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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Salem (Massachusetts)

SALEM, a city of the United States, capital of Essex county, Massachusetts, is built on a peninsula between North and South rivers, in 42° 31′ 18″ N. lat. and 70° 53′ 53″ W. long., 16 miles north by east of Boston, on the eastern division of the Boston and Maine Railroad. In the latter part of the 18th and the early part of the 19th century Salem was the seat of a flourishing foreign commerce, especially with the East Indies; but, its comparatively shallow harbour failing to accommodate the larger vessels of modern times, it has been supplanted by Boston and has to content itself with a good share of the coasting trade. Its industrial activity has, on the other hand, increased, and it now possesses steam cotton-mills, jute-factories, extensive tanneries, and various minor manufactories. The main interest, however, of Salem consists in its historical and literary associations and the institutions by which they are represented. Best known of these institutions is the Peabody Academy, founded in 1867 with funds provided by the well-known philanthropist. The academy at once purchased and refitted the East India Marine Hall, originally built in 1824 by the East India Marine Society (1799), which consisted of captains and supercargoes who had doubled either Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope; and the building now contains under the trusteeship of the academy the collections of the old East India Museum and those of the Essex Institute, illustrating the zoology, natural history, and archaeology of the county. The ethnographical collections, such as that dealing with Corea, are especially valuable. The American Naturalist has been the organ of the academy since 1867. The Peabody Institute, not to be confounded with the academy, is in the village of Peabody (Danvers), about 2 miles distant from Salem and about midway between the house in which the philanthropist was born and the grave, in Harmony Grove cemetery, in which he was buried. Plummer Hall, a fine building in Essex Street, erected in 1856 out of funds left to the Salem Athenæum by Miss Plummer, contains the libraries of the Athenæum, the Essex Institute (founded in 1848 by the union of the Essex Historical and the Essex County Natural History Societies), and the Essex South District Medical Society, making an aggregate of 50,000 volumes. Behind this hall is the frame of the oldest church edifice in New England, erected in 1634 for Roger Williams. Other buildings of note in Salem are a State normal school, the city hall, the court-houses, the custom-house, in which Nathaniel Hawthorne once acted as surveyor of the port, and several of the private houses (such as “Dr Grimshawe's house,” the dwelling occupied for several years by Dr Peabody, Mrs Hawthorne's father) which, while not exactly prototypes, have lent much of their verisimilitude to the localities of Hawthorne's fiction. The novelist was born at 21 Union Street. Salem had 24,117 inhabitants in 1870, and 27,563 in 1880.

Naumkeag (Eel Land) was the Indian name of the district in which Salem stands, and is still used familiarly by the inhabitants. The first house was built by Roger Conants from Cape Ann in 1626, and two years later a settlement was formed by John Endicott and called Salem, “from the peace they had and hoped in it.” In 1630 Governor John Winthrop introduced a large body of colonists from England, including the brave and beautiful Arabella Johnson, daughter of the earl of Lincoln, who died shortly afterwards. In 1661 the Quakers were persecuted at Salem, and in 1692 the town was the scene of Cotton Mather's terrible proceedings against witchcraft: nineteen persons were hanged on Gallows Hill and Giles Cory was pressed to death. It was in Salem that in 1774 the house of representatives of Massachusetts resolved themselves into a sovereign political power. The town obtained a city charter in 1836. Few cities of the United States have given more eminent men to the world Timothy Pickering, secretary of state (1795-1800), General Israel Putnam, F. T. Ward of China celebrity, John Rogers and W. W. Story the sculptors, Bowditch and B. Peirce the astronomers and mathematicians, Maria S. Cummins the novelist, W. H. Prescott the historian, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.