Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809 - 1894)

A photo of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
1809 - 1894
August 29, 1809
Cambridge, Middlesex, MA in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA
October 7, 1894
Boston, Massachusetts in Massachusetts USA
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born on August 29, 1809 at Cambridge, Middlesex, MA, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. He died on October 7, 1894 at Boston, Massachusetts, Massachusetts at 85 years of age.
Updated: December 13, 2019
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
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Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
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Oliver Holmes was born on at Cambridge, Middlesex, MA in Cambridge, Massachusetts USA
Oliver Holmes died on at Boston, Massachusetts in Massachusetts USA
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The Boys By Oliver Wendell Holmes 1859 HAS there any old fellow got mixed with the boys? If there has, take him out, without making a noise. Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite! Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night! We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more? He's tipsy,-- young jackanapes!-- show him the door! "Gray temples at twenty?"-- Yes ! white if we please; Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze! Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake! Look close,-- you will see not a sign of a flake! We want some new garlands for those we have shed,-- And these are white roses in place of the red. We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told, Of talking (in public) as if we were old:-- That boy we call "Doctor," and this we call "Judge;" It's a neat little fiction,-- of course it's all fudge. That fellow's the "Speaker,"-- the one on the right; "Mr. Mayor," my young one, how are you to-night? That's our "Member of Congress," we say when we chaff; There's the "Reverend" What's his name?-- don't make me laugh. That boy with the grave mathematical look Made believe he had written a wonderful book, And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true! So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too! There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain, That could harness a team with a logical chain; When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire, We called him "The Justice," but now he's "The Squire." And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,-- Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith; But he shouted a song for the brave and the free, Just read on his medal, "My country," "of thee!" You hear that boy laughing?-- You think he's all fun; But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done; The children laugh loud as they troop to his call, And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all! Yes, we're boys, --always playing with tongue or with pen,-- And I sometimes have asked,-- Shall we ever be men? Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay, Till the last dear companion drops smiling away? Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray! The stars of its winter, the dews of its May! And when we have done with our life-lasting toys, Dear Father, take care of thy children, THE BOYS!


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Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. Born Oliver Wendell Holmes August 29, 1809 Cambridge, Massachusetts, US Died October 7, 1894 (aged 85) Boston, Massachusetts, US Oliver Wendell Holmes (/hoʊmz/; August 29, 1809 – October 7, 1894) was an American physician, poet, and polymath based in Boston. A member of the Fireside Poets, he was acclaimed by his peers as one of the best writers of the day. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858). He was also an important medical reformer. In addition to his work as an author and poet, Holmes also served as a physician, professor, lecturer and inventor and, although he never practiced it, he received formal training in law. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Holmes was educated at Phillips Academy and Harvard College. After graduating from Harvard in 1829, he briefly studied law before turning to the medical profession. He began writing poetry at an early age; one of his most famous works, "Old Ironsides", was published in 1830 and was influential in the eventual preservation of the USS Constitution. Following training at the prestigious medical schools of Paris, Holmes was granted his Doctor of Medicine degree from Harvard Medical School in 1836. He taught at Dartmouth Medical School before returning to teach at Harvard and, for a time, served as dean there. During his long professorship, he became an advocate for various medical reforms and notably posited the controversial idea that doctors were capable of carrying puerperal fever from patient to patient. Holmes retired from Harvard in 1882 and continued writing poetry, novels and essays until his death in 1894. Surrounded by Boston's literary elite—which included friends such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell—Holmes made an indelible imprint on the literary world of the 19th century. Many of his works were published in The Atlantic Monthly, a magazine that he named. For his literary achievements and other accomplishments, he was awarded numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world. Holmes's writing often commemorated his native Boston area, and much of it was meant to be humorous or conversational. Some of his medical writings, notably his 1843 essay regarding the contagiousness of puerperal fever, were considered innovative for their time. He was often called upon to issue occasional poetry, or poems written specifically for an event, including many occasions at Harvard. Holmes also popularized several terms, including Boston Brahmin and anesthesia. He was the father of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States.

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Amanda S. Stevenson commented on Dec 12, 2019
The Chambered Nautilus BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES SR. This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign, Sails the unshadowed main,— The venturous bark that flings On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings, And coral reefs lie bare, Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair. Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl; Wrecked is the ship of pearl! And every chambered cell, Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell, As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell, Before thee lies revealed,— Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed! Year after year beheld the silent toil That spread his lustrous coil; Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year’s dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through, Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more. Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee, Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn! From thy dead lips a clearer note is born Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn! While on mine ear it rings, Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:— Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul, As the swift seasons roll! Leave thy low-vaulted past! Let each new temple, nobler than the last, Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast, Till thou at length art free, Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
Amanda S. Stevenson commented on Dec 12, 2019
I dearly LOVE his poetry. I have a volume of his poetry in my library. I have bought Chambered Nautilus jewelry. I also bought a bronze medallion of his portrait. And by sheer luck, I am the first one to give a tribute to this great man and his famous son Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. passed away on October 7, 1894 at Boston, Massachusetts, Massachusetts at 85 years old. He was born on August 29, 1809 at Cambridge, Middlesex, MA, Cambridge, Massachusetts USA. There is no information about Oliver 's family or relationships.

1809 - 1894 World Events

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In 1809, in the year that Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born, on May 5th, Mary Dixon Kies (March 21, 1752 – 1837) became the first recipient of a patent granted to a woman by the United States. She had developed a technique for weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats. While her hats were popular at first, fashion changed and she died penniless.

In 1848, at the age of 39 years old, Oliver was alive when on February 21st, The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels - German philosophers - was published in London. The pamphlet said that "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles".

In 1877, Oliver was 68 years old when on July 14th, strikes and resulting riots began at the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad. A sympathy strike and rioting began in Pittsburgh and a worker's rebellion began in St. Louis, then spread to other cities. 100 people were killed before the strikes ended when President Rutherford B. Hayes sent federal troops to each of the cities involved.

In 1886, when he was 77 years old, on January 5th, Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson's book the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was published. Immediately popular, the paperback book was sold for $1 in the U.S. - almost $25 today. Stevenson's stepson said that he wrote the first draft in under 3 days.

In 1894, in the year of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.'s passing, on April 21st, a coal miners' strike closed mines throughout the central United States. The Panic of 1893, and the resulting depression, hit coal miners hard and the miners only struck for 8 weeks - they couldn't afford to live without their wages any longer.

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