We love sharing about the North of Boston’s vast, rich history. In honor of Independence Day, we’re going back to the birth of our country and the key role played by the North of Boston region…
We tend to associate the beginning of the American Revolution with Boston, but did you know that the Revolution actually had its roots a little further north?
In 1683, Reverend John Wise was appointed the minister of Ipswich’s Chebacco Parish (which was later to become Essex). Wise had a the reputation of being confident and outspoken and soon gained immense respect from his congregation. It was also said that he was one heck of a wrestler and allegedly threw a horse over a fence, but that doesn’t have anything to do with this story.
Sign in Ipswich. (Photo: http://www.historicipswich.org/rev-john-wise/)
Horse wrestling aside, a few years after his appointment, Reverend Wise earned his place in history. In 1689, Sir Edmund Andros was appointed Royal Governor of Massachusetts. Andros immediately put a “Province Tax” into order, collecting money from each town. Reverend Wise argued that this tax violated citizens’ rights as Englishmen and that they should not be taxed without representation – a sentiment that was later echoed by outraged colonists leading up to the American Revolution. Wise led a protest (which included fellow Ipswich-ite Samuel Appleton) and the group was arrested and tried in Boston, imprisoned, and fined for their misconduct. The town of Ipswich paid Wise’s fines and people in Boston, now outraged and inspired by Wise, had their own uprising and saw to it that Governor Andros was arrested. Wise had unknowingly started a small spark that would soon lead to the Revolution.
Later on in his memoirs, Reverend Wise wrote:
““The first human subject and original of civil power is the people. For as they have a power, every man over himself in a natural state, so upon a combination they can and do bequeath this power unto others, …and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please…The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all, and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, etc., without injury or abuse done to any.”
Sound familiar? Thomas Jefferson was inspired by Wise when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps “WIse” was more than just the good Reverend’s name…
Ipswich History Mural by Alan Pearsall for EBSCO, 2006
Local color dabbed into mural — “Residents star as characters in painting of historic scenes”
By David Rattigan, Boston Globe , January 14, 2007
The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich
Rev. John Wise
A quick Google search will tell you that America’s oldest cotton mill was the Slater Mill, built in Rhode Island in 1790. There’s just one slight problem with this fact – there was another cotton mill built three years earlier in Beverly, Massachusetts. This “lost” mill utilized experimental techniques and machinery (some of which were the model for the “jenny” at Rhode Island’s mill) and was praised by George Washington himself (he really got around the North Shore in the 1780s). So, what’s the story of this lost bit of history?
When built in 1787, the Beverly Cotton Manufactory was the largest mill in the United States. The mill, under the ownership of many partners, including the wealthy John Cabot and his brother, George, was incorporated in 1789 and was initially a success. In October 1789, George Washington visited the mill and was impressed with its state-of-the-art machinery and utilization of horse power. He commented that “In short the whole seemed perfect, and the Cotton stuffs wch (sic). they turn out excellent of their kind” before traveling on to Ipswich and Newburyport.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
So, if the Beverly mill was such a success, why does Rhode Island get the credit for having the first mill?
We could not find a definitive answer to this question, in all honesty. Due to financial issues (most likely stemming from the costs of building such a big mill and competition from the more efficient water-run mills that popped up), the Beverly Cotton Manufactory was shut down in the early 1800’s. Our assumption is that the Slater Mill was more successful and utilized the more innovative water power while Beverly’s mill, a financial disaster, was swept into the dustbin of history.
The fact that the Beverly Cotton Manufactory building itself burned down in 1828 also plays a factor – there’s nothing to show for this historical landmark which makes it even easier to forget. Although, the Beverly Historical Society has placed a memorial stone where the Manufactory once stood.
There’s so much to do this summer in the North of Boston region! From open studios and classic car shows to 1920s lawn parties and numerous festivals, there’s something for everyone! The only problem is fitting it all into your schedule – but don’t worry, you have all summer to explore, navigate and play!
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Salisbury Beach. Photo by Gary Miles
Every year, Destination Salem hosts Salem Tourism Day, a day to celebrate all that makes Salem wonderful and unique for visitors. We were delighted to join our fellow tourism colleagues for a day dedicated to exploring the spooky, glamorous, literary, nautical, and delicious sides of this multifaceted city
Chauffeured by the Salem Trolley, the day began with a step back in time aboard one of the Trolley’s special tours. After dark, the spirits of Salem come alive for the Salem Trolley’s “Tales & Tombstones” tour. This hour-long, narrated tour takes you through scenes of murders, ghosts, secrets, curses, and legends. Spooky and often silly, this tour is a must for visitors interested in Salem’s colorful history (just make sure that one of the tour’s many spirits didn’t hitch a ride on the trolley with you!). “Tales and Tombstones” is available on Fridays and Saturdays, July-August, and Thursdays-Sundays in October. Be sure to reserve your tickets today – this popular tour sells out quickly!
After looking back at Salem’s scarier history, we were treated to trip aboard the Friendship, the National Park Service’s replica of the 1797 Salem East Indiaman Friendship. A fascinating look into the mercantile shipping and trading, the Friendship is a great place to start exploring Salem’s history as a bustling port. The Friendship is open for tours year-round (please schedule your tour in advance November through April).
Once we were finished roaming the high seas, we were treated to lunch at Salem’s newest restaurant, the Sea Level Oyster Bar. With unparalleled views of Pickering Wharf, Sea Level offers the freshest seafood, incredible gourmet pizzas, and so much more. The menu is a can’t-miss – everything is great (Sea Level’s chef, aside from being crazy-talented, was a contestant on TV’s “Hell’s Kitchen”). Did we mention the amazing indoor/outdoor bar on the second floor?
After lunch, it was time to explore Salem’s glamorous side. A city of infamous history, scenic waterfront, and gorgeous architecture, it’s no wonder that several movie and television productions have used the city as a backdrop. Salem Historical Tours’ TV & Movie Sites Tour takes you around to various locations featured in such films as “Bride Wars,” “Hocus Pocus,” “American Hustle,” and more.
Our day in Salem ended with a trip to the House of the Seven Gables. The inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name (Hawthorne’s cousin, Susanna Ingersoll owned the house), it is immensely appealing for bibliophiles, history buffs, and fans of architecture. A tour of the house gives you an insight into life in the 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century Salem, marking structural and cosmetic changes to the house. This 359-year-old landmark does not disappoint. Also located on the property are the Retire Beckett House (1655), Hooper-Hathaway House (1682), Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace (1750), and The Counting House (1830). During your visit, be sure to meander through the gorgeous Seaside Gardens which encompass four centuries of planting schemes.
For more information on Salem (including upcoming events, itineraries, and a terrific blog), visit www.salem.org.