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American Historic Towns
HISTORIC TOWNS OF NEW ENGLAND
LYMAN P. POWELL
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK & LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1898 BY
G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS
Entered at stationers' Hall, London
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
PLYMOUTH IN 1622
IN July, 1893, while the first Summer Meeting of the American Society for the Extension of University Teaching was in session at the University of Pennsylvania, I conducted the students, in trips taken from week to week, to historic spots in Philadelphia, the battle-fields of the Brandywine and of Germantown, and to the site of the winter camp at Valley Forge. The experiment was brought to the attention of Dr. Albert Shaw, and at his instance I made a plea through the pages of The American Monthly Review of Reviews, October, 1893, for the revival of the mediŠval pilgrimage, and for its adaptation to educational and patriotic uses. After pointing out some of the advantages of visits paid under competent guidance and with reverent spirit to spots made sacred by high thinking and self-forgetful living, I suggested a ten days' pilgrimage in the footsteps of George Washington.
The suggestion took root in the public mind. Leading journals commended the idea. New England people, already acquainted with the thought of local historical excursions, hailed the proposed pilgrimage with enthusiasm. Men and women from a score of States avowed their eagerness to make the experiment; and at the close of the University Extension Summer Meeting of July, 1894, in which I had lectured on American history, I found myself conducting for the University Extension Society a pilgrimage, starting from Philadelphia, to Hartford, Boston, Cambridge, Lexington, Concord, Salem, Plymouth, Newburg, West Point, Tarrytown, Tappan, New York, Princeton, and Trenton.
The press contributed with discrimination the publicity essential to success. Every community visited rendered intelligent and generous co-operation. And surely no pilgrims, mediŠval or modern, ever had such leadership; for among our cicerones and patriotic orators were: Col. T. W. Higginson, Drs. Edward Everett Hale and Talcott Williams, Hon. Hampton L. Carson, Messrs. Charles Dudley Warner, Richard Watson Gilder, Charles Carlton Coffin, Frank B. Sanborn, Edwin D. Mead,
Hezekiah Butterworth, George P. Morris, Professors W. P. Trent, William M. Sloane, W. W. Goodwin, E. S. Morse, Brig.-Gen. O. B. Ernst, Major Marshall H. Bright, and Rev. William E. Barton.
I had planned in the months that followed to publish a souvenir volume containing the more important addresses made by distinguished men on the historic significance of the places visited; but as the happy experience receded into the past a larger thought laid hold of me. Why not sometime in the infrequent leisure of a busy minister's life edit a series of volumes on American Historic Towns? Kingsley's novels were written amid parish duties, and Dr. McCook has found time, amid exacting ministerial duties, to make perhaps the most searching study ever made by an American of the habits of spiders. Medical experts agree concerning the value of a wholesome avocation to the man who takes his vocation seriously; and congregations are quick to give ear to the earnest preacher whose sermons betray a large outlook on life.
A series of illustrated volumes on American Historic Towns, edited with intelligence, would prove a unique and important contribution to historical literature. To the pious pilgrim to historic shrines the series would, perhaps, give the perspective that every pilgrim needs, and furnish information that no guide-book ever offers. To those who have to stay at home the illustrated volumes would present some compensation for the sacrifice, and would help to satisfy a recognized need. The volumes would probably quicken public interest in our historic past, and contribute to the making of another kind of patriotism than that Dr. Johnson had in mind When he defined it as the "last refuge of a scoundrel."
I foresaw some at least of the serious difficulties that await the editor of such a series. If all the towns for which antiquarians and local enthusiasts would fain find room should be included, the series would be too long. A staff of contributors must be secured, possessing literary skill, historical insight, the antiquarian's patience, and enough confidence in the highest success of the series to be prepared to waive any requirement of adequate pecuniary compensation. Space must be apportioned with impartial but not unsympathetic hand, and the illustrations selected with due discrimination. And, finally, publishers were to be found willing to assume the expense required for the production in suitable form of a series for which no one could with accuracy forecast the sale.
The last and perhaps most serious difficulty was removed almost a year ago when Messrs. G. P. Putnam's Sons expressed a willingness to take the commercial risk involved in publishing the present volume, which will, it is hoped, be the first of a series. Contributors were then found whose work has, I trust, secured for the undertaking an auspicious beginning. Critics inclined at first glance to speak harshly of the differences among the contributors in style and in literary method are advised to withhold judgment till a closer reading has made clear, as it will, the fundamental differences there are among the towns themselves in history and in spirit. Adequate reasons which need not be stated here have made it advisable to omit Lexington, Groton, Portsmouth, the Mystic towns, and other towns which would naturally be included in a later volume on New England Towns, in case the publication should be continued.
So many have co-operated in the making of this book that I will not undertake to name them all. But I cannot forbear to acknowledge the valuable assistance I have received at every stage of the work from Mr. G. H. Putnam, Mr. George P. Morris, associate editor of The Congregationalist, and Miss Gertrude Wilson, instructor in history at the historic Emma Willard School. The Century Company has, in the preparation of the first chapter on Boston and the chapter on Newport, kindly allowed the use of certain illustrations and portions of articles on Boston and Newport, which have appeared in St. Nicholas and old Scribner's respectively. Some of the illustrations for the Portland chapter have been furnished by Lamson, the Portland photographer.
The Essex Institute, with characteristic generosity, has loaned most of the cuts for the Salem chapter. The Ohio State ArchŠological and Historical Society has allowed the reproduction from The Ohio Quarterly of some of the designs in the Rutland chapter, while certain of the illustrations in the Cape Cod Towns chapter appeared first in Falmouth Illustrated.
Conscious of the editorial shortcomings of the volume, I still dare to hope that it may have such a cordial reception as will justify the publication at some time of a volume on Historic Towns of the Middle States.
LYMAN P. POWELL
September 21, 1898.