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by Jacob Marmor (pseudonym)

Friday, October 31, 1941

in What's New In Town

W. J. Sidis


        The first apartment house in the world was in Boston, where the Little Building now stands.  It was built in 1837, as a new form of cheap housing.  On the first floor, at the corner, was a drugstore that pioneered in soft drinks.


        In the times of the difficulties between Puritans and Quakers in Massachusetts, there was no lack of public resistance to measures of persecution taken by the authorities.  There was one case in particular―that of the Southwick family, where the father and mother had been exiled as Quakers and found shelter on an island near Long Island, which is accordingly now called Shelter Island.  Their children, in their early teens, a boy named Daniel and a girl called Provided, were left behind in Salem, and there was an attempt by the General Court of Massachusetts to sell them into slavery.  They were taken to Boston, and, at the head of Long Wharf (the location is now State & Broad), on [Wednesday] September 8, 1660, the captains of vessels in the Harbor were called on to bid for the chance to sell the children.  They all refused to do so, and, following this refusal, the people present, by rising clamor, demanded the release of the children.  It can hardly be denied that this action of the people of Boston went a long way towards ushering in a new era of tolerance, though a long fight was still to come on that issue.  But it could easily be regarded as the outset of a wonderful new change in the world, almost enough to justify Whittier’s words:

“Oh, in that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye,
  A holier wonder round me rose the blue walls of the sky,
  A lovelier light on rock and hill and stream and woodland lay,
      and softer lapped on sunnier sands the waters of the bay.”

        And the millions who have found refuge from persecution on these shores, and other millions interested in their freedom of opinions may well look to the miracle of Long Wharf as the beginning of it all.


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