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Chapter 12: civil History.

  • Land-holders in Cambridgeport and East Cambridge.
  • -- Royal Makepeace. -- improvements after the construction of West Boston Bridge. -- streets and dikes. -- estate of Leonard Jarvis thrown upon the market. -- Andrew Bordman sells freely, and others sparingly. -- Davenport & Makepeace among the most active operators. -- turnpikes. -- Cambridge established as a Port of Delivery. -- canals. -- School-houses. -- meeting-house. -- Andrew Craigie becomes owner of almost the whole territory now called East Cambridge. -- Canal (or Craigie's) Bridge. -- Lechmere Point Corporation. -- Court house and jail. -- incorporation of Brighton and West Cambridge. -- Embargo. -- War with England. -- address by the Town to President Jefferson, and his reply. -- further action of the Town. -- public rejoicing at the return of peace
    For more than a century and a half after the settlement of Cambridge, with slight exceptions, that part of the town lying eastwardly from Quincy and Bow streets, generally denominated the “Neck,” consisted of woodland, pasturage, swamps, and salt marsh. In chapter II. an account is given of the first division of land on the northerly side of Main Street, into small lots in “the old field” and “small lot hill,” and larger lots, varying in size from six to one hundred and thirty acres. Gradually these lots passed into fewer hands, until at length the larger portion of the whole was embraced in three and subsequently four farms.

    The “old field” early became the property of Edward Goffe1 and John Gay; by sundry conveyances the larger portion became vested in Chief Justice Francis Dana, who subsequently purchased the whole tract formerly called “small lot hill” (except, perhaps, a few acres in the northeasterly corner), and several other lots of land on both sides of the highway now called Main Street. Judge Dana erected a spacious mansion on the westerly side of “the highway to the common pales,” 2 now called Dana Street, about midway between. Main and Centre streets, which house was destroyed by fire Jan. 19, 1839. The Judge fully appreciated the beauty of the scenery visible from his residence, as is manifest from his care to prevent any obstruction to the view in one particular direction; in an agreement with Leonard Jarvis, concerning an exchange of lands, Jan. 3, 1797, it was stipulated that said Jarvis should “forever hereafter keep open the way3 of forty feet wide, lately laid out by the said Jarvis over and across Pelham's Island (so called) to the canal cut by him through his marsh, for the mutual benefit of both parties [174] their heirs and assigns, . . . . so as to leave open an uninterrupted view from the said Dana's present dwelling-house of such part of Cambridge Bay and of Boston as may fall in the course of the same way, so far as the said Jarvis's land, lately Inman's, extends.” Judge Dana also owned much land on the southerly side of Main Street, both marsh and upland, including the “Soden Farm,” so called, bounded northerly on Main Street and easterly on Pleasant Street, and a large tract, bounded northerly on Main Street and westerly on Putnam Avenue. His estate bordered on the southerly side of Main Street, from Putnam Avenue to Bay Street, from Vernon Street to Pearl Street; and from Brookline Street to Front Street; also on the northerly side of Main Street, from a point about two hundred feet westerly from Remington Street to a point about midway between Hancock and Lee streets. The Judge had therefore a strong personal interest in the improvement of this part of the town.

    Of the large lots lying eastwardly from “small lot hill,” the first two were owned by Governor Thomas Dudley and his son Samuel Dudley. When Dudley left Cambridge his real estate was purchased by Roger Harlakenden, who died in 1638, and his widow married Herbert Pelham. In 1642, Pelham appears to have owned the above mentioned lots, together with the next two, formerly owned by Richard Goodman and William Westwood; the whole containing 118 acres,4 and extending from Main Street to Somerville line. Pelham also became the owner of the real estate of Simon Bradstreet, one portion of which was a lot of upland and marsh, long known as “Pelham's Island;” its boundaries very nearly coincided with Columbia Street on the west, School Street on the north, and Moore Street on the east; the east and west lines being extended across Main Street, beyond Goffe's Cove, so far as to embrace sixty acres in the whole lot. These two large lots passed, by several conveyances, to Ralph Inman, who became the owner in 1756; this executor conveyed the same to Leonard Jarvis, Aug. 21, 1792, except ten acres, south of Goffe's Cove, previously sold to Judge Dana. Subsequently Jarvis purchased the land between these two lots, extending from Norfolk Street to Columbia Street, and northerly from one hundred to two hundred feet beyond Austin Street; so that he then owned all the land bordering on the northerly side of Main Street from the point about midway between Hancock [175] and Lee streets to Moore Street, and about fifty acres on the southerly side of Main Street, easterly from its junction with Front Street.

    The lot of Atherton Hough (or Haugh) “in Graves his neck,” containing 130 acres in 1635, and embracing all the upland in East Cambridge, was enlarged, by the addition of the lots originally assigned to John Talcott, Matthew Allen, and Mrs. Mussey, before 1642, when it was described as containing 267 acres. Subsequently the 63 acre lot of Governor Haynes was added, and when the estate was purchased, Aug. 15, 1706, by Spencer Phips (afterwards Lieut.-governor), it was said to contain “300 acres more or less;” but it actually contained 326 acres, when measured for division after his decease. In his inventory, this tract is called two farms, with a house and barn on each. The whole was bounded on the west by a line commencing at a point thirty feet south of School Street, and about one hundred feet east of Columbia Street, and thence running northerly, nearly parallel with Columbia Street to Somerville; on the north by Somerville and Miller's River; on the east by Charles River; on the south by School Street, from the point of beginning, to Moore Street, then on the east by a straight line extended to a point about fifty feet south of Plymouth Street, and about one hundred and fifty feet west of Portland Street; then turning at a right angle, the boundary line extended in the direction of the Great Dam, which is still visible, to Charles River, crossing Third Street near its intersection with Munroe Street. (See the Plan.) This estate was divided in 1759 between the children and grandchildren of Lieut.-gov. Phips, namely, Col. David Phips; Sarah, wife of Andrew Bordman; Mary, wife of Richard Lechmere; Rebecca, wife of Judge Joseph Lee; and the children of Elizabeth, the deceased wife of Col. John Vassall. Lechmere soon afterwards purchased the shares of Col. Phips and the Vassall heirs, and became the owner of all the upland and a large portion of the marsh in East Cambridge, which was confiscated by the State and sold to Andrew Cabot, of Salem, Nov. 24, 1779. Judge Lee had the northwesterly portion of the “Phips' Farm,” and Andrew Bordman had the southwesterly portion, extending from School Street to a point nine feet northerly from the intersection of the easterly lines of Windsor Street and Webster Avenue, and bounded south on the Jarvis estate, west on the Jarvis, Wyeth, and Foxcroft estates, and extending so far east as to include somewhat more than thirteen acres of marsh on the easterly side of North Canal. [176]

    Such was the unimproved condition of the easterly and now most populous section of Cambridge, before West Boston Bridge was opened for public travel, Nov. 23, 1793. At that time, Rev. Dr. Holmes says:5 “Below the seat of the late Chief Justice Dana, there were but four dwelling-houses; one on the Inman place,6 now belonging to Jonathan L. Austin, Esq.; one7 nearly opposite, on a farm of Judge Dana, formerly the Soden farm, south of the main road; one on the Phips' farm, lately owned by Mr. Andrew Bordman;8 and one at Lechmere's Point.” 9 A new impulse towards improvement manifested itself immediately after the opening of the bridge. Building lots for houses and stores were laid out by Jarvis and Dana, which were soon occupied. Dr. Holmes further says that, during the month next after the opening of the bridge,

    a store10 was erected and opened near the west end of the causeway11 by Messrs. Vose & Makepeace,12 [177] which, after the opening of the great road, was the first framed building set up between Boston and Old Cambridge. The following year, a large house designed for a tavern13 was built by Leonard Jarvis, Esq., and soon after were erected six other houses and stores.

    Ordination Sermon, ut sup.

    Of these six houses and stores, some may be identified with tolerable accuracy. Vose & Makepeace erected the dwelling-house, which remains standing on the westerly corner of Main and Osborn streets, opposite to their store, before Dec. 17, 1795. Jonathan Brooks erected a store between Cherry and Windsor Streets, on the northerly side of Main Street, before June 5, 1795,—perhaps the same building so long occupied by Eliphalet Davis, and now by his son Thomas M. Davis, for the manufacture of fancy soap. Scott & Hayden erected a store on the lot next westerly from the store-lot of Vose & Makepeace, before 1800. Besides these, Stanton Parker erected a store and shed on the northerly side of Main Street, the precise location not known, before Nov. 11, 1794. Asaph Harlow purchased a lot on the northerly side of Main Street, Jan. 15, 1798, most of which was used in 1873 for the construction of Portland Street; and the house which he erected was then removed a few feet eastwardly to the easterly corner of Portland and Main streets. Richard Thayer bought a lot, Sept. 1, 1802, and erected the house now standing on the westerly corner of Main and Portland streets. Next westerly from the Thayer estate was a lot, with a currier's shop thereon,14 which was sold by Daniel Mason to Oliver Blake, Sept. 28, 1797. William Watson sold to Josiah and Phinehas B. Hovey a large lot, two hundred feet in width, on the westerly corner of Main and Brookline streets, Oct. 14, 1799, on which was very soon erected the store which was occupied more than half a century by the late Phinehas B. Hovey, who died April 17, 1852, and was succeeded by his son Josiah Dana Hovey, the present occupant. On the adjoining lot, at the easterly corner of Main and Pearl streets, a tavern was erected before April 10, 1802, and was then occupied by James Adams; but the land was not sold, and it now remains in possession of the Watson family. Judge Dana sold the lots fronting on Main Street, between Pearl and Magazine streets, in Jan., 1800, and [178] March, 1801. Arrangements were made for other improvements, by laying out, on paper at least, several streets. Moreover, Judge Dana and Mr. Jarvis, for the exclusion of salt water from their marsh lands lying south of Pelham's Island and east of Brookline Street, constructed before 1797 a substantial dike, which yet remains, on the outer side of Sidney and Auburn streets. In connection with this dike, Judge Dana opened the Canal which now extends from the head of Goffe's Cove to Brookline Street, about a hundred feet southerly from Auburn Street. Mr. Jarvis laid out Front Street, as far as to the bend near Village Street, and opened a canal from that point southerly to Goffe's Cove, before 1797.

    The prosperity of this incipient village early received a severe check. In less than five years after the bridge was opened, and before much had been accomplished in the work of reclaiming marshes and swamps, Mr. Jarvis became indebted to the United States in a large sum, and his real estate was seized by the government. In the subsequent conveyances of this estate by the United States Marshal, it is recited that, at a “Circuit Court for the District of Massachusetts,” June 1, 1798, the United States “obtained judgment against Leonard Jarvis of Cambridge, in said District, Esquire, for the sum of thirty-nine thousand six hundred and ninety-two dollars and twenty-one cents, and fourteen dollars and twenty cents costs of suit;” and that an execution, issued July 6, 1798, was “levied on certain real estate situated in Cambridge aforesaid, . . . said estate being two hundred and forty-five acres of land, more or less, consisting of upland and marsh, with sundry buildings,” etc. From this time for nearly three years this estate was entirely withdrawn from the market, including both sides of Main Street from Moore Street to Front Street, and extending on the northerly side to a point midway between Lee and Hancock streets. But what at first seemed utterly disastrous, proved in the end to be beneficial. In January, 1801, this estate, having been divided into fifty-four lots, varying in size from a few thousand square feet to forty-seven acres15 was sold at public auction. “From this time,” says Dr. Holmes, “commenced a rapid settlement. Several large stores were erected the next year, and soon after dwelling-houses. . . . . In the space of about five years, upwards of a hundred families have settled on this spot; and the number of inhabitants is estimated [179] at more than one thousand.” 16 The principal land-holders had not hitherto manifested a very strong desire to transfer their lands to new owners. Perhaps each waited for the others to sell, hoping to share the benefit of augmented prices without parting with their own property at a low rate. Mr. Watson sold very few lots before 1801; Judge Dana bought more than he sold; and Mr. Bordman seems not to have sold a single lot, or even to have made preparation for sales by obtaining access to the Main Street. Indeed Judge Dana and Mr. Watson did not afterwards sell freely; but much the larger portion of their lands descended to their posterity. Mr. Bordman, on the contrary, in 1801, united with others in laying out Windsor Street; giving all the land through his own estate, from School Street to Webster Avenue, and in the same year he sold that portion of his estate lying east of Windsor Street and south of Harvard Street, somewhat more than six acres, to Charles Clark and Daniel Mason, who immediately divided it into small lots and brought it into the market. In 1803, he laid out into building-lots all his lands west of Windsor Street and south of Harvard Street; and in 1804 he sold all which remained of his farm on the east side of Windsor Street, sixty-five acres, to Rufus Davenport and Royal Makepeace, who offered it for sale in small lots, but were disappointed in the result. Mr. Austin, who purchased the Jarvis Mansion-house, with forty-seven acres of land, laid out several lots on Main Street between Temple and Inman streets, and opened Austin Street through its whole length, with building-lots on both sides, in 1801: he also sold a section east of Norfolk Street between Washington and Harvard Streets, to Davenport & Makepeace, who prepared it at once for the market. From this time there was no lack of accommodations for all comers; the supply was fully equal to the demand.

    In addition to the efforts of individuals to increase the market value of their own lands, by means of dikes and streets, other improvements of a more public character were projected for the general advantage of the community. Expensive avenues into the country were constructed to attract travel and business. The “Cambridge and Concord Turnpike Corporation” was established March 8, 1803, with authority to make a turnpike-road from the westerly side of Cambridge Common to Concord;17 and two years afterwards, March 8, 1805, the corporation was authorized to [180] extend the turnpike to the Causeway near West Boston Bridge.18 The “Middlesex Turnpike Corporation” was established June 15, 1805, with authority to make a turnpike-road from Tyngsborough through Chelmsford, Billerica, and Bedford, to Cambridge, uniting with the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike near West Boston Bridge.19 Other avenues were subsequently opened, which will receive notice in another place.

    By an Act of Congress, approved Jan. 11, 1805, it was enacted “that the town or landing-place of Cambridge in the State of Massachusetts shall be a port of delivery, to be annexed to the district of Boston and Charlestown, and shall be subject to the same regulations as other ports of delivery in the United States.” Accordingly this part of Cambridge has, since that time, been designated Cambridgeport. To make the place available as a “port of delivery,” canals were constructed from Charles River through the Great Marsh, giving an extensive water-front. These canals are described in an agreement, dated July 8, 1806,20 and recorded in the Middlesex Registry of Deeds, Book 172, page 496. The land devoted to this purpose is said to be a part of the “hundred share estate, so called by said owners by articles under seal.” 21 The description of the canals may be briefly condensed as follows:—

    Broad Canal, 80 feet wide, from low-water mark in Charles River to Portland Street, parallel with Broadway and Hampshire Street, at the distance of 186 feet, northerly, from the former, and 154 feet from the latter.

    West Dock, bounded by a line commencing at a point in the westerly line of Portland Street, 154 feet northerly from Hampshire Street, thence running parallel with Hampshire Street to a point 100 feet from Medford Street (now Webster Avenue); thence parallel with Medford Street, to a point 100 feet from Bristol Street; thence parallel with Bristol Street, to a point 100 feet from Portland Street; thence “parallel with Portland Street 210 feet to the southerly line of land late of Walter Frost;” thence in “a straight line to a point which is on the [181] westerly line of Portland Street, 20 feet southerly and westerly of the northeasterly line of land late of Timothy and Eunice Swan; then turning and running southerly and westerly on Portland Street, to the bounds of West Dock begun at;” with the “right of a water-communication, or passage-way, 25 feet wide, through Portland Street under a bridge, from the main part of Broad Canal to that part called West Dock.” 22

    North Canal, 60 feet wide, 180 feet easterly from Portland Street, and extending from Broad Canal to a point near the northerly line of the Bordman Farm. This canal was subsequently extended to Miller's River. According to an agreement, June 14, 1811, between the Lechmere Point Corporation and Davenport & Makepeace, the latter were to have perpetual right to pass with boats and rafts “through Miller's Creek or North River, so called, to North Canal and Broad Canal,” and to extend North Canal, through land owned by the Corporation, to Miller's River; and the Corporation was to have the right to pass through the said canals to Charles River, so long as the canals should remain open.

    Cross Canal, “bounded by two straight lines, 30 feet apart, and running at a right angle with Broadway from Broad Canal, between lots 279 and 280, through Broadway, and between lots 263 and 264 to South Dock.”

    South Dock, bounded by a line commencing at the southeast corner of Cross Canal, thence running southeasterly 53 feet; thence southwesterly, parallel with the line of Cross Canal to a point 10 feet distant from land of the Proprietors of West Boston Bridge; thence westerly, at the same distance from said Proprietors' land, to lot 215: thence northerly, at a right angle with the causeway of West Boston Bridge, 81 feet; thence northwesterly, 98 feet, to the easterly corner of lot 214; thence, in a straight line, to the southerly corner of lot 262; thence, on said lot 262, 67 feet, to lot 263; thence southerly and easterly on said lot 263, 54 feet, and on Cross Canal, 30 feet, to the point of beginning. This dock was connected with Charles River by a creek, over which was the bridge, long known as “Little Bridge,” at the junction of Main and Harvard streets.23 [182]

    South Canal, 60 feet wide, about midway between Harvard Street and Broadway, from South Dock to a point 113 feet easterly from Davis Street.

    “In 1802, a school house was built on a piece of land24 presented by Mr. Andrew Bordman to the town for that purpose. It cost about six hundred dollars; upwards of three hundred dollars were paid by the town of Cambridge, and the remainder contributed by individuals.” “In 1803, a Fire Society was formed, which, at an expense of upwards of five hundred dollars, procured an excellent engine; and a company was raised to take charge of it.” 25

    By an act passed June 15, 1805, Royal Makepeace, John Cook, Josiah Mason, Jr., Daniel Mason, and Andrew Bordman, were “constituted and made a corporation and body-politic, by the name of the Cambridgeport Meeting-house Corporation, . . . for the purpose of building a meeting-house and supporting public worship therein, in the easterly part of Cambridge.” Of the hundred shares of stock in this Corporation, Rufus Davenport was the owner of twenty, and Royal Makepeace of seventeen. A spacious brick meeting-house was erected on the westerly side of the square bounded by Broadway, and Boardman, Harvard, and Columbia streets. The easterly half of the square was given by Andrew Bordman, and the westerly half by the owners of the “hundred share estate.” 26 This house was dedicated Jan. 1, 1807. By an Act passed March 1, 1808, the proprietors of the meeting-house, together with all the inhabitants and estates in the Fifth School District, in Cambridge, east of Dana Street and a line extended in the same direction northerly to Charlestown (now Somerville), and southerly to the river, were incorporated [183] as the Cambridgeport Parish; and Feb. 2, 1809, the proprietors (reserving private ownership of pews) conveyed to the Parish the meeting-house and lot, containing two acres, together with a parsonage lot at the northeasterly corner of Harvard and Prospect streets.

    By an Act passed March 4, 1809, Rufus Davenport, Henry Hill, Samuel May, Elijah Davenport, Pliny Cutler, and their associates, were incorporated as the “Cambridgeport manufactory, for the purpose of manufacturing cotton and sea-salt;” and they were further authorized, Feb. 27, 1813, to manufacture “printing-types and other articles usually manufactured in chemical laboratories.” I find no trace, however, of the establishment of such a manufactory.

    While the measures adopted for the improvement of Cambridgeport were in the “full tide of successful experiment,” a similar enterprise was undertaken at Lechmere Point in which the prime mover was Andrew Craigie.27 The earliest transactions were conducted by Mr. Craigie with much skill and secrecy. His name does not appear on the records until the whole scheme was accomplished; indeed he took no deed of land in his own name until Feb. 14, 1803, when he purchased of Abraham Biglow nearly forty acres of land, formerly the northwesterly part of the Inman or Jarvis Farm. But other purchases, manifestly in his interest, had been made at an earlier period. It has heretofore been stated that the estate of Richard Lechmere was confiscated by the State, and sold to Andrew Cabot in 1779. This estate, together with the share of the Phips Farm assigned to Judge Lee and his wife, and subsequently bought by Cabot, was sold for £ 3,300 to Seth Johnson of New York, Jan. 31, 1795, and mortgaged by him to John Cabot for £ 2,200: and on the 18th of December, 1797, Johnson, for a nominal consideration, quitclaimed all his interest in the estate to Bossenger Foster of Cambridge (brother-in-law to Mr. Craigie), who, by an agreement dated six months later, engaged to convey the estate to Craigie, on the performance of certain conditions. The next step was to secure the reversionary rights of Mrs. Lechmere and her children in the confiscated estate of her husband, or in so much thereof as was held in her right by inheritance from her father. These [184] rights were conveyed, Oct. 14, 1799, by Lechmere and his wife to Samuel Haven of Dedham, whose wife was daughter of Mr. Foster and niece of Mr. Craigie. Mr. Cabot took possession of the estate under the mortgage from Johnson, having obtained judgment therefor in 1800, and sold the same to Samuel Parkman of Boston, Aug. 26, 1803. Parkman conveyed to Craigie all his rights in the whole estate, by deed dated June 8, 1806, and on the 26th of January, 1807, the widow and administratrix of Bossenger Foster conveyed to Mr. Craigie (her brother) the Johnson title, pursuant to the beforementioned agreement. Having thus secured a complete title to the whole of the Phips Farm, except the share assigned to Andrew Bordman and his wife, Mr. Craigie bought of Jonas Wyeth, 3d, Feb. 11, 1807, about forty acres, formerly the northerly part of the Inman or Jarvis estate, and May 5, 1807, of the heirs of Ebenezer Shed, about five acres, lying partly in Somerville, and adjoining the land purchased of Wyeth, so that he now owned about three hundred acres of land, in two parcels nearly adjoining each other; the easterly parcel included almost the whole of East Cambridge, and extended westerly to a point near the intersection of Webster Avenue with Cambridge Street, bounded southerly by a line passing near the intersection of Windsor Street with Webster Avenue; the westerly parcel extended from Elm Street to a line about midway between Fayette Street and Maple Avenue; its southerly boundary was an old lane, long ago discontinued, commencing on Inman Street, one hundred and seventy-six feet south of Broadway, and crossing Broadway near its intersection with Elm Street; on the west side of Inman Street, the south boundary was a line varying from four hundred to three hundred feet north of Broadway. Although Mr. Craigie's title to this whole property was substantially complete, inasmuch as it was within his control, yet he had not, up to this time, received a release of the reversionary rights of Mrs. Lechmere and her children; for obvious reasons he preferred to let this part of the title remain in the hands of his relative, Mr. Haven. As early as June 21, 1806, he seems to have submitted a claim against the Commonwealth for damages on account of “a breach of the covenants of warranty,” in the deed of the Lechmere estate to Cabot; for when he sought, at that date, to improve his property, by “building a dam from Prison Point in Charlestown to Lechmere's Point in Cambridge and erecting mills on the same,” the General Court inserted in the act of incorporation a provision that it should “be of no avail or [185] effect . . . . until a release and discharge of all the covenants of warranty made by this Commonwealth of any of the lands conveyed by said Commonwealth, lying at or near Lechmere's Point mentioned in this Act, shall be obtained from the person or persons who are legally authorized to make such release or discharge.” So also when John C. Jones, Loammi Baldwin, Aaron Dexter, Benjamin Weld, Joseph Coolidge, Jr., Benjamin Joy, Gorham Parsons, Jonathan Ingersoll, John Beach, Abijah Cheever, William B. Hutchins, Stephen Howard, and Andrew Craigie, with their associates, were incorporated, Feb. 27, 1807, with authority to erect Canal Bridge, familiarly called Craigie's Bridge, from “the northwesterly end of Leverett street” in Boston “to the east end of Lechmere's Point,” a similar provision was inserted that the act should be of no effect “until a release and discharge of all the covenants of warranty contained in the deed of James Prescott, Joseph Hosmer, and Samuel Thatcher, Esqs., unto Andrew Cabot and his assigns shall be made and obtained from Andrew Craigie or the person or persons who are legally authorized to make such release and discharge.” The memorial setting forth this claim of damage is mentioned in the Records of the Executive Council, Feb. 9, 1807, while the petition for leave to erect Canal Bridge was pending in the General Court: “The Committee to whom was referred the memorial of Andrew Craigie, praying that some measures might be adopted to ascertain the terms on which his claim to damages for a breach of the covenant of warranty contained in a deed made by this Commonwealth to Andrew Cabot of land lying at or near Lechmere's Point, so called, and on which the same claim may be adjusted, beg leave to report: that on the 24th of November, 1779, this Commonwealth by its Committee conveyed to Andrew Cabot the fifty-four acres and one quarter of land as stated in the said memorial, in which deed of conveyance there was a general warranty against the lawful claims and demands of all persons; that the said Andrew Craigie by sundry successive conveyances duly executed is the assignee of the said Cabot, and is by law entitled to the benefits of the said warranty and capable of discharging the same; that the said fifty-four acres and one quarter of an acre, on the death of Richard Lechmere, will by law revert to Mary Lechmere his wife, or to her heirs, in whose right the said Richard possessed the same at the time of its confiscation; that the land in question, from its local situation, appears to be capable of important improvements, but from various connecting [186] circumstances it is very difficult to ascertain its value to the proprietor; that he has mentioned no sum of money for which he would discharge the Commonwealth from the warranty,” etc. The Committee thus reported the facts, without any specific recommendation. It would seem that Mr. Craigie did not succeed in obtaining any further compensation, and that he preferred to abandon all claim for it, rather than to forfeit the privilege of erecting the dam and bridge before mentioned; for on the 9th of May, 1808, he executed a deed releasing all such claims for damage, in consideration of the right granted to him by two Acts of the General Court, in 1807 and 1808, to erect a bridge from Lechmere Point to Boston; which release was accepted and approved by the Governor, May 12, 1808.

    Having thus released the Commonwealth from liability to damage for breach of warranty, Mr. Craigie completed his record-title by receiving, for the nominal consideration of one dollar, a conveyance, dated Sept. 20, 1808, of the reversionary right to “all the estate which was set off to Mary Lechmere,” which had been held for him since Oct. 14, 1799, by his friend and kinsman, Mr. Haven. The actual value of the property was much enhanced by the privilege to erect a bridge, and to make the other improvements authorized by the General Court. But the apparent inflation of value was scarcely exceeded by the more recent and almost fabulous transactions in coal-fields and oil-wells. As nearly as can be ascertained from the records, Mr. Craigie paid less than twenty thousand dollars for the whole estate. Reserving sufficient land and flats for the construction of the bridge and the location of a toll-house, he put the remainder on the market at the price of three hundred and sixty thousand dollars, in sixty shares of six thousand dollars each. At this price, three shares were conveyed to Harrison G. Otis, three to Israel Thorndike, and one, each, to Ebenezer Francis, William Payne, Thomas H. Perkins, and John Callender, by deeds dated Nov. 30, 1808. The bridge was completed in 1809, and roads were opened to Cambridge Common, to Medford, and elsewhere, to attract travel from the country to Boston over this avenue. To enable the proprietors to manage and dispose of their valuable real estate, which had hitherto remained apparently undivided and uninhabited (except by a single family in the old Phips farm-house), the General Court, by an Act approved March 3, 1810, incorporated “Thomas Handasyde Perkins, James Perkins, William Payne, Ebenezer Francis, and Andrew Craigie, [187] being tenants in common” of lands at and near Lechmere Point, with their associates, as “the Lechmere Point Corporation.” Within the next two months the several proprietors conveyed their shares to the Corporation at the nominal price of five dollars. Streets and lots of suitable size were laid out; but the records indicate that the sales of land were few. The first deed of a house-lot, entered on record, is dated Aug. 20, 1810, and conveys to Samuel S. Green the lot on the northeasterly corner of Cambridge and Second streets, where he resided more than threescore years, and where he died, Sept. 8, 1872. One store-lot, on Bridge Street, had previously been sold to Aaron Bigelow, but the deed was not placed on record so early as the other. The records exhibit only ten deeds of lots given by the Corporation, until Sept. 20, 1813, when a sale was made to Jesse Putnam, which contributed materially to the prosperity of the new village; this lot was bounded on East Street 400 feet, on North Street 400 feet, on Water Street 300 feet, and “on land covered with water” about 400 feet, and was conveyed by Putnam, March 16, 1814, to the “Boston Porcelain and glass company.” But the “crowning mercy” to the whole enterprise was the agreement, approved by the Corporation Nov. 1, 1813, and by the Court of Sessions at the next December Term; namely, that the Corporation would give to the County of Middlesex the square bounded by Otis, Second, Thorndike, and Third streets, and a lot, seventy-five feet in width, across the westerly side of the square28 bounded by Thorndike, Second, Spring, and Third streets, and would erect thereon a court-house and jail, satisfactory to the Court, at an expense to the Corporation not exceeding twenty-four thousand dollars, on condition that as soon as the edifices were completed, they should be used for the purposes designed. The town protested most earnestly against the removal of the courts and records from Harvard Square, but in vain. At the March Term of the Court, 1816, a committee reported that the court-house and jail were satisfactorily completed, and it was ordered that they be immediately devoted to their intended use. It was also ordered that the sum of $4,190.78 be paid to the Corporation, being the amount expended in excess of $24,000. From this time, the success of the enterprise was assured.

    During the period embraced in this chapter, while two new villages were established, which, after many vicissitudes, became more populous than the older settlements, the town was sadly [188] shorn of its already diminished proportions by the incorporation of its second and third parishes into separate towns. Dr. Holmes, writing in 1800, says,29

    The First Parish in Cambridge contains,2,85160
    The Second Parish in Cambridge contains,4,345118
    The Third Parish in Cambridge contains,2,66081

    The original organization of these parishes will be mentioned elsewhere. Their separation from the parent trunk occurred almost simultaneously. The third parish was incorporated as the town of Brighton, Feb. 24, 1807, and became a part of the city of Boston, Jan. 1, 1874. The second parish was incorporated as the town of West Cambridge, by an Act passed Feb. 27, 1807, but not to take effect until June 1, 1807; its corporate name was changed to Arlington, April 30, 1867. By the incorporation of these two towns, Cambridge lost nearly three quarters of its territory, but probably somewhat less than half of its population.

    The political disturbances in the country, at the commencement of the present century, were disastrous to its commercial prosperity. The Embargo, proclaimed in December 1807, followed by other hostile measures, culminating in a declaration of war against Great Britain, in June 1812, paralyzed the commerce of the whole country. Grass grew in the streets of the seaports, and ships rotted at the wharves. Cambridge felt this calamity the more keenly, because it involved so many of her citizens in distress. Merchants, mechanics, and laborers, mutually dependent on each other, were thrown out of business, and some were reduced to absolute want. A general and rapid depreciation in the value of real estate followed, particularly in Cambridgeport;30 the owners ceased to erect houses and stores; those who had purchased on speculation were unable to effect sales, and some of them were financially ruined. General stagnation ensued, from which the new village did not fully recover for many years, and the hope of making it a great commercial centre seems to have been utterly and forever abandoned.

    In common with many towns in New England, Cambridge earnestly protested against the Embargo. At a town-meeting, Aug. 25, 1808, an address, reported by a committee consisting of [189] Royal Makepeace, Francis Dana, and Samuel P. P. Fay, was adopted, to wit:—

    To the President of the United States of America: The inhabitants of Cambridge, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in legal town-meeting assembled, respectfully represent: That we are sensibly impressed with our obligation to submit to and support the laws of our country; and we flatter ourselves that we have been and ever shall be forward to manifest our patriotism, and make any sacrifice, and submit to any privation, that the interest and honor of our country shall require. But in times of great public calamity and distress, we deem it no less our duty than our privilege, “peaceably to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Under these impressions, we feel constrained to confess to your Excellency that we, in common with our fellow citizens of the Eastern States, suffer a severe and increasing distress from the operation of the laws “laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States.” Could we see a termination of our sufferings, we would submit in silence. But with consternation we observe that this is not a temporary measure, but imposed by perpetual laws. We admit the power of Congress to regulate commerce; but laws to abolish it, and raise a perpetual barrier to foreign intercourse, we believe was never contemplated by our national compact.

    Your petitioners inhabit a district of the Union which does not abound with all the conveniences of life. The fisheries and commerce have contributed in an eminent degree to give us whatever of wealth, happiness, and importance, we enjoy. We can never, therefore, subscribe to the opinion, “that it would be unwise evermore to recur to distant countries for the comforts and conveniences of life.” Situated as we are on the shores of the Atlantic, we have occasion to remark and bitterly realize many distressing consequences of the embargo laws, which fall not under the immediate eye of Government, the recital of which, we are confident, will excite all your excellency's philanthropy, and induce you to exercise the power with which you are invested, for the relief of your fellow-citizens. The laws which shut us out from the ocean, the better part of our inheritance, palsied all our enterprise. The farmer gathers his harvest with a heavy heart, while he has no hope of vending his surplus, and the mechanic, sailor, and fisherman, find that their willing industry will no longer enable them to supply their daily wants. Many, very [190] many, who, by a long course of persevering industry, supposed they had reached the desired point of independence, find their property so fallen in value, that it must be wholly sacrificed for the payment of their debts. Their endeavors to extricate themselves avail them nothing; and they can only weep over the ruin that overwhelms them and reduces their families to beggary. Our distress is rendered the more severe and intolerable by a conviction that the neighboring British Provinces, by the very measures that embarrass us, are acquiring a consequence which their natural advantages could never lave given them.

    We apprehend that the benefits expected by your Excellency and Congress from the Embargo have been but partially experienced. It is a notorious fact that great numbers of our native seamen, disheartened by their situation, have resorted to the British Provinces to obtain the means of subsistence, and entered voluntarily into the service of that very nation from which the hand of government has been extended to protect them. Our hope and expectation now rests in the laws authorizing your excellency, in the event of important changes in the measures of the belligerent powers affecting neutral commerce, during the recess of Congress, to suspend, in whole or in part, the acts laying an embargo. the existing Revolution in Spain is a change indeed important to the world, and cannot fail to awaken the sympathy of every friend of mankind. the trade of Spain and Portugal and their colonies is now open and offers a golden harvest to the first nation who shall show themselves wise enough to gather it. We therefore request your Excellency to suspend the operation of the embargo laws, so far at least as they relate to Spain and Portugal and their dependencies; or, should your Excellency doubt that you have such power, that you will call Congress together for that purpose.

    This address, says the record, was adopted “almost unanimously” ; and the selectmen were directed to forward it to the President. Very soon a reply was received,—apparently an autograph of the President,—which is still preserved in the office of the city clerk:—

    To the inhabitants of the town of Cambridge, in legal town-meeting assembled. Your representation and request were received on the 8th inst., and have been considered with the attention due to every expression of the sentiments and feelings of so respectable a body of my fellow-citizens.31 No person has [191] seen, with more concern than myself, the inconveniences brought on our country in general by the circumstances of the times in which we happen to live; times to which the history of nations presents no parallel. For years we have been looking as spectators on our brethren of Europe, afflicted by all those evils which necessarily follow an abandonment of the moral rules which bind men and nations together. Connected with them in friendship and commerce we have happily so far kept aloof from their calamitous conflicts, by a steady observance of justice towards all, by much forbearance and multiplied sacrifices. At length, however, all regard to the rights of others having been thrown aside, the belligerent powers have beset the highway of commercial intercourse with edicts which, taken together, expose our commerce and mariners, under almost every destination, a prey to their fleets and armies. Each party, indeed, would admit our commerce with themselves, with the view of associating us in their war against the other. But we have wished war with neither. Under these circumstances were passed the laws of which you complain, by those delegated to exercise the powers of legislation for you, with every sympathy of a common interest in exercising them faithfully. In reviewing these measures, therefore, we should advert to the difficulties out of which a choice was of necessity to be made. To have submitted our rightful commerce to prohibitions and tributary exactions from others would have been to surrender our independence. To resist them by arms was war, without consulting the state of things or the choice of the nation. The alternative preferred by the Legislature, of suspending a commerce placed under such unexampled difficulties, besides saving to our citizens their property and our mariners to their country, has the peculiar advantage of giving time to the belligerent nations to revise a conduct as contrary to their interests as it is to our rights. “In the event of such peace or suspension of hostilities between the belligerent Powers of Europe, or of such a change in their measures affecting neutral commerce as may render that of the United States sufficiently safe in the judgment of the President,” he is authorized to suspend the Embargo. But no peace or suspension of hostilities, no change of measures affecting neutral commerce, is known to have taken place. The Orders of England and the Decrees of France and Spain, existing at the date of these laws, are still unrepealed, so far as we know. In Spain, indeed, a contest for the government appears to have arisen; but of its course or prospects we [192] have no information on which prudence would undertake a hasty change in our policy, even were the authority of the Executive competent to such a decision. You desire that, in defect of such power, Congress may be specially convened. It is unnecessary to examine the evidence or the character of the facts which are supposed to dictate such a call; because you will be sensible, on an attention to dates, that the legal period of their meeting is as early as, in this extensive country, they could be fully convened by a special call. I should with great willingness have executed the wishes of the inhabitants of Cambridge, had peace, or a repeal of the obnoxious Edicts, or other changes, produced the case, in which alone the laws have given me that authority; and so many motives of justice and interest lead to such changes that we ought continually to expect them. But while these Edicts remain, the Legislature alone can prescribe the course to be pursued. Th: Jefferson. Sept. 10, 1808.

    The appeal of the people to the President was fruitless. Equally vain was an address by the General Court to the members of Congress. A spirit of hostility to England was predominant in the national government; the Embargo was made more stringent, and enforced by regulations which were here considered unreasonable and unconstitutional; and the general condition of the people, both present and prospective, “was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse.” Under such circumstances, at a town meeting, Jan. 27, 1809, “The act lately passed by Congress for enforcing the Embargo was read and submitted to the town for their consideration; and after maturely considering the same, and also considering the present alarming situation of our country,” a vigorous protest against the hostile measures of the general government was adopted by a very large majority of the inhabitants.

    This protestation, and hundreds of similar character by the people of New England, were in vain. In Congress, the influence of France was in the ascendant, and the Embargo was followed, in June, 1812, by an open declaration of war against Great Britain. For the next two or three years, Cambridge suffered its full proportion in the general stagnation of business. Cambridgeport did not recover from the blight which had fallen upon it; and the growth of East Cambridge was sadly retarded.

    With a very decided majority of voters politically opposed to the war, and smarting under the losses and inconveniences resulting from it, the town could not be expected to enter with [193] enthusiasm into its support, or voluntarily to assume a disproportionate share of its burdens. In fact, no reference to the war, during its continuance, is found on the Town Records. A few months after its close, May 8, 1815, the town “Voted, that the report of the Committee appointed to determine what compensation, if any, should be allowed by the town to the militia-men drafted and called out for the defence of the State, be accepted: —the report allows four dollars to each person for every thirty days service.” The Cambridge Light Infantry was called into service by the Governor, for the defence of the State, and readily responded to the call. There may have been some voluntary enlistments into the regular army of the United States: but any evidence of such a fact is not found.

    One of the most eminent citizens of Cambridge, Elbridge Gerry, was Governor of Massachusetts from May 1810, to May 1812, and Vice-president of the United States from March 4, 1813, until Nov. 23, 1814, when he suddenly expired, as he was about to enter the Senate Chamber in Washington for the performance of his official duties. However bittterly his politics were denounced, Mr. Gerry enjoyed the personal respect and esteem of his townsmen; yet neither their affection for the man, nor their regard for his high political position, could overcome their detestation of the war, of which he was an advocate and defender, nor induce them to volunteer their persons or their property in its behalf. Hence the dignified silence of the Town Records.

    When the news of Peace arrived, in February, 1815, there was a general outburst of joy in Massachusetts. In many towns, public meetings of prayer, and praise, and mutual congratulation, were held. There was such a meeting in Cambridge, Feb. 23, 1815, and an address was delivered by President Kirkland. Among the papers presented by Hon. John Davis to the Massachusetts Historical Society is a handbill, or broadside, announcing the approaching festivity, as follows:—

    Celebration of the ratification of the treaty of peace between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of great Britain & Ireland, at Cambridge, Feb. 23, 1815.


    Order of procession.

    The procession will be formed at University Hall, and move at 11 o'clock A. M. in the following order, to the Rev. Dr. Holmes's meeting-house.

    Military Escort.


    Marshal. Chief Marshal. Marshal.

    The President of the University and the other Gentlemen, who officiate.

    Government of Harvard College.

    Selectmen of Cambridge.

    Marshal. Committee of Arrangements. Marshal.



    Resident Graduates.



    Citizens of Cambridge.


    Order of exercises.

    1. Anthem—By Stephenson.

    “I was glad when they said unto me,” &c.

    2. Prayer, by the Rev. Dr. Ware.

    3. Reading of select portions of the Holy Scripture, by the Rev. Mr. Gannett.

    4. Hymn, written for the occasion.

    Almighty God, to thee we bow,
    To thee the voice of gladness raise;
    Thy mercy, that hath blessed us now,
    In loud and grateful songs we praise.

    Long hast Thou stretched the avenging hand
    And smote thy people in thy wrath;
    Hast frowned upon a guilty land,
    While storms and darkness veiled thy path.

    But light from Heaven has shone at last,
    And Peace is beaming from above,
    The storm of doubt and fear has past,
    And hope returns, and joy, and love.

    Then praise to that Eternal Power,
    Who bids our wars and tumults cease,
    And hymn, in this auspicious hour,
    The God of mercy—God of Peace.

    5. Address, by the President of the University.

    6. Poem, by Mr. Henry Ware.

    7. Prayer, by the Rev. Dr. Holmes.

    8. Anthem, from Handel's “Grand Dettingen Te Deum,”

    “We praise thee, O God,” &c.

    9. Benediction.

    1 He erected a house a few rods eastwardly from the junction of Main and Bow streets. A very old house, perhaps the original structure, standing on this spot, is said to have been taken down in 1774.

    2 The highway which separated the “old field” from “small lot hill.”

    3 Now called Front Street.

    4 After 1719, “Mr. Pelham's great lot” is generally described as containing 104 acres.

    5 “Memoir of Cambridgeport,” appended to a sermon at the ordination of Rev. Thomas B. Gannett, Jan. 19, 1814.

    6 On Inman Street, at the head of Austin Street. The mansion house, with a part of the farm, was purchased by the Austins when the Jarvis estate was sold in 1801. The house was removed in 1873 to the corner of Brookline and Auburn streets.

    7 This farm-house stood until about 1840, on the westerly side of Pleasant Street, near its intersection with River Street.

    8 Andrew Bordman, grandson of Lieut.-gov. Phips, inherited this estate on the death of his parents. The house stood on the northerly side of Plymouth Street, between Webster Avenue and Berkshire Street, and was wantonly destroyed about thirty years ago.

    9 On the northerly side of Spring Street, between Third and Fourth streets; it was demolished about the year 1820.

    10 This store remains standing on the northerly side of Main Street, directly opposite to Osborn Street.

    11 The causeway extended from the river to the junction of Main and Front streets, passing near the northerly side of Pelham's Island.

    12 Among those who were actively engaged in promoting the settlement of Cambridgeport, the name of Royal Makepeace is very conspicuous. Born March 29, 1772, at the age of twenty-one years, or earlier, he left his native town (Western, now Warren, Mass.), and came to Boston, in company with Robert Vose, his townsman, each having borrowed for that purpose the sum of twenty-five dollars. After a short mercantile apprenticeship, they entered into partnership, and commenced business in Boston at the South End. They soon afterwards removed to Cambridgeport, where, as heretofore stated, they erected the first store after the completion of the bridge in 1793. In addition to their regular business as grocers, they commenced buying and selling real estate. This partnership was dissolved in 1803, by the death of Mr. Vose. In the business of the store John Cook became a partner; but Rufus Davenport, a Boston merchant, was the principal associate of Mr. Makepeace in his subsequent transactions in real estate, in which it would seem that Mr. Davenport contributed the larger part of the cash capital, which was offset by the skill and judgment of Mr. Makepeace, who was the leading spirit in nearly all the schemes projected for public improvement. He also rendered faithful and useful services in various town offices, and as Representative in the General Court. After the ruin of his financial enterprises, he removed to Baltimore, in 1832, to superintend the “Canton company improvements,” so called, and died in a green old age, his eye not having lost its brilliancy, June 6, 1855.—See Makepeace Genealogy, by William Makepeace.

    13 The tavern stood on the lot next eastwardly from the store of Vose & Makepeace. It was destroyed by fire, Dec. 22, 1851.

    14 This lot was described in the deed as being “a few rods east of Pelham's Island.”

    15 Delineated on a plan drawn by Peter Tufts, Jr., Aug. 22, 1800, and recorded in the Middlesex Registry of Deeds, Book 164, p. 545.

    16 Ordination Sermon, ut sup.

    17 The Cambridge portion of this turnpike is now called Concord Avenue.

    18 This extension is now known as Broadway.

    19 The Cambridge portion of this turn pike is now called Hampshire Street.

    20 Broad Canal, at least, was projected as early as May 19, 1802, when Vose & Makepeace conveyed to Josiah Mason, Jr., a right to use the “Canal which is to be made,” where Broad Canal now is.

    21 The “hundred share estate” was owned thus: Rufus Davenport, fifty-five shares; Royal Makepeace, twenty-five shares; Henry Hill, ten shares; Josiah Mason, Jr., four shares; Daniel Mason, three shares; Charles Clark, three shares.

    22 Although scarcely a vestige of this dock now remains, it was plainly visible a quarter of a century ago. It seems to have been designed as the head of navigation and a central point of business. Lots fronting on the dock were laid out, twenty feet wide, apparently designed for stores and warehouses, some of which were sold at a high price; but it does not appear that any such buildings were erected.

    23 Little Bridge was superseded by a solid roadway about thirty years ago. By the raising of the grade between Broadway and Main Street, and the extension of Sixth Street, in 1873, the South Dock and Cross Canal were effectually obliterated.

    24 At the northwesterly corner of Windsor and School streets, where a large brick school-house now stands.

    25 Dr. Holmes' Ordination Sermon, ut sup.

    26 A portion of this square was offered to the County of Middlesex, for the accommodation of a court-house and other County buildings; but the offer was not accepted. The meeting-house was occupied until Nov. 10, 1833, when it was so much damaged by the wind that it was abandoned, and a new house was erected, in 1834, on the northerly side of Austin Street, between Norfolk and Essex streets. The lot, having ceased to be used for a meeting-house, was forfeited, and reverted to the heirs and assigns of the donors. It is worthy of note, as indicating the expectations indulged at that period, that when the meeting-house was erected, there was not a single dwelling-house on Columbia Street; this fact was assigned by the Selectmen, Nov. 3, 1806, as a reason for not establishing that street as a public highway.

    27 Mr. Craigie was apothecary-general of the Northern Department of the Revolutionary Army, Sept. 5, 1777, when the Council of Massachusetts granted him supplies for the General Hospital. He purchased the Vassall House, or Washington Headquarters, Jan. 1, 1792, and resided there until Sept. 19, 1819, when he closed an active life, checkered by many vicissitudes.

    28 The County has since purchased the other portions of the square.

    29 Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., VII. 6.

    30 Lands, which had been worth in the market more than, twenty cents per square foot, were afterwards sold for less than one cent per foot. The settlement of East Cambridge had not been commenced when the Embargo was declared; but its growth was retarded by the hostilities which followed.

    31 In the original, as usual in Jefferson's manuscripts, capital letters are generally omitted at the beginning of sentences.

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