previous next
[300] interest every symptom of the awakening of public attention in America to this subject, and every promise of opportunity for creating similar institutions. The endowment of a great library in New York, given by Mr. John Jacob Astor, at his death, in 1848, was much talked about; and men of forecast began to say openly that, unless something of a like character were done in Boston, the scientific and literary culture of this part of the country would follow trade and capital to the metropolis, which was thus taking the lead. Still, nothing effectual was done. Among the persons with whom Mr. Ticknor had, of late years, most frequently talked of the matter, Dr. Channing was dead, Mr. Abbott Lawrence had become Minister to England, and Mr. Jonathan Phillips was growing too infirm to take part in public affairs. The subject, however, kept its hold on Mr. Ticknor's mind.

His idea was that which he felt lay at the foundation of all our public institutions, namely, that in order to form and maintain our character as a great nation, the mass of the people must be intelligent enough to manage their own government with wisdom; and he came, though not at once, to the conclusion that a very free use of books, furnished by an institution supported at the expense of the community, would be one of the effective means for obtaining this result of general culture.

He had reached this conclusion before he saw any probability of its being practically carried out, as is proved by the following letter, which he wrote to Mr. Everett, in the summer of 1851. A few months before this date Mr. Everett had presented to the city—after offering it in vain more than once—a collection of about a thousand volumes of Public Documents, and books of similar character, accompanied by a letter, urging the establishment of a public library.

To Hon. Edward Everett.

Bellows Falls, Vermont, July 14, 1851.
my dear Everett,—I have seen with much gratification from time to time, within the last year, and particularly in your last letter on the subject, that you interest yourself in the establishment of a


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Bellows Falls (Vermont, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Edward Everett (4)
George Ticknor (2)
Jonathan Phillips (1)
Abbott Lawrence (1)
Walter Channing (1)
John Jacob Astor (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 14th, 1851 AD (1)
1851 AD (1)
1848 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: