The City of Quincy is home to many different attractions, but above all else, this city offers an extremely rich history that parallels the histories of both the state of Massachusetts and the entire country.
Quincy was originally combined with the town of Braintree. Settled in 1625 by Captain Wollaston, it was at first named Mount Wollaston. However, Wollaston soon left the area and a man by the name of Thomas Morton took control of the developing community.
Under Morton, the community gained profit by trading goods with the Native Americans. Morton was an idealist with views that included freeing indentured servants and consorting with Native American females. In an effort to win the Native Americans over to be allies, he restored pagan rituals including festivals that included drinking alcohol and dancing around a May Pole. In this process, he changed the name from Mount Wollaston to Merry Mount. However, this change did not last long.
Word of the debauchery and heathen festivals occurring in Merry Mount had reached the nearby Plymouth colony. Captain Myles Standish came to Merry Mount and removed Morton and his rioters, replacing them with his own industrial experts.
The community was finally named Quincy, after the family of Mr. Edmund Quincy, who was one of the original settlers within the Mount Wollaston community. It was also recognized as a town in 1792. Many modern Quincy locations were named after people or events in the early colonization of this area. For example, the peninsula of Squantum was once home to an Indian Chief, and Germantown received its name because it was settled by German explorers.
One of Quincy’s biggest claims to fame is being the birthplace and home of the Adams family. Both John Adams and John Quincy Adams served as presidents of the United States. Abigail Adams is still one of the most memorable first ladies. Wife to John and mother to John Quincy, she played an extremely active role in politics during the terms served by her husband and son.
Quincy is host to the birthplaces of these two presidents, but the surrounding county (Norfolk) can claim two more: President George H.W. Bush was born in the neighboring town of Milton, and President John F. Kennedy was born in Brookline. There have only been 42 other presidents of our great nation, and Quincy has claimed the home to two of them.
John Adams played a crucial role in the process of the U.S. gaining independence from Great Britain. Adams was the first in his family to attend Harvard and eventually became a lawyer. He greatly opposed the British authority within American colonies and soon became a delegate in the Continental Congress, where he helped draft the Declaration of Independence.
Adams was present in Europe to negotiate the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. Soon after this, he became the second president of the United States. Adams served for one term and then lost re-election to Thomas Jefferson. However, these two became very good friends and, oddly enough, both died on the same day: July 4, 1826.
John Adams was not the only founding father to be born in this great city. John Hancock was also born in Quincy in 1737. Hancock grew up to be a successful businessman, and played a large role in the American Revolution. Teaming up with Samuel Adams, the two constantly found ways to agitate British forces. They saw how the British government abused its power by implementing unfair taxes and tariffs.
Hancock became one of the leaders of protests, including the notorious Boston Tea Party. In 1774, he became a representative for Massachusetts in the second Continental Congress, which enabled him to be the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence. A few years following this, Hancock was elected the first governor of the state of Massachusetts. He served as governor until his death in 1793.
John Quincy Adams, as mentioned earlier, was the son of John Adams and also a Quincy native. He very much admired his father and followed in a similar path. Graduating from Harvard, he became a lawyer and by age 26 became involved in politics. Adams mostly dealt with foreign affairs, but then served under Monroe as Secretary of State. Once Monroe’s term ended, Adams became the sixth president of the United States. He served until 1828, when, like his father, he lost re-election, this time to Andrew Jackson. Following this he was appointed to the Plymouth district House of Representatives, where he served until his death in 1848.
Many of these individuals’ homes and other historically significant landmarks still stand in Quincy today. The Adams National Historical Park offers tours surrounding the lives of the Adams family. This tour includes the birthplace of John Adams, which stands on Franklin Street, the nearby birthplace of his son John Quincy Adams, and the Peacefield Estate where the Adams moved to when his family became wealthier. John Adams moved to Peacefield during his time in office and retired there. The house was occupied by Adams’s descendants for several generations.
The first lady, Abigail Adams, was not born in Quincy, but her birthplace can still be found in the neighboring town of Weymouth. All three of these Adams are buried at the United First Parish Church, where John Hancock’s father served as a minister. The church is recognized as a historic landmark that still stands on Hancock Street. Directly across the street is the Hancock Cemetery, which is the burial place for numerous patriots and other historical figures.
One of the most attractive landmarks in the area is the Dorothy Quincy Homestead. Dorothy Quincy was wife to John Hancock, and her house was inhabited by many generations of the Quincy family. It was the house where Dorothy grew up. Sitting on the corner of Hancock and Butler, the estate which has parts that date back to 1685, was said to be a common meeting place for patriots such as John Adams, Ben Franklin, John Hancock, and Josiah Quincy. Josiah Quincy’s house is also a historic landmark and can be found on Muirhead Street.
The City of Quincy’s history expands beyond the American Revolution era. Shortly after World War II, the United States Navy finished construction of the USS Salem: a Des Moines-class heavy cruiser. The 700 foot vessel set sail in 1947, but now sits at the Fore River shipyard where it was constructed. It stands as a representation of Cold-War military construction and is also home to the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum.
Quincy is also known for its granite supply and granite railway. This railway, which was built in 1826, was America’s first commercial railway. It was used to transport granite from Quincy to Charlestown to build the Bunker Hill Monument. The remains of this historic railway can still be found in Quincy.
Quincy has very deep roots in the history of our nation. From American Revolution heroes to the construction of battle ships, there are many remnants still left behind from all these areas of history. The history within Quincy is very accessible through tours of the Adams Historical Park and the birthplace of John Hancock. The house of John Hancock’s birth still stands in Quincy Center as the Quincy Historical Museum, renovated by the Quincy Historical Society, and therefore showcasing even more Quincy history.