OUR March number contains three essays with, for the Quarterly, an unusual chronological breadth; but it is one that the editors are pleased to present. They serve to remind readers and potential authors of the editors’ desire not to be associated with a particular time period but to cover the entire span of the history and literary culture of New England. The three essays chosen for this issue, Sean Wilentz's study of nineteenth-century northern abolitionists, Tatiana Cruz's of twentieth-century African American and Latinx parent activism in the Boston public schools, and Theodore Vozar's of the use of a Greek textbook in Harvard's seventeenth-century philology curriculum illustrates the chronological diversity the editors hope to see in future submissions.
One result of the editors’ desire to encourage essays on different topics with a broader chronology was our co-sponsorship with the Massachusetts Historical Society of the American Political Culture Symposium held last September. From that symposium, we have included Princeton professor Sean Wilentz's keynote address, “The Radicalism of Northern Abolitionism.” Wilentz stresses the role of the critical, but seemingly small advances put forth by early advocates of the movement. By calling attention to the gradual but incremental challenges to the structures of northern slavery, he illustrates how radical early abolition initiated the rise of free Black communities and contributed to the expansion of protests against enslavement generally. Not part of the symposium but similar in approach, Tatiana M. F. Cruz's examination of African American and Latinx parent activism describes events that preceded Boston's busing crisis of the 1970s. Cruz describes efforts of Black and Latinx parents in the 1960s who challenged Boston Public School administrators and joined in political action to obtain better teachers, curriculum, and facilities. Like Wilentz, Cruz sheds light on the difficulties of mobilizing political support but, in doing so, highlights the incremental radicalism, if you will, that took place before the more heavily studied Boston busing crisis. Our Memoranda and Documents section returns to the seventeenth century with Thomas Vozar's examination of the use of James Duport's Greek writings in the Harvard College philology curriculum. Duport, Vozar argues, was chosen because his translations of the Psalms, the Book of Job, Proverbs, and other parts of the Old Testament could teach intermediate Greek and help students review their Latin. Duport was selected over other Greek texts because of the acceptability of the subject matter, and, since the author was a Cambridge don, he provided an implicit endorsement of Harvard's academic merit as an institution of higher education.
One of the challenges of writing the editorial is the difficulty of predicting the context in which one's remarks will be received three months hence. Writing in December for the March issue, I found, was the most difficult: the holidays and the end of the academic term absorbed one's time and energy at the same time manuscripts were due at the printer; and it is difficult to contemplate how remarks made in the midst of the cold and dark of December—I write in the midst of a particularly bad winter storm—will be read in the warmth and promise of spring. This issue has a more compelling difficulty as it marks my retirement from the Quarterly and UMass Boston and the passing of the Bailyn editorship to Professor Holly Jackson.
In writing these last remarks, I claim here the prerogative of cleaning out my mental desk. I have never expressed sufficient gratitude to the board of directors of the New England Quarterly, Inc. for selecting the University of Massachusetts, Boston as the home for the Quarterly. In addition to the intellectual benefits conveyed to me and to the history and English departments, the Quarterly supported graduate students financially, helped develop their writing skills, engaged them in the publication processes, and let them see the possibilities of alternative careers in English and history. It has been an unexpected privilege and honor to have been named the editor of the Quarterly, and even more so to have been named the Bernard Bailyn Editor. Honors aside, editing the Quarterly has been a personal pleasure. It allowed me to return to the diverse subjects in American history and literature that fascinated me as an undergraduate but which had been put aside in graduate school and after. For the opportunity to return to those interests while still a practicing historian, I am exceedingly grateful. On the other hand, I, accustomed to setting my own schedule before becoming an editor, apologize to all my colleagues and previous editors for whom my procrastination led to delays and failures to meet agreed-upon deadlines. Raised in the Congregational Church, I accept that asking for forgiveness at this time is absolutely self-serving and without merit but proffer it nonetheless. Illustrating further the bad puritan I would have been, I admit that I will miss the intellectual pleasures of reading original, tightly argued essays that I would not have encountered otherwise and of purloining, if temporarily, and reading books sent to the Quarterly for review before they were sent out to reviewers.
Along the way to becoming an editor, I encountered many whose support and encouragement was invaluable. Space and my diminished memory preclude naming all without leaving out many deserving of mention. A few, however, stand out too much to remain anonymous. Cheryl Nixon, former English Department chair and current president of Brerea College, thought to bring the Quarterly to UMass Boston, wrote the proposal, and obtained the necessary administrative approvals. Donald Friary, former president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, gently counseled and encouraged me. His advocacy for the Whitehill Prize competition created a flow of excellent submissions which, if not prizeworthy, were of consideration for publication. Bob Allison, Don's successor as president of the Colonial Society, provided unqualified support, as well as good humor and great lunches, that enabled the editors to focus simply on putting together the next good issue. Dick Brown, former president of New England Quarterly, Inc., helped recruit contributions from senior scholars, made suggestions for possible issues but, above all else, taught me to trust my editorial judgments. His and Irene's quiet encouragement and reassurance made a historian believe he might become an editor. His successor as president of NEQ, Inc., Chris Jedrey, has been equally supportive and active in ensuring that the journal stands on a sound foundation. Chris's counsel at a particularly challenging moment personified his fierce and unequivocal commitment to the Quarterly and the academic enterprise which made me proud to have him as friend. One could not have had better editorial colleagues than Betsy Klimasmith, Holly Jackson, and Len Von Morze. In bringing their considerable literary expertise to the editorial staff, they contributed the essential interdisciplinary perspective that makes the Quarterly the unique journal that it is. I hope that they learned from me as much as I from them.
Finally, I want to recognize the excellent work done by the graduate assistants assigned to the Quarterly by the English and history departments over the past seven years. Gabi Garneau and Sarah Black especially stand out for initiating the operational practices that imposed what semblance of order that exists now in the office. Gabi taught me how to delegate work effectively and to be a better copy editor. Sarah, who could learn to do anything with Wordpress, ironed out the difficulties of transitioning the website from Northeastern to UMass Boston and was the author of many of our initiatives. Both Gabi and Sarah as well as Andrew Lucibella and Eduardo Souza anticipated and accomplished tasks I overlooked often before I even knew that I had. The four created and sustained a culture of comradery and excellence and helped us survive many emergencies. Amy Lin and Grace Wargovich perpetuate this culture of excellence and expertise. If our production of the journal has seemed seamless, it is attributable to these colleagues; I hope what they learned about the publication process will be of use as they continue their academic journeys. I will miss working with them.
Finally, the Quarterly brought me in touch with many old and new friends. I was deeply touched to discover that one of our subscribers was a former student whose interests in history did not seem to have been harmed by a first-year instructor still writing his lectures the night before class (I confess that I wrote one on the domestic economy during World War II from my notes taken during my senior year at Penn in Thomas Cochran's class on twentieth-century America). I also liked hearing from numerous colleagues that their first journal article had appeared in the Quarterly. To authors, reviewers, and donors, I send special thanks for their efforts, contributions, and especially for their belief in the scholarly mission of the Quarterly. I hope you will continue to support Holly in the years ahead.