[Read before the Medford
Historical Society, April 4, 1908.]
NE of the most prominent men in Medford
for fifty years subsequent to 1820, was Galen James
, who came to this town in early manhood and gave to it and its interests the best part of an active and earnest life.
Born in Scituate, Massachusetts
, near the ‘Block House Yard’ on the North River
, where his family had carried on ship building for several generations, he inherited the trade of a ship carpenter.
He was the son of Major John James
and Patience Clapp
; he was born September 29, 1790, and baptized June 5, 1791, as Galen Clapp James
, in honor of his maternal grandfather.
He did not habitually use his middle initial, but it appears in his two marriage intentions filed in Medford
His ancestry includes the pioneers of Plymouth County
, Mayflower passengers and sturdy men of Kent
, who settled Scituate
We find among his forebears, the names of Brewster
, and others prominent in the early life of the colony.
From them he inherited a strong devotion to principle and a firm belief in the dignity of labor.
He was married in 1817 to Mary Rand Turner
, daughter of Hon. Charles Turner, Jr.
, Member of Congress, and Hannah Jacob
, daughter of Col. John Jacob
She was a relative of Mr. James
, though hardly near enough to be called a cousin.
They had eight children; only two of whom lived to maturity—Horace and Matilda Turner
died December 13, 1831, and Mr. James [p. 74]
married, second, Amanda Jacobs
, daughter of David Jacobs
, April 14, 1833.
She had no children.
The first Mrs. James
was only thirty-four years old when she died, and we know very little about her except the influence of her Christian character upon her children.
It is a family tradition that Miss Jacobs
declared that she never would be a step-mother to anybody's children, but when her suitor came rowing down the river and asked her to come up to Medford
and be a mother to his two, she did not say him nay. She was a cousin of Mary Rand Turner James
, and at the time of her marriage was living at the Marine Hospital
, where Hon. Charles Turner
During the last years of her life she was blind, and, as early as 1846 she complained of impaired sight, but she put her own ailments in the background and interested herself in the cares of her household and the welfare of those about her. A sister of Miss Jacobs
was the mother of Hon. Charles Sumner
The son, Horace James
, was educated at Andover
, became a clergyman and was settled at Wrentham
During the war, he was chaplain of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, enlisting at Worcester
It was said of him, ‘Kindness of disposition, strong common sense, great willingness for and capacity for work and clear insight into the character of men were among his predominant characteristics. . . but in, through and above all, our friend lived to glorify God as a Christian minister.’
After his term of enlistment had expired, he was connected with the Freedmen's Bureau
His health was undermined by an attack of yellow fever while serving in this capacity, and in 1873 he was stricken with hemorrhage of the lungs, which caused his death, June 9, 1875.
The daughter became the wife of William Haskins
It is only a little while ago that she left us, and we appreciate her sterling qualities.
Her father spent the last years of his life in her family.
He died April 14, 1879. [p. 75]
Before his majority, Galen James
came to Medford
and worked for Thatcher Magoun
, in the only ship-yard then existing in the town.
In 1811, he paid his first tax in Medford
, and though he was only twenty-one years old, he was assessed for personal estate to the amount of $200. He was not taxed here in 1812, being at that time in Milton
, at work in the shipyard of Daniel Briggs
In 1814, he returned to Medford
, and thereafter made his home here.
Before his twentieth year he had worked in various shipyards of the State
with his father, who was a very well educated man for his day, and quite a musician.
He was not well enough off to educate his children as he wished, and they had only the advantages of the common schools, and were early put to work.
In 1816 the firm of Sprague
and James was formed.
, the senior partner, was the son of Asher Sprague
, and was a ship carpenter in the yard of Thatcher Magoun
In 1814 he married and went to housekeeping in a house of his own, and was taxed that year for stock in trade and faculty.
hired land at Labor in Vain landing and contracted to build a vessel for James Lee
, a crusty bachelor merchant of Boston
, but finding that his limited education hampered him in the financial part of his business, he resolved to take a partner and selected young James, who had a little money to start with, a good business head and a practical knowledge of ship building.
was very angry at the new arrangement and told Mr. Sprague
that he would not sign any contract if ‘that boy’ was admitted to the firm.
The ‘boy’ was twenty-six at this time, but with his curly, sandy hair and ruddy complexion, he probably looked younger.
had a strong will, but he was pitted against two stronger ones, and Sprague
and James, after some months of waiting, received his order and built the brig, Bocca Tigris
, according to original contract.
In 1817 they owned their yard, the third established in Medford
, and were taxed for stock in trade to the amount of $1,000. [p. 76]
The same year, Mr. James
married and bought a house which he sold later to his father, just before he established himself in his permanent home at the corner of Riverside avenue and Foster
's court—as we know them today.
The firm built sixty-three ships, and the partners retired in 1849 after amassing comfortable fortunes, according to the standards at that time.
The first vessels built were brigs and schooners.
The first ship was the Rassellas
, built in 1820.
The same year they built the steam-boat, a stern wheeler, Governor Pinckney
for———Sullivan, of Boston
By the name of the boat and the surname of the owner, (no other name is given in Brooks
' History) we infer that it was the invention of John L. Sullivan
, of Middlesex canal
fame, and was put in commission on the Santee River, in South Carolina
The only other steam vessel was built in 1841 and was modelled much like the ferry boats of today.
This one was used by the Eastern Railroad to transport passengers from its terminal at East Boston
to the city proper.
Her name was the East Boston
From 1822, the size of the vessels built increased.
built in that year was of 369 tons burden and the largest was the Soldan
built in 1841.
The firm retired from business before the building of clipper ships, but the schooner Ariel
, built for the same James Lee
who had hindered the young firm, was of that type and was considered quite a wonder at the time, 1841.
She was used in the China
trade to smuggle opium.
and James built ships for their own investment, selling them on the stocks.
In the Palmyra
and James H. Shepherd
, they retained a share.
The captain of the former was named Cushing
and was a brother of Mr. David Cushing
Captain St. Croix Redman
commanded the James H. Shepherd
, and although Mr. Shepherd
owned the major part of her, the captain and the builders each had an interest in her. The Soldan
, the last ship built, lay on the stocks all summer before a [p. 77]
purchaser was found.
She was bought in part by George Pratt
, her commander, and Sprague
and James had a share in her. These ships plied between New Orleans and Antwerp
, doing business principally in cotton.
These ‘ventures to sea’ in the main proved profitable.
It is impossible now to tell the fate of all the ships of Sprague
and James, but though some were wrecked and others were outclassed when the new style of clipper ships came in, they were good vessels, built on honor, and their commanders were proud of them.
, writing of the Shepherd
after he had sailed in her for many voyages, said, ‘Mr. Shepherd
, Mr. Touro
and Captain Macy
are building a very large ship at Portsmouth
and have offered me an interest in her with command.
I have not given them a definite answer yet but it is most probable that I shall decline.
I am very fond of the James H. Shepherd
, she has no fault except that I would like her a little stronger, but with care I am in hopes she will make many safe and prosperous voyages.
She has the appearance now of a ship not more than two or three years old.’
was the head of the mechanical part of the business and designed the ships, making the moulds and doing the draughting in his parlor, generally after working hours were over in the yard.
' place was in the counting room; each had perfect confidence in the other's ability and never interfered with the other's department.
Both were men of iron will and differed radically in religion, Mr. Sprague
being as strong a Unitarian as Deacon James
was an Orthodox, yet in all their long business connection, there was never a breach in their friendship and it was continued until Mr. Sprague
died, in 1851.
Both men, according to the custom of the day, took apprentices into their families.
Joshua Turner Foster
lived with Mr. Sprague
and later married his daughter.
lived with Mr. James
and married his sister.
[p. 78] Foster
succeeded the firm of Sprague
and James in the ‘Labor in Vain’ yard.
After Mr. Taylor
went to Chelsea
, Mr. Foster
carried on the business there and built the last Medford
ship, in 1872.
Other apprentices well known in Medford
for years were Roland Jacobs
, John Stetson
and Elijah Ewell
In youth, Mr. James
attended the Congregational church in South Scituate
, which his mother joined in 1813, but the old school clergyman there never attracted his interest.
Very early in life he left home, as I have said, to work in various places, and in Salem
he boarded with Baptists and attended church with them.
He became interested in their methods but never subscribed to their creed.
From that time, however, he became interested in religious matters.
While in Milton
, he attended the church of Mr.
(afterward Dr.) Codman
, in Dorchester
He preached the orthodox doctrine of predestination and its attendant beliefs.
His congregation was divided for and against him. A council was called which decided that he should remain in his pulpit.
The next Sunday
, Mr. Codman
found eight men at the foot of the pulpit stairs blocking his entrance.
He established himself in the deacon's seat.
There he conducted the opening services, during which another preacher was admitted to the pulpit.
continued, preached his sermon, pronounced the benediction and retired with his followers.
Then the second minister carried on another service, after which he lunched in the pulpit and as soon as possible conducted the afternoon worship.
At the usual hour Mr. Codman
again appeared and delivered his afternoon discourse.
, the young apprentice, attended this quadruple service, and I have told the story because I think the incidents of that day made an impression on his mind which was the key to his later actions in regard to religious controversy and his adoption of his creed.
In this time of excitement, Galen James
determined to read the Bible
and formulate a theory of his own, rather [p. 79]
than to select one of the various creeds presented upon the authority of the preachers.
He bought a Bible, divided its pages into fifty-two equal parts and faithfully read one section a week, until he had read it from cover to cover.
The creed which he adopted is embodied in the church manual of the first Trinitarian church, established in Medford
in 1823, and again in that of the Mystic church
in 1847, and was just as firmly his when he died in 1879.
When Mr. James
settled in Medford
permanently, he connected himself actively with the parish church.
After the death of Dr. Osgood
, the majority of the church called Rev. Andrew Bigelow
, a Unitarian, to be the pastor.
led the minority who wished an evangelical minister.
Mindful of that disgraceful day in the Dorchester meeting-house, Mr. James
favored no public demonstration of disagreement, but in friendly words, letters were sent back and forth between the opposing parties which resulted in four men and thirteen women asking for dismission to form a new church.
The letter making the request was probably written by Mr. James
It closed as follows:—
Hard feeling and sharp words were no doubt the result of this separation, for a time, but the course pursued was certainly the best; for there were no lasting breaks in friendship and the two churches were soon working in harmony in charitable and reformatory channels, whereas opposing factions, trying to live under one church government, would have brought forth countless collisions.
In 1846 a rupture occurred in the second congregational parish, and Galen James
again led a colony to a new church home.
The causes of disagreement were more personal and perhaps more bitter than in 1823.
Conference after conference was held in private, trying to adjust matters, at some of which neighboring clergymen were present, but none of these were public or reported on the records of the churches.
It has been said that the slavery question was at the root of this withdrawal, but one of the few remaining original members of the Mystic Church
whose father was a strong antislavery man does not give that reason, and I am informed of strong abolitionists who remained in the old church and of one rabid pro-slavery man who was a prominent member of the new one.
The church building was too small for the growing congregation if all the members attended service there, but many were growing dissatisfied, joining other denominations, and withdrawing their support.
, a Trinitarian through and through, desiring the growth of his denomination in Medford
, and thinking that the town could support two churches of the seating capacity of the first, conceived the idea of forming a new parish.
This was carried out, and a new building completed in 1849.
To this new fold came many who had been wandering in other pastures, and the unyielding but pacific deacon saw his second church-child grow and flourish.
Upon Deacon James
were hurled many anathemas.
He was called ‘Pope James
,’ and his associates ‘come-outers,’ and friendships were strained between old neighbors and life-long friends.
The animosity was fostered by those outside the churches who were enemies of Mr. James
on account of his total abstinence and anti-slavery principles.
But in a few years the pastors of the two churches were exchanging pulpits, the two congregations were worshiping together during the summer, first in one church and then in the other, and the founder of both lived to see them united again and the old sores healed.
The second Trinitarian church received the name of ‘Mystic,’ suggested it is said by Mrs. James
She named it for the river upon which almost all of the original male members were engaged in ship building.
The name has caused many strangers to inquire what sort of transcendentalism was preached in it.
Of the fifty-two members who formed the Mystic Church
, fourteen at least were kinsfolk of Deacon James
and many others were his employees.
In 1849 Deacon James
had retired from active business, although he was still in the prime of life.
But at fifty-nine, deprived of his usual activities, he began to feel that age was not far away, and his friends noticed that he was in danger of rusting out. At this time a new line of opportunity was presented to him which renewed his youth and kept it green for many years.
The new enterprize grew out of his love for the church of his choice, which had no adequate organ in the religious press.
Many saw the need of a paper in the interest of Congregationalism, but money was lacking.
Whereupon, Deacon James
offered what seemed a large sum in those days, which he was ready to sink if need be in the endeavor.
There was little to guarantee that such would not be the fate of his capital.
Rev. E. D. Moore
had owned and published a small paper called the Boston Recorder
. He sold a half interest to Deacon Edw. Fay
of the Second Congregational Church, Medford
, a son of Rev. Dr. Fay
, and the paper's name was changed to the Congregationalist
, the office being at No. 122 Washington street, Boston
bought Mr. Moore
's half interest, and on November 10th sold it to Deacon James
for $1,079. The office was transferred to No. 12 School street, and the new firm and a great power for good were launched under the firm name of Galen James
was urged to transfer the office to New York, but he was attached to his home and, beside, felt that as Massachusetts
was the stronghold of Congregationalism, [p. 82]
the new paper should be established there.
He never attempted editorial work, but selected his editors and their associates with care, and no principles were published, we may be sure, that did not have his approval.
Helped by his financial and personal aid, the publication grew and increased in influencend this testimony is given in its columns after the death of Mr. James
: ‘He came in as a pillar of strength and remained steadfast through all those years of trial until the paper was an assured success.’
The first issue of the Congregationalist
bears the motto, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever,’ and is dated May 24, 1849.
The editorial signed by Rev. Edward Beecher
, Joseph Haven, Jr.
, and Increase N. Tarbox
, says, ‘The ecclesiastical principles that we shall advocate are indicated by our name.
In doctrine we shall stand on the broad background of New England
theology, not committing ourselves to the interest of any party but recognizing with Christian affection and endeavoring to unite all who hold the fundamental principles of the system avowed by our Pilgrim fathers; by Edwards
and his successors.
As in religion so in politics, we are pledged to no party.
Without giving any party pledges whatever, we shall earnestly oppose the extension of slavery in the slightest degree beyond its present limits.’
For a long time previous to his death in 1856, Mr. Fay
suffered from tuberculosis, which brought added work upon the shoulders of his partner.
Mr. Thomas Todd
, who was a boy in the printing-office then, says of him at this time, ‘He (Deacon James
) did not attempt to do any editorial work, but he made himself very useful in the mechanical department, doing with his might all his hands could find to do. He attended to the mailing of the paper, to the proof-reading, and was in consultation with the editors and the other proprietor whenever it seemed necessary. . . . He had a fund of humor which carried him through some of the harassing details of the [p. 83]
business, that otherwise would have disturbed him. His partner was very ill, and was at times very irascible.
But nothing ever disturbed the good deacon's serenity.’
After the death of Mr. Fay
, the firm was reorganized with C. A. Richardson
and W. L. Greene
This co-partnership, with Mr. Richardson
as office editor, continued until 1867, when Mr. James
at the age of seventy-seven retired.
It was with great reluctance that Mr. James
severed these ties of business.
In July, 1866, he wrote his partners: ‘I had hoped that our present arrangement and ownership in the Congregationalist
might have remained as they are during the short remainder of my life, or at least till my son found himself so circumstanced as to be able deliberately and uninfluenced to either accept or reject a partial interest in the concern. . . . Not merely as an investment but because the paper has become dear to me as the object of much anxiety, interest, expenditure and prayer.’
At that time he sold to Messrs. Richardson
each a twelfth part of the paper, making them equal partners with himself; and made an agreement to sell the third, which he retained, on July 1, 1868, provided his son did not wish to continue in the business.
He writes further, ‘I have confidence in your judgment and ability.
I believe I give you credit for all that you have done for the paper.
I hope the paper may continue to increase in prosperity just as much for your sakes as my own; and still more, for the good it may do.’
In 1867 Rev. Horace James
, having returned from the south, was able to carry out his father's dearest wish and assume his place in the business.
Each of the three partners then contributed equally to merge the Boston Recorder
—the oldest religious paper in the country—with the Congregationalist
. Rev. Henry Martin Dexter
was admitted as the fourth member of the firm and the name was changed to W. L. Greene
After his memory was breaking down, the deacon still clung to his Congregationalist
, and would read it straight [p. 84]
through, marking with his pencil where he had left off when obliged to lay it down.
The paper was the child of his brain and heart; the child of his old age; and as such he loved it.
As an adjunct to the Congregationalist
from 1862 to 1872, this firm published The Student and Schoolmate and Forester's Boy's and Girl's Companion
. Its editor was W. T. Adams
(Oliver Optic), and among its contributors were Jacob Abbot
, J. T. Trowbridge
, Gail Hamilton
and Sophie May
. It was finally sold and merged with Merry's Museum
which was absorbed by Our Young Folks
, the latter in turn was the forerunner of St. Nicholas
. With Deacon James
' abounding love for children, this publication must have interested him greatly.
He cordially welcomed the children in his office or home, and in his pockets were always to be found sweet attractions for them.
One little girl, I know, called him ‘The Mr. James
that loves me so.’
He was never happier than when he was in the Sabbath school as superintendent or teacher.
His intimate knowledge of the Bible
made his services in this department very interesting.
' interest in temperance began with his early business life.
It was the custom in the shipyards for the apprentices to carry around the grog at eleven o'clock in the morning, and it was considered as part of the wages of the men. It was many years before custom and popular opinion removed the rum barrel from the yard loft, but Mr. James
used his influence against it until it was finally banished.
In making contracts with joiners, caulkers, etc., men were allowed so much money and so much rum. In individual cases, contractors were prevailed upon to go without the grog and receive more money.
By dint of moral suasion, the ration of rum was omitted at the Sprague and James yard
and wages were increased.
This firm was the first to do away with liquor at a launching.
The new regime was gradually adopted in all the yards of the town, but in the mean time, it [p. 85]
caused discord, and tradition says that there were riotous proceedings and the pioneer was threatened with bodily harm.
In 1830, Galen James
was appointed overseer of the poor, and during his term of office the issuing of spirits to the occupants of the poor house was prohibited, and the order stood on the books for some years thereafter.
In 1836, 7 and 8, he was elected selectman on the temperance ticket.
One of his associates at this time was James O. Curtis
, another shipbuilder and ardent temperance worker.
The following extract from the selectmen's records defines their position.
It is from a petition to the County
Commissioners who according to the law at that time had the right to issue liquor licenses over the heads of the selectmen.
‘And we most earnestly pray your honors to with hold granting licenses to any persons in this Town who are not recommended by us—believing it to be the sincere and general opinion of the inhabitants by a test vote on the temperance Question last March, that the Public good does not require the sale of Ardent Spirits except for medicinal purposes & the arts: as manifested by choosing a Board of Selectmen pledged to sustain the course we have taken relative to the applications aforesaid—your concurence in our views & the wishes of a large majority of the inhabitants & legal voters of this town is most humbly and respectfully requested.’
I found among Mr. James
' papers a marked copy of the Boston Blade
, a rank example of yellow journalism in the 40s. Under a cut representing Bacchus
seated on a barrel on wheels, drawn by a disreputable nag, preceded by a man going through the air on a broomstick, we read as follows: ‘The above cut represents smutty Ben, the blacksmith (Benjamin Moore
), the spy and informer, going at full speed to collect witnesses with a horse and buggy belonging to old Galen of the James
, with old pugnose T. C. (Timothy Cotting
) in the foreground with a baker's broom to keep the road clean.’
Other men prominent in temperance affairs came in for their [p. 86]
share of ridicule and scandalous hints.
When the Mystic Church
was founded, the same enemies reviled Galen James
, and did their best to foster ill will between the two churches.
The same reporter probably penned the following:—
‘We happened up High Street last Sabbath just as the different societies were going to their houses of worship, and were somewhat surprised that one of the comeouters were placed at the corner of the town house inviting passers to come in and see the lion dance and hear Mac the Scotchman preach.
Wonder if he was placed there by the royal family?
O fie on such means to fill the house: —but a drowning man will catch at straws.
What say, Galen, was it your doings?’
We of this generation cannot understand or conceive of the intense bitterness of the early total abstinence agitation, and, withal, the strong doctrinal lines which kept workers apart.
A letter written by Mr. Calvin Temple
of Reading, addressed to Mr. James
of the Committee
of the Middlesex Temperance Society
‘Arrangements were made to obtain subscriptions, but on presenting your letter to some of the most prominent temperance men they objected and imposed on me the necessity of asking and on you of answering the following questions, viz: Is Mr. Cobb to be an agent the coming year, and if not is the agent to be an Orthodox man?
I am exceedingly sorry that any sectarian feelings should exist, but they do exist so strongly in some minds that they will not give a single mite unless the agent is in accordance with their views in his religious sentiments.’
This letter is endorsed ‘answered.’
I wish the deacon had kept a copy as he sometimes did, for I think this communication may have been pithy.
Orthodox to the backbone, he did not assert sectarianism in his temperance work; for in Medford
, Rev. Caleb Stetson
, Rev. Hosea Ballou
, Universalist, with his parishioners, Timothy Cotting
and James O. Curtis
, and others from every denomination in town, worked to stamp out intemperance, and to encourage legislation against illegal liquor selling.
The fight against intemperance and slavery, in which Deacon James
was prominent, brought down all religious barriers and healed many old wounds made by doctrinal differences.
In conjunction with the temperance movement, an attempt was made to carry on the Medford House
as a temperance hotel backed by stockholders who were prominent citizens.
George W. Porter
was treasurer and Luther Angier
was a shareholder owning five at a par value of one hundred dollars each, numbered 51 to 55 inclusive, and did his part to make the undertaking a success, but the effort failed.
From 1834 to 1840, inclusive, Mr. James
was a member of the school committee.
He was much interested in higher education, especially for girls.
In 1834, he was associated with Horatio A. Smith
and Milton James
on the board.
for some years had carried on what he called ‘The Medford
High School,’ and the children and niece of Mr. James
These men were in hearty accord, and, against much opposition, but to the great joy of many who were financially debarred from private schools, the public Medford
High School was established in 1835, for children of both sexes over twelve years old who could pass the examination.
Mr. Charles Cummings
says: ‘Though the school tax would be increased one half, yet he stemmed the tide of objection, and, with the aid of one or two others, the school was established.’
I have been giving you documentary history of this man of iron with a tender heart, but his history is recorded in the hearts of those whose lives he made brighter by his smiles and ready wit, or who were rescued from ruin by his timely advice or financial aid.
He could never be downed in an argument, and was never at a loss for a repartee, his wit being often twoedged.
One of his dearest friends was Capt. St. Croix Redman
, his brother-in-law.
Many were the discussions that they indulged in when the captain chanced to be at [p. 88]
It was long years before the captain came to the deacon's way of thinking, but Captain Redman
wrote: ‘Pray write me at every opportunity; let your letters be written as though you were writing to Horace or lecturing me in your counting-room.’
The flings of his enemies and his disappointments were offset by his habitual good nature.
At one time he invested in what was called ‘The Eastern Land Speculation,’ and with a party of gentlemen went down to visit their possessions.
They found the land which they had bought to be where it was indicated on the map, but the map-maker had neglected to show that it was under water.
There was dismay in the camp, and a good deal of strong language was used.
Whereupon, the deacon caught up a stick of wood and the poker, used the stick for a fiddle and the poker for a bow, and whistling a lively tune, went dancing around the camp till he had changed frowns into laughter.
His love of a joke often relieved the strain when differences of opinion became uncomfortable.
In some of his experiences a fiddle of some kind must have been a necessity to him.
, who worked for him in the printing office when a boy, says, ‘One time when something arose which was quite unpleasant, probably my fault, the deacon looked up, and said, “Thomas
, did you ever see a mad deacon?”
I replied, “ No, Deacon James
, I never did,” He ejaculated, “ Better not!
and I did not see a mad deacon at that time, nor ever see him angry, although in my experience in church and out, since then, I have seen a great many mad deacons.’
He was always frugal in his habits.
In the years of comparative poverty, walking to Boston
and back to save the fifty cents stage fare for charity or religious work.
But he did not live meanly, and a playful reference by his wife in one of her letters assures us he was a welldressed man even if our memories did not testify to the fact.
‘I have sent your second
I thought I would not send your bright buttoned coat, lest the good [p. 89]
people of Wrentham
should think you were not a real good Orthodox Deacon
His carriage, as I remember it, was somewhat antique and was called, half in fun and half in earnest,‘the Gospel wagon.’
It was literally a carryall, and was drawn by a good but not handsome horse, which had a bad habit of hugging the reins under his tail.
The deacon probably reasoned with him long to no purpose, and then, accepting the inevitable, rigged an arrangement of two rings attached to the carriage top, through which the reins were passed safely out of the way of the offending tail.
Horse and driver were much happier, although there were many smiling faces on the road; but the deacon was never disturbed by smiles, and he beamed too, especially when the gospel wagon was full of children going to Sunday-school.
Many an aged person or invalid was afforded the only chance to go to church by this same old carriage.
One room in his house was called the ‘prophet's room,’ and visiting ministers were always lodged there unless invited elsewhere.
Divinity students often spent the summer with him, saving the money that they would have had to pay for board during vacation for college expenses.
He was a tower of strength and sympathy to his own pastor.
Quoting again from Mr. Todd
: ‘I recall one time Rev. J. M. Manning, D. D.
, the former pastor of the Mystic Church
, afterward pastor of the Old South Church, Boston
, came to his office, with his usually sunny face clouded.
The deacon glanced at him, and said, “My dear pastor, something is weighing your soul down, and it must be lifted.
Let us have a talk together.”
They went into an inner room, and what was said is not known to the writer, but when they came out the cloud was lifted from the face of the “dear pastor,” and he seemed his old sunny self once more.’
At the council for the dismission of Mr. Manning
to the Old South, Deacon James
rose and said,‘My text is my sermon and my sermon is my text.’
He then opened his Bible and read from 2 Samuel: 12:— [p. 90]
There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor.
The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had brought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him and his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom and was unto him as a daughter.
And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him, but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come unto him. . . . And Nathan said unto David, Thou art the man.
Without another word the deacon sat down.
You remember that Mr. Manning
came to Medford
right from the divinity school, and died as the pastor of the Old South.
In Deacon James
' pocketbook was written ‘Thy vows are upon me, O Lord
,’ and whenever aid was needed for public or private charity or the extension of the gospel at home or abroad, that pocketbook could be depended upon.
The poor woman with a drunken husband, widows with little children, hard pressed ministers, missionaries, poor churches, slaves, soldiers, philanthropic objects everywhere profited by its contents.
He believed in being his own executor, and for years before his death gave away money from his principal.
When the Mystic Church
was organized, a method of raising funds was adopted which might shock a modern congregation.
A list of the town taxes was presented, and each man was assessed for church purposes in proportion to his property tax. Young men, paying only a poll tax, were assessed according to their ability to get a living.
and his brother, Deacon Joseph James
, headed the list with the largest subscriptions.
He never asked anyone to follow where he was not ready to lead.
I am afraid that in his connection with the founding of the churches I may have emphasized too much what his enemies called bigotry, and have not made plain enough to those who never knew him the Christian
character of the man. He did nothing for effect.
He was [p. 91]
like a general who was willing to move the position of his troops, if necessary, but did it with his colors flying.
He might retreat, but he would never surrender, and always obeyed the orders of his Commander-in-chief
as he understood them.
‘His independent thinking, his originality, his foresight, his faith and his courage,’ says Mr. Cummings
fitted him better to lead than to follow men. His aims and plans were in advance of his time.
Though one of the busiest of men, his constant purpose was vastly higher than the making of money.
A ship-builder, a publisher, a founder and pillar of two churches, a pioneer in the temperance and anti-slavery struggles, he was never too busy to listen to cries of distress, to comfort a discouraged neighbor, or to be to a little child, ‘the Mr. James
that loves me so.’