“The influence of education, or of the want of education, on the welfare of our land can have no territorial limits or boundary lines. … Colleges in South Carolina or Tennessee or Virginia are United States colleges, and are as important to the welfare of the country as Yale or Harvard or Columbia. Illiteracy and ignorance are no mere local dangers, whether among whites or blacks. They are dangers to law and order and true liberty everywhere; and he that does most to eradicate them anywhere may claim no second place on the role of a comprehensive patriotism.”
In 1892, two years before his death, Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, spoke these rather timeless words at the annual meeting of the Peabody Trustees. For twenty-five years he had been President of the Peabody Education Fund, a philanthropic enterprise established by his friend George Peabody in 1867 to promote education initiatives in the post-Civil War southern states. It was a fund created with the best of intentions that had short and long-term positive impacts as well as controversies. I learned about the fund and Robert C. Winthrop after I photographed details from Hope, a stained glass window in the north transept of Trinity Church.
Most often after I photograph stained glass windows, I research the story depicted in the window or research the designers of the window. But this time I was curious about who had commissioned the artwork. In an 1888 document providing an historical and descriptive account of the parish and the Copley Square building, the author writes, “This window is typical of Hope, the motto of the Winthrop arms. The greater part of the window is occupied by two angels, each of whom is holding a scroll.” And then at the bottom there is a Latin quotation signifying, “A surviving son to the best of parents.”
The son was Robert C. Winthrop and you can read more about him via this detailed Wikipedia article, and in this Mass Historical Society article about interactions between Winthrop and Frederick Douglass. As for the window designed by Burlison & Grylls …
I feel like I have a greater appreciation of its beauty and look forward to continuing to photograph and share its details. Until then, learn more about Trinity Church and its art and architecture at http://trinitychurchboston.org/art-history