“God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” proclaims the Secretary of State upon every official occasion. Of course it isn’t his business to express any such wish for neighboring States or for the whole country, so he doesn’t do it. The careful historian would doubtless tell one that this is only a relic of Puritan times, wholly meaningless today. Yet ministers have been known in reading Thanksgiving Day proclamations to give a somewhat sinister and significant turn to those words by undue accent when God had not in his infinite wisdom seen fit to save the State from an unworthy Governor. But this self-centered attitude is perhaps characteristic of all Massachusettians.
Massachusetts is first in so many things that a list of them all would seem like a reflection on the rest of the country. The achievements of the old Bay State are so great and varied that there is some reason for the self-satisfaction which makes her rather careless of rivalry and complacent as to the security of her leadership.
Massachusetts leads in culture with a capital C, not the ,German variety with a K. She mothers more schools and colleges of national repute than any other State. Not that she has so many colleges. Any little State in the Middle West can show a score to her one. But then Harvard is in Massachusetts. The State spends twenty millions a year on its public schools and in spite of the large and recent foreign influx has only a little over five per cent of illiteracy. But what its knowing ones know makes quite unimportant what its ignoramuses donet know.
Massachusetts is the home of about three and a half million people, the great majority of whom are very busy making things for the other hundred million or so of the country. It probably does more in proportion to its size and says less about it than any other State in the Union and yet it is the best advertised of all. It `got on the job’ early, and has kept at it ever since. Even the people in Oklahoma and Oregon cannot long remain unconscious of the spotlight which rests upon the Bay State.
Massachusetts has the most interesting history. It was early appropriated by the Puritan and Pilgrim emigrants who came here to set themselves apart from other men who were not so good and so pious as they were. They tried hard to keep out all wicked interlopers. They drove out the Antinomians and the Baptists, they lashed the invading Quakers, men and women, especially the latter, at the cartes tail from town to town, and drove them in dead of winter into the wilderness. All in all, the State has done queerer things than can be put in books, but it never burned any witches, and if you dare to suggest it to any Massachusetts man, he will rise up in wrath. They hanged them. Brooks Adams in his “Emancipation of Massachusetts” remarks: “Massachusetts was a petty state, too feeble for independence, yet ruled by an autocratic priesthood whose power rested upon legislation antagonistic to English law.” The State finally broke away from the control of the hierarchy of ministers who “had grown arrogant from long impunity.”
Massachusetts was the chief trouble maker for King George III, “stuffy old drone from the German hive.” At that time, Massachusetts had the two only citizens on whose heads George III thought it worth while to put a price. But John Hancock and Samuel Adams were cautious and crafty enough to save the King from spending his money so foolishly.
Massachusetts once seethed with Revolutionary movements. It had the habit, like a South American Republic. Shays’ Rebellion followed close upon the heels of the war with Britain. The abolition movement started here. Massachusetts gave birth to Foreign Mission Societies, to the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and to Children. The Pilgrim Fathers have been sufficiently exploited. Of the Pilgrim Mothers little has been said, while other mothers are more famous. Here was the mother of all Women’s Clubs; here is the Mother Church of the Christian Scientists. Massachusetts might be called the grandmother of Mormonism for Joseph Smith’s father and his ancestors lived at Georgetown, Mass., before he moved westward.
Massachusetts is the original oriental font of American religions. Here started not only the Simon-pure brand of Unitarianism, but also the now widely spread and happiness-securing brand of Christian Science. New Thought, Esoteric Buddhism, the Emmanuel Movement, all originated in the Bay State.
One of the chief products of Massachusetts is statesmen. They grow wild in every village, but are easily cultivated and transplanted. Sent to Washington they have always breathed the odor of sanctity and protection. Daniel Webster, though born in New Hampshire, hailed from Boston and drank brandy out of a three-cornered cup-board in Marshfield. In one of his perfervid orations on his native State he exclaimed,”Massachusetts, there she stands!” And still she standspat in most things in spite of George Fred Williams, Charles Sumner Bird, and other insurgents.
Later statesmen have carried on the glorious traditions, and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, the Tsar of Nahant, that promontory haunted by the well-attested sea-serpent which any one who has taken enough cordial can see any summer day, has been for years Senior Senator and Chairman of Foreign Relations. During recent years he has shared his arduous labors with other millionaires,Senator Crane from the Berkshires, who makes the paper for the governmentes money and Senator Weeks of Hornblower & Weeks, the Boston brokerage firm. His place is coveted by `Honey Fitz,’ the Anti-Good-Government-Association Mayor of Boston, who is ready to carry on the traditions of the millions.
Boston is the Athens of America, the Hub of the Universe, and the greatest Irish city in the world. Some of the neighboring mill towns like Lawrence, Lowell, and Fall River ought to have U.S. consuls appointed to them. Taken in all, Massachusetts is the greatest and most famous State in the Union, and the self-praise which `goes a great wayse has been genuinely echoed wherever the fame of the State has gone.