Artifacts & Documents: Printed Material

Edward Hitchcock's Letter to the Springfield Republican Newspaper, May 14, 1859

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Edward Hitchcock and James Deane had friendly relations with one another until a series of events led them into an unpleasant public battle for credit for the 1835 discovery of fossil footprints in the Connecticut River Valley. Although the men tacitly kept a truce afterward, when Deane died, his friends decided to defend his reputation, this time in letters to a newspaper published in the larger city just a few miles south of Amherst.

The letter on Deane's behalf, written by Henry Ingersoll Bowditch, appeared in the Springfield Republican on May 7, 1859, just short of a year after Deane's death. This entry, Edward Hitchcock's reply, appeared a week later, on May 14, and the newspaper's editor weighed in with the paper's opinion on May 21. Unfortunately for Edward Hitchcock, the editor came down on the side of James Deane. The beleaguered Hitchcock was not at his best in his letter to the newspaper, perhaps weary of having to defend himself again, so many years after the fact. The self-defense he added to the end of Ichnology of New England was far more eloquent, if rather unusual in a governmental report.

Edward Hitchcock
May 14, 1859
Courtesy of:
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association Library