| On Saturday, June 16, 2007, Mayor Thomas M. Menino dedicated the public art in Edward Everett Square, featuring a sculpture 11 1/2 feet high of the Clap Pear .
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The emcee of the event was John McColgan, chair of the Edward Everett Square Committee who spent many years planning the improvements to the streetscape.
Other speakers included;, City Council President Maureen Feeney; Senator Jack Hart; Edward Everett (re-enacted by Jim Cooke); J. Charles Swift, historian of First Parish Church; Laura Baring-Gould, the artist;
| Edward Everett (re-enacted by Jim Cooke) spoke at the ceremony.
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EDWARD EVERETT'S REMARKS IN DORCHESTER JUNE 16, 2007 at 2 PM
Among numerous calls to address public meetings with which I have been honored during my life, I have never received one with greater pleasure than that which brings me here, today. You have invited me, as a native citizen of this town, to the place of my birth, of my early education, of all kindly associations of childhood. I see before me, today, a great and wonderful diversity of peoples -- unimaginable in my time. Many years have passed, since, as a school boy I climbed - summer and winter - what seemed to me the steep acclivity of Meetinghouse Hill. The old school house (it was then the new school house but I recollect that which preceded it) has disappeared. The ancient church in which I was baptized is no longer standing.
We called this intersection of rural Dorchester the Five Corners; you are kind enough to call it Edward Everett Square. Some within the sound of my voice recall my statue once stood yonder. It was the first statue erected in Boston's Public Garden -- a gift to the city from her citizens. The subscription raised was so great that money was redirected to a proposed equestrian statue of General Washington and to a memorial for Governor Andrew. I stood at the corner of Arlington and Beacon Streets pointing the way, they said, to Brighton. Today, you find your way to Brighton without my assistance. I was conveyed here in 1911, to the Five Corners, to the middle of my square. They said, my upraised arm cautioned traffic to, ?Slow Down!? To no avail -- I was twice knocked from my pedestal and stored in a wood yard at Franklin Park. In 1931, I was moved to where I stand, today.
When I was six years old a tragical event occurred near this place. One fine Sunday morning in 1800, we heard the discharge of small arms. We assumed someone was shooting birds down at Dorchester Neck. Presently however, a carriage with four horses drove furiously up the road; it contained the survivor of a fatal duel that had just taken place. This was a rare occurrence. I know not of another since that of Phillips and Woodridge in 1728 on the Boston Common. It created prodigious excitement -- increased by the suggestion that -- in obedience to an ancient law -- the body of the duelist would be buried at the next crossroad with a stake driven through it! Had this sinister notion been carried into effect, the center of our village would have been the spot for this ill-omened sepulcher. The circumstances of the duel were discussed with great concern: the provocation, the means of conducting it, and the fatal result formed the subject of conversation for several weeks. It left a powerful impression on my youthful imagination."
Today, I leave you with a Question: Can a city doing what we see done, today -- Can this Great & Shining City on a Hill imagine a Dorchester where gunshots in the night, or the day, in the early morning or in the late afternoon -- on any day of any week in any season of the year - Gunshots will never more be heard by man, woman or child of any age? It can be done. You can do this; it can be done. It is your Dorchester.
Thank you -
Everett's remarks extracted from an Address delivered to the citizens of Dorchester in 1855, from archives at the Massachusetts Historical Society & other sources.
Edward Everett Square Remarks -- J. Charles Swift
Historian, First Parish Church in Dorchester
16 June 2007
I am pleased to be here today as a representative of First Parish Church in Dorchester, the oldest religious congregation in present day Boston and a landmark on Meeting House Hill since 1670.
We stand today at the historic crossroads of Edward Everett Square. Massachusetts Avenue begins here which is fitting given the role Dorchester has played in the founding of this Commonwealth and in American history. The English settlers of Dorchester arrived in 1630 and found that Native Americans had been using Dorchester for fishing and food cultivation for centuries, and without their help, the English would have faced much longer odds for survival. After a hard winter, the settlers built Dorchester's first church, the one I represent today, near this site in 1631. The Town of Dorchester created the first tax supported free public school in America in 1639, and in 1645 the town declared that the school "shall equally and impartially receive, and instruct such as shall be [sent to the school] whither their parents be poor or rich, not refusing any."
The road to American independence went through Edward Everett Square. In March of 1776 the cannons that convinced the British to evacuate Boston went up Boston Street to Dorchester Heights under the leadership of Henry Knox.
Dorchester people have long been at the forefront of civil rights, from the Dorchester Anti-Slavery Society in the 1840s to women's rights champion Lucy Stone to Jones Hill resident William Monroe Trotter, who advocated on behalf of African-Americans to First Parish in Dorchester, which conducted the first same sex marriages in Dorchester in 2004. Even animals and plants are represented in Dorchester's history?the founder of the Animal Rescue League, Anna Clapp Harris Smith lived at 65 Pleasant Street, and several of the most prominent 19th century members of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society developed important varieties of fruits and flowers in Dorchester.
Although Dorchester is often overshadowed by Boston, we have a long history here of which to be proud.
Most importantly however, is that this place is where Dorchester residents held the first recorded town meeting in American history, on October 8 1633. At that meeting the men of Dorchester agreed to elect representatives, abide by their decisions, and to work together for a common good. This town meeting form of representative democracy quickly spread from Dorchester throughout the Massachusetts Bay Colony and ultimately helped form the American republic.
There will soon be several sculptures here in Edward Everett Square reflecting every day community life and each will have quotes from people connected with Dorchester. The bricks under our feet will have the words of many others, making Edward Everett Square the site of a virtual town meeting with voices spanning the centuries, talking, arguing, sharing, and dreaming with each other, united in both time and space. Everyone here has the chance to contribute to the conversation by donating a brick to the effort and I encourage everyone to add their own voice. Thank you.
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Created: June 17, 2007 Modified: June 17, 2007