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Reading 3: Excerpts from the Massachusetts Spy

The Massachusetts Spy was a weekly newspaper founded by Isaiah Thomas in Boston, Massachusetts. The newspaper moved to Worcester on the eve of the American Revolution and was renamed the Worcester Spy. In 1857, the newspaper reported the dedication of Mechanics Hall and some of its early programs, as well as local, national, and world news.

Massachusetts Spy, March 25, 1857
THE DEDICATION BALL at Mechanics Hall last evening, brought forth the greatest display of "beauty and fashion" that has been seen in this city. About one thousand persons attended. The refreshments were provided by C. Forbush & Co., and were served up in "Washburn Hall." The tables were spread with great taste and elegance. The viands were choice, and the whole affair did great credit to C. Forbush & Co., the caterers. The music was by the Boston Orchestral Union—the same band which gave the concert on Thursday evening. Of course it was first rate.

Massachusetts Spy, April 22, 1857
ANTI SLAVERY CONVENTION —The Worcester County (South Division) Anti-Slavery Society held a quarterly session in this city on Sunday, at Horticultural Hall. In the morning, interesting speeches, in their peculiar vein, were made by Wm. Lloyd Garrison and Stephen S. Foster, and in the afternoon, Wendell Phillips made one of his eloquent and powerful addresses.

At the evening session, which was held at Mechanics' Hall, Wendell Phillips spoke again, and made the speech of the session, to an auditory of some two thousand. Mechanics' Hall is the place to hear Wendell Phillips to advantage.

The Oratorio of the Creation, performed by the Mozart Society, at Mechanics' Hall, on Thursday evening, afforded further demonstrative evidence of the necessity which had arrived for just such a hall in this city, and of the great convenience it will be to our citizens. Every seat, in all parts of the house, was filled, numbers were obliged to stand, and some, we are informed, who had purchased tickets, but were unable to obtain seats, returned their tickets and received the price back again. The performance was a most successful one. We have no room, if we had the capacity, to criticize it, but we cannot omit to say that the efforts of Mrs. Allen and Misses Fiske and Whiting were most favorably received by the audience. It was very ably conducted by Mr. Edward Hamilton, who added new honors to those already won by him.

Questions for Reading 3

Massachusetts Spy, March 25, 1857
1. How many people attended the Dedication Ball?
2. What are "viands"?
3. Compare this article with one in a contemporary newspaper or newscast describing an opening night. How are the reports similar? How are they different?

Massachusetts Spy, April 22, 1857
1. What program was presented at Mechanics Hall on Thursday?
2. Who spoke at an Anti-Slavery Convention in Horticultural Hall on Sunday?
3. What is an "auditory"?
4. Do these two articles support the reporters' opinion that by 1857, Worcester needed a place like Mechanics Hall? Explain your answer.

Reading 3 was compiled from transcriptions of articles from the Massachusetts Spy in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Massachusetts.

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