Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (18)

May 20th, 2011 by Jane Cairns

Abby’s entries from May 1867 continue

Wed. 15:   Mother and Louise went to L. to spend the day and left me all alone.  Hattie came up to stay with me.  In the afternoon we went up town and met all the Old South.  Had a splendid time.  I was introduced to Mr. Gilmore.  He was with me all the evening and came home with me.  Tucker K. wanted to come home with H. but Mr. F staid so close.  We walked over past the Sem before we came home.  There were not many boys there.

Thurs. May 16:   Went to a Tea Party with H.

Friday 17:   School.  After tea I went down to have the little wart on my forehead taken off.  I met Gilmore and K and after E.  She said they had walked up the street 2 or 3 times while I was gone.  They walk up our street [every] night and ever so many more.

Sat. 18:   Went to see Agnes Donald in the afternoon and made a short call on Mrs. Smith.  B and K walked up our street as usual.  Hattie and I were sitting by the (?).  Went to walk a little.

Sun. May 19:  Went to church in No. Andover in the morning and over to Mr. (?) in the evening – the first time since December.

Monday 20 It rained most of the day.  I stayed at home – called to see H after school.  One of her [teeth] is inflamed very much.  She thinks it is an abcess.  There is to be a meeting of the Trustees of Phillips Academy to day to see about taking the boys back who have been expelled.  22 of the Seniors went off to Lawrence and Boston.  I hope G and K w ill [?] wandering round.  I escorted George R and B into the Gymnastic exercises this morning.  They were on the piazza. 

There was trouble on Andover Hill in the spring of 1867.  The root cause of the trouble was the ongoing attempt by Phillips Academy’s irascible and gout-ridden principal Dr. Samuel Taylor to impose pre-War standards of morality on a post-War generation of students, many of whom were men fully grown, and even veterans whose education had been interrupted by the Civil War years.  But that May (with apologies to Meredith Willson), trouble’s capital “T” rhymed with “B,” and it stood for “baseball.” 

Baseball fever swept the Phillips campus in the spring of 1867, and was partly responsible for a student rebellion in May of that year (Currier and Ives, 1866)

Students at Phillips had played a form of cricket or rounders called “the Boston Game” as early as the 1850s.  The first baseball field was laid out in 1864 and the boys began to play interclass games using “New York style rules” before the War ended.  But baseball fever swept the school in 1866, with the enrollment of 22 year old veteran “Archie” Bush, a semi-pro catcher from Albany, who had been a captain in New York’s 95th infantry.  An enthusiastic schedule of intermural games was begun and  Bush organized a game against a team from Tufts College, which was tolerated by Samuel Taylor only because it was scheduled for immediately after commencement.  The Andover Advertiser (on July 27, 1866) reported on the game played by Bush’s nine against the professional Lowell “Trimountains,”  and Abby noted in her diary that her friends Oliver and Willie Perry played ball in their yard on Central Street. 

By the next spring, the game had become, according to Dr. Taylor, a serious distraction.  Matters came to a head one especially beautiful day when a few seniors decided to cut class.  Two of them – Archie Bush and a friend — travelled to Boston to watch a “league game.”  Dr. Taylor, reportedly suffering that day from an especially bad flare- up of his gout, expelled the truants and set the campus in an uproar.  In protest of Taylor’s actions, nearly half of the remaining seniors left campus without permission and went out for an evening dinner in Lawrence, reasoning perhaps that Taylor couldn’t possibly expel them all.  But he could, and he did.  Many of Abby’s boyfriends  (Cassander Gilmore  of Raynham, Massachusetts and Henry Miles “Tucker” Knowles  of Lowell among them)  were embroiled in this series of events that has gone down in Phillips history as the “Student Rebellion of 1867.”  Newspapers across the country (including the Andover Advertiser) reported on the dispute, and as Abby reports, the Trustees of the school were forced to meet to discuss Taylor’s actions.   

Archibald McClure Bush and his cousin James G.K. McClure were the founders of varsity baseball at Phillips

The repercussions of the rebellion were far-reaching.  Yale University declined to accept any of the expelled students without Samuel Taylor’s endorsement, and Phillips’s old-fashioned classical curriculum did not meet the requirement for any other prominent college.  Many of the boys, including Archie Bush, were tutored over the summer and were admitted to Harvard in the fall.  Taylor was infuriated that Harvard would admit students who had not received his blessing, but in the end the controversy forced Phillips to modernize.  On the subject of baseball, however, Taylor dug in his heels.  All interscholastic and off-campus  games were prohibited until his death in 1871.

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