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For All Nails #195: Historiae Virorum Illustrorum Novangliae

By David Mix Barrington

[The following are excerpts from Historiae Virorum Illustrorum Novangliae (Stories of Famous Men of New England), a school Latin reader published in 1903 by Athenaeum Press of Boston. I have here included five of the 84 biographical sketches in the book -- three more are included in the vignette Uncommon Women. I hope to translate and present others in the future. Alert FAN readers may recognize that several of my footnotes in previous postings, particularly The Yanks are Revolting, were taken from this book. (DAMB)]


The problem of Latin education in our schools is well known. Fewer than a third of the applicants to Harvard College in 1902 reached the required standard on the Latin entrance examination, and other measures of our youth's performance have been equally disappointing. I have argued elsewhere that the fault lies not in our students but in ourselves, in our methods of pedagogy. Only the most brilliant student, after a year's study of a standard grammar, will be ready to leap directly into the original works of Caesar and Nepos. Reading and translating Latin is a skill that must be exercised and developed gradually, just as an athlete must begin by running short distances or throwing small weights. The present volume is the second in a series of graded Latin readers,following on my earlier work Via Latina. My goal is to present texts that increase gradually in difficulty, from those readable with only the meanest understanding of the basic grammar to those that imitate the style and use the vocabulary of Caesar and Nepos themselves. FN1

While the subject matter of Via Latina was the history and culture of ancient Rome, the stories here present brief biographies of important figures in the history of the New England colonies and provinces. Why use the language of ancient Rome to write about more recent events? I have found throughout my years of teaching that boys are profoundly interested in stories that explain things in their daily lives, and that are connected to their other subjects of study. My boys at Roxbury Latin School take the streetcar to Dudley Square, attend dances at Margaret Fuller Academy, and play football against Bishop Emerson Academy. Behind each of these names is the story of the man for which the institution was named. In Boston we cannot but walk among the shadows of the past, shadows of the men who shaped not only our own small provinces but the history of an entire continent, since both our great nation and its great neighbor can trace their roots here. When augmented eventually by the words of the ancient Romans, these stories show us that men and nations are much the same now as they were then. The clash of Marius against Sulla or Pompey against Caesar is echoed by that of Burgoyne against Jefferson or Gilpin against Everett. The forms of republican government were perverted to tyranny in Rome in the century before Christ, in Massachusetts in my own youth, and in Mexico until only very recently. We must never forget how these things occurred, nor yet forget the ideals of the men who forged the laws that, God willing, have always eventually been restored to secure the freedom of the many against the few.

My subjects have been chosen from all those persons born within the five New England provinces, together with a few born elsewhere whose notable careers took place here. Despite the strict meaning of my title, I have taken the liberty of including several famous women. Girls are quite as capable as boys in the learning of Latin (perhaps more capable, to judge by the examination scores from Fuller Academy) and deserve to hear of heroines of their own. I have chosen figures of both wide and idiosyncratic renown, some of the latter of special interest to my own school. Each side of the great civil controversies of 1775 and 1840 is well represented by the stories of its adherents. I have made every effort to do so with justice to the historical record.

I have space to thank only a few of the many friends and colleagues who have helped me in this endeavor. Professor William Cocke of Harvard College has been my primary advisor on historical matters, and Clarence W. Gleason of my own school has been my guide in matters of Latin usage and pedagogy. Since I have largely followed the practice of the Roman Catholic church in the Latin terminology for such post-classical things as frigates and telegraphs, I have benefited enormously from the advice of my former student Father William Kennedy of St. Margaret-Mary's Church in Braintree. Finally I thank the many Roxbury Latin boys who have used and commented upon prior versions of this work. Of course the responsibility for any errors of any kind rests upon me rather than upon any of these worthies.

William Coe Collar FN2
Headmaster, Roxbury Latin School
Roxbury, Massachusetts, NC, CNA
16 March 1903

Abigail Adams: Founding Mother of Mexico[]

Abigail Smith was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in 1744, her father a Congregational minister and her mother a member of the well-established Quincy family. At the age of twenty she married the ambitious young lawyer John Adams, who was a step down socially for a Quincy but proved to be her true soulmate for fourteen years. As John built his practice and gradually became involved in politics, Abigail bore him five children and maintained their farm in Braintree. In 1776 John traveled to Philadelphia to represent Massachusetts in the Continental Congress. Abigail's letters to him there provide a moving picture of her life on the farm and the depth of the couple's love for each other. They also display the beginnings of the political ideas for which Abigail is now best remembered. John returned to Massachusetts in 1777 and was preparing a daring mission to represent the Patriot cause in Europe when the news of Burgoyne's victory shattered that cause's hopes. As support for the Rebellion collapsed, a Loyalist mob burned the Adams farm and John was arrested on a charge of treason. He made the journey to England in chains, accompanied by Abigail and their eldest son John Quincy. Despite the young colonial's eloquent pleas for her husband's life, which won considerable sympathy in the London press, John was hanged in January 1779.

Returning to America, Abigail joined the thousands of Patriots organizing the Wilderness Walk to create a new society on the frontier. Fortuitously, she and her children were too late to join Arnold's doomed expedition to what is now Southern Vandalia, and instead became part of the largely Southern migration to the nascent nation of Jefferson. The trip was full of hardships, the most tragic of which was the loss of her second son Charles to disease, but the young widow finally reached her goal and settled near the town of Lafayette. As the new nation organized itself, Abigail's voice was prominent in its councils in spite of her sex, on account of the Walkers' respect both for her late husband and for the courage she had shown on the journey. The Charter of Rights of the State of Jefferson formed part of the Lafayette Constitution, and within it was a clause adopted at Abigail's urging: "The State shall respect the Right of any Woman to speak in open Court, to hold Property without regard to that of her Husband, and to be held Equal before the Law." In her later writings she suggested that women should even be allowed to vote, but this idea was never considered seriously during her lifetime. Hailed as the "Mother of Her Country", Abigail lived in Lafayette until 1811, when (as her health began to fail) she joined her son John Quincy in Jefferson City. She died in 1813, too soon to know of John Quincy's fateful mission to Mexico on behalf of Governor Hamilton. But what was possibly her greatest impact came long after her death, when the women of Jefferson and then of all Mexico formed Abigail Adams Brigades to urge the extension of the franchise to them. Women first voted in local and state elections in Jefferson in 1872, and in the Mexican national election of 1893. FN3 It is only to be hoped that in our own, supposedly more enlightened nation, this sensible reform will soon be adopted. FN4

Bishop Ralph Waldo Emerson: Thinker and Leader[]

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston in 1803, into a family famous for producing Congregationalist clergymen. His father William was the Unitarian leader of the First Independent Church of Boston. Like his colleagues William Ellery Channing and Theodore Parker, William preached that Jesus was an enlightened human being rather than God incarnate. However he never followed these men into the Church of England, preserving his independence until his death in 1811. Young Waldo naturally took up Unitarian Anglican ideas when he entered Harvard College in 1817, leaving in 1821 with a mediocre academic record but several prizes for oratory. He worked as a schoolteacher while attending the Divinity School, taking holy orders in 1826 and assuming the pulpit of St. John the Divine Church in Boston. Waldo loved public speaking and the interplay of ideas involved in writing his sermons, but otherwise he seemed unsuited to parish life. His attention increasingly turned to his public lectures on philosophy, and his book of essays The Infinitude of Private Man won him considerable acclaim across North America and even overseas. In 1838, uncomfortable with both the purely ritual aspects of the Anglican priesthood and the notion of the Church's theological authority, he resigned his pulpit and sailed to England for an extended lecture tour. Here his growing friendship with Wordsworth, Carlyle, and Dickens was interrupted in 1840 by the news of the great civil disturbances in Massachusetts. His eloquent plea for the Church to intervene on behalf of the oppressed workers led the Archbishop of Canterbury to send him back home, with the title of Bishop of Boston to protect him from any reprisals. He opened the doors of all Anglican churches as sanctuaries for any who would lay down their arms, saving thousands of lives. His public speeches had some effect in moderating the excesses of Gilpin's imposed provincial government and helped lead to the restoration of popular rule in 1842.

These events led to a major shift in Bishop Emerson's philosophy. "Truth, love, and justice," he famously argued, "may appear in the guise of any religion or of none. Falsehood, hate, and injustice may appear in the guise of any religion or of none. Those who honor the former must unite, both in religious communities with those who share their particular faith and across those communities with all men of good will." The practical consequence of this doctrine was that Emerson threw himself into both the administration of the diocese and channels of cooperation with other faiths. He greatly strengthened the Anglican parochial education system, establishing liberal arts colleges (such as Hooker in Massachusetts and St. George's in Rhode Island) and a system of secondary schools open to all by competitive examination. He also expanded programs to aid the destitute, working particularly in cooperation with Roman Catholics among New England's growing immigrant population. He continued to preach and to lecture and publish on philosophical issues as well. The authority of the church, he argued, "is not theological but moral. The teachings of Jesus should be studied alongside those of Plato, of Gautama, of Mahomet, and of the Chinese sages, and each man should learn from these teachings according to the dictates of his own conscience. What makes us true Christians, true Anglicans, or true North Americans is the way we act in the world to uphold the wisdom of all these teachings." Retiring in 1868 from the active administration of the diocese, Emerson settled on a large estate in Concord where he remained, except for lecture tours, until his death in 1882. Residents of Massachusetts know the name of Bishop Emerson best from the great Academy built near his home in Concord. The annual conference of the Church of North America is now held every summer in the resort town of Emerson, Manitoba, near Marlborough City. FN5 And there are not one but three Emerson Colleges, situated in Manitoba, Southern Vandalia, and New Zealand.

Governor Edward Everett: Martyr for Massachusetts[]

Edward Everett was born in 1794 in Dorchester, Massachusetts (now part of Boston), the son of a former Congregational minister. At the age of seventeen he graduated first in his class from Harvard College. Torn between the competing charms of the ministry, law, and scholarship, he first took up the pulpit of the independent Unitarian Brattle Street Church in Cambridge but then in 1815 resigned to become Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard. FN6 In 1821 Everett's friend Daniel Webster was elected Governor of the Northern Confederation by the Northern Confederation Council. As part of his overall program, he asked Everett to lead a commission to propose changes to the Council's procedures to make it more effective as a "national" legislature. (These were planned to revise and extend the reforms of 1810 which had expanded the Council from a simple coordinating committee, with one delegate from each province, to a larger and more truly representative body.) The commission's recommendations were adopted in toto in 1824, and served eventually as the primary model for the creation of the Grand Council of the entire C.N.A. in the Second Design of 1842. Everett was elected as a delegate from Masschusetts to the N.C. Council in 1825 and served for ten years, working closely with Webster on both internal and external matters. He returned in 1835 to seek and win election as Governor of Massachusetts. Under his leadership the province established a pioneering Board of Education, undertook a comprehensive scientific survey of its territory and resources, and instituted inprovements both to Boston harbor and to the road and railway networks. He was re-elected without serious opposition in both 1837 and 1839 in spite of the general economic decline.

During his third term the problem of labor unrest increasingly dominated the provincial government's attention. The Laborer's Alliance, an outgrowth of Freund's Grand Consolidated Union of Workers, attempted to win concessions from employers -- primarily through strikes and non-intercourse agreements but increasingly enforcing its will through violence and intimidation. In response, employers formed private military forces to escort strikebreakers into work sites. When these groups began attacking laborer's meetings and breaking up peaceful demonstrations, however, general violence began to escalate. On 28 August 1840 over 100 men were killed in a street battle in Andersontown, Massachusetts, most of them Consolidated demonstrators set upon by Anderson Textiles' "escort force", which in turn was mostly made up of members recruited from the Hennessey and Wright criminal organizations. FN7 Everett ordered the provincial militia to enforce order in the city, and when the Anderson force resisted the militia Everett declared martial law in Andersontown and sent to New York to ask Webster for military support. As fate and an assassin's dagger would have it, however, Everett's request reached not Webster but the new Governor, Henry Gilpin. Gilpin not only sent the N.C. Army to both Andersontown and Boston but swore in those very Anderson escort forces as auxiliary N.C. troops and dissolved the Massachusetts legislature, which he claimed was in league with the demonstrators. Everett's strong protest resulted only in his being placed under house arrest and held incommunicado as the army/auxiliary reign of terror began. Over eight thousand men were killed in Massachusetts alone before N.C. Governor Dix restored the provincial government in 1842. The end of the terror came too late, however, for Governor Everett himself. Although most historians agree he was not physically mistreated by his captors, the conditions of his house arrest were indeed spartan. In July of 1841 a cholera epidemic swept Boston, aided by the complete breakdown of social order, and claimed the 47-year-old governor among its victims. The military authorities had no choice but to allow a public funeral, at which Bishop Emerson spoke, and the enormous peaceful outpouring of support and grief helped demonstrate popular opposition to the occupation. This helped lead to Gilpin's decision to allow Massachusetts to take part in the N.C. election of 1842 that eventually ended his regime (though of course by that time he had become Governor-General of the C.N.A.). Edward Everett gives his name to Everett Square and the Everett Public Library in Boston, to the town of Fort Everett in Southern Vandalia, FN8 and to Lake Everett in Manitoba. A mural of his death, with Bishop Emerson holding his hands in prayer (although in historical fact Emerson was not present at the occasion), stands directly behind the rostrum of the Massachusetts Legislative Assembly chamber in Boston.

Jeremiah Hazard: Maine's Naval Hero[]

Jeremiah Preble Hazard was born in Arundel, Maine (then part of the colony of Massachusetts) in 1755. He spent most of his youth on boats and ships of various kinds, "coming ashore only to study mathematics" in his father's words. He earned an appointment as a midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1770 and served with distinction in wars against the Dutch and various pirates. In 1784 Governor-General Clinton of the Northern Confederation invited Captain Hazard to return home and supervise the establishment of the Royal N.C. Navy. He had heavy frigates constructed, one in each major seaport, including his flagship Confederation built in Falmouth. Hazard's fleet was put to the test when war broke out with France and Spain in August of 1795. The enemy devised a plan to assault the mouth of Chesapeake Bay with a large fleet, hoping to take the city of Norfolk and encourage a general revolt among dissidents in Virginia. On 12 April 1796, Hazard in Confederation was in personal command of the N.C. Navy's southern squadron of fourteen ships, five of them frigates. Suddenly one of Hazard's ships sighted the enemy fleet, consisting of four ships of the line, eight frigates, and twelve other ships. Coordinating their actions with a signal system of Hazard's design, the vastly outnumbered N.C. fleet attacked, beginning the Battle of Craney Island. Early in the fight a Spanish cannonball reached the powder magazine of Confederation and detonated it, with the loss of all aboard. The N.C. fleet did considerable damage to the French and Spanish, and more importantly delayed their invasion until a powerful British and S.C. force arrived and routed the enemy near Craney Island, preventing the invasion and preserving British rule in North America.

Hazard's heroism and final sacrifice were reported to the world by the young Scottish Captain Thomas Cochrane, who in his sloop Diana (a British ship seconded to Hazard's squadron) first boarded and took a Spanish frigate, then rallied the survivors of the squadron. This was of course the same Cochrane whose brilliant career eventually made him Admiral of the (British) Fleet and the first Duke of Annapolis. Hazard's name is now counted as the greatest in the history of the (now combined) Royal North American Navy. The battleship Jeremiah Hazard patrols the Atlantic today from its base in Norfolk where Hazard (the former Craney) Island and the Hazard River also bear his name. There are Hazard Counties in both his home province of Maine and in Southern Vandalia, and Fort Hazard guards the harbor of Mobile in Georgia.

Philip Lodge: General of the Rocky Mountain War[]

Philip Lodge was born in Boston in 1804, into a family already prominent in shipowning and public affairs. Always interested in military matters, Philip surprised his family by joining the East India Company as an army officer and served with distinction there until he returned to North America in 1832. When in 1839 the Northern Confederation needed to assemble an army rapidly to confront the Indian uprising in Indiana, the experienced Lodge was a natural choice to be its commanding general. He again served with distinction at the battle of Michigan City and at the successful defense of Fort Radisson, and won the lifelong friendship of General Winfield Scott. In 1840 the standing Northern Confederation army, still commanded by Lodge, was ordered by N.C. Governor Henry Gilpin to assist private forces in suppressing unrest by workers' unions. Rather than lead the army against his own people, Lodge resigned his commission and worked politically to end the bloodshed. In 1843 he won election as a Liberal to the first Grand Council under the Second Design.

He opposed war with Mexico, but when war broke out in 1845 he resigned his seat in the Council and took command of the N.C. component of the North American Army. Lodge was initially successful in securing the disputed South Park region of Southern Vandalia and (following Gilpin's plan) drove south into Mexico del Norte toward the city of Conyers. He was then met in March 1846 by a much larger Mexican force and suffered major defeats at Arroyo Hondo and Arroyo de Dios. FN9 His critics say that he was too cautious and was repeatedly out-thought by his opponent Running Deer, but others say that, like Uriah in the Old Testament, he was deliberately sent into the thickest part of the fray with inadequate support by a commander, Gilpin, who was his enemy. Seriously wounded during Gilpin's ill-advised second drive on Conyers, Lodge returned to Boston. Returning to duty in 1848, he was ordered to attack Conyers a third time but fell ill and relinquished his command to General Chapin, who was also defeated by Running Deer, this time at Four Man Ditch. FN10 Retiring to his family home in Boston, Lodge died in 1857. The city of Fort Lodge, capital of Southern Vandalia, is only the most notable of many sites named in his honor.

David Mix Barrington (with thanks to Johnny, Matt, Noel, and Tom)

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