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Massachusetts is a Diva State, always has been

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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-22-11 05:46 PM
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Massachusetts is a Diva State, always has been
I spent part of my long break reading histories of many towns in Massachusetts that are now available on Google books. I have know of the existence of these Early 19th century history books since I was a young nerdish history fan, but to actually be able to read them is a huge treat.

Anyway, I thought you might enjoy this except on an 1860 book on the history of Winchendon, Ma. It is about the commencement of Shay's Rebellion and the trouble that brought to this small town. There are many folks here who wonder what the hell goes on in Massachusetts. Sigh! It was ever thus:

After the revolutionary war many people were very poor, and many soldiers who had fought and suffered severely, found themselves destitute. It was a hard time to pay debts, and even honest people felt that their creditors were too pressing. Besides, loose notions were abroad, and some held the idea that the true policy was to divide all property equally among the people. One man being asked what should be done, when in the course of years, some men became richer than others, expressed the wish of many in his reply: "divide again." The discontent was so great in Massachusetts, as to create alarm in the breast of Washington and other patriots throughout the Union, lest all the fruits of the war of independence -would be lost. Complaints began to be made before the return of peace, and the acknowledgment of our nationality by the king of England, but there was no actual outbreak except mobs at Northampton and one or two other places, for two or three years. The hardships of the people increased however, and many became impatient. That large numbers should be in debt, after so long a war, was inevitable. Moreover all the evidence of tradition and records concurs in the verdict, that intemperance had greatly increased, as well as vice and immorality generally. The irregular habits of camp life, and the prevalence of French infidelity had done much in the way of demoralizing the people. The only remedy for the unhappy state of affairs, was a reformation of morals, industry and frugality. But this process would require the self-denial which many were not ready to endure. It is doubtless true also that many persons who had means; speculators who had become wealthy during the war, and others, took advantage of the necessities of tho poor, and those in moderate circumstances, and pressed for the payment of debts when liquidation was impossible without ruinous sacrifice to tho debtor.

The movement finally took the shape of an attack on the Courts of Justice, for the purpose of delaying judgment against debtors. The State was in debt to the amount of several millions, including the State debt, what was due to officers and soldiers, and its proportion of the national debt. Probably the State could now carry more easily the load of 100,000,000, than our fathers could bear what weighed upon them in 1786. Their situation and wants may be inferred from the action of County Conventions held in 1786, at Concord, Leicester, Paxton and Hatfield, in the month of August and later in the autumn. The evils they wished to have redressed were:

1, Sitting of the General Court in Boston; (the rest of the Commonwealth hates Boston - tsb)
2, The want of a circulating System; (hard currency was in short supply back then - tsb)
3, The abuses in the practice of the law, and the exorbitance of the fee table;
4, The existence of the Courts of Common Pleas in their present mode of administration;
5, The appropriating of revenue arising from the impost and excise to, the payment of the interest of the State securities (why do we have to pay off these bills without discussion - tsb)
6,The unreasonable and unnecessary grants made by the General Court to the Attorney General and others; (favoritism for a favored few - tsb)
7, The Servants of the government being too numerous, and having too great salaries;
8, The existence of the Senate." (The Senate is elitist - Massachusetts distrust of an elite goes waaaaaay back - tsb)

The Conventions expressed devotion to the government, even while favoring measures that undermined all existing authority. For example, the Convention at Paxton, November 3, 1786, declared that however they might suffer in their characters, persons and estates, they should think themselves " happy if they could, in the least degree, contribute to restore harmony to the Commonwealth, and to support the weight of a tottering empire."


There is so much there that echoes through to today. We have always been a suspicious lot and cantankerous as well. So we are today.
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Inuca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-23-11 06:53 AM
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1. Tay YAY!
Interesting read, thanks!
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 12:45 PM
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2. Thanks!
I foudn the most interesting things while reading this summer. (Long story short, my family asked me to do a family history. Ah, it is an ongoing project. Our first English came here in 1629 and spread out a bit. SDtudying this history has become a real learning experience for me. This is not because of the actual finding of "them English" but because of all the wonderful stories about "them English." I found rascals and hardship and funny tales and some surprisingly touching stories where I didn't expect them. Now I have to start writing my "Tales from the Family tree" and report back to siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and so forth on my findings. It is a big project.)

I have been thinking about Elizabeth Warren a lot lately. I think she has made a spendid beginning in MA. So far no gaffes. That's good. I hope she remembers to write off MA right-wing radio because it is not her audience and never will be. (Too many pols trip up over pursuing an audience that is not theirs to get and never will be.) I hope she continues to court the disaffect middle class voters. She has to learn to use and appeal to fear. It is a great option right now. (There is a right way to appeal to fear and a terrible way to appeal to fear. The Tea Party folks unfailingly use the terrible way. I hope she knows better.0
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 01:02 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Ahm, I cannot resist another quotation about MA folks
Edited on Sat Sep-24-11 01:06 PM by TayTay
Puritans, in the way-back years. Had huge fight over how to sing their hymns. Some people wanted them to sing according to note and in harmony. This was hard because the tunes were difficult to master and good singers few and far between. And it just wasn't the New England way. Perhaps you will find this as amusing as I did as an illuminating factor on New England character:

"So villanous had church-singing at last become that the clergymen arose in a body and demanded better performances; while a desperate and disgusted party was also formed which was opposed to all singing. Still another band of old fogies was strong in force who wished to cling to the same way of singing that they were accustomed to; and they gave many objections to the new-fangled idea of singing by note, the chief item on the list being the everlasting objection of all such old fossils, that "the old way was good enough for our fathers," &c. They also asserted that "the names of the notes were blasphemous;" that it was "popish;" that it was a contrivance to get money; that it would bring musical instruments into the churches; and that "no one could learn the tunes any way." A writer in the "New England Chronicle" wrote in 1723, 'ruly I have a great jealousy that if we begin to sing by rule, the next thing will be to pray by rule and preach by rule and then comes popery.'"


The road to hell in New England was paved with a desire for orderliness and good singing. Remember this next time you log onto BlueMassGroup. IF we are all singing nicely and together and in harmony, can Satan be far behind?

The turmoil over how to sing at Meeting was extremely divisive. One town held a meeting to decide how to fix this massive problem (threat to "the way things are) and come up with a fix. (This description of a New England Town Meeting could apply to the ones I go to, btw. Just a few tweeks here and there, and OMG, we are the same damn contentious people who can't get anything done.)

July 2. 1736. At a Society meeting at which Capt. Pelatiah Allyn Moderator. The business of the meeting proceeded in the following manner Viz. the Moderator proposed as to the consideration of the meeting in the 1st Place what should be done respecting that part of publick Woiship called Singing viz. whether in their Publick meetings as on Sabbath day, Lectures &c they would sing the way that Deacon Marshall usually sung in his lifetime commonly called the 'Old Way' or whether they would sing the way taught by Mr. Beal commonly called 'Singing by Rule,' and when the Society had discoursed the matter the Moderator pioposed to vote for said two ways as followeth viz. that those that were for singing in publick in the way practiced by Deacon Marshall should hold up their hands and be counted, and then that those that were desirous to sing in Mr. Beals way called 'by Rule' would after show their minds by the same sign which method was proceeded upon accordingly. But when the vote was passed there being many voters it was difficult to take the exact number of votes in order to determine on which side the major vote was; whereupon the Moderator ordered all the voters to go out of the seats and stand in the alleys and then those that were for Deacon Marshalls way should go into the mens seats and those that were for Mr. Beals way should go into the womens seat and after much objections made against that way, which prevailed not with the Moderator, it was complied with, and then the Moderator desired that those that were of the mind that the way to be practiced for singing for the future on the Sabbath &c should be the way sung by Deacon Marshall as aforesaid would signify the same by holding up their hands and be counted, and then the Moderator and myself went and counted the voters and the Moderator asked me how many there was. I answered 42 and he said there was 63 or 64 and then we both counted again and agreed the number being 43. Then the Moderator was about to count the number of votes for Mr. Beals way of Singing called 'by Rule' but it was offered whether it would not be better to order the voters to pass out of the Meeting House door and there be counted who did accordingly and their number was 44 or 45. Then the Moderator proceeded and desired that those who were for singing in Public the way that Mr. Beal taught would draw out of their seats and pass out of the door and be counted. They replied they were ready to show their minds in any proper way where they were if they might be directed thereto but would not go out of the door to do the same and desired that they might be led to a vote where they were and they were ready to show their minds which the Moderator refused to do and thereupon declared that it was voted that Deacon Marshalls way of singing called the 'Old Way' should be sung in Publick for the future and ordered me to record the same as the vote of the Said Society which I refused to do under the circumstances thereof and have recorded the facts and proceedings."


Both excepts are from Sabbath in Puritan New England, http://tinyurl.com/3zva3wq

Damned if that excerpt doesn't sound like a session at BlueMassGroup!
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Luftmensch067 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-24-11 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thank you, Tay
That was hilarious!

At last, I understand...
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TayTay Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-25-11 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. One last one, because it is succinct
My family asked me to research our history in this area. One part of my family background is all Yankee, going back to arrival in 1629 in Salem. In the early to mid 1860's it became the custom of most MA towns to commission histories for their Bicentennials. These writings come from the personal recollections of town inhabitants. They are "history" but unverified history. (The accounts of the various towns on what happened in Shays Rebellion are a study in the famous saying that "winners write history." ) These old books are amazing reads and give insight into the MA character that you just can't get out of a traditional history book.

This is a history of the town of Harvard, MA, where several of my antecedents lived. IT is another "aha" moment for those of us who live here. It was ever so. When I am asked why NE is so strangely conservative and liberal, I think about desciptions like this. (Remember, these are the people who raised Revolution against the British. When you read between the lines it gives tremendous insight into the why of that Revolution.)

The builders of Harvard were given to marrying. They
married early, and. Providence permitting, they married
often. The widower had no conscientious scruples about
consoling himself with his deceased wife's sister. The re-
corded dates of quick following events often suggest the
thought that "the funeral baked meats did coldly furnish
forth the marriage tables." Old bachelors there were none,
save Stephen Atherton the mea-compos, and of old maids the
rarity proved them victims of a stress of circumstances.


The colonists who brought to New England their heritage
of Saxon virtues and energies, did not leave behind them all
the ancestral vices or passions. Though a simple-hearted
folk, leading lives of loving domesticity, these grandsires of
ours and their good-wives, it must be confessed, lacked refine-
ment. They would have ill suited their environment had they
not been of stronger individuality, ruder tastes, more callous
natures, and every way of coarser fibre than their descendants
in the fifth generation. They unblushingly "called a spade a
spade." When hot with irritation they used a very vulgar
vernacular. Gross lapses from moral rectitude were regularly
made the subject of oral confession in the presence of the
congregated church, and duly recorded by the pastor. More-
over, we are told that the self-accusations of the low-voiced,
stammering sinners always won a rapt attention such as no
pulpit eloquence could gain. This unsavory charge obtains
force when we read in the ministers' records, that so late as
1798, "the pastor then submitted to the consideration of the
brethren the propriety of abolishing the custom of making
confession for the sin of fornication in particidar,'' and that
the proposition stirred up a "warm debate," but effected no
change in the musty by-laws.


What does this stuff have to do with this group? Good question. Who supports Scott Brown and why? Why is Ma so hard for women to compete in? What is the character of these folks, where did it come from and how is it manipulated in politics? Some of the answers are for news of today. Some are rooted in the generations that went before us. This is the briefest of reference back to those who went before. (And these stories are typical. Some of it is New England peculiarities, some are not especially so. But the descendants do have some of these traits and they do affect thought patterns in the various MA groupings.)
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wisteria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-26-11 07:06 PM
Response to Original message
6. I love it, Mass history. Thanks Tay, and good to see you posting again. n/t
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