was annexed to Massachusetts.
May 10, 1643: The General Court say “that the whole plantation, within this jurisdiction, is divided into four shires; to wit, Essex, Norfolk, Middlesex, and Suffolk.” Each had eight towns, except Norfolk, which had six.
June 4, 1689: “Ensign Peter Tufts was chosen by the town as Representative, according to the Honorable Council's signification."
May 21, 1690 : “ Peter Tufts was chosen Deputy to attend the first session of the General Court, or until another shall be legally chosen.”
May 3, 1697: Voted to pay the Representative 18d. per day, during his services in the General Court."
The indignation of our fathers in Medford, at the oppressive taxation of Andross, was expressed by a fisherman, in a pointed figure drawn from his craft. Şir Edward Andross, belonging to that select political family of which Benedict Arnold was an accepted member, was sent by the king as a spy to New England in 1684. He gathered facts from his imagination, and returned to persuade the credulous royal government that the Colonies had forfeited their charter. This induced the king to appoint him “Governor-General and Vice-Admiral of New England, New York, and the Jerseys." He arrived in Boston, Dec. 29, 1686, and commenced, as despots generally do, with professions of friendship and patriotism. But he came prepared for trampling on the liberties of the people, by bringing with him power to enact laws, raise an army, impose taxes, and abolish the representative system. He thus destroyed townships, and said, “ There is no such thing as a town in the whole country.” He and his Council were vested with all legislative and executive powers. And thus the country mourned over their lost charter and fallen liberties. This tyrant contended that every owner of land must renew his title to it, and for his agency the most exorbitant fees were demanded. He levied taxes without any permission from the people or government, and punished cruelly those who refused to pay. The inhabitants of every town were forbidden to meet and exercise their corporate powers, except once a year : and they were told by the Judges, in open Court, “that they had no more privileges left them, than not to be sold for slaves.”
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The Anglo-Saxon blood of our Puritan Fathers could not brook this ; and they dared to more than think of relief. The great revolution of 1688, in the mother country, ending in the abdication of James, and the accession of William and Mary, afforded an encouraging example on this side the water. That example was promptly followed ; and on the morning of the 18th of April, 1689, the people rose in righteous revolt, seized their oppressor, secured him in prison, and destroyed his government. This was decisive New Englandism. He was soon sent back to London to be tried. Of this odious ruler, one of the Medford people said, “If Andross comes to Medford, we will treat him, not with shad or alewives, but a sword-fish.”
The loyalty of our fathers was seen in their holding days of public fasting and prayer when sorrow or defeat visited the mother country, and of holding days of thanksgiving when prosperity and triumph blessed the king. As an example, we would mention a day of rejoicing set apart in Medford, October 14, 1743, on account of victory gained by the English troops in Germany.
1753: Medford was fined £10 for omitting to send a representative to the General Court; but, January 10, 1754, this fine was remitted.
Our town, though small, did its share in Philip's War, and raised money and men to put down that intelligent and brave Indian enemy. The same spirit of liberty breathed in their souls at a later day; and, when the odious Stamp Act was proclaimed, the inhabitants of Medford came together, as with a rush, on the 21st of October, 1765, to express their sober convictions of its unconstitutionality and injustice. With entire unanimity, they addressed a letter to their representative, protesting against some former acts of Parliament, but most emphatically against “this most grievous of all acts, wherein a complication of those burdens and restraints are unhappily imposed, which will undeniably deprive us of those invaluable liberties and privileges which we, as freeborn Britons, have hitherto enjoyed.” Professing loyalty to their king and parliament, they nevertheless say, that, “whenever they require such an obedience from us as is incompatible with the enjoyment of our just liberties and properties, we cannot but arise and openly remonstrate against it. And this, we esteem, is so far from a spirit of rebellion and disloyalty in us, that to act the contrary would argue in us a
meanness and degeneracy of spirit much beneath the character of true Englishmen, and would therefore justly expose us to the contempt of all true lovers of liberty, both in Great Britain and America." — “Therefore we seriously enjoin it upon you, as our representative, that you be no ways aiding or assisting in the execution of said act.” This language, with them of prophecy, had a meaning almost as clear as it has with us of history. Their words have that political polarity which points at ultimate independence. If every little village in the Province was thus moved with quick indignation at the first instance of positive oppression, does it not prove the existence of a general sympathy and a united brotherhood which will be unconquerable ? Medford felt every pulsation of the central heart, and spoke openly what she felt, and was ready to act as nobly as she spoke. The above resolves and instructions of the town were among the first and firmest of the acts of resistance to royal oppression.
On the 18th of March, 1766, Parliament repealed the odious act by a vote of two hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and sixty-seven. The joy exhibited at Medford, on this event, was most intense, and was manifested by fireworks, ringing of bells, and jubilant dinners.
Parliament resumes taxation, June 29, 1767, asserting its right to “ bind the Colonies in all cases whatsoever.” Duties were laid on paper, tea, glass, and painters' colors. A custom-house was opened, and a civil list established; and the act provides, that, after ministerial warrants are satisfied, the residue of the revenue shall be at the disposal of Parliament. The trump of doom could not have caused a more general awakening. New England now was doubly alive.
The preparation-note was sounded in Medford, Dec. 21, 1772, in these words :
“ Voted to choose a Committee to take under consideration the grievances we labor under, and in particular of salaries said to be appointed by the Crown for our supreme judges; and also to draw up instructions for our representative relative thereto."
This signal-gun, fired from the battlements of liberty, gave not an “uncertain sound," as will be seen in the following acts of our patriotic fathers. Dec. 31, 1772:—
“ Voted that the thanks of the town of Medford be given to the respectable inhabitants of the town of Boston for their patriotic care