The RNC is in Boston for three full days. What should they do to feel at home?
The Boston Herald welcomed the Republican National Committee to the city today by noting,
“There aren’t many monuments or historical places dedicated to Republicans here in the Bay State, but one must-see for every GOP visitor has to be the portrait of former Gov. William F. Weld, one of the few successful Republican politicians here. It’s in the State House in the outer room of the governor’s office. Look carefully for the armadillo hidden in the portrait.”
That’s a missed opportunity for there is a rich GOP history here that Republicans across the country can be a part of. So let me offer a small corrective:
Start you day outside of Boston and lay flowers at the grave sites of two Speakers of the U.S. House from Massachusetts. Frederick H. Gillette is buried at the Pine Hill Cemetery in Westfield and Joseph W. Martin Jr. is buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery in North Attleboro. Or two prominent US Senators: both Henry Cabot Lodge and his grandson, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. are buried at the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge & Watertown.
Then reflect on the contributions to the Union cause by the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, authorized by Republican Governor John A. Andrew Their memorial is just across the street from the State House.
The Golden Dome
The Herald noted you might want to gaze at Bill Weld’s official portrait. Nothing wrong with that but you might also be surprised to learn that Massachusetts has had 31 Republican Governors and only 19 Democrats. Since Governor Calvin Coolidge left office, there have been 12 other Republicans to serve as Governor.
While in the State House, you might ask the current Senate President to take a look at the Coolidge room. He also served as Senate President and his office was a relatively small one which is now part of the Senate President’s suite. A modest room for a modest man who had a modest view of government.
Off the Hill
As you depart Beacon Hill, make sure to swing past both the Leverett Saltsonsall building and the Ed Brooke Courthouse. Sure they’re both government buildings, but they are living monuments to two men who were political giants in their time and leading Republican figures here and across the country.
Spend some time at the Ed Brooke Charter School in Boston, given your party’s view on academic competition. Or take in an academic seminar at two of the city’s leading conservative think tanks, the Pioneer Institute or the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
And while you could waste your energy gawking at the home of Senator Warren as the Herald suggests, you could also pop in and visit with one of the country’s leading conservative thinkers, Professor Harvey Mansfield at Harvard. You might also head over to the Kennedy School. Its Institute of Politics is run by Kentucky’s former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
Want to spend some quiet study time? Harvard’s Houghton Library has a wonderful Theodore Roosevelt Collection.
TR a bit too progressive for the current GOP? Understood. Then travel down to Easton for the Joseph Martin Institute (which I am lucky to Direct) for an archives of the former Speaker and mid-twentieth century Republican party. The photos alone of Martin with every significant Republican leader from the early to mid twentieth century is enough to keep you there all day.
Or travel west to spend time with silent Cal. In Northampton you’ll find the Calvin Coolidge Library & Museum. While out west you can swing through Amherst, drive past the Coolidge Tower at UMass before stopping in the Silvio O. Conte National Center for Polymer Research.
After your studies you can relax at the Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Center and take a swing at the Calvin Coolidge baseball cage at Amherst College. Or come back to Boston for some exercise at the Conte Forum at Boston College.
If you’re just looking for a quick whimsy, then grab a coffee at the BU Barnes & Noble and then head upstairs via the escalator. A quick look to your right and you’ll see a great picture of Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. meeting with BU students.
Call it a day
After soaking up all of the rich Republican history that Massachusetts has to offer, you’ll need something to eat and drink. This is a little tricky, as the Herald notes.
But if you need to be somewhere that reminds you of your party’s heritage, there’s the Lincoln Tavern in South Boston. Or have a beer like Ronald Reagan at the Eire Pub in Dorchester. Or do as Bill Weld did and acclimate yourself to the drinking habits of his Democratic colleagues.
All in all, there is more Republican history here than meets the eye. I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, but you only have a few days.