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fathers — welcoming worthy emigrants and refusing to the sons of sedition a resting place for their feet. 16. The antient Town of Plymouth. — Prosperity to those who dwell around the cradle of our country. 17. GEORGE WASHINGTON— "My father, my father; the chariots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof."
From the Chair. Whilst we celebrate the memory of our Fore Fathers, may we imitate their virtues, that we also may be had in remembrance.
The memory of the Historian of our Ancestors, Dr. BELKNAP. — Devouring time or barbaric fury shall destroy marble monuments; but nothing shall demolish his labours.
The virtuous Matrons, who attended the Pilgrims. — The image of their fair example of conjugal love and simple manners will never be wanting in their daughters (pp. 1–2).
The names of those who presided or were present in 1800 do not appear in the newspaper accounts of that celebration, but among the toasts drunk were the following:
6. May Federalism, like the Live Oak, though prostrate prove the country's best defense.
8. May the exulting notes of antifederalism, like those of the swan, prove the prelude of its death.
10. May the ghosts of our pious forefathers walk during the approaching reign of infidelity, and deter the daring philosophists from attacking the sacred temple of religion.'
A correspondent who signed himself “A. X.” thus freed his mind in the Independent Chronicle of December 29 (p. 2/3):
The fag end of the Faction described. THE first settlers in New-England fled from the cruel hand of persecution. ... When, therefore, the day of their arrival is celebrated as a festival, it ought to be done in a temper suited to the principles which brought them to this country. But in a late assembly, which stiled their entertainment The Feast of Shells, that very spirit of persecution, that malignity of heart, that superb haughtiness of spirit, and that same claim to lawless rule and uncontrouled domination, which drove our Ancestors from Europe, were exhibited at full length.
The Feast of Shells was introduced some years ago by a number of
i Columbian Centinel, December 24, 1800, p. 2/3. In the presidential election of 1800, Jefferson and Burr received each 73 electoral votes, the election thus being thrown into the House of Representatives, where Jefferson was successful.
men, who wished to perpetuate the honor of the first American emigrants. It was not intended as a political engine, to contaminate and wound the true principles of civil liberty. Nor was it intended as a political measure, or for any other purpose, than that of doing honor to the virtues of those who fled to these shores for the enjoyment of freedom.
The public ought to be informed, that the men who assumed the feast this year, are not the men who originated it. That a number of men, whose politics have poisoned the sources of science, have made even their public devotion subservient to the vilest party purposes - have dissolved the bands of friendship – have subverted all sincerity and truth in political communications — have, under the mask of Federalism, attempted to overthrow the best Constitution on earth. These men contrived to collect themselves, as a party in opposition to the great body of the people. To countenance their indecency and contemptible abuse, they invited others, who perhaps did not know their intentions. The toasts they drank, and all their arrangements was an insult upon the President, the Republic of America, and upon the great body of the Citizens.
The fact is, that this festival, as they celebrated it, was the overboilings of their chagrin and disappointment. They came forward with the torch of discord in their hand; and the flame was increased by the oil of revenge and disappointment.
The man who presided at the festival,' has been the avowed enemy of John Adams. He was no greater friend to Washington before the capture of Burgoyne, than he was to Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Thomas Jefferson.
The feast was supported by the same men, who feasted Gen. Hamilton, when he was lately in Boston. It was arranged with a view to support the interest of a man, whose morals are as infamous, as his politics are dangerous to the American Republic.
In 1801 Stephen Higginson presided, while Joseph Russell, Martin Brimmer, and Peleg Coffin assisted as vice-presidents; and among the guests were “the Hon. John Adams, Hon. TIMOTHY PICKERING, the President of the Senate, the Hon. Judges of the Federal and State Courts, the President and Professors of Harvard University, several of the Rev. Clergy, the Hon. John Q. ADAMS, GEORGE CABOT, and FISHER AMES, Esquires.” 2 The presence of John Adams, 1 Possibly Stephen Higginson.
Columbian Centinel, December 23, 1801, p. 2/4. Broadsides containing songs to be sung at the Boston celebrations were sometimes printed. Professor
Timothy Pickering, and Fisher Ames led the Independent Chronicle of December 24 (p. 3/1) to declare:
THE “feast of shells,” we understand, was celebrated in this town, on Tuesday last, by a number of rare characters. “Strange times, strange times indeed,” have come to pass! when we can behold the Braintree Lion, the Essex Hyena, and the Dedham Watch-Dog QUIETLY feeding in open day within the same enclosure!!!
The celebration of 1802 was thus described in the Columbian Centinel of December 25:
"SONS OF THE PILGRIMS.” On Monday, the 22d December, was celebrated in this town, the Anniversary of Our Fathers' landing at Plymouth, Anno Domini 1620. A hundred and one gentlemen, the number that arrived in the first ships, sat down at the “Feast of Shells," with those joyous and elevated emotions that rise from contemplating the characters of great and good men. Among the distinguished guests were His Honor the LIEUTGOVERNOR,” Gen. LINCOLN, The Hon. TIMOTHY PICKERING, the Officers Kittredge calls my attention to one (owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society) that was evidently prepared for the celebration in 1801. It is headed “FESTIVAL of the SONS of the PILGRIMS,” and contains four songs: that of Judge Davis in 1794 (wrongly dated 1793), that of Samuel Davis in 1799 (without date or name of the author), that of Paine in 1798 (wrongly dated 1800), and that “Composed for the Festival at Plymouth, 1800.” The last was printed in the New England Palladium of January 27, 1801, p. 3/2, and is stated in W. S. Russell's Airs of the Pilgrims (1846, p. 39) to have been written by Samuel Davis. The Boston Public Library also owns a mutilated copy of the same broadside, on which is written in pencil “Four odes and hymns for the anniv, festival at Plymouth.” But clearly the broadside was printed for the Boston celebration. The Boston Public Library also owns a broadside that was evidently prepared for the celebration in 1802. It is headed " FESTIVAL OF THE SONS OF THE PILGRIMS," and contains five songs: the above four, and in addition an ode “Composed for the Anniversary Festival of the Sons of the PILGRIMS, 1801.” This last was printed in the New England Palladium of December 29, 1801, p. 1/2.
1 In later years John Adams was also called Duke of Braintree and Old Brimborion (Columbian Centinel, November 4, 1812, p. 2/4; October 28, 1812, p. 1/4). In a former communication to the Society I inadvertently stated that "the sobriquet of 'the Duke of Quincy' was sometimes applied to John Adams” (Publications, X. 180). For a curious collection of nicknames current early in the nineteenth century, see Proceedings American Antiquarian Society, xix.
· Edward Hutchinson Robbins.