158 Main Street, Concord
George Frisbie Hoar (1826-1904) was the son of a politically prominent family who would go on to be one of the most well-known opponents of U.S. imperialism of his time. Born and raised in Concord, he studied, as a youth, under Henry David Thoreau, who briefly ran his own school in the town, and later visited with him at Walden Pond. After graduating from Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Hoar moved to Worcester where he began practicing law. Within a few years, Hoar won election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and, five years later, to the Massachusetts Senate. From 1869 to 1877, he served as member of the U.S. Congress. Thereafter, until his death, he was a member of the U.S. Senate.
While his fellow Republican (junior) senator from Massachusetts, Henry Cabot Lodge, vociferously championed the annexation of Hawaii and U.S. military intervention in Cuba, Hoar was very suspicious of these projects, expressing quiet criticism. But with the outbreak of the U.S. war with Spain in 1898, he became a vocal opponent of U.S. imperialism. He was particularly concerned about the Philippines, the colonization of which he saw as an affront to U.S. ideals and a threat to U.S. institutions. In 1902, Hoar publicly denounced those in Washington complicit with the brutal U.S. war and the atrocities—ranging from widespread torture of Filipino captives and sexual assault to extrajudicial executions of prisoners and civilians—associated with Washington’s effort to pacify the territory. “You have devastated provinces,” he proclaimed. “You have slain uncounted thousands of peoples you desire to benefit. You have established reconcentration camps.”
In the Senate, Hoar supported many progressive causes—including public education for African Americans recently freed from slavery, the right of women to vote, and the right of workers to form labor unions. He also opposed Chinese Exclusion, calling Chinese “absolutely fit” for U.S. citizenship. In the case of Portuguese and Italian immigrants, however, he succumbed to the racism of the time, calling them “absolutely unfit.” And while he never wavered in his position on the right of Filipinos to independence, he remained steadfastly loyal to the Republican Party, refusing to denounce Henry Cabot Lodge and President William McKinley, the main champions of the Philippines’ annexation.
Hoar grew up in the house, purchased by his father in 1819, on 158 Main Street. In 1946, Concord Academy, an elite boarding school, purchased the building. It is now a residential house, called Admadjaja House, for students.
George Frisbie Hoar—like fellow Concordians Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau—is buried in Concord’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Commuter rail from North Station (Framingham line) to Concord Station. Walk north (take a left) on Thoreau Street, and then a right onto Belknap Street. Follow Belknap until Main Street. Take a right. Concord Academy and Admadjaja House is on the left side of the street. About 0.3 mils (a 5-minute walk).
To learn more:
Stephen Puleo, The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day, Boston: Beacon Press, 2008.
Richard E. Welch, Jr., “Opponents and Colleagues: George Frisbie Hoar and Henry Cabot Lodge, 1898-1904, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2, 1966: 182-209.
Richard E. Welch, Jr., “American Atrocities in the Philippines: The Indictment and the Response,” Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 43, No. 2, 1974: 233-253.