Chronology:Foot Ball

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1826.3 Base Ball Associated with Boston Gymnasium Proposal?



Age of Players:



Messrs. William Sullivan and John G. Coffin have petitioned the Councils of Boston for the use of a piece of public ground, for two years, for the establishment of a Gymnastic School–a measure of doubtful propriety, we apprehend.  If a boy wants to play; let him play but do not spoil the fun by dictating the modus operandi–a game of base ball, or foot ball, is worth a dozen gymnassiums [sic], where the eye of surveillance is to check the flow of animal spirits.  


United States Gazette (Philadelphia) March 28, 1826



 Note that this find comes five years before town ball is seen in Philadelphia.

 From Bruce Allardice, email of 6/9/2021:

"In the year 1823, Dr. John G. Coffin, established a journal in Boston entitled, "The Boston Medical Intelligencer, devoted to the cause of physical education, and to the means of preventing and curing diseases." The motto in the title page was as follows :- "The best part of the medical art, is the avoiding of pain." This journal some five or six years afterward, became the "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal," "
Dr. John G. Coffin (1769-1828), married. Eliza Rice.
This is undoubtedly one of the petitioners for the gymnasium.



Was the Gymnasium actually established in Boston?  Was ballplaying among its activities?  Was gymnastics seen in the Commons in the early years?


Isn't this ref a very early appearance of the term foot ball in the US?  Can we learn what rules may have applied? 


1855.45 Unitarians' Christian Register Defends Base Ball on Fast Day

The Boston-based Christian Register, "Devoted to Unitarian Christianity," appeared to respond to critics of Fast Day ballplaying in an unsigned article titled "Why Give It Up?"

"A game of ball out-doors on Fast Day will not do those who play so much harm as the game of poker that they will play in-doors tomorrow . . . ."

"Fast Day -- by some collusion of the Governor with the prophets of the weather, is almost always pleasant.  It is apt to be the first day that savors of  Spring. And so, -- even serious men stray into their gardens before sunset, -- look at the peach buds, and show children where the corn is to be, and where the peas. . . . And those who are not serious, -- are hoping to murder one or two robins, or using the dried grass for the first game, so often the last, of base ball or foot ball."last, 






Christian Register, Boston, March 31, 1855


We do not know the circulation of this 1855 paper beyond Boston.  (We do know that it covered a Worcester MA story at entry 1849.6)

The reference to players playing poker suggests that they were adults.



Was the writer saying, in "so often the last" game, that base ball and/or foot ball was not played much after Fast Day?

Do we know what Boston-area foot ball like in 1855?