When I was 2 ½ years old, I traveled to Boston with my family and walked along the Freedom Trail for the very first time. During that trip, we visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and one incident that occurred there is forever etched in my memory. I recall all the fuss that was made over getting one photo in particular and remember being a bit confused as I was positioned next to a strange rock while my father held my hand and the sun glared in my face. The image captured that day is shown at left. We were standing by the marker of Captain Benjamin Edwards who I later learned was a sea captain and my sixth great grandfather. I had no way of knowing it then, but this simple photo would have a major impact on my life. It helped instill in me a lifelong interest in both family history and American history. As the years passed, I would come to discover much more about my early Boston ancestors and the family tomb.
Edwards Tomb #5 is in the first row of tombs constructed at Copp’s Hill in 1717. Five generations of my family are here, including my 7th great grandmother Sarah Edwards and 6th, 5th, 4th and likely 3rd great grandparents. Their names are listed at the end of this post. It is also the final resting place of Paul Revere – not the famous midnight rider, who died in 1818 and lies in Granary Burying Ground, but his firstborn son Paul Revere Jr. (1760-1813). Paul Jr. was 15 years old on April 18, 1775 when his father made the Midnight Ride and he later stayed behind to guard the family property during the siege of Boston. Paul Jr. was apprenticed to his father as a gold and silversmith; handled the day-to-day operations of the Revere silversmith shop in the 1780s; and after the war made church bells with his father and brother Joseph Warren Revere. So why would Paul Revere Jr. be buried in the Edwards family tomb and what evidence is there to support it?
Paul Revere Jr. married Sally Edwards (1761-1808) on July 25, 1782. Sally was the older sister of my fourth great grandfather Benjamin Edwards (1765-1808). Paul Jr. and Sally had 12 children between 1783 and 1803 and five of them died young. Paul never remarried after Sally died on August 23, 1808. It is believed that Sally was buried in the Edwards tomb where she joined her five young children, her parents, grandparents and her brother Benjamin who had died just a few months prior on June 9, 1808. Oral family tradition says that members of the Revere family rest here but there was no written record of any sort to support that claim until late 1999. At that time the Paul Revere House received some interesting correspondence from a genealogist doing research for someone with the surname Edwards in their family tree. The family held in their possession a letter from an older female relative dated Gordonsville, VA October 3, 1969. That letter contained the following line: “I did visit Boston when I was about twelve years old and Aunt Sue took me around, such as to the old family tomb where great, great ???? grandmother Elliot is resting (?) with Paul Revere’s casket on top of hers…” Paul Revere House staff contacted me to see if I might help them make some sense of this clue. From the moment I read that line, I knew what it meant. The answer to the mystery was hidden in the pages of a treasured book my family owned.
I had grown up with an Edwards family Bible from 1812, passed down through five generations. Ever since I was 10, the handwritten family records it contained had captured my imagination. Those records included the death of my fourth great grandfather Benjamin Edwards (1765-1808) and the births of his five children in Boston between 1793 and 1803. Directly beneath the birth records was an entry that had never made sense to me. It was for a Helan (Helen) Mariah Elliot born on April 8, 1811. I would come to learn that after my fourth great grandfather Benjamin Edwards died his wife Polly (Mary) Bangs Edwards remarried to Samuel Elliot in 1810. Helen Mariah Elliot would have been their daughter and I believe Polly (Mary) Bangs Edwards Elliot, my fourth great grandmother, would have been the “great, great ??? grandmother Elliot” in the letter mentioned above. I have not been able to locate a death record for Polly, but if she died between 1811 and 1813 then Paul Revere’s casket certainly could have “rested on top of hers” in the family tomb (as the letter states) because Paul Revere Jr. died on January 16, 1813.
There are no paintings I am aware of that show what Sally Edwards or Paul Revere Jr. looked like but there is a painting of their son Paul Revere who was born on February 2, 1789. I obtained this image from a family who is a direct descendant of the midnight rider Paul Revere through his grandson George Revere – one of Paul Revere Jr. and Sally Edwards 12 children. When I first saw it I was struck by how much this Paul Revere’s nose resembled that of his great grandfather Captain Benjamin Edwards. Here’s a side by side comparison.
By the 1980s, the Edwards marker was in a serious state of disrepair. In 1989, only two pieces of it remained and neither contained any words. After obtaining the proper permission, my family had the marker replaced in 1998. The new marker was hand carved by Nicholas Benson of the John Stevens Shop of Newport, Rhode Island, founded in 1705. Two years later, in 2000, I wrote a children’s book One April in Boston that pays tribute to my early Boston ancestors. This photo, taken by the family marker in the summer of 2010, celebrated the book’s 10th anniversary.
Here is a list of my direct ancestors believed to be in the Edwards Tomb.
Sixth Great Grandparents
- Captain Benjamin Edwards (1685-1751), sea captain and merchant, his mother Sarah, his first wife Hannah Harrod, and second wife Bathsheba Evans Edwards (1701-1738).
Fifth Great Grandparents
- Dolling Edwards (1737-1773), mastmaker, and his wife Rebecca Christie Edwards (1739-1771).
Fourth Great Grandparents
- Benjamin Edwards (1765-1808), cooper, and his wife Polly Bangs Edwards (Elliot).
Third Great Grandparents
- Joseph B. Edwards (1799-1852), paver, and possibly his wife Sarah Mace Edwards (1806-1872).
Here is a list of other ancestors believed to be in the Edwards Tomb.
- Alexander Edwards (1733-1798), patriot, cabinetmaker and member of the Sons of Liberty.
- Sally Edwards Revere (1761-1808), wife of silversmith Paul Revere Jr. and mother of their 12 children.
- Paul Revere Jr. (1760-1813), silversmith, bell founder and firstborn son of patriot Paul Revere.
- Jedediah Lincoln (1760-1820), Revolutionary War soldier and ancestor of Abraham Lincoln; his wife, Elizabeth (Betsey) Edwards Lincoln (1765-1796), and their son Alexander Edwards Lincoln.
- Robert Edwards (1732-1770), tailor, and his wife Mary (White) Clark Edwards (?-1774).
Continuing with my series of posts for Black History Month featuring outstanding African Americans, today I’ll be remembering Alex Haley and his Pulitzer Prize-winning book Roots. Whenever he spoke about Roots while giving talks in various parts of the country, Alex Haley would recall how, as a young boy, he sat on the front porch of his childhood home in Henning, Tennessee and listened to his grandmother Cynthia and Great Aunt Liz, Great Aunt Till, Great Aunt Viney, and Cousin Georgia tell stories passed down in the family. These women would sit in their rocking chairs and speak about their earliest ancestor – someone who they always referred to as the “African”. They said his name was “Kintay” and also mentioned other African words he taught to his daughter Kizzy – words like “Ko” which meant “guitar” and “Kamby Bolongo” which stood for “river”. These stories fascinated and intrigued young Alex Haley but little could he imagine that many years later they would forever change his life. In 1939, at the age of 18, Alex Haley withdrew from college and enlisted in the Coast Guard. It was here that he developed his writing skills by crafting letters to those back home and also for his shipmates – essentially love letters that they could send to their girlfriends. After World War II, Haley remained in the Coast Guard and transferred into the field of journalism. In 1959, after 20 years of service, Alex Haley retired from the Coast Guard with the rank of Chief Petty Officer and the title of Chief Journalist. He then began to pursue a career in journalism by writing articles for magazines including Reader’s Digest, where Haley eventually became a senior editor. His first book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, was published in 1965. After that project, an assignment for a magazine took him to Washington, D.C. where in his free time he visited the National Archives. Here he searched the census records of Alamance County, North Carolina and located the family of Tom Murray a blacksmith and his wife Irene. He recalled these names from the stories he heard as a boy. Tom and Irene were his great grandparents and they had been slaves. Wanting to learn more, he decided to pay a visit to the only surviving storyteller from those early days on the front porch of the family home in Henning – Cousin Georgia who was almost 80.
Alex Haley flew to Kansas City, Kansas for a reunion with Cousin Georgia. She relayed some of the same stories he had heard as a child including how the African named “Kintay” was a short distance from his village chopping wood to make a drum when he was surprised by slave catchers. She mentioned that he was taken from his homeland and put aboard a slave ship which landed in “Napolis”. Here he was sold and his name changed to Toby. The African, never accepted that name, and always took pride in his real family name “Kintay” and instilled in his daughter Kizzy a sense of who they really were. At the end of their conversation, Alex Haley recalls Cousin Georgia saying “Boy, your sweet Grandma ‘an all the rest of ‘em, they settin’ up there and watchin’ you. Now you git on outa here and do what you got to do.” Those words inspired Alex Haley to begin his 12-year search for his ancestors – a search that involved extensive travel and countless hours of research in numerous libraries and archives. During that genealogical journey, Alex Haley discovered the name of his first ancestor in America and in 1976 the story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants came to life in a book called Roots. Adapted into a television miniseries, Roots was originally broadcast in one and two-hour segments over an eight-day period in January 1977 and was seen by 130 million viewers. The sequel Roots: the Next Generations, also tremendously popular, aired in 1979. I was one of the millions of viewers who watched both programs and, as it did for countless others, Alex Haley’s work motivated me to learn more about my own family. Many years later I wrote a book that tells the tale of my Edwards ancestors – a children’s story called One April in Boston. A copy of it sits on the bookshelf in my office, side by side with a far larger book that will always mean a great deal to me – a copy of Roots signed by Alex Haley.
Since receiving the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, Roots has been published in 37 languages! Author Alex Haley died in 1992 but his legacy is quite visible today, in two spots in particular – The Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial, located in Annapolis, Maryland and at his boyhood home in Henning, Tennessee. The Memorial is located at the head of the Annapolis City Harbor and marks the location where Kunta Kinte arrived. It is the only memorial in the United States to commemorate the actual name and place of arrival of an enslaved African. The beautiful memorial includes a Compass Rose, a Sculpture Group of Alex Haley reading to three children of different ethnic backgrounds as well as a Story Wall with ten bronze plaques. These plaques “share messages designed to encourage reconciliation and healing from a legacy of slavery, ethnic hatred, and oppression. They include commentary and original art about translated epigraphs from Alex Haley’s messages in Roots. The messages are universal in significance.” A few of the messages on the Story Wall plaques appear below:
When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand, nor can your hand pick up anything.
Omoro Kinte, Roots
Knowledge of history can be the first step away from anger and bitterness. Truth leads to understanding. Understanding and forgiveness lead to reconciliation and healing.
• FORGIVENESS •
Your sweet grandma and all of them – they’re up there watching you.
Cousin Georgia, Roots
Knowing our family is knowing ourselves. Our values and traditions are forged through the struggle, heartache, pain, hopes and dreams of our ancestors.
• FAMILY •
The farthest-back person they ever talked about was a man they called the “African.”
Alex Haley, Roots
Alex Haley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Roots inspires all peoples to embrace their heritage. As we discover our personal history, we realize that all members of the human family share a universal bond.
• HERITAGE •
You must hear me now with more than your ears!
Omoro Kinte, Roots
This Story Wall is dedicated to those nameless Africans, brought to the New World against their will, who struggled against terrible odds to maintain family, culture, identity and above all, hope.
• DEDICATION •
Alex Haley’s boyhood home in Henning, Tennessee is now a historical site and museum. It is located at 200 South Church Street and the hours are 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday-Saturday; 1 pm to 5 pm, Sunday; and the museum is closed on Monday. For more information, call (731) 738-2240. West Tennessee Journal recently did an incredible segment on The Alex Haley Home and Museum and that video appears below.
Listen to excerpts from the album Alex Haley Tells the Story of His Search for Roots
View Four Treasured Video Clips featuring Author Alex Haley
The Alex Haley Home and Museum (embedded below)
Video link: Alex Haley Home and Museum
I’ve always thought Benjamin Franklin was cool even back when I was in the sixth grade and chose to write a diary about his life for a school assignment. Thanks to my Mom for saving that little book (thirty-nine pages) and to my brother for rediscovering it recently. Brought back a lot of grade school memories – how I loved history and hated math! I didn’t know it back then but young Ben Franklin didn’t do real well in math either – more on that soon. The 10th son of a tallow chandler (candle and soap maker) Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706. His parents were Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. Josiah thought Ben was well suited to be a member of the clergy so he sent his youngest son to Boston Latin School, a grammar school, at the age of eight. Here, Ben rose from the middle of his class to the head of that same class in less than a year. Josiah began to have second thoughts though about the ministry as a profession for his son, fearing he would not be able to afford a college education for Ben at Harvard, which would be his eventual destination on that path. Josiah Franklin decided to remove Ben from Boston Latin and send him to a writing school operated by George Brownell. Here he could learn the writing and arithmetic skills required to prepare him for work in a colonial trade. Benjamin Franklin wrote the following words decades later in his autobiography about Mr. Brownell and that school experience: “Under him I acquired fair writing pretty soon, but I failed in the arithmetic, and made no progress in it.” The great inventor Benjamin Franklin didn’t like math as a kid either! At least I was in good company.
At the age of ten, Ben began working for his father at the candle-making shop known as the Sign of the Blue Ball located at the southeast corner of Hanover and Union streets. Here he cut wicks for candles, filled the molds, attended the shop and went on errands. Again from his autobiography, Franklin states “I disliked the trade, and had a strong inclination for the sea, but my father declared against it.” Young Ben worked in his father’s shop for two years. Seeing that his son was still not happy as a tallow chandler and concerned that Ben might run off to sea, Josiah took him for a walk around Boston one day so he could see other craftsmen at work hoping that another trade might catch Ben’s interest. Ben loved to read books and Josiah knew this so eventually he decided that working as a printer, apprenticed to his brother James, might be the best trade for Ben. In 1718, at the age of twelve, Ben signed papers stating that he would be bound to James Franklin as an apprentice until the age of twenty-one. Ben learned to set type, operate the press and sold printing in the streets of Boston. In August of 1721, James Franklin started printing a new weekly newspaper called the New-England Courant at his shop located off Queen Street in Dorset Alley. It was only the third newspaper in Boston at the time. By now Ben had become an excellent apprentice but he wanted to do more than set type, print the newspaper and deliver it to customers – he longed to write for it too. Feeling his brother would never let that happen, one day Ben came up with an idea and decided to act on it. He would write for the newspaper – but secretly.
In late March of 1722, sixteen-year-old Ben disguised his handwriting and crafted a letter using the pen name Silence Dogood, a middle-aged widow, and slid it under the print shop door. His brother James was so impressed with the content of the letter that he decided to publish it in that week’s issue of the Courant. On April 2, 1722, the people of Boston first began to read the words of a woman who promised “once a Fortnight to present them with a short Epistle to add somewhat to their Entertainment”. Between April and October of 1722 Ben, as the charming and witty Silence Dogood, wrote a total of 14 letters to “the Author of the New-England Courant” on a variety of topics from love to manners to education. Picture what it must have been like for Ben, while working at the print shop, to overhear his brother James and others praising these letters! Imagine how Ben felt setting the type for something he wrote himself and printing it. In one of the letters Silence Dogood mentioned that as a widow, she would be open to suitors. Men actually wrote to the paper with offers of marriage! When Ben stopped writing his letters after six months, people missed them. At the end of the year James placed an ad in his paper asking if anyone could “give a true account of Mrs. Silence Dogood, whether dead or alive, married or unmarried”. After that, Ben told his brother that he had written the letters and, although people in town thought it was humorous, James was upset. Bad feelings between the two caused Ben to break his apprenticeship and sail to Philadelphia where he continued in the printing trade.
I began today’s post by mentioning my sixth grade school project and my admiration for Ben Franklin. There’s a bit more to the story. Many years after writing that diary of Franklin’s life, my college roommate and I, both of us with degrees in marketing, did something that Franklin himself would have appreciated – we became apprentice printers. Both of us learned the trade from the ground up and operated our own printing shop for twenty years. Although I started on the press, much like Franklin himself I gravitated toward the writing and marketing end of the business. We had a great staff, some outstanding equipment and a well established base of national clients before electing to sell the business in 2004. Today, when I work with students in the classroom and on Boston field trips, they enjoy hearing about the printing connection. They are also fascinated to learn that one of my ancestors, 36-year-old Captain Benjamin Edwards, walked the streets of Boston in 1722 during the time the Silence Dogood letters were published in the New-England Courant. I wonder if he ever bumped into sixteen-year-old Benjamin Franklin? Most of the students are familiar with the Silence Dogood letters thanks to their inclusion in the very popular movie National Treasure. In the film, clues hidden in the letters help lead Benjamin Franklin Gates closer to the most spectacular treasure in history. As a tribute to Mr. Franklin and Mrs. Dogood, the trailer for National Treasure appears below.
Video link: National Treasure Trailer (embedded above)
When I was growing up, a family vacation to California enabled me to experience what to this day remains my favorite amusement park ride – Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. I could have waited in line all day with my E ticket (anyone else remember those?) in hand just for the opportunity to go over those two waterfalls in a boat and be transported back to another time. My favorite part was always when we entered what felt like the open ocean and a battle raged between a pirate ship and a fort. The sights and sounds of Disney’s audio-animatronics characters and even the smells are fixed in my memory. When it was over, the first thing I wanted to do is get back in line and do it all over again! The original Pirates of the Caribbean ride was truly a multisensory adventure – well before high tech special effects and the days of Captain Jack Sparrow and the three (soon to be four) blockbuster Disney films. The one thing I could never have imagined back then is that there was a logical reason for me to be drawn to this ride – my first ancestor in America, a Boston sea captain named Benjamin Edwards had experienced it in real life in a fashion that was, unfortunately for he and his crew, anything but enjoyable. This I would discover quite by accident many years later, even after I had written the children’s book One April in Boston which tells the tale of my early Boston ancestors including my sixth great grandfather Captain Benjamin Edwards. One day, while working, I decided to type the name “Benjamin Edwards” and the word “Greyhound” (one of his vessels) into Yahoo search. Much to my amazement, the results included numerous links to information on a battle in the Caribbean between Captain Benjamin Edwards aboard the Greyhound and pirate George Lowther aboard the Happy Delivery on January 10, 1722.
I began to research this incident and found it mentioned in a newspaper called the Boston News-Letter on May 7, 1722 and in Captain Charles Johnson’s book A General History of Pyrates first published in 1724 and still available today. It also appears in the book Pirates of the New England Coast 1630-1730 by George Francis Dow and John Henry Edmonds published in 1923. It seems that the battle occurred off the coast of Honduras – Captain Edwards had a crew of 14 aboard a ship protected by 6 guns; while the pirate George Lowther had a crew of 90 aboard a ship protected by 16 guns. What became of Captain Benjamin Edwards? The wikipedia entry on pirate George Lowther (as of today’s date) tells us that Captain Edwards and his entire crew were “possibly killed”. To learn what really happened, read on.
Here are accounts of the battle from both of the books mentioned above, containing the original spelling and punctuation:
The following is taken from A General History of Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson, 1724:
The 10th of January, the pyrates came into the Bay (Bay of Honduras) and fell upon a ship of 200 Tuns, called the Greyhound, Benjamin Edwards Commander, belonging to Boston. Lowther hoisted his pyratical Colours and fired a Gun for the Greyhound to bring to, which she refusing, the Happy Delivery (the name of the Pyrate, Lowther’s ship) edg’d down, and gave her a Broadside (the firing of all guns on one side of a ship at the same time), which was returned by Captain Edwards very bravely, and the Engagement held for an hour; but Captain Edwards, finding the Pyrate too strong for him, and fearing the Consequence of too obstinate a Resistance against those lawless Fellows, order’d his Ensign to be struck. The Pyrates’ Boat came aboard, and not only rifled the Ship, but whipp’d, beat, and cut the Men in a cruel Manner, turned them aboard their own Ship, and then set Fire to theirs. (i.e. the crew were brought aboard the Delivery and the Greyhound burnt)
The following is taken from The Pirates of the New England Coast 1630-1730 by George Francis Dow and John Henry Edmonds, 1923:
On the 10th of January 1722, the good ship “Greyhound” of Boston in the Massachusetts Bay, Benjamin Edwards, Commander, was homeward bound. She was loaded with logwood and only one day out from the coast of Honduras where the crew had been worked hard for several weeks loading the many boatloads of heavy, thorny-growthed, blood-red wood. Early in the morning the lookout had sighted a ship headed toward them and while not plantation built she attracted no particular attention until it was seen that her course was slightly changed to conform to that of the “Greyhound,” or rather, it would seem, to intersect the course on which the “Greyhound” was sailing. As the ship drew nearer, a long look through the perspective revealed a heavily-manned vessel of English build and Captain Edwards thought it best to order all hands on deck. Soon the stranger ran up a black flag with a skeleton on it and fired a gun for the “Greyhound” to bring to.
West India waters had been plagued for many years by piratical gentry and the Boston captain had heard many terrifying tales of their barbarous cruelties to masters and seamen but he was a dogged type of man and so at once prepared to defend his ship. The pirate edged down a bit and shortly gave the “Greyhound” a broadside of eight guns which Captain Edwards bravely returned and for nearly an hour the give and take continued at long gunshot without much damage to either vessel. Finding the pirate was more heavily armed than the “Greyhound,” and her decks showing many men, Captain Edwards began to reckon the consequences of too stubborn a resistance, for it seemed likely that eventually he must surrender, barring, of course, lucky chance shot from his guns that might cut down a mast on the pirate ship. At last he ordered his ensign to be struck and hove to. Two boatloads of armed men soon came aboard and searched the ship for anything of value. The loot was not great for the New England logwood ships had little opportunity for trade or barter and the disappointment of the pirate crews was soon spit out on the men. Whenever one came within reach of the cutlass of a pirate he would receive a swinging slash across shoulders or arms, or perhaps, a blow on the head with the flat of the blade that would fell him half-senseless to the deck. By way of diversion two of the unoffending sailors were triced up at the foot of the mainmast and lashed until the blood ran from their backs. Captain Edwards and his men were then ordered into the boats and sent on board the pirate ship and the “Greyhound” was set on fire.
The rogue proved to be the “Happy Delivery,” commanded by Capt. George Lowther and manned by a strange assortment of English sailors and soldiers with a sprinkling of New England men. As soon as the men from the “Greyhound” reached her deck they were given a mug of rum and invited to join the crew. This was habitually done at that time by these outlaws and frequently a nimble sailor would be forced and compelled to serve with the pirates against his will. The first mate of the “Greyhound” was Charles Harris, born in London, England, then about twenty-four years old, and a man who understood navigation. He, with four others, Christopher Atwell, Henry Smith, Joseph Willis and David Lindsay, was forced and Captain Edwards and the rest of his crew, with other captured men, were put on board another logwood vessel and permitted to make the best of their way home.
My ancestor Captain Benjamin Edwards survived his run in with pirates in the Caribbean in 1722 – lucky for me, because if he hadn’t I would never have been born! I mention that when I tell this story to students at the conclusion of my Walking Tours of Historic Boston. Captain Edwards had three children prior to 1722 that all died in infancy. He later went on to father seven more including my fifth great grandfather Dolling Edwards a mastmaker in Boston who was born in 1737. Captain Edwards outlived two of his 3 wives and died in 1751. What became of pirate George Lowther? The answer to that is something straight out of a Disney movie. I’ll let you discover it as Captain Edwards might have himself, by reading this original article from a copy of the June 13, 1724 issue of the London newspaper called the Post Boy.
Today’s post wraps up by returning to my childhood experience at Disneyland. I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Disney in either California or Florida since discovering the information about Captain Edwards but I’m sure that when I do, my favorite ride will take on a whole new meaning! The original ride was modified in 2006 to add elements from the recent Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
To view the trailer from the first of those films, click on the pirate flag at the top of this post!
Below is a bit of Disney nostalgia: two videos on the creation of the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland that truly show the genius of Walt Disney.
Video link: Pirates of the Caribbean The Ride Part 1 (embedded above)
Video link: Pirates of the Caribbean The Ride Part 2
Today’s post is another idea starter for teachers. Here is some background for an exercise in colonial political debate for grade school students. In the weeks following the first presidential election, the issue of how to address the President, what his official title should be, arose in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The vote in the House was swift with the members casting the topic of titles aside and recommending that George Washington be referred to simply as “President of the United States”. The situation in the Senate was far different. Vice President John Adams, President of the Senate, became deeply involved in the debate believing that the highest of elected officials should have a title that showed the proper respect for the office and the individual holding it. Early suggestions included: “His Elective Majesty”; “His Highness the President of the United States of America and Protector of the Rights of the Same”; and “His Excellency the Supreme Commander in Chief”. One of John Adams’ main adversaries in the process was William Maclay, senator from the state of Pennsylvania. Senator Maclay was against any titles that denoted nobility, as the Constitution strictly forbade this, while Adams argued that the titles suggested denoted nothing of the sort. David McCullough addresses this debate in the Senate and its impact on the Vice President in his Pulitzer-Prize winning book John Adams. On May 14, 1789, after a few weeks of passionate deliberation, the Senate decided to agree with the House of Representatives and voted that George Washington’s title should be “President of the United States”. The original article pictured in this post is from the May 23, 1789 issue of the Massachusetts Centinel. It is a wonderful primary source document. When your students view it, you might have them picture how people holding and reading this actual paper the day it came out could have reacted to the news. Have half of the students write why they agree with the Resolve adopted by the Senate while the other half writes why they support the opinion of John Adams, perhaps coming up with their own honorable titles for the President. Then – have both sides debate the issue on the Senate (classroom) floor.