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subversive movement been taken, than our town votes its entire disapprobation of the traitorous scheme, and offers to pay any soldiers who would volunteer to put it down. Young men went, and they were paid accordingly.
The Constitution of the United States was adopted by Massachusetts, Feb. 6, 1788, in its Legislature, by a vote of 187 yeas. There were 168 nays. This memorable instrument, which, among its other agencies, was to establish an equitable system of taxation, regulate trade, and secure property, was also to inaugurate order and peace, to foster commerce, encourage agriculture, and promote useful arts. Our ancestors felt satisfied with its provisions, and were not disappointed in its promises.
At this time arose the two great parties, the “ Federalists” and “ Antifederalists; " the one supporting, and the other opposing, our present Constitution. The name “ Antifederalist " was soon dropped, and that of “ Republican ” substituted.
Provided with two constitutions, one for their native State, and the other for their country, the time had now arrived for the organization of a general government; and the citizens of the United States now collect in their several towns, and, for the first time, give in their votes for a President of the Republic. The ballot for electors was unanimous, and stood thus, in Medford, Dec. 18, 1788:
Hon. Judge Dana
... 25 | Gen. John Brooks ... 24
The government of the country being now administered by President Washington with wisdom, power, and economy, several years of quietness and prosperity gave rest to the public mind. Our town had little else to do than accord with the general acts of Congress. When the Father of his Country chose to decline a third election to the Presidency, the preference of our town for Mr. Adams, as his successor, was unequivocally shown; and when this patriot stood candidate a second time, and was successfully opposed by Mr. Jefferson, Medford, Nov. 7, 1796, adhered to the son of Massachusetts, in a unanimous vote of 41, given for Benjamin Hall, as elector.
The death of General Washington, in December, 1799, touched every American heart as a family bereavement. Its announcement came to every one as a paralytic shock, and
each one felt as if his strength had been suddenly withdrawn. No sooner had the mournful tidings reached Medford, than the inhabitants came together, and, Jan. 2, 1800, expressed their sorrow at the sad event, resolving by vote,
“That the town will pay suitable respect to the memory of the late General George Washington; and that a Committee of eleven be chosen to make the proper arrangements.”
In the printed order of services, “evincive of their deep regret," the Committee request as follows:
“1. At one o'clock, P.M., the stores and shops of the town to be shut. The bell is to toll from one o'clock till the procession shall arrive at the meeting house. The inhabitants to assemble at Union Hall, with a black crape or ribbon upon the left arm, above the elbow, as mourning. The scholars of the town school to join the procession in a body. The procession to move at two o'clock, under the direction of the Committee.
“ 2. Females, of all ages, are requested to wear black ribbons, and to be seated in the meeting-house before the arrival of the procession.
“ 3. Male strangers are requested to join the procession.
“ 4. After the procession is seated, music, suited to the occasion.
“ 5. Prayer, by the Rev. Dr. Osgood.
Every thing was thus done by the town which could express grief at the loss, or respect for the memory, of the venerated chief. General John Brooks, the companion in arms of the illustrious warrior, and one of his favorite friends, was the person, of all others, to deliver the public eulogy; and it was done on the thirteenth of January. On that day all business was suspended as on the sacred sabbath, the shops closed, the flags at half-mast, the meeting-house robed in black, and every inhabitant dressed in mourning apparel ; and these badges were continued for thirty days. In forming the funeral procession, the children of the town preceded; the military, with muffled drums, were in attendance, as an escort; and the officers of the town, the chaplain, and the orator, were accompanied by strangers of distinction. The meeting-house, as the writer well remembers, was crowded to its utmost capacity; and the funeral music and impressive prayers were in proper keeping with the solemnities of the commemoration. The eulogy, prepared in a short time, was the outflowing of a warm and afflicted heart. It was written in plain, strong language, and narrated, with lucid order, the prominent facts in Washington's life, and the salient features of his character. It was printed with the following titlepage:
“ An Eulogy on General Washington, delivered before the inhabitants of the town of Medford, agreeably to their vote, and at the request of their Committee, on the 13th of January, 1800. By John Brooks, A.M., M.M.S., and A.A.S. Printed by Samuel Hall, No. 53, Cornhill, Boston.”
We give a few extracts, and select the following because they are short:
“ The interjunction of public eulogies with funeral solemnities is a practice neither novel nor unusual. Emanating from the strength and poignance of grief for departed merit, it is the expression of an affection of the human heart which may be beneficially indulged. ... Vain would be the attempts of the most accomplished eulogist to do justice to a character so transcendently illustrious as that of our late dear and much-loved Washington. ... So long as wisdom shall be revered, talents command respect, or virtue inspire esteem, so long will the American breast exult that he was a native of this western world. ... After the wanton conflagration and capture of our sister Charlestown, and the untimely death of the hopeful Warren, the animating presence of Washington, who was received by our army at Cambridge, in July, 1775, elevated the drooping spirits of the troops, then forming the tardy blockade of Boston. Without discipline, badly armed, and destitute of artillery and every description of military stores, no operations against the enemy could be warrantably undertaken until the spring of the year 1776. In consequence of the approaches which better supplies had enabled the army to make against the enemy, General Washington then compelled them to abandon our capital. ... He maintained, through all vicissitudes, a virtuous empire over the affections of his countrymen. ... General Washington, in whom were combined the fine polish of Attic refinement with the sternness of Spartan virtue, resisted their solicitations with address, and their menaces with firmness; and the faithful guardian of his country's safety and honor, obeying the dictates of a severe but imposing policy, assigned the hapless André to the destiny of a spy.... Such is the structure and imbecility of the human mind, that praise is exceedingly prone to destroy its equilibrium; but the Aristides, as well as the Fabius, of the age, neither despondent in adversity nor elated with success, preserved a philosophical equanimity amid the most copious effusions of enthusiasm and panegyric; and when a Cæsar would have assumed the purple, or a Cromwell usurped the protectorship, he resigned with eagerness the proud insignia of command, and converted the splendid weapons of war into the humble implements of the arts of peace. ... The name of Washington is pronounced with pleasure and with pride by the people of every civilized nation on earth. ... Thus was our much-loved friend, the FATHER OF HIS COUNTRY, great in war, great in peace, great in life, and great in the moment of his dissolution. ... What though his once manly, graceful form be now mingling with its native dust; yet WASHINGTON still lives immortal. Yes : he lives in his matchless example; he lives in those lessons of wisdom that flowed from his pen; he lives in our hearts, and in the hearts of a grateful country; he lives, transporting thought! resplendent in glory, in the realms of ceaseless day.”
The Rev. Dr. Osgood preached an appropriate sermon to his people on the great subject; the town voted to print it, and to append to it Washington's "Farewell Address," and then to give a copy to each family in town. When February 22 arrived, the meeting-house in Medford was open for religious exercises, and the day was kept as sacred.
During the presidential canvass, in 1800, party lines began to assume definiteness, and that great contest of parties arose which has vexed and steadied the nation ever since. Medford took strongly the side of opposition to the policy of Mr. Jefferson and his immediate successor, and sustained the State government in a similar course. When the embargo of 1807 was laid, the people of Medford felt indignant. So near the sea, and so dependent on commerce, they became great sufferers. The sloop and schooner craft of our river became liable to irritating detentions on their shortest coastwise trips, and could not undertake any profitable trade. Commerce, for the time, was struck dead. Fishermen could not sell their fish, or carry them where a market could be had; men unaccustomed to manufactures could not engage in them with profit; agriculture could be rendered available only in small degrees ; merchants, who would have had cargoes in every clime, were anchored in idleness per force ; mechanics, whom commerce fed, were reduced to want; and, in short, a general paralysis struck down the labor and enter. prise of the North. By recurring to the votes for Governor and members of Congress, during these two or three years, it will be seen how almost unanimously the inhabitants of
Medford went against the plans and policy of the central government.
When the war with Great Britain was declared, June 18, 1812, the town of Medford took decisive stand against this measure of Mr. Madison, and in their opposition were cheered and strengthened by their pastor, who seized every occasion that offered to hurl the thunders of the Old and New Testament, and his own also, upon the authors of the “ abominable wickedness." The country sustained the government; and the good effects which were anticipated from this series of measures showed themselves at last, and are now making New England rich and strong. The “ Hartford Convention,” which was called in the midst of the country's struggle and gloom, December, 1814, had one member from Medford. That convention was supposed to be patriotic and wise in its inception, but is now believed by many to have ended in words and smoke.
The selection of General John Brooks, as candidate for the office of Governor of Massachusetts, gratified the people of Medford; and, if party ties could have been sundered, it is believed he would have received the vote of every individual in the town. As it was, few only voted against him; and, through seven elections, Medford stood by its son with unaltered affection. His refusal to continue in office cast a gloom through every family. Never was a man more truly or justly beloved. During his administration, Medford seemed to be the head of the Commonwealth.
The coming into Medford of ship-carpenters who belonged to the Democratic party, and the gradual change of policy in the national administration, both helped to change the forces of town politics. As parties became more equally divided among us, the warmth of conflict increased; and, on some occasions, it was fearfully great. The two parties wore several names between the administrations of Mr. Monroe and Mr. Van Buren ; but Medford became as fully and strongly “Democratic” as it had once been “ Federal.” The first time a plurality was obtained by the Democratic party in Medford was April, 1828 ; and they lost it in 1854.
The multiplication and mixture of new issues in politics have so broken society into divisions, and crumbled it into fragments, that old-fashioned patriots are confounded, and withdraw from the conflict altogether. A signboard, planted at the entrance of several roads, would not be a very safe