Beacon Street Diary

Archives: November 2016

November 29, 2016

As we approach the end of the year, we reflect on our blessings with our families and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Here at the Congregational Library & Archives, we hope that you will keep us in your thoughts, as well.

About #GivingTuesday:

#GivingTuesday is a movement, built by people around the world, to celebrate giving of all kinds. It is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday; this year it falls on November 29, 2016. This movement is the result of the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits large and small; businesses and corporations; schools and universities; civic campaigns in cities, states and regions; and families and individuals — to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. Everyone has something to give.

We encourage you to take the opportunity of Giving Tuesday to allocate your charitable giving, and we hope that you will make us a part of that. Our memberships are as little as $25 for students, and every donation is appreciated, no matter how small.

Your support allows us to provide services to researchers of all backgrounds, care for rare and unique historical materials, and increase public access to information that might otherwise be hidden from the world. Help us tell the stories of early New England and its people. Help us preserve our past for future generations. Be a part of our ongoing mission to ensure that history matters.

Whether you become a member or simply make a donation, we will put every contribution to good use.

November 25, 2016

As we approach the end of the year, we reflect on our blessings with our families and prepare for the upcoming holidays. Here at the Congregational Library & Archives, we hope that you will keep us in your thoughts, as well.

About #GivingTuesday:

#GivingTuesday is a movement, built by people around the world, to celebrate giving of all kinds. It is celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Black Friday and Cyber Monday; this year it falls on November 29, 2016. This movement is the result of the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits large and small; businesses and corporations; schools and universities; civic campaigns in cities, states and regions; and families and individuals — to inspire people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities and contribute in countless ways to the causes they believe in. Everyone has something to give.

We encourage you to take the opportunity of Giving Tuesday to allocate your charitable giving, and we hope that you will make us a part of that. Our memberships are as little as $25 for students, and every donation is appreciated, no matter how small.

Your support allows us to provide services to researchers of all backgrounds, care for rare and unique historical materials, and increase public access to information that might otherwise be hidden from the world. Help us tell the stories of early New England and its people. Help us preserve our past for future generations. Be a part of our ongoing mission to ensure that history matters.

Whether you become a member or simply make a donation, we will put every contribution to good use. Mark your calendars and get ready to spread a little joy.

November 22, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed this coming Wednesday through Friday, November 23-25, in observance of Thanksgiving.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return to the office on Monday, November 28th.

We wish all of you a safe and happy holiday.

November 10, 2016

The Congregational Library & Archives will be closed on Friday, November 11th, in observance of Veterans' Day.

All of our online resources will be available as usual. If you have a question you'd like to ask the staff, send an us email or leave a voicemail, and we'll get back to you when we return on Monday.

 

November 1, 2016

By the 1640s Massachusetts had already moved beyond paper ballots.

Not that they had any voting machines; it was just that paper was too expensive. So in a cost-cutting move the government went to "Indian beanes" (kidney beans). Their voting law stipulated that in the annual election for Assistants (who comprised the fledgling upper house of the Commonwealth's General Court), "the white beanes manifest election, the black for blanks." (September 7, 1643)

Enter Mighill Smith. On May 26, 1647, the government voted to make Mr. Smith a freeman. That meant he had attained a coveted status in early New England. From the original handful of persons named in the Bay Company charter, the Puritan settlers quickly expanded the right to vote to include a much larger population, namely, all (male) church members. So Mr. Smith proudly joined the ranks of the freemen; and it appears he voted that very day in an election for the Colony's Assistants. It may have been the first time he ever voted in his entire life.

It isn't clear that Mr. Smith believed in voting early and often — but he did drop three beans into the receptacle. A poll watcher caught him. He was accused of violating the October, 1643 law against voting more than once. As a result, in what may have been the first case of voter fraud on these shores, a £10 fine was levied on Mighill Smith. That hefty sum could have amounted to almost half of his yearly income.

Justice was swift. In that same session of the Great and General Court, maybe even on the very next day, the Court reached a judicious and compassionate verdict. "For his puting in of three beanes at once for one mans election," says the record, "it being done in simplicity, & he being pore & of an harmles disposition," Mr. Smith's fine was suspended.

-David M. Powers

 


photograph of an early ballot box using ballottas courtesy of the National Museum of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, via Wikimedia Commons