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The Modern Gray Champion
W. J. Sidis
[MS, 2 p, presumedly unpublished, found in Helena Sidis's files, 1977.]
On [Monday] April 18, 1689, when New England had been under absolute dictatorship for four years, the dictator, Sir Edmund Andros, marching at the head of his militia, walked around the corner which is now Washington & State Streets in Boston and into the swiftest and most effective revolution in the world's history, and another hour saw Dictator Andros in jail and representative government being rebuilt in Boston. Local legend has it that, just before populace went into action, a Gray Champion suddenly appeared, between the crowd and the tyrant, worked Andros into a rage and the crowd into the spirit of rebellion, and then disappeared. According to the same legend, this Gray Champion has appeared on numerous other occasions that were in one way or another critical for the liberties of New England, similarly appearing long enough to work up the spirit of liberty in the people, and then disappearing.
Recent versions of this legend have it that on one of the occasions of the Gray Champion's reappearance was at the Boston Draft Riots of [Sunday] July 1, 1917, when, at various points in and around Boston Common, large numbers of people demonstrated in protest at the prospect of being conscripted to fight for a government pretending to "save the world for democracy." There it was reported that at Park Square, where the fight began, an elderly man was seen in a third story window, sitting there calmly in spite of the showers of missiles that darkened the air of Park Square, and apparently lending encouragement by his presence to the crowds fighting against the draft; but, when a government gang burst into the suite where we was seen, he had disappeared, no one knows how or where.
In this particular instance, an actual identification has been made of the man who played the part of Gray Champion for the time being. He was well acquainted with the legend of the Gray Champion, and admired that character without ever finding out during his whole life that he himself was one of the incarnations of the Gray Champion. As is fitting for an earthly representative of the spirit typified by the Gray Champion, this man had always been fighting for liberty, equality, and justice. He has always been a pioneer in trying out new ideas and joining new movements that would seem likely to effect a change in the structure of society to towards these ends.
It was the same man who, in 1934, suggested that such ends might best be attained by some movement built in accordance with American principles and precedents in order to be better able to function in America among American people; and to that end, suggested that it be attempted to inaugurate a movement based on America's Declaration of Independence and on the revolutionary traditions represented by that document. The seed of this idea grew slowly, but a group organised on that basis finally got together on [Tuesday] January 7, 1936, and is now gradually growing into a new type of movement, a truly American movement based on a new type of society based on liberty. The man who had once unconsciously played the part of New England's spirit of liberty, the Gray Champion, was once more playing that part in a different way. He never was willing to take credit for instituting this new movement, though it was his suggestion that gave it the original start.
Again in accord with the role of the Gray Champion, when his work in starting this new movement had reached a point where the Gray Champion was not needed, where the required start had already been given, he made his final disappearance, leaving this earth on [Monday] July 25, 1938.1 New England's Gray Champion, of course, will continue to live as long as the ground is inhabited; but New England's followers of liberty and of individual rights have lost a man who has really done something for their cause in that capacity. It is up to us who are left to carry on the spirit that will keep alive the Gray Champion that is part of New England's soil, to sink the differences to which other groups may bid us in order that we may all cooperate in working for the spirit of American liberty which is the real significance of the Gray Champion.2
1. Who is this person? Sidis apparently knew him. Would some Bostonian please check newspaper obituaries from July 25 to August something, 1938?
2. Sidis also writes of the Gray Champion in The Tribes and the States, near the end of Chap. XIV.
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