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Josiah Quincy, the Great Mayor

Josiah Quincy, the Great Mayor

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Excerpt from Josiah Quincy, the Great Mayor: An Address Delivered Before the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Good Citizenship, at the Old South Meeting-House, Boston, Feb, 25, 1889

In front of the City Hall are two statues in bronze - one of Benjamin Franklin, and the other of Josiah Quincy. The artist has represented Franklin in his old age and the culminated splendor of his fame, revisiting, as he had often expressed a desire to do, the city of his birth, and standing in reverential attitude, with uncovered head, before the spot hallowed by memories of the old Boston Latin School, in which he received the rudiments of his education. No better site could have been chosen. With equal felicity of position Josiah Quincy, in the prime of manhood, stands on the opposite side of the inclosure, before the most august symbol of the city which he had done so much to build up and adorn. As works of art these statues provoked the vituperative eloquence of Boston's most gifted orator, and I hear that they divide the opinions of experts. However this may be, the characters they commemorate gain in respect with the passing years and the spread of letters.

In some circumstances of their lives Benjamin Franklin and Josiah Quincy resembled each other; in others, they were strongly contrasted. Natives of the same town, each represented the class from which he sprung, and each had no inconsiderable influence in shaping the institutions of Philadelphia and of Boston, in which they severally resided. Franklin was of the people, without fortune, or interest, or social position; but by self-culture and industrious use of his powers and opportunities, he became distinguished at home and abroad, and here, if nowhere else, is known as "the Great Bostonian." Josiah Quincy, on the other hand, was of "good family" - a phrase which denoted the highest distinction of rank accorded in the Boston of those days.

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