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ANNUAL MEETING, OCTOBER 21, 1887, AT THE HALL OF THE
SOCIETY IN WORCESTER.
THE President, the Hon. GEORGE F. HOAR, LL.D., in
The following members were present (the names being arranged in order of seniority of membership): George E. Ellis, Edward E. Hale, George F. Hoar, Andrew P. Peabody, George Chandler, Nathaniel Paine, Joseph Sargent, Stephen Salisbury, Samuel A. Green, Elijah B. Stoddard, George S. Paine, Francis H. Dewey, James F. Hunnewell, John D. Washburn, Edward H. Hall, Reuben A. Guild, Charles C. Smith, Hamilton B. Staples, Edmund M. Barton, Thomas L. Nelson, Lucius R. Paige, Franklin B. Dexter, Charles A. Chase, Samuel S. Green, Justin Winsor, Henry W. Haynes, Edward I. Thomas, Andrew McF. Davis, J. Evarts Greene, Henry S. Nourse, William B. Weeden, Daniel Merriman, Reuben Colton, William W. Rice, Henry H. Edes, Grindall Reynolds, Edward Channing, George E. Francis, Frank P. Goulding, Henry W. Foote, and Edward H. Thompson, a foreign member.
The Recording Secretary read the record of the last meeting, which was approved.
FRANKLIN B. DEXTER, A.M., read a report which had been prepared by him and adopted by the Council as a part of their report to the Society.
NATHANIEL PAINE, Esq., Treasurer, submitted his report in print, and EDMUND M. BARTON, Esq., Librarian, read his report.
These reports, as together constituting the Report of the Council, were, on motion of Justin WINSOR, Esq., accepted and referred to the Committee of Publication.
The Recording Secretary communicated from the Council their recommendation of the following named gentlemen for membership in the Society :
THOMAS CHASE, LL.D., of Providence, R. I.
And as a foreign member, Rt. Hon. William EWART GLADSTONE, D.C.L., of London, England.
All of whom were elected, a separate ballot being taken on each name.
The Society then proceeded to choose a President, Mr. HOAR declining to be a candidate, in accordance with the statement made by him at the semi-annual meeting. A ballot being taken STEPHEN SALISBURY, A. M., was chosen, and was welcomed to the office by the retiring President, who spoke as follows:
Before making the formal announcement of the result of the vote the Chair desires to say a few words. In laying down the honorable trust which this Society has conferred upon me, I wish to express my grateful sense of that uniform kindness and support, without which its administration must have been a failure. The Society was never better equipped for its special work than it is now, as it enters upon the fourth quarter of its first century. I have had occasion lately to make some researches into the history of the settlement of the Northwest. I have been astonished at the wealth and completeness of the collections of material for history contained in our library. We have a body of young workmen who will more than make good the places of their predecessors.
It cannot be indelicate to allude to the elders who are still spared to us, who bring down to us their personal recollections of our founders. Mr. Bancroft and Mr.
Winthrop, whose names ornament our roll, have bestowed most of their historical labors elsewhere. But the successor of Mr. Winthrop in the presidency of our famous sister societyl is with us to-day, and I believe now, for the thirty-seventh time, brings to our annual meeting the benefit of his sound judgment and affluent learning. We all of us had, I am sure, a feeling of personal pleasure and pride, when our oldest University at her centennial, bestowed her highest honor on another of our brethren,” as “ Master among students of American history.” We have another always constant at the meetings of the Council and the Society, who for sixty years has kept abreast of the best American scholarship, and of whose influence upon the character of his generation far better things even than that might be said. Dr. Hammond Trumbull, whom we are sorry to miss to-day, knows the history, the life, the manners, even the gossip of every New England generation from the beginning, as if he had been a contemporary. What a resource has this Society in the rich learning and indefatigable zeal in its service of another of our associates4-our Defoe, who possesses the two rarest of gifts, that to give history the fascination of fiction, and that to give fiction the verisimilitude of history!
The question is often raised whether our work is, after all, of any value. The doubt is raised, often, whether history be a science, or whether it has anything trustworthy to tell with which science can deal. It is said that all history is a lie, is only the story which those who have played their parts in it choose to have told. The men who inculcate this scepticism are, very often, men whose own career has been such that they are, to say the least, quite unwilling to have the truth known and believed in their own case.
Secret archives are sometimes uncovered which overthrow established beliefs as to great events and as to the
2 Dr. Charles Deane.
3 Dr. Andrew P. Peabody.
1 Dr. George E. Ellis. 4 Dr. Edward E. Hale.