Monday, March 25, 2013

Item of the Month for March 2013 - A Massachusetts Governor Marks the 100th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

As we in Massachusetts, the country and the world note the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, we can look to numerous ways in which the long conflict is and has been remembered. In January of this year, the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation was placed on display in the National Archives to much acclaim. This commemorates the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s edict.

Massachusetts Governors often issue proclamations relating to such significant historical events. Thus, on September 22nd, 1962, Governor John A. Volpe not only praised what had happened 100 years before, but in doing so spoke specifically about Lincoln’s views on the subject of slavery. One section below refers to a call by Horace Greeley that the President act more forcefully to end the institution.

Sections of the proclamation read as follows:

Whereas, President Lincoln, the first great leader of the Republican party, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which became final on January 1, 1863, after months of deliberation and out of his long-held and firm conviction of equal rights and freedom for every man, and

Whereas, As early as 1837 Lincoln protested against the pro-slavery resolution adopted by his State Legislature in Illinois; in October of 1854, speaking of slavery’ he said, “I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself, because… it enables the enemies of free Institutions to taunt us as hypocrites, causes friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity…”and

Whereas, on August 22, 1862, a month after President Lincoln had first discussed with his cabinet, the subject of emancipation he took the entire nation into his confidence through his published reply to Horace Greeley’s challenging letter on the subject: “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution….My paramount object in this struggle is to save the union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery…….I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men could be free,” 

One may visit the State Library to find extensive materials about the Civil War. Our current exhibit: “It was Everyone’s War: Celebrating the Contributions of Massachusetts to Abolition and the Civil War,” will be up through May 31st, 2013. And, there have been some other entries on our blog related to this long conflict. Please go to the link below and type in the term Civil War to view them.

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Brown Bag on City Year with emphasis on City Year Boston

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Thursday March 28th, 2013
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear City Year Boston’s Recruitment Manager, Jamaal Williams, speak of this national/international program. You’ve seen the red jackets and Timberland boot-wearing young adults all over the city, but do you know the impact that they’re having on urban education? Learn about City Year’s mission to address the high school dropout crisis and find out how they inspire the next generation of leaders and scholars in the Boston area and across the world.

Mr. Williams will share the history of City Year; he will provide some perspective regarding City Year’s growth, both locally and nationally; and he will talk about his journey into the national service movement and his passion for youth work.

To register, please go to

You may also register by calling the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or by e-mailing to

Monday, March 18, 2013

United States Reports - Opinions of the United States Supreme Judicial Court

The Supreme Court of the United States was created by authority of the Judiciary Act on September 24th of 1789. It was organized on February 2, of 1790. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is the oldest continuing functioning appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.  It was established in 1692.

Supreme Court justices are nominated by the President of the United States for life term tenure. The justices are confirmed by the United States Senate. There are nine Supreme Court justices; the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices.

The State Library has the United States Reports available starting with volume 1. The first 41 volumes are kept in the Library’s Special Collection Department which is located in room 55 of the the State House. Volumes 42 to the present are accessed through the main library's reading room in room 341. 

As in most legal publications, the formula for understanding the citation of a case is: volume number, title, and page number.  This means that a citation such as 410 U.S. 113 is in volume 410 of the United States Report starting on page 113. This citation is for Roe v. Wade.

Only bound volumes of the United States Reports contain the final, official text of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Reports are available online and are also disseminated by Project Hermes, a subscription database.

State Library patrons are invited to access the opinions of the United States Supreme Court and other federal information in room 341 of the State House, Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Congressional Record

The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. It was first published in 1873. The United States Constitution requires Congress to keep a journal of its proceedings. The volumes that preceded the record are now available online via the Library of Congress in the Century of Lawmaking which includes the Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; the Register of Debates in Congress, and the Congressional Globe.

The Congressional Record has four sections: the House section, the Senate section, the Extension of Remarks and since the 1940’s, the Daily Digest. The Daily Digest is at the back of each daily issue and summarizes the floor and committee activities for the day. It also serves as a table of contents for each issue. Speeches and tributes are included in the Extension of Remarks. The House of Representatives uses this section on the Record more frequently than the Senate. The Congressional Record is available online at:

In contrast to the Massachusetts Journal of the House and the Journal of the Senate, members of Congress have the ability to “revise and extend” the remarks actually made on the floor of their respective chambers.

The State Library invites you to peruse the Congressional Record on our public access computers.

We also recommend the Thomas and American Memory websites for information about our government.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Massachusetts Legislators: John James Smith

John James Smith (1820-1906) was an African American legislator who served as a Republican in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1868, 1869, and 1872.  Although he wasn’t the first to be elected to the legislature (Edwin Garrison Walker and Charles Lewis Mitchell both served in 1867), he was the first black legislator to be elected to more than one term in Massachusetts.  He was born in Richmond, Virginia as a free citizen, and moved to Boston in 1848.  After spending a year in Boston, he moved out west to participate in the California Gold Rush.  Not long after, he returned to Boston and set up his own barbershop at the corner of Howard and Bulfinch streets, which quickly became a meeting place and focal point for Boston-area abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Lewis Hayden.  Hayden, an ex-slave who was actively involved in the Underground Railroad, was himself elected to the House in 1873.  During the Civil War, Smith was stationed in Washington D.C. where he worked as a recruiting officer for the all-black 5th Cavalry.  In 1878, six years after his final term in office, he was appointed to the Boston Common Council.

For more information on the history of the black legislative caucus, please visit:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department