Editor of the new book, Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston by Hannah Mather Crocker, Eileen Hunt Botting guides readers through Crocker's 180-year-old recollections of Boston.
Hannah Mather Crocker's Reminiscences and Traditions of Boston (c.1822-1829) is a 600 page manuscript history of Boston from the 1620s to the 1820s. It has been preserved at NEHGS since 1879, and is now available in a comprehensive scholarly edition.
Crocker was one of the most important women's rights advocates of the early republic. She was also well-connected in Boston's political circles, as the niece of colonial governor Thomas Hutchinson and the grand-daughter of the Rev. Cotton Mather. Her unique history of her native city takes a topographical approach, guiding the reader on a walking tour of the streets, squares, alleys, wharves, and smuggling tunnels of old Boston. She provides eye-witness accounts of the political conflicts of the revolutionary era, including the Stamp Act riot of 1765 and the Siege of Boston of 1775-1776. Her focus on the families, homes, and built environment of the city in the long eighteenth century makes the book a great resource for genealogists, family historians, and historians of Boston.
Giving a fresh perspective on early American religious and political history, she shows the connections between church and state in the colonial and provincial eras, the splintering of Congregationalist churches, and the rise of minority churches such as the Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Universalists. Crocker's history of Boston also pays heed to the voices and stories of women, serving as a bridge between the oral traditions of several generations of local women and the written historical record.
The Reminiscences has three parts: two versions of her history of Boston plus an appendix of related literary and historical documents. The volume, particularly the appendix, contains the largest known collection of Crocker's own poetry. Crocker creatively wove her own poetry, as well as poetry about Boston and by other Bostonians such as Joseph Green, Mather Byles, and Phillis Wheatley, into both versions of her history of the city. Writing with humor, patriotic spirit, and a sense of urgency as she neared the end of her seventy-seven years, Crocker penned her Reminiscences with the intent that it would inform and inspire the "rising generation'' of American citizens to understand and appreciate the roots of their rights and freedoms in the political struggles of the colonial, provincial and revolutionary eras.
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Eileen Hunt Botting is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and author of Family Feuds: Wollstonecraft, Burke, and Rousseau on the Transformation of the Family (SUNY Press, 2006).