Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
MASSACHUSETTS, one of the original thirteen states of the American Union. I. BOUNDARIES. The present boundaries of the state are the final result of compromises and agreements with all the surrounding states. (See
—II. CONSTITUTIONS. The first civil organization was the "covenant" signed on board the Mayflower, Nov. 11, 1620, by the so-called "pilgrims" who were to form the Plymouth colony. They obtained a patent from the Plymouth company. June 1, 1621, and a grant of the land included between lines drawn north from the mouth of Narragansett river, and west from Cohasset rivulet, June 13, 1630; but neither of these transactions was confirmed by the king, nor was a charter granted. Nevertheless, the Plymouth colonists maintained a government of their own (see
—The colony of Massachusetts-Bay was chartered March 4, 1628-9, and the English associates, by resolution of Aug. 29, 1629, of doubtful legality, transferred the powers of government from England to Massachusetts. Here the legislative powers were at first exercised by a general meeting of the freemen (church members). In 1634 the general court was made representative, consisting of not more than two delegates from each town. (See
—From the year 1766 the crown was engaged in a persistent attempt to still further modify the republican features of the Massachusetts charter, and the attempt, equally alarming to every colony, seems to have been the great moving cause of the open conflict which followed. (See
—Provincial congresses met Oct. 5, 1774, and Feb. 1, 1775, and the last general court under royal authority was dissolved June 17, 1775. July 19 following, a popular general court met at Watertown, and assumed both the legislative and the executive powers. This body, Feb. 28, 1778. adopted a constitution, which was rejected by popular vote March 4. A constitution, drawn up by John Adams, was adopted by a convention at Cambridge, Sept. 1-6, Oct. 28 - Nov. 11, 1779, and Jan. 5 - March 2, 1780, and was accepted by popular vote. It declared the commonwealth to be "a free, sovereign and independent state"; gave the legislature power to compel attendance upon public worship; constituted a legislature, called "the general court," composed of a senate of forty, chosen annually by districts of various sizes, and a house of representatives, chosen annually by towns in proportion to population; provided for a governor, to be chosen annually by the legislature if there was no popular majority, and to be given the title of "his excellency"; limited the right of suffrage by a property qualification of £60; provided for the support of Harvard college, public schools and grammar schools; and gave the governor power to remove judges on address of both houses of the legislature. The constitution went into force Oct. 25, 1780, and the first legislature under its provisions met at Boston on that day.
—A convention, Nov. 15, 1820-Jan. 9, 1821, adopted fourteen amendments, nine of which were ratified by popular vote, April 9, 1821. Their principal changes were the abolition of the property qualification for suffrage; the adoption of a simpler form of an oath of allegiance, without retaining the declaration of a belief in the Christian religion; and provision for future amendment by vote of the legislature and ratification by popular vote. In this manner amendments have been proposed and ratified by nine legislatures, the most important being the change of the beginning of the political year from May to January (1833); the apportionment of the senators according to population (1840); the establishment of an educational limitation (ability to read and write) upon the right of suffrage (1857); the disfranchisement of aliens for two years after their naturalization (1859), and the abolition of this latter amendment (1863).
—In 1851 the popular vote was against the calling of a constitutional convention. In the following year the result was the reverse; and a convention at Boston, May 4-Aug. 1, 1853, adopted a revised constitution, which was rejected, Nov. 14, by a small popular majority. The organic law of the state is therefore still the constitution of 1780.
—The representation of the towns in the lower house has caused a difficulty which has grown with the increase of population. From 1840 until 1857 one representative was apportioned to 1,200, and one more for 2,400 additional population in a town; each town having less than 1,200 inhabitants was to be represented as many years in each decade as the number 160 was contained in the number of its inhabitants; and the apportionment of representatives or representation was to be made by the governor and council after each decennial census. Since 1857 the house is fixed at 240 members; the legislature apportions the representation to the counties; and the county commissioners (or the mayor and aldermen in Boston) apportion the county's representation among representative districts. In the state political conventions, however, town representation is still retained, making these bodies very large in numbers.
—GOVERNORS: (from 1775 until 1780 the legislative council); John Hancock, 1780-85; James Bowdoin, 1785-7; John Hancock, 1787-93; Samuel Adams, 1793-7; Increase Sumner, 1797-9; Moses Gill, 1799-1800; Caleb Strong, 1800-7; James Sullivan, 1807-8; Levi Lincoln, 1808-9; Christopher Gore, 1809-10; Elbridge Gerry, 1810-12; Caleb Strong, 1812-16; John Brooks, 1816-23; William Eustis, 1823-5; Marcus Morton, 1825; Levi Lincoln, 1825-34; John Davis, 1834-5, Samuel T. Armstrong, 1835-6; Edward Everett, 1836-40; Marcus Morton, 1840-41; John Davis, 1841-3; Marcus Morton, 1843-4; George N. Briggs, 1844-51; George S. Boutwell, 1851-3; John H. Clifford, 1853-4; Emory Washburn, 1854-5; Henry J. Gardner, 1855-8; Nathaniel P. Banks, 1858-61; John A. Andrew, 1861-6; Alexander H. Bullock, 1866-9; William Claflin, 1869-72; William B. Washburn, 1872-4; Thomas Talbot, 1874; William Gaston, 1874-6; Alexander H. Rice, 1876-9; Thomas Talbot, 1879-80; John D. Long, 1880-82; Benjamin F. Butler, 1882-3.
—POLITICAL HISTORY. The colonial history of the state has colored all its after history. The government was very democratic, excelled in this respect only by Connecticut, in which the governor was still elective; in intelligence, education and wealth the people were very nearly on a plane, and that a high one; freemen and representatives alike were infinitely more accustomed to dealing with equals than with superiors; and yet the population was so homogeneous that feeling and action were generally in unison, and the establishment of a state church was hardly felt to be a burden. The great force of Massachusetts came from this combination of conscious individualism with unity of action; it was not so much the law that was supreme, as the individual's conscientious interpretation of the law, and the general agreement of the mass of individuals in the same interpretation. There was thus developed a state which fought the battles of Lexington and Concord upon the technical ground of the individual's right to traverse the king's highway unmolested, and which followed them up by the collection of a voluminous mass of affidavits, by spectators and participants, to influence individual opinion at home and abroad. Individualism has always been the law of state politics; Massachusetts democrats have been as tenaciously indifferent to the fact that their party was in a hopeless minority in the state as their federalist and whig neighbors have been to the fact that their parties were in a hopeless minority in the nation; and Massachusetts members of all parties have been pre eminent for a personal dissection of principles to their logical results, regardless of personal, party or other interests. This last form of individualism has been variously characterized as fanaticism or as devotion to principle; but its existence has always been an essential factor in Massachusetts politics.
—The political history of the state falls most naturally into four periods: 1, 1775-97; 2, 1797-1823; 3, 1823-48; 4, 1848-82. During the first period the agricultural interest was predominant; during the second, the commercial; during the third and fourth, the manufacturing; but, during the fourth, the rise of a moral question to the surface of politics upturned the state parties from the foundations, and for the first time since 1797 placed Massachusetts in sympathy with a dominant national party.
—I.:1775-97. Massachusetts went into and came out of the revolution at the head of the states, though she only stood eighth in population. She had brought on the contest by her stubborn resistance to the ministry; she had fought the opening battles and begun the siege of Boston of her own motion; to the prosecution of the war she had contributed 92,563 men, her nearest competitors being Virginia with 52,715, and Connecticut with 42,831; and, though a formal deference was always paid to the leadership of Virginia, it is indubitable that Massachusetts was the backbone of the rebellion, which was mainly sustained by the community of interests, feelings and action between these two states, a community which was not fairly broken for twenty-five years. In both states there was the same difficulty in ratifying the constitution in 1788 (see
—II.: 1797-1823. In 1797 Samuel Adams declined a re-election as governor, and Increase Sumner, a federalist of the Adams school, was chosen in his stead. From that time until 1823 the governors and legislatures were federalist, with the exceptions of Govs. Sullivan, Lincoln and Gerry, and the legislatures of 1806-7 and 1810-12. The majorities, however, were always small: Strong had but 1,600 majority out of nearly 40,000 votes in 1800, and Gore but 3,000 majority out of 93,000 votes in 1809; and in 1806 and 1808 Govs. Strong and Lincoln served with legislatures of opposite politics. In 1804 the general depression throughout the federal party gave the state's electoral votes to Jefferson and Clinton, the democratic candidates; in all other presidential years the state was federalist until 1820, when, like all the other states, it voted for Monroe and Tompkins.
—Political conflict in the state grew gradually warmer as the embargo policy was developed and adopted. (See
—III.: 1823-48. Gov. Eustis' message congratulated the legislature that "this ancient and respectable state had been restored to the confidence of her sister states" by the late election; and the state senate proceeded to justify the confidence by expunging, in January, 1824, by a vote of 22 to 15, the famous resolution of 1813 against rejoicing over victories The new democratic state administration at once began to press for payment of the state's claims for militia services during the war. The federalists had never obtained any recognition for them, for the state had refused during the war to allow the control of her militia to the federal government. The new powers were more successful. President Monroe advised their payment, in a message of Feb. 23, 1824; but the act for that purpose was not passed until May 31, 1830.
—The federalist vote in 1824 was still 34,210 for Samuel Lathrop to 38,650 for Gov. Eustis. In the following year both parties united on Gov. Lincoln, and party divisions disappeared until the rise of the whig party revived them. In the interval the state gave her electoral votes to her citizen, John Quincy Adams, in 1824 and 1828, the popular vote in his favor being 83 per cent. of the whole; in 1832 its electoral vote was cast for Clay; and in 1836 for Webster. In 1834 Gov. Lincoln retired, and a whig governor and lieutenant governor, Davis and Armstrong, came into office. Everett, the successor of Davis, was also a whig, and he retained office until in 1839 he was beaten by Marcus Morton in the closest election of the state's history. The popular vote was for Morton 51,024, for Everett 50,725, scattering 307, Morton's majority 2. In the following year the whigs nominated and elected ex-Gov. Davis, but in the following year Morton was again successful. In 1843 the whigs elected George N. Briggs, and he retained office until 1851. The party proportion of the popular vote may be estimated from a typical year (1846): Briggs, 54,784, Davis (democrat) 33,196, scattering (abolitionist and others) 13,589. In 1844 the democrats nominated George Bancroft, the historian; in 1848, Caleb Cushing; in 1845-7, Davis.
—During the latter years of this period the abolitionist feeling in Massachusetts grew into something like the controlling importance which it held soon after 1848. It was strengthened by the arrest of George Latimer, a Virginia fugitive slave, in Boston, in the autumn of 1842, and though the fugitive was released by purchase, the legislature soon after passed the first personal liberty law of the state. (See
—IV.: 1848-82. The original free-soil party had its kindliest home in Massachusetts. (See
—The anti-slavery feeling in the state had been intensified by the arrest of Sims, April 3, 1851, and of Anthony Burns, May 23, 1854, and their forcible removal from the state (See
—In the election of 1874 a complete bouleversement took place. An attempt to modify the state's prohibitory liquor law at the previous session of the legislature had been defeated by the governor's veto His renomination, and the nomination of Horatio Knight, another prohibitionist, for lieutenant governor, excited opposition and aggravated other dissensions. Talbot was defeated, Knight was only elected by a small majority, but the republicans elected a majority of both branches of the legislature and all the state officers except the governor. Of the eleven congressmen but five regular republicans were elected, four democrats, and two independent republicans. In 1875 the republicans elected Gov. Rice by 83,639 votes to 78,333 for Gaston, and in 1876 Rice's majority was increased. In the latter year but one democratic congressman was elected.
—It is difficult to class the "Butler movement," which fairly took shape in 1878, otherwise than as one of general discontent. It is true that Butler (see his name) openly advocated the peculiar ideas of the greenback-labor party in that year; but the party which supported him in the state seems to have cared little for any interests outside of the state. Its existence seems to have been based upon the assertions that there was a dominant "ring" in the dominant republican party of the state, and that the manufacturing and other corporations, with which the state was filled, coerced the votes of their employés by threats of discharge in case of disobedience. The latter influence, it was said, was fast destroying the independence and self-respect of the voters; the former was filling the offices with its dependents, was increasing taxation and the public debt, was enabling its favorites to escape their share of taxation, was instrumental in expending the public money for purposes useful only to its protégés, and, by its power to control the committees of the state convention, through the appointment of the presiding officer, had already made reform through the republican party an impossibility. How much truth was in all this it is hard to say, for specific instances are usually conspicuous by their absence from "Butler" speeches; it is at least certain that the charges, were supported by nearly half the voters of the state. Butler had been meagrely supported in previous republican conventions as a candidate for governor, when, in 1878, he offered to run as an independent candidate if 20,000 voters should desire it. The names of 51,784 persons were signed to the invitation, and the "Butter campaign" at once began. The leaders of the two former parties ridiculed Butler's "signers" as men of straw; but it soon became apparent that Butler delegates to the democratic state convention were being chosen all over the state. The democratic state committee therefore announced. Sept. 12, that no delegate pledged to a non-democratic candidate was entitled to sit or vote in the convention. On the day appointed for the convention, Sept. 17, at Worcester, the Butler delegates were present first, and seized the hall; the state committee therefore adjourned the convention to meet at Boston, Sept. 28. The Worcester convention nominated Butler, without referring to the "greenback idea" in the platform; the Boston convention nominated Josiah G. Abbott, proclaiming itself the only representative of the national democratic party. Butler had been nominated, Sept. 11, by the greenback convention; and the republicans nominated Governor Talbot, Sept. 18. The struggle was ended, Nov. 5, by the following popular vote: Talbot 134,725, Butler 109,435, Abbott 10,162; and the state legislature and all but one of the eleven congress men were republican. In 1879 there was no "capture" of the democratic convention. Butler was nominated by a greenback convention John Quincy Adams by the democrats, and John D. Long by the republicans; but the popular vote varied very little from that of 1878. In 1880 Butler declined to be a candidate; Charles P. Thompson was selected by the democrats; and the popular vote at once settled to its normal proportions: Long 164,825, Thompson 111,410, H. B. Sargent (greenback) 4,864. scattering 1,147 In 1881 the collapse of political excitement, through Butler's withdrawal, reduced Long's vote to 96,609 and Thompson's to 54,586; the other party votes were little changed. In the senate there are thirty-six republicans and four democrats; in the house 181 republicans, fifty-five democrats, and four independent.
—The state has been so prolific of men who have been influential in politics, that any attempt at selection must be a difficult undertaking. Reference should be made to Charles Francis Adams, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Samuel Adams, Fisher Ames, N. P. Banks, George S. Boutwell, Anson Burlingame, Benjamin F. Butler, Caleb Cushing, Edward Everett, Elbridge Gerry, John Hancock, Joseph Story, Charles Sumner, Daniel Webster, and Henry Wilson (see their names); to the list of governors given above; and to the following: John B. Alley, free-soil leader, republican congressman 1859-67; George Ashmun, whig congressman 1845-51; Bailey Bartlett, high sheriff of Essex county 1789-1830, and federalist congressman 1797-1801; George Cabot, federalist United States senator 1791-6 (see also
—See 1 Poore's Federal and State Constitutions: Palfrey's History of New England; Wood's Massachusetts Compendium (boundaries); Buck's Massachusetts Ecclesiastical Law; Fowler's History of Local Law in Massachusetts; Washburn's Judicial History of Massachusetts; Moore's History of Slavery in Massachusetts; Young's Chronicles of the First Planters of Massachusetts Bay (to 1636), and Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers of the Colony of Plymouth (to 1625); Shurtleff's Records of the Colony of Massachusetts Bay (to 1686), and Records of the Colony of Plymouth (to 1691); Baylies' History of New Plymouth (to 1641); Lowell Lectures on the Early History of Massachusetts; Frothingham's Siege of Boston; Minot's History of the Insurrection (Shays'); Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts (1749-74); 4 John Adams' Works, 213; Bradford's History of Massachusetts (to 1820), Barry's History of Massachusetts (to 1820); Carpenter's History of Massachusetts (to 1853); J. G. Holland's History of Western Massachusetts (1855); Austin's History of Massachusetts (to 1876: the best for the general reader); authorities under names referred to above; Loring's Hundred Boston Orators; Chandler's Memoir of Andrew; Brown's Official Life of Andrew; E.g. Parker's Reminiscences of Choate; Brown's Memoir and Writings of Choate; B. R. Curtis' Works; Kinnicutt's Memoir of John Davis; M. P. Mann's Life of Horace Mann; Pickering's Life of Pickering; Upham's Life of Pickering; Quincy's Life of Quincy; Quincy's Speeches (1805-13); Hamilton's Memoir of Rantoul; Amory's Life of Sullivan; Winthrop's Addresses and Speeches; the democratic view of Massachusetts federalists may be found in Carey's Olive Branch, 268, 416, contra, in Sullivan's Familiar Letters; for the "coalition campaign" of 1850 see 2 Wilson's Rise and Fall of the Slave Power, 341, and authorities under WILSON, H., and SUMNER C; for the "Butler campaign" see 27 Nation, 169, 220; Winsor's Memorial History of Boston.
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