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Hooker (1814-1879) was born and raised in Hadley, but he’s best remembered as the Union general who lost the Battle of Chancellorsville to Robert E. “Hooker didn’t have a very good reputation as a soldier or as a person,” says the Historical Society’s Drummey, speculating that the statue’s existence reflects the political power of veterans groups at the turn of the 20th century.
Not everyone was on board, he notes, citing a former MHS president who’d cross the street to avoid the memorial.
His intolerance, religious and otherwise, seems to have been evenly spread around: A Separatist Puritan, Endecott had Baptists whipped and Quakers tortured; three Quakers, including Mary Dyer (who has her own statue on the State House grounds), were executed by hanging.
He also fomented the Pequot War with atrocities against the natives that ensured they’d rise up against other colonists, thus guaranteeing the tribe’s destruction in 1637. It is, of course, not the subject that has rankled people over the years but the statue itself, a copy of an original still standing in Washington, D. Properly named “The Emancipation Group,” it depicts Lincoln standing over a freed slave bowing subserviently at the great man’s feet — “an unfortunate appearance,” wrote one historian, of “the negro polishing the President’s boots.” The statue was paid for by contributions from freed slaves who had no say over the design or choice of artist; according to his autobiography, Ball, the sculptor, wouldn’t let a black man into his house to model for the statue.
The longest-serving governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Endecott (1588-1664/5) arrived here in 1628 and co-founded a village called Naumkeag, later to become Salem.
A conservative Republican and the first Senate majority leader, he was a staunch believer in American imperialism, backing the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War, an atrocity-heavy affair that left as many as 250,000 Filipinos dead.
He fought to restrict immigration, believed that Northern Italians with “Teutonic” blood were superior to Southern Italians, and warned against the mixing of “higher” and “lower” races.
Well, sure, we celebrate his 1492 arrival in the Bahamas as a national holiday, and he’s a lasting figure of cultural pride to the Italian-American community in the North End and across the country.
But Columbus and his entourage also introduced smallpox, syphilis, and slavery to the New World, and his Colonial polices and his men were directly responsible for the decimation of the native population of the island of Hispaniola. Or a powerful Irish-American prelate putting an upstart Roman Catholic community in its place?