Reflecting on the Last 100 years

January 12, 2015
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The celebration of the 100th Anniversary on Monday night in the Council Chamber noting the changing of the government of the Revere from a Town form to a City  form was a very impressive affair.  City Clerk Ashley Melnik is to be congratulated for leading the organization of this affair.

We provide two excerpts from Monday night’s ceremony that encapsulates the meaning of today’s municpal governement.

The first is by Mayor Arthur B. Curtis delivered in his 1915 Inaugural Address :

“We meet today at the threshold of a new and untried municipal existence.  After nearly three-fourths of a century of living under the Town Form of Government, the qualified voters decided by practically a two-thirds vote to do away with the old and take on the garments of a larger growth.  With a population of nearly 25,000 and rapidly increasing, the old ways of doing things seemed cumbersome and ineffective to accomplish the greatest progress and happiness of the people.

For nearly 300 years the New England form of Town Government has been deeply rooted in the communities of our beloved country.  It had its origin in the home.  It found expression in the compact drawn up in the cabin of the Mayflower on that bleak day of November 1620, and its influence has extended not only to the boundaries of our own domains but wherever men and women of New England birth or ancestry have made their abode.

Such a form of government founded upon religion and a deep and abiding faith in God and man must be from the very nature of things a blessing to mankind.  In its Town Meetings ever citizen holding the precious right of suffrage can by voice and vote assist in making effective any measure dear to him or the community.  Each voter is an alderman or councilman who needs no election to make his rights secure.  All this we have changed, losing much it is true, but upon the whole being gainers along the line of better business methods and true progress in civic affairs.”

The second excerpt is from A Brief History of Revere by Theodore W. Gillette

“…But the name of North Chelsea did not long satisfy the citizens.  In 1870 there began an agitation for the adoption of another name.  There was a club of young men know as the Putnam Associates, occupying rooms in a building on Pleasant Street, which most of us remember as a police station.  There the agitation took shape and public meetings were called to discuss the subject.  There is no record of action in a town meeting by the appointment of a committee or presentation of reports.  It is well remembered, however, that such meetings were held and that many new names were suggested for the town.  They were probably informal meetings called by general invitation.  Apparently no one opposed the idea.  The only question was as to the name to be adopted…

…The name Revere is said to have been suggested by William G. Harris.  There was no local connection with the name of the great patriot that made it especially appropriate.  The descendants of Revere continued to operate a copper smelting plant at Point Shirley long after his death, but it is not recalled that this fact had any bearing.  The advocates of the name Revere probably had no other reason than to do his memory honor…

…Eventually a meeting was held in the Town Hall at which the citizens were invited to attend and ballot for choice of a name.  There is no record of this meeting, but it was probably held in January or February 1871, and the patriotic citizens prevailed.  The name of Revere received a plurality of votes, and we know that all controversy was dropped, as a petition was sent to the Legislature asking for the enactment of the necessary authority, signed by 95 citizens.  This was filed in the House of Representatives February 16, 1871.  The act was passed March 24, 1871, with the proviso that it must be accepted within 90 days.  The Selectmen must have acted the day they received the news, for a town meeting was held April 3, and the act accepted by a vote of 88 to 7…

…The vote was received with cheers.  The voting was in the afternoon, and at 4 o’clock church and school bells were rung, flags displayed and a salute fired in honor of the change.  Houses and stores were illuminated in the evening.  A grand celebration of the event was held 15 days later, that being the anniversary of Paul Revere’s famous ride…

…In the evening there was program in the hall.  Andrew Burnham was chairman.  There was present by invitation a lineal descendant of Paul Revere, who spoke briefly.  I am unable to describe him other than as appears in the report that his name was ‘Mr. Curtis’, surely a remarkable foreshadowing of this day, on which we place at the head of the new City of Revere a mayor of that name…

…In the celebration of the adoption of the name Revere in 1871, the dedication of this building in 1900, and today’s inauguration of the city government we find a triple coincidence.  In each of these celebrations there has been tribute paid to the memory of Paul Revere; a reading of Longfellow’s immortal poem…

…To use again the words of our fellow citizen, Mr. LK Washburn, “The name Revere honors us – let us do nothing to dishonor the name.  Let us take pride in our city; and make it worthy of the great patriot for whom it is named, and worthy of the glorious state and nation of which it is a part.”

With a hundred years behind us, we look forward to the next 100 years.

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