Think You Know George Cabot? Think Again.
If you’ve spent even a little time in Beverly, Massachusetts, you’ve probably noticed the name “Cabot” everywhere. Perhaps the most noticeable reference to the Cabot name is Cabot Street, which winds directly through downtown Beverly itself.
Many groups have also used the name to show their local flair. The Cabot is the name of downtown Beverly’s historic theater, and you’ll see plenty of small businesses that use the name.
The Cabot family were merchants, mariners, and eventually, politicians who came to Massachusetts in the 17th century. They quickly established themselves as one of the most prominent families in the Beverly-Salem area, building the “Cabot House,” a Georgian-style mansion, in Beverly itself.
John Cabot (1744-1821) is perhaps the most studied and recognized, but his brother, George Cabot (1751-1823) was also an important figure. Here are some interesting facts about George you may want to know if you’re considering a move to Beverly, Massachusetts.
George Cabot Dropped Out of College and Went to Sea
John Cabot attended Harvard College, graduating in 1763. George Cabot was set to follow in his brother’s footsteps, but his life went in a different direction. He attended Harvard College in 1766, but he left after two years to go to sea.
We can only speculate about why George decided to leave the dusty confines of academia to pursue a mariner’s life. Perhaps he felt restless, or he simply felt a calling to go to sea like many young men before him. Indeed, he started his maritime career as a lowly cabin boy.
However, we can confirm that George was an accomplished seaman. He became captain of a vessel at the age of 21. He eventually went on to purchase several ships and became a successful sea merchant.
George Cabot Played a Central Role in Early U.S. Politics
In addition to his maritime and merchant career, George Cabot was active in both local and national politics.
According to Britannica, Cabot was a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention from 1779 to 1780. This is the convention that drew up the Constitution of the United States.
After the Revolution, Cabot found himself in New York City and became acquainted with Alexander Hamilton. They became lifelong friends and allies, and the visit strengthened his conviction that a strong federal government was important to the health of the nation.
Cabot was also a member of the Massachusetts state Senate in 1783 and of the Massachusetts convention that ratified the Federal Constitution in 1788. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1791 to 1796, focusing primarily on finance and commerce.
Cabot was appointed to be the nations’ first Secretary of the Navy, but he declined. He was also a founding member of the Federalist Party, which advocated for a strong central government during the rise of the country’s political system.
Some sources indicate that Cabot introduced the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 into the United States Senate, although these sources have been difficult to verify. Nonetheless, that Act was passed by the 2nd United States Congress—of which George Cabot was a member—and signed by then-president George Washington. It authorized any federal district judge, circuit court judge, or state magistrate to decide the status of a fugitive slave without a jury.
Cabot was also a member of the senate when it enacted some of the country’s most significant early legislation. This included the Postal Service Act, which established the U.S. Post Office, and the Coinage Act of 1792, which established the United States Mint.
George Cabot Tried to Criticize James Madison and Lost
Later in his life, George Cabot became the president of the Hartford Convention, a secret meeting called on December 15th, 1814, to express the opposition of the New England Federalists to the War of 1812. The war of 1812 was a conflict between the United States and Great Britain over maritime rights.
The Hartford Convention’s report was released on January 5th, 1815. It attacked President James Madison and his administration, as well as the war effort.
The Convention’s report ultimately proved to be a blunder for the Federalists. After the report was released, the party was accused of a lack of patriotism. The Federalists were already unpopular, and their efforts to attack the war effort eventually led to their demise.
George Cabot died on April 18th, 1823.
Learn More About Historic Beverly
The Cabot family occupies an important place in the history of Beverly and the country, but they are far from the only topic worth exploring if you’re considering a move to the Beverly area. To learn more about the rich history of Beverly, Massachusetts, stay tuned to our blog.
As always, feel free to contact us if you’d like to know more about our services.