Graduation Day, 1954

Graduation Day, 1954

George J. West

George J. West

When I was at George J. West Junior High School, I wanted to win the Anthony Medal because it was the symbol of academic excellence. I did not win, but my dear friend Nick M. did.

I was reminded of it when, in our late Aunt Maria’s belongings, I found her Anthony Medal of 70 years ago. Because she was so proud of her accomplishment, as all winners should be, I researched the man  for whom the medal was named….Rhode Island statesman, Henry Bowen Anthony.
I was a bit surprised.
Henry Bowen Anthony (April 1, 1815 – September 2, 1884) was a United States newspaperman and political figure. He attended Brown University, graduating in 1833. He served as the editor of the Providence Journal. He was the Governor of Rhode Island between 1849 and 1851. He served from 1859 as a United States Republican Senator and was a strong supporter of Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.  He served as the President pro tempore of the United States Senate from 1869 to 1873. 
During his tenure as the editor of the Providence Journal, his anti-Catholic editorials whipped up the flames of hatred against the growing Irish and French Canadian communities in Rhode Island. Anthony won his election to the governorship on an anti-Catholic platform.
It not until the 20th century that Catholics would gain acceptance in Rhode Island.
Those who have won the Anthony Medal must and should be very proud of their accomplishments, notwithstanding the unfortunate misconceptions of Senator Anthony.