« PreviousContinue »
ORATION OF GEN. HORACE BINNEY SARGENT,
SPEECHES AT THE DINNER
AND OTHER MATTERS.
Every native of that part of Boston within the limits of the old town of Roxbury cherishes with patriotic pride the historic traditions which cluster about its pleasant hills and valleys; and since the blotting of its name from the list of municipalities of the State, - consequent upon the annexation of this district to Boston, very general regret has been expressed that no connected history of the town in the Revolution had been published. To Gen. John L. Swift is due the honor of recently calling public attention to this hiatus in the printed local records of the Revolution. A sentiment uttered by him in an oration at the dedication of Kennedy Hall, in 1874, proved to be the mainspring of a movement which culminated in the celebration hereinafter recorded. Alluding to the incompleteness of the written history of Roxbury, Gen. Swift suggested that the history of the town, in connection with the opening events of the Revolution, would justify the locality in selecting one day of the Centennial year for a commemorative celebration, and the delivery of an historical address.
The sentiment was loudly cheered at the time of its utterance, but no action was taken to carry out the idea. Indeed, it was forgotten by the general public, and the Centennial year had almost passed into history before it was recalled in a public manner; and then by a mere accident. On October 9th, 1876, a committee from the Roxbury City Guard met a committee from the Association of its past members — the Roxbury Artillery Association — to decide how the two organizations should observe their annual fall parade. It proved to be difficult to suggest a programme upon which all could agree, and there was some delay. At length Capt. Wm. H. Hutchinson, a private in the Guard, recalled the suggestion of Gen. Swift, and proposed that the old Norfolk Guards be invited to join in the parade. He thought that the two corps, representing the oldest military organizations of Roxbury, could arrange a programme that would be acceptable to the citizens, and appropriately carry out the idea suggested by Gen. Swift. A week was taken to consult with past members of both the veteran companies, and the committee voted to invite the Norfolk Guards to co-operate, by the appointment of a committee, which was accepted. The committee of arrangements, as thus constituted, was composed as follows:
FROM THE ROXBURY CITY GUARD.
Capt. B. Read Wales.
1st Lieut. Wm. H. Hawley. 2d Lieut. James R. Austin.
Lieut. S. Wm. Dewey (Co. Staff).
Private Wm. H. Hutchinson.
FROM THE ROXBURY, ARTILLERY ASSOCIATION.
1st Lt. Com. J. P. Jordan (Past Com.). Sr. 2d Lieut. Edwin R. Jenness. Jr. 2d Lieut. James H. Nugent.
Gen. Isaac S. Burrell. Capt., John A. Scott.
Capt. Henry A. Thomas.
Sergt. Wm. H. Emery.
FROM THE NORFOLK GUARDS.
Capt. James Guild (Past Com.). Joseph W. Tucker.
J. Herman Curtis.
Geo. W. Pierce.
Geo. B. Davis.
Various sub-committees were appointed to arrange the several parts of the programme, and the date of the celebration was first fixed for November 15th. Hon. William Gaston, ex-Governor of the Commonwealth and a former Mayor of Roxbury, consented to deliver an historical oration, and the Standing Committee of the First Religious Society, Rev. George Putnam, D.D., pastor, voted to allow the church to be used for that purpose.
Mr. Samuel F. Williams, leader of the Winthrop-street Methodist Church choir, volunteered to furnish a choir, and Mr. T. M. Carter, leader of Carter's Band, became responsible for the organization of an oldfashioned bugle-band for the procession. Invitations were sent to the following-named organizations to participate in the procession : Encampment Thomas G. Stevenson Post 26, G. A. R.; Roxbury Horse Guards; Past Members of the Reserve Guard ; Encampments and Lodges of the Masons, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias and Knights of Honor; and the Battalions of the Roxbury High and Latin Schools. General Isaac S. Burrell was chosen Chief Marshal of the Day, and he designated an efficient corps of Aids.
An unexpected delay in the arrangements was caused by a fatal accident to the father-in-law of Hon. William Gaston, who was compelled to decline to deliver the oration. General Horace Binney Sargent, of Salem, a former resident of Roxbury, reluctantly consented to prepare an oration during the brief time allowed, and mainly to accommodate him the celebration was fixed one week later, viz., Nov. 22. When the arrangements had thus far been completed, a sub-committee was authorized to publish in the two local papers — the "Home Journal” and the “ Roxbury City. Gazette” — and to mail two hundred postal-card copies of the following circular :