Monday, August 29, 2016

To Be on the Ballot or Not to Be on the Ballot: That is the Question

This fall not only we will be voting for the President of the United States but we will have ballot questions to consider. All ballot questions go through the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to make sure they follow the correct legal standards and are called petitions or initiative petitions.

Massachusetts’ citizens can submit petitions to repeal or amend a particular section of an existing law or constitutional amendment for approval. If the questions get approved they appear on the statewide ballot. Each petition must be signed by ten voters and submitted to the Attorney General’s office by the first Wednesday in August and certification happens on the first Wednesday in September.

After a petition is certified by the Attorney General thousands of additional signatures are gathered (the requirement in 2015 was 64,750) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December.

If enough signatures are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature; the Legislature approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action.

Unless the Legislature has enacted the measure, the proponents continue to gather additional signatures.  If they gather enough signatures, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election.

The Attorney General has designated the following questions as OB - On Ballot for November 2016:
15-34 An Act Relative to Expanded Gaming - Question 1
15-31 An Act to Allow Fair Access to Public Charter Schools   Question 2
15-11  An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals   Question 3
15-27 The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act   Question 4

After a ballot question has been approved for the November ballot the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth work jointly to prepare voter information materials per Massachusetts General Law chapter 54 section 53. This information includes a short title to the ballot question and fair and neutral sentence statements describing the effect of a yes or no vote.

For additional information on the Initiative Petition consult the Attorney General's web page.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy Statehood Anniversary, Hawaii!

Official seal of the State of Hawaii 

August 21, 2016 marks the 57th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood.  What does this have to do with Massachusetts, you may ask?!  Missionaries who graduated from the Andover Theological Seminary (established in 1807 on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts) played a pivotal role in the story of the “Americanization” of Hawaii that ultimately led to the establishment of our 50th state in 1959. Hiram and Sibyl Bingham and Asa and Lucy Thurston were the first company of New England missionaries to lead a mission to the then Sandwich Islands, as we call now the Hawaiian Islands, for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (which was also founded in 1810 in Massachusetts by recent graduates of Williams College).

Hawaiian Bible

The missionaries arrived in Hawaii in 1820 and were the first to devise a written Hawaiian alphabet from what was until then only a spoken language. They translated the Bible into Hawaiian and taught the native Hawaiians how to read and write their spoken language. In 1841 a copy of one of the first translations of this Hawaiian Bible was presented to the General Court by the members of The Board (as detailed in 1841 Senate Bill 47) and placed in the keeping of the State Library, where this treasure still resides today. As a result of these very early Massachusetts missionary ties with Hawaii, the State Library’s collections on Hawaii and the history of the Hawaiian Islands are particularly rich and varied.

Some notable items include:

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Loyal Nine, a secret precursor to the Sons of Liberty

Boston’s rough and rowdy reputation goes back farther than the establishment of local sports teams and rivalries. In colonial New England, the anti-Catholic “Pope’s Day,” stemming from the tradition of Guy Fawkes Day in England, was widely celebrated by building large carriages with effigies of popes, bishops, and devils and parading these figures toward a great bonfire, where they would be burned. In Boston, however, the celebration became a bloody competition between gangs from the South End and North End. Each gang would attempt to possess the other’s carriages, resulting in “a ferocious battle” where “people were killed and maimed for life” (Paul Revere & the World He lived in). When England began enforcing stricter taxes on its American colonies in the mid-1700’s, Samuel Adams and his political contemporaries believed that they could harness the North End and South End gangs to further their political agendas.

Via Wikipedia Commons
In reaction to the Stamp Act, a group of nine middle-class artisans and shopkeepers joined together in a secret political group which referred to itself as the “Loyal Nine.”  These men were listed by John Adams as braziers John Smith and Thomas Chase, painter Thomas Crafts, printer Benjamin Edes, distiller Joseph Field, naval officer Henry Bass, and jeweler George Trott. While none of the members were high-profile political figures in Boston, they recognized the threat that the Stamp Act would have on their businesses and crafts. Samuel Adams was not listed as among their ranks but appears to have worked closely with these men to subvert the economic intentions of Great Britain.

Preferring to avoid publicity, the secret group enlisted the help of Ebenezer MacKintosh, the leader of the South End gang that had brutally defeated the North End gang in the last Pope’s Day Riots. On August 14, 1765, MacIntosh orchestrated the hanging of two effigies on the Liberty Tree: one, an effigy of Andrew Oliver, the official responsible for implementing the Stamp Act in Massachusetts, and the other a boot effigy containing a devil figure, a reference to the Earl of Bute who was mistakenly thought to be the architect of the act in England.  A crowd surrounded the tree and effigies and would not allow “peace officers” nor the local sheriff’s forces to cut them down. Eventually, the crowd removed the figures themselves and carried them toward Oliver’s home, where they beheaded and burned the effigy. MacKintosh further incited the mob into ransacking Oliver’s home and forcing Andrew Oliver to flee to Castle William, violence that may not have been part of the original plan. Days later on the 26th of August, MacKintosh also lead a mob which destroyed Governor Hutchison’s North End mansion.

Henry Bass, a member of the Loyal Nine, wrote in a letter to Samuel Savage that “we do every thing in order to keep this & the first Affair Private: and are not a little pleas’d to head that McIntosh has the Credit of the whole Affair… we Endeavour to keep up the Spirit which I think is as great as ever” ("A Note on Ebenezer MacKintosh"). Perhaps because their support of violent action against those supporting the Stamp Act, John Adams seems surprised that the night he spent with the Loyal Nine was unmarred by conflict or drama. Adams reported that he was “very civilly and respectfully treated by all present” and that he “heard nothing but such conservation as passes at all clubs, among gentlemen, about the times. No plots, no machinations. They chose a committee to make preparations for grand rejoicings upon the arrival of the news of a repeal of the Stamp Act, and I heard afterwards they are to have such illuminations, bonfires, pyramids, obelisks, such grand exhibitions and such fireworks as were never before seen in America. I wish they may not be disappointed” (The Works  of John Adams)

After the repeal of the Stamp Act, the Loyal Nine all became active members of the more public Sons of Liberty.  MacKintosh continued to be a persuasive leader for the Boston mobs during the revolutionary period and, along with four members of the Loyal Nine, was recorded as participants in the Boston Tea Party protest years later in 1773.

Further reading:

Alexandra Bernson
Reference Staff

Monday, August 8, 2016

MBTA Congestion Relief: The Recommendations from WWII Are Staggering

     Those of us who commute to Boston on the T know that the rush hour trains tend to experience heavy ridership. The T has been a popular way to travel to and from the city for decades, dating all the way back to the days before the MBTA, when the trains in Boston were operated by the Boston Elevated Railway Company, or the Boston El. During World War II, the Boston El recommended an innovative way to relieve rush hour congestion on its trains: staggered working hours.

Because of the wartime rationing of materials such as gasoline, tires, and metal, the Boston El, along with the Boston Traffic Commission, the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and the Retail Trade Board, recommended to the City of Boston War Transportation Conservation Committee that certain workers in Boston change their working hours in order to relieve congestion on the limited number of trains in operation. One of the items in the State Library’s collection is a Boston El brochure from this time period, which explains how the staggered working hours would be implemented, starting October 1, 1942.

According to the brochure, the groups cooperating in this method of congestion relief included state employees, City of Boston employees, and employees of Boston retail stores and insurance firms. Each of these groups would start and end work either 15 minutes to 1 hour earlier or 15 to 30 minutes later than before. Also noted in the brochure were students in the five high schools in Boston proper, who would continue their 10 a.m. opening hour that had been adopted on March 2, 1942.

To view this brochure and other materials relating to the Boston El, come visit us at the State Library M-F 9am-5pm. Can’t make it to the State House? Many of our holdings are freely available online in our repository of state publications, including a number of publications from the MBTA:

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, August 1, 2016