Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The First Thanksgiving

"First Thanksgiving" by Ferris, ca. 1912-1915

Many myths surround the first Thanksgiving. Very little is actually known about the event because only two accounts of the feast were ever written. The first account is William Bradford's journal titled “Of Plymouth Plantation” and the other is a publication written by Edward Winslow titled “Mourt's Relation.”

What is known is that the pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving feast to celebrate the successful fall harvest. Celebrating a fall harvest was an English tradition at the time and the pilgrims had much to celebrate. The 53 pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving were the only colonists to survive the long journey on the Mayflower and the first winter in the New World. Disease and starvation struck down half of the original 102 colonists. These pilgrims made it through that first winter and had a hearty supply of food to sustain them through the next winter.

Illustration of Squanto
Although the modern day Thanksgiving feast takes place on the third Thursday of November, the first Thanksgiving did not. This feast most likely happened sometime between September and November. No exact date for the feast has ever been recorded so one can only assume it happened sometime after the fall harvest. The celebration took place for three days and included recreational activities.

Guests at the feast included 90 Wampanoag Indians from a nearby tribe. Only one of these Indians, a young man named Squanto, spoke English. Squanto learned English prior to the pilgrim's arrival from visiting traders and explorers and served as a translator between the colonists and Indians. Neither Bradford or Winslow's account indicate whether the Indians were actually invited to the celebration or how they learned of it. Many historians have simply assumed they were invited. Edward Winslow's account merely states:

...many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others.”

The names of pilgrims at the feast indicates who died during that first winter. Attendees included four women: Eleanor Billington, Mary Brewster, Elizabeth Hopkins, Susanna White Winslow as well as twenty-two men : John Alden, Isaac Allerton, John Billington, William Bradford, William Brewster, Peter Brown, Francis Cooke, Edward Doty, Francis Eaton, [first name unknown] Ely, Samuel Fuller, Richard Gardiner, John Goodman, Stephen Hopkins, John Howland, Edward Lester, George Soule, Myles Standish, William Trevor, Richard Warren, Edward Winslow, Gilbert Winslow. Five teenage girls and nine teenage boys also attended the feast: Mary Chilton, Constance Hopkins, Priscilla Mullins, Elizabeth Tilley, a maidservant name Dorothy, Francis & John Billington, John Cooke, John Crackston, Samuel Fuller, Giles Hopkins, William Latham, Joseph Rogers, Henry Samson. The remaining 13 guests were young children: Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton, Love & Wrestling Brewster, Humility Cooper, Samuel Eaton, Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins, Desire Minter, Richard More, Resolved & Peregrine White.
Pilgrims arriving in Plymouth

Many dishes served during modern Thanksgiving meals were not present at the first Thanksgiving. The colonists didn't have potatoes, nor did they have butter or flour necessary for making pies. The pilgrims hadn't even built their first oven by the time of the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries might have been served but only for color or tartness, instead of as a sweet sauce. Neither Bradford or Winslow's writing reveal what was actually served at the first Thanksgiving but guesses can be made based on the types of food they often wrote about such as mussels, lobsters, grapes, plums, corn and herbs. There is no actual proof that the colonists ate turkey at the feast either. Turkey wasn't even associated with the Thanksgiving holiday until an editor of a magazine called Godey's Lady's Book came across Edward Winslow's writings about the feast in the 1840s.

"First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" by Brownscombe, ca 1914
When this editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, read Winslow's writings, she decided to bring this historic celebration back to life. Up until then, Thanksgiving was only a regional New England holiday and wasn't celebrated across the country like it is today. Hale began publishing recipes and articles about the feast. Shortly after, in 1854, Hale heard about Bradford's book, which had been stolen during the American Revolution and resurfaced in the library of Fulham Palace in London that year. Hale focused her attention on the brief sentence about the colonist's hunt for wild turkeys that fall: And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc,” Bradford wrote. Despite the fact that Bradford never stated they ate turkey at the Thanksgiving feast, Hale started publishing articles about Thanksgiving dinners with roasted turkey and the two became synonymous.

Many people believe Thanksgiving became a reoccurring celebration for the pilgrims. Whether this is true or not is unclear. There are no other accounts of the pilgrims holding any more harvest celebrations after 1621. It is possible that the feasts happened, but if it did it wasn't recorded.

The feast celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621 was never actually called “Thanksgiving” by the colonists. It was simply a harvest celebration. A few years later, in July of 1623, the pilgrims did hold what they called a “Thanksgiving.” This was simply a religious day of prayer and fasting that had nothing to do with the fall harvest. Over the years, the names of the two events became intertwined and by the late 1600s many individual colonies and settlements, began holding “Thanksgiving feasts” during the autumn months.

Continental Congress declared the first national Thanksgiving on December 18, 1777 and then in 1789, George Washington declared the last Thursday in November a national Thanksgiving as well. These were merely declarations and not official holidays. Future presidents did not continue the Thanksgiving declaration.

Thanksgiving didn't become a national holiday until Hale began writing letters to each sitting president starting in 1846. She wrote letters to five presidents: Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln asking them to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. Abraham Lincoln was the only president to listen and supported legislation making it a national holiday in 1863. America was in the middle of its bloody Civil War and Lincoln hoped the new holiday would unify the bitterly divided country. The holiday was finally a success and Thanksgiving has continued ever since.


Sources:

Pilgrim Hall Museum: Primary Sources For "The First Thanksgiving" At Plymouth
http://www.pilgrimhall.org/1stthnks.htm

The Christian Science Monitor: The First Thanksgiving; Elizabeth Armstrong; November 27, 2007
http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/1127/p13s02-lign.html

All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life”; Jack Santino; 1994

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Mayflower Compact

"Signing The Mayflower Compact" by Morgan, ca.1900
When the pilgrims left Plymouth, England in 1620 they had been granted permission from King Charles I to land in northern Virginia and build a colony. During the long 66 day journey on the Mayflower to the New World, the ship drifted off course and eventually landed in what would become modern day Cape Cod.

The pilgrims worried that they had no legal right to colonize the area because they did not have permission, known as a patent, from the king to do so. They were also well aware that previous colonies had failed due to a lack of social order. Some of the pilgrims felt they did not have to abide by any law at this new location because they lacked a patent. This caused concern among the group.

Reason for the Compact

The group decided to draw up a social contract that would establish a local government and oblige the pilgrims to abide by the law of this government until they could obtain a new patent from the king. This social compact simply established basic law and order in the colony. The document was intended to be not just a contract between the colonists but also between themselves and God:

Copy of the Mayflower Compact written in Bradford's journal
In the name of God, Amen.
We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc., having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith, and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the 11 of November, in the year of the reign of our sovereign lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini 1620.”

William Bradford, who would later became governor of Plymouth plantation, explained the decision to sign this social contract in his journal titled "Of Plymouth Plantation":

"This day, before we came to harbour, observing some not well affected to unity and concord, but gave some appearance of faction, it was thought good there should be an association and agreement, that we should combine together in one body, and to submit to such government and governors as we should by common consent agree to make and choose, and set our hands to this that follows, word for word."

Signers of the Mayflower Compact

The pilgrims signed the contract on November 11, 1620 in the cabin of the Mayflower ship. All of the 41 men on board the Mayflower signed their names:

John Carver
Edward Tilly
Digery Priest
William Bradford
John Tilly
Thomas Williams
Edward Winslow
Francis Cooke
Gilbert Winslow
William Brewster
Thomas Rogers
Edmund Margeson
Isaac Allerton
Thomas Tinker
Peter Brown
Miles Standish
John Rigdale
Richard Bitteridge
John Alden
Edward Fuller
George Soule
Samuel Fuller
John Turner
Richard Clark
Christopher Martin
Francis Eaton
Richard Gardiner
William Mullins
James Chilton
John Allerton
William White
John Craxton
Thomas English
Richard Warren
John Billington
Edward Doten
John Howland
Moses Fletcher
Edward Leister
Stephen Hopkins
John Goodman
Depiction of the Mayflower Compact on Bradford St. in Provincetown
The original document has been lost, most likely due to British looting during the American Revolution, but three different copies exist, all with slightly different wording, spelling and capitalization. The first version was printed in a book written by Edward Winslow in 1622 titled “Mourt's Relations.” The second version was published in William Bradford's journal “Of Plymouth Plantation” in 1646. The third version was printed by William Bradford's nephew, Nathaniel Morton, along with a list of men who signed it in a pamphlet titled "New England's Memorial" in 1669.

Although it has come to be known as the Mayflower Compact, the pilgrims never actually called it that and that named was not used until the year 1793.

Sources:

Citizendium: Plymouth Colony
http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Plymouth_Colony

Constitution Society: The Mayflower Compact
http://www.constitution.org/bcp/mayfcomp.htm

All About History: Mayflower Compact
http://www.allabouthistory.org/mayflower-compact.htm

Plimoth Plantation: The Mayflower Compact
http://www.plimoth.org/learn/just-kids/homework-help/mayflower-and-mayflower-compact

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Salem Witch Trials

The Salem witch trials was a dark time in American history. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft and 20 were killed during the hysteria in 1692. Ever since those dark days ended the trials have became synonymous with mass hysteria and scapegoating.

Causes

Salem, Massachusetts was not alone in its witch hunt. A wave of witch trials swept Europe from the 1300s to the 1600s. These witch hunts happened for a variety of reasons, including the commonly accepted belief that the devil could give witches the power to hurt people as a reward for their loyalty. The fear of the devil held a lot of power during this time period.


Salem was settled by puritans in 1628 and was the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. King Charles I granted the puritans a royal charter to colonize the area, but Charles II revoked this charter in 1684 after colonists violated several of the charter's rules. These violations included basing laws on religious beliefs, running an illegal mint and discriminating against Anglicans.

A newer, more anti-religious charter replaced the original one in 1691 and also combined the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony and several other colonies into one. The puritans, who had left England due to religious persecution, feared they were under attack again and were losing control of their colony. A feeling of uneasiness and discontent surrounded them.

The colony was also under a great deal of strain at the time due to a recent small pox epidemic, growing rivalries between families within the colony, a constant threat of attack from nearby Native American tribes, and a recent influx of refugees trying to escape King William's war with France in Canada and upstate New York. All of these factors created a tense environment in Salem.

Events

Illustration of Tituba
The hysteria first began in January of 1692 when a group of young girls fell ill and began behaving strangely. The girls started having “fits,” hid under furniture and cried out in pain. Many modern theories suggest the girls were suffering from epilepsy, boredom, child abuse, mental illness or even a disease brought on by eating rye infected with fungus. The number of girls afflicted with the illness grew and they soon began to complain of being pinched and bitten by invisible forces.

Later that month, two of the girls mentioned the names of the women they believed were behind these invisible forces. These women were Sarah Good, Sarah Osburn and a slave name Tituba. These three women were social outcasts and easy targets for the accusation of witchcraft. It was not difficult for the people of Salem to believe they were involved in witchcraft. During the examination, Tituba eventually confessed that she had been approached by Satan along with Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn and they had all agreed to do his bidding as witches. The confession spurred the hunt for more witches and silenced any opposition to the idea of witchcraft invading the village.

Town officials set up a special court to hear the cases. This court consisted of five judges: Judge Hathorne, Judge Corwin, Judge Stoughton, Judge Sewall and Judge Samuel.

More witches were named, the trials wore on and eventually the local jail held more than 200 accused witches. The first person brought to trial was Bridget Bishop, a local tavern owner who often quarreled with her neighbors, dressed provocatively and entertained guests late at night in her home. Furthermore, Bishop had also been accused of witchcraft twice before in 1679 and 1687 but was cleared of the crime. Bridget was accused by five young women, Abigail Williams, Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott and Elizabeth Hubbard, who stated she had physically hurt them and tried to make them sign a pact with the devil. During her trial Bishop repeatedly defended herself, stating I am innocent, I know nothing of it, I have done no witchcraft .... I am as innocent as the child unborn. ....Bishop was quickly convicted and hanged in June of 1692 at Gallows hill.

Written testimony of Abigail Williams against George Jacobs
Not everyone in Salem believed in witchcraft. There were many critics of the witch hunt, such as a local farmer John Proctor, who scoffed at the idea of witchcraft in Salem and called the young girls scam artists. Critics such as Proctor were often accused of witchcraft as well and brought to trial. Proctor's entire family was accused, including all of his children, his pregnant wife and sister-in-law. Proctor's wife escaped execution because she was pregnant, but Proctor was hanged on August 19th, 1692.

Before his execution, Proctor wrote to the clergy in Boston. He knew the clergy did not fully approve of the witch hunts. Proctor told them about the torture inflicted on the accused and asked that the trials be moved to Boston where he felt he would get a fair trial. The clergy later held a meeting to discuss the trials but were not able to help Proctor before his execution.

Captain John Alden Jr. accused of witchcraft by a child
Another person accused of witchcraft was Captain John Alden, Jr., the son of the Mayflower crew member John Alden. Alden was accused of witchcraft by a child during a business trip to Salem and was quickly arrested. Alden spent 15 weeks in jail before friends helped break him out and he escaped to New York. He was later exonerated.

Eventually, as the trials and executions continued, colonists began to wonder how many people could actually be guilty of this crime. Colonists slowly realized it was unlikely that so many people could be guilty of witchcraft. They feared many innocent people were being executed. Local clergymen began speaking out against the witch hunt and tried to persuade officials to stop the trials.

In September, a respected minister named Cotton Mather, advised the court and Governor Phips against allowing testimonies about dreams and visions as evidence. When Governor Phips' own wife was accused of witchcraft, he agreed with Cotton Mather, and dismissed the court that had been set up to hear the cases.
Petition from accused witches asking for bail

The 52 remaining people in jail were tried in a new court the following winter. Most of the prisoners were found not guilty or released due to a lack of real evidence. Those who were found guilty were pardoned by Governor Phips. The governor released the last few prisoners the following May.

Victims

A total of 19 victims were hanged during the witch trials. These names include: Bridget Bishop, Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe, Sarah Wildes, George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, John Willard, George Jacobs Sr., John Proctor, Martha Corey, Mary Eastey, Ann Pudeator, Alice Parker, Mary Parker, Wilmott Redd, Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell. Another victim, Giles Corey, was pressed to death with heavy stones during his examination and four people died in prison while awaiting trial: Sarah Osburn, Roger Toothaker, Ann Foster and Lydia Dustin. Other victims include two dogs who were shot or killed after being suspected of witchcraft.

Historians have noted that many of the accused were more financially stable and held different religious beliefs than their accusers. This, coupled with the fact that the accused also had their estates confiscated if they were convicted, has led many historians to believe that religious feuds and property disputes played a big part in the witch trials.

As the years went by, the colonists felt ashamed and remorseful for what had happened during the trials. Many of the judges, including Judge Sewall, confessed to their errors in the witch trials and issued public apologies. A few years later, the court ordered a day of fasting in honor of the victims, known as the Day of Official Humiliation. In 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the names of the accused and granted 600 English pounds in restitution to their heirs. The state of Massachusetts officially apologized for the Salem Witch Trials in 1957.
Torture of Giles Corey
Cotton Mather
Sources:

The Salem Witch Museum: The Salem Witch Trials of 1692
http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/education/index.shtml

The Salem Witch Trials”; Sabrina Crewe; Michael V. Uschan; 2005

Institute for Advanced Technologies in the Humanities; Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature; Sarah Nell Walsh
http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/salem/people/bishop_court.html

University of Missouri-Kansas City: Bridget Bishop
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/sal_bbis.htm

University of Missouri-Kansas City: The Witchcraft Trials in Salem: A Commentary
http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/sal_acct.htm

Smithsonian; A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials; Jess Blumberg
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Mayflower

The Mayflower is one of the most important ships in American history. This cargo ship brought some of the first settlers to America and carried them to the safety of the Plymouth plantation. This journey made the Mayflower an icon of European colonization.

Before the Pilgrims

The Mayflower was a European cargo ship in the years before its voyage to the New World. In 1607, a businessman named Christopher Jones purchased the Mayflower. Jones' first voyage on the Mayflower was to Norway in 1609 where the ship transported fish, lumber and tar. The ship began leaking during a storm on the way back to England and the crew had to dump some of its cargo overboard to save it. Jones never ventured into the North Sea with the Mayflower again and instead went back and forth between France and Spain delivering wine, cognac and vinegar.

The Pilgrim's Voyage

In May of 1620, religious separatists known as pilgrims hired Jones and his ship to take them to Northern Virginia where they had been granted permission to build a colony.

The Mayflower and SpeedWell in Dartmouth Harbor by Wilcox
The Mayflower set sail from England along with another ship, the Speedwell, on August 15, 1620. The Speedwell leaked so badly that both ships had to return to England. The pilgrims on the Speedwell boarded the Mayflower and it set sail alone from Plymouth, England on September 16.

Although the Mayflower was a large ship measuring about 80 feet in length and 24 feet wide, the 102 passengers on board lead to cramped conditions. The Mayflower had three decks, an upper deck, a gun deck below it and the cargo hold at the bottom. The pilgrims lived on the gun deck, which was about 5 1/2 feet in height, and would sometimes venture upstairs to the upper deck during calm weather. The 30 crew members and the captain lived in cabins at the back of the upper deck. Only a few of the crew's names were recorded but they included a cooper named John Alden, ship surgeon Giles Heale and Pilots and Master's Mates John Clarke and Robert Coppin.

The ship's passengers included William Bradford, who later became governor of Plymouth plantation and wrote a detailed book about the journey to America on the Mayflower and Plymouth Plantation titled “Of Plymouth Plantation.”

"The Mayflower at Sea" by Margeson
The first half of the voyage was smooth with sunny skies and fair weather. The passengers were healthy and there were even three pregnant women on board. One of the women, Elizabeth Hopkins, gave birth on the Mayflower to a son that she named Oceanus.

About halfway into the journey, the Mayflower ran into bad weather. A series of storms caused the ship to leak and the main mast to crack. The pilgrims worried the ship would not be strong enough to make it America. The crew managed to fix the beam and fill some of the leaks.

The constant cold and dampness on board began to take a toll on the pilgrim's health. By the time the pilgrims reached America many of the Pilgrim's developed coughs and colds and one little boy died just a few days before reaching land.

An 1882 painting depicting the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor
The colonists sighted shore on November 9th. Although the pilgrims had intended to land in northern Virginia, when they reached the shore they realized they were in New England. With winter approaching a short supply of food and water, they realized they could go no further and decided to drop anchor off the coast of Cape Cod in Provincetown harbor. After some skirmishes on land with the local Native American tribes, the pilgrims decided to pick up anchor and sail to nearby Plymouth harbor where they landed at Plymouth rock.

After the Pilgrims

The Mayflower crew spent the winter with the pilgrims in Massachusetts, living on the ship, and returned to England in April the next year. Christopher Jones passed away the next year and his widow, Josian, inherited the Mayflower. Josian never used the ship and it fell into disrepair just a few years later. The Mayflower was eventually broken up and sold off as scrap.

Sources:

Pilgrim Hall Museum: Voyage of the Mayflower and the Speedwell
http://www.pilgrimhall.org/voymayfl.htm

The Mayflower History: The Mayflower
http://www.mayflowerhistory.com/History/mflower1.php

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How Boston Lost Its Hills

Painting Depicting Boston in 1630
Anyone who has visited modern day Boston might be a little confused to hear it was once a small hilly peninsula less than 800 acres wide. The city is now a wide, flat landmass consisting of 89 square miles. It took close to 100 years but settlers managed to forever transform the landscape using nothing but primitive tools.

Back in the 1620s when Boston's first settler, William Blackstone, moved from a failed colony in Weymouth to the peninsula that is now modern day Boston, it was then called Shawmut by the Algonquin Native Americans that lived there.

Shawmut was a small peninsula of 789 acres connected to the mainland by a narrow bridge of land, making it practically an island.

The peninsula had three hills, one hill that would later be named Trimont (meaning triple mountain) that actually consisted of three hills itself: Mt. Vernon, Beacon hill and Pemberton hill, and two other hills the settlers would call Copp's Hill and Fort Hill.

By 1775, the city had built a long wharf about ½ mile long and also built a dam across the North Cove, creating a pond the colonists named Mill pond. The dam was used to power grist mills and sawmills in the area.
Early Boston Map Depicting Mill Pond

Shortly afterward, in the early 1800s, the city cut down Mount Vernon and used the soil to create the area surrounding Charles street along the river.

Mill Pond Became Bulfinch Triangle
By the early 1800s, Mill pond became dirty and stagnant and the mills there were no longer needed. The city allowed the Boston Mill Corporation to fill in Mill pond and lay out new streets at the corporation’s expense. In exchange, the corporation would be allowed to sell the land plots and keep all of the proceeds. The new plots would be used to build housing for working class citizens. This area became known as the Bulfinch triangle neighborhood because of the triangle of streets surrounding it. Causeway street sits on the exact location of the dam's original retaining wall.

To fill in the pond, workers cut down Beacon hill and Copp's hill and moved the gravel to the pond using shovels, pick axes and horse-drawn wagons. The primitive tools made the work a very slow process and took 21 years to complete, from 1807 to 1828.

Workers Cutting Down Beacon Hill Behind the State House
When workers cut down Copp's hill the only thing they left untouched was the old three-acre burying ground. The city built a retaining wall around the graveyard to prevent it from eroding.

In 1814, the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation built the Boston & Roxbury Mill Dam across the back bay. The dam was intended to harness the power of the tides to create energy for potential mills. Developers also built a toll road on top of the dam. This road bypassed the narrow land bridge, called Boston Neck, that was Boston's only connection to the mainland at the time.

Once again, the contractors did not consider the environment impact of the dam and the bay soon became dirty and stagnant. The project was also a financial disaster due to greatly underestimated construction costs. Developers originally predicted the project would only cost $250,000 but it ended up costing $700,000. To further compound the problem, only three mills were ever built near the damn, which brought in a measly $6,000 in annual revenue.

 Realizing that the state of the bay was a considerable problem, the city began filling in the 700 acres of the bay in 1857. For fifty years, day and night, trains brought about 3.5000 railroad cars of gravel from Needham and other areas each day. When the Great Fire of 1872 destroyed much of the city, rubble from the fire was used to fill in the bay. The project finally reached completion in 1882. This new land nearly doubled the size of Boston peninsula. The newly built area became the Back Bay neighborhood.

1821 Boston Map Depicting the Dam Across Back Bay
In the 1830, owners of the wharves along the South Cove, including Griffin's wharf where the Boston tea party took place, decided filling the cove and wharves to build railroads would be more profitable than keeping the cove open for shipping. The city cut down Fort hill, now the Fort Point neighborhood, and used it to fill the South cove, which created modern day Chinatown, and the Great cove, now the financial district in 1833. The project reached completion in 1845. Filling in these coves added almost 300 more acres and created 60 percent more land for the city.

Pemberton hill survived until 1835 when the Boston & Lowell railroad company cut it down to fill in tidal flats to build tracks just north of Causeway Street, where North Station now sits.

In 1865, the west cove was finally filled in, adding 203 new acres and created 40 percent more land.

Map comparing Boston's old shape with it's new one
By the late 1800s, the major land making projects were over and the city of Boston had more than doubled in size.

Sources:

"Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston; Nancy S. Seasholes

Brighton Allston Historical Society; Building the Mill Dam
http://www.bahistory.org/HistoryMillDam.html

The Historical Marker Database; Welcome to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
http://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=18898

"Mapping Boston"; Alex Krieger, David A. Cobb, Amy Turner


Harvard University Library; Boston Mill Corporation. Records, 1643-1878: A Finding Aid
http://oasis.lib.harvard.edu/oasis/deliver/~bak00065

IMS Insider; Boston: An Engineering Success Story
http://www.ims2009.org/imsbulletins/October2008/bostonhistory.htm

iBoston; The History of Land Fill in Boston
http://www.iboston.org/rg/backbayImap.htm

Boston College; Boston: History of the Landfills
http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/fnart/fa267/bos_fill2.html