MHS Madness64 of our favorite items in head-to-head competition

In honor of our 225th anniversary—and this time of year—the MHS hosted a tournament to select the favorite object from the Society’s collection. The 64 competitors, divided into four centuries of American history, were hand-picked to showcase the range of items in our collection.

View the Full Bracket


Click completed rounds to view final vote counts.

FINAL RESULTS FOR:Round 2: 17th & 19th Centuries

Matchup 1

John Winthrop journal, History of New England (manuscript), volume 1, page 1

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A Map of New England

A Map of New England, the first map known to be published in the English colonies of North America, is probably also the first published in the Western Hemisphere. The map is attributed to John Foster, a mathematician and schoolmaster, who was the only Bostonian known to make woodcuts during this period.

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Matchup 2

Genesis, chapter 1, verses 1-24, of the "Eliot Indian Bible"

In 1663, Christian missionary John Eliot published this translation of the Holy Bible in Massachuset, the language spoken by Native Americans in eastern New England. It was the first Bible printed in any language in North America and the largest single printing venture of the early colonial period.

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Paine Family Press Cupboard

This press cupboard, one of the finest examples of colonial New England joined furniture, has remained virtually unchanged in the 340 years since its creation. More than a dozen pieces attributed to this unidentified cabinet maker's shop, distinguished by their complex joinery and sophisticated designs, remain in public or private collections in New York and New England.

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Matchup 3

Bowl attributed to the Wampanoag

Samp, or nasaump, the Algonquian term for porridge made from ground Indian corn, was served in carved elm burls like this one, crafted by the Wampanoag tribe. Only seven Algonquian bowls are known to exist. Purchased for the MHS in 1804, it is believed the bowl once belonged to Metacom, or King Philip, the Wampanoag chief who united the fractious New England tribes against the expanding population of colonists.

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Samuel Sewall diary, 1685-1703, page with entry for 19 September 1692

Samuel Sewall served as one of the judges at the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692 and, on 19 September, described in his diary the gruesome torture and death of Giles Corey. Corey was pressed to death "for standing mute," that is, refusing to answer his indictment for witchcraft.

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Matchup 4

Letter from William Bradford to John Winthrop, 11 April 1638

In this letter to Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony refers to "Mrs. Huchingson" (Anne Hutchinson), who was labeled an "Antinomian" and heretic, banished from Massachusetts Bay, and excommunicated from the church. Bradford asks about the rumor that she delivered a stillborn baby to her supporter Mary Dyer.

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Receipt to William Pincheon [Pynchon] for £25 in payment for stock in the Massachusetts Bay Company

William Pynchon was one of the original English Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company. This receipt reflects his £25 purchase of a share of stock in the "adventure." He left England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and was instrumental in the settlement of Roxbury and Springfield, Mass.

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Matchup 5

Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Edward Everett, 20 November 1863

The day after his famous Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln wrote to Edward Everett, the day's featured speaker, to thank him for his praise of Lincoln's two-minute speech: "I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure." Everett's speech, by comparison, lasted two hours.

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Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862

This letter was written by Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight on the field at Antietam. He was writing to his mother when fighting broke out. After the battle, when troops had withdrawn and he lay wounded, he finished the letter. He died two days later. The letter is stained with his blood.

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Matchup 6

To Colored Men. 54th Regiment! Massachusetts Volunteers, Of African Descent

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, commissioned after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, was the first regiment of black soldiers raised in the North during the Civil War. Although this recruitment poster promised enlistees $13 a month, the regiment had to wait more than a year to receive full pay from the federal government.

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Pen used by Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation

On 1 January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves of the Confederate states. He signed the document with this pen, which he then presented to Massachusetts abolitionist George Livermore.

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Matchup 7

John Quincy Adams diary 41, entry for 29 March 1841, page 292

At the age of 73, former Pres. John Quincy Adams appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully defended the African captives who had seized the slave ship Amistad. Twenty days after the decision, Adams reflected on the fight against the slave trade in this diary entry.

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Cheyenne medicine pow-wow

This colorful scene was drawn by Bear's Heart, a Cheyenne warrior, during his captivity at Fort Marion in Florida after the Red River War of 1874-1875. While held by the U.S. military, Bear's Heart and other Indian prisoners depicted their lives in ledger art like this.

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Matchup 8

State Street, 1801

This painting by James Brown Marston shows the eastward side of Boston's Old State House as it looked at the turn of the 18th century. The open square, a place of social and commercial activity, was the scene of many memorable events, including the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770.

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Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 November 1800

After spending his first night in the unfinished President's House (later called the White House), John Adams wrote to Abigail Adams: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."

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