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This Day in Boston History

January 23rd, 1893

Phillips Brooks

Click to read more about Phillips Brooks

Phillips Brooks, considered by many to be the predominant preacher of the 19th century, died on this day in history.

As the Rector of Boston's Trinity Church, his sermons were reprinted in over two hundred newspapers weekly. Helen Keller was a regular parishioner, and a personal friend of his. He was a frequent speaker at his alma mater, Harvard, and served as one of its rotating pastors and led morning prayers there.

He died of diphtheria at age 57. The day of his funeral, the Boston Stock Exchange and city stores closed in mourning. Harvard students were his pallbearers as the heavy casket journeyed from Trinity Church through Harvard Yard to Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Brooks is memorialized by the operation of Brooks House, Harvard's center for religious community and study.


England's Prime Minister never expected this tea tax to cause an outcry, let alone revolution. In 1767, England reduced its property taxes at home. To balance the national budget they needed to find a mechanism for the American colonies to pay for the expense of stationing officials in them. The officials would generate their own revenue by collecting taxes on all imported goods, and once paid affixing stamps on them. This Stamp Tax generated more in the way of protests and smuggling than added revenue.

Religion. Politics. Rebellion. Boston’s pedigree was forged back in England in the midst of religious dissension, where Puritans and Pilgrims sought religious reform, and Cavaliers and Roundheads vied for political power. The question isn't where did Boston get its name – but how.

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