Massachusetts Troublemakers


Twenty Independent-Minded Men and Women Who Helped Make Massachusetts What It Is Today Stirring up trouble has a long and illustrious history in the Bay State. From such famous figures as brewer-turned-patriot Samuel Adams to more obscure personalities like brazenly bearded Joe Palmer, the twenty men and women profiled in this collection went against the grain and helped shape the Bay State into the progressive place it has become. Revolutionary War publisher Isaiah Thomas proved the pen is mightier than the ...
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Twenty Independent-Minded Men and Women Who Helped Make Massachusetts What It Is Today Stirring up trouble has a long and illustrious history in the Bay State. From such famous figures as brewer-turned-patriot Samuel Adams to more obscure personalities like brazenly bearded Joe Palmer, the twenty men and women profiled in this collection went against the grain and helped shape the Bay State into the progressive place it has become. Revolutionary War publisher Isaiah Thomas proved the pen is mightier than the sword. Deborah Samson so believed in America’s independence that she masqueraded as a man to join the struggle against the British. In 1845 Margaret Fuller published a book that became the blueprint for the women’s rights movement. Half a century before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, “Worcester Whirlwind” Major Taylor battled “that monster prejudice” to dominate bicycle racing on three continents. In Massachusetts Troublemakers, author Paul Della Valle brings these individuals to life with colorful tales of rabble-rousing and pot-stirring, not to mention a little bit of dancing and drinking, complemented by more than twenty archival photos.
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Editorial Reviews

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Massachusetts earned a reputation as a seething tempest of trouble started long before we became a nation. In fact, without the rebellious spirits of Bay State citizens, American independence might have been postponed for several years. Paul Vall Della's Massachusetts Troublemakers proves decisively that Boston rabble-rousers did not retire quietly after the first inaugural. With example after example, he shows that Massachusetts reformers and libertines stoked the fires of freedoms in unprecedented ways.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762748501
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/13/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 1,395,051
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Massachusetts native Paul Della Valle is a life-long journalist. He has been a general assignment reporter, investigative reporter, editor and publisher, and his work has won dozens of wards from the Associated Press, United Press International, and the New England Press Association. The newspaper Della Valle founded in 1996 and published until 2005, The Lancaster Times & Clinton Courier, was twice a runner-up for New England Newspaper of the Year. Della Valle joined the staff of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette in 1985 and was promoted to featured columnist in 1989. He became editor of Worcester Magazine in 1993. He has also served as a Central Massachusetts correspondent for the Boston Globe, and his work has appeared in Readers Digest and several of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Della Valle has published two books, My Favorite Column of Yours Was the One Your Wife Wrote and Welcome to Your Midlife Crisis. His awards have included being named Columnist of the Year twice and best humor columnist once by the New England Press Association, and a first-place citation for feature writing in the largest newspaper division from the New England Associated Press. His story on candlepin bowling in Massachusetts and the role of Central Massachusetts men at the Civil War’s Battle of Ball’s Bluff won awards for history reporting from the New England Press Association in 2001 and 2002. Della Valle is currently an instructor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism in Boston, and he has also taught writing at Clark University in Worcester. He sings, plays guitar, and writes songs for the Worcester County Bluegrass All Stars, who have recorded two albums. Della Valle lives with his wife, Karen Sharpe, a poet and journalist, and their children on an old farm in Sterling, Massachusetts.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Thomas Morton (1579-1647): He found the Massachusetts Native Americans “more Christian” than his fellow Englishmen in Plymouth and took up dancing and drinking with his followers and Indian girls. He paid a heavy price – exile – thrice but was unbowed. In his book, New England Canaan, he called Myles Standish “Captain Shrimp.” Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643): “The Feminist Foremother of the United States,” she criticized the male Calvinist clergy and was banished to Rhode Island .She and all of her children except for one later died in an Indian attack. Some Puritans considered that “divine judgment.” Metacomet (1638-1676): His father had been the Pilgrims’ friend, but the early colonists mistreated his people and probably killed his brother, so Metacomet led the New England Indians in the most brutal and costly war, relative to population, in American history. King Philip, as the whites called him, was so hated by the colonists that, after he was killed, they placed his head on a pole in Plymouth and left it there for 25 years. Samuel Adams (1722-1803): Surprisingly, his brewery was a financial disaster and his greatest accomplishment may have been a little tea party he and some friends threw for the British. He didn’t achieve the presidency as his cousin John Adams did, although he did serve as governor. The British reviled Sam Adams – only he and John Hancock were exempted from a general amnesty offered to the Massachusetts rebels in 1775. Daniel Shays (1747-1825): In 1786, this Revolutionary War captain led disgruntled western Massachusetts farmers in America’s first civil war. The uprising didn’t last long and few were killed but it did make a mark. Shays Rebellion prompted Thomas Jefferson’s famous, “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing” remark. Today, a western Massachusetts Celtic band and a California rock band both have the name “Shays Rebellion.” Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831): A Boston native, Thomas began publishing the Massachusetts Spy to rally support for the cause of independence. He smuggled his press out of Boston to Worcester before the Battle of Lexington and Concord and published throughout the war. He later became the foremost publisher in America and in 1812 established the American Antiquarian Society, which remains one of the United States most complete collections of printed works. Lucy Wright (1760-1821): One of the first “Shaking Quakers” born in the colonies, Pittsfield native Mother Lucy became the leader of the celibate sect during its greatest growth period. Under her leadership, Shakers gathered into communes and Shaker women were officially given equal rights in 1787. In 1817 the Shakers’ southern societies freed slaves belonging to members and began buying black believers out of slavery. Deborah Samson (1760-1827): At 21 years old she bound up her breasts and served heroically in the Revolutionary War as Private Robert Shurtliff. She even dug a musket ball out of her own thigh so she wouldn’t be discovered. In 1983, Gov. Michael Dukakis proclaimed her the “official heroine” of the Commonwealth. Joe Palmer (1789-1873): His gravestone in Leominster still reads “Persecuted for wearing the beard” and his refusal to shave in 1830 changed America. By the time he died, young women in America were saying, “kissing a man without whiskers is like eating an egg without salt.” Bronson Alcott (1799–1888): A friend of Emerson and Thoreau, Alcott and other transcendentalists established a utopian community in Harvard, Mass. in 1843. Only problem was, none of them actually wanted to do any physical work and it quickly failed. At least his daughter, Louisa May Alcott, found some background for her novels there. Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802-1887): A Boston school teacher who later served heroically as a nurse in the Civil War, Dix championed the cause of the “insane persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, and pens; chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.” William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879): A lifelong journalist, Garrison began publishing his anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator in 1831. In the first issue he wrote, “I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice … urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest – I will not equivocate – I will not excuse – I will not retreat a single inch – AND I WILL BE HEARD.” Elihu Burritt (1810-1879): The “Learned Blacksmith,” as Burritt came to be called, walked to Worcester from New Britain, Conn., studied 50 languages, became a star speaker in the Lyceum movement, was befriended by senators and presidents, and became an internationally known champion of world peace with his League of Universal Brotherhood. Abby Kelly Foster (1811-1887): Along with fellow Massachusetts natives Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony, Kelly Foster was a righteous crusader for the abolition of slavery and for women’s suffrage. Despite having rocks thrown at her, she was one of the first women to deliver speeches before sexually mixed audiences. Kelly Foster was an organizer of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention in Worcester in 1850. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): He only lived to be 44, yet Thoreau’s written work, particularly On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, has influenced Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr. and many other world leaders. Bashed during his lifetime as anti-progress, this often-reclusive Concord schoolteacher’s writings on the environment are considered visionary. Eli Thayer (1819-1899): A Mendon native and a Free-Soiler in the Massachusetts legislature, Thayer organized the New England Emigrant Aid Company as part of his plan to send antislavery settlers to Kansas to keep it a free state. Senator Charles Sumner later said, “I’d rather have the credit due Eli Thayer for his work in Kansas than be the hero of the battle of New Orleans.” Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885): Jackson, ironically, was a native of Amherst, the town named after Lord Jeffery Amherst, who many believe attempted to spread small pox among New England’s tribes by giving them infected blankets. Jackson survived tragedy in her own family and championed the cause of American Indians. She wrote a novel Ramona with the hopes that it would do for Indians what her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for blacks. It became a bestseller but did not have the same impact as Stowe’s book. Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863): The son of a prominent Boston abolitionist family, Colonel Shaw raised and commanded the first regiment of black troops organized in a Northern state during the Civil War. The regiment included two of Frederick Douglass’s sons. During an 1863 assault on Confederate Battery Wagner, the men in the Massachusetts 54th fought valiantly. About one quarter of the 54th, including Shaw, died. The Southerners thought they were insulting Shaw by burying him in a common grave with his black enlisted men but his parents later said that is the way their son would have wanted it. Luther Burbank (1849-1926): The great botanist and free-thinker attributed his life’s work to the time he spent as a boy on his father’s farm in Lancaster, Mass. and in the town library reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species. He caused a huge uproar when, years later and already famous for his life’s work, he proclaimed, “I am an infidel.” Major Taylor (1879-1932): Half a century before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier, Taylor, the “Worcester Whirlwind” dominated bicycle racing on three continents, proving to the world, he said, “that there are positively no mental, physical, moral or other attainments too lofty for a Negro to accomplish if granted a fair and equal opportunity.”
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