The Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Benjamin Franklin

The Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Benjamin Franklin

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The Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Benjamin Franklin

The Two-Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of Benjamin Franklin

Read FREE!


The first step toward a formal recognition in his native town of the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Franklin was taken in the Massachusetts General Court on January 26, 1905, when a resolve was offered by Representative Joseph J. Leonard, of West Roxbury, for the appointment of a committee of five by the Governor to arrange for a proper celebration to be held in Boston, on January 17, 1906.

This resolve passed in due course its various stages in the Legislature and became a law by the approval of His Excellency William L. Douglas, Governor of the Commonwealth, May 1, 1905.

The appropriation which this resolve carried was made conditional on concurrent action and a like appropriation by the City Council of Boston. On October 9, 1905, Acting Mayor Daniel A. Whelton sent a message to the City Council recommending such action, which was promptly taken, in the form of an order authorizing the acting mayor to appoint five citizens of Boston to coöperate with the committee on the part of the Commonwealth in arranging for the celebration, and also making a suitable appropriation.

Under the authority thus given Governor Douglas, on September 13, 1905, appointed as the committee on the part of the Commonwealth:--

The Hon. Samuel Abbott Green, the senior ex-mayor of Boston and the librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, chairman; Lindsay Swift, Esq., of the Boston Public Library; Patrick J. Guerin, Esq., secretary of the Franklin Typographical Society; C. B. Tillinghast, Esq., librarian of the State Library, and Edward H. Clement, Esq., editor of the Boston Evening Transcript.

October 28, 1905, Acting Mayor Whelton appointed as the committee on the part of the city of Boston:--

Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chairman of the managers of the Franklin Fund, chairman; the Right Rev. Mgr. William Byrne, D.D., Vicar-General of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston; James J. Phelan, Esq., of the firm of Hornblower & Weeks, and vice-president of the Federal Trust Company; Martin T. Joyce, Esq., president of the Central Labor Union of Boston, and Francis H. Manning, Esq., of the firm of Luce & Manning, wool merchants.

The joint committee met on November 4, 1905, at the State Library in the State House, which was thereafter its regular place of meeting, and organized by the choice of the Hon. Samuel A. Green as chairman, Lindsay Swift, Esq., as secretary, and James J. Phelan, Esq., as treasurer. Since it was apparent that there would be a large amount of clerical and detail work in preparing for the celebration, the committee, on November 8, engaged Mr. Edward S. Sears as assistant secretary.

Sub-committees on the observance of the day in the public schools (Messrs. Clement and Swift); on invitations (Messrs. Green, Pritchett, and Tillinghast); auditing committee (Messrs. Guerin and Manning); on reception and platform (Messrs. Manning, Guerin, and Joyce), were appointed at subsequent meetings of the full committee.

Symphony Hall was engaged as the place for holding the public exercises on the afternoon of January 17, 1906.

The sub-committee on invitations prepared a list, which the general committee ratified, comprising the names of resident officers of the United States government, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the county of Suffolk, and the city of Boston; members of Congress from Massachusetts; the General Court of Massachusetts, and the Boston City Council; the national and state judiciary; members of the principal state, city, and metropolitan boards and commissions; representative clergymen of various denominations; historical, patriotic, and literary societies; organizations representing the allied printing trades; institutions of learning; charitable and benevolent organizations; former governors of Massachusetts; former mayors of Boston; mayors of suburban cities; and men and women prominent in various fields of activity. Invitations were sent out in the following form:--

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