James Phinney Baxter will impact thousands in the next few years, as the Boston Public Library uses The James P. Baxter & Percival P. Baxter Fund for programming that will inspire Americans during the celebration of 250th anniversary of The Stamp Act in 2015 and the 400th anniversary of the Landing of the Mayflower in 2020. The City of Boston allocated the Baxter Fund to the library in June of 2013.
We have a project called THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS which is very much in alignment with his vision. This project brings balance to America’s origin story that is currently shrouded in misinformation and misconception. It brings honor to the Pilgrims and the Indians in the evolution of democracy and the American mind and spirit. We are seeking funding to complete our research, create a documentary film, a screenplay and a book.
Please take a look at our Indiegogo “crowd-funding” campaign THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS: Freedom and Friendship at Plymouth Plantation and consider supporting this important project. The campaign has raised over $10,000 so far. It ended on January 19th, but direct contributions will be welcome indefinitely. Write us at the e-mail below.
James Phinney Baxter’s Bequest
James Phinney Baxter bequeathed a significant sum to the City of Boston in 1921. The specific intent of this bequest, as articulated in his will and in the 1920 monograph A NEW ENGLAND PANTHEON was: To build a New England Pantheon, a Temple of Honor commemorating the lives and deeds of the founders of New England, and to educate future generations in the principles and achievements of the pioneers whose ideals were the seed of free government.
My daughter Alison, my partner Andrew Bailey and I are acting as consultants to the Boston Public Library to ensure that JPB’s bequest is fulfilled within the context of the library’s programming goals. The library is now considering a James Phinney Baxter Room and a James Phinney Baxter Lecture Series among other plans.
THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS Project
The film and book project, THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS: Freedom and Friendship at Plymouth Plantation that we have been working on for the past decade contributes significantly to realizing James Phinney Baxter’s dream.
We are as passionate about THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS as James Phinney Baxter was about building The New England Pantheon – and we feel he would be proud that his descendants are contributing to “the commemoration of the lives and deeds of the founders of New England that were the seeds of free government,” and in this way inspiring America to realize its promise.
History of the James Phinney Baxter Fund
Please read on for a bit of history regarding JPB’s bequest and our involvement over the years.
The James Phinney Baxter Trust was broken in 1997 and the New England Pantheon was never created. The Maine Supreme Court decreed that a portion of the funds be disbursed to the City of Portland, Maine and the remainder of the money to the City of Boston. Boston used the fund to establish the Mayor’s Office for New Bostonians, and the remainder, as the “James P. Baxter & Percival P. Baxter Fund,” sat, until June of 2013, in the coffers of the City of Boston, to be used at the discretion of the Mayor to, in the words of the settlement, “promote the commemoration and public understanding of the history of the settlement of and immigration to New England.” Please note that the original intent was broadened and obscured by the Maine Supreme Court in its decision.
In 2006 Alison, Andrew and I applied for a grant from the City of Boston to create programs that would fulfill JPB’s bequest. The grant was approved, but the City put such obstacles in our path that we let it drop. We created The Baxter Project, Inc. a Massachusetts not-for-profit corporation at that time with the website http://www.TheBaxterProject.org which outlined his bequest and our plans for bringing it to fruition.
The Baxter Project grant proposal was supported by enthusiastic letters from the Baxter family including the Trustees of James Phinney Baxter’s will; Maine Governor John Baldacci; Maine Representative Herb Adams; James Baker, Curator of the Alden House Historic Site and 26-year VP and Research Director of Plimoth Plantation; and Harry Mars, a Native Narragansett Elder.
Our work to realize James Phinney Baxter’s dream
On November 18, 2005 I spoke as a guest of the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians’ Cultural Awareness Committee: “An Inspiring Look at the First Thanksgiving.”
I have taught a Middle School history course in Sedona, Arizona that used the model of the Mayflower Pilgrim/Wampanoag relationship to inspire the students to change their inter-racial relations. The Sedona students spoke at the Massachusetts Historical Society and to the Plymouth Board of Selectmen, sharing their inspirations and issuing a challenge to us all. Here is a link to a report on this program: SedonaSchool/Plymouth/FirstFiftyYears Program.
James Phinney Baxter’s vision is even more relevant today than it was when he was fervently campaigning for the New England Pantheon almost a hundred years ago. There is, for example, confusion, guilt and blame concerning America’s origin story, that stems from misinformation concerning Plymouth Colony and the founding of New England, that has led to exactly the challenges that James Phinney Baxter foresaw:
The ideals of the early pioneers to New England have given to the nation many of its noblest characteristics, which must be cherished and preserved if it is to lead as the exemplar of Liberty, Justice and Brotherhood among the nations of the world. We have reached a period when without…cooperation, our high hopes for the future welfare of this Country may fail of fruition. James Phinney Baxter. A New England Pantheon, 1917
There is a vital and uplifting story waiting to be told, and The Baxter Project team is in a position to tell it. It is a story of commonalities and vision that is America’s origin story, seen from a perspective that can inspire all who hear it.
Contribute to and follow the unfolding saga of THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS!
Again, here is the link to our Indiegogo campaign: “THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS: Freedom and Friendship at Plymouth Plantation” Please support this important project if you can!
Please follow the unfolding saga of THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS on FB, Twitter, YouTube and our blog – links below
Connie Baxter Marlow
Great great granddaughter of James Phinney Baxter
GGGGGGGGGG Granddaughter of John and Priscilla Alden, Mayflower Pilgrims via Constance French, (grandmother who married John L. Baxter my grandfather) and Asa Palmer French, great grandfather.
Suggested Tweet: http://bit.ly/IzWuIn