American Historic Towns
Historic Towns of New England
Edited by Lyman P. Powell
G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
OLD RUTLAND, MASSACHUSETTS
THE CRADLE OF OHIO
By EDWIN D. MEAD
THE Old South Historical Society in Boston inaugurated in 1896 the custom of annual historical pilgrimages. It had learned from Parkman and Motley and Irving how vital and vivid history is made by visits to the scenes of history. Its pilgrimages must be short to places near home; but the good places to visit in New England are many. Great numbers of people, young and old, join in the pilgrimages. Six hundred went to the beautiful Whittier places beside the Merrimac, the second year; and as many the third year to the King Philip country, on Narragansett Bay.
The first year's pilgrimage was to old Rutland, Massachusetts, "the cradle of Ohio." A hundred of the young people went on the train from Boston, on that bright July day; and when they had climbed to the little village on the hill, and swept their eyes over the great expanse of country round about Wachusett and away to Monadnock, and strolled down to the old Rufus Putnam house, by whose fireside the settlement of Marietta was planned, a hundred more people had come from the surrounding villages; and a memorable little celebration was that under the maples after the luncheon, with the dozen energetic speeches from the young men and the older ones. It was a fine inauguration of the Old South pilgrimages, and woke many people to the great possibilities of the historical pilgrimage as an educational factor.
Ten years before, there was hardly a man in Massachusetts who ever thought of Rutland as a historical town. The people of Princeton and Paxton and Hubbardston and Oakham looked across to the little village on the hill from their villages on the hills, and they did not think of it; the people of Worcester drove up of a Sunday to get a dinner at the old village tavern, and they did not think of it; the Amherst College boys and the Smith College girls rode past on the Central Massachusetts road, at the foot of the hill, on their way to Boston, and heard "Rutland!" called, but they thought nothing of history; and in Boston the last place to which people would have thought of arranging a historical pilgrimage was this same Rutland.
Yet when the Old South young people went there on their first pilgrimage, Rutland had already become a name almost as familiar in our homes as Salem or Sudbury or Deerfield. The Old South young people themselves had been led to think very much about it. In 1893, the year of the World's Fair at Chicago, the great capital of the great West, a place undreamed of a hundred years before, when Rutland was witnessing its one world historical event, the Old South lectures were devoted to "The Opening of the West." Two of the eight lectures were upon "The Northwest Territory and the Ordinance of 1787" and "Marietta and the Western Reserve"; two of the leaflets issued in connection were Manasseh Cutler's Description of Ohio in 1787 and Garfield's address on The Northwest Territory and the Western Reserve; and one of the subjects set for the Old South essays was "The Part Taken by Massachusetts Men in Connection with the Ordinance of 1787." These studies first kindled the imaginations of hundreds of young people and first roused them to the consciousness that westward expansion had been the great fact in our history from the time of the Revolution to the time of the Civil War; that New England had had a controlling part in this great movement, which, by successive waves, has reached Ohio, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, so that there is more good New England blood today west of the Hudson than there is east of it; and that this movement, which has transformed the United States from the little strip along the Atlantic coast which fought for independence to the great nation which stretches now from sea to sea, began at the old town of Rutland, Massachusetts. This Rutland on the hill is the cradle of Ohio, the cradle of the West.
It was not, by any means, these Boston lectures on "The Opening of the West" which reawakened Massachusetts and the country to the forgotten historical significance of old Rutland. That awakening was done by Senator Hoar, in his great oration at the Marietta centennial, in 1888. Senator Hoar's oration did not indeed awaken Massachusetts to the great part taken by Massachusetts. men in connection with the Ordinance of 1787, or the part of New England in the settlement and shaping of the West. No awakening to these things was necessary. There is no New England household which has not kindred households in the West, ever in close communication with the old home; and the momentous significance of the Ordinance of 1787, and the decisive part taken by Massachusetts statesmen in securing it, the Massachusetts historian and orator were never likely to let the people forget
"At the foundation of the constitution of these new Northwestern States," said Daniel Webster in his great reply to Hayne, "lies the celebrated Ordinance of 1787. We are accustomed to praise the lawgivers of antiquity; we help to perpetuate the fame of Solon and Lycurgus; but I doubt whether one single law of any lawgiver, ancient or modern, has produced effects of more distinct, marked and lasting character than the Ordinance of 1787. That instrument was drawn by Nathan Dane, a citizen of Massachusetts; and certainly it has happened to few men to be the authors of a political measure of more large and enduring consequence. It fixed forever the character of the population in the vast regions northwest of the Ohio, by excluding from them involuntary servitude. It impressed on the soil itself, while it was yet a wilderness, an incapacity to sustain any other than free men. It laid the interdict against personal servitude, in original compact, not only deeper than all local law, but deeper also than all local constitutions. We see its consequences at this moment, and we shall never cease to see them, perhaps, while the Ohio shall flow."
Mr. Hoar spoke as strongly of the Ordinance, in his Marietta oration. "The Ordinance of 1787 belongs with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution; it is one of the three title deeds of American constitutional liberty." But the chief merit of his oration was not the new emphasis with which he said what Webster had said, but the picturesqueness and the power with which he brought the men and the events of that great period of the opening of the West home to the imagination. The oration was especially memorable for the manner in which it set Rufus Putnam, the man of action, the head of the Ohio Company, the leader of the Marietta colony, in the centre of the story, and made us see old Rutland as the cradle of the movement.
Complete religious liberty, the public support of schools, and the prohibition forever of slavery, these were what the Ordinance of 1787 secured for the Northwest. "When older States or nations," said Mr. Hoar, "where the chains of human bondage have been broken, shall utter the proud boast, ' With a great sum obtained I this freedom,' each sister of this imperial group, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin - may lift her queenly head with the yet prouder answer, 'But I was free born.'" The moment of this antislavery article of the Ordinance, in view of the course of our national history during the century that has followed, it would not be possible to overstate. When the great test of civil war came, to settle of what sort this republic should be, who dare contemplate the result had these five States been slave States and not free!
Massachusetts makes no false or exclusive claims of credit for the Ordinance of 1787. She does not forget the services of William Grayson, nor those of Richard Henry Lee. She does not forget Thomas Jefferson.(1)
The names of Nathan Dane, Rufus Putnam, Rufus King, Timothy Pickering and Manasseh Cutler are names of the greatest moment in the history of the West. No other group of men did so much as these Massachusetts men to determine what the great West should be, by securing the right organization and institutions for the Northwest Territory and by securing at the beginning the right kind of settlers for Ohio.
It was really Manasseh Cutler who did most at the final decisive moment to secure the adoption of the clause in the great Ordinance which forever dedicated the Northwest to freedom. Of all these Massachusetts men he was by far the most interesting personality; and of all revelations of the inner character of that critical period, none is more interesting or valuable than that given by his Life and Leiters. It is to be remembered too that the first company of men for Marietta, Cutler urged Adelphia as the right name for the town started from Manasseh Cutler's own home in Ipswich, joining others at Danvers, December 3, 1787, almost a month before the Rutland farmers left to join Putnam at Hartford. For the shrine of Manasseh Cutler is not at Rutland, but at Hamilton, which was a part of Ipswich. The home of Nathan Dane was Beverly. "It happened," said Edward Everett Hale, at the Marietta centennial, "that it was Manasseh Cutler who was to be the one who should call upon that Continental Congress to do the duty which they had pushed aside for five or six years. It happened that this diplomatist succeeded in doing in four days what had not been done in four years before. What was the weight which Manasseh Cutler threw into the scale ? It was not wealth; it was not the armor of the old time; it was simply the fact, known to all men, that the men of New England would not emigrate into any region where labor and its honest recompense is dishonorable. The New England men will not go where it is not honorable to do an honest day's work, and for that honest day's work to claim an honest recompense. They never have done it, and they never will do it; and it was that potent fact, known to all men, that Manasseh Cutler had to urge in his private conversation and in his diplomatic work. When he said, 'I am going away from New York, and my constituents are not going to do this thing,' he meant exactly what he said. They were not going to any place where labor was dishonorable, and where workmen were not recognized as freemen. If they had not taken his promises, they would not have come here; they would have gone to the Holland Company's lands in New York, or where Massachusetts was begging them to go, into the valley of the Penobscot or the Kennebec."
Senator Hoar, in his oration, said of Manasseh Cutler:
"He was probably the fittest man on the continent, except Franklin, for a mission of delicate diplomacy. It was said just now that Putnam was a man after Washington's pattern and after Washington's own heart. Cutler was a man after Franklin's pattern and after Franklin's own heart. He was the most learned naturalist in America, as Franklin was the greatest master in physical science. He was a man of consummate prudence in speech and conduct; of courtly manners; a favorite in the drawing room and in the camp; with a wide circle of friends and correspondents among the most famous men of his time. During his brief service in Congress, he made a speech on the judicial system, in x803, which shows his profound mastery of constitutional principles. It now fell to his lot to conduct a negotiation second only in importance to that which Franklin conducted with France in 1778. Never was ambassador crowned with success more rapid or more complete."
But here, in old Rutland, it is not with Manasseh Cutler that we are concerned, but with Rufus Putnam. Rufus Putnam was the head of the Ohio Company, and the leader in the actual settlement of the new Territory. It was with Putnam that Manasseh Cutler chiefly conferred concerning the proposed Ohio colony. He left Boston for New York, on his important mission, on the evening of June 25, 1787, and on that day he records in his diary: "I conversed with General Putnam, and settled the principles on which I am to contract with Congress for lands on account of the Ohio Company." Of Rufus Putnam, Senator Hoar said in his oration, after his tributes to Varnum, Meigs, Parsons, Tupper and the rest:
"But what can be said which shall be adequate to the worth of him who was the originator, inspirer, leader, and guide of the Ohio settlement from the time when he first conceived it, in the closing days of the Revolution, until Ohio took her place in the Union as a free State in the summer of 1803? Every one of that honorable body would have felt it as a personal wrong had he been told that the foremost honors of this occasion would not be given to Rufus Putnam. Lossing calls him the father of Ohio.' Burnet says, ' He was regarded as their principal chief and leader.' He was chosen the superintendent at the meeting of the Ohio Company in Boston, November 21, 1787, 'to be obeyed and respected accordingly.' The agents of the company, when they voted in 1780 ' that the 7th of April be forever observed as a public festival,' speak of it as 'the day when General Putnam commenced the settlement in this country.' Harris dedicates the documents collected in his appendix to Rufus Putnam, 'the founder and father of the State.' He was a man after Washington's own pattern and after Washington's own heart; of the blood and near kindred of Israel Putnam, the man who dared to lead where any man dared to follow.'"
Mr. Hoar recounts the great services of Putnam during the Revolution, beginning with his brilliant success in the fortification of Dorchester Heights:
"We take no leaf from the pure chaplet of Washington's fame when we say that the success of the first great military operation of the Revolution was due to Rufus Putnam."
But it was not Senator Hoar's task to narrate the military services of General Putnam.'
"We have to do," he said, "only with the entrenchments constructed under the command of this great engineer for the constitutional fortress of American liberty. Putnam removed his family to Rutland, Worcester County, Mass., early in 1780. His house is yet standing, about ten miles from the birthplace of the grandfather of President Garfield. He himself returned to Rutland when the war was over. He had the noble public spirit of his day, to which no duty seemed trifling or obscure. For five years he tilled his farm and accepted and performed the public offices to which his neighbors called him. He was representative to the General Court, selectman, constable, tax collector and committee to lay out school lots for the town; State surveyor, commissioner to treat with the Penobscot Indians and volunteer in putting down Shays's Rebellion. He was one of the founders and first trustees of Leicester Academy, and, with his family of eight children, gave from his modest means a hundred pounds toward its endowment. But he had larger plans in mind. 'The town constable of Rutland was planning an empire."
Rufus Putnam was born in Sutton, Massachusetts, April 9, 1738, just fifty years before he founded Marietta, where he died May a, 1824. He was a cousin of General Putnam. Early in life he was a millwright and a farmer; but he studied mathematics, surveying and engineering after distinguished service in the old French war and became our leading engineer during the Revolution, and an able officer in many campaigns. He first planned the Ohio settlement, and at the outset made it a distinct condition that there should be no slavery in the territory. Five years after the founding of Marietta, Putnam was made Surveyor General of the United States; and his services in Ohio until the time of his death were of high importance.
Putnam's chief counsellor in his design at the first was Washington, whose part altogether in the opening of the West was so noteworthy. Mr. Hoar tells of the correspondence between Putnam and Washington, and follows the interesting history to the organization of the Ohio Company, at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, in 1787, and the departure of the Massachusetts emigrants at the end of the next year.
"Putnam went out from his simple house in Rutland to dwell no more in his native Massachusetts. It is a plain, wooden dwelling, perhaps a little better than the average of the farmers' houses of New England of that day; yet about which of Europe's palaces do holier memories cling! Honor and fame, and freedom and empire, and the faith of America went with him as he crossed the threshold."
To Rutland, as one who loved the old town and its history has well said, "belongs the honor of having carried into action the Ordinance of 1787. Standing on Rutland hill, and looking around the immense basin of which it forms the centre, it is with conscious pride that one looks upon the old landmarks and calls up to the imagination the strong and brave and true men whose traditions have permeated the soil and left their marks in the civilization which has been the type for the development of the whole of the great Northwest." For this old town on the hilltop was veritably "the cradle of Ohio." Here was first effectually heard that potent invitation and command, so significant in the history of this country in these hundred years, "Go West!" This town incarnates and represents as no other the spirit of the mighty movement which during the century has extended New England all through the great West.
As early as 1783, about the time of the breaking up of the army at Newburgh on the Hudson, General Putnam and nearly three hundred army officers had proposed to form a new State beyond the Ohio, and Washington warmly endorsed their memorial to Congress asking for a grant of land; but the plan miscarried. As soon as the Ordinance was passed, the Ohio Company, of which Putnam was the president, bought from the government five or six million acres, and the first great movement of emigration west of the Ohio at once began. Within a year following the organization of the territory, twenty thousand people became settlers upon the banks of the Ohio. But the Pilgrim Fathers of the thousands and the millions, the pioneers to whom belongs the praise, were the forty or fifty farmers who from old Rutland pushed on with Putnam through the snows of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, coming to Pittsburgh just as the spring of 1788 came, and dropping down the river to Marietta in the little boat which they had named, by a beautiful fatality, the Mayflower. "Forever honored be Marietta as another Plymouth!"
The men who first settled the Northwest Territory, as President Hayes, following Mr. Hoar at Marietta, well called it, "the most fortunate colonization that ever occurred on earth," and who set the seal of their character and institutions upon it, were of the best blood of New England.
" Look for a moment," said Mr. Hoar, "at the forty eight men who came here a hundred years ago to found the first American civil government whose jurisdiction did not touch tide water. See what manner of men they were; in what school they had been trained; what traditions they had inherited. I think that you must agree that of all the men who ever lived on earth fit to perform ' that ancient, primitive and heroical work,' the founding of a State, they were the fittest."
Here we remember too the words of Washington.
"No colony in America," said Washington, the warm friend of Putnam, who was deeply concerned that the development of the West should begin in the right way, in the hands of the right men, "was ever settled under such favorable auspices as that which has just commenced at the Muskingum. Information, property and strength will be its characteristics. I know many of the settlers personally, and there never were men better calculated to promote the welfare of such a community."
We honor old Rutland not only because she sent men to open the West, but because she sent her best, because she pitched the tone for the great West high.
But Rutland is not only "the cradle of Ohio," preeminent as that distinction is in her history. She also - like the other towns on the hills round about her, and like every good old New England town - has her long line of simple local annals, well worthy the attention of the summer visitor from Boston or Chicago. Happy are you if you hear them all from the lips of one or another of the local antiquarians, as you ride with him through the fields to Muschopauge Pond, or along the Princeton road to Wachusett, or over Paxton way to see the lot which Senator Hoar has bought on the top of Asnebumskit Hill, perhaps finding the Senator himself on the hill, as we did, where he could see Worcester in one direction, and in the other, Rutland.
I remember well the crisp September night when I first saw Rutland, with the new moon in the clear sky, and the evening star. I remember that the man who drove me up from the little station to the big hotel on the hill, while I filled my lungs with Rutland air, proved to be the hotel proprietor himself, and, which was much better, proved - and proved it much more the next day - to be the very prince of local antiquarians. He had himself written a history of Rutland for a history of Worcester County, and there was nothing that he did not know. If there was anything, then the good village minister, he has been to Marietta since, and is president of the Rutland Historical Society, had read it in some book; or the town clerk knew it; or Mr. Miles remembered it, who was to Rutland born, and whose memory was good. So in the dozen pleasant visits which I have made to Rutland since, I have not only taken mine ease with the benevolent boniface, but have taken many history lessons on the broad piazzas and the hills.
The boniface will tell you, sitting in the corner looking toward Wachusett, how, in 1686, Joseph Trask, alias Pugastion, of Pennicook; Job, alias Pompamamay, of Natick; Simon Pitican, alias Wananapan, of Wamassick; Sassawannow, of Natick, and another - Indians who claimed to be lords of the soil - gave a deed to Henry Willard and Joseph Rowlandson and Benjamin Willard and others, for £23 of the then currency, of a certain tract of land twelve miles square, the name in general being Naquag, the south corner butting upon Muschopauge Pond, and running north to Quanitick and to Wauchatopick, and so running upon great Wachusett, etc. Upon the petition, he will tell you, of the sons and grandsons of Major Simon 'Willard, of Lancaster, deceased that famous Major Willard who went to relieve Brookfield when beset by the Indians and others; the General Court in 1713 confirmed these lands to these petitioners, "provided that within seven years there be sixty families settled thereon, and sufficient lands reserved for the use of a gospel ministry and schools, except what part thereof the Hon. Samuel Sewall, Esq., hath already purchased, the town to be called Rutland, and to lye to the county of Middlesex." The grant was about one eighth of the present Worcester County, comprising almost all the towns round about. When the new Worcester County was incorporated, Rutland failed of becoming the shire town, instead of Worcester, by only one vote, and that vote, they say in Rutland, was bought by a base bribe. The antiquarian taverner will point his spy glass toward Barre for you, and tell you it was named after our good friend in the House of Commons in the Stamp Act days; toward Petersham hill, back of it, where John Fiske spends his summers, and tell you about Shays' Rebellion; toward Hubbardston, and tell you it was named for an old speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; toward Princeton, and tell you it perpetuates the memory of Thomas Prince, the famous old pastor of the Old South Church in Boston, founder of the Prince Library; toward Paxton, and tell you about Charles Paxton, who was something or other; toward Oakham, and tell you something else. He will tell you that Holden is so called after that same family whose name is also honored in Holden Chapel at Harvard College; and he will probably point to Shrewsbury, on the hill away beyond Holden, and talk about General Artemas Ward, whose old home and grave are there.
He will tell about the first settlers of Rutland, respectable folk from Boston and Concord and other places, and how many immigrants from Ireland there were, with their church membership papers in their pockets. He will tell you of Judge Sewall's sum of a thousand acres in the north part of the town, and of his gift of the sacramental vesWessels the church; of the five hundred acres granted to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company; of how the road through the village was laid out ten rods wide, and so remains unto this dayy; of the call to the "able, learned, orthodox minister," Joseph Willard, in 1721, and how he was "cut off by the Indians "-shot in the field north of the meeting house, just before the insinstallationsy, so that Thomas Frink, "an abla and learned, orthodox and pious person," was called instead. Presently there was "a coolness affection in some of the brethren" towards Mr. Frink, because two fifths of the church members were Presbyterians, over against three fifths Congregationalists, and "contrary to his advice and admonition communed with the Presbyterians in other towns." The upshot was a split, and a Presbyterian church in the west part of the town. These Rutland Presbyterians seem to have come from Ireland, they were of the same sort as those who founded Londonderry, New Hampshire just before; and some of them were so tenacious of their own ordinances that they carried their infants in their arms on horseback as far as Pelham to have them baptized in good Presbyterian form.
Rutland had her minute men, and fifty of them were at Bunker Hill. She had some hot town meetings between the Stamp Act time and Lexington, and passed ringing resolutions and some stiff instructions to Colonel Murray, her representative to the General Court, whom more and more she distrusted, and who, when the final pinch came, declared himself a Tory out and out, and fled to Nova Scotia, leaving Rutland "by a back road," to avoid a committee of the whole, which was on its way to visit him.
To tell the truth, this Tory Colonel, John Murray, must have been the most interesting figure ever associated with old Rutland, save General Rufus Putnam himself; and, curiously enough, the Putnam place had belonged first to Murray, the house being built by him for one of his married daughters, all of Murray's lands and goods being confiscated, and this house falling into Putnam's hands in 1780 or 1782, probably at a very low figure.
He was not John Murray when he came to Rutland, but John McMorrah. He came from Ireland with John and Elizabeth McClanathan, Martha Shaw and others, his mother dying on the passage. He was not only penniless when he set his foot on the American shore, but in debt for his passage. "For a short time," says the chronicle, "he tried manual labor; but he was too lazy to work, and to beg ashamed." He found a friend in Andrew Hendery, and began peddling; then he kept a small store, and later bought cattle for the army. Everything seemed to favor him, and he became the richest man that ever lived in Rutland. "He did not forget Elizabeth McClanathan, whom he sailed to America with, but made her his wife." She lies, along with Lucretia Chandler, his second wife, and Deborah Brindley, the third, in the old Rutland graveyard. "He placed horizontally over their graves large handsome stones underpinned with brick, whereon were engraved appropriate inscriptions." He had a large family, seven sons and five daughters; and the oldest son, Alexander, remained loyal to America and to Rutland when his father fled, entering the army and being wounded in the service. Murray became a large landholder and had many tenants; he was the "Squire" of the region. He grew arbitrary and haughty as he grew wealthy, but was popular, until the stormy politics came. "On Representative day," we read, "all his friends that could ride, walk, creep or hobble were at the polls; and it was not his fault if they returned dry." He held every office the people could give him, and represented them twenty years in the General Court. He was a large, fleshy man, and, "when dressed in his regimentals, with his gold bound hat, etc., he made a superb appearance." He lived in style, with black servants and white. "His high company from Boston, Worcester, etc., his office and parade, added to the popularity and splendor of the town. He promoted schools, and for several years gave twenty dollars yearly towards supporting a Latin grammar school." He also gave a clock to the church, which was placed in front of the gallery, and proved himself a thoroughly modern man by inscribing on the clock the words, "A Gift of John Murray, Esq."
All these things your loyal Rutland host will tell you, or read to you out of the old books, where you can read them, and many other things. And he will take you to drive, down past the Putnam place, to the field where a large detachment of Burgoyne's army was quartered after the surrender at Saratoga. The prisoners' barracks stood for half a century, converted to new uses; and the well dug by the soldiers is still shown as, until a few years ago, were the mounds which marked the graves of those who died. Three of the officers fell in love with Rutland girls, and took them back to England as their wives. Yet none of their stories is so romantic as the story of that vagrant Betsy, whose girlhood was passed in a Rutland shanty, and who, after she married in New York the wealthy Frenchman, Stephen Jumel, and was left a widow, then married Aaron Burr.
St. Edmundsbury, in old Suffolk, where Robert Browne first preached independency, has an air so bracing and salubrious that it has been called the Montpellier of England. Old Rutland might well be called the Montpellier of Massachusetts. Indeed, when a few years ago the State of Massachusetts decided to establish a special hospital for consumptives, the authorities asked the opinions of hundreds of physicians and scientific men in all parts of the State as to where was the best place for it, the most healthful and favorable point; and a vast preponderance of opinion was in behalf of Rutland. On the southern slope, therefore, of Rutland's highest hill the fine hospital now stands; and until people outgrow the foolish notion that a State must have all its State institutions within its own borders, until Massachusetts knows that North Carolina is a better place for consumptives than any town of her own, there could not be a wiser choice. The town is so near to Worcester, and even to Boston, that its fine air, broad outlook and big hotel draw to it hundreds of summer visitors; and latterly it has grown enterprising, for which one is a little sorry, and has waterworks and coaching parades.
The central town in Massachusetts, Rutland is also the highest village in the State east of the Connecticut. From the belfry of the village church, from the dooryards of the village people, the eye sweeps an almost boundless horizon, from the Blue Hills to Berkshire and from Monadnock to Connecticut, and the breezes on the summer day whisper of the White Hills and the Atlantic. It is not hard for the imagination to extend the view far beyond New England, to the town on the Muskingum which the prophetic eye of Putnam saw from here, and to the great States beyond, which rose obedient to the effort which began with him; it is not hard to catch messages borne on winds from the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific. Just at the foot of the hill, - to the west, as is fitting,- stands the old Rufus Putnam house, the church clock telling the hours above, Wachusett looming beyond the valley, the maples rustling before the door, to the west the sough of the pines. Its oaken timbers are still as sound as when Murray put them in place before the Revolution, each clapboard still intact, the doors the same, the rooms but little altered. Could Putnam return to earth again and to Rutland, he would surely feel himself at home as he passed through the gate.
In 1893, when the enthusiasm reinforced by our Old South lectures on "The Opening of the West" was strong, I wrote these words about the Rufus Putnam house:
"This historic house should belong to the people. It should be insured against every mischance. It should be carefully restored and preserved, and stand through the years, a memorial of Rufus Putnam and the farmers who went out with him to found Ohio, a monument to New England influence and effort in the opening and building of the great West. This room should be a Rufus Putnam room, in which there should be gathered every book and picture and document illustrating Putnam's career; this should be the Ordinance room, sacred to memorials of Manasseh Cutler and all who worked with him to secure the great charter of liberty; this the Marietta room, illustrating the Marietta of the first days and the last, binding mother and daughter together, and becoming the pleasant ground for the interchange of many edifying courtesies. There should be, too, a Rutland room, with its hundred objects illustrating the long history of the town, almost every important chapter of which has been witnessed by this venerable building, with memorials also of the old English Rutland and of the many American Rutlands which look back reverently to the historic Massachusetts town; and a Great West library, on whose shelves should stand the books telling the story of the great oak which has grown from the little acorn planted by Rufus Putnam a hundred years ago. We can think of few memorials which could be established in New England more interesting than this would be. We can think of few which could be established so easily. It is a pleasure to look forward to the day when this shall be accomplished. It is not hard to hear already the voice of Senator Hoar, at the dedication of this Rufus Putnam memorial, delivering the oration in the old Rutland church. Men from the West should be there with men from the East, men from Marietta, from the Western Reserve, from Chicago, from Puget Sound. A score of members of the Antiquarian Society at Worcester should be there. That score could easily make this vision a reality. We commend the thought to these men of Worcester. We commend it to the people of Rutland, who, however the memorial is secured, must be its custodians."
Just a year from the time these words were written, the pleasing plan and prophecy, more fortunate than most such prophecies, began to be fulfilled. It was a memorable meeting in old Rutland on that brilliant October day in 1894. Senator Hoar and seventy five good men and women came from Worcester; and Edward Everett Hale led a zealous company from Boston; and General Walker drove over with his friends from Brookfield, his boyhood home near by, the home, too, of Rufus Putnam before he came to Rutland; and when everybody had roamed over the old Putnam place, and crowded the big hotel dining room for dinner, and then adjourned to the village church, so many people from the town and the country round about had joined that the church never saw many larger gatherings. The address which Senator Hoar gave was full of echoes of his great Marietta oration; and when the other speeches had been made, it was very easy in the enthusiasm to secure pledges for a third of the four thousand dollars necessary to buy the old house and the hundred and fifty acres around it. The rest has since then been almost entirely raised; the house has been put into good condition, and is visited each year by hundreds of pilgrims from the East and the West; and a noteworthy collection of historical memorials has already been made, all under the control of the Rutland Historical Society, which grew out of that historic day, and which is doing a noble work for the intellectual and social life of the town, strengthening in the minds of the people the proud consciousness of their rich inheritance, and prompting them to meet the new occasion and new duty of today as worthily as Rufus Putnam and the Rutland farmers met the duty and opportunity of 1787. In the autumn of 1898, there was another noteworthy celebration at Rutland. This time it was the Sons of the Revolution who came; and they placed upon the Putnam house a bronze tablet with the following inscription, written by Senator Hoar, who was himself present and the chief speaker, as on the earlier occasion:
"Here, from 1781 to 1787, dwelt General Rufus Putnam, Soldier of the Old French War, Engineer of the works which compelled the British Army to evacuate Boston and of the fortifications of West Point, Founder and Father of Ohio. In this house he planned and matured the scheme of the Ohio Company, and from it issued the call for the Convention which led to its organization. Over this threshold he went to lead the Company which settled Marietta, April 7, 1788. To him, under God, it is owing that the great Northwest Territory was dedicated forever to Freedom, Education, and Religion, and that the United States of America is not now a great slaveholding Empire."
Many such celebrations will there be at the home of Rufus Putnam, and at the little village on the hill. Ever more highly will New England estimate the place of old Rutland in her history; ever more sacred and significant will it become as a point of contact for the East and West; and in the far off years the sons and daughters of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin will make pilgrimages to it, as the children of New England pilgrimage to Scrooby.
1) The Ordinance of 1784, the original of the Ordinance of 1787, was drawn up by Jefferson himself, as chairman of the committee appointed by Congress to prepare a plan for the government of the territory. The draft of the committee's report, in Jefferson's own handwriting, is still preserved in the archives of the State Department at Washington. "It is as completely Jefferson's own work," says Bancroft, "as the Declaration of Independence." Jefferson worked with the greatest earnestness to secure the insertion of a clause in the Ordinance of 1784 prohibiting slavery in the Northwest; and the clause was lost by only a single vote. "The voice of a single individual," said Jefferson, who foresaw more clearly than any other what the conflict with slavery was to mean to the republic, "would have prevented this abominable crime. Heaven will not always be silent. The friends of the rights of human nature will in the end prevail." They prevailed for the Northwest Territory with the achievement of Manasseh Cutler, Rufus Putnam and Nathan Dane.
Was it from Jefferson that Putnam and his men at Marietta caught their classical jargon? There was a great deal of pretentious classicism in America at that time, new towns everywhere being freighted with high-sounding Greek and Roman names. The founders of Marietta, so named in honor of Marie AntoinetteŚnamed one of their squares Capitolium; the road which led up from the river was the Sacra Via; and the new garrison, with blockhouses at the corners, was the Campus Martius. Jefferson had proposed dividing the Northwest into ten States, instead of five as was finally done, and for these States he proposed the names of Sylvania, Michigania, Assenisipia, Illinoia, Polypotamia, Cherronesus, Metropotamia, Saratoga, Pelisipia and Washington.
OLD RUTLAND, MASSACHUSETTS
Historic towns of New England
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