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The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Salem (Massachusetts)

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SALEM, a city, port of entry, and one of the shire towns of Essex co., Massachusetts, occupying a peninsula between two arms of the sea, called North and South rivers, and adjacent territory, 14 m. N. by E. of Boston; lat. 42° 31' 18" N., lon. 70° 53' 53" W.; pop. in 1870, 24,117, of whom 6,084 were foreigners; in 1875, 26,063. The peninsula is about 2 m. long and ¾ m. broad. A small peninsula called the Neck is attached to it, and was first inhabited; a large portion of it belongs to the city, and is occupied as the almshouse farm. The site of that part of the city within the peninsula is flat, but healthy; in other parts the surface is more uneven. The streets are irregular, but well built. In the E. part of the city, toward the end of the peninsula, is a beautiful park or “common” of 8½ acres, called Washington square. Harmony Grove cemetery, on the W. border, contains 65 acres. Salem is connected with Lowell by the Salem and Lowell railroad, and with Boston by the Eastern railroad, and there are branches to Marblehead and Lawrence. Horse cars run through the principal streets and to the adjoining towns.—Salem was formerly noted for its foreign commerce. In its very infancy its inhabitants not only engaged in the fisheries and the coasting trade, but in vessels of 40 to 60 tons traded with Spain, Italy, France, and the islands of the West Indies. In the revolutionary war 158 privateers, mounting at least 2,000 guns, and carrying not fewer than 6,000 men, were fitted out from the town of Salem. These vessels captured 445 prizes, and brought nine tenths of them into port in safety. In 1785 the first vessel ever sent from this country to the isle of France, Calcutta, and China, was despatched by Elias Haskett Derby of Salem; and for years Salem held almost the monopoly of that trade, and in 1818 had 54 vessels engaged in it. The trade to the other ports of the East Indies and Japan was also commenced by the merchants of Salem, as was that to Madagascar and Zanzibar, and the other gum and ivory ports of E. Africa, the legitimate trade to the ports of W. Africa, the commerce with Brazil and the Amazon, and especially the India-rubber trade, in which for many years she took the lead. The foreign commerce of Salem is now small, but the coasting trade is large and increasing, coal for shipment to the interior manufacturing towns being the chief item. Recently the fisheries, which ceased as the East India trade grew up, have been resumed. The value of imports from foreign countries into the customs district, which includes also Beverly and Danvers, for the year ending June 30, 1874, was $60,717; of exports to foreign countries, $50,153; number of entrances, 84, tonnage 8,468; clearances, 100, tonnage 11,767; number of vessels belonging in the district on that date, 91, tonnage 9,409; engaged in the cod and mackerel fisheries, 55, tonnage 3,386, The number of entrances in the coastwise trade during the same year was 98, tonnage 10,443; clearances, 41, tonnage 5,461.—Manufacturing is a prominent interest, and is increasing. The manufacture of leather is the most important branch. Other articles are jute bagging, cordage, twine, machinery, foundery products, cars, chemicals, boots and shoes, white lead, leather belting, lead pipe and sheet lead, trunks and valises, furniture, and glue. The car shops of the Eastern railroad company are here. The Naumkeag steam cotton company has two large mills, with 1,438 looms and 73,594 spindles, and employs a capital of $1,200,000. There are seven national banks, with an aggregate capital of $2,015,000; two savings banks, with about $8,000,000 deposits; and five insurance companies.—Salem is divided into six wards, and is governed by a mayor with a board of six aldermen and a common council of four members from each ward. It has an efficient police force and a good fire department. The streets are lighted with gas, and water is supplied by an aqueduct from Wenham lake, 4 m. distant. The assessed value of property in 1874 was $25,845,675 50, viz.: real estate, $14,121,000; personal estate, $11,724,675 50. The taxation on property amounted to $438,995 65, of which $32,380 was for state purposes, and $22,243 30 for county purposes. The net expenditures for the eleven months ending Dec. 1, 1874, were $279,680 29; city debt, less cash assets on that date, $1,858,753 07. Besides the almshouse and smallpox hospital, there are an orphan asylum, a dispensary, a reform school for boys, and several charitable societies. The public schools are under the general management of a school committee of 20 members, who appoint a superintendent. There are a high school, five grammar and twelve primary schools, two evening schools, two drawing schools, and a special school for factory operatives and others unable to pursue the regular course. The number of pupils enrolled in the public day schools in 1874 was 4,206; average attendance, 2,953; number of teachers, 80. The total expenditure for schools was $71,180 55. One of the state normal schools (for females) is here. Among the principal public institutions is the East India marine society, organized in 1799, and formed of those who, as captains or supercargoes, have doubled Cape Horn or the cape of Good Hope. The museum of this society is one of the most interesting and valuable in the country. Together with the scientific collections of the Essex institute, it has been placed in charge of the trustees of the Peabody academy of science, founded by George Peabody in 1869 by the gift of $150,000. The joint collections, with those of the academy, are deposited in the East India marine hall, and are accessible to the public. The Essex institute, organized in 1848 by the union of the Essex historical society and the Essex county natural history society, besides its extensive cabinet of natural history, has a library of 30,000 volumes, a large collection of portraits, and many historical and other relics. The Salem Athenæum, formed in 1810 by the purchase of the social and philosophical libraries as a basis, has a library of 15,500 volumes. These two last named institutions occupy the fine building known as Plummer hall, erected in 1856 from funds bequeathed to the Salem Athenæum by Miss Caroline Plummer. In the same building are the libraries, each comprising about 1,000 volumes, of the Essex agricultural society, incorporated in 1818, and the Essex southern district medical society, formed in 1805. The office of the permanent secretary of the American association for the advancement of science, organized in 1848, is in the East India marine hall, and contains a small and select scientific library. The charitable mechanical association, organized in 1817, has a library of 4,000 volumes. Other important associations are the marine society, instituted in 1766; the lyceum, in 1830; the young men's union, in 1855; and the young men's Christian association, in 1858. Two semi-weekly and three weekly newspapers and two monthly periodicals are published. The number of churches is 20, viz.: 3 Baptist, 3 Congregational, 2 Episcopal, 1 Free Advent, 1 Friends', 2 Methodist, 1 New Jerusalem, 2 Roman Catholic, 4 Unitarian, and 1 Universalist. Salem is the oldest town in Massachusetts except Plymouth, having been settled in 1628 by John Endicott, before whose arrival, however, a house had been built there by Roger Conant in 1626. In 1629 11 ships arrived here from England, bringing 406 immigrants, who settled in various localities in the vicinity. The first church organization effected in this country was at Salem in 1629, with the Rev. Francis Higginson as its pastor. In 1692 the famous witchcraft delusion made its appearance, and 19 persons from this and adjacent towns were executed on the eminence now known as Gallows hill. It had its origin in what is now the town of Danvers, and the persons connected with it belonged to several other towns also. (See Witch.) The town was incorporated in 1630, and received city privileges in 1836. Its Indian name was Naumkeag.