Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820

Judith Sargent Murray's Letter 532

A Brief Biography of Judith Sargent Murray

The two girls Judith is writing to are young relatives. Mary is her cousin, the daughter of her uncle Nathaniel, and Sarah is Judith's niece, her sister Esther's daughter. The excursion she mentions was a trip out to Fresh Pond in Cambridge/Watertown to escape the heat of the city (Boston).

Letter 532


To the two Girls Mary Sargent Allen and Sarah Sargent Ellery

Boston Franklin Place July 21st 1795


Dear Spinsters


…This enchanting little excursion, gave me spirits for the approaching celebration of our splendid anniversary — and my nerves, thus new strung, supported with due patriotism the ringing of the bells, discharge of Cannon, and all the tumultuous demonstrations of joy, which marked the birth of American independence. This 20th anniversary has been rendered uncommonly brilliant, by the conjunction of the several lodges in, and about this Metropolis, who, ranged in masonic Order constituted a very striking part of the superb procession — The Officers of the Lodges were decorated in their respective Jewels, and the various insignia of the masonry, added not a little to the pageantry of the scene —The procession consisted of his Excellency the Governor — his Honor the Lieutenant Governor—Adjutant General, Quarter Master General, Honorable Council, Members of the Legislature, Clergy, Sheriff of Suffolk, Agents of the Commonwealth, Independent fusiliers, Masons of every description in the habits of their order — Martial Music and the Corner stone of the new State House, which was triumphantly drawn by fifteen white horses, emblematic of the fifteen United States — the heads of the horses were ornamented by tassels, and variously decorated, and the grand procession, having moved through the principled streets, proceeded to the spot destined for the future deliberations of our Legislature where his Excellency, the Governor, assisted by the grand, and deputy grand Master, placed the beforementioned Cornerstone upon its inscriptive bed of silver — you have doubtless heard that the Governor, being complimented by the Agents of the Commonwealth for building the new State house, by laying the cornerstone thereof requested the assistance of the grand Lodge upon this memorable occasion, and to add to the splendor of the day, this transaction was assigned to the fourth of July — It is said the military honours of the day were productive of uncommon satisfaction — the several Evolutions, and firings, were received with much applause, and the soldierly, and well designed maneuvres in State Street, excited universal admiration — I attended in the Old South Meetinghouse during the delivery of the Oration — and although it was tinctured with the acrimonious spirit of a party, which is now industriously disseminating the seeds of discord through our infant republics — yet it was indisputably interesting, classicly  elegant, and truly [sublime] — It is much to be regretted that Mr George Black who was the Orator of the day hath given testimonials so strongly evincive of his anti-federal sentiments.

            Did I possess the power to press into service the utmost energies of language, they would yet be insufficient to a description of the animated scene — you should have placed yourselves in those windows, which were, during the procession, crouded by spectators — Beauty arrayed in all the charm of loveliness — Manly features bending to the smile of convivial pleasure — these constituted the pleased, and pleasing groups.  Festivity triumphed through the day — business was suspended — care and anxiety seemed enfolded in the shades of oblivion, a face of Glee was universally assumed — Harmony presided, and, of every description of citizen, hilarity was the order — While tip toe joys, in airy Circles, arrested by reflection, or by anticipation, wailed to [unbridled] glee, and to enhance the rational bestowments of the day — A variety of patriotic and sentimental toasts received their merited tributes [—] the Cincinnati was complimented as usual, and truly dignifying to that Order, was the fact, which enabled their honorary Member to say “For guns we have none — we have left them upon the banks of the Hudson!!!” who can wonder that [—] The enthusiasm of applause, which ensued, upon this appeal to the heart of the patriot—beggars description — Who but must have expected that the bursting acclamations of the company, the roaring of the Cannon, and the silent tear trickling down the cheek of many a war worn soldier, would have testified the transport of approbation gushing from every bosom.…


2000 © Bonnie Hurd Smith

Independent scholar and author Bonnie Hurd Smith is the president and CEO of History Smiths, a marketing company that works with businesses to incorporate history -- their own and their community's -- into their branding, marketing, and community outreach to attract customers, boost customer loyalty, and secure a high status reputation in the communities they serve.